Focus On Jerusalem


Death and Destiny
By Charles Strong

Death and Destiny


Today, in the closing days of 2004, the population of the world is approximately six and a half billion (6,500,000,000) persons.  And within approximately one hundred years every single one of them will be dead.  Since time began there have been trillions upon trillions of persons who have lived upon earth, and to date all have passed off the face of the earth—without exception.  The bottom line is that death is a reality that everyone, without exception, must face.


Yet, it is a fact that most everyone avoids the subject of death on a personal level.  This is particularly true of the young.  Death is far from their thoughts.  It is as if they will live forever.  Yet, millions of the young die every year from a variety of causes—disease, accidents, crime and starvation.  Still, the young entertain no such possibilities.  Oh, some may temporarily see the reality of death in a playmate or relative, but it is as if they are imbued with death-thought antibodies, which quickly produces amnesia of the event.  At the very least, there is no personal tie-in to it.


On the other hand, when a person becomes advanced in years, the reality of death becomes more in focus.  One realizes that even due to natural causes, death is “right around the corner.”   As the aches and pains and other visible physical manifestations of old age evolve and progress, one finally comes to the realization that he will soon die, no matter how much he has avoided the thought in the past.


This will be either a curse or a blessing, depending on one’s destiny.  To those who believe that physical death is a cessation of existence and to those who don’t, but have no assurance of the “after-life,” death is something to be feared, or at the very least, unwanted.  To those who hold such beliefs, old age and the continuous deterioration of the human body toward and including eventual termination is a very unpleasant prospect and experience.  At best, they can only take some comfort in past memories of youth, energy, adventures and affections.  But such memories grow dim in time as they realize there is nothing to look forward to—no bright future of any kind.


On the other hand, to those who have come to understand that the Bible is indeed God’s Word to man and have accessed spiritual birth and eternal assurance through faith in the Person of its gospel message, death takes on an entirely new outlook.  Instead of darkness, it represents light.  Instead of an end, it is a beginning.  Instead of despair, it brings thoughts of joy and peace.  Instead of a cessation of existence, it is a most glorious continuance of sacred life.  Such individuals, instead of fearing or dreading death’s door, look forward to it with eager anticipation.


Biblical Death


The Bible never portrays death as a cessation of existence.  When God created man, He made man in His likeness, in His image.  Part of the likeness and image of God, in addition to self-awareness and the possession of a will to determine one’s own destiny, is eternal existence.  Every person will “live forever” in one way or another.  With this understanding, the Bible then speaks of two types of death.


These two types of death are physical and spiritual.  The words used to express these concepts are the Hebrew word muwth (with variations) and the Greek word thanatos (with variations).  The meaning of each is primarily the same, that of separation from a state of life.  The concept of separation is the principal focus in either type of death, as follows:


  • Physical death—the separation of the soul & spirit from the present physical body.


  • Spiritual death—the separation of man from God, which may culminate in the second death (the term used to expressed the ultimate conclusion of spiritual death; although, in terms of separation from God, they are literally the same).


In the Bible the state of physical death is often euphemistically expressed as “sleep.”  See the following scriptures:  Deuteronomy 31:16; Job 7:21; Daniel 12:2; Mark 5:39; John 11:11; Acts 13:36; 1 Corinthians 15:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:13.


Universality of Death


Although there appears to have been rare exceptions to the experience of physical death in the past (Enoch and Elijah), which may in fact be the lot of these individuals in the future coming Tribulation Period of this world, physical death is and will be the outcome for every human being (note:  even at the Rapture the soul & spirit of man will separate from his present physical or “corrupted” body, as he takes on his new resurrected body), and every human being experiences spiritual death as a result of inheriting the sin nature at birth; although, depending on one’s choice in life, it may not culminate into its final state, which is the second death.  The only Person born of woman who never inherited the sin nature was Jesus Christ.  See the following scriptures:  Numbers 16:29; 2 Samuel 14:14; Job 30:23; Psalm 49:10; Ecclesiastes 8:8; Romans 5:12, 14, 17, 21; Hebrews 9:27; Isaiah 53:9; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 7:26; 1 Peter 1:19; 2:22.


Commencement of Death


Death, both physically and spiritually, had a beginning.  Both were initiated as a direct result of man’s rebellion toward God, otherwise known as “sin.”  This occurred in the Garden of Eden when man purposely disobeyed God’s clear instructions regarding the eating of fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.


And the LORD God 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.” (Genesis 2:16, 17)  See also verse 3:3.


Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned. (Romans 5:12)  See also verse 8:6, and James 1:15.


The sin of Adam caused both physical death and spiritual death to be introduced to the human race.  Because God is both just and holy, he had to exact a penalty for sin.  The instant Adam sinned, he spiritually died (became separated from God) and the process of his physical death (physical deterioration) was initiated in his body.  This duality of death passed on from Adam through the bloodline of males to everyone born of woman and man to this day.  Every person born of a human male from then until now is infected with the viruses of physical and spiritual death.  God takes no pleasure in the deaths that were apportioned to man (Ezekiel 18:32), but it is a penalty that man must pay as a result of his willful actions.


