In 1994, my beloved brother-in-law died and after a period of mourning, I thought it would be appropriate to write a memorial organ piece; this was accomplished in 1995. The piece was based on the text found in 1st Corinthians verse 52, “For the trumpet will be sounded and the dead shall be raised imperishable and we shall be changed.” Well, the piece languished for ten years and during the Easter season of 2005, my organist friend invited me to his church where he surprised me with a performance. During the following summer, the piece was played again, by him, at an organ concert at another church. Having noticed that time, I invited my brother in law’s widow to attend, which she did. After the performance, I suggested to her that I hoped that sometime in the future, (post resurrection) my brother in law would hear the piece. She replied that he had heard it already, twice!
Of course, the inference was that he had died and gone to heaven where he could watch and hear all the good things his family were doing. This is the same line we offer to small children when they are confronted with death. “Daddy died but has gone to heaven to be with God.” Now this is a curious point of view. There is the loved one, sitting comfortably in heaven, listening to organ music, eulogies from the lectern, where we send our undying love to Daddy, and generally keeping tabs on us, although he cannot communicate with us. But doesn’t it follow logically-that he would also be watching the horrors and suffering going on in the world and thereby suffering himself, in the place where suffering is considered to be non-existent? Why don’t we say something like, “Daddy must sleep in the grave until Jesus calls us and we are all re-united?’
We have one answer in Eccl 9: 5, 10. “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they anymore a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten…. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave wither thou goest.”
Also from Job 14: 10 – 14. “But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, not be raised out of their sleep. O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.”
So, it seems that the general view of death is that it is a transition from life on earth to life in heaven. The reference to Job above and the quote from Corinthians references the resurrection. It is the resurrection which restores life to the dead; there is no other way! Jesus dealt with this subject in his encounter with Nicodemus. In John 3: 3, Jesus says, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of Heaven.” In verse 6, “that which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the spirit is spirit.” And in verse 13, “And NO man hath ascended up to heaven; but He that came down from Heaven even the Son of man which is in Heaven”
So there we have it! You must die to be born again, (the resurrection) and you are reborn of the spirit. And NO man ascendeth up to Heaven! Now we have the example of Jesus. On the cross before giving up the ghost, he said, “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” In His resurrection, we know the spirit was re-introduced into His dead body making it alive and changed. When Jesus passed through the locked door behind which were secreted the disciples, they feared Him as a spirit. But Jesus comforted them by saying, (Luke 24: 38) “Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise is your hearts? Behold my hands and feet that it is I myself; handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” (Notice there is no reference to blood, since it was shed on Calvary.) Because Jesus is the first fruits of the resurrection, we, by faith, can expect a similar resurrection with a glorious incorruptible body like unto His glorious body.
Now Jesus told His disciples that where He was going they could not go. This whole issue is discussed in John, chapter 14. In verses 2 & 3 Jesus says, “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” So, clearly Jesus states that He will come to earth again to be with us. But what of the place he is preparing for us. Look to Revelation, chapter 21; therein lies a description of the new Jerusalem. Verse 2 says, “And I, John, saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Would this be the abode of the resurrected spirits, the dead in Christ risen imperishable? I suppose it is a matter of hope and faith but for me it is a very convincing speculation!
So, what is the big lie? Genesis 4: 4. “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.” We have perpetuated the Devil’s lie when we refuse to face up to death, which is necessary to be reborn of the spirit. So let’s face the death of the carnal body head on and accept Jesus offer of eternal life by believing in Him, the source of ALL life. Or put another way, because Jesus lives, we live, now, in our earthly bodies and after death, in our resurrected spiritual bodies which are imperishable!
It is all summed up in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have life eternal!