Focus on God's Word

What Happens When You Die?

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Charissa Fong


Series Code: FGW

Program Code: FGW000017

00:26 OK, our subject this evening: What Happens When You Die?
00:31 A very important subject. So before we begin
00:33 I invite you to bow your heads with me for an added word
00:36 of prayer. Loving Father in heaven,
00:39 as we contemplate a question which all of us must contemplate
00:43 as we live in a world which is filled with death,
00:47 we pray, Lord, that You will help us to find the answer
00:50 in Holy Scripture. May You bring to us comfort tonight
00:53 because You are the God of all comfort.
00:55 And send Your Spirit to us now we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.
01:01 Are you afraid to die?
01:04 Statistics tell us that every hour
01:08 5,417 people die.
01:12 Which means by the time we leave the church tonight
01:15 there will be 5,417 families
01:19 now contemplating the painful task of having to bury
01:23 a loved one. And of course, living in a world
01:25 where we have so many natural disasters and wars
01:29 I'm pretty sure that that number is probably quite conservative.
01:33 Cemeteries are filled with lonely markers that read
01:36 "Gone too young too soon. "
01:39 But what does it feel like to die?
01:41 And, of course, when death comes well what next?
01:45 Every religion on the face of this planet
01:48 has struggled to find the answer to this very question
01:51 and surprisingly nearly all of them have stumbled short
01:55 of the truth. And friends, without the truth
01:59 then fear is our default.
02:01 And nothing buries faith faster than fear.
02:05 Life is hard, let's face it,
02:07 because nobody makes it out alive.
02:10 To be or not to be? I think it's a trick question.
02:13 Because it doesn't matter who you are, where you are,
02:17 what you do in this world. You could be the world's
02:19 greatest athlete or the world's greatest musician,
02:22 the end to the road that we travel in this life
02:26 always has a dead end.
02:29 And truly if life were a novel
02:31 then dead would mark the end of the first chapter.
02:35 And so tonight we want to answer the question
02:38 what happens in chapter 2?
02:41 And once upon a long time ago, Jesus told us the answer
02:45 and I think you will find it very exciting.
02:48 I know that's surprising, but I do think you will.
02:50 So we go to the story... our story tonight...
02:54 in John chapter 11 verses 1 to 3.
02:57 And actually if you do have your Bibles, you're very welcome
03:00 to follow along in them because it's a story tonight.
03:03 We can step through it as we go along.
03:06 The Bible says:
03:30 Now friends, while Jesus was on this earth
03:33 it is true that there were many people who loved Him
03:36 and followed Him, but it is also true
03:38 that there were many people who hated Him
03:41 and despised His very shadow.
03:44 And surprisingly, most of those people were religious.
03:48 But there was one family on the face of this planet
03:51 in whom Jesus found true friendship and companionship...
03:55 and it was this family right here in Bethany.
03:58 Whenever He was passing through Bethany
04:01 He never got on the Internet and looked up a motel
04:04 because there was always a room waiting for Him
04:07 in the home of these three.
04:10 But friends, one day a cloud came over that home.
04:14 A cloud with which too many of us are all too familiar with.
04:18 Because Lazarus - whose name means "without help" -
04:22 one day he grew very sick
04:24 and when he did, Jesus was not in town.
04:28 Things did not look good. But Mary and Martha... they
04:31 tried their best to nurse their brother back to full health
04:35 and strength... but nothing seemed to work.
04:38 And so they thought: "Well, we'll just send word to Jesus"
04:41 because they knew that it was no problem for Jesus to heal
04:45 anybody. I mean, He had given sight to a blind man.
04:49 He could heal a crippled woman.
04:52 Um, they had even heard the story of how Jesus
04:56 had healed the Centurion's servant...
04:58 and He had done that long distance.
05:01 And so they knew that it would be no problem for Jesus
05:05 to help them in their time of need.
05:07 And friends, if they had had mobile phones back then
05:11 then this was the message - the SMS text message -
05:15 they would have sent to the Lord. They would have said:
05:22 There was no need to put a name to that message
05:25 because they knew that Jesus would know who they were
05:28 talking about. How do I know that?
05:30 Because notice verse 5 it says:
05:38 And friends, I wish you would just ponder those words
05:41 for just a moment
05:43 because this means that those who love Jesus -
05:46 those whom He loves - they do get sick and they do die.
05:51 And that means that should the day come where
05:54 either... any one of us here in this room... should the day
05:57 come when we would be found in an examination room
06:00 and the doctor comes in and says: "Listen, I have bad news
06:03 for you... you have some terminal disease or illness, "
06:06 it doesn't matter what it is. You're sick and you're dying.
06:10 But friends, when that time comes, remember the words
06:14 of Jesus. Remember the message that they sent to Jesus.
06:18 Remember that Jesus loves you just as much
06:22 as He loved Lazarus.
06:25 Verse 6... the Bible says:
06:37 Now this is absolutely remarkable to me,
06:40 because what does Jesus do when He hears that His best friend
06:45 is sick and dying?
06:47 He does absolutely nothing for two whole days.
06:52 And in fact, times keeps going on.
06:55 And how Mary and Martha must have waited...
06:59 and still Jesus didn't come and Lazarus grew worse.
