The Death of Death

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Look at the following explanations containing a lot more details and examples. We have also included popular idiomatic expressions for each one. We use the word dead to describe the lifeless state of something; it is the opposite of alive. We can use dead in an informal way to describe a boring place with not many people or much activity. To go dead means to loose feeling in the part of the body due to temporary lack of circulation. You'll catch your death outside! They've played that song to death on the radio! Try our interactive game to practice the difference: Dead - Death - Die - Died.

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Christ cried out; it was a cry of relief. He bowed His head and He expired for the last and final time. His actions signify death. Since these soldiers dare not make a mistake, and since it would not hurt a dead body to have a sword thrust into His heart cavity to make certain He was dead, the Roman soldier did just that. Now there can be no question about it. Life as we know it could not function in a body with a gash into the heart sac large enough for a man to thrust his hand. John himself says that he was a witness to the fact that he saw both blood and water pour forth from the spear wound.

Here was the postmortem performed upon the body of Christ. The final proof that Jesus Christ was dead was the handling of His body. Anyone who has handled a corpse knows what I mean. There is no guesswork involved as to whether they are dead or not. There are two valid witnesses in Israel, both members of the Sanhedrin, who handled His body and they can witness to the fact that this man was dead. Now by the mouth of two or three witnesses, the truth may be established.

Here are many witnesses. All who were there at the cross saw how He died. The soldiers witness to His death by not breaking His legs. The crowd again can testify as to the spear piercing His side. The writer of the Gospel is an eyewitness of the blood and water coming from His riven side. Finally, Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus are witnesses that they prepared a corpse for burial.

Before the cross, men did whatever they willed to the Son. Whatever man willed he did to the Son of God, but after Christ died, no unbeliever ever touched the body of Christ. That Christ had a body, a soul and a human spirit is very factual. He was perfect man, and so likewise all believers will be forever glorified in body, soul and spirit 1 Thess.

Furthermore, it is true that the physical body of Christ went into the tomb, but the soul and human spirit are never divided so that one goes one place and the other goes another place. The soul and human spirit are the immaterial part of being. My soul and human spirit are the real me, and they inhabit at this present time my body.

The real person of the Lord was His soul and human spirit, and these were commended into the hands of the Father.

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For what purpose? That the Father might perform His wishes and desires. Here is a committal, not of place, but of purpose—of accomplishment. The Father could do as He saw fit. Redemption was over. The Son knew where He would be and had just mentioned it, namely in paradise Luke But whether He rose again, He committed to the Father to perform even though He had the power to raise Himself from the dead. The Son wanted the Father to vindicate Him by the resurrection from the dead if His work was acceptable to Him.

This brings us to the question: Where did the soul and human spirit of Christ go at death? The person of Christ was together in one place. Did Christ and the thief on the cross go to heaven when they died, or did they go somewhere else?


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In order to answer this question it is necessary to understand what is spoken about the place of the departed spirits both in the Old Testament and also in the New. Hades was the abode of the dead. Neither the term Sheol nor Hades designated anything concerning the righteousness or unrighteousness of the person involved.

All—righteous and unrighteous—went to Sheol or Hades. We learn further in both the Old and New Testaments that Sheol and Hades were within the earth itself. One passage in both Testaments will suffice. In Numbers 16 we have the rebellion of Korah. Moses said in reference to these who rebelled;. From this it may be seen that Sheol is in the earth. The Lord Himself verified this, and was even more specific. Thus Sheol or Hades is not only a place in the earth, but it is in the heart of it. From the teaching of the Lord in Luke 16 concerning the rich man and Lazarus vv.

There is an upper portion where the righteous go which is a place of bliss, and a lower portion for the unrighteous which is a place of torment. In this place where there is full capacity of personality with intellect, emotion and will, the righteous and unrighteous sections are divided by a great gulf fixed so that none can traverse from one to the other. With this background we are ready to consider where Christ went when He died. He went to Sheol or Hades which was in the heart of the earth.

