Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Death History and Future Hope

Nowadays, it seems that not only every religion, but “everybody and his brother” has their opinion what happens at death. There are those that swear they have proof of “the afterlife” because they’ve had out-of-body experiences. If they had given it deeper thought, they’d realize that our brain, like the rest of our body, is organic material. The brain, where our thought processes (our “mind”) reside, is a vast neurological network that thrives on oxygen.  When it is deprived of blood and oxygen, it starts to malfunction (vivid dreams and/or hallucinations). It is not possible for the brain to be out-of-body and therefore it is impossible for our cognitive powers (again, our “mind”) to be out-of-body because they reside only in the brain that is still in our skull.

In my experience, the only explanation I have ever heard that made intelligent sense is what the Bible says happens at death. Adam was formed from organic material. He was reminded that: "Dust you are and to dust you will return" if he was disloyal. There was no indication that he would live on in any other form. Simply, he would cease to exist, returning to the elements from which he was formed.

Surprisingly, “old age” death was not the first recorded incident of death in the Bible. It was death by murder. The moral fiber of mankind went south a lot faster than his physical being. Regarding this, Paul wrote through one man (Adam) sin entered the world and death through sin. Thus all men die. Today, no one can rightly claim they are without imperfection. But regarding this inherited and aptly-named “Adamic sin and death,” why should we pay for it indefinitely? That is a good question.

Our Creator recognized that it was not fair what Adam did to us. Why should we, like Adam, die forever? If that were the case, there would be no reason to worship God. No reason to try to appease God. No reason for religion. No reason to even try to live a good life. Yet God, through his Word the Bible, reached out to mankind and does give them hope. Hence we read in John 17:3 that taking in a knowledge of God can mean our everlasting life, thus supplying us hope to extend our lives far beyond what we have today.

So what is the sequence of things that happened after a person dies?
Psalm 146:4 confirms what I stated at the beginning of this article—namely when the breath of life (our “spirit”) goes out of us, we cease to exist—we have no more thoughts. Just like Adam, we go back to dust and are nonexistent. However, unlike Adam, it is not necessarily a permanent condition. One of Lazarus’ sisters said she believed that her dead brother would rise in the last day. To demonstrate what God intends to do for mankind in the future, Jesus immediately raised Lazarus back to life—on earth. Scripture also confirms that there was going to be a future resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous.

But do you think it is ludicrous to believe that mankind can live forever? What then do you think would be the case in heaven? Just because you'd be a non-physical being, a spirit of a sort, do you readily accept that they would live forever? Our Creator has more than enough power-to-spare to maintain the life of both spirit and physical intelligent, obedient creation.

So where does the bulk of Christendom get there belief about going to heaven? They get it by focusing on just a few scriptures and not paying attention to the bulk of the Bible and God’s general purpose for mankind. There are indeed some going to heaven but for a
very specific purpose. The rest of us have the opportunity of dwelling on cleansed, restored, peaceful earth as our Creator originally intended. So while currently those dying cease to exist, sometime in the unknown future, those now dead will come back to life on earth.

(I am aware that some feel that the essence of our cognitive self actually resides in something they call the “soul.” Two of the previously mentioned scriptures demonstrate that the Bible does not teach that man has a soul but rather that he is a soul—a living person.)

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