My hope and strength for this life are rooted in the next. Because of the resurrection of Jesus, I can be fearless in both life and death.
The resurrection is our foundation for life and death.
The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation and pinnacle of the Christian faith. Remove it, and our entire faith collapses like a house of cards, for “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Cor 15:14).
There are many theories that try to debunk the truth of the resurrection but none of them are sufficient given the entirety of historical evidence (you can read more about those here). Even Lee Strobel, an atheist, skeptic and seasoned journalist for the Chicago Tribune, set out to disprove the resurrection only to discover an overwhelming amount of historical evidence that confirmed it as fact, not fiction (you can read his book, the Case for Christ or watch the movie on Netflix).
The physical trauma Jesus experienced at the flogging and crucifixion were fatal. The empty tomb was “one of the best-attested facts in ancient history” with more than 500 eye-witness accounts that saw Jesus within a period of 40 days after he died.
No one willingly dies a horrible death for what they know is a lie or a hoax. The resurrection “transformed the disciples from fearful deserters into faithful followers who endured great persecution and became martyrs for their faith”.
Jesus was raised from the dead and then never died again. No one else in history can claim that. Anyone who experienced resurrection after death (Lazarus, saints, etc.) eventually died a second time. But the resurrection of Jesus is permanent.
The resurrection proves there is life after death.
Because Jesus is alive, those who believe in him will also live again; for he said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, even though he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11:25-26).
What does this mean for me today?
The resurrection provides both a future promise and a future return. Jesus is alive and he is coming back again.
Because Jesus is alive, there is no fear in death. Death is unnatural. We were never intended to die or be separated from our loved ones. We never “feel old” because our souls are immortal; they don’t age like our bodies. Our culture works hard to prolong life and postpone death. But death will come for us all. It is the one thing we cannot escape regardless of riches, intellect or deed.
When sin entered the picture, it brought spiritual death to the soul and physical death to the body. Our bodies die because they are affected by sin (Rom 6:23).
Jesus came to set us free from sin. Those who believe in him will not experience spiritual death or eternal misery and separation from God. But “those who do not trust Christ in this life will be eternally separated from God and enter a reality” of great torment where there is no rest, a place completely void of any good thing (Matt 25:41; Luke 12:5; John 3:36; Romans 2:8-9; Hebrews 10:29).
Even for a believer, death can still feel scary because it’s a realm to which we have never gone. But the Bible tells us what to expect and what is to come (scroll to the end of this post for what Scripture says about death).
For a believer, death is a doorway to the presence of the living God. When I die, I will not lose my identity, become a floating spirit in the cosmos, be recycled as something else or cease to exist altogether. When I die, I have the promise of spending eternity with God (John 3:16). My soul will immediately depart from earth and be in the physical presence of Jesus (Luke 23:43, Phil 1:21-26, 2 Cor 5:6-9). This is why Paul said “to die is gain” and “to be away from the body is to be at home with [Jesus].”
Jesus is alive and when I die I get to be with him. Therefore, I can view my death as a joyous occasion and not something to be feared.
Because Jesus is coming again, my life and suffering have meaning. If there is no life after death and Jesus is not returning, then life is completely meaningless.
If death really is the end of my existence, then…
- This life is the only one that matters.
- There is no hell. There is no heaven.
- There will be no justice
- There will be no punishment for evil or reward for good
- There is no resurrection of the dead or reunion with our loved ones.
- History has no purpose.
- Suffering is meaningless. Persevering through hardship is useless.
Our hearts long for something more than this life because, let’s be honest, this life is incredibly miserable.
In this life we experience such pain, suffering, hardship, disease, mistreatment, abuse, and injustice. If there is no coming day when justice will finally prevail, good will triumph, and evil will be punished, then there is no point in persevering or remaining faithful.
But one day Jesus will return to set all things right. The world is spinning toward the sovereign end God has planned. On that final day, God will judge the world, punish evil, bring justice and reward the faithful. God will make all things right and “the last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor 15:26).
But for now, God is holding back His anger and judgment because He does not want anyone to perish. He longs for people to repent of their sin and be saved before it is too late (2 Pet 3:9). But He will not wait forever. One day, sooner or later, God will finally, fully and fairly judge the world for eternity.
Preserving this life may be of utmost importance to the world, but the highest goal for believers is obedience and faithfulness to God in every circumstance.
My suffering is never meaningless or wasted. Every hardship tests my faith, reveals my heart, makes me more like Jesus and gives me the opportunity to remain faithful to God (James 1:2-4). For we “share Christ’s sufferings, that we may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Pet 4:13).
In both life and death we can honor the Lord (Phil 1:20). We can face difficulty without fear and faithfully persevere because we belong to Jesus and God, who is just, will one day make all things right. Fixing our eyes on the truth of the resurrection and return of Jesus gives us the confident motivation to live for Christ and to give up everything in this life for His sake, knowing we will be rewarded and reap a harvest if we do not give up (Gal 6:9).
The Hope and Power of Easter
Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus…
- I am forgiven of all my sin and made right with God.
- I am secure and cannot lose my salvation or relationship with God.
- I am free from sin and can live for Christ.
- I am alive and can experience abundant life in Christ.
- I am fearless in both life and death.
What Does the Bible Say About Death and Life After Death?
- at death, the soul is separated from the body (Gen 35:18-19, Rev 6:9-10)
- at death, the believer’s soul immediately goes to be with Jesus (Phil 1:21-26, 2 Cor 5:6-9)
- at death, those who did not trust in Jesus will immediately go to a place of misery, separated from God because of sin (Luke 13:27-28, 16:19-31, Matt 7:21-23)
- when Jesus returns, he will resurrect the believer’s body from the dead; body and soul are reunited (1 Thes 4:16)
- the resurrected body of believers will be transformed to be like Jesus (glorification; 1 Cor 15:52, Phil 3:20-21).
- the resurrected body of believers will be…
- perfect, whole, complete
- no longer infected by sin (no aging, disease, defects, cannot die)
- fit to live in the holy kingdom of God (this is known as glorification)
- believers will be evaluated at the Bema Seat where God will reward every good deed done in the power of Christ; everything else done in the flesh will be rendered worthless (Rev 22:12, 1 Cor 3:11-15)
- at the very end, God will also resurrect the bodies of unbelievers for the purpose of eternal judgment (Acts 24:15, John 5:28-29, Dan 12:2, 1 Pet 4:5, Romans 2:8-9; Hebrews 10:29)