A Guide to Christian Theology - Lesson 50

Eschatology and Death

From this lesson, you will gain insight into the two aspects of the end: individual death and the end of the age. You will understand that human death involves the separation of the material and immaterial aspects of a person, as seen in biblical passages like Ecclesiastes 12:7 and Genesis chapter three. The text explores the fear of death and the challenges associated with it, such as the loss of personal autonomy and witnessing loved ones' decline. It also touches on topics like cremation, determining when a person is considered dead, and the concept of rewards after death. Ultimately, the lesson encourages you to be prepared for death and to live in a way that you'll be ready to meet Jesus, acknowledging that death is an undeniable reality.

Gerry Breshears
A Guide to Christian Theology
Lesson 50
Watching Now
Eschatology and Death

I. Introduction

A. The Two Sides of Eschatology

B. Contemplating Death and Its Meaning

II. Understanding Human Death

A. Genesis 2:7 - Creation of Man

B. Ecclesiastes 12:7 - The Spirit Departs

C. Physical Death: Separation of Material and Immaterial

III. Paul's Perspective on Death

A. Philippians 1:21-24 - "To live is Christ, and to die is gain"

B. Departing from This Life

IV. Significance of Death

A. Reasons for Fear of Death

B. The Role of Funerals

C. Views on Cremation

D. Determining When a Person Is Dead

V. What Happens After Death?

A. Conscious Existence After Death

B. The Idea of Ghosts

C. Debunking "Soul Sleep"

D. Personal Memory and Preparation for Death

VI. Rewards After Death

A. Disputing Misconceptions About Rewards

VII. Conclusion

  • In this lesson, explore the significance of systematic theology, blending academic insight with personal devotion. Learn to interpret biblical texts, understand how theology shapes beliefs, and fortify your faith against deception. This study fosters personal, biblical, and responsible theological growth, vital for spiritual development and discipleship.
  • Learn diverse ways to tackle theological questions, focusing on Holy Spirit baptism. Understand deductive, inductive, and retro-abductive methods. Acts 17:11 and Acts 15 show how community perspectives contribute to nuanced theological discussions, promoting unity amidst differing viewpoints.
  • This lesson provides insights into theological certainty levels, categorizing beliefs into "die for," "divide for," "debate for," and "decide for," highlighting essential doctrines, divisive issues, passionate debates, and less crucial matters, while underscoring the significance of understanding diverse perspectives and theological terms across different Christian tribes.
  • Explore general revelation through creation and conscience (Psalm 19, Romans 1). Responding leads to God, though not salvation alone. Special revelation possible. Diverse salvation views, favoring knowing Jesus. Seared consciences don't always void salvation.
  • Gain deep understanding of special revelation: history, divine acts, and communication revealing God's character and redemptive plan via Messiah. Lesson highlights Bible's key role, conveying God's nature, guidance, and transformative power, emphasizing ongoing divine-human communication.
  • This lesson delves into the concept of divine inspiration in Scripture, citing 2 Timothy 3:15-16 and 2 Peter 1:16-21. It explains "God-breathed" as a term highlighting God's creative influence on words, rejecting mere concepts or dictation. Inspiration involves human authors, their personalities, and styles, conveying God's message to the entire church.
  • In this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of God, including their definitions, biblical support, and implications and applications.
  • In this lesson you will gain insight into the Bible's clarity, sufficiency, and authority, and the Canon.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp a deep understanding of God's character. His foremost quality is compassion, like a mother's love. He's gracious, patient, loving, faithful, and forgiving, extending favor even to the undeserving. Yet, He's just, not sparing the persistently rebellious. This lesson dispels misconceptions, urging contemplation of God's profound blend of love and justice.
  • This lesson delves into holiness via Isaiah 6, emphasizing dedication over separation from sin. It challenges misconceptions and calls for church reform.
  • This lesson delves into the fundamental characteristics of God, particularly the Trinity, emphasizing God's essential relational nature within Himself and its biblical implications, while also addressing theological controversies and highlighting the complexity of the Trinity.
  • This lesson explores different approaches to knowing God, inspired by Thomas Aquinas, discusses the doctrine of immutability, and highlights how God can change in his attitude and actions based on biblical evidence, emphasizing the value of in-depth Bible study and open dialogue in understanding God's nature.
