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- Christianity, the Bible & Jesus
Death is inevitable. It does not generate news; but, it does generate interest. According to Wikipedia, per every 1,000 people of the total world population there are approximately 9.5 deaths per year. It is estimated that there are 7,170,000,000 (that's 1.17 billion) people living on the planet today. This gives us 68,115,000 deaths per year, making it 186,616 deaths per day. This seems to be an almost morbid number; however, when you get down to "brass tax", one of these 186,616 deaths will one day be me, or even you. Death is inevitable.
Everyone one of us...you and me and him and her and they and them...at one point or another will question aspects of our lives.
- Who am I?
- What happens to me when I die?
- How do I fit in with God's purpose in creation?
There are three (3) attitudes each of us can take in pondering these questions about death...
- ...ignore death completely.
- ...take the view that death is not really what it seems to be.
- ...face the stark realities of death; but, seek out an escape from it.
Let's explore further...
1. Ignore death.
With all the marvelous technological and scientific advances in our society with electronics, virtual computer programs and health & wellness medicines, along with the prospects of longer life due to better nutrition and greater biological education, we, as humans, have been given the ability to extend the length of our years. That being the case, death is a future event that doesn't need to be paid any attention; not yet anyway.
2. Take the view that death is not really what it seems to be.
Many people feel that death is not the end of life; but, a gateway to eternity. That the "immortal soul" cannot die, and is, therefore, released from the body, when the body ceases to live, and then lives on itself in some other form.
Mankind must face reality. God, being Creator and the Author & Finisher of life is very specific on the subject of death.
3. Face the stark realities of death; but, seek out an escape from it.
Ecclesiastes 9:5 & 10--"For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither rworking nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom."
These are not necessarily comforting verses to read; but, they should invoke some sense of humitlity in each one of us.
Isaiah 66:2--"Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?" declares the Lord. "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word."
The Lord, Himself, beseeches us to show humility in all things. The opposite of this is pride. Pride is a sin. Though mankind can be naturally good, and was created as such before "the fall" in the Garden of Eden, having an immortal soul appeals to an inherent pride within us. It is this pride that causes us to search for ways to become immortal; but, for all our technological and/or scientific advances, there is still only one Way (Jesus).
the Nature of Man
The Bible tells the story of mankind. How we were created and how we will die.
Genesis 2:7--"the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being."
God is THE Creator of all life; to include all animals and all mankind...every living thing. He formed and shaped Adam's body from the elements that form the basis of all matter.
Man and His Soul
Life, as we know it, is not necessarily easy to define. Life comes with feelings and emotions and internal organs that have to all work together; but, life is easy to recognize. Either you are alive and your heart is beating or you are not alive and there is no function to any of your internal organs. This is because a human being must have a body for he or she to have life.
James 2:26--"As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead."
We, as human beings, have dubbed the soul with many different names; 'man', 'animal', 'mind', 'beast', 'creature'. However, we, as human beings, must remember that our soul, in the Bible, has never been connected with us being immortal.
Ecclesiastes 3:19-20--"Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animas. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return."
The soul cannot, does not, live separately on after the physical body dies. This is true for animals, and this is true for human beings. We, mankind, are dependent upon God for our very lives. He is the Creator. He is the one who breathes our lives into our bodies.
Job 34:14-15--"If it were his intention and he withdrew his spirit and breath, all mankind would perish together and man would return to the dust."
John 3:13--"'No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven-the Son of Man.'"
Ezekiel 18:4 & 20--"For every linging soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son-both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die. The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the giuilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him."
Romans 3:23-"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
We will all die. We will all die and become as unconscious people, knowing nothing, until time comes for the "Resurrection of the Dead".
The original purpose for the creation of mankind was for God's pleasure.
Philippians 2:13--"for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."
In His creating us, He also gave us a free will...we can choose to obey Him or we can choose to disobey Him; it's that simple.
Man's Failure & Condemnation
Man (and woman) was given one very simple rule.
Genesis 2:16-17--"And the Lord god commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowedge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.'"
There were no other rules given, or mentioned; just this one. Mankind had full reign of the Garden and Eden and all that was in it. There was only one rule; one true whose "fruit" was not to be eaten. And because that one rule could not be followed, mankind gave himself the sentence of death.
Genesis 3:19-"'By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.'"
Mankind subjected himself to the just condemnation of God. Mankind disobeyed. Death was the only punishment that could be known as just.
three letters...S I N...one very powerful word
Sin, no matter how great or how small (a little white lie or the cold-blooded murder of another human being) holds a punishment...death.
Ezekiel 18:4--"For every living souldbelongs to me, the father as well as the son-both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die."
Since sin brings us a death sentence; should we not know, and understand, what sin is?
1 John 3:4--"Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness."
James 4:17--"Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."
Sin, in it's very simplest form, is direct disobedience to God's will.
Romans 3:23--"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Romans 6:23--"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
This sin, this disobedience, this choice to not follow God's plan or purpose is universal. ALL of us sin; ALL of us fall short of the mark. ALL=EVERY ONE=EVERY PERSON. This sinful nature, this rebelliousness that in inherent in us was passed to us through the very first sin...the one simple rule being "you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil". This is a passed down flaw. We can call it "human nature", "the flesh" or "the carnal mind"; but, at the root of whatever we call it, it is SIN. It is an stubborn and obstinate disregard for the things of God, and it has our present day world in a very troubled state of being.
There is a hope!
God is just, this is why men (and women) must die. His justice cannot, will not, allow for us, as sinners, to live a 'forever' life. But, no matter how flat a pancake is, it still has two sides (Dr. Phil MacGraw). The flip side of God's justice is that He is also merciful and forgiving.
Psalms 130:4--"But with you there is forgivenss; therefore you are feared."
Daniel 9:9--"The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him;"
Psalms 86:15--"But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness."
And, yes, we do have a way of escape to freedom...
Galatians 2:16--"Know that a man is not justified by overserving the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Crhist Jesus that we may be justified by faith in chrsit and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified."
Faith is completely trusting in God, alone, and having a firm belief that He really means to carry out what He has promised (annihilation for the unrepentant sinner/new life for one who follow's God's way). Even if it appears that the completion of what God promises to do seems to be an impossibility, we must still have faith and believe. This faith is demonstrated by our obedience to the laws, commandments and will of God.