My God and My Neighbor

May 15, 2024

Life Before and After Death

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Do you have a plan for the day you die? Not a will. Not a life insurance policy. Not your things or your business or your savings. Those things are on earth. But you won’t be here. But you will exist after your mortal life ends. Some educated people laughed at the apostle Paul when he taught this almost two thousand years ago, and some today sneer at the suggestion of the afterlife. In this episode we will look at skepticism then and now as well as other pertinent topics.

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Kerry Duke: Hi, I’m Kerry Duke, host of My God and My Neighbor podcast from Tennessee Bible College, where we see the Bible as not just another book, but the Book. Join us in a study of the inspired word to strengthen your faith and to share what you’ve learned with others.

This program is a discussion of the Bible and our world. We look at the problems and needs and questions and issues of our age, and we do so in light of the Word of God. And as we look at our world, we wonder, isn’t the world in a mess, such chaos, such meanness, such misery and suffering. Is there any hope?

Are there any answers? Is there a better life, a better place? There sure is. Paul said in Philippians chapter 1, verse 23 that there’s a place that is “far better.” And it’s the hope of that place that gives Christians sanity and peace, as well as motivation, as we endure the struggles of this life. And it also gives us reason to stop and enjoy the good things that God gives us every single day.

So, with this in mind, let’s begin with a Bible question. And our Bible question for study today is: Who were the people that made fun of Paul when he preached about the resurrection of the dead? Now, there are different groups in the New Testament that denied the resurrection of the dead.

That means that they didn’t believe in life after death. It’s not just that they deny a future resurrection in the last day when Jesus comes again. The resurrection of the dead simply represents life after death. For instance, the Sadducees, a group of Jews, did not believe in life after death. They didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead.

As hard as that is to comprehend, because they were Jews, they had the Old Testament, and they should have known that. They should have believed it. But they did not. But that’s not the answer to the question. We’re not talking about the Sadducees. We’re talking about somebody else. And in about 28 minutes, we’ll come back and look at the answer to that question.

The most important issue of our time is not, as many people think, losing your life. It’s losing your soul. That should be the most important concern in people’s thinking. The most pressing need is not preserving your life, but saving your soul. The most important question at your funeral will not be well, how did he die or how did she die?

The most important question will be how did he live or how did she live? The gravest concern about the future is not where will my property end up, but where will my soul spend eternity? These are the things that we need to think about the most, and that’s why we need to think about where we’re going when we die, the afterlife, and that’s why I wanted to put forth that question.

Our first segment today is what we call a voice from the past. We’re going back to this land called America in the year 1611. We’re going to a colony called Virginia. I’m looking at a set of laws of Virginia that were set forth by Sir Thomas Dale. Now this is in the year 1611 and I want you to notice how much they regarded a respect for the Almighty as being important to a society.

It begins by saying first, “Since we owe our highest and supreme duty, our greatest, and all our allegiance to Him from whom all power and authority is derived, and flows as from the first and only fountain ,and being special soldiers impressed in this sacred cause, we must alone expect our success from him who is only the blesser of all good attempts, the King of kings, the commander of commanders, the Lord of hosts.”

So the uppermost thing in the minds of these original colonists was the fear of God, as far as the safety of society was concerned, as far as the future of this culture was concerned. The most important consideration was to fear God and to obey his will. So what were some of these laws of Virginia in 1611?

Well, I want to point out a few. One of them is that no man blasphemed God’s holy name. And if somebody did blaspheme God, that would be upon the pain of death. Here’s another one: that no man shall speak any word or do any act which may tend to the derision or despite of God’s holy word upon pain of death.

In other words, if somebody despised and derided the word of God, that person was punished. This was the law in Virginia in 1611. Now listen to this one. “No man shall commit the horrible and detestable sins of sodomy upon pain of death, and he or she that can be lawfully convicted of adultery shall be punished with death.”

Now, imagine if these laws were enacted today. This is how seriously people took the fear of God and the moral law of God back in 1611 in Virginia. Now, I realize that there’s a downside to that particular law system. I realize that there was really no separation of church and state in a real sense in that age because the laws and the rules and the teaching of the Church of England was basically the law of the land there in England and also in this country in those original colonies.

