Posts Tagged ‘death’

When we die, our spirit bodies are separated from our physical bodies. We have no power to recombine with them. Even if we did, would we want to come back into our diseased, often mangled, sometimes deformed, old and wrinkled, etc., bodies? I know I wouldn’t.

We have no power to reunite them into perfected, glorified bodies. That, however, is the miracle of the Resurrection. Without the miracle of the resurrection, Christ’s suffering in the garden would be for naught. What happened in the tomb is equally as important as what happened in the garden.

Before we get more into the why of Christ’s suffering, let us consider further his resurrection.

The scriptures tell us that Jesus was resurrected. In other words, his spirit body re-entered his physical body, into a perfected and glorified state and not the body that suffered from the tortures of the Romans. Many suppose this was just a temporary thing, that he would once again toss off his body and remain as a spirit entity forever, but this is not so.

I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him. (Ecclesiastes 3:14.)

Thus, we can see that the resurrection was meant to be a forever event. But was it intended for Jesus to be the only one who was to be resurrected?

Until Jesus entered into the world, no one had ever been resurrected. No one had that power. There had been those who had been raised from the dead in both the Old and New Testaments (1 Kings 17:17-22; 2 Kings 4:32-35; 13:20,21; Luke 7:11-15; 8:41,42,49-55;John 11:1-44; Acts 9:36-41; 20:9,10), but that isn’t the same as being resurrected. They all eventually died a normal death.

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. (1 Corinthians 15:20.)

But Jesus did have the power of resurrection and because Jesus had the power to resurrect, he opened the door for others to be resurrected, as we see in the following verse:

And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose. And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. (Matt. 27:52-53.)

“. . . and appeared unto many.”

This illustrates that, even as Jesus appeared unto many, others did also. And even as Jesus was seen of the disciples and others, those who were raised from the grave were seen by many as well. And Jesus appeared to as many as five hundred people at one time:

And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above [i.e. up above, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible] five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:5-6. Translators also rendered “above” as “more than”.)

We can see that the resurrection is as necessary for God’s plan for mankind as is baptism in the mode of Jesus. Otherwise, why would Jesus be both baptized and resurrected? He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness.

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. (Matthew 3:13-15.)

Can we not say that Jesus was resurrected to also fulfill all righteousness? Did he not set the example for all of us to follow?

Come, follow me . . . (Matthew 4:19.)


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So, what happens to our spirit bodies once we die? The Preacher tells us they return to God who gave it:

Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 12:6-7)

At first glance, verse 7 presents somewhat of a conundrum to the order of heaven. If it is true, then unrighteous spirits will be allowed into heaven. If it is false, then we have a mistranslation or, certainly, a misunderstanding.

However, upon reflection, I noticed that verse 7 doesn’t say “heaven”; it says “God”. But if God doesn’t infer heaven, the place where God is said to dwell, then what does it mean?

We know that when one dies, there is a gulf between the righteous and the unrighteous, which implies there is a judgment at death. We know of this gulf because Jesus mentioned it in the Parable of the Rich Man.

There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
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.
But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:
For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
“and he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” (Luke 16:19-31)

Therefore, when one dies, some sort of judgment is immediately executed and, according to this parable, one is either assigned to “Abraham’s bosom” or some other place called hell. And once assigned to these places of judgment, one cannot pass from one location to the other — in either direction.

I like to call these places of judgment the “world of spirits”, or “spirit world”, for that appears to be the place where spirits go when they die, at least according to these verses. Therefore, I believe, in Ecclesiastes 12:7, the spirits of the deceased are brought into the presence of God where God assigns them to either of these two places.

This does not imply that those spirits are brought into heaven. This can be done right here on earth, for God’s presence is everywhere through the Holy Spirit. We know that his presence is with us even in mortality, whether we feel it or not.

Neither of these two places in the world of spirits is heaven, where God dwells, nor the hell of the final judgment. In other words, these spirits are still removed from the “physical”, if you will, presence of God because there is a gulf affixed between the two places. Therefore, we may say that the separation of the spirit from the body represents a first death, and the removal of the spirit from the “physical” presence of God represents a second death.

Lest you be offended by this, remember that Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in the garden. Genesis 3:8-13 is a good example of this:

And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

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It’s hard to imagine the suffering Jesus went through in both the garden of Gethsemene and on the cross. It’s also hard for many to imagine why he had to do so. For some, it was a cruel act, perpetrated on Jesus by a cruel God. Many have turned away from Christianity because of this one seemingly cruel act.

Even so, I would like to make an attempt at trying to explain this seemingly awkward scenario, if I can. However, rather than dive right into the New Testament account of this event, we must go all the way back to Adam and Eve, if we are going to begin to understand this two-thousand-year-old mysterious event.

When Adam and Eve were created, they were created immortal. That is, they could not die, as death had not yet entered into the world. This is attested to by the pronouncement of God himself:

“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.)

If death was in the future tense, then death could not be in the present tense. Thus, Adam and Eve were immortal and could not at the present time die, as death had not yet entered into the world.

As it turned out, and as all believing Christians know, Adam and Eve did partake of that forbidden fruit, whatever it may have been. This indeed did bring forth that prophesied death into the world, albeit 900 plus years later, bringing into focus that a day unto the Lord is equivalent to a thousand years of man (2 Peter 3:8).

That act of disobedience also brought sin into the world. And here, we must understand that sin, in the context of the Bible, is simply disobedience to God’s commandments—nothing more, nothing less. No one outside of Christianity appreciates the concept of sin. Even for many Christians, the idea of sin has a somewhat sinister connotation.

