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Death, Martyrdom and Resurrection

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Question #1:  Hello Bob, The following link is to a story in today's NY Times titled "Hindu Threat to Christians - Convert or Flee".

 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/13/world/asia/13india.html?hp

This link is to a recent article titled, " Official: 3,000 Christians Flee Iraq's Mosul".

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=6010716

I know that Christians have been continuously persecuted all over the world, but is apparently now increasing in intensity and numbers. Concerning the Indian Christians in the first article, should not they have resisted unto death which (I am sure, is easier said than done)? I have read much about the early Christians who died because they held true to their faith and wonder if my faith would have been as strong. These articles seem to indicate that something very similar is happening in various parts of the world.

Your thoughts would be appreciated. Blessings to you always,

The family of Solomon Digal was summoned by neighbors to what serves as a public square in front of the village tea shop. They were ordered to get on their knees and bow before the portrait of a Hindu preacher. They were told to turn over their Bibles, hymnals and the two brightly colored calendar images of Christ that hung on their wall. Then, Mr. Digal, 45, a Christian since childhood, was forced to watch his Hindu neighbors set the items on fire.

" 'Embrace Hinduism, and your house will not be demolished,' " Mr. Digal recalled being told on that Wednesday afternoon in September. " 'Otherwise, you will be killed, or you will be thrown out of the village.' "

India, the world's most populous democracy and officially a secular nation, is today haunted by a stark assault on one of its fundamental freedoms. Here in eastern Orissa State, riven by six weeks of religious clashes, Christian families like the Digals say they are being forced to abandon their faith in exchange for their safety.

The forced conversions come amid widening attacks on Christians here and in at least five other states across the country, as India prepares for national elections next spring.

The clash of faiths has cut a wide swath of panic and destruction through these once quiet hamlets fed by paddy fields and jackfruit trees. Here in Kandhamal, the district that has seen the greatest violence, more than 30 people have been killed, 3,000 homes burned and over 130 churches destroyed, including the tin-roofed Baptist prayer hall where the Digals worshiped. Today it is a heap of rubble on an empty field, where cows blithely graze.

Across this ghastly terrain lie the singed remains of mud-and-thatch homes. Christian-owned businesses have been systematically attacked. Orange flags (orange is the sacred color of Hinduism) flutter triumphantly above the rooftops of houses and storefronts.

India is no stranger to religious violence between Christians, who make up about 2 percent of the population, and India's Hindu-majority of 1.1 billion people. But this most recent spasm is the most intense in years.

It was set off, people here say, by the killing on Aug. 23 of a charismatic Hindu preacher known as Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, who for 40 years had rallied the area's people to choose Hinduism over Christianity.

The police have blamed Maoist guerrillas for the swami's killing. But Hindu radicals continue to hold Christians responsible.

In recent weeks, they have plastered these villages with gruesome posters of the swami's hacked corpse. "Who killed him?" the posters ask. "What is the solution?"

Behind the clashes are long-simmering tensions between equally impoverished groups: the Panas and Kandhas. Both original inhabitants of the land, the two groups for ages worshiped the same gods. Over the past several decades, the Panas for the most part became Christian, as Roman Catholic and Baptist missionaries arrived here more than 60 years ago, followed more recently by Pentecostals, who have proselytized more aggressively.

Meanwhile, the Kandhas, in part through the teachings of Swami Laxmanananda, embraced Hinduism. The men tied the sacred Hindu white thread around their torsos; their wives daubed their foreheads with bright red vermilion. Temples sprouted.

Hate has been fed by economic tensions as well, as the government has categorized each group differently and given them different privileges.

The Kandhas accused the Panas of cheating to obtain coveted quotas for government jobs. The Christian Panas, in turn, say their neighbors have become resentful as they have educated themselves and prospered.

Their grievances have erupted in sporadic clashes over the past 15 years, but they have exploded with a fury since the killing of Swami Laxmanananda.

Two nights after his death, a Hindu mob in the village of Nuagaon dragged a Catholic priest and a nun from their residence, tore off much of their clothing and paraded them through the streets.

The nun told the police that she had been raped by four men, a charge the police say was borne out by a medical examination. Yet no one was arrested in the case until five weeks later, after a storm of media coverage. Today, five men are under arrest in connection with inciting the riots. The police say they are trying to find the nun and bring her back here to identify her attackers.

Given a chance to explain the recent violence, Subash Chauhan, the state's highest-ranking leader of Bajrang Dal, a Hindu radical group, described much of it as "a spontaneous reaction."

He said in an interview that the nun had not been raped but had had regular consensual sex.

On Sunday evening, as much of Kandhamal remained under curfew, Mr. Chauhan sat in the hall of a Hindu school in the state capital, Bhubaneshwar, beneath a huge portrait of the swami. A state police officer was assigned to protect him round the clock. He cupped a trilling Blackberry in his hand.

Mr. Chauhan denied that his group was responsible for forced conversions and in turn accused Christian missionaries of luring villagers with incentives of schools and social services.

