One of the greatest aspects of the Christian faith is what we believe happens after death. And by no means is it blind faith or wishful thinking. It starts with Jesus himself. In John’s eyewitness account of Jesus’ life and ministry, he records a conversation between Jesus and someone who had just lost a brother to sickness and death.
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” John 11:21-27
Jesus made a promise to Martha that not only was there a resurrection, but that Jesus himself was the resurrection and the life, and that faith in him would result in eternal life. It’s why this same apostle John, would go on to write the greatest summary statement in all the Bible:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Make no mistake, Jesus clearly taught that there was a resurrection, and the way to eternal life, to a life after this life, was through faith in him. Now, the skeptical might ask: sure that’s great to believe in, but what if it’s all a hoax? Where’s the proof?
That’s a legitimate question.
How Christians live their lives should be proof enough. Why?
Because Jesus made it possible for our Heavenly Father to send the Holy Spirit to indwell the Spirits of all believers. He produces the fruit in our lives of love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, kindness and self control. His job is to sanctify us, to make us like our Lord Jesus. We therefore build our lives around this belief in Jesus as Saviour and Lord. It affects how we live and interact with others. It affects how we use our time, our finances. We give our life to serving Him and others. The Holy Spirit even provides the gifts of the Spirit (all nine: 1 Corinthians 12:4 and Hebrews 2:4) to enable us to minister to others effectively.
In the book of 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul makes a great point:
“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” 1 Corinthians 15:19
If this life is all that there is, then you would not live a life of sacrifice as Christians do.
Also look at the historical evidence: we know from the four eyewitness accounts from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, that Jesus claimed to be the son of God, and as he promised Martha, that he was the resurrection and the life. And then he died a criminal’s death on a Roman cross. Three days later, these disciples began to claim that Jesus was raised from the dead, that they had seen him. And if true, this would change everything, because on numerous occasions Jesus prophesied his own death and resurrection, and if someone can prophesy their own death and resurrection and then pull it off, surely it is evidence enough to convince the most hardened skeptic. Fifteen to twenty years later, the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church in Corinth, recorded in the book of 1 Corinthians. In chapter 15, we have this incredible teaching on what Christ has accomplished for us with His death and resurrection.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:3-6
Paul is recording the central claim of Christianity: Jesus proved his divinity by dying on the cross and rising again, thereby validating everything he said about the resurrection. It’s why we have hope that we who believe in Jesus will see our brothers and sisters in Christ again, that this is not the end for us. The key here is the list of witnesses: after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to Cephas (Peter), the twelve, then 500 at one time, many of whom were still alive fifteen to twenty years later. It’s like Paul is saying: fact-check me on this one. I know it’s an outrageous claim, but go and talk to the witnesses yourself.
1 Corinthians is written twenty years after the event of the resurrection, with witnesses still alive, who saw Jesus alive after his death and burial and resurrection. And because Jesus rose from the dead, everything changes!
Here’s what Paul wrote about how Jesus’ resurrection secures our own resurrection:
“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 54-57
Death is the great equalizer, death awaits us all, but Jesus has taken away it’s sting. Death is not all that there is, because Jesus conquered death, and through Jesus we will conquer death. That’s not saying that we’ll live forever in this life, but we’ll live forever in the next. For those of us who believe in Jesus, will see him again, at the resurrection at the last day, and we’ll be with him forever. And because of that, we can rejoice.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2
Let start living with an eternal focus NOW.