Query: What is Death?
By Larry White
July 17, 2009
When I asked by family and friends, "What is Death?" I got three responses to my query.
1. "A lower consciousness of matter."
2. "Death to me, like life, is an illusion."
3. "A river that everyone must cross with either angels holding you by the hand on the way through and Jesus on the other side or you face it alone with only eternal judgement waiting, hoping for mercy from God."
One person asked me why I was asking, and I said, "If you can define death, then that might lead to a comprehension of what life is. I know that the reverse should also be true but if I ask people to define life, it is too broad a subject. Death makes us focus on what life really is - the true life.
My own answer is that I have found that death used to be a problem in the age before Christ - the B.C. age, because no one who physically died was allowed to come, or simply were incapable of coming into the presence of God who is Life.
That's the problem with sin. If man tries to go to God in sin, he cannot. If he could live forever in sin he would never transcend and go to God, like the demons. That is why God barred man from the tree of life in the garden. He didn't want man to live forever in sin. So he allowed them to physically die. God wants everyone to come to him eventually, so when they physically died, he put them in a holding "place" where they could continue without life for a time until God could rectify the situation. If he had not done this, then all those who physically died before Jesus came would have been separated from God forever which is the real Death; death with a capital D.
That holding "place" is what the ancient Near-Eastern world called Hades, Death or Sheol. (I put quotes around "place" because the spiritual realm is not limited by space or time, therefore it does not take up space as we know it.) Sheol is also known as the Grave, and it is actually a kind of grave because this place is from where people rose in the resurrection at the last day of the previous age, circa A.D. 100. These people existed there until God could offer Life to humanity through Christ, i.e. spiritual life in the presence of God.
God then manifested himself as a bringer of Life in the form of his representative son. Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life..."
One can tell what Life is by the way to obtain it.
1. Life is a condition of the heart. (faith and repentance) [Jno. 8:24]
2. Life is a condition of the spirit. (born of God in the spirit) [Jno.3:5-6]
3. Life is a condition of the mind. (knowing God and He knowing you) [Jno.17:3]
1. God wants man to believe in him and trust him (which is faith). When a man truly believes in God he will submit his will to God's will and change his mind and behavior to do what is right and best instead of following his own desires (which is repentance).
2. Man must be born of the spirit to live spiritually (being born of the water and the spirit as Jesus said). God washes our sins and guilt away by immersing us in water and forgiving us all our transgressions. When we are raised out of the water, He then quickens us to a spiritual life by communicating the Life of Jesus Christ to us in the gift of his Holy Spirit.
3. With the gift of the Spirit we put to death the deeds of the body and renew our minds. We are raised to a new life and exist with God in the spiritual realm just as well as we continue to exist with each other in the physical realm. We walk in a realm of light and, as Jesus did, we take our cue for our behavior from the spirit and do not follow our own desires in the flesh but speak and act in obedience to the Father who is with us. We "know" him and he "knows" us. It is a communion of the Holy Spirit. That is why he is called "the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus". (Rom.8:2)