Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Life beyond Death and Man’s future destiny-part- 2

"And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?   Is anything worth more than your soul? (Mark 8: 36, 37NLT)
"For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his life in the eternal kingdom of God? For what can a man give as an exchange , a compensation, a ransom, in return for his [blessed] life in the eternal kingdom of God (Mark 8: 36, 37AMP)

A materialistic society tries to place a value on everything. It claims, "Everything has its price." Those of the world are constantly assessing the value of their stocks, properties, bonds, insurance policies, pension plans, welfare checks, food stamps, minimum wage, etc., etc.  The value Jesus places upon a human soul in that statement far exceeds the wealth of the world. The word He uses is, in the Greek, kosmos, which means all of God’s material creation. Why did Jesus put such value on a human soul? The Soul Is So Valuable Because It Is to Live Forever. It is valuable because of the fact of eternity and the immortality of the soul. Think of a soul in eternity without God, without hope and without the Lord of glory. That nothing can be really good to a man who loses his soul.  That whatever he may gain, if he loses his soul, everything else will be but a nuisance to him.

Everyone wants to be successful in life. We want to live in beautiful mansions, have affluent life, build strong families, and have the resources to afford what makes life comfortable.  However, as God’s children, our priorities must not be things on this earth.  It’s good to have comfortable house, vehicle, and travel around the world, be an Oscar winner or the popular leader, author, and achieve everything you desire in life. But remember  the richest and wisest king ever lived in history said “Remember your Creator while you are young,  before the silver rope snaps and the golden bowl is crushed like a jar broken at the well, like a stone cover on a well that breaks and falls in. Your body came from the earth. And when you die, it will return to the earth. But your spirit came from God,    and when you die, it will return to him. Everything is so meaningless. The Teacher says that it is all a waste of time” (Ecclesiastes 12:6-8 ERV). What matters most is your soul. Where is your soul heading to?  Charles Spurgeon once said “Consider how precious a soul must be, when both God and the devil are after it.”

So the essence of a soul is a mysterious topic. Most will agree that the soul is the essence of a man, but what actually is the soul, and how is it different from the Body? How do you define the Body, soul and spirit, which sometimes referred to as "Soul-ties”.  Question is “Do we have two or three parts?  Body, soul, and spirit?  “Dichotomy or Trichotomy?”  To understand body, soul and spirit ties, one has to investigate and appreciate the fundamental truth revealed in the scripture. Bible is an incredibly amazing and accurate book logically, historically and prophetically. We can be very sure that what it says about the present life and afterlife is equally accurate.

The best starting place for any study about the Nature of man is from the record of the first man's creation. Bible says “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:26-27) 

Every maker creates a product with inherent laws. We did not create life. God created everything. Therefore, we need to find out what laws God has put in place for us to have life and function on this planet. God gave life, and He created the laws. He told Adam that every living thing was given to him to control. God also told Adam that there was one law, which was also a warning, “Do not eat from that tree” (Gen 2:17). Man was told to not violate this law. When you violate a law, you will die. In other words God told Adam that the day that he ate the fruit (violated the law), he would activate death (Gen 2:17). Rebellion against the law of God [sin] gives death its sting or power (1 Cor 15:56). The law of sin gave birth to the law of death. When Christ died in the place of humanity and was resurrected, He came to remove the power of sin and to give life. This divine intervention also restored man to a position to follow God’s laws again. The only way to preserve life is to follow the laws by which God created everything to function.

This indicates that there is something that makes humanity distinct from all the other creations. Human beings were intended to have a relationship with God, and as such, God created us with both material and immaterial parts. The material is obviously that which is tangible: the physical body, bones, organs, etc., and exists as long as the person is alive. The immaterial aspects are those which are intangible: soul, spirit, intellect, will, conscience, etc. These exist beyond the physical lifespan of the individual.

