0 – Biblical Rules of Death

rules of death

Biblical Rules of Death

The Biblical Rules of Death: Who, What, Where, & Why we have to die.

This is a summary list of the articles in the “Biblical Rules of Death” series. Click the link for an article to read it.


Rule #1: Everyone has an appointment with death (Heb 9:27)

Published Oct 20, 2015


Rule #2: God cannot look on sin (Hab 1:13)

Published Oct 21, 2015


Rule #3: There is no forgiveness without blood (Heb 9:22)

Published Oct 22, 2015


Rule #4: Satan claims the souls who sin (Hebrews 2:14,15)

Published Oct 23, 2015


Rule #5: Everyone will go to either Heaven or Hell (Matthew 25:46)

Published Oct 24, 2015


Rule #6: Paradise is temporary (Matthew 27:53)

Published Oct 25, 2015


Rule #7: Rapture is real (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Published Oct 26, 2015


 

J2 – Judgment at DEATH (Where will you go?)

Everyone will go to either Heaven or Hell

Judgment at Death

The judgment that determines a person’s eternal destination is, without question, the most significant judgment for each of us. The Judgment at Death is that judgment.

The Judgement of Actions and Consequences could be considered a law (like the law of gravity). It condemns all who commit sin to die a physical death (Romans 5:12). But the Judgment at Death is the point where the consequences of an individual’s sins are dealt with. It is the event where a person is either allowed entry into heaven, or condemned to hell. 

So, how good must I be to enter heaven?

Question: From the list below, pick the person(s) from the Bible who, because of their personal righteousness, God allowed into heaven:

  1. Saint Paul
  2. Apostle John
  3. King David
  4. ___(fill in the blank)____
  5. None of above

Read more

03 – Why God Judges Us

Why God Judges Us

Why God Judges Us

The cause of Judgment and death

It just seems that life is not fair. Some folks are smart, rich, and beautiful while the rest of us have little or nothing to brag about. Our jobs are dead-end and our lives are a rat race. Our financial problems lead to family problems which end in divorce and pain. All the while, there are people who inherited money, good looks, and ease. Why do I deserve this? Life is not fair! And after all this life’s problems, we die! WHY?

Why God judges us

Why God judges us is a question that demands an answer.

Read more

Faith and Prosperity Teachings with Generational Curses

Generational Curses

Faith and Prosperity Teachings 

(With Generational Curses)

Many popular TV evangelists and teachers base their studies on what is commonly known as the “prosperity teaching.” In its simplest form, it says that God wants all of His children to prosper in every way – including in health and finances (3 John 1:2).

One of the first such evangelists was “Rev. Ike.” Since the early 1970’s, he has taught that listeners can “have what you want to have, be what you want to be, and do what you want to do” – just send him money. He also taught “You can’t loose with the stuff I use” and, “You will UNLEARN sickness and know health.But he died in 2009 after failing to recover from a stroke two years previous.

It is blatantly evident that not every Christian is financially prosperous and also that practically all people die of some sickness/disease – even Rev. Ike. So, these prosperity teachers add two other questionable teachings: The “Word of Faith” teaching and “Generational Curses.” (Others, like Joel Osteen, return to the Rev Ike formula and simply say that we should look inside ourselves and our self-image to “Live our Best Life Now.”) Read more

02 – Where Do We Go At Death?

Where do we go at death?

Where do we go at death?

At any point in time (since the cross), God views humankind in at least three classes:

  • The blessed dead: Made up of glorified O.T. saints and the souls of saints temporarily kept under the altar awaiting their glorified bodies. (Few – if any – of the N.T. Saints have yet to receive their glorified bodies.)
  • The living: Made up of unbelievers, Jews (chosen but have not accepted Christ as Messiah), Laodicean christians (churches and people who are part of the church but for some reason, they are not ready to be caught away at the coming of Jesus), and Philadelphia saints (rapture ready). There are other classes of living persons after the rapture.
  • The unforgiven dead: These are tormented souls who are physically dead, living in unimaginable suffering, in hell, waiting on the Great White Throne Judgment and the second death.

For the present, each person alive on earth is a triune being, consisting of body, soul & spirit (compare 1 Thessalonians 5:23). It may seem strange, but each element of our being is dealt with differently at death and, the destinations are also different. All who have less than all of these elements are anxiously awaiting their resurrection (see Note 1, “Reunion of Body and Soul”).

