When you breathe your last breath and close your eyes one final time, what happens next?
People are fascinated by that question. Is there life after death? Is it just lifeless nothingness? Or is there evidence to say once we die, we are actually alive somewhere, somehow, in some way?
Well, today we'll look at seven specific evidences for life after death. Stay with me. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. The mission of these daily programs is to intentionally disciple Christians through the Bible teaching of Chip Ingram. I'm Dave Drouy, and in just a minute we'll continue our series, Why I Believe. And as you just heard Chip tease, today's program is one that's sure to spark some very deep and thought-provoking conversations. So let me encourage you to listen closely to this message and then afterward share it with someone in your life who may need to hear it.
Now you can do that through the Chip Ingram app or by sending them the free MP3s that you'll find at LivingOnTheEdge.org. Okay, let's join Chip for his talk, Why I Believe in Life After Death. A number of years ago, I lived in a very unusual town on the coast of California. Unusual in that it was very new age, very progressive, actually had multiple satanic bookstores. And often there would be groups pop up that would be odd to say the least. And one was a group called Goths for short, or Gothic, and they would dress in all black and they talked about death.
And it's just from dirt to dust. There's no meaning. Philosophically, they were nihilists. There's no meaning to life.
We don't care. And there were a group of young people and they would kind of travel in groups and a young man in our church got with the wrong crowd, got involved with them, overdosed on drugs and died. And I remember multiple conversations with them, talking with them about the meaning of life and nothing matters. You know, you die, you're dust, that's it.
And then I'll never forget, I actually did the funeral and watching this wave of young people come in all dressed in black, some with their painted faces all in white, very bizarre. And they begin to talk about this young man who is a winsome, winsome young guy. And they started talking about how special he was and then almost in unbelief it was like, and he's in a better place and he's out of his hurting and that addiction won't haunt him anymore. And I'm going, wait, wait, wait a minute. I mean, I didn't say that, but it's like, what about dirt to dust and there's no meaning? And here's what I can tell you.
It's amazing how people can talk about, you know what, there's nothing. When you die, you die. Heck, you know, I don't care whether I go to hell or not. There's a lot of hell on earth. And yet when someone close to you dies, when you're faced with terminal cancer, I have rarely met anyone that is not asking the question with deep, deep sincerity, is there life after death?
And if there is, what happens? And that is, I would say one of the most, if not the most important question that we could ever ask. And so that's what I want to do. I'm going to suggest that there are seven evidences of life after death. Now, any single one of these is not going to be a proof, but all I want you to do is think with me and I want you to get this idea that as we look at life and culture and time, the preponderance of the evidence is that there's life after we die. First, there's nature, the pattern of nature.
You know, fruit has a seed, seeds you plant, the seed dies and then it grows. There's winter, but after the winter, there's spring. And it was Plato who said, I'm not sure what's after death, but nature seems to give us a picture of what it'll be like, some kind of life after death. The argument, if you will, from anthropology, if you went from the Himalayas to the Amazon to North America, South America, every culture over time, everywhere has a sense and a teaching and a history of there's life after death. And whether it's the pyramid of the Egyptians or the coin in the mouth of the Greeks, everyone is preparing for something happens after you die, at least in human history. Third is psychology, this inner innate sense that there's more to life than just now. The Bible would put it this way, that God has planted eternity in our hearts.
C.S. Lewis in his Mere Christianity said, if you're living in a world and there's a sense that somehow no matter what you try and get, it's not enough, there's something missing, he said, maybe it's because you were made for another world. This sense of ought, this psychological sense that we have that you never can have it all here. Fourth is ethics. You know, when you think about justice and we'd all say life isn't fair, the argument of ethics is there has to be life after death because if there's going to be justice, if there's going to be right and wrong, good needs to be rewarded and evil needs to be punished. And if that doesn't happen in this life for there to be genuine ethics, it has to happen in the next life.
Very closely related to that in classical philosophy is Immanuel Kant took the concept of ethics and he said, if God is good and there is justice, there can't be, there cannot be justice and a good God without an afterlife when he looked at the evil in the world. And then one that's kind of interesting is near death experiences, science if you will. I did a little research on this and there's been a lot of anecdotal popular books, actually millions of books have been sold on these near death experiences.
