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Christian Hope: What Happens When We Die? 

04-02-2018

Introduction…

Hamlet’s speech, “To be or not to be,” may be Shakespeare’s most famous passage. Certainly it is quoted and referred to frequently. The speech is a lone man’s internal wrestling with the question of what happens when we die. Depressed and in despair, Hamlet ponders aloud whether or not it is better to live (“to be”) with trials and difficulties (in his case the murder of his father by his uncle who then takes Hamlet’s mother as his wife and takes the throne from Hamlet) or to surrender to despair and take one’s own life (“not to be”).

Hamlet himself is ready to give up, he describes death as “sleep” but then realizes that in the sleep of death dreams may come! And what dreams might those be? Perhaps one’s sleep will be disrupted by torment? This fear, the fear of what happens when we die, the fear of judgment and Hell, is what keeps people from just killing themselves when things are going badly. Why else would anybody put up with all the sin, pain and corruption of the world? That is what Hamlet asks. That is what he wrestles with. Ultimately, the fear of death leads Hamlet to hatch a plan to expose his uncle’s murderous deeds. A depressing play, Hamlet ends with everybody dead. In that sense, it is a classic example of the “tragedy” genre or style of play.

Today, our culture wrestles with a similar question. What happens when we die? Do we just sleep? Do we just stop experiencing anything? Is death the end? Or is there something after death? Do we experience judgment for our sins? Do we “dream” so to speak? In our secular culture, the rise of suicide, euthanasia and a general disregard for life reflects a prevailing belief that things do just end when we die. That is certainly consistent with the naturalistic world view.

But not just a theoretical question, most individuals, most of us, wonder what will happen when we die. Does this life matter? Is there life after death? Does what we do in this life affect our experience of life after death?

This whole series, Christian Hope, has been focusing on the fact that Christians look forward to being resurrected like Jesus was on that first Easter Sunday. We look forward to having a physical body after the resurrection. We will not exist as disembodied spirits for eternity. In addition, our series has talked about the Biblical teaching that Jesus will be coming back to earth to dwell here on earth for eternity rather than us going to heaven for eternity. Jesus is going to redeem all of creation rather than just rescuing Christians and taking us out of this place.

But what happens when we die? Yes, in the future we anticipate being resurrected, but what about the mean time? What happens between death and the resurrection? Our ignorance about what happens after death is a cause of great fear and trepidation. It can also be a source of great confusion. So let’s take a look at what the Bible says about life after death.

To begin with, we first need to see what the Bible says about death before Jesus’ resurrection. Then we will take a look at what it says about death after Jesus’ resurrection.

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Filetype: MP4 - Size: 109.11MB - Duration: 44:52 m