He was asked repeatedly whether Christians in Orissa should be left free to worship the god of their choice. "Why not?" he finally said, but he warned that it was unrealistic to expect the Kandhas to politely let their Pana enemies live among them as followers of Jesus.

"Who am I to give assurance?" he snapped. "Those who have exploited the Kandhas say they want to live together?"

Besides, he said, "they are Hindus by birth."

Hindu extremists have held ceremonies in the country's indigenous belt for the past several years intended to purge tribal communities of Christian influence.

It is impossible to know how many have been reconverted here, in the wake of the latest violence, though a three-day journey through the villages of Kandhamal turned up plenty of anecdotal evidence.

A few steps from where the nun had been attacked in Nuagaon, five men, their heads freshly shorn, emerged from a soggy tent in a relief camp for Christians fleeing their homes.

The men had also been summoned to a village meeting in late August, where hundreds of their neighbors stood with machetes in hand and issued a firm order: Get your heads shaved and bow down before our gods, or leave this place.

Trembling with fear, Daud Nayak, 56, submitted to a shaving, a Hindu sign of sacrifice. He drank, as instructed, a tumbler of diluted cow dung, considered to be purifying.

In the eyes of his neighbors, he reckoned, he became a Hindu.

In his heart, he said, he could not bear it.

All five men said they fled the next day with their families. They refuse to return.

In another village, Birachakka, a man named Balkrishna Digal and his son, Saroj, said they had been summoned to a similar meeting and told by Hindu leaders who came from nearby villages that they, too, would have to convert. In their case, the ceremony was deferred because of rumors of Christian-Hindu clashes nearby.

For the time being, the family had placed an orange flag on their mud home. Their Hindu neighbors promised to protect them.

Here in Borepanga, the family of Solomon Digal was not so lucky. Shortly after they recounted their Sept. 10 Hindu conversion story to a reporter in the dark of night, the Digals were again summoned by their neighbors. They were scolded and fined 501 rupees, or about $12, a pinching sum here.

The next morning, calmly clearing his cauliflower field, Lisura Paricha, one of the Hindu men who had summoned the Digals, confirmed that they had been penalized. Their crime, he said, was to talk to outsiders.

Response #1:   

Thank you for these links! It is certainly true that being a true Christian in the devil's world has never been an easy thing. This will continue to remain "enemy territory" until our Lord's return (see: "Strangers in the devil's realm"). Unquestionably, at one time or another, some of our brothers and sisters in Jesus have it tougher than the rest of us. Then again, there are all sorts of threats. The devil modifies his attacks according to conditions, political, economic, and spiritual. I suppose it could be argued that living in a place where really being a Christian "costs you something" has at least the benefit of keeping your Christianity sharp. If, for example, a person knew that his only Bible might be confiscated and burned at any moment, most likely that person would be much more appreciative of the time and opportunity God gives for reading and studying the Word of God (instead of never opening it and never seeking out good Bible teaching). If said person knew that at any time he might be forced to face apostasy or martyrdom, that would certainly be ample motivation to make every effort to walk ever closer to Jesus every day (instead of lackadaisically leaving the Lord out his thoughts most of the time). The fact that in this country being a Christian generally has very few obvious material costs (though it may have social ones, it is true), and the fact that we can take for granted the time and the tools for Bible reading and even Bible study have generally meant and led to a sort of spiritual apathy exemplified by the church of Laodicea (which church represents our era, after all; see the link). From the eternal point of view, better to be persecuted and on fire for God as a result than to have no earthly opposition and fall completely asleep spiritually; better to be martyred for Jesus and claim a martyr's reward than to slip into apathy and sin, and lose all reward as a result – possibly even suffering the loss of faith and eternal life. For it is certainly the case that we in the West are under different sorts of satanic pressure from the diabolic secular culture in which we are awash, a situation wherein it takes a good deal of internal effort to see through materialism, secularism, and the overall fog of life when the siren song of easy and careless living beckons from the rocks on every side.

As to what these people should have done, I will say first what you imply, namely, whatever actually happened we have to leave it to God to judge in each and every such case. We cannot know what was in the hearts of these individuals when they were presented with their "choice", nor what remained in their hearts afterwards. As you say, courage under fire is easier given lip service before the fact than adhered to when under the gun. I would like to think that in a straightforward hypothetical situation where someone with a gun on me says "Covert to X or you will die" that I would sooner take the bullet than give any indication that my faith in Jesus Christ was not more important to me than life itself (some of the courageous Christian students at Columbine did that). But in the first place, we don't know how many of these Christians are really "Christians". It is difficult enough to tell in this country in the case of people with whom you may be acquainted, let alone in the case of third hand reports about people we have never met from cultures with which we are not particularly conversant.

