2 S PIRITS OF THE D EAD S PIRITS OF THE D EAD 3 about death and the soul will open up like 1 D O T HEY S PEAK AND H EAR ? flowers in the sun. The really important issue is this: What kind of inherent nature does manA lexander Bogomoletz, a Russian scientist, possess? How did God create him? Does he once said that a man should live to be at have a mortal nature or an immortal nature? least 150 years of age. He actually According to the dictionary, the word “mortal”prepared a serum that was designed to retard means “subject to death,” and the wordthe aging process of the connective tissues of “immortal” means “not subject to death.”the body. Unfortunately, the learned doctor Simply stated then, we are asking whether Goddied at the age of 64, just 86 years short of the created man with a nature that could die orgoal he had set for himself and for all mankind. with the power of an endless life.And we still do not understand the mysteries of The answer to this significant question islife and death. found in Job 4:17, “Shall mortal man be more No one has yet discovered the fountain of just than God? Shall a man be more pure thanyouth, and neither has anyone been through his maker?” There is the word we are lookingthat veil of death to return and tell us what it is for! Man is mortal. He is subject to death. Godlike on the other side. The only authentic infor- did not make him without the capacity to dete-mation we have on this subject is found in the riorate and die. The fact is, only God has thatgreat book of God, the Bible. Here are unfolded inherent power of eternal existence. He isthe answers to questions which have troubled immortal. And the only time that word is usedthe hearts of men and women down through in the Bible, it refers to God. “Now unto thethe ages. Piercing through the froth of human King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wiseemotion and superstition, it will bring satisfy- God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.ing assurance for those who fear the future and Amen” (1 Timothy 1:17).who wonder what happens to the soul five The human family was not invested with aminutes after death. natural immortality. The Word of God assures To introduce this subject, we must find the us that God alone has that kind of nature. He isanswer to one great, basic question. If we can the author of life, the great source of allanswer it correctly, all the other questions existence. From Him every other life in the
4 S PIRITS OF THE D EAD S PIRITS OF THE D EAD 5universe has been derived. “King of kings, and affirm exactly the same thing: the soul is notLord of lords; Who only hath immortality, naturally immortal.dwelling in the light which no man can Jesus, the great Master Teacher, declaredapproach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor that the soul could die, in Matthew 10:28. “Andcan see: to whom be honour and power ever- fear not them which kill the body ... but ratherlasting. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:15, 16). fear him which is able to destroy both soul and At this point someone may raise another body in hell.” By this clear statement, Christquestion about the subject of immortality. Is it places the matter beyond all question. The soulpossible that man has a mortal body but an can die and will die in the fires of hell.immortal soul living in the tabernacle of flesh? Therefore, it cannot be immortal by nature.Perhaps the “real” person is not the body at all This is shocking to a lot of people. The tra-but the undying soul-entity dwelling within the ditional position has been exactly the oppositemortal body. We need not puzzle over this of this. How upsetting it is to learn that in allpoint, because it is concisely settled by a the 1700 biblical occurrences of the wordsnumber of Bible texts. “soul” and “spirit” not once are they referred to as being immortal or undying. Where, then, did the doctrine come from? 2T HE S OUL C AN D IE Most of us have heard about the “soul that never dies” from our earliest years ofG od said, through the prophet, “Behold, all childhood. One thing is certain: it did not souls are mine: as the soul of the father, originate in the Scriptures. The truth is that it so also the soul of the son is mine: the came directly from pagan tradition andsoul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). mythology. The ancient Chinese ancestor-This firmly establishes that the soul is definite- worship was rooted in the belief that the soully not immortal by nature, or it could not expe- did not die. Egyptian pyramid hieroglyphicsrience death. Since the word “immortal” means reveal that the doctrine of a naturally immortal“not subject to death,” there could be no soul was basic to their worship of the sun god.question of death for a soul possessing an In India, where I lived for years, the Hindusinnate immortality. At least ten other verses believe strongly in reincarnation and transmi-
