It Is a Natural Expectation
The Creator of the universe also created this earth, and man, -- and all else that upon it is. "So God made man in His own image, male and female created He them." -- Gen.1:27. Thou madest him a little lower than the angels." -- Psalms 8:5; and "God made man upright." -- Eccl.7:29. "God is eternal, immortal." -- 1.Tim.1:17 Here we have a picture of man as he came from the hand of his Creator. He was to be the image of his Maker, both in outward resemblance and in character, "upright." Since God was "eternal" and "immortal," man must have originally been made that way; he possessed the undying spiritual nature of the angels. He was created to live forever.
God does not do things without a purpose; so there must have been some object in His creation of man. "Thou hast made him to have dominion over the works of Thy hand; Thou hast put all things under his feet." -- Psalms 8:6. "Let him have dominion over all the earth." So God created man in His own image, perfect, to live forever, to "be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth," over which he was to have dominion; in return, man was to glorify, worship, and obey the voice of God.
How Death Came To Man
This primitive condition of the earth did not long continue. Adam and Eve, while occupying the home that had been prepared for them, "eastward in Eden," disobeyed the command of God, -- sinned against His law, and this brought death upon man, and a curse upon the earth. "As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." -- Rom.5:12. "In Adam, all die."
The earth also suffered the effects of Adam's sin. "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee." -- Gen. 3:17,18.
Man through disobedience of God's word became changed; he lost his spirituality, and eternal life, with which he was endowed at his creation, and became mortal, subject to death.
God in His great love for man, and willingness to forgive, made it possible to regain eternal life, but this can only be done through faith in Christ. "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." -- John 3:16.
Man Still Longs For Life
There still lingers in man some of his original endowments; he knows right from wrong, and he still longs for life, and has a tendency to worship something. This we call conscience.
"Man longs for life, and shudders at the prospect of oblivion. Shall he of all created beings, be debarred from using the powers with which he has been endowed? Shall no opportunity be given him for the development of these powers? Shall he alone have desires to which there is nothing to correspond, so that it is impossible that he shall be satisfied? Is his whole constitution a cheat? Shall every other part of nature show the Creator's love to man, by the provisions that are made for his wants, but here in his highest inspirations and interests, shall he be mocked with delusions? We cannot believe this. It is contrary to the whole analogy of nature, contrary to every work of the Creator." -- P.A. Chadbourne, D.D., L.L.D., President of Williams College.
All God-given powers and desires, even eternal life, may yet be realized notwithstanding sin, "but not of ourselves," but through faith in Jesus Christ who is "the way, the truth, and the life."
"Man's conscience is the oracle of God." -- Byron.
It is the knowledge and sense of right and wrong, that we were born with, which belonged to man before he sinned; innate knowledge.
"Somewhere in the secret of every soul is the hidden gleam of a perfect life."
The wee small voice that says, -- "This is the way, walk ye in it;" "that is right, this wrong," it is the something in man reaching out after God.
Conscience is the moral monitor and ruler of man, and there is no peace for him but in following its commands. It demands the right and forbids the wrong.
If the dictates of conscience is followed, it will lead us nearer and nearer to God. If we violate our conscience and refuse to harken to its dictates, -- go contrary to what we feel is right, then our conscience becomes "seared as with a hot iron." The Apostle Paul says, -- "Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense towards God and man." "The wicked flee when no man pursueth, and the righteous are as bold as a lion." -- A Proverb.
We have all probably at some time or another experienced the truth of these sentiments.
"True worth is in being, not seeing; we cannot do wrong and feel right." -- Alice Carey.
Life After Death
"There is, I know not how, in the minds of men, a certain presage, as it were, of a future existence, and this takes the deepest root, and is most discoverable in the greatest geniuses and most exalted souls." -- Cicero.
"If we thirst for life and love eternal, it is likely that there is an eternal life and an eternal love to satisfy that craving." -- F.W. Robertson.
"If there was no future life, our souls would not thirst for it." -- Richter.
"The people of the world have been born with the instinctive hope of a life after death. This irrepressible instinctive longing for existence beyond this fleeting life of three score years and ten, possesses a Divine significance. It is primal, God given instinct."
Life is the great desideratum, the most valuable thing in the world. "All that a man hath will he give for his life." -- Job 2:4. God Himself put into original man a desire for life, and all through the ages man has struggled to find remedies, and evolve theories to perpetuate life. Man only of all earthly creatures asks the question, Can the dead die forever, and is there no life beyond the grave? Job himself said to God, "If a man die shall he live again?" -- Job 14:14. This is a very important question.
How To Live Forever
We have found that Adam through sin and disobedience brought death upon the human race. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." -- John 3:16. "The wages of sin is death," that is the penalty that we all have to suffer, but Christ suffered the penalty for us through death upon Calvary's cross, that we, through faith in His sacrifice, might escape the penalty and have everlasting life. Not all will be given eternal life, but only those who repent of their sins and live according to God's requirements. This natural longing for eternal life can be satisfied, but only through sacrifice and obedience to the requirements of God's Word.
"Search the Scriptures for in them ye think ye have eternal life and they are they which testify of Me." -- John 5:39. Christ says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."
Man being "mortal" is due to suffer the temporal death, but at the resurrection, when all are rewarded according as their works have been, then some are rewarded with the eternal life that they have longed for, and the wicked are punished with eternal death, - dead forever.
Where Is Man After Death?
Until the resurrection at Christ's coming, all who have died remain in the earth. Job says, -- "If I wait, the grave is mine house." In the Scriptures, death is referred to as a "sleep." "But man dieth and wasteth away; yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? So man lieth down and riseth not; till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor he raised out of their sleep." -- Job 14:10,12. They are simply dead and waiting in the grave "until the heavens be no more," which is at the time of Christ's second coming, and the resurrection of the dead.
Job was giving serious thought to this most important question of man's condition in death, and his hereafter, He say, -- "If a man die shall he live again?" And then he goes on to say, -- "All the days of my appointed time will I wait until my change come." -- Job 14:14. While a man "sleepeth," or is waiting in the grave, -- "His sons come to honor and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low but he perceiveth it not of them." -- Job 14:21. This is one of the many texts in the Bible, showing man's condition in death, -- simply unconscious. David speaking of man's condition in death says, -- "His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day, his thoughts perish." -- Psalms 146:4.
Job speaks of waiting "till my change come," "till the heavens be no more," which is at the time of the resurrection, and Christ's second advent. The Apostle Paul describes this event and the "change" that comes at that time. "We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruption must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality (immortality is bestowed upon our mortal bodies at this time), then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory." -- 1.Cor.15:51-54. This change is also described in 1.Thes.4:16,17. "For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord." Here is brought to view the resurrection of the righteous dead, who, -- together with the righteous living, are caught up together to meet the Lord in the air, -- "and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
This is the time when immortality, or eternal life, is bestowed upon man; up to that time, he has been mortal, subject to death, -- but here is the victory over death and the grave. Here is the realization of that inborn hope for eternal life, -- something beyond "this bank and shoal of time," the results of following out the dictates of "a conscience void of offense toward God and toward man," which is "the oracle of God," making us "perfect as pertaining to the conscience." And then, nature has not deceived us into longing for something which must be denied us.
"Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness." -- 1.Tim.3:16.
"Man always knows that his life will shortly cease, yet madly lives as though he knew it not." -- Richard Baxter.
"The truest end of life is to know the life that never ends." -- Penn.
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