Secondly, this is a newspaper article, and we cannot really know the truth of what happened from newspaper reports. Anything I have ever personally had to do with the media has only shown to me their general incompetence and horrific bias. I believe it was General Sherman who said, "I think I understand what military fame is; to be killed on the field of battle and have your name misspelled in the newspapers." Anytime I have heard a report on the news or read it in the paper, some details I knew of personally were dead wrong, even where the report was merely meant to be informative. In one recent case, a friend of mine was slandered in the local paper by a person with a mental condition, and the reporter never got in touch with my friend first or my friend's organization to see whether or not there was another side to the story before racing into print. I would imagine that if we had "been there" in India and had known these people and observed these events, our report would probably have been different. It may have been worse or it may have been less gruesome, but it probably would have been different. This is also the NYT, after all, and since they are arguably anti-Christian in their overall bias, they would be unlikely to report cases where Christians had stood up and said "I'd rather die!" I would imagine at least someone said this. What happened to that person? Were they martyred, or did God honor their fortitude of faith by delivering them? There are many things we cannot know from such reports, but what we can take away from these things as you are indeed doing is the realization that the world is not in fact moving toward some kind of secular millennium. Rather than getting better, we know from scripture that, whatever may betide in the possibly long interim, during the Tribulation before our Lord's return things are most definitely going to get much worse, and that, during those dark days, apostasy (see the link: "The Great Apostasy") and persecution (see the link: "The Great Persecution") will explode beyond all previous bounds. You are right to be taking note of such things and considering them, and doing what you can thereby to prepare yourself spiritually for whatever comes your way, being ever mindful of the fact that on the other side of that darkest of storms is Jesus Christ Himself.

In the meantime, we can certainly pray for these fellow Christians.

In anticipation of the day of great deliverance on the far side of all the terrors this world and its ruler can deploy,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Can you tell me how Peter and Paul died and where to find it?

Response #2: 

Although both Peter and Paul give indications from scripture that they were aware of their impending deaths (see 2Pet.1:14 and 2Tim.4:6-8 respectively), the Bible is silent as to the historical facts of the demise of each. The earliest (and best, although I use the term advisedly) source for these issues is Eusebius of Caesarea's Historia Ecclesiastica. You can find a translation of this work on-line at the following link at Google books:

http://books.google.com/books?id=LV8AAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA1&dq=eusebius.

In the second book of that work, chapter 25, Eusebius relates that both Peter and Paul were put to death during Nero's persecution ca. A.D. 64-68. Eusebius was writing nearly three hundred years after these events and was using written sources which no longer exist like Pappias (who was not an eyewitness himself either). So all we know about this issue is based on variable and second-hand tradition which cannot be verified. If you would like to look into the matter further, P. Schaff's History of the Christian Church would be an excellent place to start (in volume 1 on-line: http://www.ccel.org/s/schaff/history/About.htm).

I personally think that, regardless of the specifics, the likelihood of both of these great apostles being martyred is very high. Martyrdom seems almost always to accompany the highest level of spiritual rewards (cf. Matt.14:1-12; Heb.11; and see the link: in CT 6: "The Judgment of the Church"), and there is no question but that Paul and Peter will be two of the most highly rewarded believers of all time, each ruling a twelfth of the Church (see the link in CT 6, section VII.7 "The Gates and Foundations of the Wall of New Jerusalem"). Moses and Elijah were not martyred – at least not yet; they will be martyred after returning and fulfilling their role as the "Two Witnesses" (see the link).

In Jesus,

Bob Luginbill

Question #3:  I understand the idea of the gap theory, but what exactly does it entail for life being on earth other then the angels. Did the earth possess vegetation and animals and such? And if it did, does that mean that God destroyed all that life because of Satan's fall? I read somewhere on your site that Satan persuaded the angels to join him on the idea of experiencing physical feelings (or something to that extent); so does that mean you believe animals or other life was present on the earth? Just curious your thoughts; I apologize if it's somewhere on your site and I missed it; just wondering.

One more question: if there were animals or plants or whatever, then it should be assumed that they died right? And if they did, what about the verse describing sin and death entering into the world through Adam's sin. Wouldn't that mean that death shouldn't have existed before then? Not really sure, just confused.

Response #3:   I believe it's pretty clear that the Genesis gap is the explanation for the fossil record indicating verdant plant and abundant animal life before the re-creation of the seven days of Genesis 1:2ff. Originally, that might have meant no death. God creates perfection and God creates light; imperfection and darkness only come about as the result of sin and evil and the judgment thereupon. But there was a rebellion – by the devil – and that brought about God's original judgment, the after-effects of which are described in Gen.1:2 (and which would have included the blotting out of all creature life in the universe aside from the angels; cf. the effects of the Genesis flood). For more on this see the links:

The Satanic Rebellion: Part 2: "The Genesis Gap"

Opposition to the Genesis Gap from the Creation Research Institute

The Grammar behind the Genesis Gap.

The Shape of the Universe, Hominids, and the Genesis Gap.

Questioning the Genesis Gap

Whatever Happened to the Genesis Gap?

Where Can I Find More Information on the Genesis Gap?

Ex Nihilo Creation

Tohu in Genesis 1:2

As to Paul's words in Romans, clearly, Satan had become "the evil one" and the father of lies (Jn.8:44) before Adam fell. Therefore beyond all question sin did not originate with Adam nor did it enter into the universe first through him. Paul is talking about the origin of sin in the human race, and when he says "world", he is using the word in the sense "the world of mankind" (Rom.3:19; 11:15; 1Cor.1:27-28; 2Cor.5:19; etc., cf. Jn.17:6; 17:14); and that is the death he is talking about too, human death; and not just our physical death, but the threefold horror of spiritual, physical, and eternal death, the shroud that is only removed through the work of our Savior on the cross (see the link: "The Three Aspects of Death" [in BB 3B]).