6 S PIRITS OF THE D EAD S PIRITS OF THE D EAD 7gration of the soul. Darkest African voodoo entitled “There Is No Death,” by one ofceremonies are built around the concept of an America’s most popular Protestant ministers.undying soul. The great preacher said exactly the same thing There is not one text that supports such a that the great deceiver said to Eve, “You don’tteaching in the Christian Bible; nevertheless, the really die at all. It may seem like death, but youWord does tell us how the doctrine got started really keep on living and know more afterwardand who preached the first sermon on the than you did before.”subject. Read Genesis 3:1-4, “Now the serpent Can that doctrine be dangerous? Indeed, itwas more subtile than any beast of the field involves much more than just promulgating awhich the LORD God had made. And he said false statement. The implications of this satanicunto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall teaching are far-reaching and eternal in conse-not eat of every tree of the garden? And the quence. Millions will be lost because they dowoman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the not understand the truth about the nature offruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit man. Deception on this point opens a doorof the tree which is in the midst of the garden, which can flood the life with darkness andGod hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall actual demon control. The only protection weye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto will ever have against this insidious danger is tothe woman, Ye shall not surely die.” know the truth about death and the soul. Please notice that somebody disagreedwith God. The Creator had declared that sinwould bring death, but Satan said the opposite,“You will not really die.” That was the first 3T HE S PIRIT R ETURNS TO G OD Tgreat-granddaddy lie that was ever told, and the he clearest and most concise inspired def-one who told it has been trying to uphold it inition of death was written by Solomon,ever since. That original sermon on natural “Then shall the dust return to the earth asimmortality has been repeated many times it was: and the spirit shall return unto God whothrough the years, often by preachers and the- gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).ologians who ought to know better. A few years Immediately we are struck by the wordago the Reader’s Digest featured an article “return.” After death everything seems to go
8 S PIRITS OF THE D EAD S PIRITS OF THE D EAD 9back from whence it came. The dust returns to example, the Greek term for “Holy Spirit” isthe earth from which it was taken, and the “Hagios pneumatos,” “Holy Breath” or “Holyspirit returns to God who gave it. Death is just Spirit.”the opposite of creation. This brings us to a very interesting conclu- It is easy for us to picture the process of sion. The words “breath” and “spirit” are oftenbodily decay and decomposition. We under- used interchangeably in the Bible. Job said, “Allstand very well that the physical components of the while my breath is in me, and the spirit ofthe body are the very same as the earth itself. God is in my nostrils” (Job 27:3). Now, itWhen it is buried, the body reverts to the doesn’t take a high degree of intelligence tochemical elements of the ground from which know that Job was describing the same thing bythe Creator took it in the beginning. the words “breath” and “spirit” Man has only But what about the spirit which goes back breath in his nostrils. In fact, that is what Godto God? That is not so easy to understand. breathed into man’s nostrils at the time ofThere is not a man in the world who can creation. “And the Lord God formed man ofexplain it with human wisdom. Nevertheless, the dust of the ground, and breathed into hismany verses in the Bible throw light on this nostrils the breath of life; and man became acrucial point. James wrote, “For as the body living soul” (Genesis 2:7).without the spirit is dead, so faith without Now the picture begins to clear up. Whenworks is dead also” (James 2:26). The word Solomon described the spirit returning to God,“spirit” has a marginal reference which reads, he had to be referring to the breath, because“or breath.” This is very important. The actual that was what God gave in the beginning, androot word in the Greek is “pneuma,” a word therefore, it was the only thing that could nowwhich means “breath” or “air.” We take our “return” to the One who gave it. The marginalEnglish word “pneumonia” from pneuma note for Genesis 7:22 refers to the breath of lifebecause it is a disease of the lungs, or of as “the breath of the spirit of life.”breathing. We have pneumatic tires, also The psalmist describes death in thesederived from pneuma, because they have air in words, “Thou takest away their breath, they die,them. But that same Greek word “pneuma” also and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thyhas another meaning. It means “spirit.” For spirit, they are created” (Psalm 104:29, 30).
