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January 2, 2021 2:00 am
Nathaniel Hawthorne once wrote, "A grave, wherever found, reaches a short and pithy sermon to the soul." He's right! Cemeteries remind us of our future on this earth--the only real estate we'll hold onto for awhile! But what happens to a believer after death? What about those who have died already? What are they doing now? Today and next week we will look at the experience of the death of the believer and what takes place afterwards.
This teaching is from the series From the Edge of Eternity.Links:
This week's DevoMail: https://connnectwithskip.com/devomail
The focus of most everyone is what goes on here during this life. We all know that death is a part of life we all know, rarely do we think about it we don't like to think of someone plus one day the future real estate will occupies in our own homes with an acre to smaller but just plot of land 6 feet underground.
Be there. Our bodies unless the Lord returns anytime soon. Be there for a long time. One popular game show includes a choice between Doris behind three doors or three different prices in the contest that is made to choose the door and hopefully win the best prize for today here and correctly Skip weekend division Skip Heitzig supervises the order comes the death we have two doors to choose for life with God and life without it, and what lies beyond the threshold doesn't have to be unknown will find out today as we join Skip for more of our series from the edge of eternity. And as we get started today. We invite you to add Skip Heitzig to your social media accounts, scriptures, encouragements, updates, and is teaching schedule. But even personal photos so that you can get to know them better. Just like him on Facebook. Follow him on Twitter right into your Instagram for the hub for all that is connected with skip.com you can also find out about this month's brand-new resource. Does God exist, and if he dies. Is it possible to know your answer to those two questions shapes how you see the world Skip Heitzig eggs once wrestled with those very questions himself, you know, I've been teaching the Bible for over three decades before I became a Christian and when I was new to the faith.
I studied science and philosophy alongside the Bible as I studied, I grew confident that God does exist. And yes, we can know in the biography of God. The brand-new book by Skip Heitzig say you learn to remove the limits you may have placed on your idea of who God is. Everything changes when you acknowledge and believe that God is who he says he biography of God is our way to thank you when you give $35 or more today to help expand this vital teaching outreach to more people request your copy when you give online securely connectwithskip.com/offer or call 819 to 18, 88, Skip at his wife lady a studio today so we hope you listening for that after today's feature. Now let's open your Bibles to first Thessalonians chapter 4 we join Skip Heitzig. It's all about living it's all about life and the focus of publications. The focus of most everyone is what goes on here during this life, but we all know that death is a part of life. We all know the rarely do we think about it we don't like to think it's so unpleasant that one day the future real estate will occupies in our own homes with an acre or two were much smaller but just little plot of land 6 feet underground will be there. Our bodies unless the Lord returns anytime soon will be there for a long time. Malcolm Muggeridge used to say when he was living here on earth.
He said I have 1 foot in heaven and 1 foot on earth, and the foot on earth is on a banana peel. He knew that life was precarious here that matter. If we work out. If we eat right. If we take vitamins count calories pump iron stretcher finishes back.
Eventually, we lose that battle and death will overtake us that there is even a Washington DC undertaker that signs all of his correspondence.
Instead of like we write cordially yours, he always ends his letters eventually yours is to remind people where they're all heading. I've done funerals for over 25 years I buried hundreds of people young younger middle-aged old believers and unbelievers.
I've watched many people die over the years, including my own mother. This last year and I've learned a few things in doing dad and watching people die.
I've learned that you want to live in such a way so that when you die, you're going to be missed and you're going to be ready for the future without any regrets without any longings that you should have done something different for the future part a story about three guys. They all died in the same auto accident. They were taken up to sort of an eternal holding tank for orientation.
They were all asked this question that if if during your funeral as people are mourning your loss and they're saying things about you in there and they're weeping over your casket. What is the one thing you'd like people to say about you. One guy said why like him to say that I was a wonderful family man and Dr. the second guy said I'd like him to say that I was a great teacher who helped kids out and I love my wife with all my heart.
The third guy thought about it a while and he said I think I'd like to hear people say she's moving, there's a guy who lived with some regrets.
There's a guy who didn't want to end it all. He wanted to go back. He lived in ignorance and without any assurance, and those are the two things that I want to talk to you about out of this text I want to talk about the ignorance concerning death and the assurance that as believers we have concerning death. Those two themes emerge side-by-side in verses 13 through 18 of first Thessalonians chapter 4 the let's look at those verses together, but I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord himself will dissent from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel with the trumpet of God and the dead in Christ will rise first and then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words of those verses that we just read at a first Thessalonians chapter 4 will occupy our time this week and next week as we look at a view from death's door. We want to follow those themes of ignorance and assurance that Paul is writing about ignorance concerning death and assurance that we can have concerning death because this section will answer many questions that we have questions like we discussed a few of them last week and in that we said we want to answer some of them in the series.
