'Christ in You...'
by Dale Krebbs
So many in the world today are convinced that when they die, they die all over, and will dwell in an eternal unconsciousness, in the dust of the earth. To coin a phrase, “when your dead your dead…”. My hope and prayer today as I write these words is that you are not of the same persuasion. Because, absolutely nothing could be farther from the truth.
When properly understood, one never really “dies”. In the natural desire that God created within every human being, everyone would like to know for sure about the hereafter. Many, if not most, who will not accept God’s word on the matter, are left with only the option of creating their own hereafter - one that satisfies and comforts their mind and conscience. Some time ago an article appeared in this column addressing the universal fear of death, and how it holds humanity in bondage (Hebrews 2:15), without realizing it. Perhaps many simply consider not knowing as a kind of blessing. However, ignorance is never bliss, contrary to the philosophy of some. God’s answer, when it is truly understood, is so incredibly wonderful, if…
God has allowed Satan to exercise the power of death in today’s world (Hebrews 2:14). This includes peaceful death, and violent death in war, violent nature, only by God’s permission (Job 1:7-17). We are told specifically that it is appointed to all to die once (Hebrews 9:27). So, as some have said, the real question is not if, but when, and where we will go, and where will we be, when we die. Most of the world tries to ignore the issue, through it’s endless, unceasing activity, and busy-ness. Of course, like many other similar issues, it does not go away. In this case, it only gets closer. Today, we will attempt to address the where, as it applies to those who already are trusting in Jesus Christ, have the Holy Spirit, and have eternal life dwelling in them (1 John 5:12-13).
In attempting to know for certain what happens immediately when one dies, many opinions and theories have evolved (pardon the word..), down through the centuries. There are still many such beliefs and opinions. I suppose we could just say, “Well, does it really matter…?”. But as the old advertisement said from years ago, “inquiring minds want to know”. We can “know” for sure only what is plainly revealed. No more. All else is pure speculation. Except of course to those who are convinced otherwise. There are at least two entrenched beliefs regarding our destination, and condition after death. One, our spirit goes to be with Christ in heaven, if we are true believers. This seems to be fairly sustainable in view of Paul’s vision (2 Corinthians 12:1-4), and his stated preference to die in order to be with the Lord, which would be better.
Then there is the “soul sleep”, called such because of Jesus’ statement about Lazarus that he was asleep, before resurrecting him. This state is assumed to be much like a living sleep; there is no conscious awareness of the passage of time - one second we are alive, the next we awake in heaven. There are other beliefs about details, etc., beyond the scope of this article.
Initially at least, it seems fairly certain that our abode after death will be in heaven. As to consciousness or unconsciousness of our spirit, the only certainty seems to be uncertainty, as far as the belief of most Christians. This seems evident by two scriptures. First, the account of Stephens death (Acts 7:59), and our Lords dying words on the cross (Luke 23:46), where in both instances the spirit is requested to be received by God. David also refers to God receiving his spirit. The author of Hebrews makes a very interesting reference to “the spirits of just men made perfect”, that are in heaven. This lends support to the belief that our completed perfection as truly born again children of God will be after death, in heaven, before our bodily resurrection. We can never be perfected in the flesh, although we are accounted as perfected through Christ. Our perfected spirit will be united in a perfect and eternal spiritual body. Paul’s description of his vision could be taken to imply consciousness in heaven, although he is not specific in this regard. Otherwise, it is just personal conviction in each person’s heart and mind.
Regardless of our disposition after we die, another much more important - and exciting - factor is involved. It is the most astounding, and for some the most unbelievable one of all.
More next time…
“For we know that if the tent which is our earthly home is destroyed (dissolved), we have from God a building, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Here indeed, in this [present abode, body], we sigh and groan inwardly, because we yearn to be clothed over [we yearn to put on our celestial body like a garment, to be fitted out] with our heavenly dwelling, So that by putting it on we may not be found naked (without a body). For while we are still in this tent, we groan under the burden and sigh deeply (weighed down, depressed, oppressed)--not that we want to put off the body (the clothing of the spirit), but rather that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal (our dying body) may be swallowed up by life [after the resurrection]. Now He Who has fashioned us [preparing and making us fit] for this very thing is God, Who also has given us the [Holy] Spirit as a guarantee [of the fulfillment of His promise]. So then, we are always full of good and hopeful and confident courage; we know that while we are at home in the body, we are abroad from the home with the Lord [that is promised us].” - 2 Corinthians 5:1-6 (AmpBible
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