Category Archives: Death

Then Came Sunday

Empty Tomb

And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun … And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. (Mark 16:2, 4)

The story of mankind is brief and straightforward despite the naturalistic stories invented by evolutionists. God created man in His own image (Genesis 1:26). God created man to enjoy fellowship with Him, but man erected a barrier between himself and God by his disobedience to God’s only command: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). That disobedience brought the curse of death – separation from God who is life and the giver of life. “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25-26). Holy God cannot abide sin. “Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law?” (Psalm 94:20).

From that time on, innocent blood has been shed to cover or atone for the sins of man “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Starting with that first sacrificial lamb slaughtered by the Lamb of God (Genesis 3:21), the innocent pay the penalty for the sins of the guilty. So the sacrificial system began carried on by Abel (Genesis 4:4), Noah (Genesis 8:20) and the law delivered by Moses. But the practice failed to bridge the chasm rived by sin “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4).

This hopeless situation required a better and permanent solution. This was mankind’s problem and the responsibility fell upon man for resolution. But Holy God cannot be satisfied with anything less a perfect, sinless sacrifice. Only the blood of a perfect, sinless man would do. Where could such a man be found? For, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one … They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10, 12). Such a conundrum was no puzzle for an omniscient God. “[He] made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). So, God in human form died in the stead of His human creation, and He took upon Himself the penalty that was due to each one of us individually. This is an awesome thing! In all the world religions of man, man sacrifices himself to his god, but the Bible teaches that God sacrificed Himself for man. Is that not incredible!

So Jesus died on the cross at Passover. He became the sacrificial Lamb of God to atone for the sins of mankind. He took on the crushing blow of the curse of death. In His final words He declared, “It is finished!” (John 19:30), and He died. Death took its greatest prize, but then came Sunday! The curse of death was broken. “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life” (Romans 5:18).

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

(“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” – Isaac Watts, 1707)

His death on the cross covered our sins once and for all. His resurrection bridged the chasm of death separating sinful humanity from Holy God. He has made the way for you and for me. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). After all He has done for you, the least you can do is follow the way He has prepared. “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all!”

 

1 Comment

Filed under Apologetics, Bible, Christianity, Creation, Death, Easter, Evangelism, Gospel, Religion, Resurrection, Salvation, Theology

Hell

And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. (Luke 16:23)

No one wants to hear about hell, but someone needs to talk about it. Why not me? I do not write this blog to be popular or become famous. If anything, dealing with topics such as this may win my place in infamy. That is okay; I will take my chances.

Most people largely ignore hell. They ask, “How can a loving God send anyone to hell?” Indeed, God sends no one to hell. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, emphasis mine). In fact, when God unleashes the full force of His wrath upon the world during the seven-year Tribulation, He provides 144,000 witnesses to preach the Gospel to all nations.[1] He brings two Old Testament prophets from the dead to preach repentance and perform miracles in Jerusalem.[2] If that is not enough, God sends an angel to proclaim the Gospel to all of the world.[3] God does not want to send anyone to hell. He gives mankind every opportunity to avoid that place. (That is the main purpose of this blog.) However, it is up to every individual to make that choice for themselves. God does not force His affection on anyone.

If hell is not real, why would God go to such extremes – like taking on human form[4] to die on a cross for our sins[5] – to keep us out of that place? The Bible speaks more about hell than it speaks about heaven. Yet, some scoffers foolishly mock claiming that they look forward to going to hell so that they can party with all of their friends. Little do they know that they will suffer hell alone. (More on that later.) Still others, while accepting the fact of hell, reject the eternal nature of hell. Obviously, they have misinterpreted the multiple times that Jesus referred to hell as a place of “everlasting fire.”[6] While some may acknowledge that hell is eternal, they believe a sentence to hell is not. They believe that those that go to hell will only spend enough time there to pay for their sins and then cease to exist. However, that amounts to a lot of wishful thinking with no basis in Scripture.

In the Old Testament, “hell” often translates the Hebrew word she’ôl, which is the abode of the dead. Sometimes it is translated as “the grave” or “the pit,” and it is a place of no return. It is not clear to me, but it seems that she’ôl refers to “life after death,” and it could be either bad or good. King David expressed this idea at the death of his son by Bathsheba.[7] When the child was sick, David fasted and prayed unto God for the child’s life, but when the child died, he washed, dressed in his kingly apparel, and ended his fast. When asked about this seemingly odd behavior, David said, “But now he [the child] is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me” (2 Samuel 12:23, emphasis mine). David understood that there was life after death, and his anticipation of that event was not cause for dread; rather, David looked forward to that day.

