• Pastor Bowler

The Life Beyond

In Job 14:14, Job asks one of the most profound and important questions a human being can ever ask. He wrote, “If man die, shall he live again?” The question is answered with crystal-clear certainty by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

As our Saviour stood beside the tomb of Lazarus, He stated “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). This is a wonderful answer to the person who has placed his faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord. Because He lives, we too, shall live. If this were not so, then our whole Christian faith would be an empty mockery and we would be of all men most miserable. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). But our Lord has stated with clarity and certainty that we shall live because of our faith in Him.

We don’t know exactly what life beyond will be like. We are not yet capable of comprehending it. Whenever you hear someone who pretends he knows all the secrets and understands all the mysteries that lie beyond, you can be pretty sure that he is guilty of a little sanctified bluffing. And perhaps it isn't even sanctified! The apostle Paul says, “Now we see through a glass darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12). When our natural eyes create a blurred image of whatever we are looking at, it is called astigmatism. The word didn’t exist in Paul’s time, but this is what he is describing when it comes to trying to understand or make sense of life’s circumstances. Our vision at present is very limited, so how can we understand the depths of eternity? Though we are ignorant of all the details of the life beyond, let it be enough to know that we do not need to know. The fact that God has planned our eternal life is enough.

Many today say the universe is a part of a vast system of accidents—a chance arrangement of atoms, a remarkable display of matter and energy, cells and such things. They hold that this vast universe, with its intricacies and complexities, slowly developed out of that poor, little, crude, accidental beginning.

But faith and reason, logic and intelligence, resist and reject this sort of thinking—or this lack of thinking. Faith says every law of nature is a description of the way God does something. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:3). Faith depends upon His intelligence for its origin and upon His will for its operation. Because a law operates inside of the known, we believe it also operates in the unknown. Some unseen power controls infinite energy here. It is not logical to believe that a universe, moving in such orderly fashion, following such an orderly system and process, came about by some chance accident.

You and I have a perfect right to declare our belief in life after death because faith abundantly supports this belief. Faith moves out far beyond demonstration—goes ahead of sight, goes beyond mere obvious facts. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). You can see that demonstrated in everyday life. A great deal of life is lived beyond the physical. There are mystical and wonderful things taking place all about us which reinforce our belief that the physical and the visible things in life are only a scaffold for the real thing.

Around us in the world there is much chaos and confusion. Even in our own personal, individual lives, plans fail, ambitions are not realized, hopes are dissipated in frustration, and we sometimes may ask the question, “Is this life all?”

The Christian Gospel and the Christian faith state with absolute clearness that this life is but the beginning of an eternal existence. Hopes unfulfilled and ambitions unrealized may be disappointing to us here, but they are more easily endured when we remember that there is another day in which we shall see that what we have done in time, will develop in eternal meaning. Earth’s incompleteness will be met over there with completion and fulfillment. Concerning the resurrection of our bodies, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:43, “It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.”

Life here is so brief, but isn’t it wonderful to know that beyond this short day, there shines the blessed hope of eternity with Christ—when all the things we long for, all of the sanctified yearnings and purposes we know here will be finally realized. In David’s prayer, he said, “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness” (Psalm 17:15).

A traveller to Switzerland, uncertain of the way, asked a small lad by the wayside where Kandersteg was, and received the most significant answer ever given to him. “I do not know where Kandersteg is sir, but there is the road to it.” There are great many things I cannot tell about the life to come, but I know where lies the road. As I know Christ, the hope of glory, I have the certain assurance of immorality.

Solomon, known as the wisest man who ever lived, is the author of Ecclesiastes. He wrote in Ecclesiastes 8:16-17, “When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth: (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:) Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.”

Yet God knows all about it. Take courage. Look up. Believe in the ultimate fulfillment which God has promised. There is a better day coming. There is eternal blessedness; light and grace and satisfaction are ahead. As the Psalmist has said, “At thy right hand there are pleasures forever more” (Psalm 16:11). Trust God’s Word!

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