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Biblical Questions about Eternity.

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Question #1:  Hi Bob! Do these verses describe the 1st death, the death of the spirit of man ?

Ge:2:17: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Ro:5:12: Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Did the sacrifice of Jesus again bring life to the spirit of man as shown in these verses?

Ro:5:18: Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

Joh:6:33: For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

And then these verses pertain to the second death?

Re:2:11: He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

Re:20:15: And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire

Re:21:8: But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Re:20:14: And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death

Is it that through Adam that the spirit of man died, through Jesus the spirit of man was quickened and those who will not believe in Jesus will meet the second death which is the death and destruction of the spirit?

Thanks so much in advance!

Response #1:   On the issue of "the three deaths", I have written quite a lot. Let me start by directing you to the pertinent studies:

1) BB 3B: Hamartiology (see especially "The Three Aspects of Death").

2) BB 3A: Anthropology (see especially "The Fall of Man" ).

On your verses:

Genesis 2:17: This is describing spiritual death, which guarantees physical death, which is in turn followed by the second death (absent salvation). That is why Adam and Eve did not "drop dead" [physically] the moment they ate of the tree, but were in fact immediately liable for judgment and expulsion from the presence of God in the garden (for they were immediately spiritually dead, a condition which, absent salvation, eventually leads to eternal condemnation, the "second death" which follows physical death). Physical death is the heritage of all mankind after the fall because of the transformation of the bodies of our original parents into "corrupt flesh" as a result of their sin.

Rom.5:12 – see the translation and extensive explanation in BB 3B under the link: "Romans 5:12"; this verse actually is talking about the sin nature being passed on genetically through physical birth; however it is certainly true that the result of this state of affairs is spiritual, physical, and eternal death for all of Adam's progeny (absent salvation). The critical difference I would have with the translation you provide (KJV, but the other versions are similar) is that it misses the fact that the verb is a "gnomic aorist", that is to say, it is expresses a general, proverbial truth; it is thus not a true past tense in the sense of being a historical description. Better translation: ". . . as a result of which everybody sins." The fact that we possess a sin nature by way of our physical birth guarantees that with "sin living in us" we are going to sin – as a result of the fall, all human beings sin, thus making it clear that we all need a Savior.

Rom.5:18 / Jn.6:33 – I wouldn't put it that way. All human beings have a human spirit as well as a body. The spirit is given by God at birth, and that is what constitutes human life (pace non-biblical theories to the contrary). Thus, all human beings are "dichotomous" in that way, i.e., have a spirit and a body (see the link in BB 3A "The Human Spirit"). But while all human beings possess physical life (while the spirit is in the body), only believers have eternal life and this life comes through faith in Christ; that is what it means to be "regenerated" or "born again", i.e., to possess eternal life rather than only mere physical life (see the link in Peter #19 "Spiritual Rebirth", and in BB 3B "Born Again").

Revelation passages: yes, all of these are talking about eternal death, that is, the "second death" or condemnation and disposition into the lake of fire of all who have refused to accept Christ in this life (either actively rejecting Him or passively refusing to seek any relationship with God).

The spirit of man is who a person "really is". The spirit is eternal, and apparently also for those condemned; i.e., they will not experience "oblivion" but will suffer forever in the lake of fire (their spirit in a resurrected body, albeit resurrected to die the second death). This is an area which is very commonly misunderstood in contemporary Christian circles. Because of Latin influence (i.e., the confusing distinction of anima vs. animus) and Roman Catholic influence (from the Latin fathers forward), even many otherwise very orthodox Protestants hold to the idea of a "soul" as a tertium quid, that is, as an actual "organ" (for want of a better word). However, in biblical terms, the "soul", otherwise known as the "heart", or "mind" is a way of expressing the inner life of the "living person" formed by the combination of the only two distinct entities in the human being, the body and the spirit (cf. Gen.2:7, and see the link in BB 3A "The Creation of Adam").

I'm happy to answer any questions you have about all this. It is a pretty detailed set of subjects, however, and I think the two studies cited above will give you some important background, even if they don't immediately answer all the questions you might have.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #2:   What is the meaning of Jesus statement that "everyone will be salted with fire"? You are in my prayers...

