A - LIFE, DEATH and LIFE HEREAFTER - 1
This article was written by James Gibbons and comes from the periodical,
Sword and Staff. I was given permission to use this for a study.
Life and Death of Man Initially Considered
The Human Entity
Man is created in the image and likeness of God. Gen.1:26,27 God is a spirit. Jhn.4:24; Lk.24:39 He is called the father of spirits. Heb.12:9 He is our heavenly Father. Matt.6:9 Man is a spirit-being clothed with a physical body, spiritually bearing the image and likeness of his Father in heaven (which is spirit). We are told in Gen.2:7 that God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [spirit]; and man became a living soul... A parallel verse to this, showing the composition of man is found in 1 Thess.5:23. …spirit and soul and body...Here we have the spirit, soul and body highlighted as they are converged in being a human entity. God formed the body of man into which He breathed..the breath of life [spirit].
Elihu, the one who spoke after Job and his three “friends” had finished (evidently speaking from common knowledge), said The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life. Job 33:4 As a result of the spirit coming into the body, the animated life of man came into being and is called the soul (although sometimes soul may be spoken of in the sense of spirit as the eternal essence of man). It seems originally man was created with the potential to live indefinitely in this physical body.
Sacred and Astounding
Human life coming directly from God, and being created in His very image and likeness, is especially sacred. The Psalmist, contemplating man and the wonder of it all, said I will praise thee [God]; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made… Ps.139:14—an interesting psalm to read. Although Adam and Eve had sinned, making us a fallen race, we are impressed at what Eve said with the birth of her first son. We read, (Gen.4:1) And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. An amazing thing had taken place as human life was passed on in an off-spring. And the life of the unborn is sacred, even in the inferior O.T. order of things. Ex.21:22-25 In view of the dignity and sacredness of life, and God being the author of it, how alarming that millions of babies have been and are being aborted in our society today! There is a great day of judgment coming!
Man was created and placed in the beautiful garden home of
Eden. He was given a prohibitive law, which had a
positive and negative aspect, so that he could exercise himself in the capacity
of being a free moral agent. Gen.2:16,17 …of
the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in
the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. After Adam and Eve sinned, God said to
man. Gen.3:19 …till thou return unto the ground; for out
of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. The physical part of the entity would be
disengaged, with the body going back to the elements. But Ecc.12:7
lets us see the larger picture of what takes place in death. Then
shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto
God who gave it.
Further Thoughts about Death
From this we see that death is a separation, not annihilation. The spirit is separated from the body in death, thus taking life from the body. The spirit goes back to God. Death being a separation is verified by Jam.2:26, where James is dealing with the subject of works. It reads, For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. When Stephen was being stoned to death in Acts 7:59, he cried out, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Upon saying this, he fell asleep [died]. Acts 7:60
In raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead, Christ said (Lk.8:54,55) “Maid, arise.” And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway; and He commanded to give her meat [food]. Initially, when Adam and Eve sinned, they died spiritually (were separated from God). Then after many long, hard and toilsome years, they died physically (Gen.5:5; Gen.3:19), with the spirit returning to God. (The tragic story is subsequently repeated with each successive generation—and he died. [Gen.5:8,11,14,17,20, etc.]—with the exception of Enoch, [Gen.5:24] and later Elijah. 2 Kgs.2:11
Then the apostle Paul sums up the situation by saying, (Rom.5:12) Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. And as we can undeniably attest, the earth became one big grave yard. Heb.9:27 …as it is appointed unto men once to die…