07:04 And so they waited some more and they prayed some more...
07:08 and still Jesus didn't come.
07:11 So they prayed some more, they waited some more,
07:14 and perhaps they even fasted some more...
07:17 but still there was no sign of Jesus.
07:20 And then the unthinkable happened: Lazarus died.
07:25 Still no sign of Jesus.
07:28 Mary and Martha were crushed.
07:31 Because a million deaths is always a statistic
07:34 but a single death is always a tragedy.
07:37 They thought they could count on Jesus.
07:39 They thought they knew Jesus.
07:42 They thought He could do anything!
07:45 He had never let them down before, and yet
07:49 here He was... He hadn't come to help them.
07:51 Hadn't... hadn't even lifted a finger to help them.
07:54 Even the disciples were puzzled by Jesus' delay.
07:57 Why didn't He go and help the ones whom He loved?
08:01 And so the Bible goes on and notice what happens
08:03 in verses 11 to 15. The Bible says:
08:39 And I wish you would hit the pause button right here
08:43 because Jesus has just said something absolutely remarkable.
08:47 Did you catch what Jesus calls death?
08:50 He calls it a sleep.
08:54 Friends, you read the Bible from cover to cover
08:58 and you will not find a single instance of Jesus saying
09:01 that when you die you go straight to heaven
09:04 or when you die you go straight to hell or purgatory
09:07 or some other hot place.
09:08 You just don't find it in scripture.
09:10 Jesus always taught that when we die we go to sleep.
09:16 And believe it or not, but the Bible compares death
09:19 to a sleep over 50 times.
09:23 Why would the Bible do something like that?
09:26 Well, to answer this question you and I need to go back
09:29 to the very beginning of time.
09:31 You see, when God created this world
09:34 and the Bible documents its creation...
09:37 The Bible doesn't just say "In the beginning God created
09:40 the heavens and the earth" and then just stop right there
09:44 and just keep going with - you know - the story of Noah.
09:46 No, the Bible actually goes step by step
09:49 through the details of how God did it.
09:53 And we are told through the Genesis account
09:56 that God spoke and it happened.
09:59 And David backs this up in Psalm chapter 33 verse 9.
10:03 The Bible says:
10:12 In other words, He said: "Let there be light"
10:14 and there was light.
10:16 He said: "Let dry land appear, " and it did.
10:19 He did not speak and then wait for millions of eons
10:24 for dust particles to start conglomerating together
10:27 in a single location in order for a mountain to suddenly,
10:31 miraculously appear billions of years later.
10:34 No, it was instant creation.
10:36 God speaks and worlds come into being.
10:39 But the Bible tells us that when it came to the creation
10:43 of mankind it was something different.
10:47 Now I used to babysit my little 3-year-old neighbor...
10:51 nextdoor neighbor.
10:53 Her name was Chloe and she was very adorable.
10:56 And I remember when she first started going to preschool
11:00 all I heard about when I went to see her
11:02 and look after her was her day at preschool.
11:05 And it just so happened that she was going to the same
11:08 preschool that I went to when I was her age.
11:11 And so I said to her... I said to her: "Chloe, you know what?
11:14 I used to go to your preschool, too. "
11:17 And she looked at me and she said:
11:19 "Well where was I? Was I there when you were at my preschool? "
11:23 And I said: "No, Chloe. You weren't even born yet.
11:27 You weren't around. "
11:28 She couldn't understand it. She says: "Well where was I? "
11:31 And I said: "Chloe, you weren't born yet. "
11:34 And she was puzzled, and she thought for a moment
11:37 and then looked up at me and she said:
11:38 "Was I all mixed up in the ingredients, Charissa? "
11:43 And I had to laugh. And friends, in the same way
11:46 as we look here in the book of Genesis the Bible actually
11:49 tells us the ingredients that God used to make life...
11:53 to make human beings. Notice what the Bible says
11:56 in Genesis chapter 2 and verse 7:
12:12 Now according to the verse we just read
12:15 there are two ingredients that God used to make human beings:
12:19 the dust of the ground plus the breath of life.
12:23 And of course if we express these two ingredients
12:26 in a mathematical formula
12:28 we could put them in an equation that looks like this:
12:36 We could also express it this way:
12:44 In other words, life cannot exist without the breath of life
12:49 and consciousness depends entirely upon the union of
12:54 body and breath.
12:56 And I'll have you notice, too, that here in the verse
12:59 Genesis 2 and verse 7 the Bible doesn't say: "And God
13:03 gave Adam a soul... " The Bible says that
13:07 Adam became a soul. In other words, you and I ARE souls.
13:12 And so this is the formula that we have for life.
13:16 Then it follows that the formula for death is just simply
13:21 the reverse of this one. So we would have:
13:28 We can express the same thing differently:
13:37 Does the Bible support what we deduced here
13:41 from Genesis chapter 2 and verse 7? Yes it does.
13:44 Notice what Ecclesiastes 12 and verse 7 says:
13:56 Now according to this text when one dies
14:00 the body just decomposes. We turn back to the ground
14:03 and the breath returns back to God.
14:06 And this happens to individuals whether they are righteous
14:10 or wicked, saved or lost.
