The composition of our individuality symbolizes two worlds. Our body represents the present world composed of earthly elements. Our soul represents the spiritual world to which it will return when God calls for it.
Heavenly recognition is based on reason and revelation.
I. Reasons for heavenly recognition.
1. Death is only a physical experience. It touches the body but it cannot reach the soul. The body will die but the soul will live on forever.
2. When the body dies the soul will continue to exist. The soul lives and its faculties will live on forever. One of its faculties is memory. We will remember them and therefore will recognize them. When glorified, our identity will remain. The individuality of the soul remains the same forever. We will not get lost or mixed up with the glorified throng. The disciples recognized Jesus in His glorified body. Stephen recognized Jesus standing at the right hand of God. All Scriptural references to messengers that come from the other world indicate that they had the appearance of human beings.
3. Another faculty of the soul's conscious individuality is love. Love never dies. No amount of physical suffering or disease ever weakens it. Infirmities of old age that sometimes dim other faculties have no power over love. Love grows stronger as we advance in years. It is evident that love is immortal. Love will still have the power of recognition. Love is of God, and therefore Christian love must be as eternal as God's love. God is love and love is from everlasting to everlasting. God's love binds our hearts together by a heavenly bond.
4. Another proof of recognition is the universal existence of this belief. All nations have held to this belief from the earliest of times. Therefore, it must have been implanted in man by the Creator. You will find it frequently referred to in the writings of the heathen sages, like Socrates and Cicero. Indians who have received no revelation from God have the belief of a future recognition and have buried with them certain implements to be used in the future life. Among the early Saxons, it was observed that a servant would slay himself to go and serve his master in another world. The infinite God did not give man such a hope only for disappointment.
II. Second, our belief in future recognition is based 'on the Word of God.
1. David said, "In thy presence is fullness of joy, at thy right hand are pleasures forevermore."
2. The picture of heaven, which the Bible gives would not be fascinating if we eliminated the idea of heavenly recognition. Jesus said, "In my Father's house are many mansions." The fact is the New Testament speaks of death as a homecoming and reunion. It would be strange to think of a family not being able to recognize each other. :Heaven would not be a place of supreme satisfaction if we failed to recognize one another.
3. We know that the power of love and friendship will outlive death, and the powers of recognition will, also. Now, we see in a mirror darkly, but then face to face.
4. When Jesus emerged from the grave he recognized at once the ones who sought Him. He was recognized by His disciples.
5. When Moses and Elias appeared in conversation with Jesus, they were recognized by Peter, James, and John. If the disciples of Jesus could recognize the spirits of those who had been in heaven many years, will we not be able to recognize those who have been gone from us for a few years?
6. Let us be assured that our translation from this world to the next will not destroy our prominent faculties. Death is only a door and the grave is a vestibule to the King's Palace. There is no break in the soul's consciousness. To depart is to be with Christ. "To be absent from: the body is to be present with the Lord." If we shall know Him, shall we not also know all them which are His? Certainly we shall not be more ignorant there than here. Abraham said to Dives, "Son, remember." If the spirits of the lost world remember, why not the spirits of the redeemed? Martin Luther said, "We shall know each other on sight." We shall want to interview the saintly characters of the Bible. We shall want to tell our indebtedness to those who stood by us in life. It might be possible you have contemplated asking forgiveness of some one for something you have failed to make fully right while on earth. For fear you will not be allowed that privilege you had better get matters adjusted and all wrinkles ironed out now. Thomas Chalmers was asked by his wife, "Dear, do you think we shall know each other in heaven ?" He replied, "Do you think we will be bigger fools in heaven than we are on earth?"
Sorrow, Its Meaning and Ministry
Wherever you go you find hearts wounded by sorrow. Death has cut many a gash that all the Flowers of Spring cannot bandage. Can you find a home in which grief in some form has not frequented? Almost every soul you meet has some sacred and tender memory. We receive visions of glory and of heaven which can be gained no other way than by sorrow. For instance, John the Revelator, banished to the Isle of Patmos to die, by the cruel Roman Emperor, but God was in it and he received that wonderful revelation, the Book of Revelation, from God.
1. The Book of Revelation reveals to us that the Spirit Land is near. Heaven is always near to those who are heavenly minded. Its sights and sounds are only shut out by the walls of the flesh. Now and then, God permits certain glimpses to encourage our faith and strengthen us in the battle while we wait for heaven to open to us.
