DEATH AND RESURRECTION
All Bible quotes are from the New Jerusalem Bible unless otherwise noted
The New Jerusalem Bible contains apocryphal books. We do not quote form the apocrypha.

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INTRODUCTION

Since death and resurrection are so closely related (because you must be dead in order to be resurrected), we will present both topics from the Scriptures. Please remember, always test the teachings with Scripture.

First, we will address the biblical point of view regarding death:


DEATH
Let's take a look at what the Bible states regarding living and dying. As you read, you will see it refers to the fact that people originate from dirt, and upon death they return to dirt. Note that it is God who actually gives the force of life to our "dirt," just as described when Adam was created.

Genesis 2:7 Yahweh God shaped man from the soil of the ground and blew the breath of life into his nostrils, and man became a living being.

Genesis 3:19 By the sweat of your face you will earn your food, until you return to the ground, as you were taken from it. For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.

Ecclesiastes 12:7 And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in Sheol where you are going.

Isaiah 38:18 For Sheol can't praise you, death can't celebrate you; those who go down into the pit can't hope for your truth.

Psalms 115:17 The dead cannot praise Yahweh, those who sink into silence.

Psalms 6:5 For in death there is no remembrance of you; who could sing your praises in Sheol?

Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead don't know anything, neither do they have anymore a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

Since God owns our lives (Ezekiel 18:4), then it makes sense that one's life force returns to God when death occurs. At Ecclesiastes 3:19-22, the Bible says our sentience is gone when our bodies die and that we have no advantage over animals in this regard. An interesting thing to note is, though the Bible says a person's spirit returns to God upon death at Ecclesiastes 12:7, it does not say that it is only the spirit of righteous people that returns to God, nor does it say the spirit is a conscious, sentient being. Coupling this with the Scriptures that say there is no thought process in death (Psalms 115:17, Ecclesiastes 9:5,10), we can see that the idea of an "afterlife" seems contradictory.

The idea of death being a non-conscious state is further emphasized in the New Testament in places such as:

Mark 5:39 He went in and said to them "Why all this commotion and crying? The child is not dead but asleep."

John 11:11-14, 43-44 He said that and then added "Our friend Lazarus is at rest; I am going to wake him. The disciples said to him "Lord, if he is at rest he will be saved." Jesus was speaking of the death of Lazarus, but they thought that by "rest" he meant "sleep". So Jesus put it plainly, "Lazarus is dead."...he cried in a loud voice "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out, his feet and hands bound with strips of material, and a cloth over his face. Jesus said to them "Unbind him, let him go free."

1 Thessalonians 4:14-16 We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and that in the same way God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. We can tell you this from the Lord's own teaching, that we who are stil alive for the Lord's coming will not have any advantage over those who have fallen asleep. At the signal given by the voice of the Archangel and the trumpet of God, the Lord himself will come down from heaven; those who have died in Christ will be the first to rise.

Other Scriptures showing this can be found at Psalms 13:3, Acts 7:60, 1 Corinthians 7:39, 1 Corinthians 15:6,18,20,51 and 2 Peter 3:4. This is consistent with other passages which speak of death as a state of unconsciousness, a state of oblivion and non-awareness (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20, Ecclesiastes 9:2-3,5 Psalms 146:4), much like the condition of sleep. (Keep in mind that the Scriptures from Ecclesiastes are written from wise King Solomon, who had wisdom given to him directly from Yahweh -- 1 Kings 3:5-12, 1 Kings 10:1-9. According to Scripture, there has been no other human endowed with as much wisdom as he, and yet still he spoke of death in the above stated manner).

Although one's spirit/life force is intertwined with one's sentience, they are not one and the same. You must have spirit in order to have sentience, but you do not require sentience in order to have spirit/life force. To understand the difference between " life-force" and "sentience", consider this: If a man experiences brain death, he still has the force of life running through his body when hooked up to life-support machinery. His body is still alive: his lungs breathe, his heart beats, his blood circulates, his wounds heal, his hair continues to grow, etc. Because his body isn't decomposing, and because all his bodily functions continue, there is still life within his flesh, despite the lack of sentience. In human bodies, sentience comes from brain function in tandem with the spirit . If a human's spirit was sentient, then brain dead people on life-support would still have awareness, for their spirits are still within them, as the life-force remains . However, we know that brain dead people are not sentient, even though they are essentially alive. The only reasonable conclusion then, is that our living force/spirit lacks it's own, independent sentience.

