Death is a subject that may not interest very many people. For some it may be something that looms over their head that they just don’t want to think about. For others it may be a mystery that grips the heart with fear. Still others have some morbid fascination with death that defies logic and explanation. But one thing is for sure, it is something that is universal and affects each and every person who lives.
Given that death may be such an uncomfortable subject that most people don’t want to get into, or even think about, why would I devote a BLOG post to it? Especially since my BLOG purports to talk about Life/Religion/Politics/Science/and Philosophy? And while there may not seem to be any connection with death in that topic list, death is something we deal with in life, and it has very serious and important consequences in the Religious (Spiritual) realm. But my purpose for bringing it up today is to hopefully have people, especially, Christians, think about it a little bit differently than what is typically put forth in mainstream conversations. I believe that we treat several conversations about death incorrectly and that concerns me for a number of reasons. So that is why I’d like to share my thoughts on death today.
When we talk about death, the very first thing we should consider, and the most important thing we should clarify, is Which death are we talking about? For the atheist or agnostic, there is probably surprise (or disbelief) at the concept of multiple deaths. But for the theist, and especially Christians, two deaths should be known and understood. Scripture makes it very clear that there are two deaths (Revelation 2:10-12, Revelation 20:5-7, Revelation 20:13-15, and Revelation 21:7-9 King James Version Bible). If there is a second death mentioned, it would only follow that there is a first death. Christians know these two deaths as the physical death and the spiritual death.
Everyone knows of the physical death regardless of your world view. Things live and die. It is the cycle of life. For the evolutionist this is the end. Nothing else happens (by-the-way, if you are an Evolutionist who believes in some type of afterlife or spirit world, you are at odds with evolutionary theory which does not allow for any type of god or higher being).
For the agnostic, you might believe in reincarnation, so something that allows the spirit to still inhabit the earth (as in ghosts, ghouls, or goblins), but there is little rational thought around those ideas, and they lack purpose, meaning, or hope.
For the theist however, there is an afterlife, perpetuated by a god. And for Christians that God is Jehovah God. And the part of the being that carries forward is the spirit. And most theists, Christians included, believe that God (or gods for polytheists) provide a new body when this this present physical body dies.
The second death, or spiritual death is unique to Christians and Judaism, and has no meaning to either atheists, agnostics, or most other religions.
So far, I believe that about 80% – 90% of people are understanding of at least one, some, or all of these concepts and think there is nothing new here. So, let me ask you a question, Who owns death? And let’s be even more specific and identify who owns each death.
This is where I believe so many people begin to get things wrong (even in some churches). Because believe it or not, I believe they are not the same.
In Genesis 2:17 the death talked about is clearly spiritual death. This is obvious because when Adam ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he did not immediately physically die. But at the same time Adam sealed the fate of humanities mortality to physically die. And we know this because in Genesis 3:22-24 God clearly indicated that He would honor His original design should Adam eat of the tree of life. And God clearly took steps to not allow that to happen.
So here we see God exercising control over physical life and death. Both in the fact that Adam and Eve did not immediately physically die when they sinned against God, and by not allowing them to live forever by eating of the tree of life.
But what of spiritual death? Satan was the one who deceived Eve with a lie. We see this in Genesis 3:1-7. Yet God did not intervene. He allowed Adam and Eve to make a choice. Free will. To either gamble on Satan’s lie, or to adhere to the truth. And he allowed Satan to deceive because he gave over the spiritual life to Satan.
I am sure there are Bible scholars screaming at their screens right now. God did what!?! OK, OK, the proper way to describe it in the words of Paul is that Satan stole humanity away from God (Ephesians 1:13-15, Hebrews 9:11-16). But I’m going to maintain that no one, not even Satan, can steal from God that which He does not allow to be stolen. Allow me a few verses to illustrate. Christians know that humans start their physical lives dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1-3, Colossians 2:12-14). That is, we inherit the sin nature, and its condition, from Adam (Romans 5:6-21). And in this passage, we even see Paul explain that even though we did not sin in the same manner of Adam, we are still sinners (Romans 5:14).
What we see here is that from Satan’s initial lie to Eve, humanity has been trapped in sin (spiritual death). And we all see that God sent His Son in order to pay our sin debt (buy us back). And why would God need to buy back that which was stolen from Him? And what does any of that have to do with physical death? And what is the relevance to you today?
Come back and read Part II to find out.