14:12 This is why Ezekiel says:
14:22 OK, the Bible just says that souls do die.
14:26 Now many people in our world today live under the impression
14:30 that when they die there is this soul that's in their
14:35 innermost being and it just continues to keep on living
14:39 and living. And perhaps, you know, it may...
14:42 it leads to reincarnation and things like this.
14:45 But friends, according to the Bible souls do die.
14:50 And in fact, never is the word immortality mentioned
14:54 in conjunction with a human soul.
14:57 The Bible mentions immortality
14:59 but listen to who it ascribes it. It says:
15:11 God, according to the Bible, is the only One
15:15 who has immortality.
15:17 So then does this mean that good people don't go straight
15:21 to heaven when they die and bad people don't go straight
15:25 to hell? Well keep reading what the Bible says.
15:28 In the book of Acts chapter 2 verse 29 we go to the sermon
15:33 that Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost. And he said:
15:47 He didn't say anything about David going to heaven
15:51 right there. Again, Ecclesiastes chapter 9
15:54 verses 5 and 6:
16:15 Friends, the Bible is very clear.
16:23 You remember Hogan's Heroes and Schultz? He always says:
16:27 "I know nothing... I know nothing? "
16:29 He's behaving like a dead man.
16:31 Friends, the Bible says we don't know anything
16:33 when we die. Why? Because we're asleep.
16:37 That's why. That's what the Bible teaches right the way
16:41 through. That's what Jesus teaches and friends,
16:44 that's what Peter taught as well.
16:45 Again, back to his sermon:
16:52 That seems pretty clear to me.
16:55 And that has been one of the most Spirit-filled sermons
16:58 in all of human history.
17:00 Now it has been said that if you want your spouse to
17:03 listen to every single word that you say
17:06 then you should talk in your sleep. Because when you do
17:11 talk in your sleep you're not actually aware of what you are
17:13 saying. None of us are aware really of what's going on
17:16 when we're asleep. And I confess to you
17:19 that when I was growing up there was this time in my life
17:22 where I was afraid of the dark.
17:25 I became afraid that maybe in the night
17:28 some bandit would come and take me away.
17:31 And so it got so bad that I just couldn't sleep.
17:34 And so my dad said to me... He said to me one night:
17:37 "Charissa, " he said, "listen. I'm here in this house.
17:40 If anybody steps foot in this house
17:43 look, I'll sort them out. " Now my dad's a big man,
17:46 you know. He's a strong man.
17:48 And I knew when he said "sort them out" it involved
17:51 some sort of physical contact.
17:52 And so I thought to myself:
17:56 "Well, if dad's going to look out for me, then it's OK. "
17:58 So for years I slept.
18:01 I trusted in my dad to protect me.
18:04 Then one night I had to get up in the middle of the night
18:07 to go to the bathroom. And on my way to the bathroom
18:10 I tripped over something in the hallway
18:13 and this loud noise rang throughout the house.
18:16 And I became scared. I thought to myself:
18:19 "Oh no. Dad's going to think that I'm someone intruding
18:23 in the house and he's going to wake up.
18:25 And he might 'sort me out! ' "
18:27 And so I was very afraid. I just froze and stood there
18:31 in the hallway. And you know what?
18:33 Nothing happened because he was asleep.
18:36 And I've since talked to him about it,
18:38 and he said: "That's because I knew that you weren't making
18:41 the sounds an intruder would make. "
18:42 But really I know he was sleeping.
18:45 And friends, when you're asleep you miss everything!
18:48 You have no idea what's going on.
18:50 That's what the Bible is saying.
18:52 I used to have a little puppy dog. That's my puppy dog.
18:55 His name is Texas. And Texas... he loved attacking
18:59 big dogs from behind the fence.
19:01 And whenever a German shepherd walked up the side of our house
19:05 my little dog would be tearing up and down the side of the
19:09 fence growling at them and barking at them.
19:12 And I was so proud of him. You know, I'd say:
19:14 "Easy boy; don't bite them. "
19:16 Because he just made me feel very proud of him;
19:19 he was so brave.
19:20 But towards the end of his life he started to sleep a lot more,
19:24 and he loved to sleep on our back porch in the sun.
19:28 And I remember one day I looked out the window
19:30 and I saw this Doberman walking by. And I thought: "Ah,
19:33 what's Texas doing? He would love this. "
19:35 And so I went and I saw him and of course he missed it
19:38 because he was sound asleep. And I said: "Texas, wake up.
19:41 Go get 'em... " and so off he went.
19:43 But he was asleep, and he missed everything in his sleep.
19:46 That's why in English we have this saying:
19:49 "You're dead to the world... "
19:51 because you don't know what's going on.
19:52 And so, friends, the Bible says you don't go straight
19:56 to heaven when you die.
19:57 You don't go straight to hell... you go to sleep.
20:01 And friends, there is nothing to fear in that because
20:04 when you sleep, according to the Bible,
20:07 when we enter death's peaceful slumber we feel no pain,
20:11 no suffering. All of our consciousness ceases.
20:14 We know nothing. And that's why Psalm 15 verse 17 says:
20:24 And certainly if one did go to heaven when they died
20:29 well you'd think that they would be praising God up there,
20:32 wouldn't you? But this text says they don't praise the Lord
20:36 and so that seems to be a pretty good indication
20:39 that they don't go to heaven.