And yet there was a group in the UK that did actual research. They did empirical studies of people that actually had died. There was over 2000 people in 15 hospitals and their heart stopped. They had no brainwave and of those 40% of those that literally were dead and were resuscitated had some awareness or some story in general of recollection after they died. Approximately 16% of them experienced this euphoric light, just love and warmth.
23% experienced either total darkness or a tunnel of darkness and then 2% had what we call the out of body experience. They literally, they're dead and they felt their body float out and they would watch the doctors, they heard jokes, sometimes they would even afterwards tell the doctors what they were saying and people were shocked. One lady, verified story, literally said she came out of the room, she continued to float, she went above the hospital and she saw a tennis shoe on the roof. Later she was revived and she told them that story and they went up, are you ready?
Tennis shoe on the roof. Does it prove there's life after death? Well, you know, it proves that when your brainwaves stop, when your heart stops beating, it doesn't mean that your consciousness is necessarily gone.
And of course, one of the strongest proofs for me is Jesus in the Bible. Jesus was so clear that there is life after death. In fact, he raised people from the dead. He died and rose again.
He's the authority on that. So the cumulative evidence of nature, psychology, anthropology, science, ethics, philosophy in the Bible, I think is a strong case to say, when you look at all those things together, the probability that there is life after death is extraordinarily high. And that raises a really, really big question. What happens?
What happens when a person dies? Every culture around the world has some story. And in most of the stories, there's some level of accountability. There's a balance.
There's a good place or a bad place called different things in different cultures. And here's what I want to do. What does the Bible say? As a follower of Christ, what happens the minute after a person dies?
And that's what I want to walk you through. Now, I wish I could say there's this book of the Bible and it says, this is what happens after you die and you just read that book. But it's literally woven all the way through scripture.
And so I'm going to take the lens and I'm going to pull it back. I'm going to take all that I understand that it says everywhere in scripture. And I think I can summarize it in four large basic truths. And as you do that, it'll give us a beginning understanding of what happens after you die. This is what the Bible teaches these four summary statements. Number one, at death, every person's soul or spirit enters immediately and consciously into relational aspects of eternal existence.
Let me say that again. Immediately after a person dies, your immaterial you, the real you, not your body, enters immediately and consciously into the relational aspects of existence. Your body goes into the grave, but your soul, your spirit is in eternity. Now, where do I get that and where does the Bible teach that? It's Jesus' paradigm of the afterlife. If you want to know how Jesus and people viewed the afterlife and what happened, you listen to what Jesus taught.
Listen to Luke chapter 16. There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table.
Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side and then the rich man also died and was buried in Hades where he was tormented and he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. So he called him, Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in the water and cool my tongue because I am in agony in this fire. But Abraham replied, Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things while Lazarus received bad things.
But now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all of this, between us there is a great chasm that is fixed so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us. He answered, then I beg you, Father, send Lazarus to my brothers for I have five brothers, let him warn them so they will not come to this place of torment. Abraham replied, they have Moses and the prophets, let them listen to them.
In other words, the word of God. No, Father Abraham, he said, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent. Now notice how Jesus responds. If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.
It's rather prophetic, isn't it? In fact, what he's saying is if we don't listen to God's word, we wouldn't be convinced even if we saw some great and miraculous things. But the apostle Paul has a very similar paradigm of the afterlife. Second Corinthians chapter five, he talks about our bodies being a tent and this body is a tent and it's temporary.
And then here's his line. When we're absent from the body, we're present with the Lord. All I want you to get is when you die, there's not soul sleep. When you die, you will immediately and consciously be aware of your new surroundings. The apostle Paul says, the moment I die, I'm at home with the Lord. He would say in Philippians chapter one, you know, I don't know if I'm going to make it or not.
He was ready to be executed. He didn't know, maybe I'll get delivered, maybe I won't. And then he said this, it's better for you if I stick around because I can minister more.
It's better for me if I leave. But then he makes this point. He says to live is Christ, to die is gain. What he understood was the moment he died, he'd be in the presence of Christ.