Regardless of our spiritual standing with God, when we die, our BODY is buried and eventually returns to dust. It may be burned beyond recognition or buried at sea or even melted in an atomic blast but, one way or another, it returns to the earth. This is just a visible reality of life. It is often rehearsed by a priest or minister as the undertaker lowers a casket into the ground and they drop soil into the grave, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” (from the 1662 version of the Book of Common Prayer). This is clearly why Solomon would (wrongly) declare in Ecc 3:19 that “the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both… (v.20) All go to the same place.” (To understand why this verse is in error, read our article on “Understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes“. Each time we visit a funeral, we are reminded that our existence in this body is limited to a few short years of increasing pain.

But there is a resurrection! And the bodies of those who have been “born again” are miraculously changed! They will no longer be just mortal “dust” but these become the immortal (eternal) bodies that will never again experience pain or suffering. (For more about this, see our article on the “Rapture”.)

The SPIRIT (of life) returns to God who gave it. In the Bible, the words “spirit” and “wind” (or “breath”) are often used interchangeably. (If you read the original languages, you will understand that they generally are just different translations of the same original word.) Jesus used the two words in John 3:8 to describe being born of the Spirit. When the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples (in Acts 2), they described the event as including a sound of a “rushing mighty wind.”

In Ezekiel 37:9, it was the spirit/breath/wind that brought the dry bones back to life. At the creation (Gen 2:7), God breathed life into Adam and he became a living soul. (See John 5:21 to understand that all life is given from God the Father, or the Son). So, when He chooses, God can withdraw His spirit (breath) and we die (physically).

We have no real control over when or how we die, where our body will be buried, or the return of the Spirit to God. Our family determines where and how our body is “put to rest.” Someone might say that we can control the time and manner of our death – we can kill ourselves. But I am not so sure that is absolutely true. It appears from Scripture (See Note 2, What is the #1 cause of death?) that God can keep people alive even if they try to die.

In the larger scope of things, God chooses when we stop breathing the breath of life. And, since He gave the spirit of life, He can reclaim it at any time. In Ecclesiastes 12:7 (see Note 3, How to study the book of Ecclesiastes), Solomon wrote a profound truth, “the dust [body] returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit [of life] returns to God who gave it.”

In summary, the Judgment of Actions states that since all have sinned, then we will all die a physical death. At death, the body is buried and returns to dust. And the spirit of life (or breath) returns to God the Father who gave it. That just leaves us with the soul‘s destination:

Where does the SOUL go at death?

The question of where our soul goes when we die must be answered if we are to have peace in this life. The Judgment of ACTIONS is involved but, I believe that the soul’s eternal destination is determined in a separate judgment, the Judgment at DEATH.

Logically, the next article is “Why God judges us“.


Notes

Note 1, Reunion of Body and Soul. There are many references in the  Bible to Resurrection. Although some near-death experiences may differ, TRUE resurrection is the point where a person’s soul is reunited with their body. The process varies for different groups, so we will deal with it more completely in a future article.

Note 2, What is the #1 cause of death? An interesting thought was revealed to me a few years ago… We do not die of heart attack, stroke, or cancer – we die because God withdraws His spirit, or breath of life (Rev 9:6).

Note 3, How to study Ecclesiastes. See our article here about how to study the book and see this article about how to use context to understand the Bible better.


 

J1 – Judgment of ACTIONS & Consequences

judgment of actions

Judgment of ACTIONS

Why do we have to die?

The first level of judgment is: There are consequences to every action! In everyday life, we have to give account for our actions to our supervisor at work or our teacher at school – or even worse, we must give account to our wife! 😉  When we disobey the speed limit, we must be prepared to pay a fine.

There are also physical (natural) laws that extract consequences to specific actions. If you jump from a 10-story building, there is a consequence. It is a physical reality in life. To quote a law enforcement motto, “If you do the crime, you serve the time.”

Although such laws (of the land, and of nature) were initially set in place by God (Romans 13:1), that is not what the “Judgment of Actions” is really all about. The Judgment of Actions is a judgment by God that is described in the Bible. It refers to the fact that anyone – and everyone – who commits sin will die.

