Mt Sinai (Law) and Mt Zion (Grace)

Mt Sinai (Law) and  Mt Zion (Grace)
Mt Sinai (Law) and Mt Zion (Grace)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Death - Now what?

Death is not something that many feel comfortable talking about. Many do not think much about it until death comes for a loved one. Or at the old age or illness where one knows that death is at the door.

Ancient Egypt believed that the body would resurrect and went through elaborate procedures to preserve it for that special time. King Tut here is about 4500 years old.

The many step process of embalming and wrapping with spices was practiced by Israel from the time that Jacob's family went to live in the land of Goshen on the Nile Delta, until the time of Jesus of Nazareth 2000 years ago. Jesus was wrapped and anointed with myrrh and aloe (John 19).

In a traditional burial we still embalm the body by replacing the blood with formaldehyde,  and dress it up and put it in a coffin for this time of what is called "rest".

As far as the prospect of death, so far it has been 100%. Well, almost; for Enoch and Elijah were taken by God to Heaven, alive. But for everyone else, there is no prejudice, death comes for all, at any age.

Usually there is a well manicured cemetery where we can bury our loved ones in a nice coffin.
At least here in the USA and most of western civilization.

In the Old Testament times, the bodies would decompose after a time in a tomb. The elaborate embalming that was learned in Egypt was expensive, and some could not afford to have it done.

Finally there would be nothing left but bones.

Then the bones were placed in a box called an ossuary, and stored, especially if space was scarce, as tombs were sometimes shared.
Here is the ossuary for the High Priest Caiaphas that condemned Jesus.

Through the years there have been those who usually were not of Judaism or Christianity that burned their dead. This was done with a funeral pyre of wood which was set on fire with the body and consumed. By 300, Constantine had proclaimed Christianity as the official religion of Rome and burial was the normal practice for the dead.

In the last 125 years or so, cremation has become popular and people burn their loved ones in a furnace and put their ashes in a vase or urn that can be placed in a vault and buried, or entombed.

In all these ways that the body of the departed is dealt with, there is a mourning and grief that is present for those who loved them, and memories to treasure.

Soul and Spirit

Only 15% of the world's population are not religious. For them, death is the end. They can not see past it. But 85% of the world practices some type of religion and believe in some type of after life.

The Bible teaches us that there are 3 parts to man.
1Th 5:23  And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We were created in the image of God. He made us as a spirit, with a soul, that dwells in a body. He too is a Spirit, with a Soul that dwells in the fullness of the Body of Jesus.

Col 2:9  For in him (Jesus) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

Now, I am a Christian and serve the Lord Jesus, the Christ. Not all religions will accept the teachings from the Bible.

World Religions

There are about 7 billion people on the planet today. The following are the approximate numbers of people in those religions.

Christians  31%  or 2.1 billion; they believe the Old Testament and the New Testament and in the trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Salvation is through Jesus Christ and His Grace and eternal. There is eternity without Jesus, but that is not a good thing, more about that later.

Islam  22% or 1.5 billion; they believe in their god Allah only and believe in an afterlife and judgment for their works. Their book is the Quran which teaches that Jews and Christians are their worst enemies, and that Islam must conquer the world, by any means.

Hindu  14% or 980 million; they believe in many gods, yet living in peace and goodness will produce Nirvana where they will be in Heaven after they die.

Traditional Chinese  5% or 350 million: Confucianism is a philosophy and a religion that believes in benevolence, piety, and virtue in this life;  Heaven is a positive force in the universe and the unknown.
Taoism is a philosophy and religion that also believes in humility and piety. Tao means the "way". They believe in compassion, moderation, and humility. Reincarnation is possible and one can better their life to join with the universe and God.

Buddhism  5% or 350 million; they believe in happiness for all living beings and in living a life of gentle peace. By meditation one can reach enlightenment and the mind is eternal. Karma decides whether one lives again and in what state from the reciprocity of ones life.

Judaism  .2% or 14 million; They are the original religion and date back to creation and the descendants of Adam through Seth. Their writings are accepted by Christians as the Old Testament. They believe in judgement and heaven and hell. They still await for God's Messiah to come which will be God in man. The laws written are the foundation for the laws of civilized nations. Judaism is the foundation for Christianity who accept Jesus as the Messiah.

Other Religions  7% or 490 million. Some of which are:
Tribal religions are located in Africa, South America, and other regions of the world.
Japan has Shinto which believes in Kami, or the sacred divine beings of nature.
Native religions of North America that believe in many spirits that are seen in nature and are given sacrifices to help in life. Most believe in the Great Spirit which is the creator.

The world's religions are all searching for God in one way or another. Most feel that their actions will somehow justify them so that they may spend eternity with God.
Christians have a relationship with God. They have accepted His plan of Salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ and are assured to spend eternity with Him.

At Death

So what happens at death? There are many books available that describe near-death experiences of people who have died and revived.
Some of the people did not see anything or have any remembrance.

Some people saw a dark and lonely place; cold and alone.

Many saw some kind of light or a tunnel leading to light that was drawing them closer.

Some people saw loved ones that had passed on.

But, some who were Christian, saw Heaven and Jesus.