Second major overall point in terms of the afterlife. One day, everyone will be resurrected and live forever. I don't know how long I was a follower of Christ. And I don't know how I didn't get this. But I sort of had this picture that yes, if you're a follower of Jesus and you believe in him, you'll get resurrected.
But I didn't think about everyone. Listen to the apostle Paul. He's just presented his testimony and he's being given a defense and they're giving him a hard time. And now he defends himself in Acts 24, 14 and 15. He says, however, I admit that I worship the God of my fathers as a follower of the way which you all call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the law and that which is written in the prophets.
And I have the same hope in God as these men, speaking of the Jewish accusers. Then get this, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. Everyone gets resurrected. Think of that.
Everyone is going to live forever somewhere. That's sobering isn't it? Think about your friends. Think about your family.
Think about your coworkers. This being a follower of Christ isn't this little window where we just kind of do our thing and go to our building and sing our songs and listen to someone like me, you know, teach God's word. After we die, we have the promise of immediately being in the presence of God. And after everyone dies, what we know is this, we will all be judged.
Third, every person will be judged and granted the extended capacity to fulfill in eternity the deepest yearnings and desires of their heart while on earth. Now let me unpack this. It's a really long sentence and I still remember writing it for the first time. I remember putting it in notes the first time and having many people tell me, you can't put that in your notes. It's way too long. It's way too complicated. Well guess what?
I put it in my notes. Listen again carefully. Every person will be judged. Believer, unbeliever, every person who's been born will be judged and we'll learn Jesus is the judge.
Now listen to this and we'll be granted the extended capacity. In other words, whatever they were experiencing on earth, they're going to have an extended capacity. They're going to experience whatever they had on earth, an extended capacity in eternity.
Notice to fulfill the deepest yearnings and desires of their heart. The Bible says in Hebrews 9, it's appointed unto man wants to die, but after this, the judgment. So we're all judged. Now listen to the judge who is Jesus. John chapter five, verses 25 to 27. Jesus is speaking.
I tell you the truth. A time is coming and now has come when the dead will hear the voice of the son of God and those who hear will live. For as the father has life in himself, so he has granted the son to have life in himself and he has given him authority to judge because he is the son of man. Do not be amazed at this for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice.
And so he's the judge. And let me, let me roll this out for you in a way that you can understand. There are some people that have come to know Jesus and they long to know him better. They get up in the morning and they read God's word and they talk to him and they want to learn and they want to grow and they're learning to love and they just have this passion for Jesus, this desire to love him and know him.
When they are judged and God looks at them and he sees, oh, you put your faith in my son so all of his righteousness is on you and all your sins were placed on him. The capacity to have an extended yearning and longing to know God more and more and more will be given to them. They also probably wanted to develop their gifts and love other people.
So in heaven they'll have an extended capacity to grow and use their gifts and love people and in ways they never dreamed that they could never have on this earth. By contrast, there are people that their deepest yearning and desire was, I'm the boss. I want life my way. I'm going to stay in control.
No one's going to tell me what to do. And God says to them, this desire to stiff arm me, this desire to have your own way and you be your little king of your little world, you will have an extended capacity. In other words, you're going to get to enjoy that, if you will, forever and ever and ever apart from Christ. See what I want you to understand is that when you really want to know what you believe, just ask yourself, what do you really love? What do you really love? Who do you really love? And if you're not sure, then just kind of open your day timer, you know, remember those old things or your phone and look where your time goes and then open your checkbook or your 401k and then look at your credit cards and look where your money goes.
And then what do you dream about and where did your energy go? And what I can tell you is this, whatever you love reveals the deepest desires and yearnings of your heart. And see, I think we live in a day where people have all kind of like, oh, I think this and I feel this and you know, so-and-so says that and I have this emotion and I think we're greatly, greatly deceived.
If you want to know what you love, look at your passions, your money, your priority and your time. You've been listening to part one of Chip's message, Why I Believe in Life After Death. He'll be right back with his application for this teaching. Now, as you may or may not know, there's actually a lot of solid verifiable evidence that supports Jesus' existence and his ministry. The real challenge is articulating that and other biblical truths to those who genuinely want to know more.