 In Genesis 2:7 we read, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." From this we learn that man's basic element is dust and this is what compromises his body. This body is lifeless without the "breath of life" which is given from God. It is this which animates the body and makes it into a "living soul". Genesis puts forth the simple equation: Dust + Breath of Life = A Living Soul. That man is dust and that he returns to dust at his death is obvious from what God tells Adam later on in Genesis 3:19, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground,  since from it you were taken; for dust you are  and to dust you will return.” Proverbs 4:23 tells us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life,” indicating that the heart is central to man’s will and emotions. Acts 23:1 says, “Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, ‘My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.’” Here Paul refers to the conscience, that part of the mind that convicts us of right and wrong. Romans 12:2 states, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” These verses, and numerous others, refer to the various aspects of the immaterial part of humanity.

All human beings possess both material and immaterial characteristics. It is clear that all mankind has a body containing flesh, blood, bones, organs, and cells. However, it is the intangible qualities of mankind that are often debated. What does Scripture say about these? In the story of creation we read the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breathe of life, and the man became a living being (or soul) Genesis 2:7. God created us with not only physical body but an eternal soul and spirit. Throughout the scripture the inspired authors wrote of humans as having body, soul and spirit. Apostle Paul said, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”. (1 Thessalonians 5:23 ). Jesus taught the existence of the soul when he commanded his followers, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27 ). “He made it clear that the body and soul are separate when he spoke of persecution. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28 ).

God made a perfect man from the dust of the ground, but he did not become alive until the breath of life was breathed into him. Then He became a living soul. It was the breath of life that allows him to live. This breath of life is also called the spirit of God. It is this spirit or soul that puts man above the animals and allows man to know, understand, and have communion with God. Job 32:8 says “Surely it is the spirit in mortal men, and the breath of the Almighty that gives them understanding". Speaking about the two prophets of God, who in the final days are murdered and whose bodies lie in the street for three and a half day, Revelation 11:11-12 "Now after the three-and-a-half days, the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them.

The Bible’s definition of death, then, is separation of the spirit from the body.. “And the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”Ecclesiastes 12:7. We see death explained this way throughout the Old Testament. We see the same concept in the New Testament when Jesus raised Jairus’s daughter from the dead. “He took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!”  Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up…..” (Luke 8:54-55). While Jesus was on the cross, “Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:46). So the Bible is very clear that each of us has an eternal spirit that becomes separated from our earthly body at death.

So, Scripture outlines the soul, spirit, heart, conscience, and mind are connected and interrelated. The soul and spirit, though, definitely are the primary immaterial aspects of humanity. They likely comprise the other aspects. With this is mind, we can conclude that humanity is trichotomous (body/soul/spirit). A key verse is Hebrew 4:12: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” This verse tells us at least two things about this debate. The soul and spirit can be divided, and the division of soul and spirit is something that only God can discern. Rather than focusing on something we cannot know for sure, it is better to focus on the Creator, who has made us “fearfully and wonderfully” (Psalm 139:14).
The truth is that the essential component in every human is the human spirit. It is present at our conception and is the with us until our departure in death.. Within the spirit component lies our conscience and intuition. It is the human soul that Satan seeks to captivate, place in bondage, eschew in evil and to shackle in chains. The human soul consists of the mind, will and emotions. It is in the mind that our thoughts can lead to good or evil. What we allow into our minds through our sight and hearing will influence what becomes central in our lives, and what we speak or act out in our lives, too effect others. God has given us free will, which means we can be obedient to him, or disobedient.
The fields of science have been explored by its wisdom and industry. By its authority over the elements, It has compassed earth and ocean, and well near annihilated space. But with all its capacity for great and noble achievement, it has never been able to enlarge the boundaries of human life. Death’s arrows are sharp. His hand is unerring and ruthless. The giant stalks unseen, and throughout all the vast arena of his conflicts, none can resist, or evade his ravages. We may weep. We may tremble. But we cannot escape his fury. Man has no power to ward off the stroke of death.
Life beyond death has always been a fascinating subject. It appeals to both Christian and non-Christian alike. Everyone is curious about the future. That is why we have always had so many magicians and fortune-tellers. Especially today do men long to know what lies ahead? However, apart from the Word of God we can only speculate. It alone discloses God's purpose both for the present and the future.

