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Doctrine of Death – Part 4

V. Why do some bad believers die young?

A. Overmuch Wickedness – Ecclesiastes 7:17 – “Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?” Solomon sufficiently warns us here that a person who is overmuch wicked can die before his time. There is a divinely appointed time for each of us to die: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Hebrews 9:27) An unrepentant believer can move up that date on God’s calendar. Remember that “Christians” are still sinners, but sinners saved by Grace. A Christian has the capacity to commit just as horrendous sin as a lost person, especially when we are not walking closely with the Lord by staying in His Word and growing according to His plan. God’s merciful nature is to give people “space to repent” (Revelation 2:21) If one of His children persists in disobedience, He will remove that person so they cannot sin anymore. Any good parent “pulls their children in” when they are being bad. We call it being “grounded.”

English: The barren fig tree. French School. I...B. No Fruit – If a tree in an orchard does not bear fruit, it is removed and another tree is put in its place. Bearing fruit can save your life. Consider the parable of the barren fig tree: “He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.” (Luke 13:6-9)

God demands results. If we do not produce, He will replace us with someone who will. Jesus said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: …” (John 15:16)

C. Chastisement – The ultimate chastisement of a believer is death. ” For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” (1 Corinthians 11:30-32) In the Bible, the word “sleep” is often used synonymously with death. Here, chastisement refers to a father’s correction of his children. This is why some believers are weak, some are sickly, and some sleep (die prematurely).

The Lord chastens His children, but thankfully He does not condemn them. This is referring to the sleep of the body, not the sleep of the soul or spirit. As we have already seen, the spirit and soul never sleep. They go immediately upward to God or downward to hell. The body “sleeps” in the grave until the resurrection: “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51)

” 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. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 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 them which are asleep.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-15)

D. Defiling the Temple of God – 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” The word “defile” means “to ruin by immoral influence, to deprave.” The body is holy. It is the temple of God. It is not to be defiled. The believer needs to stay away from all vices: alcohol, illegal drugs, junk food, gluttony, sexual sins, cigarettes, etc. What could be more clear?

E. Sin Unto Death – 1 John 5:16-17 “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.” Some sins are greater than others – John 19:11 “Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.” Our position in Christ is eternally secure, but a great sin can lead to a person’s premature physical death. There are sins unto death. There are sins not unto death.

Some examples of sins unto death:

1. For Achan, it was covetousness – Joshua 7:20-21, 25-26 “And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it. And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.”

2. For Korah, it was the sin of rebellion against those in authority – “Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men: And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown. And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them: And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.” (Numbers 16:1-2, 31-32)

3. For Ananias and Sapphira, it was lying to the Holy Spirit – “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things… And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.” (Acts 5:1-5, 7-10)

There are other examples in Scripture where people came under immediate judgment from God because of a sin unto death. I believe what is presented here is sufficient to make God’s point from His Word.

Death of Ananias

Death of Ananias (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2013 in God's Truth

 

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Doctrine of Death – Part 3

IV. Why Do Some Good Christians Die Young?

Like the Bible promises, the average life-span in America today is about 70 or 80 years of age. The Bible says: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” (Psalms 90:10)

Cover of "To Every Thing There Is A Seaso...There is a time to be born and a time to die: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2) Yet it seems that some times a good Christian dies well before the normal life expectancy. Why might this be?

A. Martyrdom – Millions of God’s people have been killed for the faith. Men and women, adults and children. Here are some examples:

1. Abel – “And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” (Genesis 4:8)

2. Zechariah – ” And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you. And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD.” (2 Chronicles 24:20-21); “From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.” (Luke 11:51)

3. John the Baptist – “And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison,” (Mark 6:27)

4. Stephen – “Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. (Acts 7:57-58)

5. James – ” And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.” (Acts 12:2)

Also remember – God watched His own Son die at the age of 33.

B. To save them from them evil to come – “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.” (Isaiah 57:1-2) God knows the future. We do not. Some times, to save someone fro something evil, God – in His love – relocated them to Heaven. This great act of love on God’s part is often hard to understand for humans looking at the situation from this side. I have seen instances where innocent babies were born to sick, addicted, abusive parents and were murdered by them or taken by SIDS. I believe that God rescues those babies from a horrendous life of pain and heartache, that He knew they would not be strong enough to endure.

C. To be closer to God – “And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” (Genesis 5:22-24). It appears that the birth of his son, Methuselah, caused Enoch to draw close to God. The birth of a child often “jolts” an adults from lethargy into reality. Enoch was about 65 years old when his son was born. This caused Enoch to grow close to God and walk with Him for the next 300 years.

“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:5-6) Enoch had a testimony! He pleased God and God took him. Enoch did not die, but he is an example to us that God sometimes takes younger people to Himself. Death is not a penalty for the one walking righteously. It is a reward!