  • This lesson covers key theological concepts: sovereignty, election, and free will. It explores differences between Calvinist and Wesleyan-Arminian views on God's sovereignty, impacting God's plan and human responsibility. Emphasis on defining terms to prevent disputes. Speaker is a "Calminian," blending Calvinism and Arminianism for a balanced perspective. Valuable insights into theological complexities and scripture interpretation.
  • Exploring various theological views and problematic issues surrounding the concept of providence, we will gain a comprehensive understanding of the role of prayer in providence, as well as the compatibility of God's sovereignty and human responsibility.
  • You will gain knowledge about anthropology and its biblical foundations, creation of human beings and the image of God in humans, fall and sin and their implications on human nature, redemption and sanctification, and human destiny and eschatology, including views on heaven and hell and the return of Christ.
  • This lesson offers valuable insights into the multifaceted nature of providence and its profound implications for our comprehension of God's role in the world.
  • The lesson touches upon various types of suffering, categorizing them into six different types: moral evil (e.g., rape), natural evil (e.g., cancer), persecution, sharing the suffering of another, punishment for sin, and suffering caused by the devil.
  • Learn to discern God's will by cultivating a Christ-like character, living by moral principles, seeking counsel, embracing uniqueness, and praying. It's about aligning with your long-term happiness and godly desires, offering a balanced approach to life decisions.
  • Explore Jesus' nature and incarnation. Learn how He balanced divine and human attributes, challenging traditional views. Reflect on His mission and ours, empowered by the Holy Spirit, bridging divinity and humanity.
  • This lesson delves into the incarnation of Jesus, explaining his dual nature as both God and man during his earthly mission, supported by Old Testament, Gospel, and epistle references. It acknowledges the complexity of his divinity and humanity, even after his ascension.
  • This lesson explores Jesus' dual nature, divine and human, delving into emotions, knowledge, sin, and his role as the Second Adam, offering theological insights.
  • Learn about Jesus' life and mission, challenging traditional beliefs like the virgin birth. Explore his spiritual journey, resurrection, and more, fostering critical thinking and alternative perspectives.
  • This lesson provides a comprehensive examination of atonement, its various dimensions, and the theological concepts surrounding it.
  • Learn about the Holy Spirit, baptism, and its role in Christian faith. Understand diverse perspectives on its workings in believers' lives, emphasizing its incorporation at conversion and empowering influence, supported by biblical insights.
  • Gain insight into the relationship between spirit baptism and conversion, the various terms used in Scripture, and the importance of ongoing fillings with the Holy Spirit for special ministry tasks, character, and as a command for all believers.
  • This lesson explores the role of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. It challenges traditional definitions, proposing that any ability empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in ministry is a spiritual gift. The primary gift is the Holy Spirit himself.
  • Learn about the theological debate on spiritual gifts like prophecy and miracles. Explore four perspectives: cessationism, continuationism, functional cessationism, and word of faith. The instructor, a continuationist, emphasizes discernment and scripture while promoting respectful dialogue among believers with differing views.
  • This lesson explores the Bible's view of humanity, emphasizing humans as God's unique creation, made from dust and breath, in His image. It delves into human origins, our role as covenant partners, and the interaction between spirit and body, supported by biblical passages, offering a holistic perspective on being human in God's eyes.
  • This lesson redefines humans as image-bearers of God, emphasizing the role of reflecting divine attributes in all work, gender equality, and growth in Christ-likeness. It promotes dignity for all, with potential for deeper reflection as faith matures.
  • In this lesson you will explore the origin of sin, rejecting dualism in favor of a Christian perspective where sin arises from the choices of morally responsible creatures. The lesson introduces the idea of a pre-creation rebellion by Satan, emphasizing that humans are called to engage in spiritual warfare by doing good and promoting Shalom in the world.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the nature, marks, purpose, structure, and sacraments of the Church and learn about the different views and definitions used to define it.
