Do you believe in the afterlife? This is a question many today are asking themselves, and increasingly so as the transitory and insecure nature of this earthly life becomes more apparent.
Some are just ‘hoping for the best’. Some earnestly believe they will continue to exist in some form after their death, but have sentimental ideas about heaven based on fantasy fiction and cartoons.
Spiritualists and others believe in ‘passing over’ and being reunited with their loved ones, but God seems to be left out of the equation. He is seen as some kind of indulgent Grandfather in the sky whose only role is to make dead people happy. But God’s word, the bible, says otherwise. How can God contradict himself? We must ALL give an account of ourselves before the Throne, as to what we’ve done in the body.
There is no death without a reckoning before God.
Most atheists believe that there IS no afterlife, no God, nothing that exists after death, merely the snuffing out of life like the flame of a candle. There is no knowledge, no understanding, no awareness, nothing but extinction.
So I was intrigued to see an account in one of our national newspapers of the death of an atheist, who then returned to life.
Twenty-two year old Swedish college student Sasha Eliasson died for about two minutes on two occasions: once after a bike crash and another time after a surgery. His first ‘passing’ reportedly took place in June 2014 when he was involved in a motorcycle crash. Eliasson briefly ‘died’ a second time months later when he overdosed on painkillers following surgery.
Describing himself as a life-long atheist, he said that both times he experienced ‘just black emptiness’ devoid of any thoughts of consciousness. (But then, WHO experienced the darkness, and WHO remembered it?)
‘Both times I was just “not there”. It was just all black. I would describe it as a short nap with no dream, you wake up and it feels like you’ve been sleeping a long time, when in reality it’s only been about 15 minutes’ .
Mr Eliasson also called into question the stories of other people who have reported being conscious during clinical death. ‘I think that in their cases, their minds were still active. What they experienced was just a sort of dream.’
Sasha Eliasson said that his goal in life now, post-death, is to have fun and make other people’s lives better. ‘The only thing that will live on after my death will be my impact on the people that are still alive. Once you’re dead, that’s it, it’s over’
Asked about his attitude towards mortality, Elasson confided that he now fears death less than ever before. ‘I know now that death is nothing worse than sleeping. When you die, you just stop existing, nothing to worry about!’ he concluded.
Poor man. He experienced an afterlife, but then came back to deny it!
Some atheists do claim that any experience post-death is just a dream. David Staume is a philosopher, atheist, secular humanist and public speaker. He also claims to be a member of rationalist and freethinking associations. He writes:
“An afterlife that requires only physics requires no God; it makes the concept of God irrelevant…It enables us to prove that many religious conceptions of an afterlife are false, including the concepts of judgement…and the existence of Heaven and Hell. ”
But Staume allows for a kind of consciousness that can experience life after death as a kind of dream.
He says “If an afterlife exists, it would be the same as the dream state, with three qualifications: we won’t be waking up in the morning; it would be as real as our life is now; and it would correlate with the actual dream experience, rather than remembered dream experience”. (“The Atheist Afterlife” by David Staume published by Agio Publishing House 2009.)
Does That Explain Things?
Accepting, as some more rational atheists do, that one’s consciousness could continue to function after death is no answer to the problem.
The human mind creates a consciousness on earth, but that is a purely physical phenomenon. It also requires physical machinery to process data and to translate it into understandable material. Without a physical brain, that is impossible. Also, to what or whom is data conveyed after the eradication of the body?
Atheists cannot have it both ways! Either something conscious remains after death, or it does not. Our consciousness (if atheists choose to call it that) is what makes us what we are. It is in fact our spiritual man – the “inner man” of the bible – that continues to exist, to feel, to know, to experience and to act after death.
Either deny the spirit or accept it – it’s either/or. If the spirit-man doesn’t exist while we are on earth, then everything is simple chemistry. Or if it does exist, then it can and will transcend earthly life. Only two choices:
- One: A person’s spirit continues to exist after death and, even when all traces of the human body have gone – perhaps consumed utterly by the fire of cremation – there is an essential spiritual being that is capable of thought and action.
- Two: Nothing continues to exist at all. Er… that’s it.
After the death of the body, anything that is experienced automatically confirms an afterlife! Anything AFTER death, is an AFTERLIFE!
Who Are You?