What happens at the moment of death when we die. Are we unconscious are we what some people call in soul sleep since Paul says those who sleep in Christ is that mean were unconscious during that time. When will the resurrection take place is a property grieved when a Christian when a believer dies or though Jesus Christ triumphed over death by resurrection and promises triumph over death to believers. Jesus said whoever believes in me will never die. Why is it that Christians still die when will death eventually be over with. Therefore Paul said is correct. The last enemy that will be defeated as death.
When will that take place not just a little background before we jump in and begin running a cover part of this tonight, not the whole thing will take at least two weeks to get through it.
But here's the deal Paul on his second trip. We called it a second missionary journey stop by the town of Thessalonica and there for three successive weekends Sabbath days he preach the gospel in the synagogue. People came to faith in Christ because of an uproar of persecution that took place.
Paul had for his own life get out of town, but a body of believers was established there say from the Greco-Roman pagan world.
Now they are believers in Christ. Paul had been telling them that Jesus Christ is going to come back. Be ready for me could come at any moment.
But time passed and during that time, relatives, friends, loved ones, died, and now they're worried. And Paul gets wind of the eye the of the fact that they're worried they're worried because when minute. If Jesus is gonna come back and and and start his kingdom again here. What about my friends will what about my relatives. Those who have died will they miss out on all of that, they were panicking because some of the people that they thought would share in that glory have died and so he writes about that. So let's consider tonight the the ignorance of death and again look at verse 13. That's where we want to camp tonight. I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as those who have no hope of something that Paul does bring up in this verse that that I do want you to notice is just how widespread ignorance of death is he's writing to Christians and he says I don't want you to be ignorant, brethren who are brethren. Brethren are Christian believers that you don't tell somebody look I'm writing because I want to dispel your ignorance unless there is a level of ignorance among those writing to. So even though they were believers in Christ. There was a level of ignorance about death that they held and it hasn't ceased. From that time onward. I read a story about a man who got up every morning and read the newspaper, but he'd always read the obituaries first. Every day he read the obituaries finally turned to one of his relatives and since I just can't figure out how it is that people can die in alphabetical order of non-Christians and Christians are uninformed or misinformed when it comes to death and dying, but I've always loved the little quip about the four-year-old boy with his dad on the beach. Four-year-old boy grabs dad's dad's a Christian man been the church a long time and the little boy brought his dad over to a dead Siegel and said what happened here and bad came up with the dad!
The bird died and went to heaven. And so the little boy looked down and looked up at his dad honest with and why did God throw them back down.
I think that's an excellent question. If we can explain it like that.
We sometimes don't do a whole lot better when it comes to explaining death and the afterlife. Okay the people in Thessalonica were surrounded by a culture of ignorance and I want to explain briefly to you what the Greeks and the Romans thought about death. Just so you know how important the statement in verse 13 is most of you know that the Greek culture was filled with mythology that several gods in the pantheon of deities that they thought existed and believed in one of the lesser deities was a golf God named Thanatos.
Thanatos get the idea of death from that Thanatos was the personification of death and mortality. Thanatos was the offspring of two gods Knicks and Arab boss which means night and darkness and he had a twin brother by the name of hip, not us. Where the idea of sleep comes from.
According to their mythology, Thanatos despised human beings and human beings despised Thanatos and so there are some Greek stories of how certain people cheated. Thanatos cheated death and were able to live longer than was expected that sort of the nutshell of what Greeks believed the Roman culture displayed as much ignorance as the Greek culture that's evidenced by reading some of the tombstones. You can still find in Rome today go down below the city and their smiles of catacombs and many of those grays were filled with the. The unbelieving remains of people who occupy them. Here's a few of the gravestones. Some were apathetic about life and death, and on one tombstone reads I was, not I became. I am not.
I care not another Roman grave is on the tombstone reads live for the present hour since there is nothing else in yet another Greystone expresses some of the religious superstition that some Romans had reads I lift up my hands against the gods who took me away at the age of 20. Though I had done no harm. This would happen when a Roman died when a Roman citizen died they laid the body out and they put a coin in the body's mouth. The person's mouth of the coin was to pay the fair to a deity called Tyrone who was the sort of the Guardian in the underworld. The ferryman in the underworld who would convey the person's soul across the river. The river Stokes and your soul would take the journey across the river where you would be met by three judges who would demand an account of your life tree would be impartial if you are warrior or a hero. Your soul was sent to a place called the LEC in fields or sort of an ancient view of paradise.
If you are an honorable citizen. Your soul would be ushered somewhere else. If you really perturb the gods than he would pay for your misdeeds. You pay off the debt to society only for a period of time. There was never a thought of eternal punishment in the Roman world.
So that's the ideology.
