In the book of Luke, there are many wonderful lessons we have studied so far. Now we have come to Luke chapter 24, where we find the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus─our only hope for eternal life! So, my challenge this evening is to discuss with you ‘what it means to have eternal life or the things involved in the eternal life.’ Now, you might wonder why I should want to discuss it. Well, the Resurrection matter is very crucial to the issues involved in having eternal life or in living forever, for there are many misconceptions out there regarding life after death.
Many people misunderstand John 3:16 when promising that whoever believes in Jesus Christ has eternal life. Some of them think that once they believe in Jesus, no longer is death to hit upon them! So, when visited by death, they are driven into despair, thereby turning their backs on Jesus. Still others think that they receive eternal life when they die. Oh what a terrible Babylonian doctrine! What a great confusion! How can you receive life eternal when you die? Yet sadly, that’s what many people think today. You see, as I have gone to lots of funerals, I would hear many people preaching on eternal life, saying “As Christians die in here, they continue living in the spirit out there. So, they need not cry, for the dead are still alive out there.” But I ask “How can this be? How can someone live forever when he/she dies? Where do we find this doctrine? Is it from Christ? Or from Satan?” You see, this senseless doctrine is from Satan himself. God had told Adam and Eve that they would die if they ate the forbidden fruit. But that “great dragon─the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the world” came and said to the woman that God had lied to them. The devil said they wouldn’t die, they would continue living (Gen. 3:4). The devil is a liar from the beginning, he lied about God’s character to God’s angels in heaven, and having been cast out, he came down to us. And he continues telling his lies, so that he can get us to put our trust in him, who is the ultimate doom of all (John 8:44).
IS THERE ETERNAL LIFE?
We all know that, because all of us have sinned, sooner or later we will die (Romans 5:12). But what about the ETERNAL LIFE? Will we ever have it? If so, when? When we turn to John 3:16, we find the assurance of eternal life for God’s people. So we know from the Scriptures that there is eternal life for us, who believe in Jesus Christ. And as I have said at the start, the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is our only hope for the eternal life. Says the Apostle Paul “If Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.” 1 Corinthians 15:14. Our entire life depends on Jesus Christ alone, for “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life” 1 John 5:12. Would you like to invite Jesus Christ into your life? The choice is yours alone!
WHEN WILL WE HAVE THE ETERNAL LIFE?
Jesus, our example for eternal life
Now that we know that there is eternal life, we need to know when we will partake of it─that is, we need to know when God will bestow upon us the immortality, which is to live forever and ever with God (Matt. 5:8). Yes, you must be wondering “When and where will we have this long promised ‘eternal life?” Well, the answer is Jesus! Jesus came to earth as a human being to save us sinners. He took upon Himself the punishment for our sins (see Isaiah 53:5-9), so that we could once again live eternal as He Himself lives eternal (vs 10-12).
Jesus’ first coming was to save us sinners by dying for us on Calvary’s cross. He died for us in this world, and rose from the dead, triumphing over death, so that we could triumph someday in Resurrection. And having risen from the dead, He ascended to heaven (leaving us in this world) so as to go and prepare for us a place (see Jesus’ promise in John 14:1-3). Now in Luke 21:27 as confirmed by Revelation 1:7, Jesus also promised to return to earth to get us for Him, so that we can with Him in the mansions. In fact, there is a great parallel between the 2nd coming of Christ and the Resurrection of the His people. There can only be resurrection of God’s people, when Christ comes again. Unless He comes again, there cannot be resurrection at all, for Jesus is the first of a great harvest of allwho have died. Then, “there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back” 1 Corinthians 15:23.
HOW WAS CHRIST RAISED FROM THE DEAD?
As I have been at funerals, I often hear people say “We need not cry, for the dead are ascending to heaven to be with God. They are alive in the spirit with God.” Again, I wonder “How can this be? Is it found in God’s holy word?” Of course not! You see, we are to base our faith and beliefs on God’s word, for the word of God is the foundation of our faith. Whoever contracts God’s word will be exposed as a liar (Prov. 30:6).
God’s word teaches that the dead know nothing; their thoughts and all their doings are all gone (see Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6). Now you might say “How?” We need not misunderstand it: Life is a combination of breath and dust. Yes, when this comes together, there is life (see Gen.2:7). Whereas, when breath is separate from the dust or the body, there is death in full. Another evidence of this is the Death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. When Jesus was crucified, He shouted “Father, I entrust my spirit into yours hands. And with those words he breathed his last” Luke 23:46. This is the way our Lord died. Yet being dead, how could He ascend to heaven? Was it possible? Of course not! So how can you say “The dead are ascending to heaven to be with God”? How can you say “The dead are alive in the spirit”? Look, Jesus’ resurrection is our example for the eternal life to come. We all know that we will die, for even He died. But we will also rise from the dead just the way He rose. Nobody continues alive in the spirit, for the spirit/breath alone without body cannot be life at all. To this very end, Jesus had to rise from the dead in the body, for only by so doing could He live again, thereby setting an example for us. You see, Jesus’ resurrection was tangible, not a fiction. Don’t let anyone mislead you! If there is ever a resurrection from the dead in this world, let it meet Jesus’ pattern: Let it be as tangible as was Jesus’, then I’ll believe it! Most importantly, the Scriptures assure us that until Jesus comes again, there will be no resurrection from the dead at all!
And when Christ comes again to gather His chosen ones, the dead in Christ will rise first. Then, together with them, we/they who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then, we/they will be with the Lord forever (1 Thess. 4:16, 17). And only then will you be free from death, sorrow and pain─only when you come to that perfect and wonderful world (to come) descending from God out of heaven (see 2 Peter 3:13-14; Rev. 21:1-4).
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