UN-ENDING LIFE IN CHURCH HISTORY.
Different societies and groups of people had different beliefs about death and life after.
DIFFERENT VIEWS FOR DIFFERENT SOCIETIES ABOUT UNENDING LIFE IN CHURCH HISTORY.
1. Egyptians. The these believed in a real and materialistic life after that would actually move on after death. Thus the deceased would be buried with their belongings eg beer, money etc.
2. The Greeks. The believed that the human soul is immortal (can’t die). That at death, the soul would escape out of the physical body and would continue living as the body decomposed.
3. The Romans. Romans that had converted to Christianity held the view that God was a very harsh being that would have to send almost everyone to hell. This they had great fear for death.
4. The monks and nuns. These believed that for one to have an eternal life, they had to do away with worldly pleasure such as riches, sex and leadership. This they lived in seclusion.
5. The orthodox Catholics. These were the original Catholics of Rome who held conservative views that they never wanted changed. They strictly believed in fulfillment of rituals eg celibacy etc as a a way to eternal life.
6. The reformers. The followers of Martin Luther – protestants disapproved if the conservative Catholic views of strict adherence to rituals. They instead argued that one could get eternal life by God’s grace.
7. The Jews. This is the race to which Jesus belonged. They showed disbelief in his messiahship, don’t believe he is the way eternal life and are waiting for the ‘real’ Messiah.
8. The apostles. These were Jesus’ chosen disciples, that were given the task of spreading the gospel. They believed in attaining an everlasting life through carrying out this task.
9. The missionaries. These strongly believed in the attainment of eternal life through traveling long distances to spread the word of God to uncivilized people.
WAYS HOW EARLY CHRISTIANS PREPARED THEMSELVES AND OTHERS FOR UNENDING LIFE
1. They engaged in fellowships to share experiences and encouragement so as to strongly stay on the path to eternity.
2. They continually lived prayerful lives, communicating to God for guidance and strength towards everlasting life.
3. They preached the gospel to distant lands, to all peoples as a way of attaining eternal life for themselves and their hearers.
4. They baptised their coverts as a way of initiating them to the path to eternal life.
5. They ensured regular worship and praise if God to give Him Glory that befits Him, to get an eternal life in return.
6. They engaged in holy communion, breaking bread and sharing wine as a reminder of Jesus’ body and blood shed for sinners to have eternal life.
7. Both Christians and converts lived repentant lives, confession their sins and asking for for their forgiveness. This would enable them attain eternal life.
8. They relied on the power of the Holy Spirit for strength and guidance in the spiritual walk to eternal life.
9. They showed agape love to all like Jesus did.
10. They stayed United in Christ irrespective of their differences in order to have the divine reward of eternal life.
11. They engaged in compassion, generously giving to the needy whatever they could afford.
12. They continually lived reconciliatory lives, mending differences between individuals as a way to eternal life.
13. They obeyed Civil authority, paying tax, obeying Civil laws etc admitting that power and authority comes from God.
14. The lived a life of endurance amid hate and persecution sometimes up to death. They did this in the effort to spread and defend the gospel.
WAYS HOW SOME SECTIONS OF PEOPLE IN CHURCH HISTORY DISTORTED THE ETERNAL LIFE GOSPEL (wrong teachings and acts concerning eternal life)
#SOME GROUPS OF EARLY CHRISTIANS PREACHED A WRONG VIEW AND DID WHAT WOULD MAKE THE MESSAGE OF ETERNAL LIFE MEANINGLESS, EG PREACHING RIGHTEOUSNESS YET COMMITTING SEXUAL SINS#
Some early Christians held views and carried out deeds that made the unending life gospel unrealistic and invalid. Such views and deeds include the following.
1. Presenting God as a harsh judge. Some early christians presented God as a merciless judge that was difficult to please and who would deny heaven to most people yet God is actually kind.
2. Over emphasizing hell. Some others over stressed the strict adherence of Christian rituals and rules otherwise one would suffer forever in hell fire. They should have instead preached hope.
3. Predestination. Reformers emphasized that God plans a person’s total life before birth and that one can’t do anything to save him/herself yet a person that does good or repents after sinning is known to be saved.
4. Over emphasizing mosaic laws. Some members, especially Jews stressed that a person can’t attain an eternal life without adhering to the law of Moses, eg getting circumcised, washing rituals etc which isn’t true.
