Eternal life begins, not at the point of our physical death; eternal life begins at the point of our spiritual birth, when we say, “Lord, I do believe. I accept Christ as my Savior from sin and death, I follow Him as Lord; even into life forever.”
This is why Paul could speak of dying as like going to sleep. I have often spoken of it as being like a transatlantic flight where, in New York, you get on the plane and it is night. It is the end of the day, so you go to sleep. When you wake up, it is already morning somewhere else. We may never see them again in this life, but it does not occur to us that simply getting on the plane and going away ends life, does it? So it is in the resurrection. It is always morning somewhere. Simply going beyond where we can be seen does not that life is ended. This is why we can talk about Christians who live as though they are prepared to die and die as those prepared to go on with life.
A friend told of listening to a radio talk show in which a psychologist was dealing with the subject of grief. A woman called in and said, “I have handled my grief in the convictions of my faith that one day I will be reunited with my husband in heaven.” The psychologist made a very significant Christian point. She said, “That is good. But what are you going to do with your life between now and then?”
Authentic Christianity us not just for the time of death or life after death. It does not simply have to do with the end of the world, as some would have us think. Authentic Christianity has to do with life. It has to do with living here and now in a manner which is worthy of continuing. Life in this world is not merely being in the foyer waiting to get into the sanctuary where God is. God is here, and God is there in the “now” and the “not yet.” The experience of faith enables us to see that the significant thing about living is accepting the reality of life with which God is forever concerned.