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FAQ - DEATH
What does this mean: "Blessed are the
dead who die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from
their labors; but their works follow with them?"--`Rev. 14:13`. How can the dead
continue their works when there is no consciousness, wisdom or knowledge in the grave?
`Ecc. 9:10`. (M.J.E.)
<ANSWER>--Addressing the members of the Church of Christ, the followers of the Lord Jesus, the Apostle says "Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." (`Col. 3:3`.) From the Divine viewpoint, so far as the earthly existence is concerned, these are reckoned dead, and alive as new creatures in Christ. It is these dead who die in the Lord. Theirs is a sacrificial death, and they die daily `1 Cor. 15:31`), until they have finished the dying process in actual death. But now, from a certain time, those of this class who die, in place of sleeping in the tomb, at the moment of death enter into the glorious heavenly state where their works will continue with them. St. Paul refers to this very matter when he says, "Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump." (`1 Cor. 15:51,52`). From henceforth, from that time, we understand the Scriptures to teach, the Lord's people have entered at once into their reward.
How shall we understand the Savior's words --"Let the dead bury their
dead?" (`Mat. 8:21,22`.)
<ANSWER>--When our first parent, father Adam, disobeyed the Divine commands the death sentence passed upon him, and in the legal sense and from the Creator's standpoint, he was dead although he lived for nine hundred and thirty years afterwards. The dying process began and was consummated when Adam passed into the tomb. The entire race was involved with Adam in this death sentence, as the Scriptures declare--"As by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin and so death passed upon all men." As in Adam all die" (`Rom. 5:12`; `1 Cor. 15:22`). From this view of the matter we may understand the Lord's word, "Let the dead (the legally dead) bury their dead (the actually dead)." It is because all were condemned to death in Adam that all will be made alive in Christ (see `Rom. 5:18,19`). Corroborating the words of the Lord Jesus the Apostle says, "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge that if one died for all then were all dead" (`2 Cor. 5:14`). Jesus, in the laying down of His life, was giving Himself "a ransom for all" --those under the sentence of death and those who have entered into the great prison house of death, the tomb.
Here is a Scripture that is confusing. If you can explain it I will be very
thankful to you. It reads, "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made
alive."--`1 Cor. 15:22`. What is the meaning of the latter part?
<ANSWER>--The correct translation of this text is thus: "As in Adam all die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive." Adam by disobedience brought death upon himself, and all his children being then in his loins all inherited death. The redemption price for Adam and all his race has been provided through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In due time Christ will offer to Adam and all his children, all the human family, life eternal. This offer will come to the world in the reverse order, however, the last being first and the first (Adam) being last. All after coming to a knowledge of the truth concerning the redemptive work of Christ, who accept Christ and obey him will be made alive. Accepting Christ and obeying Christ in the sense that they will became the children of Christ. Those who refuse to came into Christ will not receive eternal life, but will suffer eternal destruction. Christ is the Great Life Giver of the human race, and during His reign he will offer to all, life as a free gift, and those accepting it upon the terms offered will come up to full and perfect life.
If Moses and Elijah were actually dead, how could they appear on the Mount of
Transfiguration with our Lord Jesus? (`Mat. 17:1-3`.)
<ANSWER>--While Moses and Elijah both passed from the scene of earth's experiences under peculiar and mysterious circumstances, yet we are assured that both died. (`Deut. 34:5`; `Heb. 11:13`.) The Scriptures everywhere represent the dead as being in a condition of unconsciousness, "asleep" in the tomb, the grave--"The dead know not anything," for there is no wisdom, nor device, nor knowledge in the grave whither thou goeth" (`Eccl 9:5,10`). We must carefully examine the text under consideration, for the true meaning, recognizing that all of the expressions of the inspired Scriptures are in complete harmony. The ninth verse of this same chapter explains the matter, where we note the words of the Master- -"Tell the vision to no man." What the Apostle saw therefore was merely a "vision" of Moses and Elijah with the Lord, just as St. John on the Isle of Patmos saw visions of beasts, angels, etc., and not actual things themselves. Moses surely had not been resurrected and made perfect at that time, for we are informed that our Lord Jesus was the first to rise from the dead and be glorified. Note also the Apostle Paul's words in `Heb. 11:39,40` where he sets forth that Moses and the other ancient worthies of the past have yet to be made perfect by those of the church class when glorified in the heavenly Kingdom with Christ.
