Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Death, What is it?

Meditation for the week of March 4, 2012

Genesis 2:17  but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."

Death is the last enemy that will be destroyed by the resurrected Christ (1 Corinthians 15:26).  Most of us understand that the Bible teaches that there is physical death (death of the body) and spiritual death (complete separation from God), but many of us really do not fully understand either aspect of death.  We have heard people say that “God is dead!”  Now of course He is not dead at all; but even if He were, what would that mean?  People who talk this way seem to think that death means that we cease to exist.  However, if we believe the Bible, death is always separation from someone, but it is never the cessation of existence. 

We see this confusion when we think about the death of Christ.  Christ did die for our sins.  But Christ is God.  So did God die?  Of course He did. He died physically when He bowed His head and delivered up His spirit.  He died spiritually in the three dark hours when He was separated from the Father.  Christ was God and He did die, but He never ceased to exist. 

We know that we are composed of body, soul and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23).  The body is the container for the soul and the spirit.  The soul seems to be our “real self”  (our personality or our minds) while the spirit is associated with breath and seems to be the energy that allows the body and soul to function.  If I were to use a car as a rough analogy, the car would have a body which contains an engine.  The body would be comparable to our physical bodies.  The engine would be comparable to our souls.  The gas that must be ignited to make the engine run so we can ride in the body of the car, would be comparable to the spirit.   Now I realize that Biblically soul and spirit are sometimes used interchangeably, so it is obvious that soul and spirit are sometimes difficult to separate and define.  Hebrews 4:12 says,  “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow.”

Most of us are concerned with what happens when we die physically, that is when our body ceases to function.  Since we are physical people living in a physical world, we can say exactly what happens to the body.  Once we die, the body is no longer able to sustain itself and so it decomposes.  We normally bury bodies.  Is that all there is to death?  No!  The soul continues to exist.  We know that was true for Moses and Elijah because they appeared along with the Lord on the mount of transfiguration (Mark 9:2-4), and they were talking with Jesus.  They were very much “alive” in some sense and could talk and be recognized.  It is obvious that death is not “final” and that our existence is not over when the body dies. 

The Lord tells us that our bodies will be raised from the dead and that we who are saved will serve Him in heaven after the resurrection in resurrected bodies.  I assume that Moses and Elijah were not in their resurrected bodies on the mount of transfiguration since the resurrection had not yet occurred, but whether they appeared in bodies of another sort or whether they were simply spirits at that point, I do not know.  But I do know that they had not ceased to exist.

The Scripture makes it clear that those who die “in Christ”, that is, having believed in Him before death, go to be “with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).”  Those who die “without Christ”, that is, having rejected His claim to be the Son of God and the sacrifice for our sins, go to a place of eternal conscious punishment (Luke 16:22-23).  Both await their resurrection (See Revelation 20).  The unbeliever will be raised to ultimately end up in the Lake of Fire in a body prepared for that place.  The believer will be raised to serve God eternally in a body prepared for that purpose. 

Physical death is not the end.  That is why it is so important to remember that the decisions made in this life will affect us forever and ever.  Unbelievers don’t “live” forever because living is always associated with a relationship with the Lord.  But they do exist forever.  Our eternal bliss depends on whether we have trusted Christ in this life so that we can “live” with Christ for eternity.

Bruce Collins

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