Is There A Soul? Does everything end with death?
Life after death
Life after death: Does life end with death?
Death is certain. Belief in life after death is Universal. Rationalists with their Hegelian individualism, highly limited abilities & senses try to find proof of life after death. Failure makes them to convince themselves by arguments
Religions have different views about life after death. There are two kinds of death: death of the body and death of the soul. With death, the body disintegrates to cosmic elements. (Christians believe that at the second coming of Christ it regroups to take an ethereal form and will be in the presence of God). When we commit sin we go away from God and the soul dies. The Old Testament gives us this idea that sin cause death. Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God. So they died and passed on to a dark godless world; the deepest part of the World of the dead. Is. 14:15. Ps. 88:12 says that the land of the dead is all darkness; In Job 10: 21-22 It is land of darkness shadows and confusion where light itself is darkness. Hebrews believed that life after death is life away from God. Ezk. 18:14; 31: 16-17. There is eternal darkness. It is fearful
The dead souls of this dark land are only dormant. They can hear, see and respond. (1 Sam. 28:15). Dead dormant Samuel was disturbed by Saul to get his opinion; God do not want man to die in sin and be there in darkness forever. He wants man to repent and come back to life. (Ezk. 18:23).
Christ showed that through baptism the soul resurrect to life from sin and death. Christian baptism is the method to wash the sinful soul to accept God and enter into the Christian life. Death is baptism to emerge into life. You die to resurrect. Christ received death on cross and came back to life. He willingly accepted death on cross to destroy Satan and his sinful ways to save the entire humankind to the Kingdom of God. The Adamic sinful soul enters the church of believers and life though repentance and baptism. Christ resurrected and entered in glory to Heaven. Death is preparation to eternal life in Heaven.
Life after death in paradise is an active life. Jesus said (Mt. 22:32) I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and not of the dead. At Mt. Tabor Christ conversed with Moses and Elijah who lived on earth long ago. Disciples saw them. (Mt. 17:3).This is evidence that souls are live and become active. The parable of the rich man and Lazar in Lk. 16 clearly explain this. In his writings, St. Paul says that the soul after death goes to Jesus. (Phil. 1:23). Jesus will take back those souls who die believing in Him. (Thes. 4:13). Similarly St. Peter says in I Pr. 4:6 “Christ died and went to preach among the dead.” In Lk. 22:43. They were alive to hear Him. Christ promises to the criminal crucified with Him “today you will be with me in paradise”. All this prove that life after death is, alive, receptive to Good News and is capable of repentance and admission into Heaven. So we are bound to pray for our kith and kin who are dead and waiting for the second coming of Christ to resurrect and go with Him to Heaven. Let us pray for your husband Baby, Kunjena Uppappan, Elayamma, Pullucat Valiappachan, Aleyamma Ammachy and all ancestors.
Sages of yester years were raking their brains about what happens to men after death. All religions now believe that there is life for the soul after death. In Christianity the early fathers believed that the souls who believe in Christ at the time of death will go back to God, its creator. There is thinking that man has three lives: human life, life after death in paradise and then life in Heaven with God on the second coming of Jesus. Those who do not believe in Jesus at death will pass on to Hades. These souls are also alive and receptive. So Good News and prayers for them can make them also go to Heaven, or rejected by Christ and go to hell.
Don’t we pray for our children when they go through a fever, a public examination or any trial? Our live parents pray for us. The dead past parents in paradise or Hades or in Heaven or Hell also are praying for us. Intercession to God on behalf of our partner, children, friends and those who seek our prayers is natural to all of us. We all intercede to God for them .In Christianity we seek intercession of St. Mary the mother of Christ. The most repeated “Hail Mary” prayer is solely a pleading to her to pray for us at all times and at the hour of our death.
In the OT (Old Testament) the kings, prophets and priests were the mediators between man and God. (Joel 2:17; 2 Sam 24:17; etc). The classic example of mediation is of Abraham pleading to God to save Sodom from destruction. (Gen. 18: 16-23). God conceded to that intercession and saved Sodom at that time.
In N T Christ is the most powerful intercessionist. He is constantly pleading to God to forgive our sins and protect us from perdition. By His death on the cross He bridged the gap between God and us sinners. Rom.8:34 say Christ “is at right hand side of God, pleading with Him for us”. All our mediation by ourselves, priests, saints of the church or our dead parents, kith and kin: all go through the one mediator Christ. Christ has promised, (John 14:13).that whatever you ask in my name, I will do it “so that the Father’s glory will be shown through the Son”
In Orthodox Church most part of the Holy Qurbana and all Koodasa are intercession to God. In Protestant Churches also prayers are all intercession to Christ. The major difference is that they do not pray for the dead. As seen above .all the souls of the dead are alive, receptive and active. They are all waiting for the second coming of Jesus to be saved into the Kingdom of God. They will all resurrect at Christ’s second coming. We the living who believe in Nicene Creed (We all believe) also are awaiting the second coming. Thus we are one community (separated by the death curtain) waiting for Christ. We are all praying to save us in His second coming. The dead whether in Paradise or Hades, are praying to God to save their living sons and daughters just like we praying for our parents. Intercessory prayers can be and are done both by the living and the dead. So prying for the dead is as necessary as praying for the living kith and kin. A more attractive feature of death is that we are going to join with all the hoards of our relatives—our appachans, ammachys, brothers, sisters and all cousins at the second coming. I hope to meet you there. So please pray for me also so that I can be with you all. Death is birth into a new world of all of us from Abraham to tomorrow’s generations. It is great reunion to celebrate and enjoy, bliss: Heaven.
Prof. Joseph K. Alexander, Thiruvananthapuram