So what happens when a man dies? Ecclesiastes 12:7 says, "Then the dust returns to the earth, and the Spirit or the soul returns to the God that gave it". Everything goes into reverse. His breath (the spirit) leaves his body and returns to God and his body returns to the earth. There are two different entities making up the human being. There is the spiritual body and the physical body. And we have to keep both of these in mind when discussing death, because at death each of these entities takes a different path.

The writer of Ecclesiastes tried to search meaning for life by accumulating earthly things. Solomon said, “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.” (Ecc. 2:10) If you read on you see he was telling the truth because he didn’t deny himself anything: The noble, the debased, the intellectual, the sensual, the cultural, the carnal. He built things, wrote things, amassed things, and squandered things. He created and he destroyed. He drank himself silly. At the end of his life, Solomon reviewed the results of all of his social and financial experiments in the book of Ecclesiastes. He confided in 7:25-29 that in marrying 1000 virgins, he had never found great pleasure and happiness: He wielded despotic power. In short nothing in all creation separated him from doing whatever he wanted, taking whatever he sought. This guy had all this fallen world has to give-AND HE LEARNED IT WASN’T ENOUGH. It still left him empty. As he put it, “All was vanity, chasing wind; wasting time…Everything was meaningless.”

Solomon said “I tested all this with wisdom, and I said, “I will be wise, “but it was far from me. What has been is remote and exceedingly mysterious. Who can discover it? I directed my mind to know, to investigate and to seek wisdom and an explanation, and to know the evil of folly and the foolishness of madness.  And I discovered bitterer than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are chains. One who is pleasing to God will escape from her; but the sinner will be captured by her. “Behold, I have discovered this,” says the Preacher, “adding one thing to another to find an explanation, which I am still seeking but have not found.” Eccl 7:25-29

How sad that Solomon “didn’t get it.” Even after making love to 1000 virgins and all of his wisdom, he found that knowledge and prudence were preferable to ignorance and folly, though human wisdom and knowledge will not make a man happy. The most learned of men, who dies a stranger to Christ Jesus, will perish equally with the most ignorant; and what good can commendations on earth do to the body in the grave, or the soul in hell? And the spirits of just men made perfect cannot want them. So that if this were all, we might be led to hate our life, as it is all vanity and vexation of spirit. "The life became hateful to me; for the work which man accomplishes under the sun was grievous to me: because all is vain and windy effort." He hated life; and the labour which is done under the sun, C.S. Lewis once put it this way, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:18, this world…”what is seen-is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

What happens when a Christian dies? His soul goes to be with the Lord. The apostle Paul tells us at 2 Corinthians 5:8, "that when we are absent from our bodies we are present with the Lord".

Our text says ‘What Good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?' (Mark 8:36-37) Literally it says, "It is exceedingly necessary that we give heed to this vital question." It is not just a causal question that you can get away. This is a question to all human races it is "exceedingly necessary to give heed. This is not an isolated question in the Bible. This concern to get the readers to wake up and listen closely to Christ the Son, the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of His substance, it was He in whom God spoke to us; it was He, the Redeemer, God and King, who Himself first preached the kingdom which He established when He effected the cleansing of our sin, and sat down on the right hand of the throne. Pay attention to this important question. Have you neglected your soul? Are you living your life for the glory of God, walking in holiness, and enduring the suffering that life brings? Or are you drifting from the great salvation that God has provided for you? Friends, if we neglect this great question, we will not escape from eternal punishment. We have Eternal souls. Now, our Bodies die. They begin dying the moment we are born but our Souls last forever-so nothing on this temporary earth is worth more. As Jesus said, “What can a man give in exchange for his soul? Nothing-nothing this world has o offer is equal in value to the soul of man because it is eternal.

