What Happens When A Christian Dies?? By Bill Diehl


To the Bible Discussion Group: Our discussion this time is again dealing with the "Blessed Hope" of the believer in Christ: the resurrection of the dead and the second coming of Christ. One of the members of our discussion group wrote and asked what is the meaning of the term "first-fruits" in the New Testament. So I am sending out to all of you my reply to him which touches not only on the meaning of this term but also on what the Christian scriptures teach regarding sin, death, atonement, resurrection, and eternal life. Quite a few texts were used to develop this response, but I hope that all of you will find the study joyfully comforting and assuring as you prayerfully read through it for your edification in the Christian faith. Bill Diehl (To be removed from this discussion group, simply reply with "delete" in the subject line) To my friend Bill G., I will try to answer your question about the meaning of our Lord Jesus Christ being called the "first-fruits". 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." In Christ, type met anti-type as He was crucified on the 14th of Nisan, the day of Passover, as the true spotless Passover Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Christ arose on the 16th of Nisan, the day upon which the children of Israel were to offer the "wave sheaf" of the" first-fruits" of the year's harvest (see Leviticus 23:10-11). Thus, again type met anti-type in that Christ arose on the third day after Passover (Nisan 14, 15, 16) as the "wave sheaf" of the "first fruits" of the harvest. The "harvest" which occurred at the end of the year for the people of ancient Israel is being used by Paul as a symbol or metaphor for the "harvest" will take place at the end of the world when all who have "fallen asleep" in Christ will also arise from the dead just as our Lord arose. The apostle Paul was allegorically or metaphorically applying the term "first-fruits" to refer to Christ as being forerunner of all who arise from the dead. Christ, the "first fruits" arose from the dead before the general harvest at the end of the world. The church of Christ at the "harvest" will be composed of those who are alive without seeing death at His second coming and those who are raised from the dead in the resurrection on the Last Day. This is the full "harvest" of the redeemed of the earth who will make up the Bride of Christ. The fact that Moses was indeed raised from the dead (Jude 1:9) long before our sinless Lord as the Passover Lamb lived and died and arose again does not prohibit Paul from using this type/anti-type reference to Christ as the "first-fruits" of the harvest. He is using the term "first-fruits" metaphorically as a synonym for a "fore-taster" or "forerunner". Christ Jesus our Lord is indeed the only true "First-fruits" of the harvest in that He alone is the sinless one who alone fulfilled the righteousness demands of the holy Law of God for us and became forerunner of all who will be raised from the dead by virtue of His imputed righteousness and holiness. God promised in Eden after the Fall of Adam that the "Seed of the woman" would crush the Serpent's head. Because of God's eternal covenantal promise in Eden that Christ, the "Seed", would live and die and arise again from the dead, Moses along with Enoch and Elijah were able to go bodily into heaven even though Christ's atonement for sin was yet many years in the future to their time on earth . Thus, to apply the term "first-fruits of them who slept" to our Lord does not mean that Moses or even those who arose from the grave at the crucifixion of our Lord could not have arisen from the grave before Christ's resurrection. (See: Matthew 27:50-53 "Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.") Christ is the unique "first-fruits" of the dead because he is in all things the Unique Pre-eminent One, "First-born (prototokos) from the dead" and the "only begotten Son" (monogenes) who has tasted death for all men. In Him, we who repent of our sins and put our faith in Christ's blood have all been brought to perfection through His sinless life and atoning death on the cross of Calvary. Because of who He was, Christ is the only "First-fruits" of the dead. This term "first-fruits" is again used metaphorically in the scriptures to also describe the church of Christ as those who are uniquely set apart through faith in the blood of Christ to be the heirs of salvation. James 1:18 "Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of His creatures." In John's prophetic symbolic description of the Christian church in Revelation 14 we again see the metaphorical use of the term "first-fruits" to describe believers from every age who have put their faith in the sinless life and atoning death of our Lord Jesus Christ, the true "First-fruits" of the church, the Head or Ruler, "arche" of the creation of God (Revelation 3:14). Revelation 14:1-5 "And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the FIRST-FRUITS unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God." Revelation 1:17-18 "Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore," So we see that our Lord is given many metaphorical titles or names to describe Him. "First-fruits" is merely one of many titles. "Only Begotten Son", the "First-born (prototokos) from the dead", the "Alpha and the Omega", the First and the Last, the "Light of the World", the "Word (Logos) of God", the "Branch of David", the "Morning Star", the "Messenger of the Covenant", the "True Witness", the "Lamb of God", etc, etc, etc. These titles all give us a glimpse of who our Lord and Saviour is. Those who falsely teach that all men are immortal by nature because humans supposedly have an "immortal soul or spirit" which can never die are merely echoing the lie of the deceiver in the Garden, "Ye shall NOT surely die". We are told in the word of God that God only has immortality. (1 Timothy 6:15 ...who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords 16 who only hath immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power eternal.) The saints will have immortality at His coming when "this mortal shall put on immortality" BUT only because we will again have access to the tree of life by God's unmerited grace alone. Revelation 2:7 "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." God barred the human family from the tree of life after the Fall . As Genesis 3:22-24 tells us: "And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." 