And so if you disagreed with the church of England’s interpretation of a passage of Scripture, you could be arrested. You could be jailed. You could even be put to death. I know that they went too far in that direction. And that led to the revolution that resulted in the United States of America.

I understand that background, but what I’m saying, folks, is that our society today, has flipped all the way to the other extreme where people think that they don’t need God and where people blaspheme God, where people say that the moral laws of the Bible mean nothing and have no value in this society.

And that’s why that we’re in the shape that we’re in. And so I’m not saying that we would be in full agreement with these laws that I’ve quoted from 1611 and the laws of Virginia, but I’m talking about the spirit. I’m talking about the respect. I’m talking about the priority that people placed on the fear of God and on the moral law of God then and how that we’ve gone all the way to the other extreme from that and we’re paying the price for it today.

Let’s go next in our program to the medicine cabinet. And this comes from Proverbs chapter 17, verse 22, where the Bible says that a merry heart does good like a medicine. It does good for our soul. It does good for our mind. It does good for our feelings, our emotions. It does good for our health, the health of our body.

So it’s good all the way around. This is why we call it the medicine cabinet. Now, both these stories talk about the ups and downs of marriage. The first one is called the devil’s sister. The story is about the devil coming into a church building, and the church building was full of people, and the old devil said to everyone that was there, “I’m the devil, you know what I can do to you. And I will destroy every person in this room unless you leave right now.” So the people jumped up immediately and got out of that building except for one little old man sitting on about the third pew of that church building. The devil looked at him and said, “Do you know who I am?” And the little man said, “Yes, I do.”

He said, “Do you know what I can do to you?” He said, “Yes, I do.” And he said, “Are you afraid of me?” And the little old man said, “Nope.” So the devil was confounded and he said, “If you know who I am, and you know what I can do to you, why is it that you’re not afraid of me?” And the little man said, “’Cause I’ve been married to your sister for 42 years.”

That’s why the next story is about what sometimes people call a midlife crisis. And there’s an old saying that if a man has a midlife crisis, he’ll do one of two things. He’ll either go out and have an affair or he’ll buy him a motorcycle. I don’t know how true that is or how often that happens. But the story was told of Ira North, who used to preach at the Madison church of Christ years ago, and being about this age that we’re talking about, he decided that he was going to buy him a motorcycle.

So he bought the motorcycle, he rode it home, and as he pulled up into the driveway and got off of the motorcycle, his wife looked out and she went, “Praise the Lord.”

Let’s go next to what we call our family altar segment of the broadcast, and this is where we look at some principle or some stories and passages that have to do with the family.

We’re looking at a question here, when should the education of a child begin? When should you start teaching a child? F. D. Power in a book called The Life of W. K. Pendleton said that the answer is 25 years before he is born, that is, with the training of his mother.

Now, David Lipscomb took it back farther than that. He said that the training of a child ought to begin 100 years before he is born because those habits and those values and those traits are passed down from grandparent to parent and then on to the child and so forth. Now, no doubt, children need to be taught and they need to be taught right. It’s not just that children need an education, they need the right kind of education.

In Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 7, God told the Jewish people, “Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children.” You’ll talk of them when you sit in the house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up. God said, you teach your children the Bible, the Word of God, and this doesn’t just mean to train them in word alone.

It means to train them as far as words are concerned, yes, but also they need the right example. The parents need to set the proper example before the children, and also the parents need to supervise and discipline the children. That’s all a part of education. In Proverbs chapter 29 verse 15, the Bible says the rod and reproof give wisdom.

Now notice what said there. The giving of wisdom is education, isn’t it? Well, the Bible says here that there are two things that give wisdom or the right kind of education. And modern educational theory goes against this because you can’t even discipline children in the public schools anymore. Well, Solomon said in Proverbs chapter 29 verse 15 that the rod gives wisdom.

Now, that’s the rod of correction. That’s the rod of discipline. So the Bible says that if a child is going to be wise, if a child is going to be truly educated, he needs to be disciplined. It doesn’t make any difference what his grades are otherwise. It doesn’t make any difference how much he knows about a vast variety of subjects.

