Is There Life After Death?

What Really Happens When a Person Dies?

John 11:25,26

Audio MP3

February 17, 2013 AM

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.       Introduction (1Peter 3:15)


A.    The Bible says that we must “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you

B.     There is a great Need today to have an Answer for Every Man


1.      Have answers once again

2.      The modern person is a sceptic.  Doubts everything. Questions the validity of everything, especially religious.

3.      Most churches and pastors have ignored answering people’s questions, people’s problems

4.      Modern religious leaders only talk about “mysteries” but not truth

5.      Ignorant of the Bible

6.      Too lazy to study


C.     Evangelism means more than talking about heaven


1.      It means helping people know that they can know God

2.      Trust the Bible – know the way to trust God

3.      Helping people seek truth – not a fairy tale, or false hope, or a religious experience


D.    Not everyone has deep, skeptical questions, but most do, and most are not answered anymore

E.     People Have Good Questions


1.      Is there really a good God?

2.      Why doesn’t He act?

3.      Can’t God control evil?

4.      Without solid answers, the issues of government and society will only go more out of control – same-sex marriage, abortion, euthanasia…


F.      We have THE Answers

G.    This month we are looking at several foundational questions that almost everyone has, but have given up on finding out the answer to, like:


1.      Is there REALLY a God?

2.      What happens when a person dies?

3.      Is the Bible for real?

4.      Why do we need God?

5.      Which God is the Right God? The True God?

6.      Is the Bible Perfectly True?

7.      Can a Person Change?

8.      What’s the Difference Between Religion and God?


H.    This morning, I want to give you some solid answers about what happens when a person dies!


II.    Background


A.    Only two things you can count on in life they say… death and taxes

B.     But, What happens when a person dies?

C.     Death used to be declared when a person’s heart stopped – see it in movies that way

1.      But modern doctors make sure there is no brain activity either

2.      Even now, doctors and people are just not sure


a.       When a person’s heart stops, their brain can continue for a bit

b.      When there is no brain activity (EEG),  the heart and other organs can continue for years!

c.       They make mistakes!


D.    Science and Doctors describe death as when…


1.      Vital organs fail – stop working

2.      Cessation of brain activity

3.      Stopped breathing

4.      But is that death? Is that the END? Is that all there is to our life?


E.     Many People and Religions Simply ACCEPT Death


1.      Make it mysterious – “the unknown”

2.      Even glorify and honour death – make light of it


a.       Rock Music Culture - no fear

b.      Acceptance of Abortion of unborn children

c.       People seeking suicide and euthanasia


3.      Most people just try not to think about it at all (even though they watch on average about 20 murders an evening on TV, in the midst of a dozen adulteries and rapes)!

4.      I just know that I want to avoid it at all costs!


F.      So, What Happens, at the moment of death? Is there anything beyond the cold grave that we all will face?


1.      Nothingness? Just join with the worms, and with the dirt

2.      Nirvana?

3.      Reincarnation?

4.      Heaven?

5.      Hell?

6.      Limbo?

7.      Purgatory?


G.    Who is to say?


1.      Ancient Egyptians prepared to ride a ghostly boat down a river to the nether-world. Prepared for the afterlife by mummifying wealthy people, and packaging foods and toys for eternity!

2.      The ancient Greeks feared death. The journey after death was to a land known as Hades, ruled by a god named Hades. The first part of the journey required crossing the river Styx by being buried with a coin over the forehead for the boatman Charon.

3.      Jehovah’s Witnesses say if you are good enough, you go unconscious until the great judgment day, and if you are not good enough, you are annihilated and disappear forever

4.      Mormons believe if you are good enough, you can earn god-hood, and with your celestial wife can become the god of your very own world. And if you are not good enough, you will just be stuck on this earth forever

5.      Most people don’t know, and don’t care!


H.    We need an absolute authority to tell us


1.      Science can’t

2.      Philosophers can’t – can only guess

3.      Mystics can’t

4.      Only someone who has been beyond the grave and BACK, an tell us

5.      Jesus (John 11:25,26)


a.       Raised up the twelve-year-old daughter of Jairus who had just died (Mark 5:22-43, Luke 8:41-56)

b.      Stopped the pallbearers at a young man's funeral and commanding the corpse to live again (Luke 7:11-15)

c.       And then by summoning Lazarus from the tomb after he had been dead and buried four days. (John 11:1-45)

d.      As if that were not enough, Jesus allowed himself to be publicly executed, certified dead by the Roman authorities, and buried in a sealed tomb guarded by soldiers — only to rise from the grave on the third day and show himself alive in private and public appearances to hundreds of people, finally ascending heavenward before the eyes of assembled witnesses.


