This ain't Slumberland
Text: 1 Cor 15:12-22
A German woman had to be rescued after she fell asleep while trying out a sofa bed at a Slumberland store. Gertrude Muller 72, called emergency services when she finally woke up in the store in the town of Luebz to find it closed.
A police spokesman said, “It appears the bed was in a corner of the showroom and she was overlooked by staff as she lay there sleeping quietly. She had come in to test the sofa out and she said the last thing she remembers before falling asleep was thinking how lovely and comfortable it was. She just nodded off.
Is that what happens when we die? Is it a “lovely and comfortable” sleep into nothingness from which we never wake up? Is that all there is? Peggy Lee sang a song called “Is that all There Is” Death in this song is called “the final disappointment.” And she crooned in the chorus “Is that all there is? Is that all there is? Is that all there is my friends, then let's keep on dancing, let's break out the booze and have a ball….if that's all ……there is.”
Apparently most Americans feel this way. In a Scripps Howard News Service poll released two years ago, only 36% of the people polled believe in a bodily resurrection. Maybe you are one of those who don't believe in such an event. There were professing Christians in Corinth saying such things and the H.S. through the apostle Paul was trying to set them straight.
What does the Bible teach? Is that all there is?
Heb 9:27 states, “”as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgement.”
There is something then AFTER death. It's called judgement.
Bluntly stated by the Lutheran commentator Lenski concerning this verse, “this means that no one has to wait for the return of Jesus to know God's verdict on their life. We receive it at the instant of our death. Death at once places our soul in heaven or in hell; the verdict is executed at once.”
The words “Lovely and comfortable sleep” are far too mild to describe the peace of heaven and way off base in describing the torments of hell. And “final disappointment?” Well the thief on the cross was not disappointed by his experience of being in Paradise with Jesus, and the other thief on the cross who went to perdition was likely not saying things like, “ I'm a little disappointed here, I thought hell would be worse than this.”
Thankfully Jesus gave us a little picture of heaven and hell in the account of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus in Luke 16. If you have your Bibles with you this morning Look at v 22 and 23.
They both die. The soul of Lazarus is carried by angels to Abraham's bosom. To the Jew, “Abraham's bosom” is synonymous with heaven. What is a bosom if not a place of comfort, and we read of it in v25, “now he is comforted,”
But what of the unbelieving rich man? “you are tormented,” How bad is this torment? Well, he begs in v24 for mercy asking for just a drop of water on his tongue, but no such wish is granted. He begged Abraham to send Lazarus back to his family to testify to them lest they wind up in this place of torment.
Did you ever wonder what would've happened if Lazarus would've gone back to testify? What could he tell the rich man's brothers? Only that heaven is a place of wondrous comfort. Lazarus was clueless as to the state of the rich man….oblivious to his torment because he was wrapped up in total peace and comfort.
Such a testimony would not be enough! Just wanting to be in such a place is not enough. We have plenty of testimonies of out of body experiences that speak of such a wonderful place, and as comforting as they may be, they can also be a source of a false sense of security. A feeling like the German lady who fell asleep on the sofa bed in Slumberland “How lovely and comfortable death must be.”
My friend, heaven is a wonderful place of eternal comfort, but hell is an eternal place of unbelievable torment. The Bible is clear, there is a heaven and there is a hell, therefore this is a resurrection! And the only way to pass judgment and experience eternal comfort is to be found in Jesus on the Last Day or on your last day.
And Abraham tells the rich man that his brothers need to heed Moses and the prophets. The rich man incredibly still doesn't get it and he argues with Abraham! No! Abraham, all they need is to see a miracle, all they need is to hear about heaven then they will repent!
And Abraham sets the record straight for all of us. Repentance will not come without Moses and the prophets. We must first be broken by the ten commandments of any idea that we can get to heaven on our own. Then we are ready to hear of the One who has risen from the dead.
Paul is right on in this letter to the Corinthians. If Christ is not risen from the dead then Christianity is a sham! A false religion. He and the apostles and all preachers and evangelists who have followed in their shoes are false teachers.