Some saw terrifying images of hell.

All of these people had out of body experiences. Most of them saw their body lying there as they left.

The Bible tells us that when we die, our spirit and soul leave the body. Our spirit is the gift of life from God, without it the body is lifeless. As all of the out of body experiences are described, the people who had them still had a type of body and could think. This is the soul that is your thoughts, emotions, and personality. With the spirit and soul together, there is a spiritual body.

While in this form, one is free from the chains of this body and flesh. They enter into the spirit realm which is outside of our dimension.

Those Who Seek Death

There are many who sought death as a relief for the problems they faced in this life. They do not understand, because the Bible teaches that there is only this life, then the judgement.

Heb 9:26  For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
28  So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Without Jesus, things are bleak. With Him we are seen by God as the very righteousness of Jesus, who was without sin, and God's only begotten Son.
2 Cor 5:21  For he hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

I am not saying that those who take their own life are doomed, for God is a righteous judge and they are sick in their mind. Each case would have it's own circumstance. If Judas would have waited for 3 days, he might have seen the resurrected Jesus, accepted Him, and have been saved.

There are women who for their own convenience decide to kill their unborn child. This is accepted in our society and not illegal. But, it God's eyes it is wrong. Again each case has it's own circumstance and God is a righteous and compassionate judge. The child goes to be with God, for they are innocent.

There are those who seek another's life for revenge, passion, robbery,  or in the name of their religion or false god; these would fall under murder. God's law says "Thou shalt not murder". This does not include those who kill the enemy in war, or in defense of themselves or their family. Each circumstance has it's own details and the Righteous Judge will tend to each case. 

Jesus said in John 10:10, The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
By this we can see who is of God and who is from the thief, which is the devil. 
Jesus told us that "by their fruit you will know them."

Others seek to contact the dead. The Bible specifically says do not do that.
Deu 18:10  There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,
11  Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.

Le 20:27  A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.

Saul, the first King of Israel was anointed by Samuel, who was the last of the Judges and the 1st of the Prophets. In 1 Samuel 28 we read that Saul sought to communicate with Samuel who had died. 
He went to a woman who had a familiar spirit (demonic) and had a seance and conjured up Samuel's spirit from sheol. No doubt it was the Paradise side, described later. But Samuel strongly rebuked him and told Saul that by the morrow, he would be in sheol as well. Saul was already in trouble with God. It happened just as Samuel said.


Life and Man

Life is a precious thing. Every person is unique and special; with different voice pattern, retinal scan, finger print, and DNA. God created everyone with a purpose in life.

In the creation, each day when the work was completed, God saw that it was good. But, on the 6th day when God made man, He saw that it was very good.
As mentioned earlier, we were created in God's image. Because we are able to think, and commune with Him, and make choices according to our will; we are His prized creation. So much so that when the Original man, Adam, sinned against God, God went to great ends to see that he would not just outright die and be lost. The height of God's love was the gift of His Son; to die for us and take our sins on Himself so that we might have a relationship with God in life and after death.

John 3:16  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.

God sent Jesus to earth and He was filled with the Spirit of God and taught and healed. He changed the world by showing us God's Grace in Himself.

Jesus was sacrificed as the Lamb of God and took the sins of all those who would believe in Him.

He then rose from the dead after 3 days and lives eternally, seated at the right hand of God in Heaven.

As our Savior, Jesus conquered death. Through Him, we can approach death with no fear and have absolute assurance that we will be with Him forever.
Heb 2:14 ¶  Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he (Jesus) also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
15  And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

What the Bible Says on Death

In Luke the 16th chapter, Jesus taught us about the afterlife before His resurrection:
19 ¶  There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
20  And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,

21  And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

22  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;
23  And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24  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.
25  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.

26  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.
27  Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:
28  For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
29  Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
30  And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
31  And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

What we learn here is that at this time all people that died went either to be with those who were counted as righteous (like Abraham) who died in faith; or into hell. There was no passage between the two .

Hell here is translated in the Greek as hades, the place of the dead. In Hebrew it is sheol, also the place of the dead. Jesus used the Greek word gehenna in describing the flame that does be quenched and the worm that does not die; this is also translated as hell.
The real hell is the lake of fire which at present is empty. We read in Revelation that it was prepared for the devil and his rebellious angels. However, at the last judgement people will be sentenced there.

The bottom side of sheol is right above the lake of fire for the rich man was complaining about the flames.

On the other side of the chasm is the place called Paradise. Jesus told the thief on the cross on His right that today he would be with Him in Paradise.
Luke 23:42  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
43  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

We know that Jesus descended into the earth for 3 days and nights, so Paradise was in the upper part of sheol.

When Jesus was raised from the dead he led those that were in Paradise to heaven.

Eph 4:4  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5  One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
7  But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
8  Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
9  (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
10  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

Jesus was the "first born of many brethren" and after His resurrection, the Old Testament saints came to life again and were seen by many.
Mt 27:50 ¶  Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
51  And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
52  And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
53  And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

These were no doubt the occupants of Paradise, that went to Heaven in their new bodies. These had all died in faith that the Messiah would come and when He did, they were freed.

