Many people like to think that we are nothing more than physical entities and somehow our thoughts evolved from some chemical (although there is nothing to suggest that this is the case, let alone to think it). The idea that we might have an existence after physical death is something they do not want to address.
The Bible teaches:
- And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment.(Hebrews 9:27)
- And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)
- Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.(John 5:24)
In the story of Lazarus and the rich man, the two individuals receive their eternal dwellings. Lazarus goes to Abraham’s bosom and the rich man to Hades. The rich man calls out to Abraham seeking respite. Abraham informs the self-righteous rich man that he has to make his choice of eternal habitation prior to death, for after death the chasm cannot be traversed. The man suddenly has thoughts for his family members and asks Abraham to warn them. Abraham says that if they reject Moses (i.e. the Ten Commandments) and the prophets, they will not believe even if anyone is raised from the dead (Luke 16:19–31).
When Lazarus was raised from the dead, he still died. Jesus said that he was asleep. But when Lazarus did die the second time, he would have eternal life. The idea that he sleeps is what we saw concerning those in Abraham’s bosom. When Jesus was challenged regarding those who die, he informed the ignorant:
- But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him.
Lazarus believed in the Son of God, therefore, when he died, it was as if he were asleep. In fact, even though his body was beginning to decompose and he was not breathing, he may well have been not conscious of where he was. But the idea of sleep in respect to death is anathema in some circles because these individuals believe that when a person dies, that person goes immediately to Heaven—even if a Christian.
On the other hand, there are those who believe that people cease to exist when they die, and they are recreated at the resurrection. This is often referred to as soul sleep but, in reality, this is more like the Buddhist teaching of non-existence as a person but existing as a form of energy. Whereas the souls that were martyred and are mentioned in the book of Revelation are conscious, even though they are asleep, resting under the altar.
- When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; they cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. (Revelation 6:9–11)
As for Lazarus being asleep, if what we read in the book of Revelation is any guide, he was merely resting while waiting to be called out from the grave. Lazarus did come out of the grave, and this, no doubt, would have provided further encouragement to Jesus’ disciples to believe in the resurrection. Although, from all accounts, the disciples had difficulty accepting that Jesus was going to die and be raised from the dead. It takes courage to reach out to the living God, as we have to acknowledge the truth about ourselves.
Unbelief Is Much Easier Than Having To Make The Effort And Prove The Truth