She’ôl also has a not-so-pleasant side to it. In describing Israel’s reward for idolatry, Moses records God’s plan. “And he [God] said, I will hide my face from them [Israel], I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith. They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them” (Deuteronomy 32:20-23, emphasis mine). While the language may be figurative (I take it literally), it describes the extent of God’s wrath against sin, and it is not pretty.

We see, then, that she’ôl, the abode of the dead, has both a good and a bad side. Jesus confirmed this idea when He recounted the death of a rich man and Lazarus.[8] Some assume that this was one of Jesus’ parables, but a close inspection reveals that Jesus relayed this as an actual account. Lazarus died as did the unnamed rich man, but they ended up in two different locations. Lazarus died “and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried” (Luke 16:22). Albert Barnes points out that “Burial was thought to be an honor, and funerals were, as they are now, often expensive, splendid, and ostentatious. This is said of the rich man to show that he had “every” earthly honor, and all that the world calls happy and desirable.”[9]

That the rich man was buried also expresses the finality of, at least, his earthly life. However, that was not his end. “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom” (Luke 16:23, emphasis mine). “Hell” here translates the Greek word hadēs which is equivalent to the Hebrew she’ôl. Two regions of the abode of the dead are expressed here: “Abraham’s bosom” and “torments.”

“Torments” is what we normally understand as “hell.” Notice that the rich man possessed consciousness. He could see Abraham and Lazarus “afar off.” However, Lazarus seems to be unaware of the rich man’s suffering. It appears that part of the torture of those in hell is seeing those who are enjoying heaven. At the same time, those in heaven remain unaware of those suffering in hell. Heaven would not be so heavenly knowing the fate of friends and loved ones suffering in hell.

Jesus described the rich man’s end as a place of fire. “And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24, emphasis mine). Some deny the fire of hell, but Jesus never did.[10] Notice that the rich man retains his selfish nature in hell. He dares to ask Abraham to send Lazarus to relieve him of some of his suffering. Later, he asks that Lazarus be sent to preach to his five brothers (vv. 27-28). He does not care about the rest of the lost, only his brothers. Sinners in hell do not change their sinful ways.

Finally, Jesus does not mention others suffering along with the rich man. He appears to be alone and isolated. So much for those who think they will party in hell with their friends. When one rejects God’s free offer of salvation, that one alone bears the responsibility for that choice. It is important to point out that nothing in this account describes the rich man as a particularly wicked or sinful person. Nor does it portray Lazarus as a particularly upright man. However, by implication, the rich man took no thought about God, while Lazarus depended on no one else but God. The rich man counted on his riches and thereby rejected God – not overtly – he probably attended synagogue regularly – but in his attitude of self-sufficiency.

Hell is a real place and the final destination of many. Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait [i.e., “narrow”] gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14, emphasis mine). Sadly, Jesus makes it clear that the majority of people will end up in hell.

Many believe that at “judgement day” their good deeds will outweigh the bad and they will gain access into heaven by their good works. They correctly conclude that their deeds will be judged, but the standard to which they will be evaluated is the perfect, sinless life of Jesus Christ, and all will fall short of that standard. Everyone’s life is recorded in the annals of heaven and everyone will give an account. John the Revelator writes, “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 death and hell [hadēs] 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” (Revelation 20:12, 14-15, emphasis mine). “The lake of fire” is the place we understand as “hell,” and it is eternal.

The question remains. Which way do you choose, the broad way or the narrow way? Do you want to follow the majority on the way to hell or choose the narrow way that leads to eternal life? The choice is yours and yours alone. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6, emphasis mine). Does that seem narrow? It is! If you are on the broad way with the majority, you can get off of that road to destruction. Please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Revelation 7; 14:1-5

[2]  Revelation 11:1-14

[3]  Revelation 14:6-7

[4]  John 1:14

[5] Philippians 2:5-8

[6]  Matthew 18:8-9; 25:46; Mark 3:29; 9:43-48

[7]  2 Samuel 12:1-25

[8]  Luke 16:19-31

[9]  Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible (Published in 1847-85; public domain.)