Here is how I translate the verse in question:

So just as through one man (i.e., Adam whose antitype is Christ) sin came into the world and, through sin, death, and thus (i.e., Adam physically passing on his sin nature resulting in universal spiritual death) death spread to all mankind – for [obviously] everyone sins (i.e., universal sinning proves universal spiritual death), . . . Romans 5:12

The phrase in bold italics, "death spread to all mankind", shows that Paul has not had in mind here plant and animal kind (or angelic kind, for that matter), but human kind, all of whom became subject to sin and death through Adam's fall. So while it is true that the physical world suffers for the sins of moral creatures (i.e., the destruction of the original universe between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2; and the "curse" upon the ground as a result of Adam's fall: Gen.3:17; cf. Rom.8:19-22), Paul's argument in Romans is concerned with our sin – and the forgiveness of that sin through the sacrifice of our dear Lord Jesus on the cross.

I hope this is helpful – do feel free to write me back about any of this.

In the One who died and saved us from all of our sins, our Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob Luginbill 

Question #4:

Hello Bob,

I pray that all is well with you and yours. I have a question for you on the matter of a Christian's death. Based on certain passages like Psalms 116:15 and Philippians 1:21-23 where Paul said "to die is gain", I thought that we should not look at death in negative terms. Yet, in 2 Kings 20 - Hezekiah wept bitterly when told of his imminent death and was granted an extension of 15 years. Now I don't know anyone, including myself, who is rushing their demise, what are your thoughts on how we should view it (death) because it appears that Paul and Hezekiah viewed it in different terms. I am probably misinterpreting the aforementioned verses.

I look forward to hearing from you. May God bless you and your ministry.

Response #4: 

There is nothing better than being with the Lord (Phil.1:23). Everyone who really understands what the Christian life is all about gets this. But achieving this perspective is easier said than done. When it is our own skin that is on the line, our resolve is tested, and what is really inside, what we really believe and how deeply we believe it, has a tendency to come to the fore (consider your example of Hezekiah, who wept and asked for more time when he was told he was going to die). In my personal observation and experience, it takes a very mature Christian to really face the end of life with peace and confidence, especially if they find it coming on in difficult circumstances. We should of course all have Paul's perspective, and if we were growing spiritually, if we were walking ever closer to Jesus day by day, if we were learning to esteem Him and His Word more than our daily bread, then that perspective would in fact not be far from us. But we tend to get caught up in the weeds of life and have our growth stunted. Especially in this Laodicean era of the Church (see the link), where so many voices are telling us so vociferously that the lukewarm approach is not only OK but is the correct one, we tend to think of our careers, our relationships, our homes, our dreams and plans and personal aspirations for wealth and success and fame and possessions and for sucking the marrow of life to be important – when in fact there is only one thing that is important: pleasing our Lord through growing in His Word and helping others do the same.

Even if we have gotten to the point where we are hanging onto and attempting to grow in this correct perspective on life (because all of the other things are mere dust that will be long forgotten in only a few short years), there may still be some regrets if death seems to coming early. I would rather be with the Lord, but I would like to finish up this ministry first (and there are many studies and series left to write and perfect, among other things). Paul, after all, also says in the very same chapter where he expresses death as a gain, and only a few verses later, "but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me." (Phil.1:24-26 NIV).

Also, I should add that even in the case of those who appreciate that it is better to be with the Lord, and where happiness in anticipation of release from service here on this battlefield is a blessing and not a mere platitude, we should remember that this is not necessarily the case for our loved ones. Even though I rejoice at the reality of someone I love leaving to be with the Lord, I am sad for myself and in myself at the loss. Jesus wept. Paul said that the loss of Epaphrodites would have been "grief upon grief". So we can genuinely understand, believe and accept that being with the Lord is better for the one who has gone, while at the same time mourning their loss. We do not mourn as those who have no faith; our belief in the truth of the start of eternity with the Lord for them is a very wonderful consolation, but it does not completely anesthetize our emotions, nor should it. We will miss them until we are reunited with them.

So in answer to your question, I guess I should say death is "both": happiness for all those who find themselves with Jesus, but sadness for their loss on the part of those who have lost a loved one, but with the consolation of their bliss, and of our eventual reunion on that great day of days.

In the One who died for us that we might have eternal life with Him, our dear Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #5: 

I recently had a very strong almost palpable premonition about the death of a loved one who is having some health issues. Is this a message from God?