2 Timothy 1:10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: Read the following quote from Genesis 5:5-20, 25-31. From the meaning of the words high-lighted in red. Do you think that the Lord might be trying to tell us something about what happened to the human family when, as a result of the Fall, it was denied access to the tree of life??? "And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died. And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos: And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died. And Enos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan: And Enos lived after he begat Cainan eight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years: and he died. And Cainan lived seventy years, and begat Mahalaleel: And Cainan lived after he begat Mahalaleel eight hundred and forty years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years: and he died. And Mahalaleel lived sixty and five years, and begat Jared: And Mahalaleel lived after he begat Jared eight hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Mahalaleel were eight hundred ninety and five years: and he died. And Jared lived an hundred sixty and two years, and he begat Enoch: And Jared lived after he begat Enoch eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died." "And Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech: And Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and two years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died. And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son: And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed. And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died." Now let's look at the New Testament: The young man whom our Lord raised from the dead was not called back to this world from a conscious spirit existence in heaven. If this young man had died and gone to the glory of heaven why would it be a blessing to come back to life in this sin-darkened old world?? The fact is that he was raised from the sleep of death, not from a glorious existence in heaven as a "spirit" : Luke 7:12-15 "Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, 'Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.' And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother." The young maiden in the gospels who was asleep in death was not called back from a spirit existence in heaven to once again live on this earth. It was the breath of life which returned to her body, not a conscious immortal "spirit" or ghost. While those ignorant of the hope of the resurrection stood about mourning her death, our Lord went to her dead body and took her by the hand and awakened her from her sleep to live again. For the believer, death is merely a sleep from which our Lord shall awaken us: Luke 8:52 And all were weeping, and bewailing her: but he said, Weep not; for she is not dead, but sleepeth. 53 And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. 54 But he, taking her by the hand, called, saying, Maiden, arise. 55 And her spirit (pneuma - breath) returned, and she rose up immediately: and he commanded that something be given her to eat. 56 And her parents were amazed: but he charged them to tell no man what had been done. Matthew 9:18-19, 23-26 "While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, 'My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.' And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples. And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise, He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose. And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land." Now let's look at how Paul viewed death. When did he teach that believers shall become immortal? At the moment of death? or at the moment of the second coming of Christ on the Last Day? Notice his counsel to the Corinthian church and how he views death, immortality, and the resurrection on the Last Day. There is not even a hint that Paul looked to go to heaven as a bodiless "spirit". Paul's hope is for the resurrection at the Last day as the reward of the believer in Christ!! 1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them (the resurrected believers) in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Corinthian 15:12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.... 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. 29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for (Greek: huper: concerning, dealing with, referring to) the dead? In verse 29, Paul is saying those baptized Christian who have died in the faith would have no hope if the dead rise not. Their hope is in the resurrection, not in a conscious "spirit" existence apart from the body!!! 30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? 31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. 33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. 34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. 35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It (the body: see verse 35) is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening (life-giving) spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. When does the Christian receive the glorified spiritual body? At the resurrection. Notice that Paul does not say that we will be "spirits" in heaven. He says that we will have a spiritual or heavenly body just as our Lord had a glorified heavenly body after his ascension into heaven to sit on His Father's throne. Paul is NOT even suggesting that we will be merely spirits. 1 Corinthians 15:51 "Behold, I shew 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: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? {grave: or, hell} The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:21 "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." 