But He went to the upper portion of this place. This again signifies a place of bliss. Now we can understand why Peter said on the day of Pentecost, quoting what David said of the Messiah,. The word hell here is very unfortunate. This brings us to what did Christ do there in Hades? The Lord never went anywhere but that He did something. He had a purpose and a plan, and He accomplished it. We find that there was both a proclamation and a liberation performed by Him. He both spoke a message and did a work. It was by His death He went and proclaimed a message to the spirits who were in prison in the upper portion of Sheol or Hades.

This verse has nothing to do with offering salvation a second time to the lost.

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This verse does not teach this and neither does any other verse in Scripture. Christ told them that the sacrifice for their sins had been made. He had made it on the cross cf. Now there had been a complete taking away and remission of sins that are past. The passage that tells us about what Christ accomplished when He died and went to Hades is Ephesians 4. Ephesians Verse 7 states that the church, the body of Christ, has received grace gifts from the head of the church that ascended on high.

Verse 8 then states that when Christ ascended, He did two things. First He led captivity captive we will come back to this in a moment , and second, He gave gifts unto men. These gifts given to the church on earth are enumerated in verse 11 as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors-teachers. Completing the passage we find in verse 9 that before Christ ascended He first descended. Furthermore, His descent was into the lower parts of the earth. It was not into the lowest parts for He did not descend into the lower part of Sheol or Hades, but was in the upper portion. He assumed His original position in the trinity.

The blood was not on the mercy seat. Christ had to die and be resurrected and He has provided a new and living way whereby we may approach the Father on the basis of the blood of Christ Heb. But more than this, Christ had to be the firstfruits of death. Thus believers in the Old Testament died in hope of a future day of victory and of resurrection cf. The Old Testament believers were held captive then in Sheol, but Christ came and proclaimed that they were able with His resurrection to go free from their prison house, and when Christ rose from the dead He took all those held captive in the upper portion of Sheol to heaven with Him.

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He captivated captivity. He first made the proclamation and then He captivated captivity. He emptied it completely of any inhabitant. But this is just the beginning. Not only did Christ empty the righteous portion of Sheol or Hades, and lead them all to heaven, but He closed down Hades from receiving any more righteous souls when they die. He changed the place where the righteous go at death.

When a righteous person dies, he no longer descends into Hades, but he immediately goes to be with Christ. The moment the believer is absent from the body, he is present with the Lord 2 Cor. Paradise was no longer a place in the heart of the earth, it was up in heaven cf. Christ had changed its location by His work in death and His work through death. Not one person will ever be saved and descend into Hades where the gates of Hades will open to receive this person. The Lord will not lose one. Thus through death Christ destroyed both the power and the fear of death.

Thank God for the deaths Christ died. He through death has conquered death, and stands the Victor over death. Christ has changed death for every believer. If the Lord tarries, each of us will someday come face-to-face with death. For each couple, one will be buried, the other will bury, one of us will be in the casket, the other will stand beside the bier.

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At that time all the emotions of the human heart will be strained and stretched to the fullest capacity until it would seem that the heart would break. As a couple should be prepared for marriage before the wedding, so should we also be prepared, as much as is humanly possible, for separation before it occurs. Should you go first, and I remain To finish with the scroll? No dark shadows shall creep in To make this life seem droll.

Some unknown author, realizing that the true Spirit-filled believer has much more to look forward to, rewrote the last stanza to read:. I would like to have us realize what Jesus Christ has done to death. He has changed death for every believer. He has done so for three reasons. First of all death is completely changed for the believer because Jesus Christ conquered death. From Adam until Christ came and died, death reigned as a king over mankind cf.

In all of this time only two escaped dying—Enoch and Elijah—yet for all who died, they were held captive by this reigning monarch we call death. When Jesus Christ went to the cross, He did a perfect work in reference to death. First of all by partaking of the death of separation from God, He tasted death for every man.

