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Friday, August 10, 2018

What Happens to the Lost?

What happens to those who reject Christ (the Light and the Life)? Let's look at two verses all Christians know and love.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
-John 3:16

Perish = apóllymi (Greek)

Strong's: to destroy fully (reflexively to perish, or lose), literally or figuratively: - destroy, die, lose, mar, perish.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
-Romans 6:23

Death = thánatos (Greek)

The word is used 119 in the Greek NT and overwhelmingly means "death" in the physical sense.

Where it used figuratively, it still points to cessation of life.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life..."
-John 5:24
 
Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.
-John 8:51

If you start with the conclusion that "death" means separation from God and fiery torture, then you will read these passages differently. But that is reading what is not there. Before faith, I was dead (Greek: nekrós) in trespasses and sin (Eph 2:1). I was under the condemnation of God. But that condemnation was the condemnation of Genesis ("you shall surely die"). I was not being tortured.

Only believers will never see a full cessation of life for we have a new and everlasting life awaiting in resurrection. We die, yet we don't die. We see the Lord use "die" both ways and putting them together we have understanding.

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”-John 11:25-26

How can we both "die" and "never die?" The only way is to be in Christ by faith. Our bodies die (soul ceases functioning, spirit returns to God), but who we are is "hid in God" and therefore does not die (perish). In one sense, we are already dead, yet in another we shall never die. And we shall experience that new life in full when the Lord is manifested and we are resurrected.

For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
-Col 3:3-4
So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality [in resurrection], then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
-1 Cor 15:54

The Lord told us that man has no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. Paul tells us Christ died for our sins. This is the central message of the sacrifices and the cross. We sing about it in hymns and in contemporary music. The Lord paid the price by dying for us, for that is the penalty for sin. The Lord Jesus wasn't tortured by fire by the Father. The first Adam died and we died in him. The Second Adam died, but rose again that we might rise again. All else is mythology. "He gave his life, what more could he give?" His death, burial, and resurrection are sufficient. It pays the full penalty for it paid the full price: death.

We've covered this many times before. God alone is immortal. God does not threaten people with torture. The dead in Christ are said to be as "asleep." Remove the traditions of men and what you have is resurrection hope, which exalts Christ's resurrection to its fullest! He conquered death and the grave!

Our resurrection is not an asterisk or an addendum, it is EVERYTHING!

The original lie of Satan is "you shall not surely die" (Gen 3:4). This contradicts God's warning to Adam that if he disobeyed God, he would surely die (Gen 2:17, "dying you will die"). No threat of torture, etc. If "Gehenna" was a spiritual place of torture by fire, neither Adam nor God knows anything of it.

More on Gehenna next time.

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