When looking up the definition of LIFE in the dictionary we find a number of definitions given, leading us to make a decision as to which one satisfies our individual belief; the fact is that life is very difficult to define. Biblically speaking, life is a trust, it is a loan from God for a short period of time <Job 1:21>, it is a gift from God; it is here today and gone tomorrow. Much to the dismay of many today, life originated, biblically, in the Garden of Eden <Gen.2:7>; and although we are told that life begins when we are born of our parents, according to God’s Word we are told that true life begins at conception <Psa.51:5> for it was at that moment in time that we inherited the sin-nature.
There are many comparisons that can be observed in life: it is like a journey <Gen.47:9>, it is like a shadow <Eccl.6:12>, it is like a vapour <Jas.4:14>; but what is the purpose of life? Basically, it is a short time during which we prepare for a very long eternity! It is a time for each of us to make a personal choice of the place that our soul will spend eternity! Each of us can live in respect and honour of Christ <Phil.1:20-21>, or live our life in total rebellion against the God, who gave us life; thus, suffering the consequences <Rom.2:9>. Let us be fully aware that the length of our life is set by God, and He will call an end to our days when it pleases Him, we do not know when that time will come, for it could be a short period or a long period: “The length of our days is seventy years — or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” <Psa.90:10, 12 (NIV)>. Many live far beyond eighty years today, but there will be an end to life!
Life is saddened by the fact that it will end in DEATH, and as we saw earlier life is difficult to define; death can be defined as the departure or the cessation of life. In death we find that the body is separated from the soul and spirit; the body is placed in the grave and finally disintegrates or “returns to dust” <Eccl.3:20>. The spirit returns to God <Eccl.12:7; cf Gen.2:7>; the soul goes to one of two places; the soul of the rebellious (unsaved) goes to hell (a place of great agony) <Lk.16:23>; while the soul of the righteous (saved) will go to a place of paradise <Lk.16:22; cf Lk.23:43>. The scriptures speak to two kinds of death, Spiritual and Physical; both originating in the Garden of Eden: Spiritual Death was the result of disobedience to God’s command; “And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”” <Gen.2:16-17 (NIV)>, although Adam & Eve did not physically die at that moment of disobedience, the judgment of death came upon them and all mankind, which is spiritual death <Eph.2:1>. The first record of Physical Death is seen in the record of Cain murdering his brother Abel <Gen.4:8; cf Jas.1:15>, which was the result of inherited sin, and physical death is the direct result of sin. So then, we find that because of their sin and spiritual death, God banished Adam and Eve from the garden and has guarded the way to the tree of life for all mankind: “And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” <Gen.3:22-24 (NIV)>.
Although there is nothing that we can do to avoid physical death, for it is determined by God, there is much that we can do avoid spiritual death. The Scriptures teach that spiritual death is an eternal banishment from God: “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power” <2 Thess.1:8-9 (NIV)>: eternal death is also referred to as alienation from God: “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” <Eph.4:18 (NIV)>. As it has already been stated previously that life is a short time during which we prepare for a very long eternity, the message of the Scriptures is that God has provided a way to escape the judgment for sin; and that provision is in the person of His Son Jesus Christ; Christ gave Himself as the required sacrifice for mankind’s sin by His death on the Cross, His burial and His resurrection: “…Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” <1 Jn.2:1-2 (NIV)>; each individual on the face of this earth has the same opportunity to make the decision to accept what Christ has accomplished for us – our salvation from sin – our escape from condemnation, from eternal separation from God, for Christ said “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” <Jn.5:24 (NIV)>; a “cross-over” from eternal death to eternal life with God. Therefore, our only hope of avoiding spiritual death is in Jesus Christ, for when our belief is placed in Christ the Holy Spirit works the miracle of regeneration in our life, transforming us into His image and makes us a child of God <Jn.1:12>.
A final word to this subject: Christ’s death on the cross was no accident, it was appointed by God; for someone had to die to pay sin’s penalty, and that person had to be “without sin” or “sinless” for the sacrifice had to be “spotless” or pure according to the Law given through Moses <Ex.12:5-6; Lk.23:13-15>; “God made him [Christ] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” <2 Cor.5:20 (NIV)>. Christ’s death was necessary for the redemption of all mankind making it the concern of every individual person to accept His sacrifice <see Lk.24:46-47; 1 Cor.15:3-4>.
And so, the Scriptures teach that just as Christ was raised from the dead, all mankind will experience a RESURRECTION. Why is the resurrection such an important topic? Daniel, in his final prophecy wrote: “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.” <Dan.12:2 (NIV)>, and throughout the Scriptures a resurrection is mentioned; Job, in his discourse with his three friends asks the question: “If a man dies, will he live again?” <Job 14:14 (NIV)>; he then answers his own question – “And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes — I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” <Job 19:26-27 (NIV)>. Christ’s disciples preached the same message throughout the New Testament, for indeed that is the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ <see Jn.14:1-3; cf 1 Cor.15:51-53; 1 Thess.4:16-17>.
Some have enquired as to what kind of body we will have in the resurrection; here again the Scriptures have told us that just as Christ had a new body at His resurrection so we too will have a new body, it will be an incorruptible body, incapable of death and decay <1 Cor.15:42-44, 52-53>, it will be a spiritual body not limited to the laws of earth, and we also learn of the reasons for this. We are instructed that “…. man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” <Heb.9:27 (NIV)>; God has appointed a day of accountability! So then, we see that all Christ’s followers, as well as all those that have rebelled against God, will have a new body in the resurrection, a body that will never more see corruption, a body that will never again die. We all then will face God to account to Him for the life that we have lived; all believers will stand before His throne in Heaven where He will reward us for our service to Him <see Matt.25:31-34; cf 2 Cor.5:10; 1 Pet.4:17a>. Unbelievers will also be judged for the life they have lived <see Matt.25:41; 1 Pet.4:17b; Rev.20:12>. The point to observe here is that both believers and unbelievers will live for ever – eternity – alive in the new incorruptible body; all believers will enjoy heaven and the presence of God forever, while all unbelievers will live away from God in agony of judgment FOREVER! <see Lk.16:23-26; cf Ezek.18:20, 32>.
The conclusion to all of this is that in LIFE we have the choice to live as we please, God allows us to do so because He will never force His dictate upon us, we were created with a determination to do what we wish, but this does not excuse us to live a life of rebellion against God. We must understand that God is still in control, we need to understand that we belong to God because He has created us for His glory, and when we rebel and go our own way it is not for His glory. He has given us life to enjoy, but inherited sin drives us away from Him to follow and serve Satan, and our only escape is to turn to God in repentance, accept His salvation and allow His Holy Spirit to control our life. Let us not forget or ignore this, for this life will end in DEATH in a short while, and then there will be no turning back to attempt to make things right, the way we live is the way we will die! RESURRECTION will come, and as has been stated, we will all stand before God’s judgment seat to give account of the way we lived; God is a God of justice and He will never allow sin to go unpunished, whether in this life or in the next.
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” <Heb.10:26-31 (NIV)>.
In life or in death we all belong to God! <Rom.14:8>.