Response #2:   Mark 9:49 is one the most commented upon passages in the gospels, but little understood in my view. To begin, we should note that the context in which Jesus makes this statement is one in which the importance above all else of turning to God and following God in spite of what the world may think is central. Because even if we lose limbs and eyesight and everything else, no earthly material loss no matter how severe is as bad as losing one's eternal life and being consigned to the fire of hell for unbelief. In this context, Jesus makes it clear that everyone will undergo the strict and fiery scrutiny of divine judgment – even believers. We are in position to know exactly what He means by this in the case of believers because of Paul's expansion on it in 1st Corinthians:

(10) According to the grace of God given to me like a wise architect I have laid down a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each one take care how he builds upon it. (11) For no one can lay another foundation except the One that has been laid down: Jesus Christ. (12) And if someone builds upon his foundation with gold, silver, and precious stones, [or] with wood, hay, and stubble, (13) [in either case] his work will be made manifest [as to its true quality], for the Day [of judgment] will make it clear [for what it truly is], because it will be revealed (lit., uncovered) with fire. And the fire will evaluate (lit., "assay") the work of each person as to what its [true] quality is. (14) If anyone's work which he has built [on his foundation of faith in Christ] remains (i.e., is not burnt away by the fiery evaluation), he will receive a reward [for it]. (15) If anyone's work is burnt up, he will suffer the loss [of any potential reward for it], but he himself will be saved – but in this way [just described] as through fire [which evaluated his false works as worthless and burnt them up].
1st Corinthians 3:10-15

So the fire Jesus refers to which will "salt" everyone (or with which everyone will be "salted"), is the fire of evaluation of our final judgment before the judgment seat of Christ. While unbelievers only have being tossed into the lake of fire to look forward to, we as believers in Jesus Christ have complete confidence that on the basis of the righteousness we possess through faith we are going to be saved no matter how badly we have "spun our wheels" here on earth – as long as we exit this life with that faith intact. But every believer, including the greatest of the great, will be evaluated, and God's fire will test the work of everyone, removing the dross and establishing the quality of that which was truly done in the power of the Spirit and the Name of Jesus to the glory of God the Father.

I believe the reason why this passage has caused so much trouble for so many is the metaphor Jesus uses here of "salting". This refers back to the practice of placing salt on the animal sacrifices of the Law to show that they were acceptable (salt represents true "savor" or genuine worth: cf. Lev.2:13; Num.18:19), and the metaphor provides a perfect segue for our Lord to explain how we believers too need to have "salt" within us (i.e., a genuineness of faith and faithfulness), and that we need to maintain this "savor" and build on it on through spiritual growth. This explains moreover what our Lord means when He next says that salt, once it has lost that savor (i.e., that genuine faith and faithfulness) is no longer good for anything at all (Mk.9:50; cf. Matt.5:13; Lk.14:34).

Jesus might just as well have said here, "everyone's work will be revealed/uncovered by fire" or "everyone will be evaluated by fire", for that is the idea. But by saying "salted with fire", the image of salt being sprinkled upon us and our works, our Lord brings home very vividly to the minds of His audience (who had seen many times this sprinkling of salt on the sacrifices just before they were consumed by the fire) the reality and the importance of being in a good position when that final judgment comes. After all, many who were listening to our Lord were not even believers at all, so that for them the fire, if they did not accept Him, would be eternal in the lake of fire "where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched" – Mark 9:48, the immediately preceding verse.

In our Lord before whom we shall all stand with confidence on that great day of days.

And thanks so much for your prayers!

Bob L.

Question #3: 

I was discussing hell with a friend of mine concerning the word "death" and how it relates to the bible. I was unable to answer him because I don't know. He wrote:

"I completely agree that Satan and His will burn forever in the lake of fire - angels do not come under the plan of salvation God created for man. Concerning man several have posited that death does not mean death but eternal separation. However, would you agree that Jesus suffered terribly and then died on the cross as payment for our sins? If God's wrath against man's sin is eternal then Christ would still have to be paying for our sins would He not? If "death is the wage of sin", and is death is defined as eternal separation from God the Father, then how can Jesus have paid for our sins without being eternally separated from the Father?"

