I will never forget the first time that it happened to me. I was a young pastor and had been talking to one of our church member’s friends. I didn’t know all the details, but it was obvious that he was really down on God and really down on the church. He was involved in a dark movement whose followers focused on death, wore black all the time, and were adamantly against God, the Bible, and the church.
In some conversations about spiritual things with his friend, I heard phrases like, “There is no God, we live, we die, and that’s it! We’re just like the animals, and when you die, you return to dust. I don’t believe in God, I don’t believe in life after death, and I don’t believe in the church”—all said with more than just a little emotion.
Sometime later, a young man from our church who lost his way for a season became involved with the group. He was one of those kids everybody liked and had that wow factor about him that made him the center of every social relationship. A drug addiction eventually led him to rehab and restoration with his family and the Lord. Tragically, in a moment of weakness, he overdosed on heroin and died a few days later. I found myself doing a funeral in our church with about forty of his friends from this dark movement, all dressed in black, attending the service.
One by one these teenagers got up and spoke with love and affection about their friend. And then something very strange occurred—they talked about him being at peace and being in a better place. Out of the blue, and in complete contrast to their intellectual arguments, were comments about a positive afterlife and seeing him again out of his misery and struggle with drug addiction.
That was many years ago and I’ve watched this phenomenon many times since. You see, it’s one thing to intellectually argue against an afterlife, but something deep inside us happens when someone we love dies. The thought of no hope, of finality, of separation forever challenges the very core of our being.
One of the most important questions we don’t ask very often is, what happens when we die? What actually happens when we take our last breath, our heart stops, and the brain waves are completely flat? What occurs?
Is it intellectually feasible to believe that there is life after death? What do you believe will happen to you when you die? Why? What does the Scripture say? What did Jesus and the Bible teach about what happens to people after they die?
Since 100 percent of the human race will die, this is a really important question for all of us to answer. I want to share with you in this chapter why I believe there is life after death. I want to journey together with you and examine the case for life after death.
I would like to introduce our journey on this topic by reviewing six indicators from various disciplines that make a compelling argument that there is life after death. The question is, what really happens? Is it possible to know while living in this life what the next life holds?
The answer is yes, and for good reason. We know that the Bible and what it says about Jesus is reliable. In addition, Jesus talks very specifically about what happens to us after we die. And having been resurrected from the dead as the Son of God, He is an authority on the subject. But before we explore what Jesus and the Bible teach about the afterlife, let’s look at six strong indicators that there actually is some kind of existence after our physical death.
Chip Ingram, Why I Believe: Straight Answers to Honest Questions about God, the Bible, and Christianity (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2017).