This week I came across the work of Patrik Budenz, a photographer who recently published a book called Post Mortem. Budenz has documented the forensic aspects of crime, medicine, and death for close to a decade. Post Mortem chronicles in photographic form the process of the death of the body once a heart stops beating. What caught my attention in the Feature Shoot article was what it said about Budenz's view of death.
Budenz isn't a religious person. He thinks that once someone dies, he or she stops existing. "The idea that my soul dies with my body is something that doesn't scare me," the photographer says, "Life is over, and that's how it's supposed to be. I can sleep knowing that.
Steve Jobs also harbored this thought, although he held out hope for some sort of afterlife.
Believe it or not, the Apostle Paul has much to say about this. First, he says that, if Budenz and Jobs were right, then there's really no need to be a good Boy Scout.
And why are we putting ourselves in danger every hour? I die every day! That is as certain, brothers, as my boasting of you—a boast that I make in Christ Jesus our Lord. If with merely human hopes I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what would I have gained by it? If the dead aren't raised, let's eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.
In other words, if Budenz, Jobs, Dawkins and all the other intellectual atheists were right, you might as well throttle your debauchery all you can, because none of it will matter in the end. But then Paul stops and says, yeah, it actually does matter. Why? Because a man's soul doesn't die with his body. It's eternal (Gen 3:7 – a "living" soul). And that's not all. There's coming a resurrection.
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ hasn't been raised: and if Christ hasn't been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. In fact, we are even misrepresenting God because we have testified that God raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead aren't raised. For if the dead aren't raised, then Christ hasn't been raised either. And if Christ hasn't been raised, your faith is futile and you're still in your sins.
The Christian's testimony isn't only that Christ died for his sins; it's also that Jesus' resurrection guaranteed his own incorruptible resurrection. And it is that guarantee that Paul says gives us joy unspeakable.