  • This lecture discusses the leadership offices of a church, including eldership, deacons, and church members, and how they function according to biblical principles of polity, which prioritize following what the Bible prescribes, closely following what it describes, and using wisdom and being Spirit-led in matters it is silent about, all with the aim of effectively sharing the Gospel and achieving unity and focus.
  • In this lesson, you will explore baptism's significance, modes, and theological perspectives, and learn its role in church membership, unity, discipleship, and spiritual growth.
  • This lesson provides an overview of the historical, biblical, and theological aspects of Communion, including practical considerations for its practice.
  • You will gain a good understanding of death and its theological implications, including the biblical view of death, consequences of death, and resurrection and the afterlife. The lesson covers the definition of death, cultural views, and the portrayal of death in the Old and New Testaments. You will also learn about the physical and spiritual consequences of death, as well as the Bible's teachings on resurrection and the afterlife.
  • From this lesson, you gain insight into the biblical concept of God's Kingdom, its significance in Christian theology, and its impact on eschatology, social justice, and the Church's role.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into eschatology, examine biblical perspectives, explore key events like the Rapture, Tribulation, Millennium, and Final Judgment, and learn the significance of eschatology for today's believers.
  • By studying the eternal state, you gain insights into the new heaven and earth, resurrection, judgment, and eternal life, deepening your understanding of Christian hope and assurance.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into the crucial role of church leaders, their essential qualities, and the challenges they face, while discovering the importance of support and encouragement for their growth and effectiveness in ministry.
  • In this lesson, you gain an understanding of the nature of Scripture and learn to interpret the Bible within its historical, literary, and canonical contexts while addressing challenges in biblical interpretation.
  • This lesson delves into the structure and authority of a church, examining different leadership models and emphasizing the overarching role of scripture as the final authority, while also highlighting the need for congregational involvement in decision-making processes and the unique nature of the apostles in early church leadership.
  • Learn Dr. Breshears' local church leadership principles: focus on equipping, inspiring, empowering, unifying, exemplifying, caring for, overseeing, and shepherding members. Rooted in biblical teachings, emphasizes servant leadership. The lesson discusses congregational decision-making, women in church leadership roles with respect for differing views.
  • Learn about church leadership principles, roles of elders and deacons, active membership, mutual commitment, gift utilization, and clear processes in this comprehensive lesson.
  • This lesson explores sacraments, focusing on baptism and diverse theological views. Baptism signifies a profound commitment to Christ within a believer community, emphasizing understanding and promptness post-conversion.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp the essence of baptism, its questions, and debates. Discover belief's role, its confession, and the link to repentance and faith. Explore diverse views on baptism performers, methods, and locations. Gain insights and wisdom for informed baptism decisions in your faith community.
  • From this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of Communion, also known as the Lord's Supper or Eucharist. It will provide you with insights into the controversy surrounding its terminology and the theological background of Communion, primarily focusing on 1 Corinthians Chapters 10 and 11. You will learn about various theological perspectives on the real presence of Christ in the Communion elements and explore different viewpoints on the frequency, leadership, eligibility, and practical aspects of Communion. Overall, this lesson will equip you with the knowledge to better understand and participate in the Communion meal.
  • This lesson delves into two ends: individual death and the end of the age. It explores human death, material and immaterial aspects (Ecclesiastes 12:7, Genesis 3), fear, loss of autonomy, cremation, death determination, rewards, and urges preparation to meet Jesus, facing the undeniable reality of death.
  • Learn about the Kingdom of God, its aspects, Christ's return interpretations, and key concepts like inaugurated, Messianic, and millennium kingdoms. Emphasizing humility and mission in theological debates, it prepares you for insightful discussions on Christ's return and tribulation.
  • Learn about Christian views on heaven and hell. Hell is punishment for those who reject Jesus; heaven is eternal bliss with Him on a renewed Earth. Explore differing views respectfully.

