Life After Death

Chapter 7: Christ's Victory over Death and Hades

Death is not the end, but the beginning of a new phase of existence!
 
 The Bible teaches that we will go through 3 Phases of Existence: 
(1) THIS LIFE, our spirit living in a mortal body, ending at death.

This life is most important for in it we make the key decision that determines our eternal destiny. At death we cross a line where we cannot change the destiny we have chosen in this life - heaven or hell. If we are trusting in Christ, we have forgiveness and eternal-life and go to heaven, but if we reject Him, we are still under condemnation for our sin and we go to a place of punishment.
  
 (2) The INTERMEDIATE STATE, when our spirit leaves our body at death. We continue to exist, but as a disembodied spirit. It is 
a temporary state in the interval between death and resurrection.
 
 (3) The ETERNAL STATE starts with our resurrection of the body, when we will be a spirit united to and living in an immortal resurrection body. We will all receive a resurrection body and then stand before Christ to face His judgement, at which point He will release us to physically enter into our Eternal State or Final Destiny either of eternal punishment (for the unrighteous) or of eternal glory in Heaven (for the righteous). The Intermediate State, when we exist just as a spirit, is just a temporary waiting period until this day of resurrection and final judgement. 
 
 *Before the Cross, all men upon death went to SHEOL (Hebrew) HADES (Greek) which is a real place) under the earth as described by Jesus in Luke 16 (believers went to Paradise, unbelievers to Torments - 2 separated compartments). 
 
 *SERMON
*John 3:3-7 Jesus said you must be born again in your spirit to see the Kingdom of God and enter Heaven, and this was not possible before Christ’s death and resurrection as His teaching on how to be born again confirms (John 3:13-18). Therefore believers before the cross did not go up to heaven but down to Hades (in the Paradise section). In John 3:13, He plainly says that no man had ascended to heaven upon his death (that heaven up to that time did not include humanity for salvation had not yet been obtained (the price had not yet been paid) for mankind). He knew for He came from heaven as the son of man to die for us on the cross (v14) so that through believing in Him we might be born again and have eternal life in heaven (v15,16). thus through His death He would open up the way for man to ascend to heaven (upon death) through Him.
 
 *BIBLICAL EXAMPLES of life after death in the Old-Testament, showing that departed spirits went to a place under the earth (Sheol).
 
*David said about his baby son by Bathsheba: “Now that he 
is dead, why should I fast? can I bring him back again? 
I will go to him, but he will not return to me” (2Samuel 12:23).
This shows that at death men do not cease to exist but go on a journey to another place. David knew that his baby had gone to Paradise (where believers went), for he knew that he would go to join his son at his death. This encourages us to believe that infants and those who die under the age of accountability remain under the mercy of God in Christ, since they have not rejected it.
 
 *Contacting the dead is forbidden by God and those who try will contact evil (familiar spirits). However there is one example where God allowed an attempt to be successful. 
 
 *1Samuel 28:11: “Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” And he said, “Bring UP Samuel for me.” 
When the woman saw Samuel (not a familiar spirit, but Samuel himself), she cried out with a loud voice (she was shocked by her success as she had never contacted a real dead person before!). And the woman spoke to Saul, saying, “Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul!” 
 
v13 And the king said to her, “Do not be afraid. What did you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I saw a spirit ascending out of the earth.” v14 So he said to her, “What is his form?” And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is covered with a mantle.” And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground and bowed down. v15 Now Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me UP?” (Samuel had been at rest in Paradise. He had no knowledge of events on earth). And Saul answered, “I am deeply distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God has departed from me and does not answer me anymore, neither by prophets nor by dreams. Therefore I have called you, that you may reveal to me what I should do.” 

 
 *Then in the time of the Gospels (also before the Cross), Jesus said that He (as the son of man) would go to the heart of the earth upon His death, just as Jonah had gone down to hades for 3 days and nights (Jonah 2). Matthew 12:40, Romans 10:7, Eph 4:9
 
 *The Jewish belief at the time of Christ was that all went to Sheol into one of 2 compartments, Abraham’s Bosom and Torments. So in telling the story in Luke 16, Jesus was confirming this belief as true (if it was a myth He would not deceive them by encouraging them to believe it). Moreover when He told the repentant Thief on the Cross: “you will be with Me in Paradise” Luke 23:43, based on the beliefs at that time, this man would have heard this as a promise that upon death he would go to the believers’ section of Hades rather than Torments. Thus by this promise Jesus was again confirming the Jewish beliefs of that time that souls after death go down to Hades, to one of 2 compartments. If this were not true, Jesus would have been guilty of misleading a dying man with false hope.
 