Response #5:   

I'm not sure what to tell you about this. It's true that in the Old Testament economy and in the incipient phase of the Church prophecy was a very important and active office and gift. I have my doubts about its current function – I know that you are not claiming this is prophecy, but I felt I needed to put that on the table first since in my reading of scripture that is really the only place for a premonition to fit in – in any doctrinal way I can see. I don't discount the possibility of premonitions, but it does seem to me that if God wanted us to put any weight on them there would be something in scripture to suggest that occasionally paying attention to such things is a good idea, and I can't think of any such passage (except, as I say, where it is definitely related to prophecy; cf. the Spirit directly talking to Peter in Acts 15). The second thing I guess I would say is that while your analysis of the situation vis-a-vis what God has in mind makes sense from a certain point of view, I have learned in my own Christian experience that it is usually pointless to try and "figure out" God on such matters. Inevitably, when I have seen a problem or a situation and expected that it had to go one way or the other it almost always went a way I didn't foresee at all! In my own experience, therefore, anything of the ilk of a premonition has generally proved to be only a means of proving to me that I am walking through this life completely blind except for the guidance of the Word of God, the true light that illuminates my path.

I do accept (and am grateful for the fact) that God prepares us for what's coming. The only thing I'm saying is that more often than not we don't, we can't understand what we are being prepared for looking forward (only backward). It's safe to say that when a loved one has a serious illness we all consider the possibility of that person's death – it is human nature and part of the human predicament. Indeed, if it were not a commonplace to anticipate the mortality of others in such circumstances, people would be far less likely to ever contemplate their own demise so as to appreciate the need for a Savior. Finally, few Christians who have experienced any sort of tough testing have not had the experience of contemplating the possibility that it would be better if they themselves went to sleep and just didn't wake up – if such thinking provides mental relief for us in regard to our personal sufferings, how much more so then if we are contemplating the situation of a loved one with a painful terminal illness.

At such times, we really need to make an effort to get back to spiritual basics. Whatever else we are doing, we need to re-appreciate that Jesus is our Rock, and that He will deliver us. If we have been so driven to the end of our rope that such thoughts occur, that is the time to retreat into the refuge of the Almighty and let Him restore our strength. For this life is an impossible fight – without God. And so at times of such extreme pressure we need to cast all our cares and burdens on Him and let Him carry the load for a while – so as to get our spiritual wind back (Ps.55:22a). For He cares for us, and He will not forsake or abandon us (Heb.13:5). We lift our eyes to the eternal hills and know that our help does come from Him (Ps.121). He will never allow us to be moved (Ps.55:22b). He restores our life and our strength, and after drawing renewed strength from Him we run without becoming weary and walk without becoming faint (Is.40:29-31). We are only here a short while, and what we are doing for Jesus and for His Church really is more important to an infinite degree than the mundane details and problems that grind us down. It is impossible for us as human beings from time to time not to get our focus stuck on the mud in which we are mired; but at such times it is important to make the effort to lift up our gaze to the One who loves us, who made us, and who died for us, and to set our sights on the glorious future we will soon enjoy with Him.

I certainly will pray for you loved one's rapid recovery, and for all this to "work out for good" – in confidence that while we may not see how now, the Lord most definitely does mean all this for intrinsic good in every way.

In our dear Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hi again Doc!

The Bible states that it is appointed for man to die Once, and then judgment. How do we reconcile that verse with many people in the Bible being raised from the dead? They must have died again (buried) after they were raised from the dead by the power of God by prophets and Jesus Himself (Lazarus). This is 2 deaths. This sort of confuses me. The reason I am asking this question is because a woman claimed to have died and the doctors said that she had no brain activity after she had died of a stroke during heart surgery. She had said that she had gone to heaven and received a message from Jesus, a message of reassurance and a wonderful message of salvation. How do we reconcile this with scripture?

Response #6: 

As to Hebrews 9:27, "it is appointed unto men to die once, then the judgment", this is certainly the case in principle for all human beings who have ever lived in that because of the fall everyone of us only has temporary use of this physical body. No matter what we do or what unique circumstances may obtain, we don't, we can't live forever in these bodies. That is true even if we fall into the special category of those who will be resurrected at our Lord's return and never see physical death once, or those who in the days of Elijah or our Lord or the apostles were resuscitated like Lazarus and given a little extra time in the body which is "of the earth". In all these cases and in all other cases the principle remains: without Jesus Christ, there can be no eternal life, for death reigns in the temporary body we now inhabit. I would argue that Paul in writing the above verse would not change his wording even if someone were to have pointed out to him at the time that because of the seeming exceptions mentioned some folks might get confused. The principle is the important thing: we don't live forever in this body, and once we die finally, that is that, even if it takes "twice" to die finally or even if we are in that set of believers who are resurrected directly on Jesus' return and don't technically "die", because we still leave this earthly body finally at some point. So in terms of its overall meaning, "to die once" = "to leave behind this body once and for all". In the case of the vast majority of mankind, there is no difference between the two (please see this link where the question of Lazarus' resuscitation is specifically addressed: "Transmutation, Resuscitation, Resurrection").

