He has . . . set eternity in their heart.
—Ecclesiastes 3:11

There are four clues that point toward an existence that transcends our
life on earth. The first clue is near-death experiences. You may have
heard of people who were clinically dead and report being transported to
another world. Although stories like these have brought comfort and hope
to millions, I am skeptical of NDEs for several reasons. Although Jesus
brought Lazarus to life, Lazarus said nothing about what happened to him
while he was dead. Paul relates an account of being transported to heaven,
but the apostle was commanded not to describe what he saw (2 Corinthians
12:1-4). Neither of these men died, took a brief tour of heaven, and came
back to write a best-selling book about the experience. I think that NDEs
are the weakest evidence for life after death. But given the number of these
experiences, they should not be completely dismissed. At the very least,
these experiences suggest that consciousness can transcend physical life.

The second clue is the transcendence of the mind. Beyond the muscles,
nervous system, and brain there is a conscious will that controls the activities of the material body. This invisible reality is impossible to measure but is nevertheless observable every day of our lives. Philosophers argue that since the mind (also described as “will” or “soul”) is not part of the material world, there is no reason to assume that it ceases to exist when the physical body dies.

The third clue is our discomfort with death. Even though death is part of
the natural world from grass to grasshoppers, human beings have difficulty
accepting that we and everyone we care about will die. We do everything
possible to delay the decay of our physical bodies. Why are we resistant
to an experience that is so universal? Perhaps our innate rebellion against
death is best explained by Solomon’s claim that God has “set eternity” in our
hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We refuse to accept the finality of death because
we instinctively know that death is not the end of human experience, and
therefore we rebel against anything that suggests otherwise.

The fourth clue is the empty tomb. The empty tomb is a historically verifiable reality with obvious ramifications in the question of after-death existence. If at least one individual in history lived beyond His death, then we have a strong clue about life after death. The absence of Jesus’ body doesn’t “prove” the afterlife any more than near-death experiences, the transcendence of the mind, and our aversion to death. However, when considered together, these clues point to the same conclusion: physical death does not mark the end of our existence.

Today’s devotion is an excerpt from “How Can I Know I’m Going to Heaven When I Die?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.