 DEATH and HADES. So as the grave is the temporary custodian of the body, and Hades was the temporary place of confinement of the soul, where men await final judgement and release into their final destiny. The body went to the grave and the soul went to Hades. While Death is the condition of the body without the spirit, Hades described the condition/place of the soul without the body. Death demands the body, while Hades demanded the soul. 
 
 Thus ultimately all men came under the power of DEATH and HADES (translated HELL), from which there was no escape.That’s why these two are often mentioned together: 
 
 *Revelation 6:8: “So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was DEATH (taking the bodies of men), and HADES followed with him (taking the souls of men). And power was given to them over a 4th of the earth, to kill with sword, hunger, death and by the beasts (including viruses) of the earth.”
 
 *Psalm 55:15: “Let DEATH seize them (their bodies); let them (their souls) go down alive into HELL (HADES), for wickedness is in their dwellings and among them.”
 
 *But DEATH and HADES are temporary states/places of the body and soul as we see in Revelation 20:13,14 at the end of time:  
“The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and DEATH and HADES delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then DEATH and HADES were cast into the LAKE of FIRE (God’s eternal rubbish tip for what can’t be recycled!). This is the 2nd Death.”
 
 *But Jesus conquered Death and Hades in His Death and Resurrection! That’s why in Revelation 1:18, He claims: “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of HADES and of DEATH.” 
 
By these keys, He has the power to release us from Hell and Death. He proved it by taking all the believers out of Hades into Heaven, and by the resurrection with Him of a chosen group to be the Firstfruits of the Harvest, the guarantee for all believers of their future glorious physical resurrection out from Death.

 
 *Ephesians 4:8: "When He ascended on high, 
He led captivity (Paradise) captive (to heaven)." 
 
 *John 20:17: “Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, 
and to My God and your God.’” 
 
 That is why we can declare: “O DEATH, where is your sting? O HADES, where is your victory?” (1Corinthians 15:55). 
 
 *Jesus has defeated the power of Death and Hades for all believers.
 
 *SERMON: So now Hades has no power over a believers’ spirit, according to Jesus’ promise to His Church in Matthew 16:18: “I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of HADES shall not prevail against it.” Hell has prison gates, but they will not prevail over you and enclose you if you belong to Him. 
 
 Since His Resurrection, Paradise, where believers go, is no longer in Hades under the earth, but in Heaven. So now when believers die they do not go DOWN to Paradise in Hades, but UP to Paradise in Heaven. 
 
 *2Corinthians 12:2-4: “I know a man in Christ who (died) 
14 years ago (see Acts 14:18,19 for when this happened) —whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows —such a one was caught UP to the THIRD HEAVEN - he was caught UP into PARADISE.” 
 
 *Stephen’s death in Acts 7:55. As the first Christian Martyr his death is significant in describing the death of a Church-Age believer: 
 
“he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God (ready to receive and welcome him home) v56 and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” v57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; v58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. v59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” The heavens had opened to receive his spirit. v60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”
  
 *2Corinthians 5:8: We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
 
 *Philippians 1:21-24: “To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I live in the flesh, it is for the fruit of my labour: yet what I will choose I know not. I am torn between the two with a desire to depart (this body) and be with Christ: which is FAR BETTER. But abiding in the flesh (in his body) is more needful for you.”
 
 *Revelation 6:9-11 reveal believers (who are to be martyred in 
the Tribulation) in Heaven, being conscious and at rest in the Intermediate State between death and resurrection: 
“When He opened the 5th Seal, I saw under the altar (in Heaven)
the souls of those who had been slain for the Word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they criedwith a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as theywere, was completed.” 
  
 *Revelation 14:13: “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labours, and their works follow them.” 
 