English: Jesus ascending to heaven

“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21); “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:” (Philippians 1:23) “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8); “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” (Psalms 116:15)

Most people in Enoch’s day lived to be 900 years old. Enoch was translated to Heaven at the age of 365. He only lived about 40% of his life. That would be like a man today living to the age of 30. Missionary David Brainerd only lived to be 29, but his life still influences missionaries today, 200 years later. The closer to God on earth, the closer to God in Heaven. Sometimes God loves fellowship with someone so much that the only way it can be closer is for God to take that person to Heaven. Such is the example of Enoch.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2013 in God's Truth

 

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Doctrine of Death – Part 2

III. Who Has the Power of Death?

Rubens Last Judgment (detail) 1617

A. God has the power to put to death – “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28); God has appointed that every person die and be judges someday. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Hebrews 9:27); “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31)

B. The devil has the power of death – “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;” (Hebrews 2:14)

When the Lord puts someone to death, it is because of His righteous judgment and the guilt of their sin: “Righteous art thou, O LORD, and upright are they judgments.” (Psalms 119:137); “And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.” (Revelation 16:7); “For true and righteous are his judgments: …” (Revelation 19:2a)

When the devil kills, it is because he is a heartless murderer. One of his greatest lusts is to kill. “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, …” (John 8:44a)

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

Satan is the tempter behind wars, drunk driving deaths, abortions, murders, intentional starvation, genocide, homicide, ethnic cleansing, etc.

C. Man (appointed government) has the power of death – Though no man should be a murderer, mankind – in the sense of government ordained by God – must execute capital punishment upon the guilty. “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” (Genesis 9:6) Dare I say, it there was more capital punishment, perhaps there would be less murder.

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.” (Romans 13:1-5)

“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.:” (1 Peter 2:13-14)

Even Jesus submitted to the Roman government in regards to capital punishment though He was an innocent man. John 19:10-11 “Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.”

 

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2013 in God's Truth

 

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Doctrine of Death – Part 1

Okay, I think I am back on task now. I have been sharing studies on Biblical Doctrine, taught by our Preacher Carroll at our church. The next doctrine in the series is the Doctrine of Death. I will bet not many are aware of this doctrine, but it is taught in God’s Word and it is very important in helping us understand God and His Word, and the story of creation.

I. What is Death?

A. Death is the departure of the spirit from the body in humans and animals. Ecclesiastes 3:21 “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” I used to think that my beloved pets went to Heaven when they died; as children need to believe, I guess. I even read a some of a book once, that said it was based on the Bible, that tried to prove that our pets go to Paradise when they die, but I learned that it was just a lot of verses taken out of context to try and prove the author’s point. Although there will be animals in Heaven, they will not be our departed pets.

James 2:26 “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

When the little maid came back to life, her spirit came back into her: “And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.” (Luke 8:53-55)

The Death of Jesus

When Stephen was stoned to death, he gave up his spirit: “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (Acts 7:59)

The phrase “gave up the ghost” is found 19 times in Scripture. The word “ghost” comes from the same word that is translated “spirit.” Notice both words were alike in Luke 23:46: “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”

B. Death is also the departure of the soul from a human. There are two invisible beings inside of us: a spirit and a soul. When Jesus died on the Cross, His spirit went to Heaven (Luke 23:46), and His soul went into hell “Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.” (Acts 2:27, 31) The spirit and soul are distinctly different and both leave the body at death: 1 Kings 17:21-22, ” 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 come into him again. And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.” Animals do not have souls, only humans do. Animals have spirits.

II. Why is there Death?

A. God promised that man would die if disobedient to His commandment, “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)

Illuminated parchment, Spain, circa AD 950-955...

Illuminated parchment, Spain, circa AD 950-955, depicting the Fall of Man, cause of original sin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

B. Man disobeyed the law of God and sinned, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” (Genesis 3:6) “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John 3:4)

C. Death came by that sin, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” (Romans 5:12) Man became corrupt because of Adam’s willing disobedience. That corrupted nature has been passed on down to all of us. We have become not only sinners by nature (birth), but also sinners by choice. Not just Adam, but all like him have chosen to sin. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23) “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

And the wages of sin is death: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22)

Not only did death come to mankind by Adam’s sin, but the whole creation came under the curse of sin. This is why plants and animals get old, sick, and die. “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Genesis 3:17-19) “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaleth in pain together until now.” (Romans 8:22)

Because death came by sin, the believer in the Lord must reject the theory of evolution or the gap theory. These teach that man, plants, and animals evolved after millions of years of life, death, and changes. The Bible teaches that death came after man sinned, not before.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2013 in God's Truth

 

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