As far as reported cases of those who in our own day have "died" and "returned to life", there is very little I can say. I don't think we need to worry about reconciling anything in the case you report with scripture since, as I say above, I don't think there is anything contradictory, even if things happened as reported. The only points that I would choose to make here are 1) every time in my own experience I have ever seen anything in the newspaper about which I had first-hand knowledge, the report had always gotten at least something wrong; 2) what people say is not always 100% the truth even if they may think it is; and even if it is only 10% exaggeration, a lot of important details can fall into that 10%; 3) Just because medical science at the present time regards someone as "dead" doesn't mean much to me, since there are numerous cases similar to the one you relate and often with no spiritual implications; there is much that contemporary medical science does not know about the physical realm, let alone the spiritual realm; 4) as Christians, we walk by faith, not by sight; we don't need any messages of reassurance about the Lord or about heaven that do not come from the Bible because the Bible is full to overflowing with reassurance, reassurance in which we can believe 100% without the filters of #1, #2, and #3.

Hope this helps -- keep fighting that good fight of faith in Jesus Christ!

Bob L.

Question #7: 

My friend works in a ward where people often die, and that has occasioned some questions. Is it the case that we don't die until God wants us to die? Does God just say it's your time to go and its so, or does He just let it happen according to natural consequences?

Response #7:   

As it says in Psalm 116:15, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints" (NASB). Our Lord is our faithful guide, even unto death (Ps.48:14). Since He is working everything out for the good for those of us who love Him (Rom.8:28), how will this not be especially so when it comes to our time to go home to Him? Until that great day of our reunion with Him, we strive to be pleasing to Him, so that with Paul we may say, "for me to live is Christ, to die is gain!" (Phil.1:21). To secular onlookers, it may sometimes appear that a believer has "died too young", but that is never the case. Sometimes children are taken home to heaven to ensure a salvation that they otherwise would have missed (by living a life without faith); and sometimes believers are removed from the world as a kindness, not a punishment.

The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.
Isaiah 57:1-2 NIV

Until His purpose for you is done, you don't have to worry (Matt.6:25-34). Underneath you are the everlasting arms (Deut.33:27). If He takes us home, it is only for good, and it is never an accident. Until then, we may be sure of His faithful protection (Ps.91) – "with long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation" (Ps.91:16).

In the One with whom we long to be, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #8:

Hello--I was wondering in you have ever heard of how some people, mostly Messianics, think Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday, because the following day was a special sort of Sabbath, meaning, feast day (I think), and then there was the regular Sabbath on the Saturday, and then on Sunday, Jesus rose from the dead, thus being in the grave three full days and nights? I have heard something of this, but don't quite remember the details. It goes like this:

"This year is rare, the timing is the same as the year Christ died. Christ was welcomed in on Sunday, from the tenth until the fourteenth is four days, that makes the sacrifice on Wednesday. Thurs, Fri, and the weekly Sabbath makes three days in the grave, and resurrection Sunday."

Also, do we know Palm Sunday actually happened on a Sunday? If so, how? I don't recall reading in any of the gospels that it did. Thanks. God bless!

Response #8: 

To take your last question first, it is possible that Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem happened on a Sunday, but in my view it is more likely that it took place on a Saturday; this is the view, following similar reasoning, of Thomas and Gundry in A Harmony of the Gospels (Moody 1978) p.174, note b. John 12:1 tells us that Jesus came to Bethany "six days before the Passover" and then at 12:12 says "on the next day" the triumphal entry occurred. Passover of course starts at sundown, so assuming that this particular Passover occurred Thursday-night-through-Friday-day (since the day following the Passover is the day of Christ's crucifixion and also the "day of preparation" for the Sabbath: Mk.15:42; Lk.23:54; Jn.19:31), then "six days before" counting inclusively in the Greek system would be daylight Friday, with the entry coming daylight Saturday.

The chronology above is assumed in my answering of the main question here. The notion that our Lord was not crucified on Friday to rise on Sunday is, in my experience, not restricted to Messianics. There are a good number of people and groups out there who have bought into this view – a false one in my opinion. I have dealt with this matter before and will provide the links below, but let me rehearse the argument in brief for you here. This idea of a Wednesday (and occasionally Thursday) crucifixion is not in my opinion a view that one would ever adopt merely by careful inspection of the gospels. The primary motivation for it seems to be as you relate a desire to have Jesus in the grave for a "full three days and three nights" according to His prediction in Matthew 12:40. In my view, this forces an unnatural interpretation of what that time-phrase means when viewed from the cultural perspective of Jesus' day. For consider: if we do assume that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday and then did not rise until early Sunday morning, in that case He would have been in the grave not for precisely 72 hours, but for 72 hours plus the time from His exhaling of His spirit at approximately 3 P.M. on "Wednesday" until the "three day count" begins Thursday at day-break (to give a full Thursday through Sunday "three days"). So the Wednesday theory is long by about 15 hours. Now this doesn't bother most people who hold this view because from the 21st century American point of view "more is better" so there is no problem. But from a proper hermeneutic perspective, this theory even less compatible with Jesus' words at Matthew 12:40, since the Wednesday view has as its whole rationale that the "3 days / 3 nights" must be a literal and an exact statement. As an aside, the Thursday theory is short by 9 hours. The traditional understanding actually does fit the cultural perspective of Jesus' day, wherein 1) counting was "inclusive", and 2) a part was sufficient to count for a whole. Thus being buried on Friday before the start of Saturday at sunset counts for day-1; Saturday is complete = day-2; and rising just at daybreak on Sunday counts for day-3. Jesus was indeed in the grave for parts of three entire days and that = "three days and three nights" according to biblical usage.