5. Neglect of women in God’s work. Some early Christians wrongly ignored women in participating in either attaining or helping others attain eternal life.
6. The messianic community. Some Jews in Jerusalem claimed that eternal life was only meant for them and for any other non Jew (gentiles), that Jesus belonged to them.
7. Neglecting children. They also gave less consideration to children in matters to do with eternal life. They kept them out of wirship places yet Jesus welcomed them.
8. Over relying on Parousia. Some teachers of religion stressed that salvation would only come with Jesus’ second coming/ return from heaven which is incorrect.
9. Emphasizing indulgences. Catholic members taught that sinners had to be forgiven by God only after paying for their sins in form of tithe, thanksgiving, offering gifts to the clergy etc.
10. Purgatory. Also, catholic members preached that people with less sins would temporarily suffer in purgatory from where they would then be saved by prayers of the living. This lead to a weak faith.
11. Spiritual pride. Some members that had acquired spiritual gifts eg speaking in tongues started boasting and showing them off to others instead of using them to spread the gospel.
12. Sexual immorality. Some Christians continued engaging in sexual sins eg incest at the same time preaching righteousness which painted a wrong image of the gospel. 12. Sexual immorality. Some Christians continued engaging in sexual sins eg incest at the same time preaching righteousness which painted a wrong image of the gospel.
13. Materialism. The clergy guy so much obsessed with material wealth, emphasizing payment of the tithe, thanksgiving, offering gifts etc as a way of attaining eternal which was wrong.
14. Disunity and hatred. Sometimes the early christians would develop deep and hurting disagreements that would manifest a bad example to other Christians hence distorting the salvation message.
THE CHURCH’S/BIBLE/CHRISTIAN TEACHING ABOUT LIFE AFTER DEATH
The Old Testament has the following to say about life after death.
1. The fall of man. Man’s sin of disobedience destroys God’s original plan for man to have a blissful unending life. Gen 3.
2. Sheol. Israelites believe that people who do wrong when still alive will go to a dark and sad place called Sheol when they die.
3. Death is for everyone. Death is shown as a must for person born to a woman. Psalms 89:48 puts it that nobody can live and not die.
4. One is vistor on Earth. Man only gets through earth as a vistor and through death gets to his final home. The final home (eternity) depends upon ones faith and deeds on Earth.
5. Divine salvation. God is shown as the only saviour of his people from world troubles and tribulations. He only gives them a peaceful unending life. Exod 15:2
6. A desire to meet God. Faithfulness to aaGod is known to give some people a privilege of meeting and living with God forever. Psalms 73:25
7. Salvation is joyous. God given unending life breeds joy to the righteous. Isaiah 25:9, God’s salvation will breed joy to the faithful in their life after.
8. Righteous deeds. Proverbs 11:19 shows that a person’s righteous deeds can him/her an eternal life.
9. A gift for humility. God is known for rewarding humble Israelites with eternal life. Psalms 149:4. The proud and arrogant are set to perish.
10. A call for repentance. Prophet Isaiah prophesies that if rebellious Israelites repent and abandon evil, God will give them eternal life. Isaiah 30:15.
11. A reward for those who serve God. Psalms 132:16 shows that those who serve God eg priests, prophets, preachers etc will be rewarded with eternity.
12. The result of wickedness. Psalms 37:20 shows that evil deeds earn Israelites condemnation and perishing. Such people would be forgot forever.
13. Resurrection is a must. Daniel and Ezekiel got visions of resurrection of all mankind. The righteeous will live in paradise but the wicked will be lost forever.
14. The heavenly city (Zion) The Righteous Israelites will enjoy an everlasting life in Zion, a heavenly city if joy. Isaiah 15:71
THE NEW TESTAMENT TEACHING ABOUT UN-ENDING LIFE
The new testament teaching about unending life is especially based on the birth, ministry (deeds and words), death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We learn the following.
1. Impartial eternal life. Eternal life has been prepared for everyone. The coming of Jesus opens the the door for Jews, gentiles, men, women, rich, poor, etc. Ephesians 6:8
2. Jesus as the only way. Jesus is shown as the sole path to eternal life. All other ways lead to death. John 14:4
3. Getting born again. John 3:3 stresses that for one to have an eternal life, he/she would have to be born again in Christ is by repenting and embracing the good news.