6.      I think HE can tell us what happens after a person dies!


III. Message


A.    Everyone Dies (Hebrews 9:27)


1.      Death Happens


a.       It doesn’t matter who you are, or how rich you become

b.      Doesn’t matter how young you are, or how strong your may be

c.       Gen 5:3-5; 5:8; 5:11; 5:14; 5:17; 5:20…

d.      It doesn’t matter how long you may actually end up living, your life is only a vapour!


2.      Satan’s big lie was that “ye shall not surely die” (Gen 3:4,5) What a liar!


a.       It is appointed to all, once to die (Heb 9:27)

b.      People may try and extend their lives, but in the end, death wins. Eccl 8:8 There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.


3.      It can take a while for death to finally win out


a.       People have lived long lives


1)      Noah lived 600 years

2)      Abraham 175

3)      Moses 120

4)      Jeanne Calment, France, lived 122 years, born 21 Feb 1875, died 4 Aug 1997


b.      People have lived on, on their death bed for months and years after people had given up on them

c.       But in the end, death always wins!


4.      Death isn’t supposed to happen


a.       Death is an unnatural part of life – no matter what people say

b.      Life does not have an OFF switch, or a self-destruct switch

c.       Life is supposed to just keep going


5.      The Bible refers to death as “Giving up the Ghost”


a.       It is when you lose control of your soul and spirit


1)      Abraham gave up the ghost. Gen 25:8  Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.

2)      Isaac. Gen 35:29  And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

3)      Jesus. John 19:30  When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.


b.      Several scientific studies have shown an adult loses 21 grams of weight (1 ¼ ounce) at the moment of death – no explanation. In 1907, Dr. Duncan MacDougall of Haverhill, Massachusetts conducted research into the weight of a person changing at death, and measured 6 patients who lost on average 1 ¼ ounces at death without any explanation still to this day.


6.      There is more to you than just flesh and blood!


B.     A Part of You Lives On (1Thes 5:23)


1.      Your body goes to a hole in the ground, or is cremated, or is laid out in state in a mausoleum. That is the end of the part of you that you catered to the most!


a.       Feeding it

b.      Pampering it

c.       Adorning it

d.      Modifying it

e.       Hating it

f.       It returns to dust. Dust will return to dust (Eccl 12:7)


2.      Your spirit returns to God (Eccl 12:7)

3.      But your SOUL lives on forever, somewhere!


a.       You are MORE than just a miracle of LIFE (trillions and trillions of chemical interactions, and neurons firing and cells multiplying)

b.      You are a living soul, that cannot die!

c.       A part of you that is the REAL you, that feels, and loves, and hurts, and hates, and fears, and prays, and sings – everything that is invisible about you, is your soul! It is the part of you that the Bible also calls, the heart! It goes on after death!

d.      According to Revelation 6:9-11, some people had been killed, but their souls were alive in heaven.


C.     There is a Judgment (Hebrews 9:27)


1.      Pronounced by God


a.       At the moment of death, God’s judgment is passed upon you

b.      Not pronounced or determined by Mary, or by Peter at the pearly gates, or by Joseph Smith; not by Muhammad, or by some angel

c.       But by the God who made you and gave you life and breath!

d.      No courtroom; no trial; no arguments; the judgment is already decided


2.      Death will hurt! There is a STING in death (1Cor 15:55,56). Why is it so bad?


a.       Death is the result of living without God (Romans 5:12)

b.      It is the result of going our own way (Pr 16:25; Isaiah 53:6)

c.       And there is a COST to living without God, and trying to do thing our own way

d.      Sin wins (James 1:14,15), not you or me!

e.       The final piercing of a person’s life – the taking of a person’s life happens at death!


3.      EXCEPT, when a person gets born again! God takes away the STING of death, and passes us from death unto LIFE! Now you know why a sinner gets born again!


