Ten Key Questions About Life
This study is dedicated to developing a Biblical world view by "girding up" or sharpening our minds with ten key questions about life. These are: What is man?; What is the real meaning of life?; How am I to make moral choices?; What is truth?; What is love and where can it be found?; Why is there suffering and how can we live with it?; What is death?; What hope is there for the human race?; What is real?; Is there any hope in fighting evil and injustice?
What Is Man?
What Is The Meaning Of Life?
How Are We To Make Moral Choices?
Is It Possible To Know The Truth About Ourselves And The Universe?
What Is Love And Where Can It Be Found?
Why Is There Suffering And How Can We Live With It?
What Is Death And How Are We To Face It?
What Hope Is There For The Human Race?
What Is Real?
Can Evil Be Defeated?
What Is Death And
by: Allan Turner
Death and dying are topics most people—and this includes Christians—avoid thinking or talking about. When forced to talk about death or dying, we find ourselves using terms like “passed away,” “gone to meet his maker,” “departed this world,” etc. This “fear of death” even has a sixty-four dollar word to describe it: thanatophobia. But, if death and dying make us so uncomfortable, then why discuss them? Because the Bible talks about them, that's why. In fact, death and death-related subjects are found in the Bible more than any other topic. We should not feel uncomfortable studying a subject God saw fit to mention so frequently. He has given us His word to help us serve Him better and if we understand death and dying as He would have us to understand them, then we will, in fact, be able to serve Him better. Furthermore, unless Jesus returns first, everyone of us will die (Ecclesiastes 9:5; Hebrews 9:27). Therefore, from a very practical standpoint, death and dying ought to be important subjects for us.
If we acquaint ourselves with what the Bible says on this subject, then we will be able to relieve our own fears, be better able to deal with life's most stressful events, comfort ourselves as well as others, be able to refute false teachings and superstitions, develop a Biblical world view with reference to related subjects (like abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, suicide, the removal of life-support machines, living wills, alleged communication with the dead, etc.), and, of course, properly prepare for our own deaths. Consequently, a study of death and dying is both doctrinal and practical.
Modern medicine defines death primarily as a biological event. On the other hand, and much more importantly, the Bible defines death as a spiritual event with biological consequences. This truth, although it will seem subtle to many and, therefore, inconsequential, is very important. Death, according to the Bible, occurs when the spirit leaves the body (Ecclesiastes 12:7; James 2:26). Unfortunately, the medical profession is essentially devoid of any recognition of the transcendent nature of man (cf. Franklin E. Payne, Jr., M.D., Biblical/Medical Ethics: The Christian And The Practice Of Medicine, page 203). But—and here is the crux of the problem—as we cannot measure the spirit leaving the body, for the spirit cannot be measured with the five senses, we must rely upon those who are the most knowledgeable of the physical body (namely, the medical professionals) to tell us when death has occurred. In other words, the presence or absence of life can only be measured in view of its physical or physiological manifestations. Therefore, for all practical purposes, the determination that life has actually ceased is primarily a medical decision (i.e., the absence of physiological criteria in an individual patient means the patient is dead). Nevertheless, the morality of these criteria must not be divorced from the understanding that physical death has actually occurred only when a man's spirit has separated from his body. We will discuss what happens after this separation shortly, but before we do so we will investigate a very practical problem associated with this question of when death occurs.
As our society moves further and further away from the truths taught in the Bible, it tends to ignore the spiritual aspect of man's existence. The medical profession, which is but a reflection of society as a whole, generally ignores the metaphysical ramifications of man's transcendent nature and concentrates solely on man's physical nature. This ought to give the Christian cause for alarm. Dying is a process of transition from the state of life to the state of death. Reflecting the “sanctity-of-life” ethic taught throughout the Bible, the Christian will believe that until one has reached the actual state of being dead, he must be treated as a living human being. If you think this is the general view of the medical profession today, you are sorely mistaken. In fact, the “sanctity-of-life” ethic taught in the Bible has given way to the “quality-of-life” ethic of secular humanism. If you do not think so, then buckle your seat belts, because the next couple of paragraphs are going to be real rough for you.