Understand the core topics of systematic theology, from what we know about God to the future state of humankind. Special emphasis is given to such topics as Christ, salvation, the church, and the future.

A Guide to Christian Theology
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Eschatology and Death
Lesson Transcript

When I think of eschatology, the study of the end, there are two different sides of it. One is what happens to me as an individual at the end of my life, and one of them is what happens at the end of the age. And they're related to each other but not the same. So when I think of death and being an old man and a whole bunch of colleagues around me are dying, I've got now a number of people quite a bit younger than me who are dying which... The fact that I'm as old as I am, and with the stage four metastatic melanoma going on, though it's completely contained by the Opdivo, that's not a far distant picture for me. It's in many ways a present reality. And I think, what is death? And so the fundamental idea of human death... And again, this is your student guide, fundamental idea of human death is separation of what was never intended to be separated. So at creation, Genesis 2:7, God took dust, breathed the breath of life into it and that dust plus breath became a living person.

In scripture it says in a number of different places, Ecclesiastes 12:7 is when the spirit departs, the body goes back to the ground. It says there in Genesis chapter three. So physical death is a separation of material and immaterial. When the spirit departs, the body goes back to dust from which it came. And so what happens at that spot in that separation, physical death is... Well, Philippians chapter one, let's look at the passage here. It's a great passage. Philippians chapter one, Paul in prison here is asking himself, "Praying for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted by my body, whether in life or death." He's in prison, his possibility of his death is very imminent. "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." And that's interesting perspective. I don't know how many people would say that these days because there's so much this life oriented, would we really say die is gain unless you're suffering with some horrible thing.

If I'm going to be living in this body, meaning fruitful labor, yet what should I choose? I don't know. I'm torn between the two. I desire to depart and be with Christ which is better by far, but it's more necessary for you to remain in this body. Convince us I know that I'll remain and I'll continue with all your progress enjoying the faith. So he's talking about an iness that departs. Second Corinthians five is leaving the body behind. That's a physical separation and the departing means to be with Christ. And what he's saying here, what he's emphasizing here for our consideration is it means separation from this life because his apostolic job is to prepare and equip the church for life in the kingdom. And what he's saying here is if I depart, I'll be absent from that. So death means separation from this life. And when I think of some deaths I've been with recently, I've had some friends die and I think I'll never see this person again.

When my dad died I was with him in his last days, not at the moment of his death. But when I left his little park model there in Mesa, Arizona to go to the airport to come back up to Portland, my sister was there and then she was with him to the end. But when I left, he was almost to the point where he couldn't speak. And as I got ready to leave for the airport, I came over and roused him and he roused. And what I said was, "Daddy, I'll not see you again until we see each other in heaven." And he responded to me just affirmatively because that's hope we both have, is that departing from the life. But there was a deep sadness to say, "My father..." After having served him for two weeks in the final days of his life, and I served him in the most intimate of ways.

And then saying, "Daddy, I'll not see you again until we see each other in heaven." And then when I did his memorial service back at Spring Branch Church, the Brethren there in Missouri where he was gathered to his father's and I will be gathered to my father's in a grave next to his, at least that's the plan. That's what death means, is separation from this life. And there's a sadness associated with that. It's a cessation of bodily life, but not the cessation of person life. It's a cessation of bodily life. It's a cessation of life in this world, but it's not a separation of person life. So Paul says, "I depart to be with Christ." And later on he talks about the hope of resurrection. So a hope that we have as believers is that existence is not end at death, personal existence. And that's what we call intermediate state a little further down your student guide here, existence is not end at death.

