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Scared of Dying - Part 1

Scared of Dying?

Death - Oblivion or Graduation? Part 1.

Did God create humans from the same template as the animals, or did He have a special design for Adam and Eve? What was the basic difference and why?

 

What did Jesus mean when He said,
...and whoever lives and believes in me will never die? John 3:25.

Let's start at the beginning.

Before we can understand what happens when a person comes apart, or dies, we need to find out how he was put together in the first place.

 

God created the animals before He created Adam. Genesis chapter 1. Then, did God use the same pattern, or template, He used in creating the animals when he made the first man? Did God create Adam in the likeness of the animals with only a body and soul (mind and emotions), or in the likeness of God? What was the difference?

 

The formula God used in creating the first human being is spelled out in Genesis, the book of foundations.
God said, Let us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind in our image, after our likeness...So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him: male and female He created them. Genesis 1:26,27 (Amp).

 

Did God say He created the animals in His image? No! So, there was a distinct difference between the basic structure of animals and the template He used for humans. God said, "Let us (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) make mankind in our image." What did this mean?
And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you through and through...and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved sound and complete [and found] blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thess. 5:23.

 

The Bible does not say that animals were created in God's image, with a spirit, in addition to a body and soul. The difference between an animal and a human being is that man, who was created in the image of the triune God, has a three-fold nature. The triune Godhead is reflected in the triune make-up of the human being. He is body, soul and spirit. That makes humans unique in God's creation.

 

Animals were made for man's service and for food. Genesis 9:3. God also instructed man to use animals as sacrifices. There is no record that animals were endowed with a spirit as people were.

 

Why did God create humans with a spirit?
God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality). John 4:24.

 

God created man in His own image, with a spirit, so that man could worship and have a personal link with his Creator. Animals do not worship because they do not possess a spirit. The Bible indicates that animals were created with only a body and a soul. Example: Revelation 16:3. We read that,
The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being. Genesis 2:7.

 

Some contend that this verse contains the formula for man's creation.
Dust + air = a living human being.
Death they say, is the reverse process:
Living being - air = dust. Period!

 

But, doesn't human life consist of more than just dust plus air? What does the following text indicate?
But rather, you have approached unto Mount Zion, even to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless multitudes of angels in festal gathering,
And to the church (assembly) of the First-born who are registered [as citizens] in heaven, and to the Judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of the righteous [the redeemed in heaven] who have been made perfect... Hebrews 12:22,23 (Amp).

 

A clue to what the above means is revealed in the conversation Jesus had with Nicodemus in John chapter three. Jesus said that what is born of the flesh is flesh and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. The two products are not related. Does that indicate that in the new birth something is born of the Spirit of God that is of a different origin, and nature, than the flesh that is subject to death? How can a person get born all over again? was Nicodemus' question. It seems that Jesus was referring to a spiritual mystery that produced a new and supernatural creation, not a re-modeling of the old creature.  

In John chapter eleven we have the story of the raising of Lazarus. When Jesus heard that Lazarus had died, He corrected His friends by saying that,
Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.

 

Then in verse twenty-five Jesus made this interesting statement;
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.

 

What do these words of Jesus tell us? Even though a body dies, the spirit of the saint never dies because its life did not originate from a mortal seed but, as Jesus told Nicodemus, it is born of the Holy Spirit. What is born of the flesh remains flesh, and what is born of the Holy Spirit gives birth to spirit.

 

Jesus' words to Martha that "whoever lives and believes in me will never die," carry an even deeper meaning. In that statement, He did not say merely that He could grant eternal life to the believer, but that He personally was the very essence of life and eternity. Any believer who committed his/her life to Him possesses that eternal life now, in this present world. In the body? No! In his spirit? That is what He said! What He was really telling her was that because He was the resurrection and the life, our spirits have already been endowed with eternal life. Then He re-enforced that message upon her conscience by asking her, Martha, "Do you believe this?" In Martha's reply "You are the Christ", she fully surrendered to his life-giving message.

 

Rather than strain our brains trying to figure out what Jesus meant by those last words, "whoever lives and believes in me will never die," why don't we Let Scripture define Scripture!

 

After being mentored by Jesus for over three years, in 1 Peter 1:23 we see how Peter understood this mystery. Notice that the word "sperm" in the Amplified Bible is more specific to the Greek language than the generic word "seed".
You have been regenerated - born again - not from a mortal origin (seed, sperm) but from one that is immortal by the ever living and lasting Word of God.

 

The apostle John also compared the born again experience as the result of what he called "the divine sperm" impregnating and creating a new life within the individual.
No one born (begotten) of God [deliberately and knowingly] habitually practices sin, for God's nature abides in him - His principle of life, the divine sperm, remains permanently within him - and he cannot practice sinning because he is born (begotten) of God. 1 John 3:9 (Amp).