10 S PIRITS OF THE D EAD S PIRITS OF THE D EAD 11Here the order is reversed, and their breath spirit. Then, as a result of the body and breathreturns to God at death. Solomon said the spirit uniting, man BECAME a soul.returns. Here God gives the spirit to create, but Millions have accepted the false, tradition-Genesis says He gave the breath to create. It al view that God put a soul into the body toonly makes sense when we understand that the create man. This is based entirely upon thetwo words are used interchangeably and mean common, erroneous doctrine of all non-the same thing. Christian religions. In the Bible, except in Please take note that this “spirit of life” is poetical or allegorical usage, the soul does notnot necessarily the same as the Holy Spirit, go in and out of the body; neither does it haveneither is the “breath of life” the same as the an independent existence outside of the body.regular air we breathe. This breath or spirit is Because the Greek word “psuche,” meaningthe special, life-giving power of God which “life,” has sometimes been translated as “soul”makes the body a functioning organism. Read in our King James Version, some have drawnGenesis 2:7 again, and try to visualize the act of wrong conclusions; but only because they applycreation. “And the Lord God formed man of a false definition to the word “soul.” Millionsthe dust of the ground.” We have no difficulty have been taught that the soul possesses awith this. We can see that dead body, perfectly natural immortality, and every time they readformed and containing the very elements or hear the word they assume something that isnecessary for life. But there was no life. The totally false and unbiblical. Not even one timeheart wasn’t beating. The blood was there, but in the Bible is the soul referred to as beingit wasn’t flowing. The brain was there, but it immortal or undying.wasn’t thinking. The fact is, the soul is the conscious life Then God added one more thing to the which resulted when God added the breath orbody He had made. He “breathed into his spirit to the body. A simple illustration will helpnostrils the breath of life, and man became a us see this truth more clearly. Let us liken theliving soul” (Genesis 2:7). Do not miss the sig- body to a light bulb. The electric currentnificance of these words—they are often mis- flowing into that bulb represents the breath ofconstrued. God did not put a soul into the life which God put into the body, and the lightbody. He added only one thing—breath or itself will represent the soul which man became
12 S PIRITS OF THE D EAD S PIRITS OF THE D EAD 13after the breath joined the body. As we look at out the nails and lay them down beside thethe shining light we see a perfect representation boards. Again, we have only two things beforeof the completed creation. Now we press the us: boards and nails. What happened to thebutton and turn the light off. What has box? There is no box, because it requires thehappened? The current has left the bulb, just as two things together to cause it to be.the breath leaves the body at death. Now where In the same way God started with twois the light? Did it go up into the electric socket? things, the body and the spirit. When He putNo, it simply ceased to exist when the current them together, the soul “became”—it came intoseparated from the bulb. Then let us ask, where being, it began to exist. At death, the wise manis the soul when the breath separates from the tells us, the spirit returns to God and the bodybody? There simply is no soul until, in the res- returns to dust. And nowhere in the Bible areurrection, God restores the breath of life to the we told that any soul survives the body, orbody. continues to exist without a body. The soul, or That should not sound so strange to us, the life, has no existence without the power ofnow that we have discovered how everything God residing in the body. At death that power“returns” at death to the way it was before. is removed; it returns to God; and the state ofBefore creation, man did not exist in some dis- that man is exactly what it was before theembodied form. There was no personality, no breath joined the body. That means no life, noconscious emotions before God added the consciousness and no personality.breath to the body. At that moment man Even animals are referred to as souls in the“became a living soul.” If the soul came to be as Bible, because they have the same power froma result of that union, when does the soul cease God to make them live (Revelation 16:3). Theto be? Surely as a result of the breaking of that wise man wrote, “For that which befalleth theunion. sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing Suppose we have two things before us: befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth theboards and nails. We take a hammer and drive other, yea, they have all one breath; ... All gothe nails into the boards, making a box. Now unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turnwe have three things instead of two; we have to dust again” (Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20). This doesboards, nails and a box. Later, we carefully pull not mean, of course, that man and animals
