Life After Death

Pastor Tom Ascol continues in his series on 2 Corinthians. In a message entitled “Life After Death” pastor covers 2 Corinthians 5:1 – 10. Humans, it seems, almost universally wonder “What happens when we die?” Public fascination with near-death experiences seem to bear this out. Indeed, a group of doctors and scientists report, after a four-year study, evidence that human life continues after biological death. What does this mean for those alive today? There are two key points.

The first point is the surety eternal life will follow this temporary life. Paul contrasts this life to the next. He uses pictures such as “this tent’” and earthly home” in contrast to a “building” and “house” made by God and a “heavenly dwelling.” Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was convinced eternity awaits humankind. This confidence gives Paul the resilience he needs to continue on in ministry knowing that a time is coming when he will have a new and glorious body. The Greeks in Paul’s time viewed the body as something of a throw-away container, a prison in which the soul had to exist until being freed by death. This is not the biblical picture of our bodies. God created both the body and soul as a cohesive unit. Jesus died for us; He redeemed not only our souls but also our bodies which will be resurrected. That will be permanent as opposed to today’s temporariness! Paul continues. Temporary as this life it, the believer’s life has an anticipatory element. Our text tells us we are burdened and groaning. Yet, according to Ecclesiastes 3:11 God has put eternity into our hearts. Whatever trials we may have are only preparatory toward our eternity. We were made for something more than this life! Thus, in addition to temporal life being temporary and anticipatory, eternal existence is certain.

Paul’s second point is this: we ought to live with cheerful confidence. Pauls’ words, we are to be of “good courage,” have inherently the distinct element of cheerful confidence. Cheerful, courageous confidence follows from remembering what is always true; God has saved us and made us His own, He is always with us. We live, then, by faith, not by sight. Biblical faith is not a blind leap into the dark, it is the assurance of things hoped for. This hope is not a shallow looking to some future possibility but a certainty made sure by God’s promises. Things may or may not go well for us here in our temporal life but we have an eternity with Him to which we confidently look forward. That makes suffering tolerable, enabling the cheery confidence to which Paul exhorts believers. It is no wonder believers long for heaven.

All of this is tempered by the coming judgment. As we have seen, in addition to temporal life being temporary and anticipatory, eternal existence is certain. While believers will not be judged except for rewards resulting from a life live for Jesus Christ, non-believers will be judged for their sins, a judgment before which they will be unable to stand. Even today, however, non-believers can come to Jesus in repentance and faith, trusting Him for the salvation He promises. Oh, come today.

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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