Bible Mini-Study: Will the Dead Live Again?

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Will the Dead Live Again?

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Most people believe in some kind of life after death. Some, however, accept the hopeless idea that this life is all there is—that there’s nothing afterward and we just cease to exist. It’s a terribly depressing thought to think we will never again see loved ones who’ve died—and that we ourselves will one day be gone forever.

A Christian in Washington tells this story:

“When I was 12 years old, my lovable little brother, Roddy, who was 3½, suddenly died. This was absolutely devastating to me, my parents and my other brother. My world was turned upside down with grief. That was over 50 years ago, and I still get choked up when I talk about my brother and what happened.

“The tragedy worked for good in that it made me begin to think seriously about life. If there was a way to see Roddy again, I longed to discover that way. However, I remained in the dark spiritually until many years later when God began to open my eyes to understand the Bible. What a thrilling ongoing education it has been ever since! And each time I have lost another loved one, it has further increased my determination to be there for the great ‘family reunion’ in the next life!”

Let’s delve into the pages of the Bible to see what it has to say on this deeply personal but universally important subject of life after death.

The Bible’s teaching on life after death

The patriarch Job asked, “If a man dies, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14 Job 14:14If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.
American King James Version×
). The good news of Scripture—the fabulous news—is YES, he will!

Let’s now see what the Bible has to say about the hope for life after death through a “resurrection,” which means “rising again” from the dead.

What is the one greatest hope promised in the Bible?

“… In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began” (Titus 1:2 Titus 1:2In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
American King James Version×
, emphasis added throughout).

This reference (and many other scriptures) shows that the magnificent hope for mankind is eternal life! This is what “God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.” Hope is not merely a “wish”—hope is a desire that is fully expected because of solid evidence.

What was God’s purpose in sacrificing His Son Jesus Christ?

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17 John 3:16-17 [16] For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. [17] For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
American King James Version×
).

God’s ultimate sacrifice demonstrates the greatest love that could be imagined. Although everyone dies, God does not want anyone to “perish” forever. He wants everyone to have “everlasting life”!

Is God offering immortality to mortal human beings?

“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.

“For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’ ” (1 Corinthians 15:50-54 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 [50] Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption. [51] Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, [52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. [53] For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. [54] So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
American King James Version×
).

In this entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 15—often called “the resurrection chapter”—the apostle Paul gives us considerable understanding of a future resurrection. We are all mortal—physically, we all will die. So far, only God has immortality (see 1 Timothy 6:16 1 Timothy 6:16Who only has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach to; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.
American King James Version×
). But God is offering immortality to all mankind!

What was the stunning event that led the disciples to unshakeable hope?

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3 1 Peter 1:3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
American King James Version×
).

The empty tomb—the resurrection of Christ—was proof to Jesus’ disciples that God can raise the dead to life! It gave the disciples powerful motivation to preach this good news (see Acts 4:2 Acts 4:2Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
American King James Version×
, 20, 33; 8:4). Plus it led them to truly understand Jesus’ promises that God was offering eternal life to all mankind (John 10:28 John 10:28And I give to them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
American King James Version×
).

All people have sorrows, but what is the worst kind of sorrow?

“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

“Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 [13] But I would not have you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. [14] For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. [15] For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. [16] For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: [17] Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. [18] Why comfort one another with these words.
American King James Version×
).

The worst kind of sorrow is that of people who have no hope for the future. God will awaken us in a resurrection from the dead. The resurrections will begin with the second coming of Christ! As Paul states in the above quote, this hope gives us our greatest comfort.

What is the present state of the dead?

“He [Jesus] said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up’ ” (John 11:11 John 11:11These things said he: and after that he said to them, Our friend Lazarus sleeps; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
American King James Version×
).