The young man who died twice said that he saw, felt, experienced, thought – all of these are functions of a human mind, a mind that cannot function without a physical brain or – if we are going to face up to the facts – a spiritual entity.
Since the physical brain has died and can no longer function, only one possibility remains, that what he experienced was the darkness and emptiness of his eternity, an eternity he has chosen for himself openly and willingly.
That eternity, of darkness, nothingness, devoid of any love, companionship or hope – an eternity of seeking, never to find; of yearning never to be fulfilled – that eternity is as nothing compared with the judgement to follow! Then that poor man WILL see, and think, and know, and feel, only to discover that he has thrown away his only chance of escaping such a terrible fate.
Condemned by his own beliefs
“Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning.”~ C.S. Lewis
This atheist young man has, at a stroke, overthrown his own belief system in having discovered that consciousness does indeed survive death.
He has also removed the hope of atheists everywhere by confirming that they will NOT be immediately snuffed out upon death. But having done that, he fails to offer any remedy. His only hope is to “have more fun” and enjoy life on earth as much as he can.
But as Paul said to those who reject the resurrection, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
1 Corinthians 15 12-25
But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.
But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
The Only Real Hope
Those who trust in God and his word believe absolutely that they WILL continue to exist, and have made preparations for it.
And they are not trusting in their own goodness to get them through God’s holy reckoning, but the provision he made for getting the ultimate pass-mark – Jesus Christ’s perfect life, offered to each person as a free gift, in redemption of our humanity.
People love to invent a blissful eternity for themselves, but few realise the truth: without having removed entirely the fallen human nature that we inherited on earth, we CANNOT ‘pass over’ to anything but rejection, loss and suffering. The bible says that “there is NO good thing in the flesh” and “the flesh CANNOT please God”. (Rom 7:17-20)
The more we try to do good, the more we fail!
The natural human mind and soul are at war with God. They are not submissive to God’s will at all, nor can they ever be. So since you are on earth, in your body of flesh, and with a fallen human nature, you are obliged to give up on pleasing God in your own strength, because it’s impossible. There is nothing whatsoever about the flesh that pleases God. (Rom 8:7-8)
The human heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, indeed it is incurable. (Jer 17:9). We are all out of line with God’s perfection, and there is no human way to remove our own nature!
Therein lies the conundrum. We are incurably sick, doomed in fact, but have no remedy. For that we need to look outside ourselves, to the One who made us and knows how we tick.
As soon as we close our eyes in death, all bets are off. We have lost the final chance to prepare for that event, by rejecting the ONLY remedy.
Do You Want The Inheritance?
It’s rather like an inheritance. If there are immense riches belonging to a wealthy family, but the only way to inherit them is to be a blood-line member of that family, then you can protest all you like but you are not going to inherit!
What you need to do, to stand any chance of benefitting from all that wealth, is to apply to be adopted into that family and made a legal son or daughter.
This might help you on earth, but in spiritual terms it’s still not enough.
God the Father’s blessing and acceptance, and the enjoyment of his immense goodness, cannot legally be given to anyone outside his family. Indeed, it can only be passed down to his own SON.
God’s goodness and help can be experienced on earth by any person who humbly prays – but of what eternal benefit is that to a dead man, if there is no exemption clause to God’s righteous judgement as he stands at the Throne? The heavenly kingdom belongs to his SON alone. It was given to the Saviour on account of his perfect obedience and his sacrifice.
No human being has ever or WILL ever be able to match Christ’s perfection in order to please the Father – so what hope do we have?
Are we are all doomed to be rejected and thrust out of heaven?
No. The good news of the gospel is that we can all benefit from the perfection of Jesus the Son by receiving him and becoming ONE with him, in spirit. We can abandon our own futile efforts, and rest our entire hope on HIS righteousness.
Not only that, but we can experience a real spiritual rebirth that sheds the old humanity with its propensity to offend God, and creates an entirely NEW and delightfully clean spirit, one that cheerfully and willingly obeys God.
In this way, by being re-born, we can not only be “adopted” by the Father, but actually be ONE SPIRIT with him, a genuine bona fide member of the family, and thus a genuine inheritor of the heavenly kingdom.
There are many other ways of looking at this subject, and I know it can be complicated and a bit bewildering. If you’d like to email me privately for further information, feel free to do so. My email is tricia-(at)-birthpangs.org.