So how do we do that? Well, in this series, Chip shares ways we can effectively and winsomely answer honest questions about our faith that will attract people to the gospel and not repel them from it. For more information about why I believe or our resources, go to livingontheedge.org, the Chip Ingram app, or call 888-333-6003.
Well, Chip's joined me in studio now. And Chip, at Living on the Edge, we believe small groups are absolutely vital for people's spiritual health, which is why we have a growing library of resources. But with that, where do you suggest people get started? Maybe take a minute and share the basic foundational studies you'd recommend.
Well, Dave, we all have special times in our life where there's either crisis or we know we need to improve our parenting or marriage or there's some emotional issues. And as people go through, there's plenty of small group resources like that. But what I think is missing is what historically has been called a catechism. A catechism is a well-ordered process of truth by which you go through it systematically and intentionally in order to become more and more like Jesus and to fulfill more and more what Jesus has called us to do. And so if you follow Jesus' life, His actual chronological life, then the first thing is He defined what a disciple is. And so the very first study I encourage people to do is true spirituality, becoming a Romans 12 Christian. It'll let them know this is what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The second thing Jesus did is He took them through various experiences to reveal who God was like.
What is God really like? And so our second study, it's called The Real God. And in that, we study the attributes of God and how to get them from your head into your heart. The third thing that Jesus did is He helped them understand how does life change really occur?
How do you put it into practice? We have a study from Ephesians chapter 4 called Transformed, The Miracle of Life Change. And then the fourth one I'll give you because I don't want to lay it all out is that when you take these kind of steps, all hell breaks loose.
I don't mean that as a cuss word. What I mean is it's challenging, it's difficult. There's spiritual warfare. And that's our study from Ephesians chapter 6.
It's called The Invisible War, what every believer needs to know about Satan, demons, and spiritual warfare. So let me encourage you, unless there's a critical need, a high-felt need, consider studying in order the catechism the way Jesus taught His disciples. Thanks, Chip. Well, to learn more about the studies Chip mentioned or any of our other small group resources, go to livingontheedge.org or call us at 888-333-6003. And let me tell you, these materials are so easy to use. Chip provides the teaching, then you'll have time to discuss what you've heard with our helpful study guides. So if you're not in a small group yet or you aren't sure what to study next, let me encourage you to check us out. And for a limited time, all of our small group resources are discounted. Again, visit livingontheedge.org or call 888-333-6003.
App listeners, tap special offers. Now with some final thoughts, here's Chip. As we close today's program, I really want to encourage you to join us for the rest of the message. The real meat of this message, I mean what really happens to us the second after we die, is in part two.
Now with that said, on a little bit of a lighter note, I said something that a lot of people, they kind of tilt their head and I look at them and I realize they don't quite get what I mean. When I said we have an extended capacity to love and learn when we get to heaven, here's what I mean. What the Bible clearly teaches is that if you have skills and if you have talents, those things don't just go away.
But in heaven, you will have an extended capacity. If you're a musician, that means you'll play music, you'll write new music. If you're an author, you'll write new things, new poems. If you're an artist, you'll create new art. If you're a leader, there's going to be roles in leadership and community and life.
If you're a builder, there's going to be some things to build. If you're a scholar, you're going to do research into the infinite mystery of God. I mean, there is a whole world. Heaven is not sipping iced tea and floating around on clouds. In fact, I'll give a fuller picture of some of the things that happen in heaven. Here's what I want you to know.
There's a dynamic, fulfilling life that's beyond description for all those who've trusted Christ. You don't want to miss it. We'll talk more about that in our next broadcast and what really happens after we die. Looking forward to that message, Chip.
Thanks. Well, as we wrap up this program, just a quick but important thought. Living on the Edge depends on listeners just like you to help us continue to encourage Christians to live like Christians. So would you consider partnering with us on a monthly basis so others can benefit from the ministry of Living on the Edge? Now you can set up a recurring donation by going to livingontheedge.org or via the Chip and Graham app. Or text the word donate to 74141.
It's so easy. Text the word donate to 74141. And thanks for doing whatever the Lord leads you to do. Well, until next time, this is Dave Drouy saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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