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After establishing that death is separation, we can now turn our attention to life, specifically spiritual life. Having a basic understanding of death will help us make sense of what spiritual life is.
Let’s start with Jesus Christ’s command to Nicodemus to be “born again.”
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God….Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:3, 7).
There is a lot of misunderstanding about the phrase “born again.” Some people think of it in terms of membership in a religion or denomination: he is a born again, he is a Catholic, he is a Buddhist, etc. It is often used incorrectly as a label to identify a religious affiliation.
But let’s go back to the definition of spiritual death as separation from God. If I became separated from God through spiritual death, then in order to be reunited to Him, I...
Death is separation. Death is not annihilation or non-existence. It is not destruction in an absolute sense. At its core, physical death is separation, separation of the spirit and soul from the body. And spiritual death is separation of the human spirit from God’s Spirit.
This is a key concept that explains how death is used throughout the Bible. For example, what did Jesus mean when He said, “Let the dead bury their dead” (Luke 9:60)? We can be sure that He didn’t mean let the physically dead bury the physically dead. But letting the spiritually dead bury the physically dead makes perfect sense.
Consider this verse:
“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1, emphasis added).
Someone was dead, but then made alive (quickened). They were spiritually dead (separated from God) and then made alive (united with God in spirit).
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him...
As part of a longer quote, Benjamin Franklin asserted that “nothing is certain except death and taxes.” The Bible tells us that we all have an appointment with death and that “we have the sentence of death in ourselves”; in other words, we are under a death sentence. We are all on death row.
Death is an unpleasant topic and most of us would prefer to postpone the thought of it as long as possible. Man’s fear of death is quite natural and reasonable and that fear can be a source of anguish, distress, and bondage. While death itself is certain, what happens afterward is quite uncertain to many people. The fear of death is the fear of the unknown.
But what if we can be certain about what is beyond this life? What if the certainty of death is matched with certainty about the other side of death? Would that remove our fears and give us a reason to live differently? This is what I want to demonstrate: God has given us enough information to know with certainty...
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
There is a great principle here: in Christ, there is simplicity, but Satan traffics in complexity. He uses subtlety to hide simplicity and instead makes things complex and complicated. For a majority of people, complexity leads to confusion.
“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” (1 Corinthians 14:33).
It is clear that God is not the author of confusion, so who is behind it? If Satan's goal is to corrupt the simplicity that is in Christ, then if follows that he would promote confusion and complexity. And his primary way of doing this is through religion.
Does this surprise you? It really shouldn’t because Christ’s biggest enemies during His time on earth were the religious people of the day. And it is certainly subtil to...
Did you ever go to a funeral and think you made a mistake? You hear the minister waxing eloquent about the deceased and how wonderful he was. You want to look into the casket to make sure you are in the right place. Is he talking about the same scoundrel that you knew when he was alive?
I suppose it is understandable that we do this. After all, the person is dead and loved ones are grieving so there is some utility in painting a rosy, albeit exaggerated, picture of the departed. He may have been “a cheating s-o-b that broke my heart” but let’s honor his memory with the few good things he managed to do.
I want to show you how our Lord does something very similar with His people. Here is a small snapshot of their time in the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt.
“And when the people complained, and it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost...
Ask a person that believes in the afterlife where they will go when they die, most will say heaven. Ask them why and the majority of the answers will relate to their religious activities or good works. In other words, “salvation” is something that is earned by them.
The thinking goes like this: if there is a judgment, hopefully my good will outweigh my bad and I will make it into heaven. Besides, I have been baptized, attend church, am a member of a religious organization, give to charity, etc. Even for the non-religious person, there is the idea that being “a good person” is enough to earn salvation.
But what if salvation is not something that is earned at all? In fact, the New Testament describes salvation as something that can’t be earned; it is called a gift.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9, emphasis added).
I am complete in Jesus Christ. When I strip away all of the religion and formality and the church, I still have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Even when my body perishes, my soul will still be united with Him and I will be safe in His actual presence. When I am absent from my body, I will be present with the Lord.
When I was born into this world on October 24, 1958, much of my makeup was established without my efforts: my physical features, my nationality, my native language, my family, my basic temperament, my place in history. All were established, not because of my will, but because of my parentage. I could have been abandoned, rejected, or disowned, but the DNA doesn't lie. I have parents and was born.
A similar thing happened when I was born a second time on April 6, 1984, shortly after 1:00 pm on a Friday afternoon in a parking lot at Monroe Community College. I simply believed the gospel and received Jesus Christ by faith and was born again. Not like a noun, a “born...
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