4. Believing in Jesus. One has to believe in Jesus Christ in order to have the chance tof enjoying everlasting life. John 3:15
5. Eternal life is a gift. Paul in Romans 6:23 says His gives us eternal life just as a gracious gift because man is too sinful to earn it.
6. Eternal life is promised. 1 John 2:25 shows that eternal life was promised to man through Christ. Since God fulfills promises He makes, it gives us hope.
7. Enough space for all. Jesus assures all his followers that there’s enough accommodation for all of them in Heaven.
8. Glorious Parousia. Jesus is set to return, to rule with a lot if glory, to be with his people in Paradise forever.
9. Immortal spirits. The dead will resurrect in special spiritual bodies that do not die again. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44
10. Obedience to Jesus’ words. One has to obey Jesus’ orders in order to attain everlasting life because they bear the real truth. John 5:24
11. Blood and flesh. Faith in the body and blood of Jesus Christ earns one an everlasting life. John 6:45
12. Jesus as the resurrection. Jesus shows that he’s the resurrection for all people who believe in him even if they die. John 11:25
13. The beatitudes. These are the virtues of life Jesus gave in a sermon on the mount in Matthew 5. People have to be humble, pure, merciful etc to attain eternal life.
14. Continuation of original plan. God whose original plan was to create an immortal man sends Jesus Christ to create a path to eternal life. That is partly a continuation of the initial plan by his Grace.
WHY DID THE JEWS DOUBT JESUS AS THE WAY TO UN-ENDING LIFE
These are the reasons why Jews did not wholly accept Jesus as the way to salvation.
1. He was baptised by John the Baptist yet the latter’s baptism was throught to be for sinners.
2. He was tempted by Satan, an act that belittled him to the level of an ordinary man that couldn’t deliver eternal life.
3. They despised his background, considering he came from the same poor village Nazareth as them.
4. Jesus felt hungry which made him look a weak human being liable to laws of nature.
5. His secrecy about what he was also created doubts. After doing remarkably things eg miracles, he would tell his hearers to keep quiet about it which made him look unconfident.
6. Jesus encouraged the payment of tax to to the Roman government which Jews looked at as oppressive. Jesus looked treasonous.
7. Jesus associated with sinners such as prostitutes and thus looked unholy. Such a person couldn’t be trusted as a way to unending life.
8. The universal gospel that Jesus preached went against the expectations of the Jews because they expected a Messiah to ensure liberation of Jews only.
9. He failed to be a military liberator whom they expected to lead them in a revolt against the suppressive Romans. Instead he was preaching peace.
10. The way he was miserably arrested also made people doubt him. They expected a Messiah to receive a host of angels to help him which didn’t appear.
11. His death on the cross in a humiliating manner also made people believe he couldn’t have been the Messiah. They expected him to die majestically like hero.
12. His choice of uneducated disciples also made it look like he was a weak man who couldn’t deliver eternal life.
13. He usually got emotional which wasn’t expected of a God’s sent Messiah. One day he looked at Jerusalem and died.
14. Jesus was personally poor with no where to even reside a reason why Jews couldn’t trust him as the saviour.
WAYS HOW A CHRISTIAN CAN PREPARE FOR A GOOD LIFE AFTER DEATH.
Any Christian can attain eternal life if they do the following.
1. Getting baptised to acquire a new identity in Christ and fully be part of God’s family.
2. Engaging in holy communion with the brethren in Christ, for remembrance of Jesus’ body and blood that were given for sinners.
3. Repenting of the wrongs he commits against God. There has to be confession and abandonment of sins for divine forgiveness.
4. Living a prayerful life, of constant communication with God for divine guidance and courage toward attaining eternal life.
5. Engaging in fellowships where they can meet up with other Christians to share experiences and be encouraged toward eternal life.
6. Worshipping regularly through praising and glorifying God seeking for divine Grace that allows one to attain eternal life
7. One has to stay hopeful and trust in God’s providence and power of deliverance even in the most trying situations.
8. Living all people in order to reflect God’s gracious love for all people in the world.
9. Being compassionate to the disadvantaged, such as orphans, the lame and others, helping them with whatever can be afforded.
10. Enduring all problematic situations just like Jesus did when he endured the pain and suffering to the last with the aim of salvaging sinners.