In 1974, Willard Gaylin, M.D., a psychiatrist who at the time was president of the Institute of Society, Ethics and the Life Sciences in Hasting-on-Hudson, New York, wrote a chilling article for Harper's Magazine entitled “Harvesting The Dead.” In the article, Gaylin coined a new term for a new kind of cadaver that would have the legal status of one who is dead but with none of the qualities one normally associates with death. According to Gaylin, this new kind of cadaver would be called a “neomort,” meaning newly dead. The “brain dead” neomort would be a warm, respirating, pulsating, evacuating, and excreting body requiring nursing, dietary, and general grooming attention. These “living” cadavers could then be stored in “neomortoria” (units in hospitals where neomorts on life-support systems could be housed) for organ transplantation, medical and nursing education, and drug research.
In his article, Gaylin challenges us to think about the possibilities. Uneasy medical students could practice routine physical examinations on neomorts and both the student and the “patient” could be spared the pain, fumbling, and embarrassment of the “first time.” Interns could practice more difficult diagnostic procedures and surgery without the normal danger associated with such procedures and surgery. After all, these “patients” are already dead. The experimental advantage would be simply phenomenal. Instead of generalizations made from experimentation on animals, medical professionals could use neomorts for first time experiments. Gaylin asks us to think about the fantastic storage and harvesting benefits of neomorts. Major organs have always been difficult to store. But a population of neomorts maintained with their body parts computerized and catalogued for compatibility would be a great improvement over the present system. Furthermore, a sizable population of neomorts could provide a steady supply of blood, since they could be drained periodically.
But wait a minute. Before the Christian can get too excited about the alleged marvels of modern medical technologies, he must spend a little time trying to understand the new definition of death that has brought Americans to an ethical/moral dilemma unparalleled in human history. The model that “brain death” proponents have been pushing, and has now been adopted in all fifty states, is the Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA). The UDDA reads as follows: An individual who has sustained either 1) irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions, or 2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem, is dead. A determination of death must be made in accordance with accepted medical standards.
Is The UDDA A Definition We Can Live With?
As written, the UDDA includes two clearly distinguishable traditions concerning death. The first definition of death in the UDDA is the one that was traditionally accepted in the first half of the twentieth century; namely, a man who irreversibly is no longer breathing, has no circulation, and whose heart is no longer beating is dead. The second definition, commonly referred to as “brain death,” has now gained almost universal acceptance. The question the Christian ought to consider at this point is: What, if any, are the problems with this newer definition of death—is it a definition we can live with?
Did you read about the Illinois medical technicians in a hospital morgue who were startled by a cough from a 20 year-old man whose supposed lifeless body was being readied for organ-removal surgery? Did you know that on the same day, this time in Tennessee, a twitching foot abruptly halted preliminary steps to remove a man's liver nine hours after he had been pronounced dead (“How the Dead Can Help the Living: The Use of Living Cadavers for Organ Storage,” The Futurist Magazine, January-February 1986, pages 34-36)? Of course, there is hardly anyone not familiar with the Karen Ann Quinlan case. Although the medical doctors in her case were certain she was “brain dead,” and, therefore, could not breathe if taken off the respirator, she did breathe when the respirator was removed and lived for several years. What do these cases indicate? Simply this: The new brain death criteria are not as exact as those in the medical profession would have us believe! The UDDA confuses cessation of function with destruction. This is a serious mistake. There are more than a few (and we have listed several) who have exhibited a cessation of brain function and have been declared brain dead who were not dead!
Several years ago I had a meeting with Dr. Paul A. Byrne, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska. He related several cases in which those who had met the criteria for brain death had recovered. One of those cases he described like this: “Who knows Joseph Van Dyke? I do. And so do his relatives and friends. Joseph weighed 1 lb. 11 oz. when he was born. Six weeks after he was delivered Joseph was still on a ventilator, unable to breathe on his own. An EEG was interpreted as ‘consistent with cerebral death.’ It was suggested that the ventilator be removed. However, we didn't do that. Instead, we continued the ventilator. Today, he has finished the second grade, reads at the fourth grade level, and recently told me that he's playing baseball—but having difficulty with his hitting.”
Before anyone thinks otherwise, we want to make it very clear that we are not opposed to organ transplantation per se. But, we are opposed to removing vital organs from someone who, if he is not already dead, will certainly be dead after the organ has been removed. It is our contention that anyone experiencing “irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem” is not dead, although he is, in fact, mortally wounded and will soon die. We believe it is not morally or legally correct to declare such an individual to be dead and then treat him as a living cadaver. Additionally, we are opposed to research or experimentation on those determined to be dead based on a “cessation of brain function” definition, but who are otherwise very much alive.