20:57 So friends, the Bible is absolutely clear.
21:01 We know nothing; we just... We are unconscious.
21:04 We are in an unconscious sleep.
21:06 You say: "It doesn't make sense; we've got to go somewhere. "
21:09 Well let me illustrate. If... supposing I had a pile
21:12 of wood and a pile of nails
21:15 and miraculously I made a box... I built a box.
21:19 Well supposing I took the nails out and I put them back here
21:23 and I put the wood back here, where did the box go?
21:27 Did it go to heaven? Did it go to hell?
21:30 Did it go to Germany? No, it just ceases to exist.
21:35 And that is what the Bible is saying.
21:37 And friends, for the Creator of the universe, death is a sleep.
21:41 And I recognize that this truth is something that many people
21:45 just fail to miss... or they fail to see
21:49 in our society today.
21:50 Many people... they turn to psychics and spiritualists
21:54 because they believe or at least they want to believe
21:57 that it is still possible to communicate with the dead
22:01 when they die. But friends, if the Bible says that
22:05 when we die we go to sleep
22:08 and there are so many people in our world today
22:10 who think that they are communicating with the dead,
22:13 well then who are they really talking to?
22:16 Well according to the Bible - Revelation 16 and verse 14:
22:28 And friends, if the devil can change himself into an angel
22:32 of light... If he could hide himself and speak to Eve
22:37 through a serpent, then it is possible for him and his demonic
22:41 hosts to play a masquerade as loved ones who have died
22:46 as well. In fact, they can do it so well
22:49 that they may even be able to say things to the living
22:52 that was only known between the living person
22:56 and their dead relative.
22:58 The Bible tells us that Satan will work many deceptions
23:01 in the last days. And this verse isn't on your screen
23:05 but we looked at it last night: Matthew 24:24.
23:08 It says: "For false Christs and false prophets
23:12 will rise and show great signs and wonders
23:15 to deceive if possible even the elect. "
23:19 So this is what we know Satan is doing and will do,
23:23 but where did all the confusion start?
23:25 Again, a lot we can learn from going back to the very beginning
23:29 because it was actually Satan...
23:32 He was the very first one who preached the very first sermon
23:36 on the immortality of the soul.
23:39 And he preached it to Adam and Eve right back there in the
23:42 Garden of Eden. He said to them in Genesis chapter 3 and verse 4
23:53 This was the very first lie ever told to mankind.
23:58 And friends, the word soul... it appears in the Bible
24:01 858 times but never once is it linked with the word
24:06 immortal. The teaching of the immortal soul is not
24:11 according to God, it is accord- ing to Satan: the arch deceiver.
24:15 You say: "Charissa, OK. You are making some pretty good
24:18 statements; you're making some pretty good arguments
24:21 but I think you have overlooked one very important detail
24:25 which will just upset your apple cart.
24:27 You see, you have forgotten to tell us
24:29 about the rich man and Lazarus. Because, ah, there you go...
24:34 there's a problem for you there. "
24:35 And I'm so glad you reminded me of that
24:37 because we need to ask the question:
24:44 It's in Luke chapter 16. And yes, it is a story that
24:47 Jesus told about a rich man who died and went to hell
24:52 and a beggar named Lazarus who died and went to the bosom
24:56 of Abraham. And yes, Jesus told this story...
25:00 But friends, He told it to illustrate to His listeners
25:04 that their "chosenness" and "religiousness"
25:07 did not secure them a ticket to heaven...
25:10 because that's what they were trying to do.
25:12 Because they were Jews they were enabled to go straight
25:15 to heaven. But Jesus was saying: "No, that's not how it is. "
25:18 And yet there are many religious people - good many people -
25:22 who read this parable and say: "Well, there you have it!
25:26 There's your evidence. When you die you go to heaven
25:30 to the bosom of Abraham or you go to hell.
25:32 But listen: if heaven is in the bosom of Abraham
25:37 well that doesn't really sound like heaven to me
25:40 because it sounds a lot better in Revelation 21.
25:43 And if the people in heaven can see the suffering
25:48 of those in hell, well that doesn't really sound like
25:51 heaven to me either.
25:53 And so friends, the logical conclusion that one can draw
25:57 from this is simply that Jesus was telling a parable...
26:00 a folk story. And friends, a parable is just an earthly
26:04 story with a heavenly meaning.
26:06 You say: "OK, well, OK. You can talk that one away, Charissa,
26:10 but you've forgotten someone else.
26:13 What about the thief on the cross?
26:15 Ah, you can't run away from this one! "
26:17 I know you're going too fast for me, but I have an answer
26:21 for that as well. Let's go to the Bible...
26:23 what the Bible says in Luke chapter 23 verses 39-43.
27:11 Ah-hah! See, there it is right there. There's your proof.
27:15 But friends, we have forgotten about Mary.
27:19 Because do you remember what happened
27:21 on the resurrection day?
27:23 We have to remember that. Let's go and see what happened.
27:26 John chapter 20 verse 17 Jesus said to Mary
27:30 who met Him at the tomb... He said:
27:47 Now we have a problem because somebody...
