Is there life after death?

Question: "Is there life after death?"

Is there life after death? The Bible tells us, “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure....If a man dies, will he live again” (Job 14:1-2, 14)?

Like Job, nearly all of us have been challenged by this question. Exactly what happens to us after we die? Do we simply cease to exist? Is life a revolving door of departing and returning to earth in order to achieve personal greatness? Does everyone go to the same place, or do we go to different places? Is there really a heaven and hell, or is it just a state of mind?

The Bible tells us that there is not only life after death, but everlasting life so glorious that “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, came to the earth to give us this gift of everlasting life. “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

Jesus took on the punishment that each of us deserves and sacrificed His very life. Three days later, He proved Himself victorious over death by rising from the grave, in Spirit and in flesh. He remained on the earth for forty days and was witnessed by thousands before rising to His everlasting home in heaven. Romans 4:25 says, “He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised from the dead to make us right with God.”

The resurrection of the Christ was a well-documented event. The apostle Paul challenged people to question eyewitnesses for its validity, and no one was able to contest its truth. The resurrection is the cornerstone of the Christian faith; because Christ was raised from the dead, we can have faith that we, too, will be resurrected.

Paul admonished some early Christians who did not believe this: “But tell me this – since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying that there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either” (1 Corinthians 15:12-13).

Christ was only the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again. Physical death came through one man, Adam, to whom we are all related. But all who have been adopted into God's family through faith in Jesus Christ will be given new life (1 Corinthians 15:20-22). Just as God raised up Jesus' body, so will our bodies be resurrected upon Jesus' return (1 Corinthians 6:14).

Although we will all be eventually resurrected, everyone will not go into heaven together. A choice must be made by each person in this life to determine where he or she will be going for eternity. The Bible says that it is appointed for us to die only once, and after that will come judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Those who have been made righteous will go into everlasting life in heaven, but unbelievers will be sent to everlasting punishment, or hell (Matthew 25:46).

Hell, like heaven, is not only a state of existence, but a literal, and very real, place. It is a place where the unrighteous will experience never-ending, everlasting wrath from God. They will endure emotional, mental, and physical torment, consciously suffering from shame, regret, and contempt.

Hell is described as a bottomless pit (Luke 8:31, Revelation 9:1), and a lake of fire, burning with sulfur, where the inhabitants will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Revelation 20:10). In hell, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, indicating intense grief and anger (Matthew 13:42). It is a place “where the worm never dies and the fire never goes out” (Mark 9:48). God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but desires them to turn from their wicked ways so that they can live (Ezekiel 33:11). But He will not force us into submission; if we choose to reject Him, He has little choice but to give us what we want – to live apart from Him.

Life on earth is a test – a preparation for what is to come. For believers, this is everlasting life in the immediate presence of God. So how are we made righteous and able to receive this everlasting life? There is only one way – through faith and trust in God's Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. They are given everlasting life for believing in me and will never perish...” (John 11:25-26).

The free gift of everlasting life is available to all, but it requires that we deny ourselves some worldly pleasures and sacrifice ourselves to God. “And all who believe in God's Son have everlasting life. Those who don't obey the Son will never experience everlasting life, but the wrath of God remains upon them” (John 3:36). We will not be given the opportunity to repent from our sins after death because once we see God face to face, we will have no choice but to believe in Him. He wants us to come to Him in faith and love now. If we accept the death of Jesus Christ as payment for our sinful rebellion against God, we are guaranteed not only a meaningful life on earth, but also everlasting life in the presence of Christ.

If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, here is a sample prayer. Remember, saying this prayer or any other prayer will not save you. It is only trusting in Christ that can save you from sin. This prayer is simply a way to express to God your faith in Him and thank Him for providing for your salvation. "God, I know that I have sinned against you and am deserving of punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. I place my trust in Him for salvation. Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness - the gift of everlasting life! Amen!"

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Is there life after death?