Ezekiel 18:1-4 The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel: “‘The parents eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die.

Read the entire chapter of Ezekiel 18 to get a better understanding of our individual accountability. Some teachers talk of “generational curses” and say that we must be forgiven for the sins of our ancestors. Although there are some personality traits that are handed down from others, this portion of Scripture clearly states that we are NOT responsible for the sins of our fathers (see Note1, Generational curses), or our children, or our national leaders, or anyone else. We must give account to God ONLY for what we have done.

Ezekiel 33:17-20  “Yet your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ But it is their way that is not just. 18 If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, they will die for it. 19 And if a wicked person turns away from their wickedness and does what is just and right, they will live by doing so.20 Yet you Israelites say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ But I will judge each of you according to your own ways.”

Since all have sinned against God, then all must die. The only possible exception to the Judgment of Actions is that some people will be “changed” at the Rapture (see Note2, The rapture). But that is a different judgment so we will just skip over that thought for now and discuss it further in the article on the Judgment at Rapture. In this study, we are looking at how each person is accountable to God for his or her actions and how those actions result in physical death.


Notes

Note1, Generational curses. Please read Ezekiel 18 (the complete chapter) to see that, although some physical and emotional qualities are passed from one generation to another, and although some Scripture seems to suggest it, God disallows the idea that we are accountable for the sins of our fathers. For more, see our article on Generational Curses.

Note2, The rapture. The word “rapture” is not found in any of the common translations of the Bible. But, it is a commonly used term to describe the church’s elation at the event described in 1Cor 15:51 – which says that we (the members of God’s true church) will be “changed.”


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Continue to the next article,Judgment at death.

Using Context in the Bible

context in the bible

Context in the Bible

Facebook includes lots of images (memes) showing encouraging Scriptures from the Bible. Most are accurate quotes of a verse but is the concept they suggest Biblically sound? What about the people who quote a single scripture as a “proof” of some doctrine? Is that proper? What could be wrong if they have a Scripture to back them up? To find out, we need to learn how to  “correctly handle the word of truth.” Read the entire second chapter of 2 Timothy to learn more:

2 Timothy 2:15, Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

There are some defined rules for studying the Bible. Dr Tremper Longman III has posted his “Seven Keys to Understanding Scripture” while Ron Rhodes and Richard Anthony have “Eight Rules of Bible Interpretation.” Both of these lists (and many others) are great tools for guiding us in the proper methods of studying God’s Word. Although there might be slight differences of opinion between the lists, one thing that is common in virtually every guide is to consider the CONTEXT of each verse.

Google’s definition of context:

con·text ˈkäntekst/  noun
1) the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.
2) the parts of something written or spoken that immediately precede and follow a word or passage and clarify its meaning.

When reading a verse of Scripture, we must consider the verses prior to and following the verse – and how that concept is covered in other parts of the  Bible. Rarely can a verse stand on its own without us having to weigh the other verses in the chapter where it is found. And, always, a verse must be taken in the broader context of the entire Bible. If a verse seems to “conflict” with other verses, we must try to ascertain why and attempt to resolve the difference.

Look at Matthew 4:6 (the temptation of Jesus), Read more

Understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible

Understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes

Understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes

Prior to getting started with the study of Prophecy in the Bible, we need to set some boundaries. The teachings held by some groups depend upon verses found in the book of Ecclesiastes. Can they be trusted? Why, or why not?

The Meaning of LifeUnderstanding the Book of Ecclesiastes

Solomon (King David’s son and the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes) spent many years trying to find the meaning of life. In the first 11 chapters of the book of Ecclesiastes, he reported many proverbs – things that seem to be common sense, but, under scrutiny, they are not always true. (This is why not all proverbs are to be followed. See Ezekiel 18:1-4)

Proverb: a brief popular saying (such as “Too many cooks spoil the broth”) that gives advice about how people should live or that expresses a belief that is generally thought to be true, Mirriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary

An example from Ecclesiastes: “There is nothing new under the sun”, Ecc 1:9. It is like the more contemporary phrase, “It’s the same old drag every day!” Although commonly accepted and never called a lie, neither of these statements is factual. Actually, tiny changes are occurring all the time. (Like the loss of our hair and the increase in our weight!) See our article on Change Blindness.