There is ongoing life as a person, even apart from the body. Second Corinthians chapter five, well, what does that mean to live apart from a body? I have no idea. And I don't think there's any way we can conceptualize that except hypothetically what does that mean. But it does mean end of existence here. But that hope of resurrection, the hope of unity is a really critical point there. That's physical death, separation from this life, separation from bodily life. Spiritual death is the much more serious death and that's separation from God. Physical death is separation from body and spirit. But spiritual death is moral and personal separation from God, moral and personal separation from God. And when I think back to the garden, when the serpent comes to tempt Eve and Adam, and Eve comes to the deception and Adam apparently sins knowingly. And God comes and calls and they hide, to me that says already spiritually dead. The warning in Genesis 2:17, "And the day you eat you shall surely die." In deed it happened. That came apparently just moments after they ate the fruit and they hid, they're already dead.

He interacts with them. And then at the end of that, after He promised to crush the serpent and covering them with skins, they're driven out of the garden. And that being away from the tree of life is a symbol of their spiritual death. And then God's desires that they'll come back to the tree of life but only in his terms, not on our terms. So that's the real reality. And in Ephesians chapter two, when it says we're dead in our trespasses and sins, Colossians 2:12 it says a similar thing, they're talking about spiritual death. So in even Adam's case, they're spiritually dead the same day they ate, literally same day they eat. They don't die physically for hundreds of years with the Genesis chronology. So you can be dead and physically living at the same time. And that to me is a really critical thing to say. So eternal death is the eternal confirmation of spiritual death. That's Revelation chapter 20, that the final judgment and you'll spend eternity apart from God, which is a dread thing to do.

Why are you so afraid of death? Well, there's an answer for that. I've never been there before. Well, Jesus has been there for it. Yeah, and he had a tough time with it frankly. We're afraid of death because it's just an unknown reality. And for many people, death is aligned with a lot of suffering. There's a loss of personal autonomy. Again, a thing to my dad's death because I was with him in the final two weeks. He had been in a car wreck, a car spun out on the other side of the freeway and came across and they T-boned. And my dad hit the steering wheel, bruised his heart and lungs really badly and four months later is when he died. And I happened to come down to Mesa just to help out. And what I didn't know is when I walked in the door, my dad went from living to dying and he moved into that phase and I was with him during that slide. And he went from being a very competent, strong man to somebody who could not move other than just slight movement without my help.

And I remember the day when he wanted to shave and he couldn't hold an electric razor. And I shaved my father with the electric razor. And to me, that was [inaudible], that loss of personal autonomy that he couldn't even shave himself. Later he couldn't clean himself and I was literally wiping his bottom from the little bit of food that was running through his body. I think there was a day when he wiped me like that as a baby, now I'm wiping him like that. Huge, huge privilege but what a loss. That's why you fear death, is a loss of personal autonomy and ability to be a competent human being and such, and the pain that may be associated with it. What does it mean? There's a lot of reasons to fear death. People say, "Oh, don't be afraid of dying." We don't fear as the pagan's fear to be sure because you have the hope of Jesus through it all.

We have the pope of we existence with him, but it's an unknown. And funeral as I've said here is a ceremony showing and remembering the importance of a human being. So I did my father's memorial, I did my mother's memorial and I did my mother-in-law's memorial. And I count a huge privilege to do that. And my whole point with all three of those is to honor these people who've been such a big part of my life. I don't do many funerals, but those three that are particularly meaningful and I want to honor that person, the importance of them as a human being and to the place to be a support ministry, sharing and releasing the grief. It's a ministry of closure on that person's life [inaudible] without him or her. At my father's memorial there at Spring Branch, we had a service in the building. Then went out to the graveyard beside the building there and we did a graveside service.

And as we were doing that, my uncle, my father's only surviving brother at that point started just to weep. And Truman was a very strong man who did not weep easily, but he was weeping to think of the death of now his only brother and he would be the only brother left. Still had a sister who was there present as well, but he started to weep. And I remember my mom going over, putting her hands on his shoulder and shaking him, "Don't weep. He's with Jesus." And so Truman clammed up and later on I saw him over by the fence of the graveyard weeping by himself. I know what my mom was trying to do, but I think she's wrong. I think she should have put your arm around him and saying, "Yeah, he was a special man, wasn't he?" There's a place for grief at a funeral, not the hopeless grief. I was at the funeral of an unbelieving psychologist friend of mine that I had done a lot of work with and she died and I was at her memorial.

