Life after death
Belief in life beyond the grave is common in all cultures. Such a belief rooted in man’s mind may be one of the causes for seeking his Creator.
1. What happens to a person when he dies?
Different worldviews give different explanations. Science tells us that the human body is composed of many elements. These same elements are found everywhere on the earth around us. The matter was created by God. The man was created by mixing dust with breath – body, and spirit (Gen.2:7). Death is the separation of soul/spirit from the body. The body decays and returns to dust. We read in Ecclesiastes 12:7, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.”
2.What does science say about “life” that keeps the body alive?
Science recognizes the vitality or ‘energy of life’ that animates every one of the cells in the body. This energy of life is dependent on certain continual processes of waste and repair. When these processes stop completely, there is death. Death of the body then means cessation of the life process of waste and repair. But science does not tell us whether the energy of life is a ‘being’ that continues to have independent existence after death. After life is completely gone, the man is unable to get it back. Science does not say anything about life after death. When we cannot get the answer concerning this from science, we need to look at the Bible for an answer.
3.Can you explain briefly the Biblical understanding of what happens when a person dies?
According to Genesis 2:7, man became a “living soul”. This means the spirit (or soul) is not the body, nor is it merely the energy of life. Many scientists believe that in addition to the brain at work, there is a non-material reality that accounts for our sentience. A living soul can be a being capable of knowing its existence and environment.
Both the Old and the New Testaments affirm the immortality of the soul or the soul surviving death. Immortality has to do with the continuance of the personality after death. The Bible speaks of man as a being made up of body and soul. The soul is intended and adapted for life in the body. With the entrance of sin, the body sank under the law of death. God did not abandon us. He brought into operation the law of love to save us. The person who is rightly related to God in union with Christ can retain the blessedness even in the state of separation from the body. In the disembodied state, the person is indeed with Christ and rests in the blessedness of unbroken fellowship with Him. Only after the body is glorified, that man will be blessed perfectly.
True immortality is through the redemption, which embraces the resurrection of the body. The resurrection sees man as a soul body unity. It is in the perfected state that the whole person, body and soul, enjoy the blessedness. It will be the redemption of man in his whole personality. According to the Bible, our destiny is “to be made into the image of Christ” (Romans 8:29). This conformity to Christ includes not only the moral and spiritual likeness but also likeness to Him in His glorious body.
The redemption of the body is an essential and integral part of the biblical view. Everyone is going to get a new immortal body. The question is where that body will spend eternity – with God or separated from Him forever.
4. Please explain a little more about immortality and resurrection? We cannot understand the resurrection from natural causes. It is a miracle, and Paul gives the answer touching on the point of identity between the new body and the old (1 Corinthians 15:36-38). We are told about the glory of the natural body and that of the spiritual body. Immortality in the biblical sense is more than mere continued existence. It is ‘eternal life,’ a phrase used in the Bible to describe the quality of life as well as the length or duration of existence.
We can view immortality in terms of growth, fellowship, and service with Christ. This makes heaven a delight towards which we look in keen anticipation. In terms of duration, someone said, “Our life remains as long as God remains.”
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