11. Staying committed to the work if God through spreading the Gospel and turning souks toward God.
12. Paying the tithe as per prescribed by the Bible for God’s service to get divinely rewarded with eternal life.
13. Abiding by state laws and regulations such as paying tax, being patriotic etc in order to ensure order and peace.
14. Engaging in evangelization of masses to ensure continuous spread of the gospel so as to turn more people to God.
AN ETERNAL LIFE MESSAGE FOR A PERSON SUFFERING FROM HIV/AIDS
AIDS – Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is an incurable sexual transmitted disease that has killed millions of people yearly especially in Africa. HIV positive patients usually suffer hopelessness and thus need the following eternal life message.
1. Jesus’ resurrection The resurrested of Jesus from the dead demonstrates victory over death. Thus, even if a Christian dies, he/she would rise again as promised in John 11:25
2. God’s will. Sometimes God allows suffering so that his glory can be manifested. God allowed Jesus to suffer with a salvation plan. Christmas who suffer will rise again eternally.
3. Death is an entry point to eternal life. Such Christians ought to know that death is our only chance to really transition from physical mortal life to spiritual eternal life.
4. A time to repent. A Christian patient should use this time to repent of his/her sinful deeds and abandon them in order to prepare for a good eternal life.
5. Belief in Jesus’ intercession. There’s need to realise that Jesus intercedes for Christians to God. Therefore HIV/AIDS positive Christians should not live in fear of harsh judgement after death.
6. Need for humility. Such patients should use this time to get humble and stop their pride and arrogance that ensures an eternal life.
7. Total devotion to God. Such Christians should use this time to totally submit to God through constant prayer, worship, praise, Bible study etc to please God and be close to him.
8. Realizing God’s love. A Christian suffering from HIV/AIDS should be happy knowing that God’s love is graciously ever present. It us wrong to think that God has abandoned them.
9. Growth in faith. A patient’s faith Jesus should grow limitlessly now since it is him alone that defeated the agony of death through resurrection.
10. A new and better life. An HIV/AIDS Christian patient should believe in new and better eternal life of bliss, devoid of sorrow and misery.
11. Satan was defeated They ought to treat HIV/AIDS as a Satan in their bodies which however shouldn’t be feared because Satan and his kingdom was defeated through Jesus’ resurrection.
12. Jesus’ divine omnipresence. The resurrected Jesus is alive and is with everyone in all places. This should assure such Christians of his presence in times of misery and hopelessness.
13. Carrying a cross. Such a Christian ought to know that Jesus accepted to carry his cross that resulted into victory. The cross they are carrying should not tire them because they’ll be victorious. .
14. Immortal soul. After the death of the physical body, the soul will stay alive. Thus such a Christian ought to engage in deeds that ensure a pure non dying soul.
THE VENERATION OF DEAD CHRISTIANS.
Veneration (of the dead) refers to the remembering of the dead people with a lot of respect and honour because of their great contributions when still alive.
WAYS HOW THE DEAD CHRISTIANS ARE VENERATED IN THE MODERN CHURCH.
The following is what is done to venerate remarkable Christians that are now dead.
1. Requiem masses, memorial services etc are organised in Church in which the souls of the departed are remembered and prayed for.
2. Some other important Christians eg reverends, priests etc are buried in Church graveyards for remembrance and recognition.
3. Embalming is also carried out where such Christians’ bodies are reserved from decay with the help of chemicals. Such displayed for public viewing always eg Joseph Kiwanuka, the first Ugandan Catholic archbishop at Lubaga Cathedral.
4. Special days are also set aside when prayers and sermons are said in remembrance of those remarkable faithfuls eg 3rd June (for the Uganda martyrs)
5. Regular pilgrimages are also made to special places especially where such recognized Christians were buried. To Namugoongo shrines.
6. Churches are also dedicated after to amazing people such as Nakasero church which is dedicated to all saints.
7. They’re also venerated through the belief that those departed personalities are mediators between the living and God. Catholics make requests to God through Saints eg Holy Mary.
8. Canonization can also be done to dead Christians for their exceptional service. This is the process by which they’re declared Holy, eg the Uganda martyrs
9. Songs of praise hailing such exceptional Christians are composed and sung by Christians either regularly or occasionally. The Uganda Martyrs have many such songs.