What do you make of this? thanks in advance!


Response #3:
 

Paul addresses just this logic in Hebrews 9:26-28:

Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Hebrews 9:26-28 NIV

So Jesus died once, and that death was sufficient to expiate all of humanity's sins for all time. How exactly He did so in those three hours of darkness on the cross we do not exactly know, but He tells us Himself that it involved being "forsaken" (i.e., separation), and that He died for us (please see the link in BB 3B: "The sacrifice of Jesus Christ"). I think the fly in the ointment in the logic here stems from: "If God's wrath against man's sin is eternal". It is demonstrably not, for all of our sin has been expiated through the blood (i.e., work on the cross) of Jesus, even the sins of those who will spend eternity in the lake of fire. There is only one sin that has not and could not be expiated and for which unbelievers are condemned, namely, the "unpardonable sin" of rejecting Jesus Christ. "If we deny Him, He will also deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself" (2Tim.2:12-13).

In the One who has died for all, once and for all, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.


Question #4:
 

I am reading through the material on your website and find the information fascinating. The internet is a great medium for dissemination of your studies, but I think print media still has its uses and would suite the broader audience that may not have the benefit of a computer.

To my question, simply stated, what keeps the fall from happening again, after the rapture? We were created with the free-will to choose, but it seems to me that the only way to preclude another ruin/recreation would be to remove that trait. As none of us can ever be God, we will always be one step short of the mark and potentially subject to the same ability to fail, again.

I am firm in my faith in Christ and am clear on my ultimate destination, but this question does come to mind at times. Prior to discovering your site, I normally did not tread beyond the premise of John 3:16, as the theology was just too complex to wade through. As I have gotten older, I find myself drawn to these subjects more and more.

You may well have addressed this point on your site, but there is a large volume of information that I must still get through.

Thanks


Response #4:

Thank you for your positive comments. I too would wish to have these materials available in print media format. To my view, that would be a benefit even to those with plenty of computer resources. Books have their obvious advantages. However, the compromises involved in commercial production and distribution are such that this possibility has so far always proved too problematic for me to pursue (please see the link: "A question about Ichthys books").

As to your specific question, I can't recall ever addressing it directly on the site (although there is much material there which directly relates to the answer). I would put it this way. God's abilities, wisdom and foresight are beyond our comprehension. It would be child's play for Him to make it impossible for us to sin even now in spite of the sin indwelling our corrupt bodies – were that His good pleasure. He does, after all, deliver us from plenty of situations where we would surely have fallen into sin and trouble left to our own devices (and the last thing we pray for in the "Lord's prayer" is just such daily deliverance). The fact that in conjunction with His plan and our free will He does not remove forever all possible stumbling blocks does not mean that this is not well within His capability if so chose for whatever reason. If that is the case here and now in the midst of the devil's world while we yet have a sinful nature, how much more will it not be the case in the New Heavens and New Earth in sinless resurrection bodies when all evil and darkness has been forever removed and destroyed! After all, the angels were given only one path to rebellion (follow Satan or not) and our first parents were given only one path to fall (eat of the fruit of the tree of knowing good and evil or not); likewise we are given only one way to receive God's righteousness and enter into eternal life: faith in Jesus Christ, the only truth, the only life, and the only way to salvation. At least conceptually then (if not in specifics as we imagine eternity to come) it seems pretty clear that setting things up where there is no option for rebellion or falling ought to be pretty simple for a God who in the Person of His one and only Son could and did become a true man as well, and could and did die for the sins of all mankind – the wonderfully otherwise unimaginable foundations of our eternal life.