If he is not disciplined, then he’s not really educated. So the Bible says that the rod and reproof give wisdom. Now, reproof is getting on to a child. That means to tell the child “No.” That means to tell the child that what he is doing is wrong. And so modern views that say that, well, you don’t need to tell your child “No” because that’s just too negative and you’re going to destroy their self esteem and you need to build up their ego and so forth.

Well, the Bible’s just completely against that, and we’re seeing that that kind of foolish philosophy has resulted in so many of the societal ills that we face today. The Bible says that in order for a child to have wisdom, he has to have the rod (now that’s corporal punishment) and reproof (which is getting on to the child and telling the child no and telling the child what he ought to do.)

That gives true wisdom to a child. Now, listen to the rest of the verse. Let me start at the beginning again. “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.” That child is just the opposite of what the first part of the verse says. That is, this is a child that he’s talking about in the last part of the verse who has not been disciplined.

He has not received the rod of correction. He has not received reproof. He has not been told, “No, you can’t do that,” “No, because that is wrong.” He’s not been educated in morals. He’s not been taught right and wrong. And what happens? Well, the Bible says that child is going to bring his mother to shame. He’s going to bring shame upon his mother.

His mother’s going to be ashamed of him. His mother’s going to be embarrassed. Why? Because she’s let him do anything that he wants to do. She’s left him to himself or she has entirely neglected him. This is no doubt the reason that we’re having so many troubles around us. Children are not being taught either by word or example about right and wrong.

They’re not being taught about God. They’re not being taught about His Word. They’re not being taught to tell the truth. They’re not being instructed to work hard, they’re not being told to help other people, and they’re not being held responsible and being taught to be grateful and content with what they have.

And so we have a world full of people that disrespect God, that mistreat others, and have no concept or concern about right and wrong. We’re reaping what we’ve sown, and tragically, we’re reaping also what previous generations ignored and what they failed to do.   

But still let’s not forget the role of free will in this whole matter. That is the free will of the child because what a child does is not just the result of the training or the lack of education and discipline that the parents give. The bottom line is a child makes his own choice when he grows up and he is old enough to know the difference between right and wrong. He makes a choice.

So what happens in life, according to the Bible in the Old Testament in many examples, is that sometimes you have a child that’s taught right, but he does wrong. And sometimes a child is neglected and taught wrong, but He chooses to do right. How can that happen? Because of this wonderful blessing of God called free will.

Or, if you want to call it simply, will. The Bible says in Ezekiel 18 verse 14, that a son who’s been brought up by a bad father can see. He can look at his father’s life, he can look at his sins, which his father has done, and he can consider the Bible says in that same verse. In other words, he looks at what his father’s doing.

He thinks about his father’s life and the suffering that his father is going through, the trouble that this father’s sins have caused him, the father and the son, and the whole family. And then, after considering, he decides that he is not going to do such like. Now, that’s Ezekiel chapter 18, verse 14. The Bible says in that passage that a child raised in a bad home can choose to go in a different direction.

He can choose to do better than the way that he was raised. Now, somebody might say, “Well, that doesn’t happen very often.” Well, it doesn’t happen often enough that people, whether they’re raised in a good home or a bad home, keep the Word of God the way that they should and serve God and love God like they ought to.

There are few people in life that really love the Lord and really serve the Lord. And this is not to take away from those passages that we looked at. In Deuteronomy chapter 6 or Proverbs 29 or in other places. The Bible says that fathers ought to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).

And there is a general truth, a general principle. It doesn’t mean that there are no exceptions to it because you’re talking about a proverb in the passage that I’m about to quote. In Proverbs 22 verse 6, the Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Train up a child, ingrain in him the right kinds of values and habits and ways of thinking, and the Bible says those things will stay with him. Now that’s a proverb again. You say, “What do you mean by that?” Well, a proverb is a general statement of truth. It doesn’t mean that this is going to be universally true in every situation.

It simply means that, generally speaking, that’s what’s going to happen. You see, in Proverbs chapter 3, verses 1 and 2, the Bible says that if you keep the Word of God, you’re going to live a long life—generally speaking. But that’s not always the case, because sometimes people die at an early age. A proverb is a general statement of truth, a general principle of truth.