27:51 or Jesus is lying to somebody. He's either lying
27:54 to Mary or He is lying to the thief.
27:57 And I personally don't think that Jesus is a liar, do you?
28:02 No. So we need to sort this out. And thankfully
28:05 a history lesson does. Because you see,
28:08 when Luke was writing his manuscript
28:11 the original Greek manuscript had no commas
28:16 or word divisions. It was just one long line
28:19 of words. And those word divisions weren't added
28:22 until 1490 AD. And when they were added by the translators
28:27 well they then had the problem of deciding where
28:30 they were going to put the comma.
28:32 And you say: "Really? And that makes a big difference? "
28:35 Yes it does, because let me illustrate.
28:38 Supposing we take this line right here.
28:44 There is no punctuation.
28:45 Let's add some punctuation.
28:50 Let's move it around just a little bit.
28:56 OK. Can you see how the placement of a comma
28:59 can make all the difference in determining the meaning
29:02 from something. OK?
29:04 So where are we going to put the comma here in this story?
29:08 Well friends, I think we should put it where the Bible really
29:11 ought to put it... where Jesus would have put it.
29:13 He says... He says here:
29:21 He has told Mary: "I have not yet ascended into heaven"
29:24 and so this really is the way the text ought to read.
29:27 "Assuredly I say to you today,
29:30 you will be with Me in paradise. "
29:34 "Today when all seems lost;
29:36 today when My hands are nailed to the cross... "
29:39 Jesus said to that thief:
29:41 He said: "I can still save you. "
29:44 And friends, at first glance tonight it may seem
29:48 a little disappointing to think that our loved ones
29:51 who we thought were up in heaven
29:53 are not really there and that they are really in the grave
29:56 sleeping, awaiting the resurrec- tion when Jesus comes back.
30:00 But friends, when you think about it, it's really
30:03 kind of God to do it that way
30:05 because if they were in heaven they would be having to watch
30:09 their families go through hell on this earth.
30:12 And so friends, the good news about death
30:15 is not really so much that it's a sleep
30:18 but that it is a sleep from which Jesus will come
30:20 and wake us up from. Amen?
30:23 And we talked about this just the other night,
30:25 but again a little refresher. Daniel chapter 12 verse 2:
30:34 Again in I Thessalonians chapter 4 verses 13, 16-18:
31:14 And one more text before we go back to our story:
31:40 Amen? Amen. The hope of the friends of Jesus
31:43 is not the immortality of the soul...
31:45 it is the resurrection of the body.
31:48 Friends, Lazarus is asleep but his story is not yet
31:53 complete. Let's go back to the book of John.
32:10 Not only did Jesus not get there in time
32:13 to prevent the death of Lazarus
32:16 but now He's so late He's even missed the funeral.
32:19 For four long days Lazarus had been lying in a cold tomb.
32:24 And the Bible goes on. Notice verses 20 to 22:
32:48 With grief surging in her heart and hoping that even now
32:54 Jesus could do something to comfort her
32:56 Martha comes to Jesus and she says what she and Mary
33:00 have been thinking all alone: "Oh, Lord, if only You had
33:05 been here things could have been different. "
33:07 And as those words leave her lips
33:11 the memories flood her mind.
33:14 The horror film of the last few days plays itself over
33:18 again in her heart and the tears begin to flow.
33:22 I know exactly how she feels because my little puppy dog -
33:27 that one right there, Texas - last year he fell sick.
33:32 And when he did we rushed him to the vet.
33:36 We tried to make him feel better first,
33:38 but it didn't seem to work.
33:39 So we took him to the vet one morning,
33:41 and he had been my best friend for 11 years.
33:45 He was so faithful, so loyal, so loving.
33:49 Every time my family and I went out and we came home
33:52 there he would be at the side gate.
33:55 And he'd be wagging his tail and squealing with joy.
33:59 He made me feel like I was the most important person
34:02 in the world. But friends, without warning
34:07 on the 12th of March last year Texas died.
34:10 And when he did my world just felt like it came crashing in.
34:15 I couldn't go in the back yard and get his bowl because
34:18 that's where he had left it.
34:20 I couldn't walk up and down the street because it didn't
34:22 feel right because he was supposed to be with me.
34:25 I couldn't go to the side gate
34:27 because he was supposed to be there.
34:29 And the finality of it all... that's what really upset me.
34:34 And friends, when I was going through that grief at that time
34:38 these... this question... this sentence: "If only... "
34:42 I said that to myself so many times.
34:44 If only we had taken him to the vet sooner.
34:47 If only I had spent more time with him the other day
34:52 maybe things could have been different.
34:55 And friends, that question: "If only... "
34:58 is the cry of the human heart.
35:00 There is not a single funeral that you will go to
35:03 where you will not hear that cry because friends
35:07 death is an enemy. It grabs us unexpectedly.
35:11 But friends, Jesus has good news for Martha. He says to her:
35:22 Now friends, Jesus did not say: "Your brother will come back
35:26 from heaven today. "
35:27 He did not say: "I will bring your brother back from hell. "
35:30 Because, you know, if Jesus was going to say that -
35:33 if that's where he was, in either of those two places -
35:36 then saying something like that would have been appropriate.
