Series of 13 Sermons by Pastor Ron Thomas On
"Our Final Journey"


801 West Buckingham Rd. - Garland, TX 75040

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Final Journey Series

Introduction: We are presently on a journey, the journey of life. This journey began at birth, and will end at death. This journey begins and ends in such a way because it is tied to this mortal, physical, temporal, body. Our bodies are the vehicles through which we experience this life on earth. Through the medium of our bodies, we see, touch, hear, smell and taste. The older we get, the duller, and less responsive our senses become and thereby our ability to enjoy life. In Ecclesiastes 12, the preacher describes the growing disability of old age upon the body. He says, "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;" All of this is kind of depressing if we didn't know about eternity with God our Creator. Paul said in I Corinthians 15:19, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." When these bodies fail, our earthly journey comes to an end, and we begin OUR FINAL JOURNEY.

But what about this FINAL JOURNEY? What about the journey just ahead of each of us, the journey into eternity? How will we make that journey? Obviously we will be bodiless, that is without these physical bodies, so what will be the vehicle for that journey?

We know the Lord has promised a future resurrection and redemption of our bodies. The Lord has saved our soul, but He has also provided redemption for these physical bodies. Romans 8:22-23 says, "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." One day at either the rapture or resurrection, we will trade in this temporal, mortal body for an eternal, immortal one.

Paul says in Philippians 3:21, "Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue a ll things unto Himself." Praise God, one day we shall have a glorified body, mean while what about those who have been on their FINAL JOURNEY for some time? What about our existence BETWEEN DEATH AND THE RESURRECTION?

We know that we bear God's image. One manifestation of God's image in man is his threefold being. Man is tricotimus, body, soul, and spirit. Paul writes in I Thessalonians 5:23, "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." We know that death is separation. At death, our bodies die and are laid to rest returning to dust, however we do not cease to exist! The soul spirit continues to live, and as we studied earlier, goes out to meet God. So, for a period of time at least, BETWEEN DEATH AND THE RESURRECTION, we will be bodiless, that is without an earthly body! What kind of existence can we expect if we die before the rapture and resurrection?

There are some who believe that our existence BETWEEN DEATH AND THE RESURRECTION, is an unconscious state. This is called soul sleep. The resurrection has to do with these earthly bodies, so without bodies, these believe our existence will be more like non existence! As they would have it, death sends us into a spiritual hibernation until we receive a body of some sort.

Those who believe such things of course refer to the Scriptures as a basis for their ideas. One such passage is Psalm 115:17. The psalmist says, "The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence." Another passage is Isaiah 38:18-19. Here King Hezekiah says, "For the grave cannot praise Thee, death can not celebrate Thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for Thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise Thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known Thy truth." Then in the New Testament, they argue that the word "sleep" is often used to speak of the departed dead. In John 11, Jesus told His disciples that Lazarus was sleeping when truly the man was dead. In Acts 7, Stephen was stoned to death, and in verse 60 we read, "And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep."

Throughout the New Testament those who are "dead in Christ" are referred to as "asleep," leading those of this view to conclude that they are soul sleeping until the wake up call of the resurrection. If this is so, we can look forward to a good long nap, which at times doesn't sound too bad. Some of us could use the rest! Certainly the Old Testament saints who have died long ago, have enjoyed a long rest!

Of course all of this is foolish. There is no such thing as soul sleep. Those passages in the Old Testament are speaking from an earthly, physical perspective. In this limited sense, death does represent the end or caseation of our opportunity to worship and serve the Lord. Jesus Himself spoke of the limitations of time placed upon Him by His physical body when He said, "I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

The use of the word "sleep" in the New Testament simply recognizes the victory over death wrought by the resurrection of our Savior. Jesus through His glorious resurrection, has removed the "sting of death!" To the born again believer, death is no more death, but sleep.

The truth however is that after death, we remain very much alive. In Matthew 22, Jesus is facing the Sadducees who did not believe in life after death. Notice His words to them in verses 29-32. "Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." By these words, Jesus is telling us that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were very much alive, alert, and well! These men errored in that they were thinking of Heaven and terms of the earth. God cannot be the God of dead men and of moldering corpses. The living God must be the God of living men.

Here is where we also fail. We often try to project our limited, earth bound ideas on God and Heaven. It is difficult for us to imagine an existence, minus a physical body, but the evidence in the Scriptures is overwhelming that the dead enter a soulish existence that is very much alive and alert. As a pastor, ever so often people ask me what I believe about the departed dead. One frequent question asked is, "Are they aware of what is going on down here?" The answer to that question may or may not be clear, but one thing is clear, BETWEEN DEATH AND THE RESURRECTION, God has provided the dead a soulish existence that functions perfectly until they receive either a body fit for eternal damnation, or a body fit for eternal glorification! What about this soul man existence?


