Life after death: meditation for Easter – Part 3
Even some generally non-theistic religions like Buddhism also tend to believe in life after death, but without reference to God.
It was the Sadducees that were distinctively known to believe in God but not in life after death.
This is because they believed that it was not expressed in the Torah/Pentateuch, which Jesus, using God’s reference to the non-living Patriarchs as living, proved them to be in error (Mk 12:18-27).
Old Testament Record
The concept of life after death, however, is sufficiently expressed in the Old Testament:
• Job talked about seeing God in his body after his skin is destroyed (Job 19:25-27)
• The Psalmist is confident that his soul will not be left in Sheol (Psalm 16:10).
• Isaiah wrote: “Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise” (Isa. 26:19).
• Daniel prophesied of resurrection to eternal life or contempt (Dan. 12:2)
• Hosea speaks of ransoming from the power of grave and redeeming from death (Hos. 13:14)
The Christian concept of life after death is quite unique. It is based on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, by which death is destroyed and man is launched into new realm of life.
The death and new life that follows it are not only physical but also spiritual. In fact, they begin from spiritual to physical.
Right before the physical death and the life that follows it, the spiritual death and resurrection are required. As Christ died for us and our sins, so, in His death, we die to sins and in His Resurrection, we live to righteousness. So, a Christian, as a matter of necessity, dies and resurrects spiritually before physically.
Thus, while other religions conceive of life after death only as “life hereafter,” Christians, in addition, not only conceive, but also experience it as “life here and now.” There is intrinsic connection between the life after death “here and now” and life after death hereafter. The “here and now” is spiritual, while the hereafter is bodily. But both are based on and powered by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Also, one determines the other. It is the life here and now that determines the life hereafter.
The Epistle for the day (1Cor. 15:1-11) contains one of the most glorious themes of Pauline writings, namely, the assurance of the resurrection or life after death for believers. The death and resurrection of Christ constitutes the cardinal point of the Gospel. The Gospel is summarised by Paul in the Epistle as follows:
• Christ died for our sins
• Christ was truly dead and buried
• Christ was raised from the dead
• We know these are true because He appeared to many people over many days.
• The Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ took place according to the Scriptures (in fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecy).
To believe in Jesus means to die with Him and embrace His life. Therefore, the present life of a Christian is actually life after death.
It is a life unto righteousness after death to sin. But unfortunately, this seems not to be the case. Many Christians are obviously much alive to sin (the old life before death).
So, we should examine our lives to see if we are living the new life in and with the Risen Lord. That is the only way to ensure a blissful life after death in eternity.
The concept of life after death shows that death is rather a way to life than an end to it. This gives hope and at the same time calls for caution. Everyone needs Jesus because it is only in and through Him that we can have eternal life in the presence of God. He is the Resurrection and Life… (Jn 11:25 – The Gospel for the day)
Ven. Dr. Princewill O. Ireoba is the Rector,
Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.
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