Friday, May 31, 2013

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What Is Death?

         There is a lot of confusion over the meaning of death and of what it consists. Since our spirit is a creation of God and cannot be destroyed, it will live forever. Since our spirit will live forever, the definition of death we generally think of must not, in reality, apply. Death is a transition from one phase of life to another. There is no death, which we think of as being dead (ceasing to exist). When we ‘die’, one of two things will happen. In either case our body will go into the grave. In the case of the redeemed, our soul and spirit will leave our body behind and we will be taken up to Heaven where we will abide after our judgment by Jesus. That judgment will not be for our sins, but rather will be for what we have accomplished for the kingdom. In the case of the lost, their soul and spirit will descend into a temporary holding place, known as Hell or Hades, while they wait for the final judgment. The ‘lake of fire’ will be the place of residence for the lost as well as Satan and his henchmen, after the final judgment: this is known as the second death. The Talmud says that at the final judgment the lost will realize and admit that the Lord’s judgment is right and they deserve what they get.

        Under the old system, before Jesus was resurrected, if a person died they went to Hell which was divided into two sections; ‘Hades’ for punishment of the lost, and the ‘Arms of Abraham’ for the ‘rest’ of the righteous (this is described in Luke 16 and John 11). Apparently, those who were translated directly to Heaven, such as Enoch, Elisha and Moses did not pass go, did not collect two hundred dollars, but just went directly to Heaven.

       Hades/Hell still exists today, however, Jesus after the cross, descended to the ‘Arms of Abraham’ gathered up the righteous people that were waiting there and took them to Heaven when He was resurrected. The ‘Arms of Abraham’ place no longer exists. Now when a Christian dies (transforms) he goes directly to Heaven. For the redeemed, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). Jesus said not to be afraid of someone who can kill your body but is unable to kill your soul but to be in fear of the one who can kill both your body and soul in Hell (Matthew 10:28 and Luke 12:4-5).

        What happens to our bodies? The bodies of the redeemed will be transformed into heavenly bodies, like that of Jesus. The bodies of the lost will go with them into the lake of fire. The bodies of the lost must also go through some sort of transformation, because they will be burned and tormented forever without being used up.

        There are those that say God has no right to judge us; that He gave us free will and shouldn’t punish us for using it. What these people don’t understand is that in the judgment which decides if we go to Heaven or Hell is not contingent on what we have done in our lifetime. The only thing that gets you into Heaven or Hell is your decision to either accept the salvation by grace which Jesus paid for, or your rejection of that salvation. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. John 3:18 says: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

         So what is it we should be afraid of? The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, which means to show respect to the Lord, His wisdom and to obey Him. The fright/fear Jesus was speaking about which could kill your body and soul in hell is described in Revelation 20:11-15. “I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead that were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

           To obey or disobey takes a decision and requires you to use your free will. John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Romans 10:9-13 says: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, whoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”


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