Summary: Is hope in heaven just a crutch? Is there life after death? These are important questions that need answers.
A. The story is told of a minister who went to visit an older man at his home.
1. The minister said, “At your age you should be thinking about the hereafter.”
2. The older man replied, “Oh, I think about the hereafter all the time. No matter where I am – in the living room, upstairs, in the kitchen or down in the basement – I ask myself, ‘What am I here after?’ ”
3. Let me ask you - How much time do you spend thinking about the hereafter?
B. We love the great fairy tale stories of literature.
1. In the story of the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy has her Emerald City. In the story of Peter Pan, Peter has his Never-Never Land. In the story of Alice in Wonderland, Alice has her Wonderland.
2. Every fairy tale engages a fantasy world where time stops and problems fade.
3. Many people put heaven in the same category – they find it as difficult to believe in an eternal heaven as they do in Oz, Never-Never Land or Wonderland.
C. As we continue our series Got Questions? Answering Faith’s Great Questions, we want to explore the question: “Is There Life After Death?”
1. Can reasonable people believe in existence beyond the grave?
2. The late, Beatles’ singer, John Lennon raised this question in a song he wrote in 1971, where Lennon invites us to imagine that there is no heaven or hell, only sky above us. He says it’s easy to imagine this if we try.
3. But the question for us is: What is the truth?
4. We don’t want to imagine something if it isn’t true.
5. What happens after death? Is death the end or is it a beginning?
6. If we think that heaven is a fairy tale, then what else is there?
D The truth of the matter is: In reality there are not that many possibilities.
1. During the course of history, only three answers have been proposed to these questions.
2. One possibility and position affirms that death is the end.
a. Whatever kills physical life also snuffs out the human spirit and personality.
b. In other words, nothing survives the funeral. When you are dead like Rover, you are dead all over.
3. Another possibility and position holds that life does not begin until death.
a. One version of this is the theory of reincarnation, which proposes a wheel of existence whereby one is born again and again.
b. The ancient Greeks held a slightly different view. They held that the soul is trapped in the physical body, and death releases the soul into real existence.
4. A third possibility and position is the Christian view, which affirms that life is worth living now and that it will continue after death.
a. For the Christian, heaven is a place of boundless joy, rediscovered relationship, and blissful worship of God.
b. Death is a transition from an earthly life to an eternal life.
E. Skeptics believe that Christians are not realistic.
1. They accuse us of using religion as a crutch for our weaknesses, and they think the idea of heaven is no more than pie in the sky.
2. What they are asking is simple: “Isn’t Christianity too good to be true?”
3. They conclude that because Christianity is founded on faith and hope, it simply can’t be real.
F. Atheistic humanists believe that man is an accident of the cosmos, is formed by chance and chaos, is directionless in life, and in the end is nothing but food for worms.
1. They would agree that their beliefs lead to utter helplessness, hopelessness, and nothingness.
2. But, they would say, “At least we are being honest. We are seeing life for what it really is. We don’t need any crutches, any lies, any God-talk just so we can delude ourselves into thinking life has some purpose.
3. Humanist Bertrand Russell wrote, “Our foundation is the firm foundation of unyielding despair.”
4. To the atheistic humanist, religion is simply a crutch for weak people, who can’t bear to face up to reality.
G. But is that true?
1. I would suggest that many Christians throughout history could hardly be classified as weaklings.
2. Those Christians were all too aware of reality.
3. Many Christians have endured all kinds of persecution because of their beliefs.
a. They have endured mocking, slander, false arrest, floggings, beatings, and imprisonment.
b. Many were crucified, burned alive, mutilated by lions, and used as wicks to light Nero’s gardens.
c. They hardly sound like weaklings – not a single crutch in sight!
4. That isn’t to say that Christians don’t know fear.
5. The thing that we Christians fear the most is the prospect of God’s mighty wrath and justice.