Summary: Plain talk about the "intermediate state" (between death and resurrection) for people investigating the Christian faith.
Mother’s Day is an appropriate time to mention the fact that that no matter how prepared we think they are for parenthood, we’re never really ready. Somehow all the books, seminars and advice can’t prepare you for those dirty diaper blow outs, or those embarrassing grocery store tantrums, or teaching your teenager how to drive, or giving away your little girl on her wedding day. Yet parenthood is filled with deep joy and satisfaction that defies explanation as well. But neither the challenges nor the joys of parenting can truly be explained....you just have to experience it for yourself.
I suspect heaven is kind of like that too. Although the Bible tells us a lot about what life in the hereafter will be like, the reality is that we won’t truly understand all that until we actually experience it. But it’s funny all the things that have become added to people’s understanding of what heaven’s like. For instance, where did the idea of playing harps and having halos come from? According to a 1997 Time magazine poll, 43% of Americans believe that we will play harps in heaven, and 36% think we will have halos in heaven.1 Personally I’m more of a fender stratocaster kind of guy than a harp kind of guy, but that’s just a personal preference. Most likely the idea of harps and halos comes from medieval artwork about heaven. But harps and halos are never mentioned in the Bible.
Today we’re going to talk about what happens immediately after we die. What will happen in the first moments after we leave this life? That’s what we’re going to look at today. So take out your outline and you can turn to 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
I. What Part of Us Does God Want To Save?
Just to take a step back and review, when we started this series we talked about a few explanations our world has given us about what happens after we die. We talked about the idea of EXTINCTION, that when we die physically that’s it, we’re done, we no longer exist. We also talked about the Eastern idea of REINCARNATION, that after death we are reborn as another living being based on our karma. Finally, we mentioned DISEMBODIMENT, the Greek idea that the real "me" is my soul, which is imprisoned in my physical body, and that at death my soul--the real "me"--finally finds liberation by being free from my body.
Now I mention these three views again because many people confuse the Greek idea of disembodiment with the Christian view of life after death. It usually goes something like this: Our bodies are so polluted by sin that God sent Jesus to save our souls. So when our physical bodies die, if we’ve trusted in Jesus Christ our soul goes to heaven to be with God and live forever...end of story. I would suggest to you that that view has more to do with the Greek philosopher Plato than it has to do with the Bible or the Christian faith.What part of us does God want to save for heaven?
1 Thessalonians 5:23--May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (NIV).