DOCTRINE OF DEATH, PART 13
DEATH - THE NEXT MOMENT AFTER DEATH = YOU ARE IN AN INTERIM BODY!
This doctrine will also be available in note & audio format @ http://fbcweb.org/doctrines.html
In preparation for Bible Class let's review the three essentials of Christianity: salvation, the spiritual life, and spiritual maturity (apart from proper orientation to these issues Bible class is of little to no benefit). Salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone. If you are not saved the only issue before you is the Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation He freely offers you - without any strings whatsoever – all you need to do is place your faith in Him, Jn 3:16. The issue is not sin but the Son and attitude toward Him determines your eternal destiny, Jn 3:36. The second issue is in regard to your spiritual status as a Christian. At any given time your soul is either under the control of your old sin nature or the Holy Spirit, Gal 5:16-17. As a believer you have the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30) who was given to you at the point of salvation as God’s power base of operations. When you sin you break fellowship with God and the sole issue is confession of sin for restoration to fellowship with God, 1 Jn 1:5-9. The third issue is spiritual maturity. This is why you are left on this earth – to grow up spiritually, to grow in divine viewpoint and power as God’s productive ambassador on this earth, Eph 4:12-16; 2 Cor 10:3-5.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,
It is important to remember that regardless of where you are in life: it is not your past sins or failures that determine if you become a winner believer or loser believer, that is determined by THE NOW. As long as you are alive God has a plan for your life. We all make stupid mistakes (euphemism for getting involved in gross sin and evil either in moral self-righteous degeneracy or immoral licentious degeneracy), it is the winner believer that puts it all behind him and moves forward in the spiritual life. Consider the words of the Apostle Paul.
1 Timothy 1:15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
Philip 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God [= recognized with distinction as a winner believer] in Christ Jesus.
DEATH - THE NEXT MOMENT AFTER DEATH = YOU ARE IN AN INTERIM BODY!
Your human soul never dies, it will live forever. One second after death, when you slip behind the parted curtain, you will either be enjoying a personal welcome from Christ or catching your first glimpse of gloom as you have never known it. Either way, your future will be irrevocably fixed and eternally unchangeable. “Every human being,” says C.S. Lewis, “is in the process of becoming a noble being; noble beyond imagination. Or else, alas, a vile being beyond redemption…. There are no ordinary people…it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
Before we examine the interim body, let’s review few principles on death for Christian:
1) Physical death cannot separate the believer from God, Rom 8:38‑39. Nothing can separate us from divine love.
2) Physical death is a matter of the sovereign decision of God, based on His perfect knowledge of all the facts, Ps 68:19‑20. No matter how you feel, when the Lord decides to take you, that's it. It is blasphemous to question His decision.
3) God can and does prolong physical life, Ps 102:19‑20, 23‑24; 118:18; Prov 14:27.
4) God also delivers the believer from death, Job 5:20; Ps 33:19, 56:13; 116:8.
5) The believer who attains spiritual maturity departs under dying grace, Ps 23:4. Ps 116:15, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones." This is not necessarily freedom from pain, but pain is negated as a factor.
6) Death means no appointment with judgment, Heb 9:27.
7) Death means being face to face with the Lord, 2 Cor 5:8.
8) Death means the end of pain, Rev 21:4. There is no mourning, crying, or pain in the interim body. Believers who die the sin unto death don't lose out until the Rapture. They have a ball in the interim body.
9) Death means a new home, Jn 14:1‑6.
10) Death means realization of eternal life, Jn 11:25, 10:28, 20:31; 1 Jn 5:11‑12.
11) Death means waiting for the resurrection in an interim body, Jn 11:25; 1 Thes 4:13‑18; Job 19:25‑26; Phil 3:21; 1 Cor 5:51‑57.
12) For the believer who dies in spiritual maturity, death is going to be profitable forever. Phil 1:20‑21, "For me living Christ, dying profit."
13) The only preparation for the believer's death is the spiritual life.
14) God's decision as to the time, manner and place of our death is always based on the integrity and love of God.
15) In the final analysis every believer's death is always God's victory, 1 Cor 15:55-57.
16) In all matters of life and death, God's timing is perfect, because God is perfect. For the winner believer, dying is the most wonderful part of life. Dying for the loser believer is most awesome and horrible time in life.
17) In dying, God's decision glorifies God and at the same time brings the greatest blessing in life to the dying person. For the believer who has harmonious rapport with God through his spiritual life dying is far better than any blessing in living.
Now to the interim body. The first thing that you will probably notice about yourself after you leave your dead body behind is that you will possess a new interim body. You will not receive your eternal permanent glorified resurrected body until the day of resurrection, i.e. the Rapture,
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 But we do not want you to be ignorant [always dangerous to be ignorant about death, Rapture, and eschatology], brethren, about those who are asleep [analogy to body sleeping in the grave], that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them [dead believers] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Some natural questions that arise about these “dead” and “asleep” believers with their eternal souls who are face-to-face with Jesus Christ during the interim period: What kind of body do they have? What kind of body do the saints have in heaven now? What about your Christian loved ones? Are the saints who have departed from this life to be with the Lord (Philip 1:21-23) disembodied spirits? Or do they have some kind of temporary “intermediate” body that will be discarded on the day of resurrection? – that day when we all will receive our permanent glorified bodies!
Actually, when our earthly bodies die God gives us an interim body,
2 Corinthians 5:1-8 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven; 3 inasmuch as we, having put it on, shall not be found naked. 4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed, but to be clothed, in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. 6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord-- 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight-- 8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.
Note how Paul shrinks from the idea that his soul would live through a period of nakedness, a time when it would exist without any kind of body whatsoever.
We can see from other Scriptures that believers do in fact have interim or intermediate bodies. This certainly would account for the fact that the redeemed in heaven can relate to Christ and to one another. Since departed believers can sing the praises of God and communicate with one another, it seems that they must have a body in which to do so. On the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared in some kind of body, though neither yet had his permanent resurrection body. Admittedly, Elijah was taken up to heaven without dying and Moses was buried on Mount Nebo by God, but they also still await the resurrection. Yet they were, talking, communicating, and evidently recognizable to Peter, James, and John. They were not little round or formless disembodied spirit blobs – their interim bodies had human shapes yet they could disappear in a moment of time.
Matthew 17:1 And six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and brought them up to a high mountain by themselves. 2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 And Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah." 5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" 6 And when the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were much afraid. 7 And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Arise, and do not be afraid." 8 And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one, except Jesus Himself alone.
The rich man who died and went to Hades must have had a body, since he was able to use human speech and wanted his tongue cooled. He had eyes to see and ears to hear. His body, of whatever kind, was sensitive to pain and was recognizable to Lazarus, who was on the other side of the great divide. These things are not compatible with disembodied spirit beings.
Luke 16:22 "Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 "And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 "And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.' 25 "But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. 26 'And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.' 27 "And he said, 'Then I beg you, Father, that you send him to my father's house-- 28 for I have five brothers-- that he may warn them, lest they also come to this place of torment.' 29 "But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.' 30 "But he said, 'No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!' 31 "But he said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.'"
Though we do not know exactly what kind of interim body we will have, Scriptures depict "dead" believers with some sort of bodies that enable them to be visible, to talk, to worship Christ, and in fact some were even given white robes to wear as they waited for God to avenge them –all of the activity mentioned in the following passage takes place during the interim period after their physical deaths and yet before they received their resurrection bodies,
Rev 6:9-11 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
On the Glory Road,