However, in addition to this physical death of which God spoke, Adam and Even underwent another kind of death—a spiritual death. This spiritual death occurred when Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden eastward in Eden and thus were separated from the physical presence of God. Previous to this, they both walked with and talked to God. Hence, they were literally in the presence of God when they were in the garden in Eden.

As mortals living in today’s world, we continue to suffer from these two deaths—physical and spiritual. Our physical bodies die and molder in the ground, or would, were it not for the embalming process. On the other hand, our spirit bodies leave our physical bodies, which, ultimately, is the real cause of death, although illness and old age hasten that finality.

Without our spirit bodies, our physical bodies have no life in and of themselves. And in dying, we continue to be separated from the presence of God. That is, we would were there no atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But we’ll get to that.

So, thousands of years later, we continue to suffer from these two deaths because of Adam and Eve’s transgression. However, we are not born in sin, as many Christian religions believe and teach, due to Adam and Eve’s transgression. We are each responsible for our own sins and no one else’s. That is what the scriptures teach us, although there is one verse that suggests that we are born in sin. However, this is not supported by the rest of scripture, so I have to assume that some self-serving copyist inserted that one verse. You may, of course, believe as you have been taught, but I tend to view the scriptures as a whole, rather than a single verse, with very few exceptions.

What it all boils down to is this: we as mortals are all subject to sin or disobedience. All have sinned.

“For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20.)

And if there’s not a just man living on the earth who does not sin, then we can assume that those whom God considers unjust also sin.

And I’m sure it’s commonly believed that no unclean thing can enter into heaven, else heaven becomes polluted and unclean. If that’s not in the Bible, it should be because it’s true.

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According to Biblical tradition, it is suggested that John the beloved apostle (i.e., Revelator) never died. Instead, he was to remain on earth until the Savior was to come again. The Lord spoke of this to his chosen disciples (i.e., apostles):

But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:27.)

While this is not specific to John, Mark also reported this saying but added more substance to what Luke reported:

And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power (Mark 9:1.)

Of course, the kingdom of God had already come in the person of Jesus Christ and he certainly demonstrated power. But he did not come in power. Quite the contrary. He came as a little suckling child . . . in a lowly manger. That’s about as humble an entrance as one could imagine.

However, Jesus’ coming in power would not come until a much later date. This is verified when the Lord spoke to his apostles of his second coming:

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. (Matt. 16:27-28.)

However, the same problem exists in all three verses by the thee different authors and that is the use of the word “some.” “Some” would imply there would be more than one amongst his audience who would not taste of death.

The other problem here is that all the apostles’ deaths are accounted for—all except for John. Of course, both problems would be overcome were there more than the twelve apostles present. But a previous, more intimate conversation earlier in Matthew 16, would indicate Jesus was alone with his chosen twelve.

On the other hand, Mark 8:34 indicates that other people were present during this major pronouncement:

And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

There is no indication between this verse and Mark 9:1 that Jesus had separated his disciples from the crowd. However, the passage in Luke, while reporting on the same conversation as in Matthew 16, was very clear that Jesus had separated the twelve and was speaking to them privately.

And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am? (Luke 9:18.)

So, when it comes right down to it, we’re left with the same conundrum of the usage of the word “some” in this great, if not shocking, pronouncement regarding the prolonging of death for “some.”

According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Greek#5100), the word for “some” in all three of these instances is tis. Strictly speaking, tis means “some or any person or object.”

Therefore, we could easily say that ”some”, in these three instances, means “some person standing here shall not taste of death until . . .”

The translators of the King James Version of the Bible applied any number of different meanings to tis in various places, including, but not limited to, “somebody” and “something.” Therefore, it is my conclusion, for better or for worse, that tis in these three instances, is referring to “some person” rather than “some”, as in many.

On the other hand, we have the problem of the use of “they” in verse 28, referring back to the use of “some” previously. There could be several reasons for this:

  1. Jesus never did say either “some” or “they”; and the translators just took some liberty.
  2. The translators were merely matching “they” with their interpretation of tis as “some”.
  3. There really was more than one person who was not to taste of death until Christ was to come in power.

Regarding option 3, Luke 9:18 would seem to eliminate that prospect. So, we’re left with either option 1 or 2 to consider.

Nevertheless, regardless of what the authors meant, it was up to impetuous Peter to drag a little more information out of Jesus regarding this not-tasting-of-death business.

It seems obvious that something was different about John, or Peter wouldn’t have bothered to ask what he did. And here we find the best evidence yet that it was John who would not taste of death:

Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?
Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.
Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?
This is the disciple [meaning himself; i.e., John] which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. (John 21:20-24.)

The Greek word for “tarry” is mĕnō, meaning “to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). mĕnō has been translated variously as “abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand” (ibid.)—all meaning pretty much the same thing.

Thus we can see that Jesus had in mind that John, in some state of being, would be present, presumably on earth, until such time he would return in glory. And this is not without precedent.

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Many Christians believe that if Adam and Eve had not partaken of the forbidden fruit, we would all be living joyful lives in the garden in Eden with them, even to this day.

Think about it. There would be no death, no sickness, nothing but happiness and joy! Doesn’t that sound wonderful indeed?

But is it realistic?

No sickness would be nice, but no death?

If there were no death, you and I would be living along side maybe 25-30 billion people, according to some estimates. I don’t recall if that number includes our present 7 billion people or not. In any event, were there no death, God would have to expand the garden in Eden, like maybe to the size of Jupiter?

Can anyone say overpopulation?

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