False Doctrines

Many false doctrines have their basis in the teaching of these first 11 chapters of the book. The phrase “under the sun” is often by Solomon.  In Ecclesiastes, it describes events as they are seen from man’s eyes (vice God’s view). From our view, everything seems futile and a waste of time. A prime example is Solomon’s statement (Ecc 3:19) that “the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both… (v.20) All go to the same place.” Indeed, from man’s view, this is all there is… we are born and we die. It is the same with humans and with animals. But the New Testament clearly teaches that some souls will go to heaven while others will burn in the lake of fire. (Rev 21:15)

Purpose of the Book

God’s purpose for Scripture is to help us understand – the Bible is not meant to be confusing. Evidently, the purpose of these chapters in the Bible is to expose the “meaningless” of life, as viewed exclusively from man’s viewpoint. A life (such as Solomon’s) lived without God is futile, vain, and meaningless.

Folly

In the first portion of the book, Solomon tells us how he tried to find meaning in all manner of human endeavors, from the folly of chasing wisdom (Ecc 1:17,18), to pleasures of the flesh (Ecc 2:1), to fun, alcohol, and other follies (Ecc 2:2,3). He tried good works (Ecc 2:4-6) and wealth and it’s benefits. He tried various sexual delights, (vv. 7,8). He went so far as to say, “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure” (v.10). But Solomon found no lasting benefit in any of them. He wrapped up his feelings: “[E]verything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun” (v.11).

Conclusion

Understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes requires reading the last chapter of the book, where the picture changes drastically when we “remember [our] Creator”, (Ecc 12:1). Our lives cannot be viewed exclusively from “under the sun” (man’s understanding). We must keep God (the Creator) in the equation if life is to make sense. And, when viewed from ABOVE the sun, (e.g., from God’s eyes), a man’s life clearly has purpose and meaning. In Ecc 12:13 Solomon states that after one has heard all the facts, “here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. (14) For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.“`

So, the bottom line for Christians today: The book of Ecclesiastes has real value but it has to be read with care and discernment. A major portion of the book is a compendium of Solomon’s false steps toward fulfillment. And his repeated statement of the futility of trying to live a fulfilling life outside of God. In common language, Solomon is saying, “I have been a bad example. Don’t follow my mistakes.”

That concept is summarized in the last chapter. Therefore, any doctrine that depends on a very literal reading of verses from the first 11 chapters (man’s viewpoint – not God’s) is automatically questionable. Only Solomon’s comments in the last chapter can be accepted as stating the plan of God.


This article is another illustration of how context can reverse the true meaning of a verse. To learn more about using context in your study of the Bible, visit our article on “Using Context in the Bible. “

Now that you have a better understanding of how to study the Bible, begin your study with our series of articles on the Judgments which individuals must face. The first article is “What Happens When I Die?

 

05 – One Judgment by God? Or, multiple?

Only One Judgment?

Will There Be Only One Judgment?

Many people believe that, after death, there is just one judgment – the Great White Throne Judgment mentioned in Revelation 20:11-15. They believe that everyone (in either body or soul) is gathered together at that time and God chooses those that can go to heaven and sends the rest to hell (or the lake of fire). Is that Biblical? Or, are there multiple judgments by God?

As I mentioned in a previous post (What Happens When I Die?), people at funerals frequently assume that the deceased is “in a better place.” But, if the Great White Throne Judgment (GWTJ) does not occur until at least 1000 years later, how can that be? Read more

01 – What happens when I die?

What Happens When I Die

 What Happens When I Die?

I have made a very unscientific study of what goes on at funerals. According to the religious preferences of those involved and according to the societal influence, the style and tone of funerals may vary widely. Some are short and sweet (well, maybe not “sweet”) while others are long and drawn out affairs. Aretha Franklin’s funeral in 2018 lasted eight hours! Some are very formal while others seem to be off the top of the head. Some are restricted to just the family and others are community events. But one thing that is common to all is what people say.

In every funeral that I have ever attended (regardless of whether the deceased was a “saint” or a self-proclaimed atheist), more than a few people said, “He/she is in a better place.” Has there ever been a funeral where that phrase was not uttered? I think not. Read more

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