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Jehovah’s Witnesses

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AWAKE! SEPTEMBER 2008

Life Beyond the Grave—It Is Possible!

Life Beyond the Grave—It Is Possible!

IN A movie several years ago, a young man was shown standing at a dear one’s grave. “Momma always said dyin’ was a part of life,” he said. Then, as the camera focused briefly on the grave marker, he added: “I sure wish it wasn’t.”

This sentiment expresses the feeling of billions who have lost a loved one in death. What a horrible enemy! Yet, God promises: “As the last enemy, death is to be brought to nothing.” (1 Corinthians 15:26) But why, in spite of an apparent capacity to live indefinitely, do we die? How is death to be removed?

Why We Grow Old and Die

Regarding Jehovah God, our Creator, the Bible says: “Perfect is his activity.” (Deuteronomy  32:4; Psalm 83:18) The first man, Adam, was created perfect, and he had the potential of living forever in Eden, the earthly Paradise garden in which God placed him. (Genesis 2:7-9) Why did Adam lose that Paradise home and grow old and die?

Simply stated: Adam failed to obey the command not to eat fruit from a particular tree. God had clearly warned Adam of the penalty for doing so, saying: “You will positively die.” (Genesis 2:16, 17) Adam joined his wife, Eve, in disobeying that command, so God evicted them from Eden. The reason for God’s prompt action is significant. The Bible states: “That [Adam] may not put his hand out and actually take fruit also from the [garden’s] tree of life and eat and live [forever].”Genesis 3:1-6, 22.

Adam and Eve died for their disobedience, but why do all their descendants grow old and die? Because they inherited sin from Adam, and sin has resulted in the imperfection and death of every one of his offspring. The Bible explains: “Through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.”Romans 5:12.

Future Life Made Possible

As we read earlier, “death is to be brought to nothing”—yes, removed forever! (1 Corinthians 15:26) But how? The Bible explains this, saying: “Through one act of justification the result to men of all sorts is a declaring of them righteous for life.” (Romans 5:18) What is it that makes possible a righteous standing with God and the enjoying of everlasting life?

It is the provision for canceling the sin that all humans inherited from the first man, Adam. The Bible explains: “The gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) Of this provision for declaring people righteous for life, Jesus said: “God loved the world [of mankind] so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”John 3:16.

Think about the depth of God’s love for us, as well as that of his Son, Jesus Christ, who suffered so greatly in our behalf. The apostle Paul wrote: “The Son of God . . . loved me and handed himself over for me.” (Galatians 2:20) Why, though, is Jesus the only human who could “give his soul [as] a ransom” for us and thereby save us from the deadly consequences of sin?Matthew 20:28.

Jesus is the only one who could give his soul as a ransom because he is the only human who did not inherit sin from the first man, Adam. Why so? Because the life of Jesus was miraculously transferred from heaven to the womb of Mary, who was a virgin. So, as an angel told Mary, her son was “holy, God’s Son.” (Luke 1:34, 35) That is why Jesus is called “the last Adam” and why he did not inherit sin from “the first man Adam.” (1 Corinthians 15:45) As a sinless human, Jesus could thus give himself as “a corresponding ransom”—his life corresponded to or was the  equivalent of the once perfect, sinless, first man.1 Timothy 2:6.

By this provision of the ransom, God made it possible for us to receive what the first Adam lost, namely, everlasting life in an earthly paradise. To receive this blessing, however, the vast majority of mankind will have to live again. What a marvelous prospect! But is that just too good to be true?

Basis for Belief

Should it be too difficult to believe that Jehovah God, who created life, has the power to re-create a person who had once been alive? Consider the ability to conceive—or become pregnant—which God made possible for the first woman. “Adam had intercourse with Eve,” and about nine months later, a fully-formed small replica of them was delivered into the world. (Genesis 4:1) What went on inside Eve’s womb to create all the parts of the baby and assemble them is still described as a miracle, beyond full human comprehension!Psalm 139:13-16.

Birth is commonly taken for granted, since it is repeated hundreds of thousands of times a day. However, bringing back to life one who has lived before is by many still considered to be unbelievable. When Jesus told people who were mourning the death of a young girl to stop weeping, “they began to laugh scornfully at him” because they knew she had died. But Jesus spoke to the dead girl, saying: “‘Get up!’ And immediately the maiden rose and began walking.” We are told: “At once [those present] were beside themselves with great ecstasy.”Mark 5:39-43; Luke 8:51-56.

When Jesus asked that the tomb of his dear friend Lazarus be unsealed, Martha, a sister of Lazarus, protested: “By now he must smell, for it is four days.” What rejoicing there was, however, when Jesus brought Lazarus back to life! (John 11:38-44) Many became acquainted with Jesus’ miracles. When John the Baptist was in prison, John’s disciples reported to him about Jesus’ activity, saying: “The dead are being raised up.”Luke 7:22.

Another Life by Resurrection

Why did Jesus perform such miracles, in view of the fact that later those resurrected got sick and died again? He did so because it proved that what the first Adam had losteverlasting life on a paradise earthcan and will be restored. The resurrections Jesus performed demonstrated how millions of humans will eventually “possess the earth” and “will reside forever upon it.”Psalm 37:29.

Happily, we can be among those with that grand prospect of living forever if we practice “godly devotion.” Such devotion, the Bible says, “holds promise not only for this life but for the life to come.” That “life to come” is also called “the life which is life indeed” and “the real life.”1 Timothy 4:8; 6:19; The New English Bible.

Let us consider just what this real life, the life to come in a righteous new world, will be like.