No man need taste the fires of hell. The lake of fire was prepared for the devil and his angels Matt. Second, Christ went through death in order to be the victor over death. While everyone else was a slave to death, He conquered death so that death was subject to Him and not He to it. This was not always true. A few comments on this passage are pertinent.

The only way that God the Son could die would be to assume the nature of man. God cannot die, but someone who is both God and man could die. But being both God and man, the Lord Jesus Christ could not only die, He could conquer death and so become its new master.

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The old master and lord of death was the devil. This is why we see in the Old Testament that the devil had the power of death in his possession, and would oftentimes use it as he did in Job, chapters 1 and 2.


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  • In this passage, the only reason that Satan did not employ it in reference to Job himself was because the Lord had, in his case, specifically restricted him. Pharaoh had and exercised at times death over his subjects, and did so in order to keep them in fear and in bondage. Dead slaves would profit his kingdom nothing. However, with the death of the lamb at Passover and the blood applied to the dwellings of the Israelites, everything changed.

    No longer were the Israelites under the bondage of Pharaoh, and no longer were they to be in fear of death. Now the Lord was the one they were to fear, not Pharaoh cf. Just so this is exactly what happened when Jesus Christ died. He took death out of the hands of Satan for the saved, and death is controlled today by nail-scarred hands.

    When a person has keys he has authority over what the keys fit. He has the keys and He has not delegated this authority to Peter, or to anyone else. It is not Peter who stands at the gate of heaven to decide who enters therein, but the Lord. In order to complete the picture, it is necessary to realize that Satan still has the power of death at this present time over those who are in his kingdom. While the child of God has been rescued out of the kingdom of darkness and from the power of the prince of this world Gal.

    They still are in the bondage of Satan. Here is the truth that Satan has the power of death in his kingdom. He is placed in this sphere so that Satan may operate and even physically destroy his life. This is the sin unto death which only a believer can commit. Death has been completely changed for the believer, not only because Jesus Christ conquered death, but because now, in the life of the believer, Jesus Christ is the cause of death. This truth that the Lord Jesus is responsible for the death of believers is verified not only by His having the keys of death but also by what we read in 1 Thessalonians Jesus is the one responsible that they fell asleep before He returned.


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    • He is, moreover, not just indirectly responsible, but directly responsible for their death. This is the way all of the early Greek writers understood the phrase, and they certainly knew their language. This precious truth should give us a whole new understanding of death for the child of God. Satan is not responsible for the death of believers. Fate is not the cause for a person dying.

      The very fact that Paul here uses the human name for the second person of the Trinity, Jesus, is significant. Paul uses it only a total of twelve times; seven times it is used in Hebrews; and six times in the book of Revelation, making a grand total of twenty-five times in all the Word of God. He knows what we experience because He also experienced the same. We are not to sorrow as others who have no hope, but we still do sorrow—and He knows and cares.

      The sting of death will someday be completely removed. If someone tells you that the believer should have complete victory over the death of a loved one because it no longer bears any sting, he is out of touch with reality, and also he does not know the Scriptures. The Word says the sting is removed only when death is swallowed up in victory through resurrection of the dead 1 Cor.

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      O grave, where is thy victory? Until that time death has a sting and the grave is victorious for a season. We still sorrow, and we should. God does not want us to repress that sorrow. But we should not sorrow for believers as others who have no hope. This brings us to our third consideration. Jesus Christ has changed the entire content of death. Even though it is still appointed unto men once to die, yet death is no longer the same thing for believers.

      The Lord changed its nature by His resurrection and ascension. The Lord stands as the firstfruits of the coming harvest of resurrection 1 Cor. Furthermore, it is the guarantee of our acceptance before the Father for all eternity. He is the Captain of our salvation; He is our forerunner, and the guarantee that someday we will also be bodily in the presence of the Father just as Jesus Christ Himself is now Heb. Not only did Christ change death for the Old Testament believers by leading captivity captive to heaven when He ascended, but He has changed death for all believers today who die.