John goes on to relate how Jesus raised Lazarus from death to life (John 11:12-45 John 11:12-45 [12] Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. [13] However, Jesus spoke of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. [14] Then said Jesus to them plainly, Lazarus is dead. [15] And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent you may believe; nevertheless let us go to him. [16] Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, to his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. [17] Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. [18] Now Bethany was near to Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: [19] And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. [20] Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. [21] Then said Martha to Jesus, Lord, if you had been here, my brother had not died. [22] But I know, that even now, whatever you will ask of God, God will give it you. [23] Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again. [24] Martha said to him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. [25] Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: [26] And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Believe you this? [27] She said to him, Yes, Lord: I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. [28] And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calls for you. [29] As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came to him. [30] Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. [31] The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goes to the grave to weep there. [32] Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying to him, Lord, if you had been here, my brother had not died. [33] When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled. [34] And said, Where have you laid him? They said to him, Lord, come and see. [35] Jesus wept. [36] Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! [37] And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? [38] Jesus therefore again groaning in himself comes to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay on it. [39] Jesus said, Take you away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, said to him, Lord, by this time he stinks: for he has been dead four days. [40] Jesus said to her, Said I not to you, that, if you would believe, you should see the glory of God? [41] Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank you that you have heard me. [42] And I knew that you hear me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that you have sent me. [43] And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. [44] And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them, Loose him, and let him go. [45] Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.
American King James Version×
). In the Bible, death is often referred to as sleep (Job 14:10-12 Job 14:10-12 [10] But man dies, and wastes away: yes, man gives up the ghost, and where is he? [11] As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decays and dries up: [12] So man lies down, and rises not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.
American King James Version×
; Psalms 13:3 Psalms 13:3Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
American King James Version×
; Daniel 12:2 Daniel 12:2And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
American King James Version×
; 1 Thessalonians 4:15 1 Thessalonians 4:15For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
American King James Version×
)—a total lack of consciousness (Psalms 6:5 Psalms 6:5For in death there is no remembrance of you: in the grave who shall give you thanks?
American King James Version×
; Ecclesiastes 9:5 Ecclesiastes 9:5For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
American King James Version×
, 10).

The beautiful metaphor of sleep emphasizes the fact that the first death is temporary and that everyone who dies will be awakened by God in the future! This understanding of the present state of the dead is much more comforting than all the unbiblical and erroneous ideas about a disembodied afterlife in supposed bliss or torment.

When someone dies, family and friends often suffer with regrets and feelings of guilt about things they had said or done, or things they neglected to say or do. But God doesn’t want us to beat ourselves up about the past. He wants us to repent of our sins and look forward to our reunion in the next life, when we will have plenty of opportunities to sit and talk with our loved ones.

What does the Bible say about grieving over the death of a loved one?

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4 Matthew 5:4Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
American King James Version×
).

And Paul’s words quoted earlier: “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13 1 Thessalonians 4:13But I would not have you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
American King James Version×
).

It’s normal and healthy to grieve when we lose the companionship of a loved one. Those who repress grief rather than expressing it suffer more emotional problems in the long run. But healthy grieving depends on facing the reality of death.

In today’s humanistic culture obsessed with prolonging human life, many people avoid preparing for death or even discussing the topic. Feeling it’s taboo to even say the word “died,” people will use a euphemism like “passed away.” Denying death makes it harder for people to grieve and support one another and heal.

Those who truly understand the Bible still of course feel and express grief when their loved ones die because they miss them, but they don’t feel fear and despair because their hope and faith give them great comfort. As noted earlier, right after explaining about the promise of the resurrection, Paul said, “Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18 1 Thessalonians 4:18Why comfort one another with these words.
American King James Version×
).

(During a time of grief, it’s important to avoid two common and serious mistakes. Don’t try to “drown your sorrows” with alcohol or drugs. And don’t neglect your sleep and good nutrition. Getting sick will only greatly add to your stress.)

When resurrected to eternal life, what will we be like?

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:1-3 1 John 3:1-3 [1] Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. [2] Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. [3] And every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.
American King James Version×
).

Just as children of human beings are also human and enter the family of the parents, “children of God” become part of the glorious family of God. “We shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2 1 John 3:2Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
American King James Version×
)! There will be more about God’s gift of eternal life in future lessons.

Apply what you’ve learned now

Carefully read all of 1 Corinthians 15, the “resurrection chapter.” Think deeply about what you read and think big! Think of all eternity stretching out before you! And after we have lived for millions of years and look back on this human life, think of how short it will seem!

Read Romans 8:18 Romans 8:18For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
American King James Version×
and 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 [16] For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. [17] For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; [18] While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
American King James Version×
to see how we will view the sufferings of this life. We will see what a very small sacrifice it was to prepare for the endless paradise of eternal life!

Learn more about what happens after death

Although many know that the Bible teaches there will be a resurrection of the dead, common beliefs about immediately going to heaven or hell at death have greatly confused the issue. But Scripture is quite clear when we look at what it actually says as opposed to what so many think it says!

The publishers of The Good News have produced an eye-opening booklet on the subject, What Happens After Death? Request or download your free copy today! 

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