As we have said before, we are not unfeeling with regard to the suffering involved in the prolonging of death, when death is, in fact, inevitable. We are not callous to the astronomical costs associated with health care, particularly the kind associated with so-called brain death. Neither are we insensitive to the feelings of many who believe that modern medical technology demands that we determine when someone is dead as soon as possible. But as sympathetic to these situations as we are, we realize that brain death criteria have also been designed to clear the way for the removal of the neomort's vital organs. Many do not know that although some vital organs, such as kidneys, can be removed from cadavers (the truly dead) and used in transplantation, a heart suitable for transplant must be taken from a neomort (the living dead).
As gruesome as this is, it is, nevertheless, true. Therefore, Christians awaiting heart transplants must factor this truth into their decisions. We have discussed this with one such individual and he was quite shocked to realize a heart would have to be taken from a neomort. In discussing the information we had previously presented on this topic with his doctor, this individual was assured by his doctor that although the heart would have to be taken from a neomort, he saw nothing immoral about the process.
In its effort to facilitate organ transplantations, the medical profession has discarded traditional morality and replaced it with the pragmatic, utilitarian ethics of Humanism. This is evidenced by Henry Beecher, the distinguished physician who chaired the 1968 Harvard Ad Hoc Committee to Examine the Definition of Death, who said, “Can society afford to discard the tissues and organs of the hopelessly unconscious patient when he could be used to restore the otherwise hopelessly ill, but still salvageable individual?” (Contemporary Issues In Bioethics, 1982, pages 288-293). He went on to say, “It is best to choose a level where although the brain is dead, usefulness of other organs is still present” (Ibid). One of the two reasons the Harvard Committee gave for formulating the brain death criteria was that the traditional definition of death is “obsolete” and “can lead to controversy in obtaining organs for transplantation” (Ibid). Add to this the following statement made by Daniel Callahan, co-founder and Director of the Hastings Center, and we believe our point is amply substantiated: “The task before us is probably as complex as any that human beings can face: that of creating a moral culture, one that is faithful to the legacy of the past that remains valuable and yet that knows how to let go of the past and create the future. The changes being wrought by medicine will force us to create a new moral culture, or radically reinterpret and adapt the old one” (“Biomedical Ethics: Taking the Next Steps,” Social Research, Vol. 52, No. 3, 1985, pages 647-659).
We think one does not have to be hard-pressed to see the humanistic pragmatism and utilitarianism of these statements. Unfortunately, it is just such a consequentialist ethics theory, with its greatest good for the greatest number, that has brought Americans to the point that we are now willing to kill those who have been declared “brain dead” by removing their vital organs to aid the “truly living.”
Even if you disagree with us that a brain dead individual is only mortally wounded (dying but not yet dead), you must, we think, still admit that under the UDDA the possibility exists for inadvertently killing an individual who has been incorrectly diagnosed as brain dead.
Those who have stood in the breach made on our liberties by the pro-abortionists have argued that infanticide and euthanasia would follow on the coattails of legalized abortion. These prophecies have now proven true. The redefinition of key concepts has played a major part in this. Infanticide is now openly engaged in by those who have replaced the “sanctity-of-life” ethic with a “quality-of-life” ethic. Infants who are born deformed or retarded are allowed to die (in some cases they are starved to death) because it is believed they would not experience lives with enough “quality” in them to be worth living. Such killings have been euphemistically referred to by the medical profession as “the treatment to do nothing.” Furthermore, the sticky problems first associated with euthanasia (viz., is it right to take the life of a person who no longer has an appreciable quality of life?) have now been resolved by the relatively simple and ingenious method of redefining death. In pointing this out, we are only shedding light on what ethicists have been saying for sometime now. In a book addressed to the euthanasia debate, authors Germain Grisez and Joseph M. Boyle, Jr. wrote: “The relevance of the question of the definition of death is twofold. First, if it is possible to correctly call ‘dead’ certain classes of individuals which previously were considered living, and if it seems to many people appropriate to deal with these individuals as dead, then the law can approve what people consider appropriate without admitting homicide, for there is no homicide involved in treating the dead as dead. Thus, a correct definition of death, if it would eliminate some false classifications of dead individuals among the living, could relieve some of the pressure for legalizing euthanasia—in this case, pressure arising from a right attitude toward individuals really dead and only considered alive due to conceptual confusion. Second, if it is possible to mistakenly call ‘dead’ certain classes of individuals who previously were considered living, then the law can be made to approve homicide without seeming to admit it. Thus, a mistaken definition of death… could achieve the objective of legalizing euthanasia without having to meet and deal straightforwardly with the questions of liberty and justice involved in such legalization” (Life and Death with Liberty and Justice: A Contribution to the Euthanasia Debate, 1979, page 61).
