For the past three Sunday mornings I’ve heard sermons on the subject of ‘Life After Death’. Surprisingly the Bible is pretty sparse on revealing what sort of life the raised people of God will have in the new earth (Revelation 21:1), but it does tell of life now, death and the resurrection to come (1 Corinthians 15:51, 52).
There is nothing more sure than death. We all know that! Most people know that Christians believe they will live again after death, and that their bodies will be resurrected, as was the body of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:20). In the providence of God’s timing, a believer’s soul will be united with his new spiritual body to become an immortal being (1 Corinthians 15:53, 54), unique and distinctly individual, yet perfectly created for eternal life with God and His redeemed people.
However, before that, Christians physically live on planet earth, but they are separate from and different to those who have not been enlivened by the Holy Spirit (1 John 4:1-6). Unlike the latter, they are given new life in the Spirit by the Spirit (John 3:3-8). Their life is in Jesus Christ, and by the power of His Spirit they have died to sin (Romans 6:7, 10, 11), just as He did, except He had no sin (Hebrews 4:15). God forgave them their sin (Hebrews 8:12), and He accounted righteousness to them through their faith in His Son (Galatians 3:5-9). In God’s sight He sees them with delight and with pleasure, as He sees His Son (Matthew 3:17; 17:5).
Paradoxically, although righteous (Romans 3:22), a Christian is a prisoner of his own body which is tainted with sin inherited from Adam (Romans 6:6), and as such his body is subject to decay and death (Genesis 3:19). Spiritually, he is alive in the risen Christ (Colossians 2:12, 13). Positionally he has risen with Him in newness of life (Romans 6:4), and not only that, he has power to overcome sin, just as Jesus overcame sin. Having been enlivened by His Spirit he [she] lives in Him (v 13).
The Christian goes through stages: There’s the stage of new birth in the Spirit (John 3:3-8); followed by the stages of progressive sanctification (Philippians 3:12-15), death, resurrection and eternal life with God in His new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:22-22:5). It is the stage of progressive sanctification that is particularly challenging, because Christians are to live exemplary lives (Matthew 5:48; John 17:23) for others to see, that they might praise God. Christ’s followers [disciples] are to be light and salt to the world (Matthew 5:13-16). Their light is to shine forth and not be hidden under a basket (Mark 4:21). During this time of testing and obedience they will come under attack from the adversary, satan. He will do all he can to discredit their witness and to discourage them. He will prowl around like a roaring lion ready to devour them (1 Peter 5:8). He will try to sow doubt just as he did with Eve (Genesis 3:3, 4), or bring temptations as he did with Jesus (Matthew 4:1), but if the Christian stands firm (1 Peter 5:9), dressed in the full armour of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), he will overcome the wicked one (1 John 2:14b).
Now all this is possible, because the Christian has been raised to life in Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-6). He has died to sin (1 Peter 2:24), and he has been raised in the power of the Spirit (Romans 8:11). He lives by faith in the Son of God (Galatians 2:20). His hope is sure in the resurrection of Christ and the Word of His promise (Hebrews 6:17-20).
Hallelujah! and Maranatha!