Is there death after life?

It may seem a silly way round to ask this question but this is deliberate. For it is very important to establish the Bible answer, as there are various views about what happens after life ends. Attend a few funeral services and you will get very confused indeed.

Poems of Comfort

There was not a dry eye in the room. Adam's widow had just read a poem at his funeral service. It started:

"Don't cry for me now I have died, For I'm still here: I'm by your side, My body's gone but my soul is here, Please don't shed another tear"

and it ended with these words: "While I'm still there, I can't be dead." There are several such poems from which people derive great comfort. They express ideas like the deceased person being in the 'soft stars' rather than in the grave; that their 'loving arms will hold you, when we meet again' and that they 'comfort and stay with us, through each of our days'. In fact, many people, whether religious or not, believe that something of us lives on after the end of this life.

Bible Teaching

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The Bible, a message from God, the Creator of all life, presents
a radically different picture.: 'The living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing' (Ecclesiastes 9:5) 'For in death there is no remembrance of You; in the grave who will give You thanks?' (Psalm 6:5); 'The dead do not praise the Lord, nor any who go down into silence' (Psalm 115:17); 'For Sheol cannot thank You, death cannot praise You; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your truth'(Isaiah 38:18).

Old and New Teaching

These passages are from the Old Testament but you cannot discount them as merely an outdated message. These were the Scriptures read and believed by the Lord Jesus and this was his teaching also. On one occasion he was asked about an atrocity committed by the Roman governor Pilate, and this was his reply, followed by another reference to a serious accident that had happened: 'Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish' (Luke 13:1–5). Notice the alternatives: either we repent or we perish! One of the most famous verses in the Bible teaches just this, if you read it carefully:

'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life' (John 3:16).

There Is Hope

In our natural state we are therefore in a plight. We are born to live some years on earth and then to perish – to cease completely from any form of existence and to be forgotten. This is not what God wants to happen, because He loves His creation and wants the best for us: 'The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance' (2 Peter 3:9). What a wonderful thing to discover: that God does not want us to die! He says to everyone: 'As I live,' says the Lord God, 'I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?' (Ezekiel 33:11).

What a Gift!

Notice that the prophet is both affirming that God wants us to live and not die and is urging His hearers to turn from their evil ways if they want to live. For the God who wants to save us is also a righteous God who has decreed that all sinners must die. Yet, in His amazing love and mercy, God has provided a solution. He sent His son as a sacrifice for sin, so that our sins can be forgiven. This enables us to be saved from the otherwise inevitable punishment of extinction in death

'For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord' (Romans 6:23). God has done all that He can, but the death of Jesus does not automatically save us. We have to respond: to 'turn from our way', to 'repent' and to try, to the best of our ability, to live a godly life following Jesus. Not everyone will be saved. Not everyone will be raised from the dead. If we are not ready and waiting for Jesus when he returns we may hear these chilling words: 'I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!' (Matthew 7:23).

Decide NOW!

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Jesus was raised from the dead, and the hope of all his true followers is resurrection at the Coming of Jesus. So there can be life – eternal life – after death. However, this hope is only for the true followers of Jesus (see Acts 3:19-23). 'Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved' (Acts 4:12). For everyone else – and the Bible says this is the majority – there really is death after life. But it doesn't need to be like that. Poems about the afterlife might give hope and comfort, but they are make-believe. The facts are that if we do nothing we are destined to perish – to cease to exist. If we become true believers then we can have hope. The choice is ours and we may not have much time to make up our minds.