PROOF OF LIFE
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
July 21, 2019
36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them. 44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” 50 And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.
— Luke 24:36-53, ESV
Heaven forbid that any of us should ever be kidnapped. It is a horrific, largely unreported crime that is occurring with increasing frequency around the globe. Some companies now offer “K&R Insurance” (Kidnapping and Ransom) for employers who send employees to countries with high kidnapping rates, like India, Nigeria, and Mexico. Those insured must complete “Proof of Life” documents, a list of little known facts about the person, to be used in negotiations with the kidnappers to make sure the kidnapped is still alive. The best proof of life, however, is when the victim is released and returns, in person, to his family and friends.
Our Lord Jesus Christ was once kidnapped by sin and death. He committed no sin, but suffered death to pay the ransom for sinners with His substitutionary death on the cross. The ransom would have been paid in vain, however, if Jesus had not risen from the dead. If God Himself could not make death give way to eternal life, there would be no hope for the rest of us to experience life after death. But we believe the Apostle Paul where he so eloquently wrote, “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, he was buried, and He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (ref. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Would anyone like some proof?
Jesus is Proof of Life After Death
There is ample proof that Jesus died. The Bible and extra-biblical sources record it. The Romans did not break Jesus’ legs on the cross, like they did to the two thieves, because they knew Jesus was dead. Joseph and Nicodemus embalmed Him and laid Him in the tomb, because they knew Jesus was dead. The tomb was sealed until the third day and any man placed inside, even the God-man, the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, would be an irrefutably dead man.
Then, up from the grave He arose! The women saw Him, but the testimony of women in those patriarchal days was not sufficient proof. Simon Peter saw Him, along with the two men walking on the road to Emmaus, and their words carried weight. As the small band of the earliest Christians contemplated the combined testimony of the witnesses, Jesus appeared, alive, which is the greatest proof possible of His resurrection and life after death.
Jesus showed them His hands and His feet, and they could see the scars. Apparently, our bodies in our life after death will be perfect, but they will resemble our earthly bodies and retain certain redemptive marks. Will we appear to be in the prime of our lives or simply the stage of life we were at when we moved on to the afterlife? Jesus was (both). Will we be recognizable to our family and friends? With minor difficulties, Jesus was. Jesus was and is the proof of life after death.
Jesus shared food with them, and ate it in front of them. Apparently, we will enjoy food in our lives after death. How could it be Heaven without great food? Food and fellowship is a highlight of our earthly lives and a higher joy awaits those who follow Jesus into life after death. Jesus was and is the proof of life after death.
Jesus spoke to them, the gospel and the word of God, words of comfort and words of commandment, and His words changed the people who heard Him. They still do. Apparently, the key to experiencing and enjoying life after death is believing God’s word, especially the good news of Jesus’ life, death, and life after death. We must accept it as an atonement for sin. We must trust in God and all of God’s word for life, death, and life after death. Jesus died for us. We must live for Him. Jesus was and is the proof of life after death, and we can prove it, too.
Jesus showed up, shared food, and spoke to His disciples to prove there is life after death. To enjoy it with Jesus, however, you must be a disciple, too. A true disciple will enjoy life after death because they have experienced life after life.
Disciples are Proof of Life after Life
If you are alive, it is because you were born. If you are a Christian, one who will experience life after death in Heaven with the Lord, it is because you have been born again (ref. John 3:3,5). Just as there are many proofs of life when a baby is born into this world, so there are many proofs of life after life, the Christian life, for those who have been born again into the kingdom of God.
Being born again is synonymous with being Christian or being saved. Salvation can be summarized as a right relationship with the triune God that grants full forgiveness of sins and guarantees eternal life. It is received by the free grace of God, through the spiritual gifts and means of repentance and faith. Saved people put sole trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Saved people willingly submit to Jesus’ lordship in one’s life. The changed life you live after giving your life to Christ is the proof of salvation, the proof of life after life, for which you will receive life after death.
Life after life, the Christian life, changes you from a fool to a genius. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (ref. Psalm 14:1). It is equally foolish to trust in a false god. Equally foolish, still, to approach or interpret the true and living God in the wrong or heretical way. The majority of men live in error, and at death it will be their eternal regret.
The first disciples, however, took three years to transform from bumbling Jewish fishermen who barely knew the Law, the Writings, and the Prophets of the Old Testament into New Testament professors and writers and teachers. All the scientific knowledge in the world will be of no use to you if you do not understand and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. And the simplest man or woman who knows the Lord is of greater use and glory to God than a million geniuses who do not. The Christian life is a matter of learning and practicing what matters most in this life, and the life to come.
Life after life, the Christian life, changes you from cowardice to confidence. So many refuse to trust in Christ because they are simply afraid. They are afraid of what it may cost, which is everything. They are afraid of what other people may say about them or do to them. Fearing men leads to death after life. Fearing God leads to life after life.
The first Christians were in retreat and defeat until Jesus came to give them victory and peace. They doubted and disbelieved until they “disbelieved for joy.” What does that mean? Have you ever discovered news so wonderful you said, “That’s unbelievable!”? What you mean is that you believe the news, and it’s the best news you’ve ever believed. The Christian life is a matter of believing the gospel, really believing it, and living like it is the best news you’ve ever received. God’s Spirit indwells you and promises to empower you to witness and serve the Lord with all of your life.
Life after life, the Christian life, changes you from a waster to a worshiper. Those who refuse to believe in Jesus Christ will one day have to stand before Him and admit they have wasted their life. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul” (ref. Matthew 16:26)?
Those early Christians, and true Christians today, worship the Lord. This means He is central to their lives and purposes on this planet. We give Him the first day of the week, we give Him the first fruits of our income, we give Him first place in everything, and we give His word the determining factor in our faith, morals, ethics, and relationships in life, unto everlasting life.
Remember, this change, this life after life which secures life after death, is a gift of God’s grace. God initiates, God opens the mind and heart, God indwells, God delivers, God saves. Salvation is what God does for man, not what man does for God. God saves by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, so that you will never be alone, but enjoy life after life and life after death.
Luke ends His Gospel with Jesus ending His ministry on earth. He left us, at least physically, to return to His glory in Heaven. The first disciples were not worried or afraid anymore as they joyfully worshiped and witnessed for the Lord. True disciples today feel the same way and do the same things. One day Christ will return, with death for those who have ignored or denied Him, and life for those who believe and follow Him. This Gospel of Luke, which we finish today, is proof of life.
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Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org