35:40 And Martha says to Him:
35:49 Friends, Martha's faith is fragile but it is still alive.
35:55 And so for her Jesus speaks these wonderful words
35:58 which have become immortal because they're in the Bible:
36:20 Now when Jesus said: "I am the resurrection and the life"
36:23 He was not making idle conversation.
36:26 He did not say: "I am going to be
36:29 the resurrection and the life. "
36:30 "I will think about being the resurrection and the life. "
36:33 "I'm going to try and be the resurrection and the life. "
36:36 He said: "I AM the resurrection and the life. "
36:39 And that's good news, Amen? Amen. And by the way,
36:42 if Jesus says He is the resurrection and the life
36:45 then friends, your eternal destiny and mine...
36:50 it all depends upon our relationship to Jesus Christ.
36:54 Everything hinges on whether or not you and I
36:57 believe Jesus to be the Son of God
37:00 and the Savior of the world and our own personal Savior as well.
37:05 The story is told of Mrs. Einstein.
37:08 Someone once asked her one day if she understood
37:12 the theory of relativity. And she said: "Of course not! "
37:15 And so the interviewer asked: "Well, how do you know
37:19 it's true then? "
37:21 She said: "Because I know Mr. Einstein. "
37:23 And friends, we can know.
37:25 Jesus says: "I am the resurrection and the life. "
37:27 And if you truly know Him
37:29 then it is really true for you as well.
37:32 Notice verse 27:
37:41 Martha looked into the eyes of Jesus
37:44 and she chose to believe in what He said.
37:48 She did not know why things had happened this way.
37:51 She didn't fully understand what Jesus was calling her
37:54 to believe. But friend, Martha's faith was not in something...
37:59 it was in someone.
38:01 And so Jesus... Notice what happens next...
38:15 The grief of these two sisters is absolutely raw.
38:19 And she comes... She comes to Jesus and she asks
38:23 exactly the same question that Martha had just asked.
38:27 But does Jesus say: "Listen, just talk to your sister...
38:29 I've already answered that? "
38:31 No, friend. Notice what happens next.
38:33 He doesn't rebuke her at all.
38:35 The Bible tells us in verses 33 to 35:
38:58 Sighing heavily like a teacher who has been trying to make
39:02 the point to his students so many times
39:05 and they just don't get it,
39:07 they lead Jesus to the burial site. And then
39:10 the Bible records almost the sweetest words that I know:
39:14 "Jesus wept. "
39:17 Because friends, sometimes we say it best
39:19 when we say nothing at all.
39:22 Do you think that the grief and the sadness
39:25 and insanity of death makes God happy?
39:28 No, the Bible says Jesus weeps
39:32 because there are no words, there is no logic...
39:36 There are no Bible verses, no pious clichés
39:40 that can take away the pain of a grieving person.
39:43 When you are grieving, when you are suffering grief,
39:46 you hurt. And friends, you can't talk a person out of that,
39:49 and Jesus doesn't try.
39:52 He didn't apologize for the delay.
39:55 He didn't make an excuse for the delay.
39:58 He didn't try and explain it away.
40:00 He did not try and give a theological lecture
40:04 on suffering to explain the reason why He delayed.
40:07 Friends, the Bible tells us He weeps with them in their loss.
40:13 He weeps with us in our grief.
40:15 And notice verse 36:
40:22 Oh yes, see how Jesus loved Lazarus
40:25 but see how He loves us as well.
40:29 Notice verses 38 and 39. The Bible says:
40:54 Friends, Martha's impulsive reaction reflects our universal
40:59 approach to problems, doesn't it?
41:01 "Oh, Lord, it's too late. "
41:02 "Oh, You can't change it. It's too hard to change now. "
41:05 Friends, even though she had faith her doubts were emerging
41:09 on the top. Her thoughts were still on the corpse
41:13 and so she didn't want to see the stone rolled away.
41:17 She wanted to remember Lazarus as he was.
41:20 Martha believed that it was too late for Jesus
41:25 to help her now.
41:27 But friends, she had just totally misunderstood
41:30 what Jesus was trying to do.
41:32 Because it's a bit like this little boy.
41:34 He got to church one morning and he was standing in the foyer
41:39 and he was reading this plaque just quietly.
41:42 And so the pastor saw him. He was seven years old...
41:44 his name was John. And he came over to Johnny
41:47 and he said: "Good morning Johnny. How are you today? "
41:49 Said: "I'm well. " He said: "I'm just reading this plaque. "
41:53 He said: "Yes, I can see that. What's on your mind? "
41:55 He said: "Well, what is this? What does it mean?
41:58 What are all these names on the plaque? "
42:00 And the pastor said: "Ah, those are all the names
42:03 of the men who have died in the service. "
42:06 There was silence as Johnny pondered this.
42:09 Then he asked the question in almost a whisper:
42:12 "Which one? The 8:30 or the 11 o'clock? "
42:16 He had misunderstood what the pastor had said
42:19 and he thought they were dying in the church service
42:22 when they were dying in the military.
42:24 And friends, like that Martha had just totally misunderstood
42:28 what Jesus was trying to say.