But it is a general principle, and it is something that, generally speaking, will hold. And so there is value, immense value, in teaching and training children in the way of the Lord. And that makes it so much easier for them to have the right kind of foundation to build on in life. To be able to know the difference between good and evil. To be able to foresee the results and the consequences of going down the wrong path. It makes it so much easier for them to build on that kind of moral foundation that they have been given when they were young.

It’s like receiving an inheritance from parents and then building upon that inheritance monetarily. If you receive an inheritance spiritually and morally from your parents, then you have a good start in life and you have a good foundation to build on. That’s like a really good inheritance. And so if a child has that inheritance—I’m talking about that spiritual and moral inheritance—to build on in his life, it ought to be easier for him to make the right choice.

But sometimes children who have been given a good inheritance, morally and spiritually, don’t make the right choices in life. They go down the wrong path. That happens. Why? Because of free will.

But the upside to free will is a child who has no inheritance, morally and spiritually. In other words, they’ve not been given any training or much training at all. They’ve been neglected. And sometimes they receive the wrong kind of information. While they were growing up, still, they can choose to do right. And if you want to re read the passage that I believe points that out as clearly as any in the Bible, it’s in Ezekiel chapter 18, verse 14.

The Furnace of Affliction segment is a part where we look at some encouraging passage that deals with the problem of hardships and tribulations in this lifetime.

The idea of the furnace of affliction is taken from Isaiah chapter 48 verse 10. That’s where the Bible says that God chose the Israelite people in the furnace of affliction, that is, in the midst of hardships. And life has a lot of hardship. Life has a lot of pain. Job said in Job chapter 14 verse 1 that man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. There are a lot of hardships in life, no doubt about that.

One of the hardest things on earth to bear is dealing with pain, with somebody that is full of the devil. Now I’m not talking about demon possession because back in Bible times, when people were possessed with a demon or a devil, they were not in their right mind while they were possessed. And you can read about that in Mark chapter five. I’m talking about people who are in their right mind and who have allowed Satan to fill their hearts.

Do you remember back in Acts chapter five, verse three, when Ananias and Sapphira lied to the church? The Bible says that Peter told Ananias, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?” We’re talking about a church member here. We’re talking about a Christian, but the devil had gotten hold of him and he was in Peter’s words, full of the devil.

It is hard to live with somebody who has given his heart and his life to the devil. Think about Saul in the Old Testament. He’s a good example. I’m talking about King Saul. Think about what happened to him when he turned away from God. He was jealous. He was vengeful, he was unfair, he was afraid at the same time, he was stubborn, he tried to kill David, he was miserable in his life.

Why? Because the devil had gotten into his heart. There is no telling what a person will do once the devil gets hold of him. There’s no limit as to how mean he can be. There’s no limit as to how cold he can be. There is no limit as to how unreasonable he can be. There is no end as to how foolish he can be.

There is no limit as to how selfish a person can be when he’s full of the devil. There is no limit as to how dishonest he can be, how hateful he can be and how disrespectful he or she can be when that person is full of the devil.

A man full of Satan will lie. He will steal. He will cheat. He will fornicate. He will abuse other people. He will murder. He will do anything as long as he has the opportunity and the mind to do it. So don’t be surprised at what people will do. And this is why Paul said in second Thessalonians chapter three, verse two,  pray that we will be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men.

God deliver us. That was Paul’s prayer. And that’s the kind of prayer that we have to this very day.

We have another segment that we call On Solid Ground, and in this we look at evidence. We look at proof that what we believe as Christian people is true. And today I’m looking at how some Bible translations and some editions of the New Testament say about the last part of Mark chapter 16.

I’m talking about verses nine through 20. There are some editions, some translations of the Bible as well, that say that that part of the book of Mark may not be in the original book of Mark. It may have been added by somebody later, because they argue that two or three old copies of the New Testament from the fourth and the fifth centuries omit these verses and so we really can’t know that they belong in there and maybe we shouldn’t have them in our Bibles.

But that claim is false because what we do know is that a writer by the name of Irenaeus, who was in the second century AD, actually quotes from this very section that some editions of the Bible today say is very questionable. Irenaeus lived from 120 to 202 AD. Now that’s before these very old copies that some people say we ought to look to and regard over every other copy of the New Testament and say that Mark chapter 16 verses nine through 20 may not belong in our Bibles.

