Believe series Session 10
Eternity – What happens when we die?
8th April 2018
With Peter Veysie
I believe there is a heaven and a hell and that Jesus will return to judge all people and to establish his eternal kingdom.
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? — John 14:1-2
Begin by reciting the Key Verse and the Key Idea together as a group.
Most Christians have spent some time wondering about what happens to us after we die. When we look at the account of Lazarus (brother of Mary and Martha and friend of Jesus), who was raised from the dead by Jesus we learn that he spent four days in the afterlife. Yet the Bible tells us nothing about what Lazarus saw or experienced.
The Bible reveals very few concrete details about heaven, the afterlife and what happens when we die. God must have a good reason for keeping us wondering about the mysteries of heaven. It could be that our finite minds could never comprehend the realities of eternity
A common New Testament word for “eternal” is aiónios, which carries the idea of quality as well as quantity.
Eternal life is not associated with “years”, it is independent of time.
Eternal life can function outside of and beyond time, as well as within time.
For this reason, eternal life can be thought of as something that Christians experience now.
Believers don’t have to “wait” for eternal life, because it’s not something that starts when they die. Rather, eternal life begins the moment a person exercises faith in Christ. It is our current possession. John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.” Note that the believer “has” (present tense also in Greek word) this life. There are similar present-tense examples in John 5:24 and John 6:47.
For believers, death is to be “away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:23).
In the Old Testament actual words expressing eternal life only appear in two places:
Psalm 133:3 It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.
Its mention here seems to be a simple passing reference made by David with no real explanation
as to what it is, other than a blessing from God.
Daniel 12:1-2} “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. 2Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.
This sounds like a reference to the coming resurrection spoken of in the New Testament. Some theologians connect this to the “Great Tribulation.”
We see that there will be a resurrection of the dead.
Every one whose name was in the book will rise to everlasting life.
The others will rise to contempt.
These verses show that present faithfulness is worthwhile for the believer, even if it costs them their life. Their eternal outcome will be life.
While the Old Testament writers don’t address the afterlife in as much detail as the New Testament writers, the Old Testament does contain the magnificent description of the prophet Elijah being taken up to heaven without dying. Elijah is one of only three people taken to heaven in bodily form, the other two being Enoch (you can read about him in Genesis 5:21 – 24) and, of course, Jesus.
SCRIPTURE ON ETERNAL LIFE:
Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. Also see: Romans 8:38-39; Revelation 2:11
BELIEVERS ENTER THE LORD’S PRESENCE AT DEATH.
In essence, the moment we die, our spirit and soul go to be with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:8 Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.
Philippians 1:22-23 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me.
BELIEVERS WILL DWELL WITH GOD FOREVER.
Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Also see: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
JESUS PREPARES A SPECIAL PLACE FOR BELIEVERS IN HEAVEN.
John 14:1-3 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
HEAVEN WILL BE FAR BETTER THAN EARTH FOR BELIEVERS.
Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
AFTER THEIR PHYSICAL DEATH, BELIEVERS GAIN ETERNAL LIFE.
John11:25-26 Jesussaidtoher,”Iamtheresurrectionandthelife.Hewhobelievesinmewill live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Also see: John 10:27-30; John 3:14-16; 1 John 5:11-12
BELIEVERS RECEIVE AN ETERNAL INHERITANCE IN HEAVEN.
1 Peter 1:3-5 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
EVENTUALLY, GOD WILL PUT AN END TO DEATH.
Revelation 21:1-4 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away … I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God … And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Revelation 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!”
THE DEATH OF A BELIEVER IS PRECIOUS TO GOD.
Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
BELIEVERS BELONG TO THE LORD IN HEAVEN.
Romans 14:8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
BELIEVERS ARE CITIZENS OF HEAVEN.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 – 5:11
- We have hope that death is not the end. Having
come through this last week we had a clear indication of this and our hope is in the fact that Jesus rose, he inspires us each day to live now in the kingdom at hand. His Spirit guides us into all truth and enables us to endure hardships with this hope and it allows us to be defined by the new and not the old.
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 
- An eternal promise of His return and being with Him forever.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
- Encourage one another. This is so important. I have heard such dark words out of the mouths of Christians as scare tactics as opposed to love invitations.
 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
- We do not know the day nor the hour but be ready not in fear but in love. Perfect love casts out all fear.
The Day of the Lord
 Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you,  for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
- You are not in darkness – this day should not surprise you. We choose life and death, dark or light, blessings or curses on a daily basis and so Paul reminds us to live in the light.
 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.  You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.  So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 
- Live as people belonging to the day. We do not need to wait for that day as if Jesus never rose. We declare that he is alive and he is near us each day. Live with this in your heart and mind. We live says Paul together with him. Granny moving from the dining room to the kitchen.
For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.  But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.  For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 
- Encourage one another as you talk about eternity, death. Be alive in your day.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.