[10]  Matthew 3:12; 5:22; 7:19; 13:40, 42, 50; 18:8-9; 25:41, et al

Comments Off on Hell

Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Death, Gospel, Heaven, Hell, Salvation, Theology

The End Is Not Yet

All these are the beginning of sorrows. (Matthew 24:8)

Jesus faced the final week of His earthly ministry, and the looming shadow of the cross lay just a few days ahead. He had just capped off His final conversation with the Jewish religious leaders with a scathing pronouncement. “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation” (Matthew 23:33-36, emphasis mine). That is a pretty harsh accusation coming from the sweet and gentle Jesus! He associated them with the original serpent in the Garden of Eden.[1] Notice too, that He claims to be the One who sends prophets to them. Is it not God who sends the prophets? Well, I believe that is the point!

When we study the Old Testament, we learn of God’s struggle and patience with Israel and Judah. Jesus takes on that role as well. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:37-39, emphasis mine).

Jesus knows what lies ahead for Israel, and His disciples wanted to know that too. “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3).

Surprisingly, instead of launching right into a long discourse of the last days, Jesus issued a warning. “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matthew 24:4, emphasis mine). It seems that the most outstanding feature of the last days is deception. Jesus speaks of wars and rumors of wars, ethnic group against ethnic group, and kingdom (country/nation) against kingdom, but that is just the beginning.[2] The main problem is deception. Jesus goes on to speak of the rise of false preachers and false christs, an increase in wickedness and the loss of love. These false christs and false prophets will perform wonders such that “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect,”[3] i.e., Christians.

We live in days of great deception. If you do not see it, you are either not paying attention, or you are deceived yourself. Our government lies to us. Our politicians lie to us. Government health agencies lie to us. The news media lie to us. We need to be alert and discerning these days to see the truth hidden among the lies.

The news media diverts our attention from the chaos around the world, but more importantly, the activity around the Middle East, the “cradle of civilization” and the focal point of end-times prophecy.

I follow several good end-times prophecy teachers, but one of my favorites is Amir Tsarfati,[4] founder and president of Behold Israel Ministry. Amir is a native Israeli and a reserve officer in the IDF (I believe he is a major, but not sure about his rank). His home in Israel overlooks the Jezreel Valley, aka, the Valley of Armageddon, so he has a very unique and acute perspective on end-times prophecy and how it relates to current events, especially in Israel and the Middle East. I follow Amir on the Telegram ™ app where he posts current events as they take place in the Middle East. The kind of coverage he provides will not be carried by the mainstream news media. For example, yesterday Amir shared this headline: “’War with Israel already started’ says Iranian FM spokesman: A spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry told Maariv that a solution must be found for regional issues according to UN resolutions.”[5]

That is only one example. There are wars and rumors of wars all over the world. Since the fall of the great United States under the Biden regime, China is advancing undeterred on Taiwan, and making deals for lithium with the Taliban government of Afghanistan. North Korea is testing its hypersonic missiles. Iran is on the brink of developing a nuclear bomb, and threating Israel. Russia (Magog of Ezekiel 38) along with Turkey are well entrenched in Syria. Australia has gone totalitarian on its citizens (who cannot fight back because their firearms have been confiscated). To top it off, the world is invading our southern border.

With all of this going on, “the end is not yet.” In Matthew 24, Jesus describes the conditions before His second coming when He will set up His earthly reign for 1000 years.[6] What we are witnessing now are just “the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8). Things will get a lot worse during the seven-year Tribulation. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22).

Except for the fact that we have friends and loved ones that are lost without Christ that will go through the Tribulation (if they do not die and go to hell first), Christians should not fear the trouble that is ahead for the rest of the world. Jesus promised, “I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 3:10). We cannot know when that will be, but when we see what is taking place in the world, we can know that the time for our departure is very near.

Reader, if you are unsure of your prospect for eternity, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Genesis 3:1

[2]  Matthew 24:6-7

[3]  Matthew 24:11-12, 23-24

[4]  https://beholdisrael.org/about/amir-tsarfati/

[5]  https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/war-with-israel-already-started-says-iranian-fm-spokesman-680796

[6]  Revelation 20:1-7

Comments Off on The End Is Not Yet

Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Current Events, Death, End Times, Eschatology, Hell, Rapture, Salvation, Second Coming of Christ, Theology

Creator, Creation, and the Cross (Part 3)

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)

          Last week, in Part 2, we studied the overall creation. In today’s study, we focus on the creation of man, the fall of man, the resulting curse of death on the whole creation, and God’s solution for restoration.