14 S PIRITS OF THE D EAD S PIRITS OF THE D EAD 15have the same ultimate end. There will be a res- own heart had not received his reward 1,000urrection and judgment for God’s moral years after death, what about all the other goodcreatures, but life comes only from God, people who had lived and died up to that time?whether it be human or animal. And that life is They, also, were resting in their graves, awaitingoften referred to in the Bible as the soul. the call of God in the resurrection. Jesus assured the people of His day, “...thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the 4W HEN ARE THE R IGHTEOUS R EWARDED ? just” (Luke 14:14). Again, He said, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father withW ith this background we are now his angels; and then he shall reward every man prepared to see what actually happens according to his works” (Matthew 16:27). There to the person who dies. In Peter’s is no equivocation here. In simple, directsermon on the day of Pentecost, he made this language Jesus declared that no one would bestrong statement about David, who had been rewarded until the resurrection takes place atdead for over 1,000 years: “For David is not His second coming. This means that none of theascended into the heavens” (Acts 2:34). Now righteous dead have gone to heaven so far. All arethink of this for a moment. David had long ago waiting in their graves for the judgment and thedeparted this life, and though often wayward, end of the world. Almost the last words of thehad received the assurance of forgiveness and Bible confirm this fact. “And, behold, I comesalvation. Why, then, was he not enjoying the quickly; and my reward is with me, to give everybliss of heaven ten long centuries after his man according as his works shall be” (Revelationpassing? The question is answered in verse 29 22:12). This last-day reward is further describedwhere Peter explains, “Men and brethren, let by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:53, “... and thisme freely speak unto you of the patriarch mortal must put on immortality.” When does itDavid, that he is both dead and buried, and his happen? “In a moment, in the twinkling of ansepulcher is with us unto this day.” eye, at the last trump” (Verse 52). The inspired Peter said David was right out This settles the issue about the reward ofthere in his grave, and had not yet ascended to the righteous without any question, but whatheaven. How interesting! If the man after God’s about the wicked? When will they be punished
16 S PIRITS OF THE D EAD S PIRITS OF THE D EAD 17for their sins? The amazing answer is found in The wonderful message of the Bible is that2 Peter 2:9, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver both good and bad are sleeping in their gravesthe godly out of temptations, and to reserve the until the resurrection day. At that time they areunjust unto the day of judgment to be brought forth to face the judgment, after whichpunished.” There it is! The wicked are reserved punishments and rewards are assigned. Jobsomewhere until the day of judgment arrives. said, “So man lieth down, and riseth not: till theWhere are they reserved? Jesus answers the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, norquestion, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is be raised out of their sleep. 0h that thoucoming, in the which all that are in the graves wouldest hide me in the grave, that thoushall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath bethat have done good, unto the resurrection of past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time,life; and they that have done evil, unto the res- and remember me! If a man die, shall he liveurrection of damnation” (John 5:28, 29). again? all the days of my appointed time will I Our Lord made it exceedingly plain that wait, till my change come. Thou shall call, andeveryone would be reserved in their graves I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to theuntil called forth in the resurrection to receive work of thine hands” (Job 14:12-15).either life or damnation. Not only is this goodtheology, it is also good sense. Obviously, noone can be punished until after they are judged.Justice demands that this be done. Even the 5D EATH IS A S LEEP Imost unjust earthly judge would be impeached n harmony with all the rest of the Bible, Jobfor doing otherwise. Suppose a man came describes a period of unconscious sleep in thebefore the judge charged with stealing, and the grave before awaking to receive his reward. Itjudge said, “Put him away for ten years and agrees with Daniel, who spoke of the coming ofthen we will hear his case.” No! No! That could Christ in these words, “And at that time thynever be! And would the judge of all the earth people shall be delivered ... And many of themdo so in dealing with the wicked? Never! The that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,judgment would be a farce in such a case—it some to everlasting life, and some to shame andwould have no meaning. everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:1, 2).
