Oct 7, 2009

What Happens When You Die - Part II

Chuck MisslerBy Chuck Missler

Death is an uncomfortable, often painful subject. We grieve at the deaths of our loved ones, and we work to avoid death for ourselves. Yet, if the Lord tarries, death waits for all people - even more absolutely than taxes.

Not only does death present a tremendous loss for us in this life, this subject also squarely confronts the issues of Heaven and Hell. Unpleasant. Controversial. And clearly the subject of fanciful folklore in all directions and dimensions.

The Hebrew Sheol, and the Greek Hades, are not the grave. The grave is where the body goes. Sheol and Hades is where the departed spirits go. (For this brief discussion, we'll regard them as equivalent.)

Gehenna, however, is their final disposition. Hades is cast into Gehenna at the end (Rev 20:14). (In fact, their topology appears to be opposites: Hades is presented as geocentric - inside the earth; Gehenna is in "the outer darkness.")

It is significant that Jesus spoke much more about "Hell" than He did about Heaven (about 5 to 1). The very concept of the need for a Savior presupposes the avoidance of the otherwise certain destiny of desolation and eternal punishment. The good news is that you and I are the beneficiaries of a love letter: a letter written in blood on a wooden cross erected in Judea about two thousand years ago and which is the fulcrum of all history and the entire universe. The crucifixion was not a tragedy: it was a crowning achievement. His achievement makes it possible to avoid an otherwise certain destiny.

The Physics of Immortality

There are many in the secular world who do not even take the existence of the "afterlife" seriously. There are many who do, however. Frank J. Tipler, Professor of Mathematical Physics at Tulane University, is a major theoretician in the field of global general relativity, that rarefied branch of physics created by Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose. In pursuing a mathematical model involving the end of the universe, Tipler (a professed atheist) came to two conclusions (one obvious, and one stunning):

  1. Using the most advanced and sophisticated methods of modern physics, and relying solely on the rigorous procedures of logic that science demands, he discovered a proof of the existence of God. (You're thinking, "No kidding, Dick Tracy!")

  2. He also now believes that every human being who ever lived will be resurrected from the dead.
He claims to have arrived at these conclusions about God and immortality "in exactly the same way physicists calculate the properties of an electron." (While I personally disagree with much of his published book, this turnabout for a professed atheist is interesting. You can learn more about the resurrection from the most important chapter in the Bible: 1 Cor 15.)

A far more insightful book is by Erwin Lutzer, One Minute After You Die. He is a truly delightful friend, has pastored the Moody Church in Chicago for over twenty years, and we used his popular book as our point of departure for our current briefing package on this subject. We also explore the intrinsic architecture of man, why he is immortal (saved or not), and we attempt to repair some of the misconceptions about Sheol, Hades and Gehenna, and the real nature of our present physical reality, as well as some of the more problematic issues involved in the "afterlife."

Related Links

Heaven and Hell - Koinonia House (Radio)
The Kingdom, Power & Glory What Is Salvation? - Koinonia House
What happens after death? - GotQuestions.org
The Death-Conquering Savior - Grace to You (John MacArthur)
One Minute After You Die - Erwin W. Lutzer (Book)