The Precious Word Bible Study Series – The Word Reveals Our Afterlife (Lesson #7)

1Sa 3:1 “ … And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; …”

INTRODUCTION:

What takes place after we die?  Does our spirit cease to exist while our body enters the grave, does our spirit continue to exist in a conscious state, or does our spirit simply sleep to be awakened at a later time?  If so, where does our spirit reside? What about our bodies… will they ever leave the grave, or will they just gradually decay and cease to exist?

The answers to these questions, many think, cannot be known with certainty. This attitude is so sad because, if we stop to think about it, these issues are perhaps the most important issues that we face in this life….  If there is no afterlife, then there is no need to prepare for a future life.  Our life’s goal can simply be to “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die”.  Without an afterlife, our only concern should be to enjoy this life to its fullest, because that is all there is.  However, if there is an eternal afterlife, we will come to a realization that this life is not to be limited to living for temporal pleasure. The main goal of our physical life now becomes preparation for the eternal existence that awaits us.

Praise the Lord, thanks to His precious Word, we can come to definite, and sure, conclusions about both the existence, and nature, of the afterlife that awaits us.  This is just another of the many reasons why we should value God’s Word and seek to make it a living part of our day to day life on earth.

SCRIPTURES:

Luke 16:19-31

(KJV) 19)  There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20) And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21) And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22) And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23) And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24) And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25) But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26) And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that [would come] from thence. 27) Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28) For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29) Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30) And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31) And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

(ESV) 19) “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20) And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21) who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22) The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23) and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24) And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25) But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26) And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27) And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28) for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29) But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30) And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31) He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

Mal 3:18

(KJV) 18) Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.

(ESV) 18) Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.

Dan 12:1-2

1) And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation [even] to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. 2) And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame [and] everlasting contempt.

(ESV) 1) “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. 2) And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

John 5:24-29

(KJV) 24) Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 25) Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. 26) For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; 27) And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. 28) Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29) And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

(ESV) 24) Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. 25) “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26)  For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27) And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28) Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29) and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

THE STUDY:

When the Bible speaks of an afterlife, it is distinguishes between two different phases of the afterlife:

  1. The status of our spirits and bodies immediately following our PHYSICAL DEATH.  We will be studying this phase of the afterlife by looking at Luke 16:19-31
  2. The status of our  spirits and bodies immediately following THE LORD’S SECOND COMING.   We will be studying this phase of the afterlife by looking at John 5:24-30

In our first text, we find the existence of the afterlife that IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWS OUR PHYSICAL DEATH  being described in Luke 16:19-31. In these verses, we will see the afterlives of two men being described:

  1. What we are told about Lazarus helps us to understand the existence and condition of the BELIEVER in the afterlife.
  2. The other man being talked about is the rich man.  He was a man who died without exercising faith in the Lord.  His condition helps us to understand the condition of the LOST PERSON person in the afterlife.

19) There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:20) And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,21) And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

Here, we can see the complete opposite conditions these two men experienced during their life on earth.  The rich man lived a lavish lifestyle, enjoying many of the pleasures this world has to offer.  While Lazarus, a beggar, is shown suffering.  He suffers physically with health problems, as well as suffering financially lacking many of the necessities of life that we would take for granted.

22) And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;23) And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  24) And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.  25) But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

Immediately following his death, we find that the rich man’s spirit is found in a condition of misery and torment.  He, himself, describes it as being in flames. After death, the spirit of unbelievers is consigned to a place of burning torment.

This same place is described in Mark 9:43-48  as “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” This is speaking of the torment and continual corruption that is experienced by the unbeliever. It is also spoken of in 1Pet 3:19 where it is given the title “prison”.  These and many other references in Scripture support the description we find here in Luke 16:.

Also please note that while in this torment, he is able to view Lazarus in the comforts of Abraham’s bosom, only adding to his torment and suffering.  He realizes what joy and comfort he could be experiencing if he had only trusted in the Lord.

Conversely, we see Lazarus escorted to comfort in “Abraham’s bosom” by angels.  What is meant by the phrase “Abraham’s bosom”?  It is a phrase that is referring to heaven, the abode of God.  Following death, the believer’s spirit is taken to heaven to enjoy a close relationship with God and other believers unhindered by sin.  This is the meaning of Abraham’s bosom.  Abraham is the father of all believers, while his “bosom” is speaking of a closeness and intimacy that is experienced between the now dead believer, His God and other believers.  This communion is unfettered by sin and its effects   (Matt 8:11, Luke 4:16, John 13:23)

26) And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that [would come] from thence.27) Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:28) For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.29) Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.30) And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.31) And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

In this part of our text, we can see that the torment being experienced by the rich man causes him to be concerned about his loved ones who are still alive on the earth. This selfish man who only lived for his only earthly pleasures, is now concerned about the ones he loves on earth.  In the midst of his concern for his family, Abraham reminds him that the time for witnessing to those he loved has passed. He had his chance when he was still alive on the earth.  Abraham also reminded the rich man that God has given to this world His precious Word. It is through the testimony of that Word that will work salvation in the heart of the unbeliever.

We also can see that Lazarus and the rich man are separated by a great gulf (a chasm, a void, nothingness). It is because of this great divide that they are not able to travel from one place to another. The suffering being experienced by the rich man cannot be escaped.  Likewise the comfort being experienced by Lazarus cannot be lost.