18 S PIRITS OF THE D EAD S PIRITS OF THE D EAD 19 There is a reason that so many inspired but this is the most authentic story on record.writers speak of death as a sleep. It is a perfect There is absolutely no doubt that Lazarus haddescription of the state of the dead. When a been deal for four days. His sisters protestedtired man lies down at night he is immediately when Jesus ordered the stone to be rolled awaywrapped in sleep. As far as he is concerned, the from the door. Martha said, “... Lord, by thisvery next moment he is awakened by the rising time he stinketh” (John 11:39).sun. He is totally unconscious of anything that Most modern accounts of patients whotranspired while he slept. So it is with the sleep resuscitate from heart failure include dramaticof death. recitals of glorious views of heaven. What did Lazarus had died. Jesus said to His this righteous man have to say about his fourdisciples, “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I days of death? Did he report celestial visions ofgo, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then heavenly reward? Not a word. He had beensaid his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do asleep, just as Jesus had indicated. It had beenwell. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they like a moment of oblivion.thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in By the way, what kind of unspeakable pun-sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, ishment would it have been to bring LazarusLazarus is dead” (John 11:11-14). back into this dark world after being in the Here is a classic example of the true Bible presence of God? Surely he would have beggedteaching about death. Christ called death a not to return, had he truly been enjoying thesleep. Later, He stood by the rock-hewn rewards of the righteous. A resumption ofsepulchre of His friend and cried out, “Lazarus, earthly life would have been worse than thecome forth!” He did not say, “Lazarus, come horror of hell in comparison to ninety-sixdown.” Lazarus was not up in heaven, nor was hours in Paradise. Certainly our Lord wouldhe anywhere else, except inside the walls of his never have been guilty of playing such a tricktomb. In response to the call of Jesus, he awoke on His friend Lazarus.from his sleep of death and walked out into the Why do we find it difficult to believe thesunlight. simple terminology that Jesus used in describing Many exaggerated tales have circulated death? Certainly we have no problem in under-about people who came back from the dead, standing the nature of sleep. Suppose a man lies
20 S PIRITS OF THE D EAD S PIRITS OF THE D EAD 21fast asleep on a park bench. So soundly does he Solomon wrote, “For the living know thatsleep that he is totally unaware of the stealthy they shall die: but the dead know not anything,approach of an attacker. In another moment he neither have they any more a reward; for thelies dead in a pool of blood. Now, according to memory of them is forgotten. Also their love,the popular view of death, this man who knew and their hatred, and their envy, is nownothing while he was sleeping, suddenly knows perished; neither have they any more a portioneverything as his soul leaves his body. But how for ever in anything that is done under thecould that be true? Jesus said death is a sleep. If sun... Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do itthe man knew nothing while sleeping, how with thy might; for there is no work, nor device,could he know any more after death? Christ’s nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave,words would have no meaning if we twist them whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10).to mean whatever we want to believe. If one deliberately tried to produce We are not left to wonder about the nature stronger words and expressions to support aof this death-sleep. Many Bible writers give totally dreamless sleep in death, he would bedetailed explanations of what it is like. “Put not hard put to match these words of the wise man.your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in Just suppose for a moment that the samewhom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, forceful statements were made to assert con-he returneth to his earth; in that very day his sciousness after death. In other words, supposethoughts perish” (Psalm 146:3, 4). Solomon had said, “Their love, and their Out of all the puzzling aspects of death hatred, and their envy will continue.., for therewhich could be discussed, the inspired writers is work and knowledge and wisdom in themost often talked about the unconscious grave whither thou goest.” Such an unambigu-nature of it. Never once do we find any of the ous statement would rightly be the end of allexciting descriptions of life after death which debate on the subject. Who could argue with it?mark the modern version of the doctrine. But here is the incredible truth! Not onlyTheology has adopted its teaching directly does the Bible contain no such statement, but itfrom the pleasing forms of pagan worship. repeatedly declares the opposite! Yet peopleDavid said, “He returneth to his earth; in that continue to believe only what they want tovery day his thoughts perish.” believe. Passing over the explicit verses given by