10. Names of such departed Christians are also given to new converts during baptism for memory and recognition. Such names include Paul, Peter etc
11. Institutions such as educational and health facilities are set up and named after such departed faithful for remembrance.
12. Monumental statues are also erected that resemble such Christians especially around churches and specially Catholic churches.
13. Foundation body organizations are also set up to proceed on the work started by dead faithful. It’s also done for appreciation and memory eg Bishop Kivengere Foundation.
14. Biographies are also put down where the lives, deeds and activities are put into writing for future generations, to remember and emulate them.
COMPARING AND CONTRASTING (SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES) AFRICAN TRADITIONAL AND CHRISTIANITY VIEWS ABOUT UN ENDING LIFE.
1. Both believe that there’s a point in every person’s life when the physical life stops – and that’s death.
2. Both recognize the fact that death is universal, ie for everyone. It’s a must for every living being to undergo death.
3. Both beliefs agree that death is not an end in itself, but a transition point from the physical to the spiritual life.
4. Both agree to the fact that at death the soul gets out of the physical mortal body and become spiritual immortal beings.
5. They both believe that the dead at death live the earthly world and leave to join the community of spirits where they belong henceforth.
6. Both believe it is important to continue identifying the departed with their names, titles and their contributions done when still alive.
7. Both beliefs hold it important to offer prayers for the departed pleading to God for them to have a good unending life eg those still in purgatory.
8. Both believe that the nature of one’s unending life depends upon ones conduct while still physically alive on Earth.
9. Both have it that there’s an important religious relationship between the living and the dead. This is evidenced by offering of prayers for the dead, sacrifices, worship etc.
10. Both have high esteem for their dead and are totally committed to the demands they made while still alive eg honouring their wills etc.
11. Most African societies just like Christians believe the dead have an ability to deliver the living’s message to ancestral spirits and God.
12. Both beliefs have it that there’s an existence of potentially dangerous spirits that behave as people who died, that need to be cast away. They are known as Demons.
13. Both venerate their dead, holding great respect for then, especially those that have remarkable deeds known to them when still alive.
14. Both beliefs agree that a good life here after is not segregation or discriminative. They both have it that everyone that does good earns it.
1. The way. Christianity believes the only way to eternal life is through faith in Jesus Christ where as traditional Africa has many loyalties eg faith and respect of God, spirits etc that earn one an everlasting life.
2. Book of life. Unlike traditional belief, Christians believe there is a record of names of people that have been Godly on Earth, that will inherit heaven. Revelations 21:27
3. Cause of death. Africans tradition tends to blame the cause of death on one’s words or deeds eg incest, breaking oaths etc while to christians, the sole cause of death is divine will.
4. Systematic departure. Traditional belief is that deceased’s spirit leaves the earthly world in stages ie, first as a lingering spirit, then to an ancestral spirit, and afterwards a permanent spirit. In Christianity, one joins the spiritual world right after death.
5. Feared places. Traditionally, some quiet places such as caves and hilltops are where dead’s spirits reside and are thus feared. No places are feared by Christians.
6. Family membership. A person that does in traditional Africa stays an active member of the family and society for they’re even “fed”. Christians believe the dead are distant and are nolonger members among the living.
7. Personal belongings. To Africans, it was important to bury the dead with their property for use in the after life. Christians believe the after life to be totally spiritual and non material.
8. Moral influence. Traditional Africans believed a lot that the ancestral spirits controlled people’s moral behavior as they could even punish wrong-doers. In Christianity, that’s the work of the Holy Spirit.
9. Visitations. Traditional Africans believed the dead can come back to visit the living relatives in form of possessing, dreams visions etc which is absent in Christianity.
10. Consultation. Through divination, Africans sought for advice from spirits of the dead since they were considered wiser. In Christianity, that’s condemned.
11. Reincarnation. (rebirth) In Africa, children were believed to have been born with traits of character and appearance of the dead relatives. Christians believe God created new uniquely different people everytime.
12. Resurrection. Christians believe in the resurrection of the body in the last day. John 11:25 Jesus says His followers will live again even if they die. This is absent in traditional religion.
13. Judgement day. Christians believe in a last day when Jesus will come back to judge the living and the dead. Traditionally, a person is judged by their customs visa vi their conduct even before death.
14. Heaven and hell. Traditional cultures have no belief in either heaven for the Uned