Man, thought a hopeless thing. It was just ridiculous. I just, ah, but unbeliever's funeral should be a place to share the grief. I think that's an important thing to do. What about cremation? My dad, my mom and my wife's mother, we did cremation for all of those. Well, you're burning the body. Yeah, we are. And in those cases we buried the ashes and had a memorial service and there's a graveyard. I can go visit my parents' graves. When Sherry's back in Arkansas recently, she went to visit her mom and dad's grave. Well, how can God resurrect a burned body? How can He rescue anybody after a year when everything's been... So to my judgment, the point is don't disrespect the body. This isn't just to something be thrown away, but do as respectful thing and how you do that. We buried the bodies. I was a part of a service for ironically a ritual abuse survivor whose family would happily have desecrated her grave if they knew where it was.

And so when we did that one, we did a cremation and we actually with some very close friends and supported hers, we did a burial of her ashes in a spot that I'm not going to disclose. We put some tags with it in case somebody ever ran into that just so people could know what it was. But we respected her. Other people scattered the ashes in a favorite spot. I don't think there's anything bad about cremation. Some people know I know that's not right. I just respectfully disagree. There are a lot of advantages to that. Transportation of body from Arizona to Missouri is extremely difficult and expensive. And to have a funeral in Arizona when his family was in Missouri would've been again difficult and to my judgment, is not worth that difficulty. Ashes, you can throw them in a suitcase. Funny thing was when my mom brought my dad's ashes from Arizona, she lost the key to the luggage.

And she thought, I have to bury the whole suitcase including... She was able to find it. I didn't need to break open the suitcase. What is a person dead? That's actually difficult to determine exactly. In these days, we've known people who are dead, who have been medically resuscitated after quite a while where there's no visible heartbeat or anything. In another case, I think of my friend Bill Bynam who had a really serious heart attack and was oxygen deprived. His brain for a period of time was at the hospital and I was with his wife, Joanne and a couple of others, trying to help them think through is he dead? He's on a respirator and they're maintaining a biological life. But we came to the conclusion through an EKG and medical judgment that really he's dead. We're maintaining a cellular life, but there's not a spiritual life. So we helped Joanne pull the plug, so to speak, to take away the respirator. And as soon as the respirator is gone, he stopped breathing because there was no life left. Those are actually hard decisions to make, but make them well.

I think there's absolute time to pull the plug. Extending dying is not a help to the person. Difficult things. What happens after death? Well, the critical thing is death does not end person existence. Let's look at Luke 16 for example. Luke 16 is the rich man and Lazarus. Starting at verse 19, "The rich man dressed in purple and fine linen who lived in luxury every day, at his gate laid a beggar named Lazarus covered with sores. And the time when came the beggar died, angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried in Hades. He's in torment, looked up." We'll come back to this in a bit, but I want to say here in both cases there's conscious existence after death. Abraham is able to have a conversation with Lazarus. So there's ongoing personal existence, conscious existence post death. And you say, "Well, that's a parable." Yep, it's a parable, but it's representing something. And, "Well, it's just a parable. It doesn't represent anything."

No, I think Jesus is telling a story and he's saying there are consequences after death for the life you live now. So I think this is talking about a place where both Lazarus and the rich man are having conscious existence post death. So I think there's personal existence for every person after death, and I would say that our state after death is irrevocably determined during your life on earth. I see this in the case of Lazarus. I see that in the judgment in second Corinthians five. "It's given to man once to die and then the judgment," Hebrews 9:27. I don't think there's a chance to change after death biblically. If there is a chance for somebody to come to Christ after death, I'm not offended even slightly. I just don't see any hope of that in scripture and that's a scary thing, because somebody living their life apart from Jesus now will live life apart from Jesus after death.