And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; (Do you know the definition of futility? Backup quarterback to Brett Favre) Futile - serving no useful purpose. If your faith serves no useful purpose, eat, drink, and be merry and go to Slumberland and die. Your end is the same as, Adolph Hitler, Mr. Rodgers, and Spot the dog.
If Christ is not risen, and you are still a Bible believing person, then you'd better get back to animal sacrifices because the Messiah has not yet come! The Bible is clear that the grave will not hold the true Messiah. He will be resurrected!
Ps 16:10 “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol (the grave) Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.”
But how do we know He is risen? The event took place over 2000 years ago! We can't look at the archives of CNN to get the story. We know because the Bible tells us so. This IS the Word of God! 2 Tim 3:16 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”
Well, the Bible is just another Book, it IS, at least to the one who has not been brought to repentance. Jesus said in Jn 8:47, “He who is of God hears God's Words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”
What do these words say about the resurrection? Let's look at this 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians beginning at v3 - v8.
Imagine that many eyewitnesses in a court of law! I count at least 514 witnesses coming to the stand to testify that they saw Jesus alive! And to this day not one single witness has come forward with the body. He is risen! He is risen indeed.
Not only did these witnesses testify of His resurrection, but they held to their testimony even in the face of torture and death.
Now we could talk about the traditions associated with the deaths of the apostles, they were awful, but they are not found in the Bible so we won't go there. We do know that Peter died for his belief in Christ in an unusual death because of what is written in Jn 21:18,19, “Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you, and carry you where you do not wish.”
Paul suffered much because he preached Christ crucified and risen, and Stephen was martyred by stoning and he carried the testimony of seeing the risen Christ to his last breath! “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:56)…and they stoned him to death.
Don't you think you would've had second thoughts about maintaining that Jesus had risen from the dead? How much physical punishment or financial punishment would we be willing to take before we would deny the resurrection of Jesus? I pray it never comes to that!
Chuck Colson gives us a pretty good idea about what we might do. Colson was a Watergate conspirator who went to jail for his part in the scandal. Here's what he had to say, “Watergate involved a conspiracy to cover up, perpetuated by the closet aids to the President of the United States - the most powerful men in America, who were intensely loyal to their president. But one of them John Dean turned state's evidence, that is, testified against Nixon, as he put it, “to save his own skin,” and he did so only two weeks after informing the president about what was really going on…..two weeks! The real cover up, the lie, could only be held together for two weeks and then everybody else jumped ship in order to save themselves. Now, the fact is that all that those around the president were facing was embarrassment, maybe prison. Nobody's life was at stake, but what about the disciples? 12 powerless men, peasants really, were facing not just embarrassment or political disgrace, but beatings, stonings, and execution. Every single one of the disciples insisted, to their dying breaths, that they had physically seen Jesus bodily raised from the dead.
Don't you think that one of those apostles would've cracked before being beheaded or stoned? That one of them would'v e made a deal with the authorities. None did!.
If just one would've gone states evidence, wouldn't the Jews have paraded him for all the world to see? None did, and they were left with their claim that the disciples stole the body.
He is risen! He is risen indeed.
Let's close then with v22. All die in Adam. Adam sinned, He broke a commandment of God. That sin was passed down to all of us. The Bible says “all we like sheep have gone astray there is none righteous, not one.
None of us here can claim that we have kept God's commandments perfectly. We will have nothing to stand on on Judgement Day. We are sinners appointed to die and appointed to be judged.
Unless, unless someone else would come forward and take the rap. And that's what Jesus did on the cross. ”And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” The wages of sin are death, someone had to pay and that Someone was Jesus.
The proof that the wage was accepted is found in the resurrection. Rom 4:25 states, “Jesus our Lord was handed over to death because of our failures and was brought back to life so that we could receive God's approval.”
The resurrection is the proof of God's approval. He is risen! He is risen indeed!
This Easter may we all consider the ramifications of the empty tomb. No, that's not all there is! Life matters! Let us live our lives confident in our blessed hope, anticipating paradise with our risen Savior as we bow before Him and serve Him as our Lord.