Where is the justice for all the neomorts or “living cadavers” who, because of some new definition of death designed primarily to facilitate the use of body parts, will have their vital organs excised while they continue to exhibit all the signs traditionally associated with being alive?
Incidentally, did you know that neomorts are not even given anesthesia in preparation for the removal of their vital organs? Remember, neomorts are legally dead and there is no reason to anesthetize the dead, is there? According to Dr. Byrne, who we mentioned previously, the only medication given the neomort is a drug that causes paralysis. Why? Because it seems many medical people were a little skittish about removing organs from “cadavers” that exhibited “aliveness” on the operating tables.
With these unpleasant realities firmly entrenched in our minds, let us learn, once and for all, that ideas have consequences; that is, the way we think affects the way we live and die (Proverbs 23:7). Let us realize that if our society continues to divorce itself from the truths taught in the Bible, then it will, in the name of progress and technological advancement, continue its slide backwards toward the barbarity of paganism.
Sir John Eccles, a Nobel Prize Laureate for his research in brain physiology, wrote, “It would appear that it [the brain] is the sort of machine a ‘ghost’ could operate, if by ghost we mean in the first place an ‘agent’ whose action has escaped detection even by the most delicate physical instruments” (Sir John Eccles, Neurophysiological Basis Of The Mind, p. 285). Although it is true that this is Sir John's theory, it is, nevertheless, a theory based upon his study of the brain, and a theory in which he is joined by other highly regarded scientists. Wilder Penfield, an internationally respected neurophysiologist and brain surgeon, confessed, “I conclude that it is easier to rationalize man's being on the basis of two elements [body-spirit] than on the basis of one” (Wilder Penfield, The Mystery Of The Mind, p. 114). More importantly, of course, is the fact that these men's observations have led them to believe what the Bible plainly tells us about the mind/brain controversy.
Although it is certainly true that there is a high degree of correlation between the mind and the brain, it is, nevertheless, a mistake to think this correlation makes the two equal. Actually, the brain is a part of man's physical body that is used by his spiritual nature. In other words, the physical brain is not the mind of man. The mind is totally spirit and is linked or correlated with the brain only while man is physically alive. How do we know this? The Bible tells us so. In Luke 16:19-31, the Lord teaches that individuals without fleshly bodies continue to exist after physical life has ceased, and that these individuals continue to exhibit all the characteristics we normally associate with brain/mind activity. To be even more precise, these discarnate spirits continue to exhibit behavior usually connected with their bodies. For instance, the rich man cried out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (verse 24). In verse 25, Abraham addresses himself to the rich man's capacity to remember how it was when he had occupied the physical plane. In verse 27, the rich man begs for Lazarus to be sent to his brothers who are still physically alive, demonstrating conclusively that he had the capacity to remember. All this, we hasten to add, was done and experienced by the rich man without a physical brain. What does this mean? A great deal actually, but in connection to what we have already said about the UDDA and its definition of “brain death,” it means that thinking, knowing, and feeling are not dependent on brain processes, as those with a materialistic world view would have us believe. Not only does this passage tell us about the intermediate state of the dead (viz., Hades), of which we will have more to say shortly, but it tells us something about life here and now.
Man is a combination of both physical (Matthew 6:25) and spiritual (Ephesians 3:16) elements. An example of this reality is mentioned in Daniel 7:15, where the prophet wrote, “I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body [sheath], and the visions of my head bothered me.” Therefore, it is a serious mistake not to understand that man is both body and spirit. Man is not a spirit that has a body; on the contrary, man is a spirit and he is a body. In other words, both body and spirit are “real” and make up the unity that is man.