If the dead are asleep in the graves awaiting the time of the resurrection at
Christ's second coming, when all who are in their graves shall be awakened and shall come
forth, as the Scriptures affirm; how shall we understand the experiences of some who, at
the time of their departure from this life, see heavenly visions of angels, and hear
strains of celestial music? (W.E.D.)
<ANSWER>--As it is emphatically set forth throughout the entire Scriptures that the dead are "asleep" "in their graves" and that "the dead know not anything," "for there is neither wisdom, nor device, nor knowledge in the grave whither thou goest"; and that all will remain in this sleep of death until the awakening time, when "all who are in their graves shall come forth at the voice of the Son of Man"; we must conclude that the dying ones did not enter at once into heaven; and that what they saw was not an actual glimpse of celestial glories, but merely a phantasmagoria induced by an excited condition of the imaginative powers of the mind, with a correspondingly dormant state of the reasoning faculties. The Lord Jesus declared at His first advent that no one had ascended into Heaven; and the Apostle says that the sleeping ones will be awakened and changed at the second advent.-- See `John 3:13`; `1 Cor. 15:51,52`.
Will you kindly explain the words of the Apostle as found in `1 Pet. 4:6`? Who
were the dead that the Gospel was preached to? And when and by whom? How will they be
judged in the flesh and live to God in the spirit? (J.P.H.)
<ANSWER>--In the `preceding verses` the Apostles says "Speaking evil of you who shall give an account to Him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead." From these words it is manifest that he is addressing the followers of Christ who have became dead to the things of the world and alive to the heavenly or spiritual things. The Apostle continues with this thought, saying that it is for this reason (because we who are dead to the world and alive toward God are being called out now, as the Lord's elect class, therefore) the Gospel is preached to us who are judges as in the flesh, like all other men, the Lord may judge us in the spirit, begotten to a newness of life. These spiritual new creatures have their judgment time in this present life and are judged in the flesh with its weakness and blemishes inherited from Adam.
God said to Adam, "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely
die." How can you harmonize this with the record that "all the days that Adam
lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died?"-- `Gen. 2:17`; `Gen 5:5`.
<ANSWER>--St. Peter gives us the key to this question in his declaration, "One day with the Lord is as a thousand years" (`2 Pet. 3:8`). Father Adam began to die as soon as he was cut off from the privileges of the garden of Eden; for while he was living therein he had the Divine permission to freely eat of the trees of the garden--with a single exception-- and he was sustained by their life-giving fruit; but after his disobedience he was thrust out into the unprepared earth, and Cherubim with a flaming sword kept the pathway to Eden that he might not return thither to partake further of its sustaining fruit, but should die, in harmony with the sentence. "In the day that thou eateth thereof, thou shalt surely die" (`Gen. 2:17`). The dying there began, and continued gradually for nine hundred and thirty years, until life was extinct--Adam was dead. This all took place within a thousand year day.
Is there any difference between death and annihilation?
<ANSWER>--In the Scriptures we find that there are two kinds of death mentioned; the Adamic condition of death, and the "Second Death." The first could not properly be termed annihilation, as the Lord has arranged that all who have died because of Adam's sin (the whole world of mankind) are to be released from this sentence of death and awakened at the time of Christ's second coming. These, from the Bible standpoint, have merely been "asleep." Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man," and therefore the entire race will be awakened from the tomb. (`John 5:28,29`.) During the reign of Christ and His Bride, the Church, who then will judge or try the world, if any continue in apposition to God's law of righteousness, and love, and justice, they will go into the "Second Death." This condition of death is annihilation. "They shall suffer everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord." "But these, as natural brute beasts, shall utterly perish in their own corruption."--`Obadiah 16`; `2 Thess. 1:9`; `2 Pet. 2:12`.
What is death?
