3Texts Philip. 1:21: Amplified Bible: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”Amplified Bible:“For me to live is Christ [His life in me], and to die is gain [the gain of the glory of eternity].”
4I Cor. 15:19:“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
5IntroductionIn the opening slide, we saw a door that opened into clouds.This depicts, in my mind, death as being the doorway to heaven for those who die in Christ.In this lesson, I want to talk about that blessed hope that all Christians share;
6Namely, that when we die, we go immediately to be with the Lord and all those who have died before us, who now rest in God’s loving care and in blessed fellowship with each other.This is the hope of the Christian.This is the life eternal that God has promised.
7Life Is For All Eternity When God gives life (when a child is conceived), that life is eternal.That earthly life will be lived for whatever term of moments or years or life span that God so designates.
8Whether the child is miscarried, aborted, or lives a while or a beyond one hundred years of age, the earthly life is the smallest part of our life.We live our appointed earthly life span, and then comes the afterlife, which goes on for all eternity.
9Those who are saved by grace, through faith, go immediately to be with Jesus and all those saved who preceded them in death.(This number also includes all infants and children, who have not reached an age of accountability, as well as mentally incapable people).
10Life is forever. And I do mean forever ! When we die, we either go to be with the Lord, or we go to hell.These are the only two possibilities according to the Scriptures.We determine where we will spend eternity during this life.
11Where we spend eternity is determined by our belief or denial in the Lord Jesus Christ according to John 3:17-19 (NKJV):“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, . . .
12Ultimately, it is the sin of unbelief in Jesus Christ that condemns. “ because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God [i.e., Jesus]. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”Ultimately, it is the sin of unbelief in Jesus Christ that condemns.
13So, again, many people (especially people without the hope of the resurrection) think of “life” only in it’s present form.Many think that death is the end of existence, the cessation of being.This triggers the desire to “live life to the fullest,” without regard to right or wrong.
14Disbelief in life after this life helps create the fear of death. A great many people refuse to think or talk about death.Death has become a most taboo subject.Because people are afraid of death, they try to ignore it.But it is a reality, except one goes by way of the Rapture.
15In I Thess. 4:17-18, Paul wrote: Christians, however, understand that the Bible is very clear that life continues after this life.In fact, it is the hope of heaven that comforts and motivates us.In I Thess. 4:17-18, Paul wrote:“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: . . .
16We live in a fleshly body that has a strong desire to stay alive. “. . . and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”We live in a fleshly body that has a strong desire to stay alive.This desire is often seen in the case of our elders who are ready to go be with the Lord, but still have to contend with an earthly body that doesn’t want to die.
17In the long-run, the Christian does not fear death, but the process of dying, and the (temporary) separation from loved ones.It is understandable to be anxious about the process of dying (i.e., the sickness and struggle to live that may be part of the process), but Christians should not fear death itself.
18This is because we have eternal life in heaven. Life here – even at its best – is a paltry and woefully poor substitute for what life in Glory will be like.Paul told the Philippians:““For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”For Christians, death is gain, not loss.
19Death – Enemy or Benefactor? The unsaved fear death as an enemy, but Christians see it as a benefactor.Sir Francis Bacon said: “Men fear death as children fear the dark.”And Lord Byron wrote: “Oh, God, it is a fearful thing to see the human soul take wing.”
20These statements reflect the views of people who are not believers. Even in the church, the Biblical teaching on death has often been displaced by a pagan view of death.How we view death determines how happy we are in this life.
21Christians know that death means they will gain fellowship with God and all His saints for eternity. For the unbeliever, there is only hell to follow death.This produces awful anxiety and fear, and robs them of the great blessing of peace regarding their future in the after life.
22The Validity of HeavenIs a Christian’s joyous anticipation of heaven a valid thing?According to Paul’s words in Philip. 1:21-23, dying is gain, and Being with Christ will be better by far than living here.“For to me, to live is Christ and TO DIE IS GAIN. . .
23If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire TO DEPART AND BE WITH CHRIST, which IS BETTER BY FAR;”Paul unequivocally declares that death for the Christian is “better by far.”
24There is every reason for the believer to look forward to the future with joyous anticipation. Our hope in the resurrection is not mere wishful thinking or escapism, but a well-founded confidence based in God’s Word.For all the joys of this life, a believer’s life in heaven will be, “better by far.”
25Our eternal life in heaven will be far, far better than anything we can possibly conceive. I Cor. 2:9-10 (NIV) says:“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him . . .
26“ But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”The anticipation of life lived in the presence of Jesus brings hope, and it encourages us -- especially when loved ones who die in the Lord leave us.
27Whatever else may be said about the condition of the believer at death, it is certain he is not in a state of unconscious existence.So called “soul sleep” is not taught in the Bible.When Christians die, they enter into the presence of the Lord, as Paul said in II Cor. 5:6-8 (NKJV).
28“So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” (emphasis mine).Death is not a state of insensibility, it marks the beginning of life after this life.
