No More Tears: When I Die
Matthew 25:31-40 and Various Scriptures
Good morning – welcome guests
We are in week two of our sermon series No More Tears. Last week our main point, which we studied from John 14:1-7 was that “we need not fear or fret, anything that Jesus is preparing for us has to be indescribably amazing compared to this world.” We learned that we should not worry about the next life…because Jesus has promised he has it under control. This week we will take the next step with a sermon titled When I Die.
But, death and dying is a subject that consumes a lot of people’s thoughts. We hear or read statistics like, approximately 2.2 million people will die this year. That’s 6,263 people dying every day for the next 365 days. Or 261 people every hour. Or just over 4 people a minute, or roughly 12 people since I have started speaking. Man when you hear things like that you can’t help but to suddenly have an over fixation on death. I saw another interesting study the other day that said…
…people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy. Crazy….
We get fixated with death…and again that old monster we talked about last week…worry begins to creep in. It has pushed us to ask the question…What happens to me when I die? Today we are going to try to answer this question from a biblical perspective and we are going to look at several texts to set us up and we are going to look at a few that will help us answer our question.
First, let’s look at what God’s word says about…
Life and Death
- Life moves quickly – James 4:14
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
I have heard so many people say it, and now that it is happening to me I believe it…life goes faster and faster the older you get. It goes by so fast and all of a sudden you look back and ask yourself – where did all that time go? James says we are just a mist…we are just a foggy morning that evaporates in the light of the morning sun. It is so true, and because it is true…we are challenged to live our lives in God’s will, and do so without boasting about the days we think we have…each hour and each minute should be important to us and we should use it wisely.
The next idea we want to look at is that…
- Death is certain – Heb. 9:27; Rom. 6:23
27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord.
These are just a couple of places in scripture that discuss that it is our natural course, due to the fallen nature of our world and the curse in which we were given because of sin…dying is a certainty. Can’t avoid it…just like taxes…or watching Purdue beat I U OR watching IU beat PURDUE.
So if life is fast moving, and death is certain and we can agree with those two truths not just from reading scripture but even from life experience, the next logical question that we would have is
What Happens Next?
What happens when we die…where do we go…what does the Bible say happens to us next? Well the first thing scripture tells us that happens is that …
- The soul and body separate.
Jesus makes reference to this in Matthew 10 when he sends the disciples out to spread the gospel – and in his words of encouragement to stand up against those who would persecute them he makes clear this concept of body and soul being separate…
26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Jesus makes it clear that our human body dies…but our soul or spirit cannot be destroyed by anyone but God. If we believe and follow him faithfully…our spirit will be alive and well the moment our body stops functioning. We find this idea in other places like…
In James 2:26
26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
Or consider what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:1-2
5 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling,
The analogy that Paul is using here is that our physical body is like a tent…it’s temporary…it’s a short term dwelling compared to the eternal body Jesus has waiting to receive our Spirit upon our death. So many times we treat this body that we are in now as if it is the eternal body…and we worry about how it looks, what kind of shape it is in, and we try to preserve it the best we can as if it is the way we are going to look forever. We need to wrap our brains around Paul’s idea here that this is temporary. While we may live 70 or 80 or 90 or even 100 years in this…the time is miniscule to the time we will spend in eternity with a new perfect body that is waiting for us if we believe.
The next thing that happens is…
- We enter the present heaven.
There is a present heaven and an eternal heaven. We will talk about the New Heaven and New Earth next week and what it will look like and be like…but until Jesus returns and God sets up his eternal kingdom on the new earth that we will learn about – there is a present heaven.
This is the heaven that people like Stephen was able to see as he was being stoned by the Jewish leaders, including Saul/Paul…in Acts 7:56 – Stephen looks up and says “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” It is the paradise that is spoke of by Jesus on the cross when he tells the repentant thief that he will be with him in Paradise. This is that place we go until the time that God sends Jesus back to collect the living and then establish the New Heaven and New Earth that we read of in Revelation 21.
The next thing that happens after we die that we see consistently supported in scripture is that …
- We face judgment
Looking at Hebrews 9:27 again it says… 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,
So upon death of this physical body, we are judged. Biblical scholars have debated for centuries about how this all goes down and in what order…but for our purposes today, there are …
- 3 types of Judgment
- Judgment of Faith – It’s the idea that when we die we are judged, not by works, but by faith. We are saved by Grace through Faith in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:8-10 says…
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
If at the time of your death you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God and you have confessed that belief and you have made HIM your LORD and SAVIOR then you have passed this first judgment. Jesus work on the cross on our behalf and our belief in his death, burial, and resurrection is the faith that we are called to have to be saved.
Then there is the
- Judgment of the White Throne –
Revelation 20:11-12 this is also what some call the The Judgment of the Dead
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.
This is a place that we don’t want to end up being. This is a judgment reserved for unbelievers. If we were to read on in verse 15 it says that “anyone whose name was not found in the book of life, they were thrown into the lake of fire”. The thing is…if it were not for the previous passage…the Judgment of Faith…we would be right there with them. The only difference between a believer and an unbeliever is Jesus. The only difference between me who is trying to do things right and that person who is brazenly disobeying God and living a life of debauchery and sin is Faith in Jesus. if it were not for our faith in Christ…we would face the White Throne or Judgement of the Dead.
The final judgment that we see mentioned in scripture is the…
- Judgment of Works – if you have it open…let’s look at Matthew 25:31-46
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
I think we get this judgment mixed up with the Judgment of Faith sometimes. There is a judgment of works…but it has nothing to do with our salvation…it has to do with our reward. Did we obey…did we follow…did we disciple…did we love our neighbor…did we serve our fellow man…did we study God’s Word…did we live a lifestyle of worship…did we do and go and be?
Jesus says there is an inheritance for those who have done what they were called by Christ to do, a kingdom prepared for them. The brothers of mine in this text are similar to Jesus response to the expert in the law that Nick Dunn spoke of a couple of weeks ago in his good Samaritan sermon – who are the brothers that Jesus is talking about…everyone. Who is our neighbor?…Jesus’ brothers and sisters. Who is Jesus’ brothers? – everyone.
There does seem to be a warning in this parable from Jesus that does go back to the judgment of faith. And it is something I want everyone to seriously consider. If your faith is hollow…meaning you say you believe but there really is no fruit of that belief, if there is no evidence of that belief…it does appear that your salvation may be in question. To say we believe and to actually have a faith that produces fruit are two vastly different things…and Jesus points this out in this final judgment parable by saying those who are judged to be goats…will be cast into hell. Moral to the story…be a sheep! Be a true believer in spirit and truth!
Lastly, when we die…
- We will receive a crown – 1 Cor. 9:24-25
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
Now there are different descriptions of the character of this crown we will receive…
- Righteousness – 2 Tim. 4:8 (Paul)
8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
- Rejoicing – 1 Thes. 2:19 (Paul)
19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.
- Glory – 1 Peter 5:4 (Peter)
4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
- Life – James 1:12 (James)
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
Here is our …
Main Point: When we die in Jesus, we truly begin to live, and nothing will separate us!
My wish for you today is to catch the HOPE that we have in Jesus Christ and his promise of Eternity…For God so Loved the WORLD that HE GAVE his ONLY SON so that WHOEVER BELIEVES in HIM shall not PERISH but have ETERNAL LIFE….it all starts with believing. If you have never publicly shared your belief that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God and you have never truly surrendered your life to his lordship I encourage you to come today, and receive that gift of Eternal life…and then we will talk about what comes next on your path and you too will have the answer to that question…what happens when I die.