Summary: A sermon for All Saints Sunday.
“What Happens When I Die?”
By: Rev. Kenneth E. Sauer,
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
What happens when I die?
Certainly this question has been plaguing human kind since the Fall.
Living in broken relationship with our Creator, we fear the inevitable—physical death…then, what will happen after the grave?
I was talking with some colleagues about this topic earlier this week, when I realized that I used to be much more enamored with this question as a young person, and as a teen.
I used to think about this a lot, wonder about this a lot, and have a certain fear of this, maybe even terror.
Perhaps I don’t think much about this much anymore because I am more wrapped up in my daily living…
…my wife, my son, my baby, paying the bills, doing my job…
…or maybe I don’t think about this so often because I am no longer fearful of death.
I don’t know exactly what to expect, but I do know that I have a living relationship with a loving God Whom I know I love and trust.
I don’t fear death, nor do I fear what comes after the grave, therefore, I don’t spend much time thinking about nor worrying about death.
We’ll see if that will change as I grow older.
I kind of doubt it.
In our Epistle Lesson Paul is writing to a young Church in Thessalonica.
The people have seen many of their fellow saints pass away, and they are wondering what has happened to them.
So Paul writes them: “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”
What a beautiful picture…when we die we fall asleep in Christ, and we will return with Him when He comes in final victory to judge the living and the dead.
Remember what Jesus said to the criminal on the cross who believed in Him?
“I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
I believe that our loved ones who believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and have died and gone on ahead of us are with Jesus Christ right this very moment, with Christ Who sits at the right hand of God the Father.
The Bible tells us that when we become new creations in Christ, God seats us with Christ in the heavenly realms.
Therefore, death for a Christian is just a continuation of this life, but much better—for we will see God face to face.
And then, when Christ comes again in final victory, those of us who have already passed away will meet, in the air, those who remain, and we will experience the resurrection of the dead, where we will be given our new eternal bodies.
A sick man turned to his doctor, as he was preparing to leave the examination room and said, “Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side.”
Very quietly, the doctor said, “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know? You, a Christian man, do not know what is on the other side?”
As the doctor was holding the handle of the door; on the other side came a sound of scratching and whining.
When he opened the door, a dog sprang into the room and leaped onto him with an eager show of gladness.
Turning to the patient, the doctor said, “Did you notice my dog? He’s never been in this room before. He didn’t know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he sprang in without fear. I know little of what is on the other side of death, but I do know one thing.
I know my Master is there, and that is enough.” (borrowed from Rev. Chuck Root)
Is that enough for you this morning? Is that enough for me?
The Bible is the story of a relationship…a relationship lost, and a relationship found.
We are the ones who break the relationship, God is the One Who finds us.
We spend our lives being pursued by a loving God, Who, spends much time looking for us.
When we are found, God rejoices and so do the angels but much more work is yet to be done.
We must learn what it means to live life as those who have been found by God and loved by God.
We must learn that it is safe and good and right and lovely to love God back.
And that in loving God back, we find more in life than we could ever have imagined.