29Paul, writing to Timothy concerning his own approaching death employed a happy phrase. He called it “...the time of my departure” (II Tim. 4:6).The word “departure” is a nautical term referring to a ship getting ready to set sail; casting off the shore lines, and putting out to sea.
30Paul’s idea of death was not a “shipwreck,” but a ship departure. Death for a child of God is the door that opens into peace, joy and safety forever.A place with out sin, pain, sickness or death.An eternal state of fellowship with God and all His children.
31So, What Happens When We Die? Physical Death.Dr. Henry Beecher of Harvard gives three medical definitions:(1) The moment at which irreversible destruction of brain matter, with no possibility of regaining consciousness, is conclusively determined.
32(2) The moment at which spontaneous heart beat cannot be restored. (3) “Brain Death,” established by the EEG (electroencephalogram).But in a practical sense, we all understand physical death.Theologically.In the theological sense, death is:
33the separation of the soul and spirit from the physical body. This process is briefly described in Eccl. 12:7, where we read, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit [of man] shall return unto God who gave it.”Paul, describes the makeup of man in I Thess. 5:23-24:
34“And the very God of peace “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole SPIRIT and SOUL and BODY be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” (emphasis mine),We are spiritual beings who have a soul (i.e., mind, intellect, memory and emotions) contained in a body.
35When a body dies, having served its purpose, it is separated from the soul and spirit. James 2:6 tells us that “...the body without the spirit is dead...”Weary and worn out, or brought down by disease, or struck down by accident, the body dies and begins the process of decay.
36The moment death occurs, disintegration begins and the soul and spirit – the real “us” – go to be with the Lord.Paul speaks to this in II Cor. 5:1 when he says: “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens..”
37Note that he takes it for granted that the Corinthian believers knew this: “. . . for we KNOW,…he said”The Greek word kataluo (kat-al-OO-o) is translated “dissolved” in this verse and means: “to loosen down (disintegrate), dissolve, come down to nought.”In other words, the body decays, but the spirit and soul live on.
38As we have seen in II Cor. 5:6-8 we cease to occupy our earthly body and our soul and spirit are freed to be with Jesus.To leave the physical body at death is to immediately be in the presence of the Lord.The Moment the physical body dies, it begins its return to its chemical basics (i.e., “dust to dust, and ashes to ashes”).
39When a loved one dies, the righteous also grieve over the earthly separation that the death of the body represents.However, we have a comfort that the unbeliever does not enjoy (cf: John 14:16).Paul in I Thess. 4:13 (NLT) taught that Christians do not sorrow like unbelievers:
40“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.”Christians know that those who die in the Lord no longer have to endure sin, sickness, distress, despair, or any of the other evils of this world.
41At death, believers are carried by angels to a place of eternal joy and peace, like Lazarus, in Luke 16:22:“And it came to pass that the beggar [Lazarus] died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom . . .”Those righteous who have suffered are immediately carried away to a place of comfort.
42In the Old Testament, this would have been “Abraham’s bosom”. When Jesus arose triumphant from the grave, he carried these O.T. saints with Him to heaven (i.e., the place we will all be until the New Heaven and the New Earth are instituted after we receive our eternal resurrected bodies.
43So, what happens to the body at death and what happens to the soul and spirit are two different things entirely.The physical shell is buried or burned, while the soul and spirit are immediately in the presence of God.Quite simply, when we die, our body becomes uninhabited.
44Our “earth suit” is separated from our soul and spirit. The body is discarded, with due reverence, but the glorious hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that the spirit and soul go instantly to be with God.Truly then, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
45What Do We Gain by Dying?In the interest of time, allow me to point out only a few benefits.Of course, the greatest benefit is that we will be with Christ and all our saved loved ones and friends.Where Jesus is, it will be heaven.He is now preparing that place, and we will be with Him.
46John 14:1-3 says:“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a PLACE for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; THAT WHERE I AM, THERE YE MAY BE ALSO.” (emphasis mine).
47There will be no sin or evil present – ever! Rev. 21:27 says, “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.”
48Heb. 12:22 says:“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of ANGELS, 23 to the GENERAL ASSEMBLY and CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN who are registered in heaven, to GOD the Judge of all, to THE SPIRITS OF JUST MEN MADE PERFECT,” (emphasis mine).
49In Matt. 8:11, Jesus, speaking of life after this life says: This means we will all have direct, face-to-face contact with the redeemed of all ages.We will know one another in heaven.In Matt. 8:11, Jesus, speaking of life after this life says:“And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, . . .
50Angels in the Bible are a good example of how we will be in heaven. “. . . and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.”The essential element of our individual “personality” (soul and spirit -- the inner man of the spirit) will persist after death.Angels in the Bible are a good example of how we will be in heaven.
51Angels have distinct personalities, individually recognizable to each other and in encounters with men.The restoration of relationships is clearly pictured in I Thess. 4:17 (Speaking of raptured saints) :“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them [those who have died]. . .
52“. . . In the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
53Conclusion Death Is NOT to be feared. For the Christian, living is to be enjoyed, but death will be far more profitable (gain).Psa. 116:15, summarizes God’s attitude about death:“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”