You can get more details at the following links:

*The Three Days (in BB 4A: Christology)

Christology: Some Questions on the Life of Christ (question #3: How is a Friday Crucifixion possible?)

Friday versus Thursday Crucifixion

Friday versus Wednesday Crucifixion

How could Christ spend three days in the grave?

 

Happy Easter!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

I have somewhat of an odd question and hope that it doesn't sound too silly. I was wondering what would happen to a saved person who slips into a coma and forgets that they were once saved? Would this person still retain their memory of their salvation or forget about it when they awaken? Or would God not allow a saved person to slip into a coma? The other question is about Jesus having been buried in 100 lbs of oil.. A pastor on a Christian television network had said that Jesus was buried in/under 100 lbs of oil, so there was no way for him to even get out of his tomb. A friend of mine told me that this was probably customary to bury people in 100 lbs of oil back in the days of Jesus but couldn't prove it biblically. I told him that being buried in 100 lbs of oil seems ridiculous and told him to prove it with facts but he couldn't. Is it true that Jesus was buried in 100 lbs of oil and can this be proven with facts?

Response #9:   

To take the last question first, I have never heard of this method being used in Israel. It sounds similar to some of the embalming methods of the Egyptians (cf. Herodotus, Hist.2.86). The Jewish method was to wrap the body in linen, treating it with a mixture of spices (if one could afford it). After the body had decayed to the point where only bones were left, these were sometimes collected and placed into an ossuary. There are many tombs on the hillsides of Jerusalem that date to this period and this is the pattern one finds. Also, we know from scripture that such was the pattern in Jesus' day, for Lazarus upon being raised up is not dripping with oil but mere needs to unbound from the linen in which he is wrapped.

The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go."
John 11:44 NIV

And we are told too that our Lord's body was similarly treated:

Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.
John 19:40 NIV

As to the issue of the coma, I am certainly no M.D., but I have never heard of this particular hypothetical situation occurring. I suppose there are many such similar things, like Alzheimer's et al., where from trauma or disease a person changes and not for the good. The thing to keep in mind here is that God knows everything even if we forget. Also, salvation is a question of our free will responding to God's grace through faith. As long as that faith-seed lives in us, we are believers. Since this is the most important thing that happens in our lives on earth, I don't personally find it likely that in the case of genuine believers the Holy Spirit is going to allow them to "forget" that they were saved, forget who Jesus is, and forget that they love Him. If this does lapse from memory, one has to ask whether or not the faith in question was legitimate (or at least of the kind that lasts unto salvation). In the case of those who are mentally damaged to the point of not truly being fully in command of their will, then I would say that if they were believers before the accident/disease, they will most definitely walk together with us in white on that great day of days – just as those born without the mental competency to make the choice of faith are automatically saved (see the link: What will our relationship be in heaven with children who died young?).

Hope this helps!

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #10:

your spirit lives on? what are you trying to pull buddy, when you die your dead until the resurrection.

Response #10: 

Dear Friend,

It is true that we who believe all eagerly await the resurrection – that is our great hope in Jesus Christ. But the notion that we will be unconscious or literally "asleep" from our death until that time is not biblical.

In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus Himself tells us about a conversation between a rich man and Abraham regarding a man named Lazarus. All three are conscious, recognizable, and certainly do not act "dead" or "asleep" (cf. Lk.20:38).

In Jesus our Lord,

Bob Luginbill

Question #11: 

it,s a parable duh!

Response #11:   

Dear Friend,

It's not a parable. Jesus is not comparing anything to anything else (as for example where fish caught in a net are to be compared to believers versus unbelievers; if this were a parable, which scripture does not call it, what would be the points of comparison not meant to be taken literally?). Jesus explains the story as an actual historical occurrence and names actual historical people (Abraham for example). I know of no parable where this happens.

What would make you think it's a parable?

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #12:

How are you? I hope the lord is doing well for you. We continue to be blessed by your teaching and we pray your inspiration never deserts you. We are a bible study group and recently have been discussing life after death We cant really find any biblical support for our positions like what happens to the soul as soon as a person dies. We believe you can shed light on this with scripture.

We hope to hear from you and do stay blest

Response #12: 

Thank you for your encouragement. As to your question, as soon as we die, we are immediately brought into the presence of the Father and the Son in the third heaven. Our human spirit, having left our physical body at death, is clothed with an interim body; compare 2Cor.5:3 as translated from the Greek (most of the version do violence to the text in order to "explain" what they have apparently not properly understood):

For we know that if our earthly tent-dwelling (i.e., our physical body) be struck, we have an abode [that comes] from God, a dwelling made without human agency, eternal in the heavens (i.e., the resurrection body). For indeed we do groan in this one, desiring to put on our habitation which comes from heaven. And [even] if we do put off this present one, at any rate, we (i.e., our spirits) will not be found naked (i.e., "body-less"; for we will enjoy an interim body in the meantime: cf. Lk.16:19-31; Rev.6:9-10; Rev.7:9-17).
2nd Corinthians 5:1-3

It is in this glorious condition – not resurrected, but enjoying the presence of the Father and the Son in a body that while temporary is better than what we now experience – that we shall await the resurrection at Jesus' return. All of this is set out in detail in the link: "Our Heavenly, Pre-Resurrection, Interim State."