2. John describes heaven as a painless land. The inhabitants never say, "I am sick." We sometimes speak of this world as the land of the living when in reality it is the land of the dying.
3. John saw a mighty company of the redeemed, a select gathering, a multitude that no man could number. Heaven is a city of twelve gates. No one can count the roads leading to the city. This company were arrayed in white robes of purified character, woven of the threads of trouble. These are they that come up out of great tribulation. They tell us that it takes all the colors of the rainbow to make white. Perhaps you have had all of seven kinds of trouble and more.
1. Earnings of a lifetime swept away through business reverses.
2. Have become helpless invalids.
3. Experienced failing health.
4. They have given up former luxuries even necessities and comforts of life.
5. Some have been martyrs.
6. Others have endured domestic hindrances, been misunderstood and slanderously accused.
7. Others have had perpetual struggles; inherited appetites and a sinful past to overcome(after forgiveness was received).
The faithful whom John saw were satisfied for they realized the meaning of their troubles. White is the color of victory, the flag of truce that wins the war. As some one has said, "The mountains that lift themselves highest above their fellows are crowned with the pure radiance of the snow. The torrent that leaps victoriously over the rocky obstacles breaks into dazzling masses of white foam. The plants that struggle hardest with adverse conditions throw out white blossoms to the breeze, just as the pond lily signifies its triumph over the mud by its white petals."
John observed the redeemed as they stood before the throne of God. The highest honor possible. Many are never great in this world; they hold no place of distinction, their names never get in print, but they are faithful to humble duties. Now they are before the throne of God. How foolish the fierce struggles some make to achieve the applause of men, for when Time merges into Eternity,
Will seem like Writing one's name in the sand or scratching it on a block of ice in the summer sun. The only worthwhile: place for your name is in the Book of Life, where God registers Christian character, as only Christian character :goes with us to the Throne of God. All other things we accumulate, titles, honor, and property are laid aside when we pass through the doorway of death.
We claim our loved ones but God has a claim on them, too. We want them here, but He needs them there. We have plans for them here, but He has better plans for them there.
Yes, to those who die in Christ death is gain. Gain in knowledge for they abide among the infinite intelligences of Heaven. They have been released from the limitations of the flesh; they grow from character to character, growing in the likeness of Christ. We feel we need our friends and cannot spare them here but God needs them there and their work has just properly begun; they being dead, yet they speak and they live. "The memory of the Just is blessed, but the name of the wicked shall rot." Prov. 10:7.
We are inclined to question the dealings of God but by and by all mysteries shall be made dear. All disappointments here will be revealed as His appointments there. All the events of life that we thought to have gone wrong will prove to have been blessings in disguise.
1. The wisest and the best of all ages have believed in the Immortality of the Soul.
There is not a nation or a tribe of whom history furnishes an account that did not with greater or less clearness believe in a future life. Yet many of their views have been obscure and unsatisfactory.
In the darkest hours of life all men long for Immortality. When sickness comes upon you and the death angel is at the door, and you are but a step from the grave, then it is easy to believe right and without an effort you become a firm believer in the Immortality of the Soul.
2. The innate desire of the soul is to live again.
A certain heathen read Plato's discourses on Immortality, went to the highest cliff and jumped off that he might immediately enter Immortality.
France denounced the Truth of God and said death was an eternal sleep and there was no God but Reason. She also blasphemed the Word of God in the streets of Paris, and today France is paying expensively for such an experience and such a belief.
3. The unequal distribution of rewards and punishments in this life proves the Immortality of the Soul.
The wicked and the guilty pass by unpunished and the innocent is often crushed under the iron heel of Power. Here many escaped punishment due their crime. Frequently the devout pass through the furnace of affliction. But Justice will not sleep forever. The wicked will not always escape, neither will the righteous go forever unrewarded.
4. The doctrine of Immortality is encouragement to the Christian. The Saints of Old testified in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. They had trials, cruel mockings and imprisonment; they were stoned; they were sawn asunder; they were tempted, and they were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheep skins and goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, and tormented. They wandered in deserts and in mountains and in dens and caves of the earth.
