LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

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Lesson 9 The Life After Death

 

Devotional Reading:   Psalm 16

 

Memory Verse:           Daniel 12:2

 

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.

 

LESSON TEXT

 

Philippians 1:21–24. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

 

2 Corinthians 5:1–9. For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 5Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 6Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7(For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 9Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

 

COMMENTS OF THE LESSON TEXT

 

Philippians 1:21–22. Paul realized his life was useful yet he saw much gain in dying, and could scarcely decide which he had rather do. Vv 23, 24. This gain consisted in being with Christ—a far better condition for Paul. To remain would mean greater service for the church.

2 Corinthians 5:1. The dissolution of this body is not the end. We have a new, immortalized existence awaiting us. Vv 2, 3. The present state is not altogether satisfactory—we groan. We anxiously await our immortalized state. V4. Our desire is not so much to be rid of the present body as to obtain the glorious body. The present existence is far better than annihilation, which we do no seek, but inferior to our glorious future. V5. The gift of the Holy Spirit is counted a pledge of our future immortality which is indeed the purpose for which God made us. V6. While in this body we do not have the presence of the Lord in the full sense that we shall have later. V8. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord in a way not now experienced. Three states are pictured in these verses: clothed with our present mortal body, unclothed and clothed upon with our new body. Whether we remain or die soon we must seek to please God.

 

LESSON TOPIC: THE LIFE AFTER DEATH

 

I. THE SOUL SURVIVES DEATH

 

1. It is the body that dies.

 

A) The soul and body are distinct. B) It is the body that is mortal. Men may kill it but cannot kill the soul (see Matthew 19:28). The death of the physical body can and does occur without the death of the soul.

 

2. It is the belief of the race.

 

A) This belief is universal. All races believe in a life after death. Such belief is inherent in human nature and not the result of traditional teachings. B) It is supported by reason. The injustice and inequalities experienced here call for an adjustment in a future life. Only in a future life can full justice be meted to all. C) The conscience testifies to it. To those who have done will it is but natural to hope for glory and honor (see Romans 2:7), but to the ungodly there is a looking forward to indignation and punishment. Men expect the full realization of these in the future.

 

3. It was the hope of the Patriarchs.

 

These confessed they were strangers and pilgrims here and looked for a future existence (see Hebrews 11:13–16).

 

4. It is the teaching of Jesus.

 

A) The Patriarchs still live (see Matthew 22:22, 32). Here Christ argues for a resurrection from the fact that these men still live. Their bodies were long since decayed but they themselves still live. It is their souls that live. What is said of them is true of men universally (see Luke 20:28. The survival of the soul wherein is the real identity of man gives ground for faith in a resurrection. B) The rich man and Lazarus lived beyond death (see Luke 19:19–31). Whether a parable or not, this account must be true to facts. Christ never based a parable upon falsehood or false doctrine. Both men were conscious beyond death. This is not after the resurrection, for the rich man still had brother living on the earth. C) The dying thief was promised a place in paradise (see Luke 23:43). This promise includes the conscious existence of both Christ and the thief. To seek to make this text mean anything else is buy to pervert the Scriptures.

 

5. It is the teaching of Paul.

 

A) He believed conscious existence outside the body possible. In 2 Corinthians 12:1–4 he tells of a man (possibly himself, Acts 14:19, 20) who had a wonderful experience. Paul could not tell whether this occurred in the body or out of the body. Of course we do not know either. But this statement of Paul’s show that he believed one could have conscious existence outside the body. If he had not had this belief he should have known it was only a trance. B) He believed the soul goes to be with Christ after death (see Philippians 1:23). He did not believe in annihilation nor soul-sleeping, for neither of these can be better than the present state. He contrasts a life of service with being with Christ and tries to decide between these. C) He believed in three states of existence: in the body, or the present state; absent from the body, in which state we are in some greater sense present with the Lord; and clothed upon with immortality, or the eternal state in the resurrected body.

 

6. It was and is the faith of the saints.

 

A) Stephen, at the hour of death, expected to enter the presence of Jesus. The vision he received was either a reality or a deception. It could not have been the latter. B) Many modern saints have seen in death the heavens opened. The cases are many and well confirmed. The unsaved have likewise seen their doom.

 

II. THE STATE OF THE SOUL AFTER DEATH

 

1. A state of joy or sorrow.

 

A) To be present with Christ necessitates joy. No religious soul can be consciously present with him and not enjoy a state of bliss. B) The account of the rich man and Lazarus teaches such a state. Lazarus was comforted while the rich man was tormented.

 

2. It is not a purgatory.

 

A) A Catholic doctrine of purgatory is without Scriptural support, though it is consistent with the Catholic system. B) The purging of souls is accomplished through the blood of Christ in this life and not through future sufferings.

 

3. It will not be a probation.

 

A) There is no offer of salvation to the dead. B) The Scriptures teach positively no future opportunity for salvation. There is no passing the great gulf, we shall be judged by the deeds done in the body, and those who die in sin cannot go where Christ is. C) The righteous are said to be resting, and the wicked are reserved to the day of awards. There will be a resurrection and final judgment after which all will receive their final awards.

 

III. THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY

 

1. There will be a resurrection.

 

A) There is no rational proof of a resurrection nor can reason show that a resurrection is impossible or even improbable. We must look to the Scriptures for the knowledge of this fact. B) The Bible distinctly states that there shall be a resurrection (Acts 24:14, 15 and other texts). C) It will be a resurrection of the body (Job 19:26; Matthew 27:52, 53). D) It will be a general resurrection of all dead (Daniel 12:2; John 5:28, 29).

 

2. The resurrected body.

 

A) It will be a body, not a mere spiritual existence. It is “our house from heaven” with which we are to be clothed. B) It will not be a new creation—an entirely new body. Such would not be a resurrection. The actual body of Christ was raised and so shall ours be.