Seniors share a common expectation with everyone else. We will all
die. Those of us who have a few more years under our belts may have a
clearer realization of this reality. This train doesn’t go on forever, as
they say. None of us is going to get out of this alive – except, of
course, for those who are alive and prepared for the Second Coming of
It is not unreasonable then, to ponder what happens to us after we die. Various religions promote different ideas reputed to have come from wise men who have gone before us. Even Christian denominations have varying views on events that occur after death.
If you take the Bible as the final, authoritative Word on the topic, as
I do, then we are well on our way to cutting through the fog and arriving at a
clear, definitive conclusion on the matter. We hear speculations on “life
after death”. What does that mean?
The dictionary (dictionary.com) defines death as “the end
of life, the total and permanent cessation of all the vital functions of an
organism; extinction; destruction”. This is the historical
definition. In more recent years terms such as “afterlife” have been
added to our vocabulary.
Daniel 12:2 records the words of an angel speaking to Daniel about what would happen when Jesus returns at the end of the world. “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
“…sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake”. That seems clear, doesn’t it? When we die, we remain in the ground where we were placed at our burial. But then the Bible says we “shall awake” when Jesus returns.
“…some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Our death, or sleep, is only temporary. When Jesus returns everyone will awaken, some to everlasting life, and some to eternal death. That is what we call Judgment Day.
There is another Biblical verse that sometimes causes confusion. Luke 23:43. Jesus, in speaking to the dying thief on the cross says, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” That sounds pretty immediate, doesn’t it?
The problem arises because the original text had no punctuation, so the copyist placed the comma where he thought it most appropriate. The problem is that placement makes the statement contradict all of the rest of the Bible’s teachings on the state of the dead.
The accurate placement of the comma would be to move it over one word to after today. The verse would then read, “Truly I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise.”
David, the man God called a man “after my own heart”, (Acts 13:22), according to St. Peter, “is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day”.
Peter goes on to say, ““For David did not ascend into the heavens”. (Acts 2:34)
“For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption”. In other words, David’s body decomposed as all dead bodies do over time. (Acts 13:36)
To my way of thinking, anyone God calls a person “after my own heart”,
is a shoo into heaven, right? Such a person is David, and Peter clearly
states that David is still “both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us
today”. Could the real state of the dead be stated more clearly than
Until Jesus comes again, death is a fact of life. Some sincere and
devoted people may insist they receive visits from their dearly departed.
No doubt they have been visited, but not by their dearly departed ones.
The Bible gives an example of one such visitation. King Saul thought
he was talking to the recently deceased prophet Samuel when Saul was really
communicating with Satan. (1 Samuel 28:7-20). Satan knows each
one of us intimately and can easily impersonate us.
There are many examples of Satan appearing as anyone or anything he could use to trap us. Satan appeared as a beautiful snake in the Garden of Eden. Again, Satan appeared as an angel when he tried to trap Jesus after Jesus’ time in the wilderness. And it was Satan who took on the personage of Samuel in that cave of Endor.
Satan’s plan for each of us is to destroy us, and if impersonating the dead or twisting the truth of what happens when we die suits his purpose, he can and will do whatever is necessary to deceive us.
What peace we have in believing that death is only a sleep until Jesus
returns at the Second Coming. Those who have died do not have to watch
what continues to happen on earth. They merely sleep until awakened by