Topic: The implications of Union with Christ at death
One day, each and every one of us will die. When we die, we don’t stop being in union with Christ. Thus, my topic is the implications of union with Christ when we die.
Here is the implication of union for you who believe in Jesus at death: you don’t really die.
Westminster Shorter Catechism # says this:
Q. 37. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?
A. The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection.
Fairly simple. When we die, death is not the end. Our souls live on, with the Lord, perfected in glory. At the end of the age our bodies rise.
Purpose: Believe indeed not just in creed.
The physical body may die, but we live on with the Lord in Paradise.
My point this evening would be that we would not only believe this in creed, but believe indeed. Let me define belief in creed versus indeed. To believe in creed is to understand the doctrine, even to believe that it’s true, to recite the truth, the catechism, even defend the Biblical doctrine. Nevertheless this kind of belief differs from what I am preaching to you tonight. I desire that you believe indeed (one word) not just in creed.
Believe indeed means that you believe in practice and it affects the way you live your life. You are so convinced of the truth that you actually engage life differently based on this conviction.
Text: John 11 Martha’s Faith
The Lord teaches us to believe in life after death in his word. In Johns Gospel chapter 11 He taught Martha to believe indeed not just in creed. Martha’s brother Lazarus died. Jesus arrives (in her estimation- too late). She hears rumor that Jesus is coming into town and goes out to meet him. She then gives him a piece of her mind.
In verse 21 she sees him, falls at his feet, and cries out, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have did.” She knew that Jesus had healed the sick many times over. Her brother was a believer, and a friend, so if there was anyone who he’d heal of sickness, naturally it would be her brother. Her exclamation “If you had been here” assumes that Jesus has the power but it also implies that she feels he is too late. We can read between the lines of her saying, “Where have you been? You should have been here. How could you be so irresponsible?” She chastised the Lord Jesus, because of here lack of faith.
In verse 22 she goes on to ask for a miracle. She says, “Even now I know that whatever You ask of God [the Father], God will give You.” She knows that he has the power and so she asks for a miracle. She believes. In fact she believes indeed- not just in creed- that Jesus can raise the dead. But she does believe the dead live on after this mortal body’s life functions cease. But she does not believe in life beyond death indeed. She only believes in creed. She believes it theoretically, but not in reality. Because it does not change her reality. She wants him back. She asks for him back. She realizes that he is in heaven, in glory, in holiness, and perfection, but she does not act upon it. Here reality, her action is the action of unbelief. She wants him back.
The Lord responded to her in verse 23 with a patented Bible answer, “Your brother will rise again.” The lord Jesus’ answer can look a bit insensitive, but it is the farthest thing from it. He answers with the truth her tender heart needed to hear. She would be in turmoil without this. So in verse 24 she says back, “I know that he’ll rise again at the last day.”
Notice she believes indeed two doctrines: Jesus’ power to raise the dead now, and to raise them at the end of the age. She knows about the power of Jesus, and she makes life decisions based on that doctrine. She believes it indeed. But she does not believe indeed about the life after death for the soul. So she is in turmoil. She mourns the death of her brother because she has not applied this very important doctrine to her life: Believers live even if they die!
Notice what Jesus says to her. John 11:25, “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies”
Jesus pinpoints the missing doctrine. “The implications of union with Christ at death.” When we die Jesus is still the resurrection and the life. He is not just alive, but the life-giver!
Further, Jesus says that “[you who] believe in Him will live even if [you] die.” At death, you don’t cease to be in union with the living resurrected Jesus. Your soul lives on.
Martha’s turmoil came down to this. She believed in life after death now, but had not yet incorporated it into her life. She did not yet make policy in her life based on that doctrine.
I am not saying we don’t cry at funerals. For example, we buried my Father earlier this year, and I wept a great deal. And even Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus. However, we don’t weep for them, because the believer is in glory! We weep for ourselves. We weep because we miss them here with us. We weep because death is evil and wrong and part of the curse.
Jesus ends with a promise and a question. This promise and question come to each one of you. In verse 26) He says to Martha, “And everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” Do Here is the promise: live and believe in Me. Or in another way, “You who believe in me will also live in me now, at death and in the resurrection at the end of the age.” This promise is the Gospel promise. Believing in Jesus makes us in union with him and his death for our penalty. And we have union with his life for our life.
He then asks the question, “Do you believe this?” He is not asking in creed. He is not asking in theory. He asks in the policy. “Martha, do you believe this?” So she answers in verse 27, “Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”
So I ask you, do you believe in life after death? If you were to die today where would your soul go? The answer is determined by how you answer Jesus’ question: Do you believe?