Summary: The greatest hope of a Christian is the hope of the resurrection. We will be raised very different from what we are right now.
DYING TO LIVE AGAIN
The greatest hope that any man can have is the hope of the resurrection. We enjoy life and none of us wants to go by way of the grave, yet the truth remains that unless Jesus comes back before our appointed time, there is not one of us, young or old, who will escape that appointment with death.
Hebrews 9:27, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:"
What a terrifying thought it would be if there was no chance for resurrection! Yet, there are many who would attempt to do away with the resurrection.
Even before the time of Jesus’ life on this earth there were many who taught that there was no resurrection. In fact, this doctrine was one of the greatest dividing factors among the members of the Sanhedrin Council who presided over all the spiritual and civil laws of the Jews. The Pharisees believed in life after death and stood their ground against there fellow council members who flatly refused to accept that there could be life after death. These men were called the Saducees.
In our day, and I’m sure that the same has been true for nearly all of human history, there are a lot of false doctrines that have arisen concerning life after death.
In the Hindu faith, where cattle are revered as gods while the people are starving to death, their position on life after death does not deny that life after death exists, but they place a whole new twist on what that “resurrected” life means. To a Hindu, every living creature is equally important because of the teachings of “reincarnation”. That’s a form of life after death that says that you will definitely live again, and again, and again for as many lives as it may take to reach the place of “nirvana” or perfection.
If you have been good in this life, perhaps you will get to come back as a cow, to be worshipped as a god and given free reign to walk anywhere you wish. If you haven’t been so good in this life, then perhaps you will come back as a monkey, a dog, a rabbit, or something similar based on your level of evil activity. And, if you have really been bad in this life, you might even come back as some miniscule, insignificant insect or amoeba.
If you are a Hindu, you have to walk very carefully. Don’t step on that ant crawling along the ground because you might be really stepping on your Aunt Miranda. Don’t send your herd of pigs to be converted into pork chops or a roasted ham. After all, you wouldn’t want to take a bite out of Uncle Krishna, or Cousin Rahid.
I know this all sounds so foolish, but remember, there are people in this world who are convinced that this is truth and they walk around on pins and needles lest they should offend a long dead relative.
Then there are those who teach another different type of resurrection. The Muslim religion of Islam teaches that if you die as a martyr in a Jihad, or holy war, or if you live a “good life” as defined by the Qur’an (Koran) that you will immediately be carried away into the heaven where Allah abides. There you will receive your greatest rewards. For the men it will be a harem filled with beautiful wives. For the women, I don’t know what is supposed to be their “reward” unless it is to be one of those eternal wives. That doesn’t sound like much of a heaven for them does it?
For the Islamic religion, every terrorist that gives his life to destroy the “Infidels” (every man, woman and child who does not accept Allah as god), will inherit a life after death that is nothing less than a day-by-day existence filled with only purpose – to fulfill every worldly pleasure as completely as possible.
Then there are other forms of resurrection that are taught by many forms of religions. Some teach that by being faithful and keeping the commandments of their false prophets that a man and his wife will be elevated to the place of eternal marriage, “a celestial marriage” and that every man who is found faithful enough will finally reach that state of perfection where he or she becomes, like Jesus did, a God in every way.
Sadly, all of these people really are going to face a resurrection one day but it will not be a resurrection to enjoy pleasures of the world forever, or to reach a state of godhood in their own right, or even to get a second, third or forth chance to redeem their past sins in the form of some other creature upon the earth. They will be called forth to a resurrection sure enough, but they will be called forth to the Great White Throne Judgment as a part of the second resurrection of the lost souls, and then will be forever cast into the pits of hell.