(Just a quick note about Luke 16…

There are some who say that Luke 16 was a parable spoken by the Lord, and therefore cannot be taken literally.  Please keep in mind, there is really no reason to believe this is a parable.  I am confident this is an historical event recounted by our Lord.

But if it is a parable, EVERY parable the Lord taught is always based upon common everyday events…. If this is the case, it is simply telling us there are saved and lost men who die every day and are consigned to their perspective condition.

Also, if this is a parable, it is being taught to us to reveal truth while hiding truth from unbelievers. (Mark 4:11-13).  What would be some of the truths the Lord is revealing to us?  There is an afterlife. There is a distinct difference between men’s destiny, The lost will receive punishment, while the saved will receive comfort. We should witness of the truth while yet alive on earth.  Whether parable or no, the substance of the teaching doesn’t change.)

Just like our after-death condition after our physical death, our condition IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING HIS SECOND COMING will differ based upon our spiritual standing before God. Malachi 3:18…

Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.

Consignment to our eternal destiny will take place based upon the presence or absence of our name in the Book of Life ( a record of those who, based upon God’s sovereign counsels, have come to faith in Him – Phil 4:3, Rev 20:12-15)

We can see this in  Daniel 12:1-2…

And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation [even] to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.2) And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame [and] everlasting contempt.

In our final passage, we will see the process that will take place during the second coming of Christ leading up to the final consignment of all men in John 5:24-29…

24) Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

The Lord teaches us that it is the Word’s development of faith in our heart, which secures everlasting life for His people.  This everlasting life also involves escaping from divine judgment for our sins and being given spiritual life to those who were at one time spiritually dead.

25) Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

This is speaking of the final resurrection of dead bodies.  This account includes both the resurrection of the bodies of the saved and lost dead of all time.

26) For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;27) And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.

Christ’s ability to resurrect the dead is based upon the authority that the Father has granted to Him.  The Father has given Christ the authority to give spiritual and physical life to all.  (John 14:19, Col 3:3-4)  Not only is Christ given the authority over spiritual and physical life, but He is also given the authority to judge all mankind, resulting in their eternal consignment.

28) Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,29) And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

The Lord will be the power behind the resurrection of the bodies of both lost and saved of all time.  This resurrection will result in standing before Him in judgment, and then His consigning of all mankind to their eternal destiny.  For the saved, those who have served Him faithfully (a mark of genuine salvation) it will be an eternal communion with Him.  For the lost, whose sin remains on their account, it will be an eternity facing divine judgment and separation for the many sins they have committed.

THE APPLICATION:

The precious Word shows us, with certainty the afterlife exists. For those who have trusted in Christ, the eternity holds eternal, sinless communion in the presence of God Himself. For those who never trusted in Him and eternity of judgment and separation from Him are awaiting them.

Based upon these truths about the afterlife, as members of mankind, our concern is two-fold:

First, we are to live our life in preparation for the life to come.  This is one by recognizing our need of salvation, turning from sin to Christ, and placing our faith in Him.

Secondly, out of concern for others around us, we are to present to them a testimony of God’s grace.  This is done in the hopes that, through the grace of God, they may come to a saving knowledge of Him before it is eternally too late.

Please visit the “Settled In Heaven Ministries” homepage – http://www.settledinheaven.org

For a free copy of the Teacher/Student Handbook for this series pdf version: please go to: http://settledinheaven.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/tpw-1-teacherstudentmanual.pdf

For a free copy of the Teacher/Student Handbook for this series doc version: please go to:  http://settledinheaven.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/tpw-1-teacherstudentmanual1.docx

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About Rob Barkman

A retired pastor, Bible teacher and author of 20 years, he is currently ministering through Settled In Heaven Ministries. SIH Ministries is an on-line Bible teaching ministry that was founded by Bro Barkman in 2010. Settled In Heaven’s mission is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by fulfilling two different roles... rendering encouragement and Biblical knowledge to the saints in an effort to enhance their service to Christ; and proclaiming the gospel message to those who are in need of salvation, explaining to them their urgent need to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
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6 Responses to The Precious Word Bible Study Series – The Word Reveals Our Afterlife (Lesson #7)

  1. mtsweat says:

    A needed and sobering word here, good friend. You tackle a difficult passage that, as you say, has been explained in more than one manner. But also, as you say, must come to the same conclusion in the end. The evidences of whether Jesus dwells in our hearts will manifest themselves in our lives. How sad a story that the rich man showed less compassion on Lazarus than a pack of dogs. But then, for those of us blessed with the riches of the Western lifestyle… aren’t there many Lazarus-likes outside our gates. Sobering… very sobering. Blessings, brother.

  2. Rob Barkman says:

    By God’s grace His Word will be applied to those who are in spiritual need.

  3. We are all one day closer to the day when our eternal destiny will be finalised. I praise God for His intervention in my life and the absolute certainty that I will be spending eternity with Him. I pray for those who are yet outside of Christ, who, if time ended for them now, would spend eternity in torment.

    We are one day closer!
    “NOW” is the day of salvation.

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Just as you say, for the Christian it is a wonderful thing to know that the Lord’s coming is one day closer!
      What is sad is that for those who do not know Christ, the closer His coming the closer to eternal separation from Him in the Lake of Fire.

  4. ptl2010 says:

    May all who follow this study take steps to ensure that you are ready for there will be a judgement day whether you believe it or not.

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