Sunday, August 21, 2016

Death Is Merely A Portal (Part 3 of 5)

Death is such an ugly word. It is so final, or at least that is what many in the world
believe. God says differently.

Christian or non-Christian, everyone dies (excluding Christians living at the time of the Rapture), then there is judgment.

The non-Christian, though provided many rejected opportunities, will spend eternity in hell (culminating in the lake of fire). Death will be the means for the hounds of hell to escort their wretched soul to the fires of judgment. All hope will be lost. There is no way back and no second chance once death has ended our earthly life, but what about the Christian?

We’ve approached the portal of death. The door is open, and the last breathe has left our body. What will we face? Is there anything after death? Is it total unconsciousness? What is on the other side of that door?

“But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” (2 Samuel 12:23)

When David’s first son with Bathsheba died, he made it clear that when he passed away, he would go to be with the child. In 1 Kings 2:10 we see that David “rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David.” Where did he rest?

When we get to the New Testament we find that all those before the cross went to a place called Hades which was divided into two compartments; Abraham’s bosom (Paradise) and hell (the place of torments). Recall that Lazarus was in Abraham’s bosom and the rich man was in hell, and there was a great gulf between them that could not be crossed. (Luke 16:19-31)

After Jesus death on the cross He went to this place and took all those in Paradise to Heaven. (Ephesians 4:7-10) Remember that He told the thief on the cross, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) Since the cross, all those who die without God continue to go to hell, but those who are saved go directly to be with the Lord in Heaven. (Philippians 1:21-24)

“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” (Psalms 116:15)

If death for a Christian (a saint) is bad, why would it be “precious” to the Lord? He says the same of the saints who die during the Tribulation.

“And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” (Revelation 13:14)

That word “blessed” means “happy.” When we die in the Lord, we will be happy. There is nothing to expect in death for the Christian but absolute happiness. So why do we look upon death as a sad event? According to God, it is a happy event, because He is bringing us home, to our real home, Heaven.

“Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:46)

Okay, it is clear that Jesus is now in Heaven. So let’s consider the following passage.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:27-29)

When we die, I believe Jesus calls us on home and we follow Him to Heaven. No demon will snatch us away. We will not lose our salvation or rot into nothingness. We will be safely in the hand of God all the way Home, transported by our Savior and the holy angels.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present or things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

Did you notice that “death” is the first thing mentioned in these two verses? Death and nothing else will separate us from God. Now let that sink in. Death, we just died, will not separate us from God. He said it. It’s a promise. I believe it. Do you?

“For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” (Romans 14:7-9)

Can it get any clearer than that? Living or dead, we are His. If we are living, He is our Lord. If we are dead, he is our Lord. Jesus is our Lord, if we are a Christian, whether we are living in our earthly bodies or are no longer living in our earthly bodies. Either way we are His.

“Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.” (Mark 12:24-27)

By the time Jesus said these words Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s earthly bodies had long been dead, but their souls still lived. They were in Paradise waiting to be transported to Heaven by Jesus after the cross. Jesus is the God of the living (His followers) but He is not the God of the dead (all others who do not follow Him).

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)

When we were talking about Jesus taking all to Heaven that were in Paradise, this is the key that applies to that passage. Jesus had to be the firstfruits, meaning that no one could enter Heaven until Jesus had paved the way with the sacrifice of His own blood. (See Hebrews 9:11-15)

Therefore, the way, for Christians, through Jesus has been provided by Him. Our death just opens the portal for our entry into Heaven.

“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)

Through Jesus we have victory over our feared enemy “death.” Its teeth have been pulled, and its stinger has been removed. It’s nothing more than a toothless paper tiger. When we die, our body dies, but we live on with Jesus Christ. We do not lose anything at death. We gain all the glories of Heaven.

The next passage is found in 1 Corinthians 15:12-58. Due to its length I won’t list it, but please read about the resurrection of Christ. One of my favorite verses in this passage is verse nineteen.

“If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

Our hope in Christ is NOT ONLY in THIS LIFE. Jesus did rise from the dead, and our blessed assurance in Him is for this life AND the next, meaning this earthly life and our Heavenly life. On the day of resurrection, our bodies will rise and be instantly changed into Heavenly bodies and we will step into that new body as we come with Jesus to receive it.

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8)

Notice the dogmatic assurance in Paul’s voice. We should be unafraid about dying because then we are at home with the Lord. We are in our earthly body now, but away from the Lord. When we do shed this body, we will be with Him forever.

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

It may seem odd that I am using a Scripture passage that deals with Jesus returning for His Church in the Rapture, but I have a point to make. Notice carefully, “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” Did you catch it? We will be caught up (raptured) and meet with them (those who have died) in the air. Those who have already died at the Rapture will be coming back with Jesus to get us who are still living. Now that’s exciting. Those who ‘died’ before us are not dead. They are in Heaven.

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11)

In this passage, when Paul says, “awake or asleep,” he is actually saying, “living or dead.” Therefore, when we die, we live with Jesus.

“And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” (Revelation 14:13)

I mentioned this verse earlier, but want to emphasize that “blessed” means “happy.” Dying is not a sad event for the Christian, but just the opposite. It is a happy day because we will finally get to go to our real home and be with Jesus Christ.

Think also on this: Once we cross through that portal of death, everything on the other side is eternal. Everything we see, hear, feel, experience, etc. will always be there. We will always be there. In the physical realm we eventually catch on that this life doesn’t last forever. Sooner or later it will end, but nothing on the other side of the portal of death will ever end.

Next time we will see what the Bible says about the hereafter.

Grant Phillips
Pre-Rapture Commentary: