The prevailing belief of the world is that “You go around once and then you die.” Yet, the remarkable claim of the Christian faith is that those who have died are more alive today than they were before their deaths.
1Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” 4But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” 5Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was. 7Then after this He *said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” ….. 17So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off; 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. 20Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. 21Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” 23Jesus *said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24Martha *said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27She *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” 28When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29And when she heard it, she *got up quickly and was coming to Him. 30Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. 31Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, 34and said, “Where have you laid him?” They *said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35Jesus wept. 36So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!” 37But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?” 38So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, *came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39Jesus *said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, *said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” 40Jesus *said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42“I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” 44The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” – John 11:1-44
If I die and go to heaven, what is it going to be like?
A surprising number of people have an image of heaven that comes from a cartoon: a boring view of clouds and harps and singing. That is not heaven. Heaven will not be boring, dull or uninteresting.
It will be so glorious the Bible does not give us the words to fully describe it, rather it speaks in metaphors like “streets of gold” and describing a glorious banquet and celebration beyond our dreams.
Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal. In heaven Jesus will offer his people, life to the fullest, everything positive, glorious and satisfying.
Someone close to me died, where do I turn for comfort?
Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His godly ones.
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
Three things you can do for those who grieve:
- Visit. Offer your presence. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what to say.
- Rather than asking “is there anything I can do?”, ask specific questions: “Do you need any errands run?” “Can I help you write thank you notes?” “Can I bring you food?” “Can I feed your pets?” “Do you need your lawn mowed?”
- Talk with the person about their loved one. Do something intentional to remember the lost person on their birthday or anniversary of their date of death for the next 5 years (at least).
If I die, will I go to a better place?
When the role is called in heaven, you will be there, if you put your faith in Jesus.
Westminster Confession of Faith (32.1) explains it this way: “The bodies of men, after death, return to dust, and see corruption (Genesis. 3:19; Acts 13:36) but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them (Luke 23:43; Eccl. 12:7) the souls of the righteous, being then made perfect of holiness, are received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God, in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies. (Heb. 12:23; 2 Corinthians 5:1,6,8; Phil. 1:23 with Acts 3:21; Eph. 4:10) And the souls of the wicked are cast into hell…”
For more explanation, please listen to the podcast.
Audio from a sermon given at Trinity Presbyterian Church July 18, 2004
Part of the series: Elzinga Collection
Photo used here under Flickr Creative Commons.
Podcast Season 6, Episode 11