Their faith pierced the impossible and rose to worlds above and fastened on to the inheritance in the celestial city. They counted not their lives dear unto themselves in the face of frowns and scoffs of the world and many became martyrs to the holy cause. In the darkest hour, they could cry out, "O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory?" You erase the hope from the Christian's heart and he is at once enshrouded with impenetrable darkness. But let this hope bloom in his life and he can smile amidst the storms of life, rejoice in tribulation and with glorious anticipation look forward to a life beyond. The true Christian can rejoice though the storm rages and the tempests howl. Yes, the saints of God under every dispensation have looked beyond this vale of tears to the Unfolding glories of the Resurrection Morning. We will be able to spread our wings and fly away to the heights of heaven and there mingle with Seraphim and Cherubim and the patriarchs of all ages. Many have been buried for Centuries, but they are still living and God is still their God.
He who numbers the hairs of the head and notices the falling sparrows, by His triumphant Resurrection hath abolished death and brought life and Immortality to light. He will see we are there, back in our original state, and this is our future hope, to live with Him forever.
A hope of the future life has inspired many along the rough pathway of life. In the famous paintings and noble deeds of mankind, others have caught the same spirit. The dying saint catches the same spirit and is heard to quote in the dying hour, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I will fear no evil for thou art with me." The unbeliever has vainly said, "Your hopes concerning the future life are but dreams:" If so we say, "Let us dream on." Our greatest hope is the existence of another life after this one is over. Paul says that "If in this life only we
have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." I Cor. 15:19. Science says, "There may be a future life." Philosophy says, "There ought to be a future life." The Bible says, "There is a future life."
True science never did deny the existence of a future life. Isaac Newton started to write a book on infidelity but was converted before he completed the book. A scientist was giving his views about the future life when Newton said, "Stop. You don't know what you are talking about. I like to hear you talk about astronomy but you know nothing about the future life. So keep quiet. "The future life is not any more mysterious than the present life, as our every day life is shrouded in mysteries. Many of the world's greatest thinkers and scholars have been advocates of a future life. This hope is refreshing to the weary Pilgrim along the pathway of life.
It takes a musician to appreciate music, an artist to appreciate art, a scientist to appreciate science, a philosopher to appreciate philosophy. And a Christian alone can fully appreciate and understand the future life.
The Bible tells us all necessary to know about the future life. If it said more about heaven we might get homesick to go; if it told all the horrors of hell we might become insane. Many prophecies uttered hundreds of years before they came to pass 'is proof of their inspiration.
Ill. A young lady who was grieving over the death of her Mother, saw her Mother in a dream. She said, "Mother, you were dead." Her Mother answered, "I was dead but I am alive to live forevermore." The lady told me that after that dream she never grieved any more over the death of her Mother.
We bow at the feet of a crucified Lord but risen Savior. The grave could not hold Him; because He lives we shall live also. This Resurrection is the foundation on which the Church was built. It is the outstanding event of Bible History. It is the established doctrine of our Holy Christianity. It is a pledge of our resurrection. Not faith in a dead Christ or an empty tomb, but faith in one who sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for you and me.
The Resurrection Is--
1. An absolute proof of His deity.
2. It proclaims to the universe a complete redemption.
3. His Resurrection is assurance of our Immortality. The Bible sparkles and glows with this great theme. Prophets of old mounted the heights of inspiration and told it. Jesus declared He would live again. One throb of His pulse was sufficient to roll the stone away, break the seal, and paralyze the guard.
1. His Resurrection is a pledge of our resurrection.
2. His Resurrection enables saints to shout victory over death.
Alfred Cookman said, "I am sweeping through the gates washed in the blood of the Lamb. "The thought of the resurrection kindles the fire of hope in us. We may be buried in the icy North, sunny South, hills of the East or plains of the West; when the first trumpet sounds, we shall be found. If living, gravitation will be reversed, and we will meet just over the treetops. Browning said, "Don't think of me as being dead; I am just away and more alive than ever."
3. The strongest argument in favor of the resurrection is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the outstanding event of Bible History and is the only hope of the Bible Christian. Job in distress and torment said, "I know that my Redeemer liveth."
III. Socrates was unjustly put to death. He was surrounded by a crowd of philosophers, and they tried to get him to deny the Immortality of the Soul, but he would not. Hence, they made him drink a cup of poison hemlock from which he died. Socrates died like a philosopher. Paul died like a Christian. Christ died like a God.