 

Can it be that when a person is born again, something happens akin to what happened at the conception of Jesus? Something was created inside Mary's womb that was not initiated by a human sperm. It was the product of a divine miracle. Life sprang up within her as a result of the Holy Spirit implanting a divine seed within her womb. What was placed inside her was not of human origin, but a seed (sperm, the Bible calls it) of divine origin. That is the life that shall never die. That is the real "born again" creation that Jesus said cannot die but lives forever. Scripture teaches that after experiencing the new birth, the natural person takes on a new identity. The body becomes only the temple, or the "tent" that temporarily houses the true self. Paul and Peter, who were both personally tutored by Christ, both believed that.

 

Read 2 Corinthians 5: 1-9. Especially notice verses 8:
[Yes] we have confident and hopeful courage, and are well-pleased rather to be away from home out of the body and be at home with the Lord.

 

If one does not have a spirit identity that can exist apart from the human body, how could Paul expect to leave his body behind and go to be with the Lord? It seems that Peter understood the reality of salvation (the new birth) in the same way.
I think it right, as long as I am in this tabernacle (tent, body), to stir you up by way of remembrance; Since I know that laying aside of this body of mine will come speedily,... 2 Peter 1:13,14 (emphasis supplied).

 

Peter wrote as though he and his body were not the same thing. He indicated that the real Peter was simply living inside a human body (tent) that would be discarded when he answered the call to go home to be with the Lord. The Author of Scripture personally taught these men this truth. Does this bother your natural mind? Good! Now we're getting somewhere!

 

Further light regarding the immortality of something that is created at the new birth is found in Jesus' own statement in John 3:15 (Amp).
...everyone who believes in Him - who cleaves to Him, trusts Him and relies in Him - may not perish, but have eternal life and [actually] live forever!

 

Neither Jesus, nor the Apostles, ever hinted at an interim period of non-existence between the death of the body and our spirits (our real selves) going to be with the Lord. That teaching is a residual virus left over from pagans who did not know the power of the new birth.
When dying on the cross, Jesus cried,
Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit (Luke 23:46).

 

What was He committing into the Father's hands, His breath, a copy of His earthly record (as some teach), or His immortal Spirit? Since our new birth is also brought about by action of the same Holy Spirit, can you understand why the saints who were martyred were able to sing even when their bodies were being burned at the stake? They knew they were going home! To them, release from the body was graduation time! How did they know that they would be with the Lord even though their bodies were burned? They committed their spirits into the hands of the same Jesus who conquered death.
The Spirit Himself [thus] testifies together with our own spirit, [assuring us] that we are the children of God. Romans 8:16 (Amp).

 

I have read Romans 8:11 many times without really grasping what Paul was saying.
And if the Spirit of Him Who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, [then] He who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also restore to life your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies through His Spirit Who dwells in you. (Amp).

 

Paul is contrasting the quality of the body that is mortal, or subject to death, with our spirits that are alive because they are linked to the Holy Spirit who is not subject to death. Then he emphasizes that the proof that our mortal bodies will also be raised in the resurrection lies in the fact that just as God gave immortality to our redeemed spirits, so also He can, and will, raise our mortal bodies to a new life. Here Paul exposes the fallacy of the atheistic soul-sleep doctrine.

 

According to Ephesians 2:1-3 and Colossians 2:13, when we are born into this world, we are born dead in trespasses and sins. Our bodies were not born dead. Our minds were not born dead. What, then, was born dead? Our spirits, which had not yet been touched and enlivened, or quickened, by action of the Holy Spirit! True conversion links our spirits to the Holy Spirit who is the life-giving Spirit.

 

According to Romans 8:9,10 we are plainly told that if the Holy Spirit is not linked with our spirits, and if He is not at home with our spirits now, then we do not even belong to Christ. And if we belong to Christ, then our spirits presently share the same (eternal) life that His Spirit has. That is the guarantee and proof, God's seal, that our mortal bodies will also be replaced by immortal bodies in the resurrection. Permanent life to our spirits now, is,
The pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage - in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete possession of it, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:13,14.

 

That "full redemption" will take place when our mortal bodies are also immortalized.

 

May I share an experience that helped settle my own concerns about this subject?
We were attending the funeral of a sixteen-year old Christian girl who was struck by a car and killed. My mind was dwelling on the seeming tragedy when the thought crossed my mind: What could be the purpose of a future resurrection if her spirit (her true self) was already in the presence of the Lord? Wouldn't that be a rather backward step? I wondered.