Daniel chapter 12 talks about a resurrection of all people, some to everlasting life and some to everlasting contempt. So yeah, I don't think there's a death. The believers hope, Philippians chapter one, "We'll be with Christ." So Lazarus is at Abraham's side or Abraham's bosom. He's wherever Abraham is. For some people that means he's in a waiting spot until Christ is crucified and penalty for sin is paid. Then the Old Testament saints go to be in heaven. Paul is saying to die is to be with Christ, which is far better. Christ we know He is at the right hand of the Father. So we're with Him, again, of course the geography of this we have no idea, but it's with Christ wherever it is. So I think that's where believers go, and so I'm very open to saying we go to heaven when we die, I believe where Christ is. Now, where's that geographically? Can I get it on my GPS on my phone? The answer is no. It's not that kind of place at all.

But that personal existence with Christ to the believer's hope, we'll be with Christ and we'll be with Him and with other believers. So Hebrews chapter 11 is talking about the fellowship of saints, looking back and we believe at that. So I think that I've got a lot of verses there we'll be resurrected. First Corinthians 15, what about ghosts? Is it right that the ghost of Christmas passed? I am amazed how many traditions have ghosts departed spirits of departed believers that come and haunt people. I don't see it in scripture. I think you leave this place and go to another place. But the pictures of ghosts, I actually think those are probably demons pretending to be the brother. But scripture doesn't say much about that. It does talk about like in Acts chapter 12, and Peter gets popped out of jail by an angel. And he shows up at Rhoda's house and the servant girl sees him, "Hey, Peter's here." "Can't be Peter. It's going to be his ghost. He died."

They're believing in a ghost and the disciples see G is walking across the water. They think he's a ghost. They believe in spiritual apparitions. Is that spiritually departed people? There's certainly a belief in that. I don't do all that, but it seems to me that at death we depart this place and go somewhere else. But I don't say it with a lot of confidence because it doesn't say a whole lot about that. I hear stories of the brother shows up and comes up and says something that only my brother knew because just him and me are present in that moment. Well, spiritual being's around there too. So I don't trust brothers showing up as necessarily the brother. Those are very meaningful kinds of things. Soul sleep, is there conscious existence after death? We just looked at rich man and Lazarus, he's conscious. Revelation chapter six talks about the souls under the altar crying out, "Oh Lord, how long until you avenge our blood?" That's conscious life, whatever John is representing there in the book of Revelation.

I don't agree with the idea of soul sleep. That is that it does describe death as sleeping because you see a dead body. It looks like somebody sleeping. But soul sleep to me is just a description of the body. I think the scripture's teaching is clear that there's conscious existence, personal existence after death. So I don't agree with the soul sleep view, but I know a lot of people do and the argument is how can you act without a body? Well, I say if you can't act without a body, you got a real problem because God doesn't have a body and He apparently acts pretty effectively. So how do we act without a body? I don't know. When I get that experience then I'll tell you what it's like.

Rewards, I think there are rewards. We could spend a lot of time working through the passages. The thing I disagree with is I'll have a really fine mansion over the hilltop. And I'll have gold fixtures in the bathroom because I deserve it kind of stuff, that's just nonsense. The mansion thing that's talked about in the King James there in John 14, that's often done is I'm going to have a mansion in heaven. I think what he's using is we cannot think apart from spatial terms. And I think when He talks, I go to prepare a place for you. It's a place with many rooms which say we don't ever run out of room because there's space for everybody. I don't think that's talking about literal rooms up in heaven or certainly not mansions and that sort of thing. I think there's a lot of stuff that's built on that. One of my least favorite things ever is the many room thing. We're going to play football because it can be great, the song from a while back.