Well, why is it there? And how is it that Irenaeus living before that time of those old copies could actually quote from Mark chapter 16 verse 19? In his book, Irenaeus Against Heresies, he quoted that passage. “So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was received up into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God.”

That is from Mark chapter 16, verse 19. So if that’s not really a part of the Bible, then what was he quoting from? How could he quote that? Oh yes, folks, what we find is that Mark chapter 16, verses 1 through 20, the whole chapter is really a part of your Bible. The whole chapter belongs there. And that means that Mark chapter 16, verses 15 and 16 is really a part of your Bible.

It’s part of the inspired Word of God. No matter how much people try to get rid of it, it is inspired of God. “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth in his baptize shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Remember, folks, that Jesus said heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away (Matt. 24;35).

Yes, the God of heaven gave the Bible and the same God of heaven that gave the Bible preserves the Bible so that we can have it and be saved by it. Matthew 24 verse 35. The Bible also says in first Peter chapter 1 verse 25 that the word endures forever, and that’s great assurance to us today in spite of how people try to deny the Bible and claim that the Bible is really not true or that it’s been changed over the years and we really can’t trust it. The God of heaven has made sure that what we have today is His word, His will for mankind.

Our question that we gave out just a few minutes ago was: Who were the people that made fun of Paul when he preached about the resurrection of the dead? And the answer is in Acts chapter 17. In Acts chapter 17, Paul is in the city of Athens, and the Bible says the whole city was full of idols, and Paul was stirred up about that, and the Bible tells us that he began to confront these people there and teach them the true and the living God.

Well, in verse 18 of Acts chapter 17, you actually have here the answer to the question “Who were these people that made fun of Paul?” In verse 18, the Bible says, “Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans and of the Stoics encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? Other some, He seems to be a setter forth of strange gods, because he preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection. “

So the answer is that these philosophers known as the Epicureans and the Stoics were the ones that made fun of Paul. Now, we’re not to the specific verse where they mocked him yet, but this verse Acts 17, verse 18, tells us a little bit about them, and it tells us the name of these particular camps of philosophers: the Epicureans. Now, the Epicureans, and this makes sense, were followers of one Epicurus. Epicurus did not believe in life after death.

The Stoics didn’t believe in life after death. As a matter of fact, what the Epicureans said was that when you die, your body just goes back to the dust, and when your body goes back to the dust, you’re not a living being anymore, and so you can’t feel anything.

And so they said, well, you don’t even have any sensation. And so after you die, you can’t feel anything good or anything bad. You can’t feel any pleasure or any pain. So they just said death is nothing to us. That is a direct quotation from the founder of this group called the Epicureans. He said, “Death is nothing to us.”

Well, I would say that death is about everything to them now, wouldn’t you? Because they’ve been dead for many, many years, and they found out on the other side that there is life after death, and they found out that there is a bad side, a place of punishment, a place of torment, as well as a place of rest, and they’re not in that place of rest.

Those people were bold to deny God while they were living. They were bold to deny life after death when they were on the earth, but they’re not so bold now. But let’s go on in Acts chapter 17. Later when Paul preached to these people, the Bible says in verse 31 (and this is Paul preaching here now) he said, “Because he has appointed a day”—God has appointed a day—”in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained, whereof he has given assurance to all men in that he has raised him from the dead.”

That is, He has raised Jesus from the dead. Well, when Paul said that, here was the reaction of these intellectual philosophers in Athens. Verse 32: “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked.” I don’t know exactly what they said. I don’t know how many of them laughed out loud or what kind of remarks that they made about what Paul said, but they mocked him.

They made fun of him because they thought it was ridiculous to say that once your body dissolves and goes back to the dust, that there’s any part of you that’s going to live on. But the Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 12 verse 7, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”

The Bible is true, and the Bible will always be true, and it’s sad that some men will find that out once they leave this world.

Thank you for listening to My God and My Neighbor. Stay connected with our podcast on our website and on Apple, Spotify, YouTube, or wherever fine podcasts are distributed. Tennessee Bible College, providing Christian education since 1975 in Cookeville, Tennessee, offers undergraduate and graduate programs.

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