Monday, March 24, 2008

What Comes After Death? What is Our Purpose?

I hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend. What a wonderful day to spend time with family and friends to celebrate and focus on the resurrection of Christ. As I thought of what to share in this week’s newsletter, a talk I gave at my Grandma’s funeral many years ago came to my mind as an appropriate Easter message of everlasting life. The following are exerts from my talk at the funeral:

The death of a loved one causes us to reflect on our lives and ask the questions, “Where did I come from? What is our purpose? and What comes after death? These are questions we ought to study day and night.

Without the gospel of Christ, death is one of the gloomiest subjects to contemplate; but just as soon as we obtain the gospel and learn the principle of the resurrection, the gloom, sorrow, and suffering occasioned by death are, in a great measure, taken away. Often our thoughts are filled with gloom when we see a body laid in the grave and covered with earth. But as quick as we obtain the gospel, as soon as we are enlightened by the inspiration of the Almighty, we can exclaim, "O grave, where is thy victory, O death, where is thy sting?. . . Death is swallowed up in victory . . . thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians15:55,54,57) The gospel brings life and immortality to light.

What is our greatest potential? Is it not to return to live with God? To achieve “everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Christ has taught of us of our divine potential saying, “. . . all of you are children of the most high” (Psalms 82:3) and “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

C. S. Lewis provides additional insight into our divine potential saying, “The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. . . He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a . . . dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.” (Lewis, C. S., Mere Christianity, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996) p. 176) “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal . . . it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snob and exploit . . .” (Lewis, C. S., The Weight of Glory, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996) p. 39) We are immortal begins and the resurrection of Christ has made “eternal life” (John 3:15) the design of our existence.

As I have pondered on the death of Grandma Taylor, I have thought do I feel sorry for her? No, she has gone to rest, and all is at peace with her, according to the mind and will of God. Since the organization of the world, billions have passed away but death is not the end of our existence. Death is a transition from one realm of existence to another – from an earthly realm to a spiritual realm. And it is so today. And I suppose while we are mourning the loss of our friend, others are rejoicing to meet her in heaven. Why should we mourn for Grandma Taylor whose body lies before us? She is freed from pain and suffering and the anxieties of life, and is now beyond the power of the enemy of all righteousness; she has opened her eyes among her relatives and friends, whose death caused her grief and pain. Her life has continued in a new world were she will be brought before the Master—even our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who will say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the Lord.” (Matthew 25:23)

Still it is hard to part with our friend, Grandma Taylor, but the separation is only temporary. I see a day when I will again be reunited with my Grandma and we shall learn together, play together, sing together and rejoice together. As taught the Savior, “. . . I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live;” (John 11:25)

Following His death on the cross, Christ’s body was laid in a tomb and on the third day following his death, Christ rose from the grave. For “. . . now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” (1 Corinthians 15:20) Because Christ lives Grandma Taylor does now live and each of us will live as a result of the power of the resurrection and the life, even Jesus Christ. Amen.
“I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

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