But one says, "Can you tell me of one person who has returned from the other world to tell me if there be a further life." Yes, there is such a man. He was put to ,death and blood flowed from His wounded sides, while wounded for our transgressions. He died of a broken heart. He. Was pronounced dead by the civil authorities. After three days, he arose victoriously over the grave and showed himself to many by infallible proofs. He conquered death and the grave. He brought life and Immortality to light through the Gospel. He is your Savior and mine. He died, "The just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." I Pet. 3:18. "He who never committed sin was made a sin offering for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." II Cor. 5:21. Does He live in your heart and life? Your body may die but your spirit may be with Christ until the time comes for His return. Those who :are alive at that great event will not have to die, but they will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. "Mortal shall have put on Immortality. Death will be swallowed up in victory. Thanks be unto God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ," I Cor. 15:51-57.
This is the most important subject of mortal life and human destiny, which prompted the troubled patriarch to ask that momentous question for which centuries have given no answer: "If a man die shall he live again?" It is an old question yet it has not lost its freshness. It has been asked and answered many times, and the answers have often widely differed one from the other. Sometimes it has been a confidential yes; again an equivocal no. This question, though now easily answered, was formerly one of great doubt among the wisest of men. Philosophers have labored earnestly to solve the mystery; logicians have reasoned about it; preachers have preached about it; theologians have argued about it, yet in perplexity they have failed to obtain a clear knowledge of the realms beyond the grave. Hence the Bible is the only book that gives us definite news from the undiscovered country.
The seed of immortality has been planted in the breast of every human being. Yet we cannot estimate the value of the soul by men's actions and attitude towards religion. All nations
have some idea of a future existence. During the Dark Ages when darkness, illiteracy and superstition reigned supremely and the world was groping in sin and ignorance, groups of people were found in different cities who were united for the purpose of religious practices, based upon faith and immortality; who believed that the soul was divine in origin and spiritual in nature, and that it was in bondage and the only remedy was righteousness and purification. Immortality seemed to have been stamped indelibly upon all nations by the finger of God.
There is much in this doctrine which reminds us of the Christian life, the Messianic faith, the final contest, the general judgment and the resurrection which appears and reappears in the teaching of immortality. The wicked must be raised as well as the good that divine justice may be publicly vindicated. There is to be a final conflict in which the good will triumph over the evil. There will be a universal judgment, as a result of which all the wicked are to be cast into hell, and the good received into the fellowship of the God of light and into the happiness of His everlasting kingdom.
To look at the soul as going from strength to strength and consider that it is to shine forever in glory and will be going from virtue to virtue and knowledge to knowledge. Surely it must be pleasing to God to see His creatures forever as they beautify before his eyes and draw nearer to Him by greater degree of resemblance.
It is a good thing that we know but little about the life to come, for it enables us to concentrate our attention upon the life that now is, which is the only safeguard against unprofitable speculation. But we should remember that now is the appointed time for work, for study, for service, for experience, for insight, for repentance, for consecration, for justice, for mercy, and for holiness. It is a story of wonderful fascination. No greater subject has ever challenged mortal intellect. It shows the way in which the human spirit has triumphed over intellectual difficulties, and won peace and security through faith in a God whose love and power extends beyond the grave. This faith has conquered the world. It is the Christ of history, the prophet of Nazareth, the atoning Savior, the conqueror of death, who brought life through immortality.
Poets have sought to decorate death with garland and imagery. Friends have covered the grave with exquisite flowers and grasses. Philosophers have decked the sepulcher with gorgeous attire. The productions of the artist have beautified our cemeteries with marble monuments and lifelike statues and figures. But without faith in Christ and His resurrection power, death is still king of terror, and the only thing that beautifies the graveyard is the hope of the resurrection and faith in immortality. It attributes to the efficiency of the individual. It makes us happier, stronger and more successful in our daily living. It helps to comfort and aid in life's misfortunes. It is our consolation in bereavements, our compensation for failures. When death robs us of friends we look forward to a meeting by and by when justice will be defended and wrongs righted.
Every man lives in the center of a circle whose fatal circumference he cannot pass. And within its narrow limits he lives, and if he goes beyond it he perishes. But then if immortality is not merely a delusive dream but a reality, we take up the future world where we leave off here. Then if we dread to die we should fear to live. For life is a reality and all things show it. I used to think so, but now I know it. Our destiny is settled in this life and death introduces us either to the pains of hell or bliss of heaven. But in the :hour of death hope sees a star, and while listening silently we
hear through faith the wings of angels that have come to convey the spirit away to the regions of eternal felicity. While in love with life and enraptured with the world, upon your brow will fall the golden dawn of eternal day. For as surely as God raised Christ from the dead by the glory of the Father, so sure will He preserve for the joy and service of His kingdom those who in this life have made covenant with Him by sacrifice.