22 S PIRITS OF THE D EAD S PIRITS OF THE D EAD 23numerous inspired authors, which tell the truth when they were confronted by dead relatives orabout death, multitudes blindly follow empty friends in exactly the same form as when theytraditions learned from parents or pastor. lived. Again we read, “For the grave cannot praise Shall we discount all such psychic appear-thee, death cannot celebrate thee: they that go ances as mental aberrations of emotional,down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. unstable individuals? Hardly. The fact is thatThe living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I forms do appear, and they have been verifieddo this day” (Isaiah 38:18, 19). Would not the countless times. But on the basis of the infalli-righteous dead praise God if they were ushered ble Word of God we can categorically rejectinto heaven at their death? David repeats the them as being the spirits of the dead. The deadsame timeless truth, “The dead praise not the cannot return; neither do they have any postLord, neither any that go down into silence” mortem existence in any conscious, living form(Psalm 115:17). “For in death there is no whatsoever.remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall Then who is appearing in these bodilygive thee thanks?” (Psalm 6:5). forms and making lying claims in the name of the innocent dead? Who else but the father of lies who built his first deception around the 6D O THE D EAD E VER R ETURN ? issue of death? He boldly contradicted God when he said to Eve, “Ye shall NOT surely die.”W hy do so many resist the obvious When death did follow, Satan tried to make the import of these biblical statements? survivors believe it was only an illusion. By Strong traditional biases may be part of impersonating those who died, Satan hasthe answer, but there is much more involved. persuaded millions that he was right and GodMany sincerely believe that they have physical, was wrong. Accepting the testimony of theireye-witness proof that the dead do return. They eyes and ears above the testimony of the Bible,have the witness of their own senses that they many have become expert in calling up thehave actually conversed with departed loved spirits in seances.ones. What can be said about these manifesta- Often Satan exploits the grief of those whotions? They can give the place, date and hour have lost relatives and tries to draw them into
24 S PIRITS OF THE D EAD S PIRITS OF THE D EAD 25his spiritualistic snare by pretending to be their we have to recognize that very often the princeown special loved one. What an overwhelming of all evil is manipulating the minds of peopledelusion! Only those who have fortified their by his supernatural expertise in deceit.minds with the truths of the Bible will be able Think of the implications of this for ato stand against this type of attack. moment! Millions have literally submitted their Let me share with you an incredible lives to the control of demons believing thatexample of Satan’s mode of operation. A dear they were being advised by loving relatives.friend of mine served for many years as a mis- Can’t you see the monstrous irony of thesionary in Africa. While he and his wife were situation? And can’t you see how easily Satanliving in an isolated mission station, their can even start controlling the lives of Christiansthree-year-old daughter was struck down by a who have not understood the true Biblefatal tropical fever. They buried the little girl on teaching about death? The only safety fora hillside across from their home. A few days anyone is the Word of God. Yet the stage is setafter the funeral the mother was sitting in her for the majority of Catholics and Protestants tokitchen when the door burst open, and her be swept away by the final manifestation oflittle daughter ran across the room to fling Satanic power—all because they have beenherself into her mother’s arms. Can you picture taught a lie about the state of the dead.yourself under that kind of traumatic horror?And to top it all, the little girl cried out,“Mommy, I’m not dead! I’m not dead!” Fortunately, that mother knew the Bible 7P UNISHMENT & R EWARDS IN THE R ESURRECTION Ctruth about death, and God gave her the power onsider how confusing it would be ifto pray instantly for deliverance from that rewards and punishments are now beingSatanic masquerade. When she called on the applied. What purpose would be servedname of Jesus, the form disappeared. by a resurrection? Why even have a resurrec- Is this an exceptional case? Unfortunately. tion? Obviously each soul would already have ano. Experiences like this have been repeated determined fate, and the farce of some make-over and over again. Doubtless there are some believe final judgment would be totally mean-charlatans who create their own illusions, but ingless. All the pious assurances heard at