<ANSWER>--Death is the cessation of life; the cutting off of the great privilege or boon of living. It signifies annihilation so far as the being or intelligence is concerned. Death, as it now reigns in the world, and to which the entire human family is subjected, is, however, not annihilation, simply because our Creator has graciously provided a recovery from it. The basis for that recovery was laid in the death of our Redeemer--"the just for the unjust" (`1 Pet. 3:18`). The time for the recovery will be in the Resurrection Day, the Last Day, the seventh thousand-year-period from the creation of man. During Messiah's reign of a thousand years he will recover Adam and all his race from the effects of the first transgression, giving them life again. That is to say, the privilege of attaining to everlasting life and perfection will be placed within the reach of Adam and all of his race, and only by the wilful rejection of the grace of God will any fail to attain to this life. Such as wilfully and deliberately reject the grace of God, are represented by the Scriptures as dying the Second Death. That will be annihilation, or eternal death- -extinction as brute beasts--because no provision has been made for the recovery or succor of such (`2 Pet. 2:12`).
If a man has lived a sinful life, committed murder and robbed the widows and
orphans, etc., and then at the last moment, with his dying breath, confesses his sins and
accepts Christ as his Savior, will he not go immediately to Heaven and be with the Lord in
<ANSWER>--When we think of the vast numbers of vicious, depraved characters, hardened criminals, convicts, etc., who at the solicitation of clergymen and religious devotees have "made their peace with God" at the last moment before being ushered into eternity by electrocution or by dying a natural death, we wonder that intelligent people would for an instant entertain the idea that these had all entered into Heaven! Is it possible that the saintly followers of Jesus, who walked the narrow way of self-sacrifice, suffering and death, and who developed characters of love and kindness and goodness--that these saintly few, for the saints are very few, when they reach Heaven, will find it crowded with the lowest scum of the earth! Much confusion of thought in this connection has resulted from the misapplication of the Savior's words addressed to the dying thief upon the cross. By placing the comma where it properly belongs after the word "today," the meaning of the Lord's words is clear. The thief did not go to heaven, or to Paradise that day; but went into the tomb there to remain until the Kingdom of Christ is set up at the Lord's second coming, when Paradise will be restored. Not only this thief, but the other thief as well, may then receive eternal life on the terms of obedience to the Divine Laws of justice and love. Failing in this, they will die the Second Death.
"And I heard a voice from heaven saying, Write, Blessed are the dead which
die in the Lord from hence forth." `Rev. 14:13`. Who are the dead who die in the
Lord, and how can a dead person die? (A.C.D.)
<ANSWER>--There are three kinds of death mentioned in the Scriptures--the Adamic death; the sacrificial death, as death of Christ; and the "second death." The Adamic condition of death, passed upon all the human race because of Adam's disobedience. The world of mankind may be regarded as a convict race under sentence of death-- "As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men." (`Rom. 5:12`.) The death of Christ is different from that of Adam and his posterity. Adam died as a convict; the Lord Jesus died, not as a convict, but as a sacrifice for the sin of the world. His was a sacrificial death, and began at Jordan when He presented Himself in full consecration to God, and was "finished" (`John 19:30`) when He died upon the cross, three and one-half years later. From the Divine viewpoint, the Lord Jesus was no longer considered as a man from the time of His consecration; but was regarded as a spiritual "new creature." He was dead according to the flesh, and was alive according to the spirit. Thus it is with the true followers of Christ. "As many as were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death." (`Rom. 6:3`.) From the time of full consecration to God, these are counted as being dead, as says the Apostle-- "Ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God." (`Col. 3:3`.) These are the "dead who die in the Lord" --dying daily in the Lord's service, and in the service of the truth (`1 Cor. 15:31`). See also `Rom. 6:8`; `Col. 2:23`.
In `2 Kings 22:20th` verse we read "Behold, therefore, I will gather thee
unto thy fathers, aud thou shall be gathered into thy grave in peace." Then in `2
Kings 23:29-30`, we are told that Josiah was killed at Megiddo. Please explain and
<ANSWER>--The promise which the Lord made to Josiah, as stated in `2 Kings 22:20`, was because of the splendid work of reformation which the king had inaugurated and was prosecuting against the false and idolatrous religious systems that had become established in the land, during the preceding reigns of the kings of Judah. While it is not specifically stated that this promise was conditioned on Josiah's continued faith and obedience to the Lord, yet we can be assured that such must have been the case, for all of God's promises are of this nature. As Josiah did not die in peace, but was slain in battle, we would naturally be led to examine the Scriptures to find wherein Josiah had acted contrary to the Lord's will. The incidents narrated in the next chapter, are described more in detail in `2 Chronicles 35th` chapter and the reason why Josiah suffered a violent death is clearly outlined in the 20th verse. What a lesson far all--to mind their own business and not to meddle in the affairs of others!