In this life, the physical and spiritual elements appear to be inextricably linked in man's bipartite nature. Consequently, when the physical body is injured and the inner or spiritual man is limited in its expressions or actions by that injury, one must not conclude that the injured individual is any less a spirit being than before the injury. The fact that one can no longer use his arm because of injury or paralysis, does not make him less a spiritual entity than he was before the injury or paralysis. And just because one's brain has been diminished by injury or disease does not mean that the inner man is less than he was before the injury or disease. To illustrate: We may bind a strong man, but this does not mean he has lost his prowess. What it means is that he is bound. Loose him from his bonds, and he will once again demonstrate his strength. Similarly, when the inner man is loosed or separated from his body, which may have been injured or diseased, he can exist without the limitations or restraints that previously bound him.
Again, a case in point is that of Lazarus. Jesus said that Lazarus, a beggar in this life, had been a pathetic sight full of sores who was unable to walk. He was carried to the rich man's gate and desired to eat the crumbs from his table. Moreover, as he lay there, the dogs came and licked his sores. What happened? Jesus said Lazarus died and was carried to “Abraham's bosom” which was located in Hades, or the intermediate place of the dead, where he was “comforted.” Of course, the rich man, who seemed to have everything going for him in this life, was in torment after his spirit was separated from his body.
What does this tell the Bible believer? Simply this: Any definition of death ought to be very precise. The new “brain death” criteria is not consistent with this preciseness. We have said it before and we say it again: It is our belief, based upon what the Bible has said about man's bipartite nature, that anyone experiencing “irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem” is not dead, although he is, in fact, mortally wounded and will soon die. Does this mean that we can use the body parts of these so-called “neomorts”? Absolutely not! Until the process of dying has been completed and a person has actually passed from the state of being alive to the state of being dead, we are required to treat such an individual as a live human being. This does not mean, as someone will no doubt erroneously think, that one is morally obligated to prolong dying. In other words, we are not required, and in some cases it would be immoral, to prolong the dying process. But, it does mean that while dying one must be treated as a human being with all the rights associated with that status. What it means is that nothing must be done to terminate the life of an innocent person. This is the only position consistent with Biblical truth.
What Happens After Death?
When one considers the Biblical teaching of Luke 16:19-31 and factors into this the words of Jesus to the thief on the cross (Luke 23:42,43), then one knows that there is an intermediate, ethereal place of the dead. By “intermediate” we mean a place of existence between physical life and the resurrection, by “ethereal place” we mean a location other than this plane, and by “dead” we mean discarnate spirits. The Bible calls this place “Sheol” in the Old Testament and “Hades” in the New Testament. Although the details and circumstances of the New Testament Hades are much more developed than the Old Testament Sheol, it can be safely said that Hades and Sheol are, in fact, one and the same. Although it is true that both of these terms are sometimes used to denote just the grave, they both generally had the broader meaning of the intermediate dwelling place of discarnate spirits. (Note: The Hebrews did not use the term “spirit” to refer to the entities dwelling in Sheol; instead, they used the term rephaim or “shades.” To conclude, as some do, that the Hebrews did not believe that man's personality survived beyond the grave because they did not use the term “spirit” is to commit the fallacy of non sequinter, that is, the conclusion does not follow. Why? Because the Hebrews usually just used a different term to refer to disembodied spirits. Furthermore, when the witch of Endor spoke of Samuel, who had been dead for some time, she said, in I Samuel 28:13, “I saw a spirit [elohim] ascending out of the earth.” That Samuel was quite comfortable in Sheol/Hades is demonstrated by his question in verse 15, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Also, the historical narrative is clear in pointing out in verse 19 that Saul and his sons, who were going to die the following day, and therefore go to Sheol/Hades, would join Samuel where he was. Consequently, this demonstrates that the Hebrews recognized a continuity of existence between the living and the dead. In other words, even though Samuel is dead, he is still Samuel. It also demonstrates that the Hebrews did not believe that death was simply some form of suspended animation. Although this occurrence is special, Samuel was still dead; but even so, he was able to engage in a number of acts of conscious communication. All this while his body, which included his brain, remained buried at Ramah, according to I Samuel 28:3. (For further consideration of the Hebrews' belief in life after death, one ought to consider Psalms 16:10, 49:15, and 139:8. Consider also the teaching found in Acts 23:8 concerning the resurrection.)
