The Afterlife: It’s probably not what you think.
Jesus is something of an authority on death, and life. He’s that guy who said that he was going to die, and going to be resurrected, and then it all happened just as he said. For questions about death and life, he is an indispensable source.
Unfortunately Christian thinkers rarely appreciate what he was talking about, and more often than not they present ideas that are more at home among the Greek philosophers, which would have been quite foreign to Jesus, the fiercely reformist, Judeo-Hebrew apocalyptic, messianic, prophetic preacher from Galilee.
I had recently spoken on this topic at several funerals, for various reasons, when I unexpectedly had the opportunity to preach. I figured I’d talk about this topic.
The humanists may be more correct than they know
The reading for this sermon was from Hebrews 11:1-2, 13-16, 39-40.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval … All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them … Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.
What I was reading from the Bible was 1 Corinthians 15:12-17:
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.