      We need never fear death as an experience. Paul was one who was caught up into paradise to the very throne of God 2 Cor. For him death was to gain, not lose Phil. To remain behind was what was hard. Now the only way that there could be blessing in death for Paul and for any believer was that the soul went immediately to be with the Lord. New Testament Scriptures speak about a person who is a believer and has died as sleeping, but it is never the soul that sleeps. Sleep is only used of the body.

      The analogy is that just as the body sleeps, it pictures but a temporary situation. Soon there will be an awakening, and the mind and body will again function as one. This is a picture of the believer whose body sleeps but his soul is with the Lord. Later the Lord unites both together at the rapture, and the believer will be body, soul and spirit before the Lord. This has been answered in part, and today the souls of all the righteous are with the Lord.

      Moreover, whenever a believer dies now, he goes immediately to be with the Lord. Paul said,. Paul was confident about this; it was a settled issue for him and he knew for all believers at Corinth. For all believers he says, we are well pleased, we take pleasure in rather our being away from home out of the body and to be at home with the Lord.

      He has destroyed death. When Adam sinned in the garden, spiritual death was immediate. Physical death came later as a consequence of that act. Just so when Christ died on the cross, the provision for eternal life was immediately available. Everlasting life does not begin at my death, but when I received Jesus Christ. Death at that moment was abolished. Even though I may go through a state of physical death, there is no separation from the Lord.

      Where there is no separation from the Lord, there is no spiritual death. I have life, then, and immortality right now through believing the gospel concerning Jesus Christ, and someday I will have also incorruption. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. The believer, then, may die physically, but there is no spiritual death.

      The believer is at no time separated from the Lord, even at the instance of physical death. The person who suffers at the time of death is never the believer who dies, for he goes immediately to be with the Lord. Those who suffer are the ones who are left behind. As the Lord has dealt with spiritual death and abolished it by offering life and immortality to all who will believe the gospel, so the Lord will someday abolish physical death.

      It is, however, the last enemy that shall be destroyed 1 Cor. After this comes eternal death which is called in Scripture, the second death. We have seen that God has a remedy for spiritual death. It is to believe the gospel concerning Jesus Christ. We have seen that God has a remedy for physical death. Now what is the remedy for the second death? When and how is it destroyed? Beloved, it is not destroyed—ever.

      There is no remedy for eternal death once it is entered into. There is no escape from this torment that was prepared for the devil and his angels Matt. It is everlasting, never-ending punishment which was never meant for man, but which he receives when he fails to flee to the only person in all the world who can save a sinner from destruction. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.

      If He is rejected, there is no other cf. Acts Jesus Christ, through His death, has provided escape from eternal death, but once eternal death is entered, there is no escape. There is no salvation, no escape, in that day. The one starts out broad, but it ends at a point—destruction.

      The other starts out narrow—Christ is the only way unto the Father John —but it ends in life. Dwight L. Moody was once asked if he had dying grace. The Lord has not called me to die. When He does, He will give me dying grace. When He calls upon us to go through an experience, He then gives us grace equal for the occasion. A few hours before D. If this is death, it is sweet! There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go! It is glorious! Dying grace is a term or expression that we use to express what happens just before a believer dies. It may be a longer or a shorter period of time, but it refers to that peace and elation which is experienced just before death.

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      It may be something experienced when the person himself knows nothing about his home-going, but the Lord did. It may be when death is certain, as in the case of dying with cancer, that dying grace is extended to the believer over a long period of time. Even though there may be great pain and suffering, yet in the midst God gives rest and peace. We who are saved so often take all of the blessings we receive from the Lord for granted. This is very unfortunate and inconsiderate. How great is the sum of them!

      Here is just one of those great blessings: when we die, we receive from the Lord dying grace. In order to see what dying grace is, we need to begin at the beginning. When we trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we were given eternal life. We have believed; we cannot perish; we have eternal life. What is so wonderful is that we are not promised eternal life at some future date, but we have it right now in time.