Part 3, The Cross

          Some misunderstand the second chapter of Genesis thinking that it is a second creation account. However, this is a recapitulation of Day Six to focus on the creation of man. The Bible is the account of God dealing with mankind from beginning to end, hence the reason for the recap.

          Genesis 2:7-9 shows God placing man in a perfect environment. Unlike the animals, God “formed” – Hebrew yâtsar, to fashion as a potter molds a clay vessel – man out of the dust of the “ground” – Hebrew ‘ădâmâh, the feminine form of “adam.” God “breathed” into man the “breath of life,” distinguishing man from the animals. Humans are NOT animals. God placed man in a special garden – a place where God and man could commune.

          In the Garden of Eden, God planted all kinds of luscious fruits and vegetables for man to enjoy without restriction. In the center God planted two unique trees. One was the unrestricted Tree of Life and the other was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:9) Adam could eat all he wanted from the Tree of Life, but he was strictly forbidden to eat of the second tree. “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). It should be noted that at the time God gave the prohibition, the woman had not yet been created.

          Not long after – I believe it was within two weeks – Satan, the serpent, entered the Garden to destroy God’s perfect creation (Genesis 3:1-6). In executing his strategy to destroy mankind by separating him from his Creator, Satan employed three tactics that he has not changed in over 6000 years. He introduced doubt in God’s Word – “Yea, hath God said” (v. 1). Next he slandered God’s Word – “Ye shall not surely die” (v. 4). Finally, he accused God of withholding benefits – “God knows … ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (v. 5).

          Eve succumbed to Satan’s tactics by the same three weaknesses that we all have as humans. The beloved Apostle John described them this way. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16). Eve “saw that the tree was good for food” – lust of the flesh. She saw “that it was pleasant to the eye” – lust of the eyes. Finally, She saw that it was “a tree to be desired to make one wise” – the pride of life. As Solomon says, “there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Eve ate of the fruit “and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Genesis 3:6). Adam was in on the conversation, so he knew exactly what was taking place. God gave the command to Adam directly. Eve got the command second hand from Adam; therefore, Adam had the greater responsibility. So, why did Adam not intervene?

When they ate of the forbidden fruit, “the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (Genesis 3:7). I believe that when they were first created, God clothed them in light [‘ôr (אוֹר)] and when they sinned, they lost the cover of light and could see their nakedness.[1] Having their guilt exposed, they feared to face their Creator and they hid themselves. Obviously, they were not acquainted with God’s omnipresent nature. Scripture records that “they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8). The Hebrew word translated “voice” is qôl, which can also be translated as “sound” or “noise.” God, the Father, is “spirit” (John 4:24), therefore it is unlikely that a spirit would produce any kind of sound. However, God the Son having a physical body like that of His creation which He created in His image, would make noise as He walked through the Garden. He called out to Adam – as if He did not know where Adam was hiding. Rather than confront them directly, He gave them the opportunity to confess their sin. God seeks confession and repentance. God seeks man: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Man does not seek God: “there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11). God patiently waited for a confession (Genesis 3:11). “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). However, instead of confessing and pleas for forgiveness, God got excuses. Adam blames God for the woman (Genesis 3:12) and blames the woman even though he bore the greatest responsibility. The woman blamed the serpent (Genesis 3:13), and the serpent had no one to blame but himself.

With no confession or a plea for forgiveness forthcoming, God pronounced a curse upon man and upon all of His creation because of man. However, God did not end it there. He also provided the promise of redemption. “And I will put enmity between thee [the serpent/Satan] and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; [He] shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). This is known as the “Protevangelium” – the “First Gospel.” It is The first promise of the Savior. He would be the “seed of the woman” previewing the Virgin Birth. The serpent (Satan) would bruise His heel (at the cross), but in the end, He will bruise Satan’s head (Revelation 20:10).

