Life and death

Key verses:
Genesis 2:7
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

1 Kings 17:17
And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.
Today I’d like to speak a bit to the subjects of life and death, and the nature of heaven. These are very complex subjects, and I don’t think I can do them enough justice here. A whole book may not do them enough justice. However, let’s let God speak to us plainly about these concepts. As you can see in the key verses above, the difference between life and death is clear. We are alive due to the breath of life that God breathes into our nostrils. In contrast, we are dead when the breath of life is no longer in us. In the key verses above, the same Hebrew word is used to describe breath, “nĕshamah”. See more info and references here: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H5397&t=KJV.

There are other words used in the Bible to refer to God’s breath, see https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H7307&t=KJV, and in all cases its presence signifies life, while its absence is the sign of death. Therefore, according to the bible, life is a constant, ongoing miracle, not just a one time miracle (birth), as we often might think. God is not only involved in our creation (see Jeremiah 1:5), but He is actively breathing His life-giving breath into us every minute of the day. We may have a constant reassurance that our connection to God is never severed until the hour when His breath departs from us, the hour of our death.

I think this is absolutely magnificent of God. How many times do we feel separated from Him? How many times do we feel utterly alone? The simple act of breathing should be a reminder that God is not very far at all. In prayer, we use that God-given breath to praise our Lord, to ask forgiveness of sins, and to claim the promises He gave to us. Prayer is so much more meaningful when spoken aloud simply because God’s breath is used in the process. Yet, we have all, at one time or another, wasted God’s life-giving breath with swearing, gossip, put-downs, smoking, etc? Those are all a literal waste of God’s life miracle.

If God’s breath in us is life, then when we no longer have breath, we are dead, but even in death there is potential for life. The breath of God can raise the dead. See John 11:11. Jesus tells his disciples that Lazarus is sleeping, and he only needs to be woken up. Clearly, to everyone else, Lazarus was dead. In fact, he was already buried when Jesus arrived. Yet, the breath of God, coming from Jesus, was enough to wake Lazarus from death. Not only did it wake him, but it also repaired whatever damage his short death sleep had caused to his physical body. Like Lazarus, when Jesus was in the grave, dead, the breath of God gave him life and repaired the physical damage caused by torture and death.

This concept, of the resurrection from the dead, is a huge theme in the Bible, not only for Jesus, but for every believer. Right after Jesus died there was a small resurrection of the saints. See Matthew 27:52. That small resurrection was a fore-shadowing of the resurrection that will happen at Jesus’ second coming. See 1 Timothy 4:17. All those who died in faith will be raised up at this resurrection. This leads to a few other conclusions. One, which is most important, is that there are currently no dead people in heaven. Heaven is for people who are alive, which is why the dead require a resurrection. Elijah was alive when he was caught up to heaven in the chariot of fire. Jesus was also alive when he went back to heaven.

Our popular culture has used elements of paganism to explain death, borrowing especially heavily from the Greek tradition of the underworld. See these wiki pages for further information on Greek theology:
There are several flaws with the thought that people go straight to heaven or hell when they die. The main one is that the judgment does not take place until after the second coming of Jesus. How can we be sent to our reward without first being judged, either worthy of heaven, or the fires of hell? And how can we populate heaven when our bodies are yet interred in the earth? The discussion then shifts to the soul, which is meant to be separate from the body, but our key verse (and many others) are clear that a soul is the combination of a physical body and the breath of God. When a person ceases to live, she also ceases to be a soul. Therefore, souls cannot exist separately from the physical bodies of men and women. Heaven is a real physical place, filled with real people who have a corporeal body. There is no such thing as ghosts, and there certainly are no ghouls in heaven. Solomon was very clear about the nature of death. See Ecclesiastes 9:5-6.

This should give us great hope. It’s the final equalizer and the last missing piece in the question of eternal life. Believe that Jesus is alive, and you too can live forever, in a physical body, in a physical heaven, doing much of the same things you are now enjoying. Have you ever wanted to see the whole world? Aim for the eternal life promised by the Saviour. You can then explore every nook and cranny, not only of this Earth, but of the universe. I don’t get why some people think that the point of heaven is to sit on a cloud and play a harp. How boring! God would never design such a pointless place. Have hope that heaven is going to be the most awesome experience you could ever imagine.