42:30 Notice what happens in verse 40:
42:39 Friends, Martha had been fighting a battle of faith
42:42 and doubt, focusing her thoughts on the corpse
42:45 rather than on Christ. But praise God
42:48 that when you and I are at our very worst
42:51 in our faith Jesus is at His very best. Amen?
42:55 Notice verses 41 and 42:
43:19 The stone was rolled away
43:22 and as it was, the cries of the mourners ceased.
43:26 All who had gathered there outside the tomb
43:30 were given the opportunity to gaze in and know that
43:33 no sorcery or deception was being practiced
43:36 Because there in the cold tomb lay the still, cold body
43:41 of Lazarus. And outside that tomb
43:43 Jesus stands calmly. And notice what happens in verse 43:
43:57 The weeping Savior, His voice the sound of many waters.
44:02 Penetrating and strong and clear
44:05 it pierces the ear of the dead one
44:08 and as He speaks "Lazarus, come forth"
44:12 divinity flashes through humanity.
44:15 The crowd stand frozen outside the tomb
44:19 staring at the entrance to that tomb.
44:22 Every eye is fixed on the entrance of that cave.
44:26 Every ear is bent to catch the slightest sound
44:30 of movement because this was a critical moment
44:33 in the ministry of Jesus if there ever was one.
44:37 Because if Lazarus didn't come out
44:40 well Jesus' credibility was on the line.
44:44 He had called the shots and it had to happen.
44:48 The whole universe watched on with wonder at this moment.
44:53 And friends, Jesus did not say:
44:56 "Lazarus, come down from heaven; you'll have to come back. "
44:59 He did not say: "Come up from hell. "
45:02 He says: "Lazarus, come forth. "
45:05 And notice what happens verse 44:
45:20 There is a stir in the silent tomb
45:24 and as everybody watches, a man - a figure
45:28 wrapped in grave clothes - slowly steps into the sunlight
45:32 outside the tomb. Friends, Lazarus was alive!
45:37 On that bright afternoon as Lazarus stepped into the sun
45:42 blinking into the sun, what a moment that must have been
45:45 for him. He comes out.
45:47 He looks up and there in front of him
45:49 is the smiling happy face of his best friend Jesus Christ.
45:55 One of my favorite authors, a lady by the name of
45:58 Ellen G. White... she writes in her commentary -
46:02 wonderful commentary on the life of Christ,
46:04 a book called The Desire of Ages -
46:06 she says this:
46:15 Why could she say that?
46:16 Because friends, no one had ever been able to raise anybody
46:21 from the dead and bring them back to life after 4 long days.
46:27 And so friends tonight the raising of Lazarus
46:30 shouted to all those people back then
46:33 as it shouts to all of us today
46:35 that Jesus Christ truly was the Son of God.
46:39 With three words... "Lazarus, come forth... "
46:44 Jesus changed everything.
46:47 Because when Jesus speaks things happen.
46:51 When He speaks worlds come into being.
46:53 When He speaks the wind and the waves are completely still.
46:57 When Jesus speaks the dead come forth.
47:02 It is said that D. L. Moody... he once said
47:06 that had Jesus not said "Lazarus, come forth"
47:10 and if He had just said "come forth, "
47:12 every grave on the face of the planet would have split open
47:16 as the sleeping saints heard the call of their Creator.
47:20 Friends, Jesus is all about life.
47:23 We can rejoice tonight that death is just a sleep
47:27 for the friends of Jesus.
47:29 The raising of Lazarus demonstrates to you and I
47:32 tonight God's ability to give us life.
47:36 And when we encounter Jesus
47:38 we encounter a God who is the resurrection and the life
47:42 who has the power over the grave.
47:46 Revelation 1 and verse 18 Jesus says:
48:03 And friends, when Jesus comes back
48:06 we're going to be reunited with our loved ones
48:09 who have died believing in Jesus Christ.
48:11 And what a wonderful day that will be.
48:15 But friends, should the Lord tarry,
48:18 should He not come as soon as we are expecting Him to come
48:22 because He continues to wait for more people to come to Him,
48:25 then friends we too may have to pass through the valley
48:29 of the shadow of death. But if we have encountered
48:32 Jesus now. If we have encountered Him and believed
48:36 in Him as the result of that encounter -
48:39 then friends, I believe the experience of Lazarus
48:42 will be ours as well.
48:45 For this reason Paul writes... He says:
48:52 Ah, yes, death is a decided fact but it is also
48:56 a defeated foe. Amen?
48:59 It may buzz around and frighten us and scare us
49:03 but Jesus bears its sting.
49:05 He has taken the sting out of death.
49:08 And He offers to you and I tonight hope and life
49:11 everlasting. Oh yes,
49:13 the Bible says that the wages of sin is death.
49:17 But Jesus died and He was not a sinner.
49:20 And yet He willingly, vicariously, voluntarily
49:24 laid down His life for you and I.
49:28 When He did, Satan thought he had the victory.
49:31 Old king death laid his icy cold bony hand on Jesus
49:36 Christ and shackled Him in a cold tomb.
49:40 But he couldn't hold Him there
49:42 because three days later defying all the odds
49:46 Jesus rose from His resting place.
49:48 And when He did, He defeated and decimated death
49:53 in that tomb. Amen?
