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Monday, April 14, 2014

The After Life Too

Put simply, there IS no after-life! 

If we are alive forevermore, for eternity, can there be anything after this, can there be life after death if there is no more death?

Is it really that simple?

Most people, Christians especially, have gotten hung up on the misplaced, disjointed hope of 'Heaven when I die'. Several reasons for this are that Christians of all sorts have clung to the false hope of a biological resurrection of individual bodies. This plus the fact that they believe passages like I Corinthians 15 and Roman 6-8 speak of a day when the whole of ( biological ) creation will be delivered from the 'bondage of corruption' ( Romans 8:21 ).

Admittedly, it IS a pleasant thought: can you 'imagine' living without having to worry about the ravages & temptations of physical sin, no poisonous animals ( snakes, scorpions ) to worry about, no threat of wild animals tearing your flesh, and best of all, those with physical disabilities or deformities not having to deal with those difficulties & frustrations anymore; sounds heavenly, no?!

It also sounds escapist and downright irresponsible!

Now, before you get too bent out of shape, I'm not saying that to wish to be free of physical disabilities is irresponsible ( although........)! Personally, I like to think of all the things that I could do with my life if only I hadn't been 'saddled' with this responsibility, but I know that our Heavenly Father gave me this 'gift' for a reason, and it IS somewhat irresponsible to long for a 'normal' existence! In fact, if I were able to lead a 'normal' existence, I probably wouldn't be where I am today, much less doing what I do!

Does not Scripture promise us that 'They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain' ( Isaiah 11:9a ) and that 'they[b] will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them' ( Mark 16:18 )? Did not Jesus say 'Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you' ( Luke 10:19 )?

Jesus said all these things and more, but when we single these passages out, and wrest them from their historical and covenantal contexts, we end up doing harm not only to ourselves, but to the Gospel itself! One only has to look at the schisms within Christianity and at the alarming rate at which not only teenagers, but adults as well are leaving the fold of orthodox Christianity in droves, to see how harmful this literalistic & individualistic hermeneutic is!

The Gnostics, Plato most famously, believed that the biological body was evil, 'a prison-house for the soul'. 'The material world is evil; it is only the spiritual which is truly good!' This kind of ideology sounds a lot like what we are hearing from most if not all corners of Christianity today! If we can only truly be redeemed or saved by departing from this biological body ( Ecclesiastes 12:7 ), then this is exactly what many Christians are saying! Granted, many of these will tell you that this will not occur until Jesus comes back and destroys ( biological ) death forever! That, however, is 'old news', and neither here nor there!

It IS a Simple Truth! Jesus told Martha 'whoever lives and believes in Me will never die' ( John 11:26a )! Even though we know that this was an eschatological statement aimed at Martha directly to comfort her over the physical demise of her brother, we can also glean Great Assurance from it as well, being confident that WE will never die! Though our biological bodies will, at some point, run down, and become fertilizer; we will not see corruption; our spirit perseveres in the Presence of our Heavenly Father. Maybe this was partially what David meant in Psalm 16, when he wrote, 'For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.'

No after-life, huh? Well, Heaven's gotta be better than this!

Looking at all the degradation around us & the evil that besets us, it's easy to think, 'well, Shirley, this can't be all there is!' ( see above ) Reading the newspaper headlines about bad things happening to good people, and watching and hearing about all the violence in the Middle East, one could almost believe all the bible prophecy pundits that exclaim 'the end is near!' I remember the apostle Peter saying something like that about 2,000 years ago ( I Peter 4:7 ); I believe we should trust his Inspiration rather than some nut-job whose Christianity is questionable, at best!

It might be argued, on the other hand, that we have an influence on our environment ( if we don't, then maybe we ARE dead while we live ), that whether positive or negative, we can influence society around us to a certain point! You probably have heard the saying that 'Life is what you make it'; well, to an extent, that's true! There are variables & uncertainties in this human existence, and it usually depends on how we face those uncertainties & variables that determines the effect they have on us & vice-versa!

The Presence of our Heavenly Father in His Kingdom is about as invariable as you can get! ( To Infinity ) That is an indisputable fact, and if one is willing to see it, One much in evidence! If that one is willing to see it, that one has accepted this Fact, and if they thus commune with their Heavenly Father & the Body of His Son, that one will enjoy the Blessings of Heaven! If, however, that one does not see & accept this Fact, and thus does not commune with their Heavenly Father and enjoy necessary communion with the Body of His Son, that rebellious one may feel like they are in 'Hell', much of the time!

So, the question 'is there life after ( biological ) death?' may be answered with a resounding 'YES!' The Life that we now Live in the Presence of our Heavenly Father will never end; our existence will continue on with Him after this biological construct perishes!

While many Christians like to engage in vain, escapist speculation about some future utopian dream called 'Heaven', and some capitalize to rather silly extremes by writing about their 'experiences': I believe that there is nothing better ( past, present or future ) than the Presence of our Heavenly Father, and to seek something else is nothing less than irresponsible escapism!

We can change our environment! Yes, it's going to take a long time ( relatively ), with hard work and perseverance; it's taken a long time for things to get to this point, and it will take a long time to get things back to where they should be! Some things will take longer than others to set to rights, and other things will more easily 'fall into place'; there are areas in which we can have more influence, some less, but if we persevere with the Strength in us, we WILL bring about that necessary Change!

Let's stop worrying about some 'after-life', and whether we'll go to some place called 'Heaven' when you die; let's live while we're alive!

Charles Haddon Shank



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