Sheol or Hades is not, as some suppose, the Gehenna or Hell to which the wicked are condemned and from which the Lord's faithful are spared (cf. Matthew 10:28). It is indeed unfortunate that the King James translators decided to render Hades, Gehenna, and Tartarus as “Hell.” Sheol/ Hades is the dwelling place of the disembodied spirits of dead people, whether good or evil. Those who died in covenant relationship with God are in a comfortable place called “Abraham's bosom” (Luke 16:22) and “Paradise” (Luke 23:43). On the other hand, those who died outside covenant relationship with God exist in a place of “torments” (Luke 16:23) called “Tartarus” (II Peter 2:4), if angels, who are spirits, go to the same place that discarnate spirits go. Within the confines of Sheol/Hades is a “great gulf” (megas chasma = very large void) that prevents those who occupy either compartment from going to the other side (Luke 16:26).
When one passes from the state of being alive to the state of being dead, he has arrived in Hades. And although he has yet to experience the judgement, nevertheless, his fate is now sealed. Whether one will eventually spend an eternity in Heaven or Hell is now a foregone conclusion. In their disembodied state, these discarnate spirits are experiencing either comfort or torment. Someone is tempted to ask, “Are these not already in Heaven or Hell?” Absolutely not! “Well,” that same someone asks, “What's the difference?” The difference is that Hades is not Heaven nor Hell. It is an intermediate place between this world and the next. Man, who is both body and soul, is not complete or whole in Hades. Remember, sin effects the whole man, both body and soul. Spiritual and physical death are both a result of sin. Without the washing away of one's sins through the blood of Christ, one will spend an eternity, body and soul, in a devil's Hell (cf. Matthew 10:28, 25:46; II Thessalonians 1:7-10; Revelation 21:8). On the other hand, redemption also effects the whole man and those who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ will spend an eternity, both body and soul, in Heaven (cf. Matthew 25:46; Romans 8:23). This brings us, quite naturally, to the subject of the resurrection, which will occur at the second coming of Jesus Christ.
The Second Coming And The Resurrection
There is a great day coming in which the Lord will return to judge the living and the dead (Matthew 25:31-46; Acts 10:42, 17:30; II Timothy 4:1; II Thessalonians 1:7-10). The nature of this second coming will be (1) visible (Acts 1:11), (2) audible (I Thessalonians 4:16), (3) sudden (Mark 13:32-37), (4) final, in that there is no mention of a third coming, and (5) glorious (II Thessalonians 1:7,8). When this finally occurs, there will be one general resurrection of both the righteous and unrighteous dead (cf. Daniel 12:2; John 5:28,29; Acts 24:15). At this point, the discarnate spirits of the dead will once again be housed in their bodies, albeit immortal spiritual bodies (I Corinthians 15:44,53,54), and will appear at the judgement bar of Christ (Romans 2:5,6) to give an account of their lives (Romans 14:10-12), “whether it is good or whether it is evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). Those “in Christ” will be vindicated and all others will be condemned. In other words, all true believers will go to Heaven, but all the non-believers and the unfaithful, along with Death and Hades, will be cast into Hell, which is the second death (Revelation 20:14). Those who experience this second death will be eternally separated from the presence of the Lord (II Thessalonians 1:9). Oh, what a terrible place Hell will be. But, on the other hand, oh, what a wonderful place Heaven will be!
Finally, when the Bible speaks of death in connection with human beings, whether physical, spiritual, or eternal, it is always speaking of separation. Physical death takes place when the spirit of man separates from his body (James 2:26); spiritual death occurs when man's sins separate him from God (Isaiah 5:9-12; Ephesians 2:1,5; Colossians 2:13); and eternal death takes place when one is separated eternally from God in Hell (Matthew 10:28; II Thessalonians 1:7-10). Therefore, in developing a Biblical world view, we must never think of any of the deaths that can be experienced by humans as a “ceasing to exist.” Death, for man, is not a ceasing to be, for Jehovah is the God of the living (cf. Mark 12:18-27). In John 11:25, Jesus told Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die [physically], he shall live [i.e., be resurrected physically].” But, in verse 25, going beyond physical death and resurrection, the Lord said: “And whoever lives [i.e., is spiritually alive] and believes in [i.e., trusts, relies, and obeys] Me shall never die [i.e., he will have eternal life].” He ended by asking the question, “Do you believe this?” By faith, we say with Martha, “Yes, Lord, I believe...”
Knowing that God will one day transform our bodies of humiliation into glorified bodies (Philippians 3:20,21), and that they will one day be like His (I John 3:2), we are not able to make friends with the enemy, Death (I Corinthians 15:26,53-57); but, we are able to face our own immortality with the firm confidence that there is life beyond the grave.
“Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (I Corinthians 15:12-19, KJV).