My friend, Jim Tayes, recently died. Jim came to Alaska in 1966 in the oil business from California. He got off the plane in Prudhoe. It was so cold he wanted to get back on the plane and go home! He was present when oil was discovered on the North Slope.
When they tested the well’s pressure at Prudhoe there was a powerful burst of gas. One person said, “It sounded like a jet plane overhead. It’s shaking the rig. It’s a rumble. It’s a roar.” The crews ignited the gas. It sparked a 50 foot flare that burned for eight hours.
Is there life after death? Is this life all there is? The Bible is clear that this life is just the beginning. Our Lord Jesus certainly believed in life after death. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:2-3).
The longest chapter in 1 Corinthians is 1 Corinthians 15. 1 Corinthians 15 is a long chapter- 58 verses. It focuses on the resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus guarantees the resurrection of every person (Acts 17:31). Every person is going to spend eternity somewhere. Life after death motivated the apostle Paul. In 1 Corinthians 15:29-34 life after death should motivate us in three ways.
First, we must be motivated to salvation. Verse 29 asks questions. “Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?” Baptism does not save a person. We are saved by grace through faith in the work of Jesus on the cross. Baptism is simply a public statement that a person is saved. In many countries persecution begins when a person is baptized. The act of baptism proclaims, “I follow Jesus. He died for me. I have died to the old life.”
A person gets baptized because they are born again spiritually. Sometimes a Christian dies and a friend or family member wants to see that person again. The only way to see the person again is to be saved. The friend or family member trusts in the finished work of Christ and is then baptized.
One person said, “Heaven seemed like a far away place but as more and more of my friends and family died and went there I realized it was home.” Life after death must motivate us to salvation in Christ.
My friend Jim lived an amazing life. He adopted four children and raised them as his own. He worked hard and was generous. He learned the Scriptures and trusted them. He faced death with great peace. Sometimes a person sees an exemplary life. A person says, “I want to be like that person. He was a Christian. I want to follow Christ also.” The apostle Paul describes this as being “baptized (or saved) because of the dead.”
Second, we must be motivated to serve. In verse 29 the great apostle asked, “Why are we in danger every hour? I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Jesus Christ, ‘I die every day!’” This life is short. Eternity is long. We must live in light of eternity.
Paul lived a difficult life. He was shipwrecked four times. Three times he was beaten with rods. A rod was a long, stiff stick. The Romans were experts in pain. Five times he was scourged by the Jews. The difficulties of this life are followed by eternal bliss for the follower of Jesus.
Third, we must be motivated to sanctification. Verse 32 says, “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’” If this life is all there is, then we should party. If there is no resurrection, the Epicureans were right! However, since there is life after death the purpose of this life is to grow spiritually.
The Bible says, “The pleasures of sin last for a season” (Hebrews 11:25). The enjoyment of sin is like an Alaskan summer. It passes quickly and then is over.
The old saying, “He who dies with the most toys wins” is not true. Life is preparation for eternity. We come to know God through His Word. Jesus died for us. He paid the price for our sins. We understand that we are sinners. We trust in His death, burial and resurrection that provided atonement for our failures. God then begins the process of making us like His Son. Eventually, He calls us home to heaven.
As the years roll by I’m thankful for life after death. This life is not the end. This life is only the beginning for the child of God!
Pastor Ethan Hansen
Faith Bible Fellowship
Big Lake, AK