Andy Tran

University Seventh-day
Adventist Church

The Mystery of Death


The Mystery of Death

Apr 9, 2016Unlock Revelation

Baby Laura was less than two months old when she died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It was hard on her family, and especially hard on her grandmother, whose husband died a few months earlier. As the casket was lowered into the ground, Laura’s three year old brother kept asking everyone “Why is she not waking up? Why is she in the box? Why is she going in the ground?” A well meaning family member came to him and said, “Great granddad was getting lonely up there in Heaven so God took your sister to keep him company.”

It is interesting to see how we try to explain and/or cope with death. From going straight to heaven, hell, or even purgatory. Most believe that death is the end, period. But how do we know what really happens? Unless Jesus comes soon, the majority of us will find out sooner than later. But fortunately, there is Someone who understands the mystery of death. In Revelation 1:18 we see that Jesus holds the key to death. This lecture looked at a Biblical perspective on death and we want to summarize the topic for you below:

We have spent a considerable amount of time looking at the Creation account in Genesis 1. But after Creation we see that Adam and Eve were given a test. They were to prove their love for God by not eating from a certain tree. God said when they ate from it they would die. However, the devil (as a serpent) deceived them by telling them that they would not die, that they would know both good and evil. Death was never part of God’s original plan. But when Adam and Eve sinned they brought death into the world. This is why we cannot live forever in a sinful condition.

To understand death we should know what makes up life. We can find that answer in Genesis 2:7. When God formed man he used the dust of the ground and the breath of life, and man became a living soul.

Equation for life: Dust of Ground + Breath of Life = Living Soul.

To be alive, you need those two things. We see this formula played out in reverse:

Psalm 146:4 – Man’s thoughts perish when the breath leaves him and he returns to the Earth.

Ecclesiastes 12:7 – The dust returns to the Earth, and the spirit returns to the One who gave it (Job 27:3 reveals that the word spirit used here also means breath).

Notice that man becomes a living soul. Man does not have a soul, man is a soul. When one part of the equation is gone, there is no life. And spirit in this case refers to the breath of life, the life spark if you will. And in death, the breath is gone, the dust returns to the Earth. There is no ghost or out of body spirit floating in the fourth dimension. That is just not biblical.

But what about these out of body experiences that people claim to have experienced? The Washington Post reported on September 18, 2002 that these experiences can be caused by the brain misfiring under stress. Think about it. People seem to undergo these out of body experiences under times of stress, whether it is after an accident, ER, or when a life is in danger. Remember the boy who inspired Heaven is for Real? He admitted later that it was a hoax, that he never had the experience he shared.

The Bible reveals that after death we return to the Earth. Peter says in Acts 2:29 that David is still buried in the tomb. Remember, this is a man after God’s heart. He is not in heaven even though it is many years after his death. Five verses later Peter is explicit in saying David did not ascend to heaven.

After death you do not go anywhere. Remember the story of Lazarus in John 11? Jesus said that Lazarus was dead. The disciples thought when Jesus said he slept that he would be better. But Jesus needed to be more clear. Lazarus did not go to heaven, or hell, but he was sleep. Psalm 115:17 say the dead do not praise the Lord. Jesus did not tell Martha that Lazarus was in heaven, but that he was asleep. Jesus said Lazarus would rise again one day. And Martha understood. Martha knew that there would be a resurrection in the last day. Jesus informed her that he is the resurrection and life, and proceeded to resurrect Lazarus.

Ecclesiastes 9:5 says the living know they will die, but the dead do not know anything.

This is what is powerful about the Biblical view of death. It is not hopeless to believe that you do not go to heaven or hell after death. Jesus is the resurrection. He holds the keys to death. Whoever believes in Him will live again, even though he may die.

What about the text that says “to be absent with the body is to be present with the Lord?”
First, that text is found in 2 Corinthians 5:8. In addition, the text does not actually say that. If you read it closely it says, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” Paul says he would rather be with Jesus! Remember he had been shipwrecked, tortured, and imprisoned. He was ready to be in heaven!

1 Corinthians 15:51, 52 says that in a moment the dead will be raised and we will all be changed! 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 says that when Jesus comes back, the dead will be resurrected.

What about when Jesus said the thief on the cross would be in Paradise with Him the day he died?
The Bible in the original language only had letters, no punctuation. Take a look at the following sentence:
A woman without her man is nothing
Now watch what happens when we put some punctuation in that sentence:
A woman, without her, man is nothing
And now watch what happens when we put punctuation elsewhere:
A woman, without her man, is nothing

See how punctuation can profoundly change the meaning? Watch what happens when we do the same thing to Luke 24:43:
Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise
And now:
Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise

You might be thinking that we are playing around with commas to support our understanding. However, the Bible says later on in John 20:17 that after the resurrection Mary could not hold on to Jesus because he had not yet gone to Heaven. So how could the thief on the cross be with Jesus that day if Jesus did not make it to Heaven after three days?

There is no denying the grief and pain one goes through when a loved one passes away. It is not easy. However, we can rest in the hope that death is not the end. Jesus has the power over death. One day, He will come again and recreate the world as it was during creation.

Will you accept the promise that Jesus has the power over death, and that He will return and raise them?



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