Podcast 19: Death Then What?

by Sean Finnegan

What happens when people die?  In this sermon I mention show the biblical “evidence” for heaven, hell, purgatory, ghosts, and reincarnation before revealing the overwhelming number of texts supporting the sleep of the dead.  Focusing on John’s Gospel, I establish that (1) the dead are in their tombs asleep until they hear Christ’s voice to awaken in resurrection, (2) that resurrection will not occur until the last day, (3) that Jesus called Lazarus “asleep” when he was really talking about him being dead, and (4) that Mary was looking for Jesus not merely his body when she discovered the empty tomb.  In the end we must ask ourselves, “Why should there be a resurrection of the dead if no one is really dead?”

I used a prezi for this sermon, which you can access here.

Acts 17:11

Bereans are not only noble-minded but courageous as well. They did not immediately accept Paul’s message about Jesus, nor did they reject it out of hand. They listened; then they checked it against the Scriptures to see if it was valid.

What Happens at Death?

  1. Heaven (stare at God, become a star, become an angel, watch over relatives)
  2. Hell (tortured in a fire forever)
  3. Purgatory (tortured in a fire until sins are purged)
  4. Ghosts (live on earth among us without a body, possibly able to interact or possess)
  5. Reincarnation (at death, one’s memory is wiped, and they are reborn)
  6. Sleep (unconscious but able to be resurrected)
  7. Gone (their thoughts, feelings, experiences, etc. are gone forever)

As Christians, we can test ideas to see which are correct by a standard − the Bible.

John 5:26-29

The dead are in their tombs asleep. However, when they hear his voice, they will awaken. This is resurrection.

John 6:38-44, 54

Four times over, Jesus clearly teaches that he will raise the dead on the last day, not the day of their death.

John 11:11-27, 43-44

When Jesus spoke of Lazarus’ death, he said he was asleep and that he was going to awaken him, and yet he was really talking about death and resurrection. Did Jesus tear Lazarus away from bliss in heaven to return to this old earth? No, he brought him back to life—woke him up!

John 20:11-18

Mary looked for Jesus, not merely his body. Jesus clearly says he had not gone to the Father in death. If Jesus did not go to heaven at death, then why should we think we will?

Why should there be a resurrection of the dead if no one is really dead?

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