In the meantime, God the Son, instituted the first blood sacrifice[2] to atone for sin (Genesis 3:21). “Atone” means to “cover.” It was a temporary covering for sins. Death now entered the world as God (Jesus) sacrificed an innocent animal to make coverings of skins (‛ôr, עוֹר) for Adam and Eve. Initially, God clothed them with (‘ôr, אוֹר); now He clothed them with (‛ôr, עוֹר). This began the practice of offering animal sacrifices to atone for sin. Jesus would be the ultimate sacrifice to atone for sin, once and for all. Through His perfect sacrifice of His own blood, He won redemption for His fallen creation. Still, there must be a choice. One can choose the Tree of Life, i.e. the cross, or one can continue on the “broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction” (Matthew 7:13) and be “cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). There are no other options.

If you are not sure of your eternal destiny, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “Bare Naked” — https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/04/29/bare-naked/

[2]  “The First Sacrifice” — https://erniecarrasco.com/2014/02/16/the-first-sacrifice/

Comments Off on Creator, Creation, and the Cross (Part 3)

Filed under Apologetics, Bible, Christianity, Creation, Death, Gospel, Hell, Origins, Salvation, Satan, Theology

No Fear of Death

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

Fear paralyzes the fearful, rendering them ineffective in that thing which they fear. Dictionary.com defines fear as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined;”[1] (emphasis mine). The fact remains that 10% of most things feared or the things over which we worry never come to pass.

A long list of phobias exists which we could examine: fear of height, fear of flying, fear of germs, fear of needles, etc. However, the most ubiquitous fear held by the majority of people is the fear of dying. One can understand the nature of this fear; it is basically the fear of the unknown. What happens when one dies? Is this life all there is? Is there life after death? Do the dead come back in a different form – reincarnation? Are heaven and hell real? If heaven and hell are real, how does one arrive at one place and not the other? Does dying hurt?

For one who believes the Bible and the God of the Bible, death terminates physical life, but the spiritual essence that energizes the soul (the complete person) transitions on to eternity. The eternal destination depends on the spiritual condition of the soul at the time of death, one is either “saved”[2] or “lost.”[3]

Jesus spoke of two men who met death and ended up in different destinations.[4] Prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection, Jews believed that those who died went to the “abode of the dead” known as Sheol. Sheol had two compartments, one for the unrighteous known as “torments” and one for the righteous known as “Abraham’s bosom” or “paradise.” So the two men died, one was rich and the other a beggar. The rich man ended up in the place of torments not because he was rich, but because he was unrighteous, i.e., “lost.” The poor beggar ended up in Abraham’s bosom not because he suffered poverty, but because he was righteous, i.e. “saved.” After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, the destination for the “saved” changed to “the presence of the Lord.” The Apostle Paul makes this clear, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8, emphasis mine). The lost still end up in “torments” (“hell”) to await their final destiny in the “lake of fire” that burns forever and ever.[5]

For those who do not have a personal, saving faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, death is a legitimate fear indeed. Some may salve their fear by ignoring, or by choosing to believe that death is the end, or by hoping in reincarnation, or by imagining that they will somehow meld into the vast universe, i.e., “become one with the universe.” However, all of these notions only produce doubt, and the fear remains.

The Christian, on the other hand, should not harbor the fear of death. Death, as Paul reminded us, means that we are absent from the body, but we are present with the Lord in the same place where He resides. For the Christian, there should be no fear of death. In another place, Paul reminds us that, for Christians, our “citizenship” (“our conversation”) is not in this world, but in heaven. “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:20-21, emphasis mine). For the Christian, the “afterlife” promises the possession of a physical body like that of the resurrected Christ in His presence.

I look forward to passing from this rapidly decaying world to be forever in the presence of the One who died in my place to save me from my sin for eternity. I have no fear of death. I realize that while He has me here in this world, I need to serve Him in every task that He lays before me. Then when that day comes, whether by physical death or by translation from this world into His presence in the Rapture, I will enter His courts with joy.

If you fear death or you are insecure about your eternal destiny, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “fear” — https://www.dictionary.com/browse/fear

[2]  Matthew 10:22

[3]  2 Corinthians 4:3

[4]  Luke 16:19-31

[5]  Revelation 20:10, 15

1 Comment

Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Death, End Times, Heaven, Hell, Rapture, Resurrection, Salvation, Second Coming of Christ, Theology