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LIFE AFTER DEATH

Is there such a thing? Some people say, no: ‘When you’re dead you’re dead.” Many more seem to think that the dead are somewhere ‘up there’, floating about in the air, looking down on us. Others again say, “No-one has come back to tell us.” But there they are wrong: someone has come back from the dead, and he has told us a good deal about it, if only we are willing to listen.

I told The Strange Story of Easter last week. There is no other explanation for the undeniable existence of the Christian faith and the Christian church than that Jesus rose from the dead, that he is alive today, and that he promises everlasting life to all those who believe in and follow him. But the teaching that we have in the New Testament about the life to come leaves many questions unanswered.

We are not promised some airy-fairy existence floating about in the sky, but a resurrection body in a new world; both a body and a world that are the same as this one, yet changed. The body of Jesus was the same body that was laid in the tomb, yet it was mysteriously changed. His disciples could see him, hear him, and touch him; he even he ate with them. Yet he could appear and disappear in a supernatural way.

So, what about us and our resurrection bodies? The mystery is time. When we die we pass into another world outside our time. On the one hand, Jesus promised the dying thief on the cross beside him, “Today you will be in Paradise with me.” On the other hand, Paul says that when we die, we sleep until the Lord comes again: only then are we to be raised from the dead in our resurrection bodies, and only then do we enter the new heavens and the new earth. I can only reconcile these pictures by imagining a time out of time. That is to say, another world that exists outside our time: not now, not then, but eternally; a world, a Paradise, that we enter when we die, in which we live in our resurrection bodies, a new world unlike this one, a world without end.

There are many more questions about this New World to which I do not know the answer, and to which, I suppose, I do not need to know the answer. What I do know is that I have ‘a sure and certain hope’ that when I die I shall be with Jesus, and be like Jesus, in a resurrection body like his resurrection body, in a new world, like this one, except not marred, and never to be marred, by sin and selfishness: Paradise indeed.

And anyone can share in this hope: just give your life to Jesus, now and for ever.

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