In the Lazarus and rich man story, Jesus also made it clear if one would not believe Moses and the Prophets, they would not believe if someone came back from the dead; inferring to Himself.

Paul tells us that for a Christian (one born again with Jesus living in them) to be absent from this body in death, you will stand before Jesus.
2Co 5:8  We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Christians are promised that when the resurrection comes, that the dead bodies will be joined with the soul and spirit and become an immortal body similar to the one that Jesus has.
Php 3:21  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.

This body will be recognizable as you, and will be perfect, young, and special. Jesus in His resurrected body walked through walls, and flew to Heaven. You will never get sick. You can eat, but not necessary. You will never age. You will never die.

Christian Judgment

When death comes for the Christian, first our soul and spirit will leave our body.

Then we will be transported by some means to be before our Lord, Jesus.

We will stand before the Judgment seat of Christ. This is not in anyway to bring up your sin. When you accepted Jesus, all of your sin was forgiven and moved as far away from you as the East is from the West. Jesus paid the price for your sin once and for all.
Heb 10:10  By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

So if no sin is brought into the equation, what is this judgment? Well it actually is to see what you did with your Salvation.

1 Cor 3:11 ¶  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13  Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
14  If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15  If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

You walking in faith and believing in the finished work of Jesus and His Grace to help in all areas of your life will please God.
Heb 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

This will produce good works and fruit from you which will equate to gold silver and precious stones.

Gold and silver are refined by fire, and precious stones are formed by fire.

The wood, hay, and stubble are your works, for when you try to come to God on your works or think you can do life on your own, it is futile.
Gal 5:4 4  Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
By the law means you are trying to keep all the commandments in order to please God. That never works, only by trusting in Jesus and His finished work can you receive all the promises of God.

The fire is not like the natural fire we know, but is the fire of God. Those who have been baptized in the Holy Ghost have had a taste of that. The fire of God burns away that which is not pleasing to God so that the good can shine through.

Realize that all Christians are making it to heaven. There are crowns mentioned in the Bible that are different rewards given to the faithful. 

The Great White Throne Judgment

There is a judgement at the end of the millennium that will be for all of those who do not know Jesus as their Savior, Rev 20.

 Sheol will be emptied and every person will stand before the Great White Throne of God. The Father that made everything is the one who presides here. He is the one who spoke to Moses from the Ark. 

The people who stand before God from the lower sheol, will be familiar with the flames of the lake of fire. They will have seen demons who roam that region.

There will be records open that detail a person's life with all that they did good things and bad things. They will be judged on their sin by the Law of God. 

God is a righteous judge and completely Holy. Sin must be punished. If anyone does not pass this judgment, they will be thrown in the lake of fire from which there is no escape; just an eternity of torment, separated from God.

Remember that this is the judgment of the world, not the Christians. God's wrath for the Christian was expended on Jesus at the cross where He was brutally killed and took the sins of all who will believe on Him. 

In the Great White Throne judgment, anyone who is not found written in the Lamb's Book of Life is doomed to the lake of fire. 

You might be wondering how anyone who is in sheol could possibly be written in the Lamb's Book of Life? When Jesus went to upper sheol in Paradise he preached to the people who were there in Paradise and lower sheol all heard.
1 Pet 3:18 ¶  For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
19  By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
20  Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

We know that Jesus took those from Paradise with Him after His resurrection. The Bible does not say that Paradise has not received people since. True, Christians go directly to Heaven when they die, but what about the person who has lived a good life, by what little they know, and their conscience, and have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Would the loving and merciful God put them in the lower sheol with Hitler, Stalin, and the other monsters of humanity? I think not. Some people will pass the Great White Throne judgment, or the book would not be mentioned. Remember, Jesus is the Word made flesh, John 1. People can know some Word however impressed from their religion or observation of all that is made without knowing the Gospel of Jesus. This judgment will be on a higher standard that any court, with more mercy and compassion.

A Generation that Won't Die

The Bible teaches us that Jesus will come back for His Bride, the Church and deliver them from the time of God's wrath on the earth, called the tribulation.

This event is commonly called the Rapture of the Church. No, that word is not in the Bible; it is taken from a Latin word meaning to snatch away.

1 Thess 4:13 ¶  But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18  Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Cor 15:51 ¶  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54  So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
57  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Bride of Christ is the Church and He looks upon her as a diamond. His love is shown in the Song of Solomon where Solomon is a type of Jesus and the Shulamite is a type of the Bride.

Today there is a movement who do not believe in the Rapture and say that it is a new idea. Not so; Jesus spoke these words to Martha, the sister of Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead when she brought up the resurrection:
John 11:21  Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
22  But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.
23  Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
24  Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
25  Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
27  She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

This is what Paul was saying later, and Jesus makes it clear that the dead will rise, then those alive will be changed to immortals, without death. Paul said we would always be with the Lord and to comfort one another with these words.

Whether the Rapture happens sooner or later many will face death before then. I pray that those of you who do not know Jesus personally as Savior would ask Him into your life today.

Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (Jn 14)
He is the only religious leader who came back from the dead.

Your Choice

All quotes are from the authorized KJV. Pictures found on Inet.