By Paul Baxter, pastor
First Baptist Church on the Square, LaGrange
Right on the heels of a yearlong study of Revelation I took our Wednesday evening congregation into a subject I must confess to have neglected throughout my ministry. I had taught the Book of Revelation four times, but not once had I sought to explore the subject of life after death.
Oh, I had referred to it every time I conducted a funeral and alluded to it every time I taught or preached about the end times and, even though I had written a devotional book for a funeral home on how life is not over, I had never taken a serious and studious look into life after death. Meanwhile, pop books claiming to know about life after death soared to become best-sellers while Christian theologians cautioned readers about unbiblical ideas and images. Finally, I came to realize that I needed to invest the last year of my pastorate in LaGrange prior to my retirement in exploring life after death for at least four good reasons!
First, exploring life after death confronts our questions and notions arising out of natural curiosity! While prophecies about the future are ever so captivating, I have found myself slipping and sliding into the wee hours of the morning many a night because I was still seeking to answer a beguiling or intriguing question about life after death! It is so good to exercise our little grey cells in seeking to understand what God has planned for us beyond death.
It is so reassuring to read a Who’s Who of Believers in life after death. As we strive to answer the skeptic or doubter who asks, “Why do you believe in life after death?” it is thrilling to compile eight compelling reasons which actually take my own breath away!
It is eye-opening for believers and seekers to think about what happens after we die but before Christ returns and creates a new heaven and a new earth. What a mind-expanding exercise as we contemplate what Shakespeare called “the undiscovered country.” We have just had fun asking and answering (as best we can) a host of questions from heaven to hell, cremation and resurrection, being bored and having pets! I have not had more fun on Wednesday nights! I heartily commend it to every pastor and church!
Second, exploring life after death corrects ideas that misinform and mislead us! We live in a time when our world is being shaken by fanatic Muslims eager to die in an unholy war so that they can be spoiled rotten in an Islamic paradise. How sobering to think that barbaric and utterly inhumane evil is taught as a ticket to paradise! What nonsense.
It is eye-opening for believers and seekers to think about what happens after we die but before Christ returns and creates a new heaven and a new earth.
It is also scary to see how much untruth is circulating within the minds and hearts of people we know. We need a prayerful and careful biblical study of life after death.
Third, exploring life after death comforts us during disappointments, disasters, disabilities, decline, and death. Every pastor knows the need for helping our people prepare for such times.
I realize now more than ever before how having a healthy and well informed understanding of life after death is of crucial importance.
Too often we may have been conditioned not to be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good; however, that is so untrue. We need to focus more on our life after death for not only there and then but the here and now! This brings us to the fourth and final reason for exploring life after death.
Fourth, Exploring life after death challenges us to live a life that prepares us for eternal life. My hope and prayer is that during my retirement from the pastorate I can continue to preach the Gospel and teach such truths as often as possible during this troubled time in which we live!