      It is not a case that we may not make it; it is a situation where we already have it. Moreover it is impossible to have eternal life and then suddenly not have it. If such could happen then we never had eternal life, because you cannot have life that never ends and then suddenly have it end. This is a contradiction. It is an impossibility.

      Because every believer has eternal life, and has it in time in a human body, he has life that never ends. There is a sense, then, where the believer will never die. How is this possible? Death in Scripture speaks of separation. But the believer will never be separated from the Lord. Therefore the believer will never die. No one ever died in the presence of the Lord Jesus because He is the Lord of life. No one could die in His presence.

      His very presence is life cf. Thus the believer may change his abode from earth to heaven, but he will never die because he will never be separated from Him. As we have seen, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord 2 Cor. Since we live with Him here and go on living with Him there, we never die. We are continually in His presence. Now it is the work of the Holy Spirit to take the Word of God and lead the believer into its full blessings.

      What the eye has never seen, what the ear has never heard, what has never been understood in the experiences of man, God reveals them to us through the Spirit 1 Cor. This is very true at the time of death. As the believer approaches death, the Holy Spirit within shows him something of the glories of the other side.

      In seeing what is ahead, he desires to depart and be with Christ which is exceedingly the better thing. This is dying grace. We have many things we want to do. We have families to raise, and work for the Lord that is unfinished. It is right that we have things to live for, and that we are not ready to leave. The point we need to remember is that we will not be given grace to die until and unless it is our time to depart and be with Christ. Some of us may wish the Lord would come for us, or that He would call us home.

      We desire this not really because we love Him, or love His appearing, but we would just like to escape the pressures and trials here below. This is a most unfortunate state. It means that we have not been appropriating His grace for the situations we are in. God is able to make all grace abound both in life and in death. For some of us, we would much more appreciate the Lord giving us dying grace and taking us home, than what He is doing. His will for us is to appropriate living grace and be more than conquerors right here on earth in time. Whatever may be our need for grace, let us appropriate it.

      There is a great contrast that is seen between the death of a believer and the death of an unbeliever. This is something that is not seen so much today because of all of the modern drugs that are given people. So often today the individual who is dying is so drugged that the difference between the death of a person who is a believer, and the death of a person who is an unbeliever is not distinctly seen. But this was not true in previous generations. I want to give you death-bed statements made by both unbelievers and believers. These receive no dying grace.

      They have no grace because they have spurned the grace of God which is found only in Jesus Christ cf. You will notice that sometimes these are just words and phrases, and not complete sentences. But it is a fruitless wish. Millions of millions of years will bring me no nearer to the end of torments than one poor hour. Oh, eternity, eternity! Forever and forever! Oh, the insufferable pangs of hell! I shall be glad to find a hole to creep out of the world at.

      About to take a leap into the dark! O Lord, help me! Christ, help me! O God, what have I done to suffer so much? But there is no God! But if there should be, what will become of me hereafter? Send even a child to stay with me, for it is hell to be alone. If ever the Devil had an agent, I have been that one. Francis Voltaire the noted French infidel : He was one of the most fertile and talented writers and strove to retard and demolish Christianity.

      My single hand shall destroy the edifice it took twelve apostles to rear. The Christian physician who attended Voltaire during the last illness, has left a testimony concerning the departure of this poor lost soul. He wrote to a friend as follows:. It was my lot that this man should die under my hands. Often did I tell him the truth. Had I but followed it I would not be in the horrible condition in which I now am. I have swallowed nothing but smoke. I have intoxicated myself with the incense that turned my head. You can do nothing for me.

      Send me a mad doctor! Have compassion on me—I am mad! As soon as he saw that all the means he had employed to increase his strength had just the opposite effect, death was constantly before his eyes. From this moment, madness took possession of his soul. He expired under the torments of the furies. Then I shall go to hell; and you will go with me.

      O Christ! O Jesus Christ!


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