Christian Humanism: God's View of Death
Christian Humanism; God’s View of Death
Genesis 3: 14 – 19
Genesis 3:14 – 19
14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspringand her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” 16 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary toyour husband, but he shall rule over you.”17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Introduction: In his book “The Treasure Principle”, Randy Alcorn shares this story about an infamous person named Alfred Nobel. “It was 1888. Nobel was a Swedish chemist who had made his fortune inventing and producing dynamite. His brother, Ludwig, had died in France. But now Alfred’s grief was compounded by dismay. He’d just read an obituary in a French newspaper – not his brother’s obituary, but his!! An editor had confused the brothers. Alfred Nobel’s obituary described a man who had gotten rich by helping people kill one another.
Shaken by his appraisal of his life, Nobel resolved to use his wealth to change his legacy. When he died eight years later, he left more than $9 million to fund awards for people whose work benefited humanity. The awards became known as the Nobel Prizes.
Alfred Nobel had a rare opportunity – to look at the assessment of his life at its end and will have the chance to change it. Before his life was over, Nobel made sure he had invested his wealth in something of lasting value.
- As we get started on our message today, I want to remind you that five minutes after every human dies, we will know exactly how we should have lived.
- That is why it is so important that we have God’s Word so we don’t have to wait to find out.
- Nobel had time to change his legacy in this world. We have time to change our legacy in this world and the world to come.
Purpose: Every Christ follower must live with the fact that eternity is one heart beat away and then we face a judgment.
Transition: Today, we talk about a sobering subject, our imminent death. No one except for Jesus Christ has escaped death.
The certainty of death to all due to sin
Genesis 3:17 - 19
17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
- Moses lays out God’s words to Adam about the consequences to the human race for sin.
- Adam, you were made from the dirt of the ground and to the ground you shall return and become dust.
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment
- All of us have a divine appointment that our physical life is going to come to an end.
- Many hope technology and science catch up to stop the aging process or provide alternatives to live forever but as of now, that has not happened. Every human being of the past and who is alive right now is going to die.
- We are only promised today
“Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
- We have a date and time with our name on it for an appointment to stand before Almighty God
- Most world religions view a type of accountability for their life at the end of their life or lives before their God.
- God knows the number of our days
My times are in your hand
A time to be born, and a time to die
Quote: “It ought to be the business of every day to prepare for our last day.” – Matthew Henry
Application: Are you being realistic about your mortality?
Transition: What will happen to us after this physical life is over according to the Bible?
The certainty of two places of judgment
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
- It is certain that each one of us will stand in accountability of our life in one way or another.
- If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, you have a very grim view of eternity in front of you.
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
- When you and I stand before God, the first question asked will be what did we do about who Jesus is and His sacrifice for your sins.
- If God were to ask you why I should let you into heaven, what would you say to Him
- Your good works outweigh the bad works?
- You were a religious and moral person?
- My parents were Christians so that makes me a Christian?
- The only correct answer is that you were a sinner separated from relationship to God but because of God’s great love for us, Jesus satisfied God anger toward our sin by dying on the cross and being our substitute and payment for sin so that by receiving Him into our life and what He has done for us, we have the forgiveness of sin, our relationship with God is restored, and we have the hope of a purposeful and abundant life here on this earth but a permanent home in heaven for all of eternity.
- God should allow you into heaven NOT based on anything you did or who you were in this life but because of His grace that you willingly received.
- If you reject Christ, the ultimate judgment will be after Jesus returns the second time and reigns for 1,000 years from the city of Jerusalem.
- The Great White Throne Judgment
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
- Jesus throne will be front and center at the time of this writing
- Every dead person, great and small, believer and unbeliever will come for this judgment
- The book of life will be opened. Will your name be written in God’s book of life?
- Notice the second part of verse 12. The dead will be judged by what they had done in their own abilities here on planet earth
- Those who reject Christ will be cast into the eternal lake of fire for all of eternity
- Notice in these verses, there is no second chance to receive Christ after death. No one does the scriptures support that view.
- Rob Bell – Love Wins / Universalism
- Sounds good logically speaking but that is not how it works with God and heaven.
- If God will judge believers and give them rewards, will He give more or less severe punishment to all who will be in hell?
- Dante’s Inferno and Paradise Lost by John Milton
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
- The Judgment Seat of Christ
2 Corinthians 5:10
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
- Explain the Bema seat in Corinth at the Isthmian games, the forerunner to the Olympics
- How will Christians be judged?
I Corinthians 3: 10 – 15
10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled[b] master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
- Some Bible teachers espouses a mediating position. They maintain the seriousness of the examination and yet emphasize the commendation aspect of the judgment seat. They emphasize the importance and necessity of faithful living today but reject any thought of forensic punishment at the Bema. Emphasis is placed on the fact that each Christian must give an account of his life before the omniscient and holy Christ. All that was done through the energy of the flesh will be regarded as worthless for reward, while all that was done in the power of the Holy Spirit will be graciously rewarded. Those who hold this view believe that the Christian will stand glorified before Christ without his old sin nature. He will, likewise, be without guilt because he has been declared righteous. There will be no need for forensic punishment, for Christ has forever borne all of God’s wrath toward the believer’s sins.