26 S PIRITS OF THE D EAD S PIRITS OF THE D EAD 27funerals about loved ones in heaven are simply being the manner and means of being with therepetitions of Satan’s first lie to the human Lord, he automatically excluded all otherfamily. The portrayal of imaginary, immaterial means of doing it. Then he admonishes us tosouls flying away from the body at death is not “comfort one another with these words.”a source of comfort to grieving relatives. Paul I repeat that there can be no comfort in thedescribed the time when the righteous dead pseudo-Christian concept that some invisible,will be with the Lord in 1 Thessalonians 4; 16- intangible entity leaves the body at death to be18, and concluded with these words, punished or rewarded. Is it reassuring to“Wherefore comfort one another with these believe that unsaved relatives are suffering thewords.” torment of unquenchable fire? Is there solace in Here is a perfect, inspired picture of true the picture of loved ones looking down fromcomfort, and we need to understand clearly heaven upon the heart-breaking circumstanceswhat word Paul was referring to that would of those left behind? No wonder Paul was sobring such comfort. The two previous verses specific in describing the second advent ofgive us the words, “For the Lord himself shall Jesus and resurrection as the only way anyonedescend from heaven with a shout, with the can be with the Lord after death and, inciden-voice of the archangel, and with the trump of tally, as the only way to be comforted at theirGod: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. departure.Then we which are alive and remain shall be Paul’s magnificent declaration points upcaught up together with them in the clouds, to the glorious fact that death and the grave aremeet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be not the end. There will be an awakening fromwith the Lord.” the sleep of death. The righteous will receive Paul here describes without any limitation the gift of immortality, but it will all happen “Inthe way and means by which we go to be with a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the lastthe Lord. Don’t overlook the word “so” in his trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and thestatement. It means “in this way.” By that little dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shallword Paul precluded every other way of being be changed. For this corruptible must put onwith the Lord. When he described the coming incorruption, and this mortal must put onof Jesus and the resurrection of the saints as immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:52, 53). Jesus
28 S PIRITS OF THE D EAD S PIRITS OF THE D EAD 29said, “Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming electronics, we should not expect to grasp thein the which all that are in the graves shall hear secrets of resurrection power. Nevertheless, wehis voice, And shall come forth; they that have can have complete faith that God can and willdone good, unto the resurrection of life; and restore life to all the dead.they that have done evil, unto the resurrectionof damnation” (John 5:28, 29). All the dead will rise to face the greatdecrees of the judgment. Whether they went to 8T HE T HIEF ON THE C ROSS Nsleep 1,000 years ago, or five minutes before ow let us look at one of the chief objec-Jesus appears, it will seem as only a fraction of tions which has been raised against thea second. Bible doctrine of death and the soul. Some have questioned the way in which There are a few ambiguous texts which can beChrist can restore the broken, decayed bodies of understood only as they are viewed in the lightall the deceased of past ages. Some were blown of all the other verses on the subject. Oneto bits in explosions, others were burned up in example of this is found in the experience offires, and many went down into the depths of the thief on the cross. At first glance it seemsthe sea. Will it be any problem for the mighty that Jesus was telling the dying criminal that heCreator of life to bring back every soul and would go to heaven on the very same day herestore each personality? None whatsoever. He died.who numbers the hairs of our head and counts In the context, the thief asked Jesus, in thethe sparrows in the sky will have no difficulty in last moments of his life, “Lord, remember merestoring the identity of each individual. when thou comest into thy kingdom. And We may not be able to understand the Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Toprocess, but we can believe in it anyway. There day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Lukeare many things, such as television and 23:42, 43).computers, which are mysteries to the average Does this contradict all the other verses weperson who benefits from them, but that have read on this subject? It certainly sounds asdoesn’t keep us from believing in them. If most though Jesus and the thief would go that veryof us are baffled by the complexity of common day into God’s presence. Let’s allow other texts