*Revelation 7:9: “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, v10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 
v11 All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 
v12 saying: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” 
v13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” 
v14 And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the Great Tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 
v15 Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. 
v16 They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; 
v17 for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” 

 
 *Hebrews 12:22-24 reveals who is now alive in Heaven, that we join when we come to God’s throne in prayer and worship, and we see that it includes all the believers who have died in the Lord:
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem (our citizenship is now in Heaven).
 
 Who else is in Heaven now?: 
(1) to an innumerable company of angels, 
(2) to the general Assembly and Church of the Firstborn,
who are registered in Heaven (are you registered as a citizen 
of Heaven, is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life?), 
(3) to God the Judge of all, 
(4) to the spirits of just men made perfect (the Old Testament saints are now in Heaven! They were forgiven and justified by faith, but were only made perfect (born-again) through Christ’s death and resurrection. Then He could bring them out of Hades and into Heaven with Him when He rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven). 
(5) to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that ofAbel.”
 
 *Ephesians 2:6 (our spirit belongs in heaven, already seated with Christ in heavenly places).
 
 *1Thessalonians 3:13: “He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”
 
*1Thessalonians 4:14 tells us that at the Rapture: “God will bring with Jesus the spirits of those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” 
This again shows us that the spirits of believers who have died are now in heaven and when Jesus returns, He will bring them with Him to earth to be reunited with their bodies in resurrection power. 
 
 1Thessalonians 4:15-17: “For this we say to you by the Word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the Coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” 
 
 Hebrews 12:1,2 also hints that believers are alive in Heaven and are watching our spiritual progress from the grandstands of Heaven as we run our Christian race: “Therefore (referring to Hebrews 11) we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (the believers described in Hebrews 11), let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus (as our example, inspiration and Helper, who has run His race before us and then returned to heaven), the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the Throne of God.” 
 
 So Death to a believer is precious in the sight of the Lord because he goes to be with Him (Psalm 116:15), while the death of an unbeliever is something the Lord has no pleasure in (Ezekiel 33:11), because it means his fate and separation from God is sealed forever (for God is not willing that any should perish - 2Peter 3:9). 
 
 *The words in Matthew 25 apply to believers and unbelievers at death: v34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 
‘COME, you BLESSED of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 

*To unbelievers: v41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand ‘DEPART from Me, you CURSED into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: v46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” 

 
 *Notice the two contrasting/opposing destinies fixed at death:
(1) On the favoured right hand of blessing v the left hand of dismissal.
(2) COME (welcomed into God’s Presence and manifest goodness) 
v DEPART (exclusion and separation from God’s Presence, goodness).
(3) BLESSED v CURSED
(4) Inherit kingdom prepared for you (God’s perfect will) v everlasting fire prepared for the devil (God’s will for satan, but not for man, but since they follow satan they must share his punishment.
(5) Everlasting life
 
 BELIEVER at death IS * Far Better (Phil 1:23-24) * At Rest (Rev 6:9-11, 14:13) *Conscious (Rev 7:16,17) *In Paradise (Luke 23:43) in fellowship with Jesus *In comfort (Luke 16:23,5)
 
UNBELIEVER at death is in *Torments (Luke 16:19-31), in confinement, conscious. Under punishment (2 Peter 2:9) until final judgement.
 
Are you ready for death? Jesus has paid the price with His blood for you to be delivered from the torments of Hell, and be with Him forever in Paradise, in the Kingdom of God. He has opened up the way for you to enter into Heaven’s glory where He has prepared a place for you. But you have to say ‘YES’ to His offer of salvation and receive Him by faith into your heart as your Lord and Saviour. When you do this, He will come into your heart and life by His Spirit and empower you to live a life pleasing to Him.
 
 How can you be ready for death and be sure of going to heaven?
First, make sure you are going to the right destination by receiving Christ as your Lord and Saviour! 
 1. Put all your trust in Christ for your salvation and eternal life. 
2. Life a changed life that proves your faith in Christ is genuine.
 
 If you have not yet put all your trust in Jesus for your salvation and eternal life in heaven, I want you to do it now, by praying with me now, repeat the words after me and say them from your heart to God. Let us pray. 
 
*Pray Sinner’s Prayer.

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