49:54 He got up from that stone slab
49:57 and the Bible actually tells us He turned around
49:59 and He folded the napkin that covered His face.
50:02 He was in complete control... there was no hurry.
50:05 And friends, one day Jesus will come again.
50:08 And when He does we will hear the same call
50:11 that Lazarus heard: "Come forth. "
50:14 And when we hear that, the dead in Christ... they will come
50:18 as they hear the call of their Savior and forever Friend.
50:22 D. L. Moody was once asked at short notice to perform
50:27 a funeral service and to preach the sermon for the service.
50:31 And being young and new to the ministry
50:33 he went home and madly went through his notes
50:36 to try and find something that Jesus said
50:40 at a funeral service. And as he read through the gospels
50:43 looking for Jesus preaching a funeral sermon
50:46 he discovered that there isn't one.
50:48 Because every funeral that Jesus turned up to
50:51 He broke it up, because death could not exist where Jesus was.
50:56 Death could not exist where the King and the Creator of
51:00 life was. Jesus conquered death.
51:04 His grave is empty!
51:06 He is alive and alive forevermore.
51:09 There is no other event as significant in our human history
51:14 as the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
51:17 Thanks to Jesus, brighter days are ahead of us.
51:22 Thanks to Jesus, no situation is hopeless.
51:26 Thanks to Jesus, real joy awaits us on the other side
51:31 of sorrow. In closing, this story:
51:35 An elderly man fell sick and when the doctor saw him
51:40 the prognosis was not good.
51:42 He said: "Look, you have a terminal illness
51:44 and you have but a few weeks to live. "
51:46 The man went home, and his daughter came. And she stayed
51:50 with him to look after him during his final few weeks
51:53 of life. And the local pastor in town when he found out
51:56 about it, he made arrangements to come and visit the man.
52:01 When he came to the house the daughter met him at the door
52:04 and she ushered him into her father's room.
52:07 And as he came in, he smiled at the old man in the bed
52:11 and he noticed a chair beside his bed.
52:14 And he said: "Ah, I see you've just had a visitor...
52:16 or were you expecting me? "
52:18 And the old man... he smiled back and he said: "No,
52:20 I wasn't expecting you but come and take a seat
52:23 and I'll tell you what the chair's for. "
52:24 So the pastor sat down and the man began.
52:27 He said: "Pastor, this may seem strange to you
52:30 but there was a time where I just found it really hard
52:33 to pray. I just couldn't pray at all.
52:36 And so I confided in a good friend of mine, and I told him
52:39 about my situation. And my friend said to me:
52:42 "Well why don't you just take a chair into your room
52:45 and pretend that Jesus is sitting in that chair
52:48 and then talk to Him. Pray to Him as though He was
52:51 right there in the room with you. "
52:53 And so pastor, I did that and for years
52:56 ever since I've never had a problem.
52:59 The pastor was deeply touched by the man's story.
53:02 He shared a few Bible verses with him, a few promises,
53:05 and then he said a prayer with him and then left.
53:08 A few days later his mobile phone rang
53:11 and it was the man's daughter letting him know
53:13 that her father had unexpectedly passed away that morning.
53:17 She said: "Oh, I didn't think he would do this.
53:20 I didn't think he would die today because he seemed
53:22 so content. He seemed so well and happy.
53:25 I only left him for an hour or two
53:27 and then when I came back he was gone. "
53:30 And the pastor waited for her as she gathered herself
53:34 together on the other side of the phone.
53:36 And then she continued. She said "But pastor, I have to say
53:39 there was something strange about the way he left
53:43 because when I came back into the room
53:45 his head wasn't on the bed... it was on the chair. "
53:48 And friends, when you and I have Jesus as our forever Friend,
53:53 when we share a relationship with Him
53:56 as that man shared with Jesus,
53:58 then we have nothing to fear in death
54:01 because all we need is Jesus to wake us up.
54:05 Yes, the Lord is coming and when He comes
54:08 those who have died believing in Jesus... they will rise.
54:11 But should the Lord tarry and should Jesus not come
54:15 as soon as we think He will
54:16 well then all of us, too... we may go through the valley
54:20 of the shadow of death. We too may be touched by death.
54:23 But friends, Jesus promises to us tonight life.
54:28 He weeps with us in our grief
54:30 but He does something eternally better: He promises to
54:33 you and I eternal life tonight.
54:35 And friends, I look forward to the day when we meet Jesus.
54:39 Don't you? Whether we are raised to meet Him or we are
54:42 living and we are caught up to meet Him in the air
54:45 with all of those who have died believing in Jesus,
54:48 it will be the world's greatest encounter.
54:50 And so tonight I ask you this question:
54:53 are you ready to meet Jesus?
54:55 Are you ready to meet Him whatever may come?
54:58 Would you bow your heads with me now as we say a word
55:00 of prayer? Father in heaven,
55:03 we thank you, Lord, tonight that death is but a sleep
55:06 for the friends of Jesus...
55:07 for those who have encountered Him. And Lord,
55:10 we pray tonight that You would help us to grow closer to You
55:13 to love You more. To walk with You faithfully and continually
55:17 so that we may be ready to meet You when You come.
55:21 This is our prayer we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.


Revised 2014-12-17