More Alive Than Ever

C. S. Lewis had a profound influence on the life of Sheldon Vanauken. Vanauken became a Christian when he studied under Lewis at Oxford University. In his book A Severe Mercy he described their last meeting.

Over lunch at a pub in Oxford they had spent time pondering the nature of life after death. When they had finished eating, they stood outside for a few moments and just before parting ways, Lewis said to Vanauken, “I shan’t say goodbye. We’ll meet again.” Then the great scholar plunged into the traffic to cross the street while Vanauken watched his friend walk away.

When Lewis got to the other side of the street, he turned around, anticipating that his friend would still be standing there. With a grin on his face, Lewis shouted over the din of the passing cars, “Besides — Christians never say goodbye!”

During this season as we anticipate the celebration of our Lord’s resurrection, it is important to remember that the hope of eternal life is not based upon wishful thinking. Our assurance of life after death is based upon the promise of Christ.

When Jesus was accosted by some of his detractors who denied that there would be a resurrection, he told them they were in error, badly mistaken (Mark 12:24). His opponents were religious skeptics who believed that this life is all there is. They believed the soul perished with the body. There would be no rewards or punishments after death.

This materialistic philosophy exists today. Doubts about life after death are widespread, especially now as our nation moves further away from biblical values. People seem to be pursuing pleasure and prosperity for the here and now, with little thought for a life hereafter.

The Lord Jesus answered his critics in Mark 12:25-27 by directing their attention to God. He is alive. He is the giver of life. Eternal life resides in God. Jesus quoted the Bible where God said to Moses, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:5-6).

Then Jesus said something that is a key to our understanding of life after death. “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Mark 12:27). Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are alive! If they are alive with God, then my parents are alive with God. My brother’s baby who died is alive with God. My friend Stanley who was killed in Vietnam is alive with God. They will be resurrected when Jesus comes again.

That is why C.S. Lewis said what he did to Sheldon Vanauken, For a believer in Christ, to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

The American evangelist Dwight L. Moody famously said, “Some day you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody of East Northfield is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now; I shall have gone up higher, that is all, out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal — a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint; a body fashioned like unto his glorious body.”

“He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” This brief statement of Jesus is proof that faith in him includes the certainty of overcoming death. It is a promise of eternal life.

Pastor Randy Faulkner