2 Corinthians 4:14ff "Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this (body) we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked . 4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest (down payment) of the Spirit. 6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. When shall we be "present with the Lord"??? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?" Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:20-23 "According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better." When will Paul be with the Christ? He answers this in chapter 3:10, 20-21 Philippians 3:10 "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." Philippians 3:20-21 "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." Even a child can see that Paul is not looking for some disembodied "spirit existence" after death apart from a physical body. He is looking and earnestly longing to be "clothed" with his immortal body at the second coming of Christ when Paul would be "present with the Lord". When Paul states that he is willing rather to be "absent from the body", he is referring to his earthly tabernacle so that he might be clothed with his "heavenly" house or tabernacle. Here are a few more texts to consider regarding how the word of God describes death. Acts 7:57 But they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and rushed upon him with one accord; 58 and they cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon the Lord, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit (pneuma - breath of life). 60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts 13:32 And we bring you good tidings of the promise made unto the fathers, 33 that God hath fulfilled the same unto our children, in that he raised up Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. 34 And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he hath spoken on this wise, I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David. 35 Because he saith also in another psalm, Thou wilt not give Thy Holy One to see corruption. 36 For David, after he had in his own generation served the counsel of God, fell asleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: 37 but He whom God raised up saw no corruption. 38 Be it known unto you therefore, brethren, that through this man is proclaimed unto you remission of sins: 39 and by Him every one that believeth is justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses "Spirit" also used in scripture in the sense of a "life force" or "vitality" or "feelings": Judges 15:19 But God clave the hollow place that is in Lehi, and there came water thereout; and when he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he revived: wherefore the name thereof was called En-hakkore, which is in Lehi, unto this day. 20 And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years. 1 Samuel 1:15 And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I poured out my soul before Jehovah. 16 Count not thy handmaid for a wicked woman; for out of the abundance of my complaint and my provocation have I spoken hitherto. 17 Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace; and the God of Israel grant thy petition that thou hast asked of him 1 Samuel 30:11 And they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David, and gave him bread, and he did eat; and they made him drink water; 12 And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins: and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him: for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights. 1 Kings 10:4 And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, and the house that he had built, 5 and the food of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of Jehovah; there was no more spirit in her. 6 And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thine acts, and of thy wisdom 1 Kings 21:5 But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread? 6 And he said unto her..... Matthew 26:40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Ephesians 4:20 But ye did not so learn Christ; 21 if so be that ye heard him, and were taught in him, even as truth is in Jesus: 22 that ye put away, as concerning your former manner of life, the old man, that waxeth corrupt after the lusts of deceit; 23 and that ye be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new man, that after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of truth Philippians 4:23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit . (ASV) Philippians 4:23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. (KJV) "Breath" In the Old Testament as the Breath of Life: Psalms 104:29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. 30 Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created Job 34:12 Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment. 13 Who hath given Him a charge over the earth? or who hath disposed the whole world? 14 If He set his heart upon man, if He gather unto Himself his spirit and his breath;15 All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust. KJV Job 33:4 The Spirit of God hath made me, And the breath of the Almighty giveth me life. Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 6:17 And I, behold, I do bring the flood of waters upon this earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is in the earth shall die. Genesis 7:21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both birds, and cattle, and beasts, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: 22 all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, 1 Kings 17:17 And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath (nesh-aw-maw: wind) left in him. 18 And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son? 19 And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed. 20 And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son? 21 And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul (Nephesh: life) come into him again. 