With that, I’d like to pray that everyone reading this article claims his or her place in that eternal city of God. If you’ve never thought such things possible, but are yearning for this experience, speak with God, don’t take my word for it. The Bible is the easiest way to understand the mind of God, and His plans for each and every one of us.

For the Bible tells me so

Key verses:
Romans 4:1-3
What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
Genesis 15:5,6
And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
The Bible is a collection of writings. These writings were directly inspired by God. The Bible, as a collection, was compiled through inspiration. The original anthologists left out many texts which did not seem to be in agreement with the rest of the writings. The Old Testament is actually the translated Jewish scriptures, which were passed down through the generations. These scriptures remain unchanged thousands of years after being written. It is these scriptures that Paul refers to when he says they are “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”, and “given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16).

 

The New Testament is simply an extension of the Old, an account of the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning Jesus, the work of the disciples, and a view of the early church. There is no New without the Old, and vice-versa. The New Testament was originally translated from the Textus Receptus, Latin for “received text”, into a variety of Bible versions and languages, including the King James and the original Serbian Bible. More information on this text can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Textus_Receptus.

 

The point I’m trying to make is that the Bible is a collection of texts originating directly from God, written down by His faithful servants, under the direction of the Holy Spirit. The stories of the Bible are historical events which took place in the past, or will take place in the future. Most of these stories hold both a literal and a symbolic meaning. The stories of the Bible are meant to serve as examples for us (see 1 Corinthians 10:1-11). In addition to parables, there are laws, prophecies, songs, prayers, and proverbs. All of these come directly from God and should be treated as such.

 

One of the main characteristics of the Biblical figures, the good ones at least, seems to be obedience and faith. When God called Abram out of Haran, Abram obeyed the call and left his family. When God called Moses to be the leader of His people, Moses obeyed and faced the most powerful man in the world, even though he was afraid. When God told Gideon that 300 men would be enough to defeat the mighty armies of Midian, Gideon trusted God and went forth in faith. True to His word, God removed the threat.

 

We see from the Bible that these faithful and obedient men and women are not perfect. In fact, many times, the lives of the patriarchs and prophets could even be considered completely unholy. However, once confronted with truth and the Word of God, they repent of their sinful ways and become paragons of faith and obedience once again. We are meant to look at these examples and use them in order to avoid the pitfalls of sin altogether. Most of the time, this is as futile as attempting to squeeze a camel through the eye of a needle. We are almost unable to resist sin. Of course, God doesn’t allow more than we can handle, but even this seems too much most of the time.

 

Our only hope is knowing that Jesus paid the price for these sins. We are recompensed, and only need to claim the free gift of eternal life. This does require faith and obedience on our part. God has made it very clear what He requires us to believe. The laws of God have been in place since the foundation of the world, and they are clearly given to Moses on Mount Sinai. These are the precepts that we must aspire to, even though we will most likely fail to keep within their bounds. God wants us to keep trying, but not of our own strength. He knows we cannot do it on our own, which is why we have the Holy Spirit to guide us through the labyrinth of sin. Of note is that we have no claim of righteousness by keeping God’s Law. We must do it because it is right, not because we gain favor with God.

 

Our only claim to righteousness is through our faith and obedience, yet this faith and obedience comes from God Himself. It is the faith of Jesus, the obedience the precious Son of God showed by allowing His own sacrifice to take place. It’s a circular argument, and we are only bit players in this greatest of controversies, the battle between good and evil. Yet, here we are, and we must soon choose a side. In Revelation 3:14-22, apostle John is given a vision of the church in the last days. We are described as “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Yet God’s only command to this last church is to choose a side, either cold or hot.

 

Today, I challenge you to choose God over all others. I challenge you to ask God to write His Laws on your heart, in your forehead and in your right hand. This means to feel, think, and do according to God’s will. The time is coming when the choice will be made clear, but until then, practice makes perfect.