D.    You will be SOMEWHERE in an Instant (2Cor 5:6-9)


1.      Various experiences at death…


a.       People who have been resuscitated have seen long tunnels of light, but that was while they were dying

b.      Some claim to have hovered over their death bed

c.       Some people have spent their last breaths screaming in agony and fear


2.      But in then end, when death wins, you will be with your ‘God’ – the being that you worshipped and loved and obeyed!


a.       Either the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who loved you and gave His life for you on the cross

b.      Or the god of this world, that you loved and followed through the love of money and friends and success!


3.      It all happens in an instant

4.      For the Christian, it is like falling asleep (John 11:11-14; 1Thes 4:14)

5.      For the lost, the Bible rejecter, it is like falling into a deep pit.


a.       Psalm 28:1  Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.

b.      Psalm 73:13-20


E.     It is an End that Never Ends


1.      For the Forgiven, it is rest, and home, and also forever


a.       Not for the perfect, or sinless, or good – because they do not exist

b.      But for those who have been FORGIVEN by God

c.       Paul said for me to live is Christ and to die is GAIN!

d.      All sinners are loved by God, and ALL are offered forgiveness

e.       But only a few are brave enough to believe God and decide to follow Jesus into life everlasting!


2.      For the Lost, it is torment, and punishment and separation also forever.


a.       Physical death has an end

b.      But a soul cannot die, so for all eternity, it dies and dies and dies, and yet cannot ever finish dying!

c.       THAT is why Jesus wept over the multitudes!

d.      THAT is why God sent His only begotten Son to take our place in death!

e.       There is no more hope after death – your destiny is settled FOREVER!


3.      Whatever you are going through right now, is nothing, and lasts nothing compared to the next world

4.      Death, and even hell are not the end! (Rev 20:12-15)

5.      Side Note: Did you know that populations with a strong belief in Hell have lower crime-rates, according to a 2012 study appearing in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE? The study found that criminal activity is MUCH lower in societies where people’s religious beliefs contain a belief in the eternal punishment of evil-doers than in places where they believe only in a god who is kind and loving. A country where many more people believe in heaven than in hell, for example, is likely to have a much higher crime rate than countries where believe in both heaven AND hell. The study came from a comprehensive analysis of 26 years of data involving 143,197 people in 67 countries.


F.     No One can Overcome Death by Themselves!


1.      The Bible clearly tells us that “the wages of sin is death” period! So death, in all its gore and ruin is the penalty we all must pay for our sinfulness (Romans 6:23).

2.      That should be the end of humanity's story - death, both physical death in the grave, and eternal death in hell.

3.      But God chose to intervene, and out of love, chose to personally pay the full penalty for us! Think about it! God, who cannot die, became a MAN, so that He could die! Not for Himself, but for sinners who couldn't save themselves! As a Man, God lived a life free from all sin! And then willingly took the sins of the entire world upon Himself (every last one) and then horribly suffered OUR consequences under the righteous wrath of the law of God…, so WE might live eternally according to His righteousness.

4.      If only someone would just fully believe that it is a done deal! If only someone would STOP trying to be good enough, and STOP trying to cheat death, and STOP trying to get into the presence of God through some religious "back-door." If only someone would cry out to Jesus Christ right now and ask Him to forgive them and give them the opposite of what they deserve… eternal life!

5.      Thank God I did just that - I repented and believed this Gospel 32 years ago! Thank God for the LOVE of God! Thank God for Jesus! Thank God anyone can overcome death by childlike faith in Jesus Christ!


IV. Conclusion


A.    What Will happen the Moment After YOU Die?


1.      Do you even CARE?

2.      I didn’t at first – for YEARS I lived like I would never die

3.      Then I had a car accident, and then I was at the funeral of two of my friends who died in car accidents

4.      I had NO idea where “I” would have gone if I had been one of them!


B.     There is LIFE after death…


1.      And you can have it! If you will only receive it by faith today, from Jesus Christ!

2.      HE is the One who said in Rev 1:18 “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”


C.     Your life is as a vapour

D.    You physically will die someday, but your soul will live on forever

E.     You Will Have All Your Memories

F.      You Will Have All Your Regrets

G.    Where would you rather be? In heaven, with the God who can wipe away all tears, or in a devil’s hell, with no relief, and no rest, and no hope, forever, and forever!?