30 S PIRITS OF THE D EAD S PIRITS OF THE D EAD 31to clear up the mystery. Three days after he sentences, verses, or chapters. In 1611 when thespoke to the repentant thief, Jesus met Mary King James Version was translated, scholarsnear the open tomb. As she fell to worship at separated the words, inserted punctuationHis feet Jesus said, “Touch me not; for I am not marks, and divided the script into verses andyet ascended to my Father: but go to my chapters. These men were not inspired,brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my although they generally did a tremendous workFather, and your Father; and to my God, and in their assigned task. By necessity they had toyour God” (John 20:17). put in commas often to give meaning to the This statement of Jesus brings us to a translated words. In Luke 23:43 they added apuzzling enigma. If He had not yet gone to comma before the word “today,” which makesheaven, how could He have assured the thief Jesus say, “Verily I say unto thee, today shaltthree days earlier that they would go there thou be with me in paradise.”together that same day? And please take note In this instance the comma should havethat Paradise and the Father’s throne are in the been placed after the word “today” instead ofvery same place. John said the tree of life was before it. Then the sentence would read, “Verilylocated “in the midst of the paradise of God” I say unto thee today, Thou shalt be with me in(Revelation 2:7). Then in Revelation 22:2 he paradise.” This would bring the record intoexplained that the tree overarched the river of perfect harmony with all the rest of the Bible.life, which in turn, flowed out from the throne In other words, Jesus was saying to theof God. This definitely places God’s presence in thief, “I give you the assurance today—when itParadise. Obviously, if Jesus had not gone to seems that I can save no one, when my ownHis Father by the time He was resurrected He disciples have forsaken me and I am dying as acould not have ascended on the day He died condemned felon—I give you the assurancethree days earlier. today that you will be with me in Paradise.” This mystery is cleared quickly when we Is this tampering with the sacred record?consider the context of Luke 23:43. We have to No. The translators were no more divinelybe aware that the original manuscripts of the inspired than we are. Only the original authorsBible were written in one continuous line of were inspired. Placing the comma after thescript. There was no separation of words, word “today” is just as true to the original text
32 S PIRITS OF THE D EAD Library of Sermonsas placing it before the word. The only differ- 1. Armageddonence is that one way brings total harmony in 2. Can a Saved Man Choose to Be Lost?the scriptures and the other brings hopeless 3. Does God’s Grace Blot Out the Law?contradiction. It takes no supernatural insight 4. Hidden Eyes and Closed Earsto decide which place is correct for the comma. 5. How Evolution Flunked the Science Test Keep in mind that the thief was only asking 6. Is It Easier to Be Saved or to Be Lost?to be remembered when Jesus came into His 7. Man’s Flicker or God’s Flamekingdom. He did not request any reward on 8. Satan in Chainsthat day of his approaching death. In the same 9. Satan’s Confusing Counterfeitsvein, we find the great apostle to the Gentiles 10. Spirits From Other Worldsanticipating his departing this life, “For I am 11. Thieves in the Churchnow ready to be offered, and the time of my 12. Why God Said Rememberdeparture is at hand. I have fought a good fight, 13. Why the Old Covenant FailedI have finished my course, I have kept the faith. 14. The High Cost of the CrossHENCEFORTH there is LAID UP for me a 15. Hell-Firecrown of righteousness, which the Lord, the 16. Is It Possible to Live Without Sinning?righteous judge, shall give me AT THAT DAY: 17. Blood Behind the Veiland not to me only, but unto all them also that 18. Spirits of the Deadlove HIS APPEARING” (2 Timothy 4:6-8). 19. The Brook Dried Up 20. Death in the Kitchen Just as the receptive thief and the anointed 21. The Search for the True ChurchPaul both focused their hope of eternal reward 22. Is It a Sin to Be Tempted?upon the coming of Christ’s kingdom, so may 23. Is Sunday Really Sacred?we also be remembered in that day. 24. Heaven ... Is It for Real? 25. Rendezvous in Space 26. Christ’s Human Nature 27. Point of No Return 28. The Rich Man and Lazarus For more great resources, visit us at www.amazingfacts.org