Sermon Title: The Good News About What Happens Next
Sermon Text: Ecclesiastes 9: 5-5
Like many of you, I’ve noticed that billions of dollars and thousands of hours each year are spent trying to slow the aging process. Everything from hair dye to wrinkle cream to plastic surgery and botox injections are used in an attempt to reverse our inevitable decline. You might be tempted to ask “What’s so terrible about aging?” I don’t think it’s the accompanying maturity that we’re afraid of. I don’t think it’s the increase in experience and wisdom that makes us pause. As a matter of fact, I don’t think our attempts to slow aging are just limited to our fears about aging. I believe that we are not only concerned about aging, but we are even more afraid of what happens next.
Hebrews 9: 27 “It is appointed unto man once to die, but after that the judgment.” . This appointment can be delayed, but it cannot be denied. Eventually the same icy fingers of death that stolen the laughter of the ones we love will put it’s hand over your mouth and silence you. We spend our time avoiding it and postponing it but one day, we will all die. That is what sends shivers down the spine. That is what sobers even the lightest moments. That appointment is what causes even bravest to fear… and this is the fear that God’s Word seeks to address. What if I told you that in the face of this mystery there was information? What if I told you that instead of a dead end there was inspiration? What if I told you that in the face of this fear there was an invitation? Well, that is exactly what I’m telling you. I’m here to tell you the good news about what happens next.
- Death has always been a mystery, but the darkness of this mystery does not hold in the light of God’s word.So what really happens after we die?Here is the INFORMATION.
- Ecclesiastes 9: 5-6 “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward: for the memory of them is forgotten.Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is not perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
Not only does the Bible make the case here that “the dead know not anything”, but throughout the Bible this idea is reinforced.
- Psalm 146: 4-“His breath goeth forth, he returneth to the earth, in that very day his thoughts perish.
- Ecclesiastes 9: 10- “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest.
- Psalm 6:5- For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?
- Psalm 115: 17- The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence”.
But wait! Of course the dead do not praise the Lord. God’s people are not dead! Rather we are “Absent from the body… present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5: 6-8). Furthermore, God is “not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Mark 12:27). So aren’t my loved ones in heaven? Isn’t that what happens next? Let’s look at more of what the Bible has to say:
- Peter refers to David as dead. Acts 2: 29- David is both dead and buried and his grave is with us to this day.
- Peter mentions David as not in heaven: Acts 2:34- “For David did not ascend into the heavens.
- Lazarus was not called down from heaven but forth out of sleep. (John 11: 11, 43)
- Furthermore, according to the Bible there is no “soul” to ascend to heaven.(Ecc 12:7) Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it”.(Gen 2:7 informs us that God put body and spirit together to form life.Now we are shown that spirit is taken away from body as life ends).
In the face of the original lie “Thou shalt not surely die” (Gen 3:4) Jesus offers the truth of death as an unconscious sleep. However, Jesus does not stop there. The Word goes on to offer INSPIRATION.
- In 1 Corinthians 15: 12-13 Paul argues forcibly that the dead are raised again!If they are not raised then Jesus is not raised and our sins are not forgiven.
- I Thessalonians 4: 16-17 continues “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
For all those who have lost loved ones and for those who will have to keep that appointment one day, Jesus offers an INVITATION.
- Revelation 21: 4 “There shall be no more death”
- John 3: 16 “Whosoever believeth in me shall not perish but have everlasting life”.