 

Suddenly, the theme of Ephesians 2:19 came to mind, where we are called citizens of God's household. We are, by faith, citizens of the heavenly kingdom, even now! We belong to God's household. Paul and Peter expected to go there directly at the death of the body. They believed Jesus' promise that because they believed in Him, and their souls were anchored in Him, they would be "at home" with the Lord. Through His death and resurrection Jesus taught that physical death is not the end. Our spirits that were impregnated with the Holy Spirit and became the "new man," cannot die, Jesus said. Paul and Peter longed to be away from their earthly tents, and to be at home with Jesus. To them death was not oblivion, but graduation day!

 

What then, is the purpose of the resurrection? It is to grant to us our dual citizenship. We are already citizens of heaven. We are only strangers and pilgrims in this world where Satan is still the "prince of the air." Ephesians 2:2. To function in the physical realm once again, we will need bodies similar to Jesus' body after His resurrection. When we receive our new bodies in the resurrection, we will again be able to function in the physical realm just as Jesus did. That will be equivalent to receiving a dual citizenship, and like Jesus, our "Elder Brother," we will have inherited all things and will reign together with Him both in heaven and on earth.

 

The Bible is clear that the spirits of the departed are limited to the spiritual realms and cannot function in this physical world. Any supposed visitation by departed loved ones is therefore only a delusion of the enemy. The dead do not communicate with the living! Jesus indicated there is a great gap that is fixed between the physical and heavenly realms at this time. Luke 16:26.

 

Just as our present physical bodies are not equipped to function in heaven, so also our spirits cannot function independently of a suitable body in the physical world. At the resurrection we receive new bodies, similar to the body of Jesus. His resurrected body was not limited to the physical laws we are presently subject to. He could appear and disappear. He could enter a room when all entrances were closed and could exit just as easily. He could leave this physical world and appear before the Father with no difficulty. That is the kind of glorious, physical bodies we will be granted when Christ returns.

 

The book of Ecclesiastes is the final authority for some as to what happens at death. Chapter 9 verse 5 is often quoted in support of a theory commonly known as "soul sleep".
For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten.

 

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. Verse 10.
...and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Chapter 12:7.

 

Verse 5 simply tells what happens to the physical body when a person dies. The brain is dead and the body goes to dust. This makes no reference to the spirit of man.

 

Verse 10 says the same thing. All physical and mental activity ceases at death. Again, no reference is made regarding the spiritual nature of a person.

 

Chapter 12:7 is a bit more specific. It does indicate that a person has a spirit that "returns to God who gave it." It does not say anything about a person's breathing. It is true that the same Hebrew word was sometimes used for "breath" and for the "spirit." When Jesus talked to Nicodemus, He compared the invisible Spirit of God by which the New Birth occurs to the wind that blows, but no one would argue that the wind and the Holy Spirit are the same thing. They may be the similar in that you cannot see either, but that hardly means that the Holy Spirit is nothing but air. Yet, by denying the reality of the human spirit that is the conclusion some people draw from these statements. The Holy Spirit is always designated as a personality - He, never as "it." At the conversion of a person, God's Spirit establishes a living and interactive relationship with the individual's spirit.

 

John 3:16 is very clear that Jesus promised us eternal life. We already read in John 11:25 the words of Jesus:
Whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
Jesus said nothing about a time span either of non-existence, or soul sleep, between death of the body and the resurrection. The theory of soul sleep was adopted in the early 1800's in the New England states by some Christians to counter the rise of modern spiritualism that had its beginning at about the same time. It is unfortunate that one error was devised to counter another error.

 

One other statement attributed to Christ may help clarify this mystery. In Matthew 10:28 we read the words of Jesus:
And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul, but rather be afraid of Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna).

 

The Greek language often seemed to use the words for soul and spirit interchangeably.
It is very difficult to read this passage and not see that the body and soul, or spirit, may exist apart from each other. This clearly indicates that the spirit, or soul, can live independent of a physical body, and that only God can destroy it. Let us be specific. What more does the Bible say about this?
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.... 1 Thessalonians 4:14.

 

Question: How can Jesus bring back with him "those who have fallen asleep in him" if they were non-existent? Their bodies are dead and returned to dust. What, then, will He bring back with Him?

 

Let us look at that familiar text in John 3:14-16 through the eyes of Jesus.
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

 

Jesus was very clear that eternal life begins when you receive and believe that He has conquered death on your behalf. The Christ-centered life is not limited to a futuristic pie-in-the-sky hope. It is a present reality to those who accept Jesus' promise that we presently have eternal life! The body dies, but your spirit, birthed by the touch of the Holy Spirit, cannot die because it contains the life of the Spirit. That is,
Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27

End of Part 1.

See Part 2. by the same title - Scared of Dying?

Samuel Pestes 

 

 


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