The End or the Beginning?
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Thessalonians 5: 23)
The one sure thing we all know about life is that we will die someday. The inevitability of death is something humans have absolutely no control over. It will come to each of us – we just don’t know when. So we tend to push the thought of it to the back of our minds – out of sight, out of mind so they say.
Have you ever experienced the death of someone close to you; someone whom you loved deeply? If you have, you know what a devastating loss that is, and you have learned just how fragile life is. If death has never touched your immediate family, you may think of it as something that happens to “others” and not to “us” or to “our family”.
Death is not a natural part of life. It is the result of the devastation of sin on our bodies. We hear of people dying everyday in tragic accidents or unexpectedly from an unknown illness, but do we really stop to think about what it means? If it doesn’t involve us directly we tend to minimize it. We move on with our daily lives never stopping to think about what it means for the family of that person or more importantly, what it means for that person himself?
Your soul and your body are two separate entities. Your soul can live without your body, but your body cannot live without your soul. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt. 10:28) Your body wears out with time and sometimes because of illness or injury, but your soul never dies.
So what does that mean for human beings? It means that when the body can no longer live, no matter what the reason, the soul lives on without it. Where does the soul go when the body dies? Very simply, it goes to heaven or to hell. God tells us these things in his Holy Word. Just as a man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9: 27, 28)
Very simply, when a Christian dies their body is buried in the ground and their soul goes to heaven to be with God. Non-Christians, those who do not believe in Jesus as their personal Savior from sin, will also be buried in the ground and their soul will go to hell.
When Christ comes on the last day, the souls and bodies of Christians and non Christians alike will be reunited. The bodies and souls of all believers will live eternally in heaven, in the mansions prepared for us by Jesus where “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 nor more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev. 21: 3,4)
The bodies and souls of unbelievers will live in torment forever in the fires of hell where “their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:48) In other words their bodies will continue to deteriorate forever. There will be no end to their suffering.
So, is death the beginning or the end? It is both…
For the believer it is the end of life as we know it here on earth, but the beginning of life in heaven with God. For the unbeliever it is the end of life as we know it here on earth, but the beginning of life forever separated from God in the fires of hell.
Our life here on earth is a gift from God. It is our “time of grace” – the only time/chance we have to come to faith. Faith is the rope which attaches us to Jesus. Only through faith in Him will we receive the promise of life in heaven with God. Once we are called from this life our fate cannot be changed.
Let’s use our time of Grace to make sure we and all people we meet have the chance to partake in the gift of heaven. Honor God with your body and your life. Tell everyone you know about Jesus and the wonderful things he has done for all people. Take God at his word. He never breaks his promises. He never changes his mind. This life is “not all there is”. I hope to see you in heaven!
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed the the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3: 16-18)
Gloria Dei! Amen.