What He's saying is there's always room for more people to come into God's kingdom. That's why He's saying in John 14, He says, "To go to prepare a place for you." Means He's going to die. And his crucifixion, resurrection will bring forgiveness and life into our existence and that we're with Him forever. That's tough around death. It's not a real happy topic. The thing is it's going to happen and that's the undeniable reality, is everybody will death. And frankly, that's one of the hardest things for people to face, is there'll come a time when I'm going to die. And I think everybody has a space somewhere in their life when suddenly they realize through some experience or another, that's going to be me one day. That's going to be me one day. For me, it was when I was sharing my dad, that's going to be me one day. And honestly, especially since my cancer diagnosis when just a few years ago, that would've been nine months till death. And the last half of that nine months would be horrible as the melanoma took over my lungs, that's not true anymore with the Opdivo.

I can say honestly I don't fear death, but I have a real fear of the process of death because I've seen that happen to people. I've seen agonizing deaths and I'm frankly afraid of that. But I don't sit around worrying about it because I don't know how I'm going to go. But the thing is live now in such a way that you'll be ready for death. So again, personal memory. My dad was out here before he... Well, he's still strong but he was getting older and some physical things were happening. And my dad and I both loved to hike. So we went down a Laurel Horse park in Portland and we were wandering around the park, beautiful place down there. And we sat down by the lake there and sat on a bench and I was prepared and I said, "Okay, I'm going to do it to you dad." So I made him sit and I made him be quiet and listen while I spoke words of blessing to him. Thanks for being such a great dad. He wasn't the perfect dad, but he was a really good dad to me.

And I made him sit there very, very, very uncomfortably while I spoke that to him because I knew there'd come a day that he's going to die and I might not be present at that time. So be prepared for death. If you got somebody you need to bless, do it today because you never know how long it may last because death's a reality and you can be struck by a lightning or hit by a car or heart attack or all kinds of different things can be... Be ready for death, be ready for the coming of Jesus Christ because you never know. Live in such a way that when you die you'll be ready to meet Jesus, it's a good way to live.

Two quick questions. If somebody believed in soul sleep, how would they define it?

The idea of soul sleep is that you're asleep with Jesus, you're protected by Him but there's no conscious existence. I'm not interacting with Him. I'm not personally aware of that. And some will say you can have good dreams in the place of soul sleep. So taking the picture of sleep and extending it out. But last night when I was sleeping, Sherry came in and went to bed after I went to bed and she did whatever she does to get ready for bed. And I was completely unaware of it. But then I woke up later in the night, she was sleeping beside me and I was glad. That would be soul sleep, is while I'm asleep there's no conscious existence, but I'm still alive but not in any conscious interaction typically.

And when do you wake up?

In this you wake up at the resurrection, when Jesus comes back. First Corinthians or first Thessalonians chapter four, is we come back with Him and that's when the waking up would happen in a typical soul sleep view.

Okay. Have you ever heard people say that after death they won't remember anything, they won't remember their spouse, they won't remember their kids. What would you say to that?

I'd say it's nonsense. We can't say much because we don't have almost nothing said about the death state. What I look through is a transfiguration and the resurrection of Samuel in the Old Testament. These are two places where you've got a brief biography of what happened. Samuel comes back and he's ticked and he's been disturbed, and he knows who Saul is and he knows what Saul's been doing. At least in that resurrection moment, he speaks a curse on Saul. He'll die within the day and he does. That's consciousness. Now, [inaudible] while he's there, but he doesn't come back without memory. Same thing for Elijah and Moses when they come and chat with Jesus, whatever they're chatting about there, the transfiguration, there was a personal relationship. So I think that's not the case. The question comes, will we be married? Because Jesus' make that thing about the wife that has seven husbands kind of thing, who she should be married with. And he just dismisses them because they're Sadducees and don't believe in the resurrection anyway.

But marriage is for the sake of procreation and especially in biblical times, I think there'll be something better than marriage. I don't think it'd be something less than marriage. I think it'd be a deeper intimacy, but that's my opinion. We just don't have much in scripture to talk about that. But to say we don't have it, now you're making something that seems the opposite of what I find hinted at in scripture, but we just don't know.


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