In `Gen. 2:16,17`, we read-- "And the Lord God commanded the man saying .
. . but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the
day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." In `Gen. 3:4,5`, we read as
follows-- "And the Serpent said unto the Woman, Ye shall not surely die; for God doth
know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as
Gods, knowing good and evil." My question is: which of these statements are we to
regard as true? (I.D.)
<ANSWER>--The Apostle says that God cannot lie, and one of the ancient writers of the Scriptures declared that "God is not a man that He should lie." (`Titus 1:2`; `Num. 23:19`.) Our Lord, on the contrary, in speaking of Satan, the Serpent, said-- "He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh of a lie he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar and the father of it." (`John 8:44`.) In view of these plain declarations of the Scriptures, it would be advisable to accept the Lord's Word an the subject of death being the penalty for disobedience. Scientists, our own senses, and the Word of God, all agree that the dead are dead; and not alive, as Satan and all his emissaries would have us believe. See `Rom. 3:4`.
I've always had a sneaking idea that somewhere in the subterraneum depth of my
make-up there was an immortal worm or something which could never be extinguished, and
when this tabernacle that I am inhabiting disintegrates into its original elements, this
whatever-it- may-be will pass into the great beyond, off somewhere in the realms of
boundless space. Now, what I'd like to know is: ain't there some Scriptures that proves my
idea is correct? I ain't never been able to find it myself, although my grandmother said
as how it was there. (Z.E.D.)
<ANSWER>--The Bible does not speak of the place where "their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched." (`Isa. 66:24`.) This place, however, has reference to the Valley of Gehenna, where the refuse of the city of Jerusalem was cast. In this valley fire and brimstone were kept burning continually. The bodies of dead animals, and criminals who had been executed, were sometimes thrown into this place. These would frequently lodge upon the rocks and would be consumed by worms, which were undying until the carcasses were consumed. Thus the Prophet was forcefully picturing the absolute destruction of the wicked, and was in no sense picturing their preservation. As there is to be a resurrection of the dead, it follows that there must be something that is preserved when death takes place. This "what-ever-it-may-be" is the character or the identity, which, in the awakening, will be endowed with a new body and with life. See `1 Cor., 15th` chapter. Scientists and Bible students have never discovered any "immortal worms."
I have just lost a dear little girl who never was baptized. I am about mad with
grief and sorrow. Some people tell me that she is lost to all eternity and may possibly
now be writhing in eternal torture. I have called in our minister and he only shakes his
head in doubt. I have also talked with ministers of other denominations and can get no
consolation. I will appreciate it if your question box can give me a satisfactory answer.
I want God's word and no guesses if you please. (an anxious mother.)
<ANSWER>--We appreciate your sorrow and anxiety. Many mothers have been comforted by the Lord's word found in `Jer. 31:15`. "Thus saith the Lord, A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children, because they were not." (They were dead, unconscious, "The dead know not anything."--`Ecc. 9:5`.) These children of Rachel were not in eternal torment, and there is no record of their ever having been baptized. "Thus saith the Lord, Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears... they shall came again from the land of the enemy." Death is always spoken of in the Bible as an enemy, and the last enemy to be destroyed is death. (`1 Cor. 15:26`.) All the sleeping ones shall return from the tomb, "the land of the enemy," when Christ shall come again, (`John 5:28,29` --Revised version.)
Kindly explain the last part of the `third verse of Ecc., the eleventh
chapter`: "In the place where the tree falleth there it shall be."
<ANSWER>--We find this scripture to be in harmony with the remainder of the Bible and as particularly expressed in the ninth chapter of this same book of Ecclesiastes-- "for there is no work nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest." When an individual dies- -falls as a tree in death--so shall he remain in the same condition in which he went into the death state, even as the tree of the forest remains at rest. According to the ideas of some good, well-meaning people, when a man dies there is something that escapes and goes winging its flight around through space, and, according to this theory, this intangible essence that it is liberated from the body, is the real individuality, and thus the person is more alive than ever and perfectly conscious. With this view in mind, and referring to the scriptures quoted in the question, we would be forced to understand that when a tree falls it does not actually die, but something passes from it and it is very much alive somewhere. However, there is no such absurdity about the Bible teachings, to the effect that the dead are dead (and not alive) and will be awakened in the morning of the resurrection.