by Pastor Dan Wolgast, Dean of Students
Estimated Time to Read: 9 Minutes
God says much about life in His Word starting in the first two chapters of Genesis when He created Adam from the dust of the ground and breathed life into him. This brought Adam to life, and he began to experience life. He now had a living body, soul, and spirit. He was alive, and he had spiritual life in his innocent state and a personal relationship with His Creator, the Creator who created Adam and Eve in His own image.
As humans, we seem to be adept at messing things up. Adam and Eve lost this special connection with God when they sinned by eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Because of their sin, God drove them from the Garden, and the wonderful life they had with Him in this perfect environment was gone.
They became spiritually dead, separated from God, along with all of their offspring, including you and me, who from that time forth were born spiritually dead and separated from God. This helps us understand that in Scripture the word “death” conveys the idea of separation, not cessation or annihilation.
The Truth of Death
The big picture we see in Scripture is that God only desires to bless us with life in Him, but when we reject that, all that is left is death.
When a person remains in the state of spiritual deadness and refuses to recognize his dead or lost condition, failing to come to God by faith and choose Jesus Christ to be their Savior, that person, when he physically dies, goes first into a place of torment. “So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom” (Jn. 16:22,23).
The dead, the lost, in this place of torment are still alive, but are separated from life in this world, the life they had before they died physically. One day they will be brought before God at the Great White Throne Judgement of Revelation 20:11-15. You will notice in verse 11, “And there was found no place for them,” and then in verse 15, “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire.” This is the second death where they will be separated from God forever.
There are those that want to believe that the lost will be annihilated and cease to exist. But, this goes contrary to the very character of God. It would be vindictive of God to do this; i.e., God getting even for not accepting His Son’s finished work of the cross. God gives life to each individual, causing them to exist. It is not in God’s nature to take back what He has given; it would be contrary to His unconditional love.
Instead, God grants the unbeliever’s choice to be eternally separated from Him by creating a place for them, though it was originally prepared for the Devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41). Again, death is separation, not annihilation. There have been a lot of things said and written about this place of torment, much of it also going against the character of God. The truth is, as one man put it, Hell is eternal isolation where his pride will gnaw on him forever.
Every word used to describe a Christless eternity would come into play here. There can be no greater pain than that of spending an eternity alone with no hope or way to change one’s circumstances. Saying no to God means saying no to everything that God is. As our Lord Himself said, only God is good (Matt. 19:17). God simply accepts a person’s decision of saying no to Him and His goodness for eternity, therefore receiving no spiritual life.
God’s plan has always been to give every person born into this world eternal life. We are blessed today to have His written Word that reveals throughout the history of the world God preparing the way of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. His desire has always been to see everyone brought into a perfect Father/child relationship with Himself that will last forever.
God created man in His own image in order to have a relationship with mankind and to bless them forever. Paul is very clear in this when he penned these words about God, “Who desires all men to be saved and to come the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:4). Jesus Christ stated “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14:6), and to all who do, He gives eternal life.
Everything about God’s plan has to do with a life relationship with Him. He had a special connection with Adam and Eve. He was Father to the nation of Israel. He sent His Son to die for us because of His love for us. He allowed His Son to be shamed and tortured to death and experience separation, between Himself and Jesus in order for us to receive eternal life with Him.
To be given eternal life and the promise of a home in Heaven; a place where He will bless His children forever, should be enough for anyone to rejoice in, but there is more.
Our Lord, when on earth, talked of having come so those who would believe would have an abundant life. “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). Abundant life is life that He intended for His children to experience while still living in this world. God never intended us to die before we could enjoy an abundant life in Christ.
Our Apostle Paul wrote much about the abundant life we have in Christ. First of all, we enter spiritual life at salvation through the Holy Spirit of “Whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:6). Paul tells us, “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Cor. 3:17,18).
Life in Christ is a life of freedom and, when living a life of faith, that liberty transforms us into the image of His Son. Paul wrote of the results of those living by faith and filled to the fullness of Christ’s love. “Now to Him Who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20).
And a good part of that abundant life is that, because of our relationship with Him, we can go to Him regardless of our circumstances and receive His peace. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6,7).
Many Christians fail to realize that the spiritual blessings in Ephesians 1:3 are all listed in chapter 1. The primary spiritual need of man is to be loved without expectations of anything in return, to be accepted for who we are and where we are in our spiritual maturity, and to have meaning and purpose to life.
God, Who is Love loves us in Christ as perfectly as He loves His Son. God accepts us just as we are and where we are in Him. There was nothing so freeing to me than when I believed the truth that God, my Father, accepted me as I am, rather than not accepting me until I become something I’m not.
He accepts me perfectly as I am, His child, and accepts me at whatever stage of growth I am in. When this became a reality in my heart, it changed my life forever. And being a child of the living God with Him as my Father gives meaning and purpose to my life. My Father prepared a work for me that fits me and the gifts He has given me, therefore I can live life to the fullest.
Knowing God as Your Father
A godly young lady, knowing I teach the family classes at BBI, recently asked me, “What is the most important thing that I need to know before getting married?” She may have been surprised when I answered, “Knowing God as your Father.”
When we embrace by faith and experience what Paul wrote, “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’” (Gal. 4:6), it is then that we truly begin to experience the life that God has given us. We live secure in the love, acceptance, meaning, and purpose of life that is ours as we live a life of faith in our Father/child relationship.
Our life becomes full as we live in the security we have in Christ and a life of dependency in Him. It is then when a person can go into marriage with the attitude of giving to, rather than demanding from, a mate.
Life, a full, abundant life, comes from what the Apostle Paul wrote about himself, “For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:19,20).
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