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"I am the resurrection and the life."

-- John 11:25, ESV

Is there life after death? The answer coming from every corner seems to be yes, according to people of all faiths and even those with no faith. That is why the Egyptians buried their pharaohs in pyramids of great treasure. That's why radical elements of Islam blow themselves up, for the sexcapades and extraplanetary pleasures promised in the next life. Mormons

follow a dreamer named Joseph Smith who schemed a similar heavenly scenario. Even secularists who practice no religion at all speak of death as a passage to a so-called better place to meet the anonymous man upstairs. It seems everybody is working for a never-ending weekend to enjoy after our workaday lives are

through.

Why is this, that everyone seems to have some belief in life after death? It is because the eternal God has made all of us, faithful and faithless and even those of false faiths, in His own image (ref. Genesis 1:26). God is eternal, and "He has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out" (ref. Ecclesiastes 3:11). In other words, the human race strongly suspects there

is life after death, we just can't see past the finish line. The great prophet Jackson Browne sums it up: "I don't know what happens when people die, Can't seem to grasp it as hard as I try, It's like a song I can hear playing right in my ear, that I can't sing, But I can't help

listening."

Based on Christ's prior teachings, everyone will experience one of two types of resurrection. One of them results in life, eternal life. The other is for judgment, resulting in an eternal death sentence and permanent separation from God. Jesus now makes a bold claim which guarantees the good resurrection: "I am the resurrection and the

life."

Jesus is not promising a resurrection, but the resurrection, one of the two. His declaration should be interpreted as the one for the good and godly that leads to life with Him, forever. He had already proven His power to resurrect, with Jairus' daughter and the widow's only son, and He was about to prove it again with Lazarus. Christ's soon coming death would liberate five hundred more from the tombs, and His own bodily resurrection on the third day would crown the

promise.

But who can claim this gospel promise? Jesus said, "Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe

this?"

Life after death is not dependent upon race, whether you are Jewish or Gentile. Life after death is not guaranteed by baptism or church membership, either. You have to "believe," and you have to "believe this," and this is the gospel. The Gospel of John is the Gospel of faith, but not just any faith. It has to be a faith in God as God has revealed Himself in the person and work, the resurrection and the life, of Jesus

Christ.

To teach on true faith, The Apostle John consistently prefers the verb "believe." Almost always it is in the present tense. So what Jesus and John taught is that simple, saving faith in the gospel must have some complex layers. It must be a deep, abiding, active, and ongoing faith conjoined with faithfulness. The faith God requires and the faith God gives must first convince the mind of the historical

facts in question about Jesus Christ. Faith must move the heart with the anguish of sin and love for the One who forgives. Faith must temper the will to be conformed with God's will, forged by the Spirit and the word. Only then can a person really say they "believe" in the Lord Jesus

Christ.

Martha called upon the name of the "Lord" and said, "I believe." She professed her belief in the perfect tense, which speaks of a past action with present evidence and future consequences. This is a picture of perfect faith. You do not have to be perfect to obtain faith. You will not

be perfect when you have faith, until its final stage. But you have to have a perfect faith, a complete faith, a valid past profession, a present proof of a spiritual life, and a future hope of resurrection and life with the One who is "the resurrection and the

life."

Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]

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