You Have Reason to Be Concerned
Will it ever be possible for man to live forever?
Some trees now live for many centuries.
IS LIFE precious to you? Do you desire life in good health for yourself and your loved ones? Most people will answer, Yes.
But today many things constantly remind us of the uncertainty of life—for ourselves, our mates and our children. Accidents, crimes, riots, wars and famines cut down millions right in the prime of life. Disease takes an appalling toll despite medical advances. Pollution poses a most serious threat.
It is not strange, then, that many persons today ask: ‘Is this life all there is? Or can it be that our fondest hope is to be found in a life after death? What actually does happen when a person dies? Does some part of him live on? Is he still conscious, able to see, hear, talk—to do things? Is there such a thing as torment after death? Really, is death a friend or an enemy?’ Surely it is to our benefit to know the answers to these questions.
DOES DEATH MOLD OUR LIVES?
You may not have thought about it, but the lives of all of us are molded greatly by the view we hold of death. It affects our enjoyment of life and the way we use our lives far more than most people realize. That is why we need to know the truth about death.
Do you realize, for example, that most of the world’s religions are basically death-oriented rather than life-oriented? Hundreds of millions of persons have been taught that death will introduce them into another world, ‘the world of the dead,’ where they face either bliss or torment. Prayers for the dead, costly ceremonies on their behalf and sacrifices to appease them form a vital part of many major religions with vast memberships.
One may say: ‘Perhaps so, but I don’t spend my time worrying about death or what comes after it. My problem is living and getting as much as I can out of life now while I can.’ Yet even that response shows death’s molding effect on people’s lives. After all, is it not death that determines how long it is before one can no longer get anything out of life?
So, even though we may try to blot the thought of death from our minds, the realization that our life-span is, at best, quite short keeps pressuring us. It may drive a person in a fierce effort to become rich at an early age—‘while he can still enjoy things.’ The shortness of life makes many people impatient, rude, callous toward others. It moves them to use dishonest ways to reach their goals. They just feel there is not time to do it the right way. Yet, all the while they may claim that death has no part in molding their lives.
What is your own view of death? What part does it play in your thoughts for the future, or, for that matter, the way you are living your life right now?
THE NEED TO BE SURE
The problem is that there is such a wide variation among people’s views about life and death. Often the views are contradictory, exact opposites.
Many people believe that death is the complete end of everything or, at least, that man was made to die. Do you find that acceptable? Does it make sense to you that certain trees can outlive intelligent man by thousands of years? Do you feel that seventy or eighty years of life is long enough for you to do all that you want to do, to learn all that you want to learn, to see all that you want to see and to develop your talents and abilities to the extent you desire?
Then there is the tremendous number of persons who believe that life goes on after death because something—soul or spirit—survives the death of the body. Yet their views also differ greatly. And, of course, their beliefs contradict the idea of those who think that all life ends with death. Contradictory views cannot all be true. Which are right? Does it matter? Yes, very much. Consider why.
For one thing, if the dead can actually benefit from prayers and ceremonies on their behalf, would we not be merciless if we failed to provide these? But what if the dead are really dead, beyond the help of surviving humans? That would necessarily mean that hundreds of millions of persons are victims of a terrible fraud. It would mean that many great religious systems have enriched themselves by deceit, using falsehoods about the dead to exploit the living instead of doing something beneficial for them.
What comfort can we offer when, sooner or later, death invades our family circle, or that of a friend? Does logic support the view that “fate” governs our experiences and the length of our lives? What if the one dying was a small child? Did God ‘take the child to be with Him,’ as some would say?
Truly there are many, many things we need to know about death, and the more we love life the more we should want to be sure to get the right answers. But where—especially since there is so much confusion and contradiction?
There are many religious books that discuss life and death, some of them quite ancient. But there is one very ancient book that presents a viewpoint quite different from that of all the others. In fact, the view it presents is surprisingly different from what the great majority of people think it contains. That book is the Bible.
It deals with real people, people who faced the same basic problems that we do today. They, too, pondered the whole purpose of living, asking: “What does a man come to have for all his hard work and for the striving of his heart with which he is working hard under the sun?” “Even supposing that he has lived a thousand years twice over and yet he has not seen what is good, is it not to just one place that everyone is going?” (Ecclesiastes 2:22; 6:6) They, too, raised the question: “If an able-bodied man dies can he live again?” (Job 14:14) Do you know the answers?
In the publication you now hold in your hands you will find discussed, not only the many popular attempts to answer the questions thus far raised, but also the vitally important way the Bible answers each of these. You can learn the unique hope it presents for those facing death or who have come within its grip. The understanding that this information can bring can contribute much to your present and future happiness and peace of mind.