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Is there Life after Death?

15 Nov

Is there life after death? Is the resurrection true or just a superstitious myth? Having performed a number of funerals over the years, I can testify firsthand that those who know Christ approach death much differently than those who do not know Christ. The former have great confidence while the latter have great questions.

Mark 12:18-27 is the fourth of seven controversies between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders (11:27-12:40). They deal with the issues of:

  • Authority (11:27-33)
  • Rejection (12:1-12)
  • Taxes (12:13-17)
  • Resurrection (12:18-27)
  • Greatest commandment (12:28-34)
  • Son of David (12:35-37)
  • Hypocrisy (12:38-40)

The Sadducees come to Jesus with a question (18)

More people are familiar with the Pharisees than they are with the Sadducees. If your compare and contrast the two, you discover the following characteristics:

Pharisees

Sadducees

Middle class

Aristocratic

Laymen

Priests

Law, Prophets, Writings

Law – Books of Moses

Believed in God’s sovereignty

Affirmed human free will alone

Believed in the supernatural

Rejected the supernatural—angels, spirits, miracles, resurrection

Believed a materialistic doctrine of resurrection—defects in the earthly body and current relationships will be carried over in the future life

Rejected the doctrine of the resurrection because it did not exist in the Pentateuch

 

The soul does not survive death

No penalties for bad behavior or rewards for good behavior

 

Disappeared after A.D. 70

The Sadducees try to ridicule Jesus with a story about the resurrection (19-23)

The Sadducees address Jesus as Teacher. “Master” is a formal address. They resorted to no flattery and made no pretense that they had come to learn from Jesus. They felt themselves superior to him and intended to expose his inadequacy as a teacher in theological matters.

The Sadducees tell a story about seven brothers who successively fulfilled the duty of levirate marriage —If a husband died without leaving male heir his unmarried broth was to marry the widow in order to carry on the family name (Tamar, Genesis 38; Ruth, Ruth 3-4). Then the woman died also. “In the resurrection, whose wife will she be? is the question they pose to Jesus.

The Sadducees were clearly ridiculing the belief in the resurrection. They viewed it as a superstition.

Jesus teaches the truth about the resurrection (24-27)

Jesus explains his statement in reverse order. Jesus’ response follows a chiastic pattern:

a.You are in error

b. You do not know the Scriptures

c. You do not know the power of God

c. The power of God raises the dead and they become like angels

b. Scripture is cited—In the bush passage, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the God of the living

a. You are badly mistaken

In addressing their lack of belief in the power of God, Jesus explains that there will not be marriage in heaven. The afterlife is more than just a continuation of life on earth. Resurrection life will be different from earthly life.

We struggle to comprehend heaven in the same way that an infant in utero cannot imagine a Beethoven piano concerto or the Grand Canyon sunset.

In heaven, there will be no death, which means there is no need for procreation, which takes away one of the purposes of marriage. We will know Christ and others in a whole new way, which takes away a second purpose of marriage—companionship.

We have to remember that the Bible does not give a lot of detail about heaven, except that we will have glorified bodies, we will enjoy God, and we will worship and serve him forever. Whatever earthly relationships we enjoy now will be transformed.

The Sadducees rejected the prophets and the writings. Both of those speak about the resurrection (Job 19:25-26; Psalm 73:24; Daniel 12:2).

Jesus based his answer and explanation in the section the Sadducees believed—the books of Moses. At the burning bush (Exodus 3), God identified himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. By the time of the burning bush, the patriarchs had been dead for several centuries. Yet God told Moses that he was still their God at the time he spoke—thus implying that, from the perspective of the resurrection, they were still alive.

As believers, we must seek to understand the full meaning of the Scriptures. Begin a program of reading through the Bible. Get involved in a Sunday School class or small group Bible study. Take an online class and study theology. Rather than just read and study, make sure you apply the truth to your daily life. Find opportunities to teach what you learn to others.

We must believe in the power of God. Add some “impossible” requests to your prayer list. Pray for your church’s spiritual and numerical growth. Pray for open doors for ministry. Pray for the salvation of someone that “there’s no way they will ever trust Christ.” Give God your worries and fears and ask him to transform your life.

Know the Scriptures. Know the power of God.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on November 15, 2015. It is part of a series in the Gospel of Mark. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

One response to “Is there Life after Death?

  1. kenzelsfire

    November 15, 2015 at 8:43 am

    There is life after death. Lost my mom many decades ago when I was 15, she set me on my faith journey.
    Thank you for listing the differences between Pharisees & Sadducees (sp?) That was interesting!
    -Kenzel

     

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