Bible Teaching about life after death

The Bible teaches that

  •  Death came because of sin.

  •  Death is a returning to the dust; a ceasing to exist.

  •  In death man is unconscious.

(Also see 'Bible Teaching about our human nature')

Thus man does not have an immortal soul. Always in the Bible eternal life is something promised - something to hope for but not yet received:
“This is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life” (1 John 2:25)

“In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (Titus 1:2)

Resurrection to Immortality

The only hope of a future life held out to dying man is life to be given at the resurrection. Eternal life can only be obtained after resurrection of the body:
“And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2)

“And this is the Father’s will that hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day” (John 6:39)

“If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Philippians 3:11) 

Resurrection Still Future

The resurrection will take place at the second coming of Jesus to the earth:
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16)

Eternal Life to be Enjoyed IN THE BODY

The resurrection will be a resurrection of the body from the sleep of death. Immortality will be given by changing this resurrected body from mortal (i.e. dying) to immortal (i.e. never dying).

“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53)

“The Lord...shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21)

Eternal Life to be Enjoyed ON THE EARTH

Those who are given eternal life will live on the earth. There is nothing in the Bible to suggest that anyone will go to heaven:

“Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner” (Proverbs 11:31)

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth”  (Matthew 5:5)

“Thou...hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10)

We shall see in our week 5 session, that once we understand the Bible teaching about the coming Kingdom of God on the earth this teaching - that the faithful will be rewarded on the earth - is demanded by the teaching about the Kingdom. The two are bound together.

Eternal Life is CONDITIONAL

Eternal life will not be given to everyone. Most people who have died will remain dead:
“The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead” (Proverbs 21:16)

Those who die in ignorance of God’s purpose - who are therefore not responsible to God will not be raised from the dead:
“He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light. Man that is in honour and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish” (Psalm 49:19-20)

BELIEF is Essential

The previous verses show that it is a knowledge of God’s ways that makes a person responsible to God. But more than knowledge is needed if a man is to gain eternal life. Firstly he must believe what he knows to be the teaching of the Bible about the Kingdom and about Jesus i.e. the Gospel:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)

“Our saviour Jesus Christ...hath abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10)

OBEDIENCE Must Follow Belief

To gain eternal life a person who believes must then obey the gospel. Baptism is one of the first acts of obedience. Notice how belief and baptism (obedience) are linked together:
“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16)

Baptism is only the beginning of the life in Christ. The standard set before the believer is high but the effort is worthwhile:
“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14)

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:17)

Resurrection of JUST and UNJUST

Those who are raised will be made up of two classes of people styled in Acts 24:15 “the just and the unjust”. The distinction will be made at “the judgment seat”. Those who have understood the gospel but have wilfully refused to obey it will be raised from the dead and judged accordingly:

“He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48)

Those who have obeyed the gospel will also be judged according to their works - i.e. according to their progress in the Christian life:

“Why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10,12)

“God...will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory,  honour and immortality, (he will give) eternal life” (Romans 2:6-7)

Those who, in God’s grace, are accounted worthy will be given eternal life and a place in God’s Kingdom.




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