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Hope Beyond the Grave

  • 2002 10 Oct
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Hope Beyond the Grave

A pastor who was giving a message about heaven asked his congregation, "How many of you would like to go to heaven tonight?" Naturally, everyone raised their hands, except one little boy in the balcony. So, the pastor repeated the question. Once again, everyone raised their hands, except the little boy in the balcony. The pastor turned to him and said, "Don't you want to go to heaven?"

The little boy said, "Someday, but I thought you were getting up a load right now." He wasn't ready to go quite yet.

We don't know when death will come for each of us, but we all will die. Death is the great equalizer. It is no respecter of persons. It doesn't matter if you are young or old, if you are a man or a woman, if you are rich or poor. Death knocks at every door.

But death was never part of God's original plan. Back in the Garden of Eden, because Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, something called sin entered the world. It affects everything. It causes our lives to come to an end. It brings sadness to all of us when we see that life cannot go on forever. I think we all feel that we should live long lives. Some of us will, but some of us won't. We don't know when life will end.

The Bible teaches that man is more than just a human body. It teaches that we are living souls, created in the image of God. It teaches that we were made to know God. Deep down inside of us, there is a longing for something more than this world has to offer. It's a longing that cannot be satisfied from anything on this planet, not from relationships, accomplishments, or accumulations. It is a longing for something beyond this life.

C. S. Lewis observed: "All the things that ever deeply possessed your soul have been hints of heaven. Tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy because they were there to arouse, to suggest the real thing. That real thing is heaven."

Because Christ died and rose, we can have the hope of heaven. Our bodies will cease to function at one point, but there is life beyond the grave (1 Corinthians 15:54–55).

Christ's resurrection precipitates and guarantees that all of His followers who have died will be resurrected as well. Because Jesus rose, we too will rise. He promised, "I will not leave orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live" (John 14:18–19 NIV).

God gave us a preview of coming attractions on the day that Jesus died. In Matthew 27, we have a description of a very unusual event:

At that moment [when Christ was crucified] the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. (vv. 51–53 NIV)

We often overlook that passage, but here were people out of their graves! Didn't we just bury Uncle Harry? What is he doing in town? Scripture doesn't say that everyone rose, but God selected certain godly men and women to be alive again so people could be reminded that death is not the end.

If you have put your faith in the risen Lord, then you will live again. You no longer need to fear death. Because He came back in a resurrected body, He has given us the assurance that God will give each of us a glorified body one day. It means that we will live for all eternity in the presence of God. That is a wonderful hope. It's the hope of life beyond the grave.