Some of them that these Thessalonians were surrounded with, so it helps to know that when you read this verse I don't want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. The Greco-Roman world was empty, hopeless, bankrupt when it comes to anything eternal and young believers in Thessalonica, though they heard the gospel and rejoiced in salvation and were told that Jesus was going to come, they thought, he's gonna come like tomorrow like next week or like next month and then months go on in and people died and they wonder will now what's going to happen or they can, it ceased to exist. That's what we've always been taught or are they been taken somewhere else does the kind of questions that filled their minds so the ignorance was pretty widespread. Now that ignorance continues today in our modern, sophisticated, educated, world, both among believers as well as in the secular world. I think you know a lot of them already ask the average person about death, heaven, hell, afterlife, and they'll probably say things like, well, all you to go to heaven is just die.
That's what I noticed at funerals. There's a person who lived his whole life without any thought about God at all. Suddenly when they die there some preacher who will say wonderful things. And now there in heaven so I gotta do to get to heaven is die or people say well if you're good enough you get to heaven. All good people go to heaven or everybody goes to heaven.
You never hear anybody stand up at a funeral and say today were remembering somebody who's not in heaven will ever see that if you be very disturbing to see and yet Jesus taught that only very few people go to heaven right said broad is the way the least destruction, and many enter therein. Narrow is the way that leads to eternal life, and only a few enter therein. So what do people think well the materialist believes in extinction. You live you die. There's nothing else, no hope to look forward to know afterlife, nothing at all make the best of it, because after death. You just cease to exist and complete unconscious.
Others who are little more superstitious, more along the new age lines will teach absorption that were all part of the divine cosmic mind will even call it the Christ mind and will all merge back into that United mine, whatever that means though I've read stuff I still don't get what they mean by in other parts of the world. People hold to an animistic belief tribal religions that when you die, your soul stays on earth or goes to the underworld where you merge with the souls of your ancestors and you forever eternally wander without any joy without any sorrow at all.
Hindus believe in reincarnation. That's a pantheistic worldview says the soul is recycled from one form to another. It's become very popular in our culture. Though even in my unbelieving days. It did not seem attractive to me. The idea of coming back here and going through certain experiences. Again was not attractive to me.
I don't want to go to diapers again. I don't want to do another first date ever again. I don't have to take high school English ever again or just certain things I like. It is not been there done that got the T-shirt. It's over.
So very easy to get caught up with what were doing on a daily basis.
That will give any thought to what will happen in eternity. However, considering how fleeting your days are and how lasting eternity truly is is foolish not to give any thought to what will happen when this life is over, so we hope you take some time to consider what we talked about today, it's easy to go back and listen to it again or share with a friend in the links for all that firstname.lastname@example.org we have Skip and Lenny in studio today to talk a bit more about this when you Skip today your message.
Explore what happens after you die and even talked about death itself and I think semi-pellets authors over you know history have personified death as the Grim Reaper or our death takes a holiday you meet Joe Black are and that kind of thing and I think it's because death produces such fear and helplessness in questions and eating out when death is the doorway to heaven to eternal life, and with Christ then why does the Bible call death. The last enemy will I think it's pretty simple and straightforward. The Bible calls death. The last enemy because it's the last enemy will face while alive we face death. So in terms of chronology that would be the very last thing we would face more than that.
It's an enemy. Because it takes away what God intended us to have and that is life. God breathed life into Adam's intention was man to live and live forever and that's why believe Jesus at the grave of Lazarus wept. He wasn't just weeping because he missed his friend goodness he was going to raise them in a few minutes. He knew that was coming but he also knew this is wrong and what they are feeling is a right feeling death take something away and and that is life in God never intended that wasn't in his original design and he saw what death can do to people and so death does that to life. It robs us of it and the thing is is that got a second or worse circumstance that most people say is the worse, and that his death and turns it on its ear.
I think that's not so bad. It might just be the dying.
Yeah. To quote Woody Allen to write but death isn't. Not only is it not bad. It's wonderful for the believer precious in the side of the Lord is the death of his saints. You know you have been at bedside of those have been passing as have I and so you know me 19 cheek said that's the dying it's hard that when people know what's coming. After that you can see them relax.
I seen so many deaths that have been peaceful where there ratty and and waiting for the Lord and that idea is if you let go at this level and tangerine vinaigrette. Reach out for the hand of Christ. And so even knowing where you're going will make death and dying so much more peaceful yeah because what what Jesus does. He takes the last enemy and makes it a new friend. It's like this doorway that you can walk in Mark door number one is in the lead you right into the presence of the living God, where there is joy and pleasures for evermore. Thanks so much. Skip a line here in just one last thing.
Our current weekend. Teaching series is called from the edge of eternity you can get a copy of any of the teachings you email@example.com or for personal help with your just call 1-800-922-1880, why are there so many ideas about what comes next one we got. Even among believers will talk about that more next time here and correctly Skip weekend division presentation of connection so you guys never change and ever-changing time