Of Death ...And Life
"I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago —whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows, —such a one was caught up to the third heaven." 2 Corinthians 12:1-2 In prior verses Paul said he did not wish to boast, so here he is speaking of himself in the third person. Paul had the wonderful experience of seeing heaven. But my point today is the fact that he did not know whether this experience happened to him while he was in his body, or whether he was taken out of his body. This is a very telling passage in which we learn how real our spirit is. We live in our body, which the Scriptures call a tent, and when we leave the body the real person inside that body continues on - and it's so real that Paul for example, couldn't tell whether he was in his body or out of it. So that tells us that our spirit retains all our functions, sight, touch, hearing, and he was in the same form - same eyes, ears, arms, legs, his spirit was identical to the body he lived in. Jesus made an astounding statement: "He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in me SHALL NEVER DIE." John 11:25-26 SHALL NEVER DIE... Death is not something to be feared. At the moment of death you simply change location. You don't die. The body dies, but YOU don't die, and the real you is so real that like Paul, you can even be unaware that you have left the body. Jesus was speaking to Martha whose brother had died, and after he said to her that believers will never die, he asked her ...and this is so crucially important: vs 26: "Do you believe this?" Do YOU believe it? Do you understand that you will never die? Therefore how important it is to make sure where you go after bodily death. Throughout the Scriptures we are told that upon death the person will go either to heaven or to hell, and it's absolutely vital that each one seek to ensure their eternal destiny. Upon what is our eternal destiny determined? Satan has lied to mankind. In all religions he tells people their destiny is determined by their goodness or evilness - and that is a lie. There is not a person on the face of the earth who is good enough to go to heaven, because the issue is that we are all sinners and there must be judgment on us as sinners. If a man is standing before a judge in a courtroom charged with murder or rape, there is no way he can escape his sentence by telling the judge how much good he has done. His good deeds are not the issue. His crime is the issue. Our sinfulness is the issue. What determines a person's fate is whether or not our sin has been judged and the sentence carried out. Romans chapter 6 tells us that the wages, or sentence, of sin is death, not speaking here of the death of the body, but eternal death. The word death means "separation." When a person dies, he is separated from his body. But there is a second separation which the Scriptures call "the second death," and that is being eternally separated from God in hell. And that is our fate, every one of us who stands before God to be judged for our sins. So it's pretty hopeless for us, because each one of us is a sinner. We all have sinned. All of us. (Romans 3:23) But what if, in that courtroom when the sentence is given - someone comes and volunteers to take the judgment upon himself in the sinner's place? My goodness, is that possible? Who ever heard of such a thing??? Well ....there IS someone... God sent his sinless Son into the world to stand in our place before the judge and to receive in himself the sentence due our sins as he hung on that Cross. "He who believes in him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." John 3:18 We are condemned and the sentence will either be carried out by our eternal separation from God in hell, or by accepting and surrendering our lives to the one who took that judgment FOR US. The unsaved are "condemned already," because they are in sin. But... vs 16: "...God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life." If you are not born again by faith in Jesus Christ but want to be, pray with me: Father God, I know I am a sinner and that my sin demands judgment and the sentence of eternal separation from you in hell. There's no way any good works on my part are going to change that sentence. But I have heard that that your son Jesus Christ has stepped in to receive that sentence on my behalf. Please let it be appropriated for ME. I turn from doing things my way, and place my whole destiny in the one who stands in my place. Jesus Christ, I believe in you and I ask you to become my Savior. I believe you died and went to hell IN MY PLACE and that by accepting that, by receiving you as my Savior, I am cleared from all judgment. I am so thankful to you that I surrender my whole life and my self to you and ask you please, be my Lord from this day on and for all eternity.