After all, the only reason for allowing Satan an avenue for rebellion and Adam and Eve an avenue for falling is that, otherwise, the choice to follow God, to love Him, to want Him, to believe in His Son, would not really be a choice. God could easily have created automatons who couldn't choose, but free will makes us what we are, and we are incapable of truly imagining ourselves without this fundamental asset of our nature. This is the fundamental feature of the "image and likeness of God", namely, the individual and corporate opportunity and necessity to exercise a choice of response to Him or refusal to do so (see the link in Basics 3A Anthropology: "The Image and Likeness of God"). However, once we have demonstrated our choice beyond doubt, there is nothing further to be gained by allowing that situation to go on ad infinitum (and scripture definitely presents things as exactly the opposite). Simply put, "time", that period where we human beings find ourselves on earth in temporary physical bodies, is the only opportunity we have to exercise this choice. Just as unbelievers will not be given another opportunity to exercise faith after being deposited in the lake of fire, so we will not be given another opportunity to fall once we have departed these mortal shells. That does not mean we will cease to be what we are (apart from the absence of sin and ignorance and other temporal limitations). Quite the contrary, we and all we experience will be "more" beyond anything presently imaginable.

The angels provide a loose parallel here. It will be noted that there is not at present – and has not been at least since the reconstruction of the universe in the seven Genesis days – any more "changing of sides" between the two angelic camps (please see the link: SR#1: "Satan's Rebellion and Fall"). Beings of eternal makeup such as they are, once this choice has been made it either cannot or will not ever change (and this is a distinction without any true difference). Jesus tells us that in the resurrection we will not be marrying or given in marriage for we will be "like the angels" and "God's children". Being God's children eternally made perfect in resurrection, the possibility will no longer exist for us to fall out of His family. For we have accepted Him in this life and had that faith decision has been continually tested right up until the time of our departure. Having confirmed our faith in the crucible of time, God is faithful and just to preserve us in His loving embrace for all eternity. For we are His unique creation, a fact that is underscored by the mind-boggling truth that God has wed Himself to us for all time by having His Son become a man – an irreversible joining of deity and saved humanity. Since therefore we are Christ's Body, Christ's Bride belonging to Him uniquely, we can rest assured that He will never allow us to fall from His hands once the entire time of choice and testing and the entire purpose of that choice and testing has finally passed away.

I hope this helps with your question. Do feel free to write me back about any of this.

In the Name of the One who is our eternal life, our Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob Luginbill


Question #5:
 

Thanks for the quick response. It appears you are not troubled with the need for sleep as the rest of us are, as I can not imagine how you can respond so quickly, and in such detail, with all that would obviously be going on in the life of a professor (not to mention your website).

Notwithstanding the fact that much/most/all of this is truly beyond comprehension, at least mine anyway.....

I guess I had not thought about the implications of the eternal environment and no "arrow of time". If there is no sense of tomorrow, or past, there would be no possibility to long for, or look forward to, some "thing" in the future. The capacity would not be there to seek beyond a given day, when there is no "day". A perpetual "living for the moment". The lack of a temporal existence coupled with the supreme wonder/awe of existing with/for God, would seem to be a simple, and understandably human, way to "comprehend" how we can avoid the same pitfalls of our ancestors and still have a free-will.

Interesting...thanks.

Keep up the good work, and thanks for being so available.


Response #5:

You are most welcome. And I would agree with all you say here about the future. I would also add that one of the things impossible for us to comprehend at present is just how "interesting" God truly is. That is to say, in contemplating issues of this sort one finds folks imagining they may become "bored" in heaven. In reality, we cannot at present truly understand the "breadth and width and depth" of God and all the wonders He has prepared for us. As Christians, we all have a full share in Jesus (Matt.20:1-16), an inheritance into which we shall enter on that great day of days analogous to the inheritance given the sons of Israel entering the promised land (e.g., Eph.1:14; Col.1:14; 1Pet.1:4). That earthly blessing kept them plenty busy if memory serves; our present appreciation of the wonders of the New Jerusalem, the New Heavens and New Earth, and the privilege of truly "knowing God" as we forever "gaze upon the beauty of the Lord" are presently beyond our ken. And one last observation: the angels, even now before the day of eternity, do not seem to be bored with God. Even the devil does not seem to have fallen on account of a lack of anything interesting to do, but rather on account of the desire he conceived to supplant God as ruler of the universe – out of envy and ambition to become God himself, not for the lack of "something to do". These issues of arrogance versus humility are fundamentally tied to the issue of faith response and, once worked out in this time and place, need not be revisited in the blessed eternal future.

Thanks for your encouragement.

In anticipation of that great day,

Bob L.

 


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