- The rewards of heaven are listed as five crowns
- The incorruptible crown – those who master the old nature – I Corinthians 9:24 – 27
- The crown of life – those who successfully endure temptation – James 1:2 – 3; Revelation 2:10
- The crown of righteousness – those who especially love the doctrine of the rapture and Jesus second coming – 2 Timothy 4:8
- The crown of glory – those who faithfully preaches and teaches God’s Word – I Peter 5:2 – 4
- The crown of rejoicing – those who are faithful in sharing the Gospel and winning people to Christ – Proverbs 11:30; I Thessalonians 2:19-20
I Thessalonians 2:19 – 20
For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20 For you are our glory and joy.
Quote: “I judge all things only by the price they gain in eternity.” – John Wesley
Quote: “Only one life, twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.” – Missionary C.T. Studd
- Are you living with the sense that you will stand before Christ and give an account of our lives?
Illustration: Olympian Ben Johnson Stripped of Gold Medal for Cheating
In the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, Ben Johnson of Canada won the one-hundred-meter dash, setting a new Olympic record and a new world record. Our American contender, Carl Lewis, came in second, and most were shocked that he hadn’t won the gold. After the race, the judges learned that Johnson had had an illegal substance in his body. He ran the race illegally, so the judges took away his medal. Though he ran faster and made an unforgettable impression, he did not deserve the reward…God is the final judge! He searches our hearts; He alone knows our motivation. And He will be the One to say, “This deserves a reward. Ah, but that does not.” —Charles R. Swindoll, Hope Again, (Word, 1996), p. 34.
Application: Are you living in light of future accountability?
The certainty of two eternal places of residence
- Hell – Luke 16:19-31; Mark 9:43 – 49; Matthew 3:12; 7:13; 18:8
Luke 16:19 – 31
19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”
- It is an eternal place with no relief
- It is a place of separation from God and others
- A place of darkness and continual torment and suffering
- More people will be in hell than heaven – Matthew 7:13 – 14 – Broad is the road to destruction
- No second chances
- A place of continual remorse of rejecting Christ as Savior
- Satan, the Antichrist and his fallen angels will be there
- Heaven – Revelation 21-22; John 14:1-3
Revelation 21:1 – 7
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also, he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
- A place of worship around God’s throne – not a static place
- Golden streets
- Gates of pearl
- 144,000 square foot city – New Jerusalem
- Glorified body like Jesus
- No more death, no aging, no mentally or physically handicapped people
- No sun or moon because God will be the light of eternity
- No crime or locking of doors / gates
- Many abiding places / rooms – John 14:1 – 3
- Discovery, travel, learning
- What about limbo, purgatory, and annihilation? Nowhere found in Scripture
- Limbo – babies who die in the state of original sin but have not yet sinned but were never baptized - RCC
- Purgatory - All who die in God’s grace, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven (1030).
- In II Maccabees 12:39-46, we discover Judas Maccabeus and members of his Jewish military forces collecting the bodies of some fallen comrades who had been killed in battle. When they discovered these men were carrying “sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear” (vs. 40), Judas and his companions discerned they had died as a punishment for sin. Therefore, Judas and his men “turned to prayer beseeching that the sin which had been committed might be wholly blotted out… He also took up a collection... and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably… Therefore, he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.”
- Annihilation - is the view that lost people in hell will be exterminated after they have paid the penalty for their sins
Application: Are you passionate about sharing with others the way to heaven?
The certainty that you must make your choice of eternal residence in your lifetime – Hebrews 9:27; 2 Corinthians 5:6-8; John 1:12; I John 5:13 – 14
- What about babies who are stillborn or die at a young age? – I Samuel 12:23
- What about those who commit suicide? – Matthew 10:28
- Moses, Job, Elijah, Jeremiah asked God to take their lives
- What about those who have never heard the Gospel? – Romans 10:14 – 17; Psalm 19:1-4a; Ecclesiastes 3:11; Romans 1:18-20; Jeremiah 29:11-14a
- God has revealed to every human being that through His general revelation, creation, God is declaring He exists.
- Solomon said that God has placed eternity in the hearts of every human being -
- If someone truly seeks after finding God, the Bible says in Jeremiah, God will reveal Himself to them – Jeremiah 29:11-14a/ Romans 10:14 – 17
- Peace Child
- Muslims dream of Jesus and go find a Christian and become believers
- He will make sure all who are to be saved will be saved but we have to trust His sovereign plan and grace.
- The most important question to answer this side of eternity is;
Application: Are you sure that you are a part of God’s forever family?
Key Thought: The only one who can choose your future place of residence is you!
- Not based on your good works
- Not based on your parents or grandparent’s faith
- Not based on your church attendance or your giving record
- ONLY on the believing in the gift of grace that God has given to us.
Illustration: Some friends were hanging out one day, and the conversation grimly turned to the issue of death. One of the friends asked the others, "What would you like people to say about you at your funeral?"
One friend answered, "I would want people to say, 'He was a great humanitarian who cared about his community.'"
A second replied, "I would want people to say, 'He was a great husband and father, an example for many to follow.'"
The third friend gave it some thought and answered, "I would hope someone says, 'Look, he's moving!'" - John Beukema, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
Closing Thoughts: Put yourself in Alfred Nobel’s place that day he read his own obituary.
Questions to Ponder this Week
1. If someone were to write your obituary right now, how would it read?
2. What could you do right now to rewrite your own obituary so it reflected how you want it to read when you die?
3. What will you do today to make sure you live with eternity in mind?
Quote: “It ought to be the business of every day to prepare for our last day.” – Matthew Henry