By Tyson Thorne

July 17, 2014

Death01 large

After reading the account of the first person raised from the dead (in the book of Acts) it seems like a good place to stop and discuss what this means and what death is all about. There are a total of nine accounts in the Bible about people being raised from death (the full list is below). We won’t take the time to examine each one, though that would be an interesting study we might take up at a later time, but there is much to be learned from examining the accounts as a whole.

The first thing that we know about death is that it is not the end. The Bible is clear that we were created eternal beings, and we will all live eternally. Death is therefore a gateway from a primarily physical existence to a primarily spiritual existence.

The second detail we know about death is it has a purpose. Physical death is a punishment handed out to Adam and Eve for their disobedience, and it has been a part of human life since (with two exception, which we’ll get to later). There can be, therefore, no “dignity” in death. The act itself is a reminder of failure and brokenness. By limiting the number of days a man can live God limited how much evil a man can do and death is simply a court date when an account must be given for one’s life.

The third fact we should know about death is that once the body dies, the spirit is translated to a heavenly realm for judgment. There is no human spirit that remains on the physical plane to wander and “haunt” the earthly realm. There are several passages of Scripture that bear this out including Hebrews 9.27-.28:

And just as people are appointed to die once, and then to face judgment, so also, after Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many, to those who eagerly await him he will appear a second time, not to bear sin but to bring salvation.

Of course Jesus also said to the thief on the cross, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” See also 2 Corinthians 5.6-.10. The Bible is clear that once the physical body dies the person’s spirit is born up to a heavenly plane for judgment.

The fourth element of death is judgment. All are judged, there are no exceptions. One’s fate is either eternal darkness and torment or eternal life in the presence of God. While there are many other truths about death this one creates some interesting questions in light of Acts 9.36-.42.

If one is translated into the presence of God for judgment immediately upon death, then Tabitha’s spirit was already in the heavenly realm and had been judged and accepted by God. This woman was already welcomed into eternal life and then came back – not like Jesus who had a resurrected body but back into her corruptible and sinful body. In all nine cases of being raised from death (Jesus’ experience was different as he was resurrected not raised, which will be discuss later) the people raised were forgiven by God and in heaven! What we do not know is if they have a choice to return, or if they remember their time in heaven upon their return. There are many opinions, of course, but the Bible is silent on this question.

It appears then that Hell (eternal darkness, Hades, Gahanna, or whatever name you give the place of eternal punishment) is a lockbox from which there is no coming back. Heaven, however, appears more porous. And we’ll discuss that next time.


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