22 And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul (Nephesh: life) of the child came into him again, and he revived. The meaning of "give up the ghost" in the Old and New Testament When the phrase "give up (or yield up) the ghost" is used in the Old Testament, the word used is "gaw-vah" meaning "to breath out". Genesis 35:29 And Isaac gave up the ghost (gaw-vah: breathed out), and died (mooth), and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him. Genesis 25:17 And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost (gaw-vah: breathed out) and died (mooth); and was gathered unto his people. Job 10: 18 Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had given up the ghost (gawvah: breathed out), and no eye had seen me! 19 I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave. The use of "gaw-vah" meaning "to breath out" to express death is consistent with the Genesis account of the creation of all living things as having the "breath of life" from God when they are created and given life. Upon death the person gives up this breath of life and "breaths out" his life or as we would say today, "expires", (from the word "expiration" or "exhale") Genesis 7:21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: 22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died (mooth). In the New Testament: the writers used the same phrase "give up the ghost" as found in the Old Testament. In translating the phrase into Greek they used the noun "pneuma" as in a breath of air. Matthew 27:50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost (pneuma - breath or spirit). John 19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost (noun: pneuma - breath or spirit). Mark 15:39 And when the centurion, which stood over against Him, saw that He so cried out, and gave up the ghost (verb: "exepneusen" - breathed out)........ The writers of the New Testament also used the Greek word, "ekpsucho" to convey the phrase "give up the ghost" as a synonym of "exepneo". A direct translation into English could be "He so cried out, and His life (psucho) expired". "Self" here used as one's life, person, or being. So it is clear that the phrase "gave up the ghost" did not imply that the person left his body as an immortal spirit able to live on without the body. James clearly tells us this in his epistle James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit (pneuma: breath) is dead, so faith without works is dead also. {spirit: or, breath} When Stephen was murdered by the Jews, the author of Acts is not telling us that Stephen's "immortal soul" left his body and went on to live in heaven. Luke is telling us that as Stephen falls asleep in death, he humbly acknowledges that his life is the gift of God's grace and invites God to receive it back until the resurrection day when Stephen will awake from the sleep of death. All believers who are trusting in the blood of Jesus have their names and lives written in the Lamb's book of life and will live again on the Last Day. God does not forget His own. There names are written upon His heart. Luke 10:20b "rejoice, because your names are written in heaven!" Acts 7:59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit (pneuma). 60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, 'Lord, lay not this sin to their charge'. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Finally we will briefly examine our Lord's statements regarding eternal life and living for ever. From the following texts it is clear that eternal life for the repentant believer in Jesus comes at the day of resurrection on the Last Day, not at the day of death. Christ makes it clear that the believer shall live again, not as a disembodied spirit but as a resurrected person with a glorified body. The Lord tells us that, though we die, yet we shall live; the believer merely sleeps, unaware of the passage of time, awaiting God's tomorrow at the last trump and the voice of the Archangel. John 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day..... 44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day......50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. 54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him . 57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. John 11:21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. 23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? To summarize the Biblical view of death: Article of Faith # 9. Immortality and Eternal Life We believe that the "just shall 'live' by faith". All who are justified by God's unmerited grace alone through faith alone in the sinless life and atoning death of our Lord Jesus Christ alone have the verdict and promise of eternal life and immortality. Just as the believer is reckoned perfectly righteous by faith alone, even so we have the gift of immortality by faith alone. The life and righteousness that we possess now are merely the small down payment of the righteousness and immortal life that we will have "by sight" at His coming. Death to the believer is a mere moment of sleep from which we shall arise to be like Him. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, we shall put on perfect righteousness and immortality at the Last Trump. In water baptism, Christians are "buried" in the likeness of our Lord's death and "arise" in the likeness of His resurrection. Even so, we who fall asleep in death shall arise on the Last Day to everlasting life through the promise of the resurrection. Death entered the creation through Adam's sin and so "in Adam all die". After the fall of Adam, the flaming sword hedged the way to the Tree of Life so that Man could no longer eat of its fruit and "live forever". But that flaming sword of judgment has pierced our Savior's side, so that at Christ's second coming the Tree of Life will once again feed the sons and daughters of God. Then we shall shout, "O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory?" Death has been swallowed up in victory through the blood of Calvary!! God bless you my friend, Bill Diehl www.PresentTruthMag.com Present Truth Magazine Present Truth World Radio

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