For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)


For the wages of sin is death . . . . (Romans 6:23)


Because man is in a state of spiritual death as a result of his birth into the human race, there are two possible outcomes that await him.  He may by his own free-will of choice (1) remain in the state of spiritual death, which will eventually culminate in the second death; or (2) escape his state of spiritual death and all its consequences forever.  And this escape is only possible because of the sacrifice (death) of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross approximately 2,000 years ago.


The Deaths of Jesus Christ


The penalty for sin has always been death, both physical and spiritual (Romans 6:23).  Man has always sought to achieve the approbation (approval) of God and thereby avoid sin’s penalty by human good (self-effort), otherwise known as “good works.”  This is the product of “religion.”  Yet God’s Word explicitly declares that all human good or merit is as filthy rags and can have no bearing on man’s salvation (Isaiah 64:6; Ephesians 2:8, 9).  Still, the penalty-price for sin must be paid in order for man to escape spiritual death and in turn receive eternal life.


As stated previously, a person may choose to pay the penalty-price for sin.  If this is his choice he will eventually be subject to the second death, which comes at the end of the Great White Throne Judgment before Jesus Christ where, because his name is not written in the Book of Life, he will be found wanting in light of all his human good (works) and be cast forever into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).  This then becomes his final and permanent state of being—conscious existence apart from God throughout all eternity.


Fortunately, there is another option to every human being.  Because Jesus Christ paid the penalty-price in mankind’s place, anyone may be delivered from spiritual death and all its consequences forever.  The Bible is a compilation of 66 separate books penned by some 40 different human authors under the direction of the Holy Spirit over several thousands of years, which contains but one integrated message.  That message, from Genesis to Revelation, is about Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross at Calvary in behalf of all mankind.


The whole purpose of the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, which was foretold by the prophets of old, was to pay the sin-debt (penalty) for man’s sin in order to relieve man from its consequences, an eternal state of separation from God (Isaiah 25:8; 53:12; John 10:11; 12:23, 24; Romans 5:6; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Colossians 1:22; Hebrews 2:9; Revelation 5:9).


Although it is impossible for man to understand the intricacies of the cross, what and how Jesus Christ accomplished this payment for sin in man’s place, the following can be known:


  1. Jesus Christ became spiritually separated from God the Father for a 3-hour period of time (spiritual death).  During this defined period of time, He paid in full the penalty-price for all of mankind’s sin.  During this period of time, from the 6th unto the 9th hour, the earth was shrouded in darkness (Matthew 27:45; Luke 23:44).  During this period of time, Jesus Christ cried out, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46This is when God the Father turned away from His Son, an indescribable separation of God from God, which in fact was the payment for the sins of mankind.  Finally, Jesus declared, It is finished!” (John 19:30The Greek words translated, “it is finished,” may also be translated, when referring to a debt, as “paid in full!”


  1. Not only did Jesus Christ experience spiritual death, the full payment for man’s sins, He also allowed Himself to die physically on that cross.  No man took His life.  He alone had the power to keep or give it up.  He chose to give it up in order to enter the grave and then be resurrected after three days.  This He did to verify to the world that He was indeed God incarnate (God in the flesh), that He alone has the power over life and death, and that He alone has the power to deliver man from spiritual death and insure man’s resurrection to eternal life.  See the following scriptures:  Matthew 9:25; Luke 7:14, 15; John 10:17, 18; 11:43, 44; 19:30; Romans 1:4; 1 Corinthians 15:4; Revelation 1:18.


The result of Christ’s death on Calvary was the elimination of the sin-barrier between God and man, as typified by the tearing of the veil, from top to bottom, within the Temple (Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45).  Now the way was made clear for every person to come to God and have eternal life.


Man’s Best Destiny


The Bible unequivocally teaches that man is subject to one of two possible destinies.  The choice is always up to the person.  He or she may avoid God’s clear good news of Christ and His sacrifice on the cross of Calvary and thereby eventually enter into an eternal existence separated from God, or the following faith-decision of the will may be transacted between the person and God, which will result in a blissful existence in God’s company never to end.


By faith alone in Christ alone anyone may personally escape spiritual death and all its consequences.  It’s a matter of exercising one’s God-given free-will by making a genuine decision to trust (place full confidence) exclusively in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for one’s personal salvation.  Once a person understands that he is in a state of spiritual death and eventually after physical death, he will face the consequence of the second death of being separated eternally from God in the lake of fire; and that Jesus Christ by His sacrifice on Calvary’s cross paid in full his sin-debt, he then needs only to accept God’s gift of eternal life (salvation) by trusting (placing full confidence in) Jesus Christ alone for his personal salvation.   This is a decision of the will to turn (biblical repentance) solely to Jesus Christ and from any one or any deed or anything else in the matter of one’s salvation.


The instant this decision is made is the instant a person is transformed from a state of spiritual death to one of spiritual life—conscious existence in union with God for all eternity.  The person making this decision may then be assured that spiritual death is totally and eternally vanquished, having been destroyed by Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary (Isaiah 25:8; 1 Corinthians 15:25, 26, 54; 2 Timothy 1:10; Revelation 21:4).


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