Samuel (cf. 1Sam.28:12) and all the other pre-cross believers found themselves in similar circumstances in terms of the interim body (as I call it); we can recognize them and they act like the people they were (cf. the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16). However, the pre-cross believers were kept in a place called in Luke 16 "Abraham's Bosom", or as our Lord calls it on the cross, "paradise". These believers could not yet enter into the presence of the Father since Christ had not yet died for the sins of the world. Once He had, in His ascension He "led captivity captive" (Eph.4:8; cf. Ps.68:18), and brought all these Old Testament believers into the third heaven there to await the resurrection just as is the case with all those now who have died in the Lord after the cross. You can find out more about all this at the following links:

Abraham's Bosom (in SR 1)

The Seven Edens (in SR 1)

As to the "soul", that is an English word which is in truth fairly unhelpful in understanding what the Bible teaches about these things, because it has been confused in its common usage with Roman Catholic theology. The human being consists of two parts, the body and the human spirit. When the spirit is breathed into the body by God at birth, life commences. When the spirit leaves the body, death occurs. The "soul" in biblical parlance when used to translate the Hebrew word nephesh or the Greek word psyche means really the "self" or "person" or the "inner person" (i.e., the heart or the mind, etc.). The "soul" is who we are inside, our spirit and our body interfacing in the integrated person. But the "soul" is not a thing in and of itself; rather it is a term used in the Bible for the dynamic interface of body and spirit. Please see the following links:

The Dichotomy of Man

Is the Soul a tertium quid?

 

Please feel free to write back about any of this.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

Dear Bro.Robert,

I visited the site and am well grounded by your messagess. Your messages are biblical and I desire to hear you preaching to us here in Kenya? One more question!

When was Christ resurrected; which day was this?

Thanks,

Response #13:   

Hello again! And thank you for your positive comments. As to the resurrection, our Lord rose on "the first day of the week" (as stated in Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). According to the Jewish calendar, that is Sunday, and that is why it is referred to by John as "the Lord's day" (Rev.1:10).

You can find out all about the chronology of the resurrection of Christ at the following link at Ichthys:

In BB 4A: "The Chronology of the Resurrection"

Best wishes in Jesus Christ!

Bob Luginbill

Question #14:

Dear Bob,

I thank you very much for the loving care, clarity, and continued commitment to completing your substantial and import work with the Bible. Do you have a commentary on "Jesus descended into hell?"

Response #14: 

Good to hear from you, and thanks for the kind words and encouragement. As to your question, this is all written up in detail at the following link:

"The Descent of our Lord into Paradise" in Bible Basics 4A: Christology

Simply put, as I say there, the Apostle's Creed is at the root of the confusion (as is often the case with Creeds where accidentally off-center restatement frequently produces confusion and even heresy; cf. also the vexed and non-biblical "eternally begotten" of the Nicene Creed; see the link). "Hell" is the older English rendering for the generic biblical term for the underworld in general, a place which does include "Torments" (i.e., "hell" per se), but also "the Abyss" (the place of incarceration for certain fallen angels) and Paradise, as in, "today you will be with Me in Paradise" (a.k.a., "Abraham's Bosom": Lk.16:19-31; please see the link: "The Compartments of Sheol"). This last location was the place of residence for all departed believers until the ascension of our Lord when He "led captivity captive" and brought as His prize all those who had previously been detained in Paradise with Him to the third heaven. His "visit" to Paradise during His three days in the grave was thus not to "hell" specifically but only generically in the sense that Paradise is part of the subterranean complex known as "Hades" or "Sheol" or "Hell" or "the Grave". The lack of specificity in the creed no doubt proceeds from a failure to grasp these specifics.

There is no question that our Lord suffered beyond any other human being in the gauntlet He ran to get to the cross (please see the link: The Trials of Christ), but the suffering He endured in the darkness in facing the flames of divine judgment in order to expiate our sins are a level of suffering that we cannot even begin to imagine. This is called by myself and others "the spiritual death of Christ" and most frequently in the Bible "the Blood of Christ"; you will find it explained in the same study as quoted above at the following link: The Spiritual Death of Christ. This intense suffering which covered the sins of mankind occurred while Jesus was yet physically alive, however, and is different from His descent to Hell/Paradise in which no further suffering was involved. For while He was yet alive and before He gave up His spirit He proclaimed "It has been accomplished", meaning our salvation, along with all the suffering of the pangs of death that were required to win our eternal salvation. Praise God!

As I say, this is all written up at the first link in some detail. Please do feel free to write back if there is anything about it you would wish to discuss further. I pray that all is well with you and yours. Thank you for your encouragement and continued interest!

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

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