Just prior to Jesus asking this question He had fed 4,000 people with seven loaves and a few fish. Two chapters earlier He had fed 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. And, this excited Jesus’ disciples-they thought that with Him around they would never again know physical hunger! Then Jesus healed a blind man at Bethsaida and this thrilled them even more-for they began to think they would never again worry about illness! Shortly thereafter Peter had made his bold affirmation that Jesus was the Christ the Son of God-the long-awaited Messiah come to re-establish Israel as a powerful kingdom. But Jesus reminded the disciples that this fallen world and the things in it will pass away-so it is foolish to INVEST in it. It doesn’t make good “business sense.” It’s like buying a ticket on the Titanic

We may recall from the history that awful incident on April 14th, 1912 when the RMS Titanic, on her maiden voyage from England to the United States, struck an iceberg in the icy waters off the Atlantic. White Star Line was the company that built the Titanic, and was owned by J.P. Morgan, an American tycoon. The cost to build the RMS Titanic was $7.5 million. (RMS stands for Royal Mail Steamer) It took 3,000 men two years to build the Titanic. Three million rivets held its massive hull together. The Price of a single first-class ticket was $4,700. (Equals $50,000 in today's economy) There were 6 ice warnings received by Titanic on the day of the collision. They were all ignored by the wireless operator who was preoccupied with transmitting passenger messages. The collision occurred at 11:40 P.M. on Sunday, April 14, 1912.Within two-and-a-half hours the then largest ship afloat—a ship claimed to be unsinkable—had plunged to the bottom of the ocean. Out of 2,228 people on board, only 705 survived which gives a total of 1523 passengers and crew aboard perished. The builders of this luxury liner were so confident of her sea-worthiness that they only provided sufficient lifeboats to accommodate half of the passengers and crew. When disaster struck, there was total chaos. The following is how one reporter pieced together the story of that tragic night.
In the panic and confusion that reigned in the early hours of April 15, orders were misunderstood, mistakes were made, fights broke out; some boats were launched with no one aboard but a handful of the ship's crew, and a few were even launched empty.  While those in the boats watched, horrified, the ship tilted steadily toward the vertical. At 2:20 AM, with a great moaning sigh as the remaining airspace was displaced by water, a sigh which survivors would later describe as sounding like the dying breath of some immense wounded beast, the gigantic ship slid beneath the surface. In the eerie silence that followed, all that could be heard were muffled sobs of grief from the boats, and the faint cries for help uttered by the few who had  strength enough to jump off and swim away from the ship.

It is difficult to comprehend how the owners of the Titanic were under such a delusion that nothing could go wrong. Little did they or the crew and passengers know when they boarded the ship with such excitement and confidence as they set sail for North America that they were headed for such a disaster. What could be more tragic in life to live under the delusion that we are on a joy ride and all the while be headed for a disastrous end.
Friends, Life is a mystery– from the flower that blooms on the valley, to the highest forms of conscious and intelligent existence. But what shall we say of death? Life, clothed with sensation, thought, and activity, was the last and highest act of the Creator’s power. But death — that mysterious change which defaced the beauty of this living creation, and breaks in pieces this most excellent monument of divine wisdom —what is it, but one of the highest and most striking proofs of the omnipotence of God, which spares not this his noblest work? See this beautiful vase dashed and broken! Not a vestige of its fair proportions remains. The living inhabitant that once occupied it is gone to some distant world; and the once beautified, adorned mansion is already beginning to be decomposed, and returning to its original dust. Nothing but desolation and decay are visible, and the stillness of death reigns throughout its deserted chambers. Albert Einstein said “God did not create evil. Just as darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of God.” 

In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who [habitually] clothed himself in purple and fine linen and reveled and feasted and made merry in splendor every day. And at his gate there was [carelessly] dropped down and left a certain utterly destitute man named Lazarus, [reduced to begging alms and] covered with ulcerated sores. He [eagerly] desired to be satisfied with what fell from the rich man’s table; moreover, the dogs even came and licked his sores. And it occurred that the man [reduced to] begging died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom.(Haven) The rich man also died and was buried. And in Hades (Hell)(the realm of the dead), being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, Father Abraham, have pity and mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame. (Luke 16:19-23 AMP)

Friend, Your soul is worth more than your property, popularity, career, health, intelligence and education. God wants to spend eternity with you. However, He has given you the freedom to choose where you want your soul to be. Lazarus ended up in Heaven where he was comforted, while the rich man ended in Hell. Our fate of eternity is determined by the acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and you will find a better place for your soul in eternity.
God bless you

To be continued…………

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