Where do you think you are going? Sermon
Scripture reading – Genesis 3:1–5: “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it lest you die.’ And the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’”
God made many beautiful trees. He planted the Garden of Eden where He put Adam and Eve. He made 2 special trees in the midst of the garden:
- The tree of life
- The tree of the knowledge of good and evil
Genesis 2:16.17: “And the Lord commanded the man saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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’.”
God said: “You eat of that tree and you shall surely die.”
Satan said: “You will not surely die, your knowledge will expand and you will be like God.”
We know the rest of the story – they believed Satan, disbelieved God’s word and did eat.
What did God say would be the consequences?
Genesis 3:19: “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; For dust you are and to dust you shall return.”
Does man have eternal life inherent in him? Is man by nature immortal? No, he lost it!
On what is eternal life dependant? Man’s immortality was conditional and evidently depended on partaking of the fruit from the tree of life.
Genesis 3:22–24: “Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat and live forever’ – therefore the Lord God sent him out of the Garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the Garden of Eden and a flaming sword which turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.”
God had no interest to immortalize sin or life of sinners.
How does then anyone receive immortality – the eternal life?
2 Timothy 1:9.10: “(God) who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
Paul says this of God in 1 Timothy 6:16: “Who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see…”
In Romans 2:7 apostle Paul points out that immortality is something we are to aspire for not something we have in any part of us: “Eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor and immortality.”
Paul then goes on to say that those who do evil will receive God’s wrath (displeasure and abhorrence) and will PERISH (Romans 2:12)
John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Where does the idea that man or some part of his is naturally immortal come from?
God said: You shall surely die, you’ll return to the dust.
Satan said: You shall not surely die, you’ll be like God (immortal).
Belief in that lie is a basis of all pagan religions.
It is the foundation of New Age beliefs
It is the foundation of spiritualism.
All of them claim that within each person there is an eternal entity, a soul which after death passes to another realm or gets re-incarnated to another man or creature.
And if that “spirit” or “soul” lives on then cannot it communicate with the living?
Both Old Testament and New Testament condemn this practice as this would be a contact with the great impostor Satan and his evil fallen angels (spirits) from the dark side.
Deuteronomy 18:9–13: “When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or daughter pass through the fire, or who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer or the one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God.”
Psalm 106:28 speaks of Israelites’ apostasy at Baal of Peor: “They joined themselves also to Baal of Peor and ate sacrifices made to the dead.”
We need to understand that this involved communication with so called spirits of departed dead people or beings from the spirit realm!
In 1 Corinthians 10:20 Paul clarifies what these pagan ceremonies really involve:
“But I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice (or offer to the dead or supposed gods or spirits of dead) they sacrifice to demons and not to God and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.”
Belief in the immortality of the soul gradually found its way into the faith of Hebrew people.
Greek’s mythology with its dualistic (body – soul) view of man popularized it and in the time of Christ there was a great confusion about the state of people after death.
What did Jesus teach about this?
Four times in John 6:220.127.116.11. Jesus said that those who believe in Him and accepted Him have everlasting life which they will receive from Him at the last day. How? Jesus will resurrect them from their graves from death!
Read: “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should loose nothing, but should raise it at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him at the last day. Whoever eats My flesh (feeds on My word and lives by it) and drinks My blood (continues to depend on My sacrifice for him) has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”)
If Jesus is repeating this truth 4 times, don’t you think this is important and that He is trying to make a point?
Martha believed that Jesus will raise her brother Lazarus from the sleep of death at the last day – John 11:24: “Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day’.”
How did she know this? She was Christ’s disciple and listened to His teachings!
Jesus said it clearly in John 5:28.29: “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves (not in heaven, not in hell, not in purgatory or anywhere else) will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good to the resurrection of life and those who have done evil to the resurrection of damnation.”
Yes, all who have died (OT and NT call it a sleep or “they fell asleep”) will come to life.
Jesus will 1st raise His own from the sleep of death at His 2nd coming.
The lost will be raised 1000 years later after the millennium to be destroyed by fire (Revelation 20:4–6,9.14.15)
Paul speaks of the resurrection of God’s people in 2 key places:
In 1 Corinthians 15:20–23; 51–55:
“But now Christ is risen from the dead and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep (died). For since by one man came death, by one Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.”
Behold I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep (die), but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we (who will be living at Christ’s 2nd coming) shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is your sting? O Sheol (grave) where is your victory?”
2nd place in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18
“We wish you not remain in ignorance, brothers, about those who sleep in death; as you should grieve as the rest of men who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again; and so it will be for those who died as Christians; God will bring them to life with Jesus. For this we tell you as the Lord’s word; we who are left alive until Lord comes shall not forestall (precede) those who have died; because at the word command, at the sound of archangel’s voice and God’s trumpet call, the Lord Himself will descend from heaven; first the Christian dead will rise, then we who are left alive shall join them, caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord. Console one another then with these words.”
How about the near death experiences – people’s life after life testimonies (Raymond A. Moody’s book) people clinically dead, came back to life and testified they saw heaven or hell, passed through some tunnel, saw themselves in their out of body experiences?
Interesting studies were done and these are some main findings and explanations:
- over 90% of people whose heart stopped never saw anything or experienced it
- thinking and brain activity go on for at least another 20 – 30 minutes or more
- when brain is deprived of oxygen supply it has tendency to hallucinate or dip into its past reservoir of memories based on previous understanding, perception of death or information in the brain; based an expectation of fear or bliss
- it is possible that the Holy Spirit impresses sincere person’s mind with certain pictures familiar to him to give a motivation to repent after coming out of coma
You may say, are these things important for us to know?
Don’t Christians have right to their own understanding of this issue?
Why are you creating a storm in a tea cup?
Bible is rather clear on this topic and warns God’s people of Satan’s last days deceptions.
As the Israelites gradually accepted false views of death so have many Christians and both have opened themselves to spiritualistic deceptions.
Book of Revelation warns us against the satanic “sorceries” of world-wide mystical
These satanic manifestations will increase more and more and are peddled today by occultists, new agers and alas by more and more Christians who are opening to false manifestations of miraculous; some go as far as to believe they are holding communion with their deceased loved ones from the “other side”.
God’s people and Christians need to study the Scriptures for themselves – both on this and other topics.
(I respect the evangelical scholar Edward William Fudge who had a courage and integrity to restudy this popular teaching. In his book “The Fire that Consumes” Edward Fudge does a thorough research. Versed well in biblical languages he sifts through all the evidence of OT and NT, inter-testament literature looking at all texts and sources that in any way deal with the topic. He shows what the biblical teachings on this topic are. He goes into history and its trends that gradually infiltrated both the Hebrew and Christian views of death that gradually replaced or confused the simple truth of the resurrection. The sad thing is how few other scholars and pastors have the courage to go against the popular view and take their stand on the side of Bible’s own testimony.)