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There's No Afterlife

by Tim O'Hearn

When asked about the "after-life" a great Rebbe once said, "There is no "after-life". There is only continuation of life as it was lived here in another dimension." He had an understanding of the "after-life" that many Christians could emulate. We don't have this life and that life. We have but one life that continues.

Some people choose to live as if there is this life and when it ends it is over. These are the people who have to grab everything they can in this life. Good and evil are judged by a standard of "how does it affect me?" If the consequences of my actions are all received in this life, then life is unfair and I should act accordingly. To some that means ending their lives prematurely. To others that means doing as much good to others as possible, under the theory that "what goes around comes around." To yet others the idea that there is no continuation of life beyond what we see and know in this body reveals itself in unscrupulous conduct—he who dies with the most toys wins, no matter how he got them (as long as he isn't caught). There is no reason to live beyond living.

Others live under the idea that it doesn't matter what we do in this life. Either God will forgive everybody or God has already chosen those who will be rewarded and nothing anybody else does can affect their salvation or lack of it. The first ignore the warning of Hebrews 10:26-27: "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." The latter ignore Peter's warning (2 Pet 1:10-11), "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." In either case, the attitude is that this life is distinct from the "afterlife" and has no bearing on it.

Then there are those who agree with the Rabbi mentioned above. What you do in this life not only has bearing on the afterlife; it is merely the beginning of that afterlife. Whatever good people do in this life is not, in Bill Shakespere's words, "interred with their bones." It is merely deposited to receive interest which will become "treasures in heaven." Whatever evil is done in this life will be punished in the next, unless the debt is forgiven through God's grace.

Truth to tell, Jesus seems to indicate that we have our views all backwards. It's not that we have this life and an afterlife; we have this "beforelife" and then comes life. In Matthew 18:8-9 he said, "Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire." Notice that he says whatever happens here is prior to entering into life.

Paul told the Romans (Romans 6) that we are raised to walk in a new life. That life is now and for eternity. The key thing is to remember that if we love God and walk in his way here, we won't have to worry about liking it there.