There are two passages in the New Testament that give us a view of this soul spirit state. The first is given by the Savior in Luke 16 in the account of Lazarus and the rich man. Both men died and began their FINAL JOURNEY. The beggar was carried by the angels of God to a place called "Abraham's bosom," while the unregenerate rich man lifted up his eyes in hell. These men died and were buried, yet it is clear that they both retained the faculties necessary to experience a new world, a new environment, a new existence! Notice verses 22-25. "And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented." It is obvious that these men saw, heard, felt, touched, remembered, thought and spoke. Lazarus experienced the comfort and consolation of Heaven, while the rich man experienced the torments of hell fire. There is no evidence of soul sleep here! Later the man in hell remembered his five brothers back on earth who were headed for the same place and pled with Abraham to send Lazarus back as a witness to them.

A second passage in II Corinthians 12. Here the apostle Paul speaks of what can only be described as an out of the body experience. Notice verses 1-4. "It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." Paul testifies that he was caught up into the third heaven to a place called Paradise. It is interesting that twice, he made it a point that he couldn't tell if he was in his body or out of his body. It didn't seem to make any difference, for Paul went on to experience some wonderful things, so heavenly, it was not lawful to share with mortal man! In a soul spirit state, Paul fully experienced all God had presented.

Concerning the earth awareness of those in Heaven, we are given very little to go on, but there are some passages that give us a little insight.

In Luke 15:10, Jesus said, "Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." I like to think that all of Heaven shouts and rejoices when a person gets saved. Something is wrong when we as a church do not share Heaven's values!

In Hebrews 12:1 we read, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us." Here is the picture of a grandstand of witnesses, observing a race. We who are on the earth are involved in running our race. Who are these witnesses? These are those recorded in chapter 11. Moses has run his race. Abraham has run his race. So, are they now in Heaven watching it all and cheering us on?

Then in Revelation 6:9-10 we read, "And when He had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" Here it seems at least, that these souls are aware of the atrocities taking place on the earth against the cause of Christ, and are frustrated, moving them to cry out to the Lord for vengeance.

Did you notice that Lazarus was recognized by this rich man, as well as Abraham? Though they were minus their physical bodies, they were able to recognize each other. In Luke 16, there is also mentioned identifiable body parts such as a hand, finger, and tongue. So we know that there is recognition in Heaven and Hell, even before the resurrection of the just and unjust.

We see this same thing at the transfiguration of the Savior in Matthew 17:1-4. "And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John His brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with Him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias." Moses and Elijah were summoned to be with Jesus as He was transfigured before their eyes on the mountain top, and Peter, James and John recognized them! These men Moses and Elijah were not in a resurrected body, neither are they presently, but none the less, they were identifiable! They were obviously very much awake as they conversed with the Savior!

Sometimes we forget, but the Lord has been looking at us in our soul spirit state for a long time. In I Samuel 16:7 it says, "But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." They say we are three people. First, we are the person others know. Second, we are the person we know. Third, we are the person God knows! We had better realize that God recognizes us, identifies us, all the time, and its not as we perceive ourselves or as others perceive us, but as we are in truth. What really matters is His gaze, His evaluation.


Back to Luke 16, we read verse 26. "And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence." As we stated in the previous message, BETWEEN DEATH AND THE RESURRECTION, there is no going back, no second chances, no time of probation. As you find yourself, so you will be throughout eternity! This rich but lost man was forever doomed to torments, and Lazarus would be comforted throughout eternity. The Bible teaches that death ends all opportunity to be saved.

None of us know how much time we have left on this earth. At any moment, any of us could die and go out into eternity to meet God. The Bible teaches that death ends our opportunity to serve the Lord and gain rewards in this life. Yes, we have an eternal purpose, but our present lives are bound within the parenthesis called time. Notice Luke 16:25. "But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented." Lazarus and the rich man had a "lifetime," to prepare for eternity, a "lifetime" to serve the Lord and live by kingdom priorities! We have the same opportunity and after death, its too late!

So, are you ready for your FINAL JOURNEY? Are you ready to leave this world, this body behind? Examining our existence BETWEEN DEATH AND THE RESURRECTION ought to challenge us in several ways.

First, we ought to be challenged as to how we live this lifetime. Lazarus and the rich man had but one lifetime, and so do we. We have but one lifetime to prepare to meet God. We have one lifetime to serve the Lord and lay up treasures in Heaven. Life is our greatest investment. Life is our most precious commodity, because it is a limited recourse. Each day we have a little bit less to invest. Are we making the best investment with our lives? Are we making the most of our years, the most of our youth and vitality? Ecclesiastes 12:1 says, "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them."

Second, we ought to be challenged as to how we view this physical tabernacle we are occupying. I John 2:15-17 gives this warning. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." Listen, our bodies are part of this world that will one day pass away! When the Lord saved our souls, He also redeemed our bodies. We are "bought with a price, the precious blood of Jesus Christ." God ought to have a say in how we present our bodies, what we do with our bodies, where we take our bodies, and how we employ our bodies! We are not to live for our bodies, we are to make sure these bodies are employed in the cause of Christ. These bodies are expendable!

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