Therefore, we can reason that, although a person's spirit/life force rests in God's care until the time of the resurrection (John 11:23-25, Acts 24:15), the person is not aware of it. This is very much like sleeping, a state of dormancy, as mentioned in the above quoted Scriptures.

Thankfully, Scripture tells us that there will be a time when death will no longer exist. Neither will pain, mourning, or any other related event. We are told Christ is to rule as King until he defeats all God's enemies, with the last enemy, Death, being Christ's final victim (1 Corinthians 15:24-28). Once this has been accomplished, no one will need to suffer the effects of losing loved ones to death anymore (Revelation 21:1-4). Since death will lose it's grip, that means a resurrection of epic proportions will occur as death is destroyed, since the destruction of death would essentially cause the return of life. Of course, we need to keep in mind that each individual's resurrection is contingent on one's acceptance of Christ (John 5:24, John 6:40, Romans 5:17).

 

RESURRECTIONS

What does the Bible say regarding resurrection?

The Bible shows God has the power to resurrect, or raise, people from the dead. (1 Kings 17:20-24, 2 Kings 4:32-37). When His Son, Jesus Christ, walked the earth, he also had the God-given power to resurrect the dead (Mark 5:38-43, John 11:11-44). Jesus gave the power of resurrection to his apostles (Matthew 10:8). God plans to allow a resurrection of righteous hearted people (Revelation 20:4-5).

Although most people are taught that all good people go to Heaven when they die, the Bible actually shows heaven is coming to earth after Christ's second coming (Revelation 21:1-4). Yes, people will be resurrected to immortal life on a cleansed Earth. We realize this can be a completely new concept to many readers, as mainstream churches teach something different.

When does this resurrection occur? Although it's possible for God to perform a resurrection at any time or place, it is not a commonly known event at this time. However, the Bible says there is a time planned for a major resurrection event to occur. Here are the references to this:

Luke 14:14 then you will be blessed, for they have no means to repay you and so you will be repaid when the upright rise again.'

John 5:28-29 Do not be surprised at this, for the hour is coming when the dead will leave their graves at the sound of his voice: those who did good will come forth to life; and those who did evil will come forth to judgement.

John 11:24-25 Martha said, 'I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day.' Jesus said: I am the resurrection. Anyone who believes in me, even though that person dies, will live,

Revelation 20:4-6 Then I saw thrones, where they took their seats, and on them was conferred the power to give judgement. I saw the souls of all who had been beheaded for having witnessed for Jesus and for having preached God's word, and those who refused to worship the beast or his statue and would not accept the brandmark on their foreheads or hands; they came to life, and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were over; this is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection; the second death has no power over them but they will be priests of God and of Christ and reign with him for a thousand years.

 

CONCLUSION

From what information we can gather from these Scriptures, we know there will be a major resurrection in the future involving all people who have ever died. The Scriptures do mention a resurrection of both righteous and unrighteous people at Acts 24:15, and at this point we aren't sure exactly what that means at this time. It could mean that all the wicked people will have a final chance to accept Christ. Or it could mean those who never had the opportunity to know Christ will get that opportunity and then choose. Or it may mean something else altogether. Regardless of that piece of the puzzle, through reading the above mentioned Scriptures, it seems a global resurrection is to start about the time of Christ's second coming, and comes in two waves: Part 1 occurs at the beginning of the millennial reign, and Part 2 occurs after the millennial reign. Although we can't pretend to know all the details surrounding these resurrections, we can at least be assured in Scripture that they will happen, and it will start sometime soon after Christ returns.

May our God and Father keep you comforted with His word, especially as we all sustain the loss of loved ones throughout our lives.

 


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