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Is There Life before Death? (141)

James R. Davis

Introduction:

1. There is a question persistently gnawing at man from ancient times to the present: "If a man dies shall he live again?" (Job 14:14) We wonder what lies beyond the mysteries of death.

2. The Bible declares that we now have a living hope.

1 Peter 1:3
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

3. For you and me, another question arises which is far greater than, "Is there life after death?" That question is, "Is there life before death?" Yes we are alive in a biological sense, but there is more to life than eating, breathing, and sleeping.

1 Tim 5:6
But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.

4. Teenage suicides, child abuse and the restlessness of our society tells us that most are in search of something more substantial out of life than what has been received. We say, "The one with the most toys wins." But we usually end up selling all those toys at a rummage for only a few pennies on the dollar.

5. As we look around at our chaotic world we can only wonder have we discovered how to live. How many go to their graves having never discovered the meaning of life? I was reading where Chuck Colson said something to this effect, "In an age where we have concluded that there is nothing worth dying for there is also nothing worth living for."

6. Christ placed much emphasis on abundant living. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10)

John 11:25-26
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

John 14:6
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

7. Jesus not only wanted to give us eternal life; he also wanted us to have life in another sense . . . upon another level. It is sad that many live and are dead while they live. They have never discovered the abundant life. The resurrection message is also a message for those who now live and are dead. (Ephesians 2:1)

I. Spiritual Life.

A. An animal can eat, drink and sleep and be satisfied, but man cannot. There is a spiritual longing within man that transcends this physical world of ours. Paul coveted the power of the resurrection in this life.

1. Paul wrote, " But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you." (Philippians 3:7-15)

2. There is a physical life and there is a spiritual life, and until we discover the spiritual level upon which God created us to live, we will never truly enjoy life. When Jesus Christ came, he came to point us to a higher level of living . . . this is where we discover the abundant life.

B. Many religious people have not discovered the abundant life.

1. I saw a television special some time ago where in the Philippines, people beat themselves with bamboo whips to atone for their sins. Some even have themselves crucified upon crosses. They actually drive nails through their hands into a wooden cross.

2. Christians often look to human ingenuity to build the kingdom of God. We are like Peter who drew his sword and cut the ear of the servant of the priest. Jesus said,  "Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels."

3. We must discover the Spirit guided life . . . on Pentecost God's people were dead they needed resurrecting . . . the Spirit descended leading men and women of the first century into a Spirit filled life.

C. Christians of the first century responded to Jesus because he lived. And they responded with a new way of thinking. Jesus came to life in their hearts.

Galatians 2:20
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Rom 6:3-7
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.

II. Have You A Desire to Enjoy Life?

A. Many wish that they could live life over. They desire a fresh start, but they would like to have that fresh start knowing what they know now. What if I told you that you could start life over today with greater knowledge and wisdom than you have ever possessed?

John 3:3-5
In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.

1. The message of the resurrection is that Christ has begotten us to a living hope.

1 Peter 1:3
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

3. What if I told you that you could begin a new life today? A new life that would enable you to be victorious over the circumstances of life.

1 Cor 10:13
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

B. The resurrected life is filled with hope from the beginning to the end. Victorious living doesn't depend upon what you have, but rather, what you do with what you have. Life is not about where you are or what you have, but where are you headed.

1. God is in the habit of resurrecting lives.

Romans 4:19-21
And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

C. The widow had nothing but a jar of oil and a handful of flour.

I Kings 17:12-16
"As surely as the LORD your God lives," she replied, "I don't have any bread-- only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it-- and die." Elijah said to her, "Don't be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.'" She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah.

III. The Resurrected Life Is A Fulfilled Life

A. To be resurrected from spiritual death gives assurance of a fulfilled life.

B. It starts with whatever you have in your possession right now. Too many are looking for something great to happen in their lives. They want something better or bigger to start with. What about the little things.

1. Once when my wife and I were an airplane as it was about to take off in Memphis Tennessee, all of a sudden about half way down the runway the pilot backed off the throttle and started to taxing at a high rate of speed. We knew something was wrong and the pilot announced that a small red light on his instrument panel had come on and he was aborting the flight. The problem was fixed by exchanging some little black box. But that little red light was everything. The same is true with the "little things" in your life. Life begins with what you have however little that may be.

2. Jesus said that it begins with a cup of water in his name. (Matthew 25:31-46)

C. With the widow that met Elisha it began with a little oil and a handful of flour.

D. There was another widow.

II Kings 4:1-7
Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen. And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil. Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few. And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.
So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out. And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest.

1. The prophet got the woman ready for a miracle by stretching her vision and expectations. God want answer our prayers unless we expect an answer. Things remain the same because we don't expect things to change.

2. If you will prove that you are a good investment . . . God will take your life and fill it with what you can become.

Ephesians 1:19-20
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

Proverbs 16:9
A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.

2 Corinthians 4:7
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

Ephesians 3:20-21
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

IV. How Is This Power Tapped?

A. Through a crucified life.

Romans 6:3-7
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Gal 2:20
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

B. Human weaknesses do not eliminate the power of God.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

C. The abundant life isn't dependent on knowing all the answers, but by beginning to live up to what we already know at the present.

Philippians 3:16
Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

Conclusion:

There is life before death. It is an abundant life only found in Jesus Christ.

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