Have you ever wondered how the supernatural world really works? How does God administer His judgment after we take our last breath? We know God is holy and just, but some ask how he could not act when a “good person” who doesn’t believe in God descends into hell. We are all sinners, so why does a repentant follower of Jesus Christ get pulled into heaven, while the unrepentant unbeliever lands in hell without some intervention by our merciful God? How does the process work?
One clue could be the “law of sin and death." Is it an actual law, and if so, how does it function?
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:2
We all know that God’s laws of nature operate automatically. The law of gravity, the laws of thermodynamics, and many others work continuously without God activating them on earth, moment by moment. Some of us set up auto-bill-pay with our bank to pay our monthly bills. Set it and forget it. In a sense, that’s how God’s supernatural world works too. God set up a system that automatically operates until he intervenes. Those laws also govern the process of what happens to us when we physically die.
Isn't God omniscient and "all-loving?" Doesn't He act when each of us dies since we are His creation made in His Image?
I do not believe God acts when we die. One reason may be that God is not a respecter of persons. How do we know that? Because it’s in the Bible. And Peter opened his mouth, and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons. Acts 10:34 (ESV)
What does not being a respecter of persons mean?
In Romans 2:8-11, we read: But for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.
God does not play favorites. He treats everyone equally. Some may disagree and point out that God does bestow special distinction to specific exceptionally faithful individuals. He called Moses and Abraham his friends. Scripture refers to Daniel as “highly esteemed” and Mary, the mother of Jesus, "highly favored."
Despite being favorites of God, they were not treated the way we would expect to be treated if we were the beneficiary of “favoritism” today. Although the godly men and women of the bible were blessed through a special relationship with God, they were not spared the trials and tribulations that are part of the burden we all bear as followers of Jesus Christ.
God will work with each person who will humbly come to Him with the same amount of intensity and with the same degree of love and mercy that He will show to anyone else. In other words, we will all receive the same treatment!
Conversely, if God treats us all equally in His desire to bring us to Him, the opposite must also be true. God will not interfere when we die and undo our choices in life – we will be judged by the Lord – fairly and impartially. Except for children who have not reached the age of accountability, He will not intervene in our judgment regardless if a person is in their late teens, a soldier on a battlefield, or a widow who lived a quiet life and was kind to her neighbors.
How do God’s Laws of Life and Death work in the here and now?
To help answer that question, we can look to extra-biblical sources that provide real-world examples of God's laws in action. Some readers are aware that in my books and blog posts, I cite the examples of near-death-experience (NDE) witnesses who present credible, biblically-aligned testimonies that amplify and clarify what is written in the Bible.
For those who automatically reject the use of extra-biblical information, keep in mind that the Bible references Enoch, whose own book, which was found among the Dead Sea scrolls, is not canonized scripture. Jude 1:14:16 (NIV) 14 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15 to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”[e] 16 These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.
The passage of Jude above is very similar to the words of 1Enoch 1-2, 9, and some Christian scholars maintain that Jude did quote Enoch.
An analysis of scores of NDE experiences reveals that when people physically die, followers of Jesus Christ are met by one or more angels and escorted to heaven. Those who ignored Christ's invitations throughout their life found a demon or two, who physically dragged them into hell.
Many NDE witnesses confirm the escort functions of the Lord’s angels and the angels who serve Satan. In Ivan Tuttle’s A Journey to Hell, Heaven and Back, he describes being pulled out of bed by a powerful demon and dragged to hell despite his every effort to break free. He readily admits he was a backslidden Christian who had walked away from God at the time of his death. During his more than three hours of clinical death from a blood clot in his leg, he was dragged deeper and deeper into hell and then rescued by God and sent to heaven because it was not his time to die. Ivan is now an ordained pastor.
In the well-known book, My Descent into Death: A Second Chance At Life, Howard Storm describes how demonic creatures lured him into a dark tunnel leading to hell after dying from a perforated duodenum in a Paris, France, hospital. When he tried to turn back, he was attacked and held against his will. Storm, once a staunch atheist, is now an ordained pastor.
Is there Biblical corroboration for the contention that supernatural escorts take us to our final resting place? Yes, we read in Luke 16:22 “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried…”
What is the mechanism that causes the soul and spirit to detach from the physical body?
I don’t know, and I’m not aware of anyone who knows for sure. I do know that some Christian researchers believe the binding, life-producing substance in the body is our blood. The belief is that once a person's blood stops radiating the power of life, the spirit and soul detach, waiting to be pulled to their final destination. We know from scripture that the blood has some very unique qualities, such as in Genesis 4:10, “The LORD said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground.”
Many would say Genesis 4:10 is metaphorical, but I submit that it may be literal. Scientific work has uncovered that blood can emit sounds, so perhaps it does serve as a signaling substance in our body. A sciencedaily.com article, published Jul 2, 2013, reported: “New research reveals that when red blood cells are hit with laser light, they produce high-frequency sound waves that contain a great deal of information.”
We also know that the Lord and His angelic host also recognize and pay special heed to blood as we read in Exodus 12:23 “When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.”
Another related concept that is aligned with scripture is the process of spiritual rebirth. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, we read, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
When we are reborn, our spirit and soul are recreated, and since we have been bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ, we may have a receipt or seal stamped into our soul that is recognizable by the Holy Spirit and God's helper angels. At the time of death, our receipt may sound an audible alarm, and angels know that someone needs to be brought home. We saw how the Angel of Death recognized blood on the doorposts in Egypt and left the Jews alone - a similar situation of marking may take place when we become justified and on the path to salvation.
Lastly, we should recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in us and His role in our lives. If we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we have the best “homing device” we could ever hope for.
Are people who said the sinner’s pray during their life automatically protected?
A contentious issue among Christians is the concept of once saved, always saved. I believe part of the confusion results from the word choice of the phrase. Technically, you’re not actually saved until the moment your spiritually-reconstituted body sets foot into heaven. Before that, while living in your physical body, you start on the road of salvation once you declare Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior (justification), but in order to stay on that road, you must continue to strive to obey God’s laws (sanctification). When you fail and commit a sin, you confess your sin and ask for forgiveness. If you merely say the sinner’s prayer and then resume a life of intentional sin, I believe you fall off the road to salvation and end up on the broad road to destruction.
Can others corroborate my contention?
Ivan Tuttle claims he saw many people who self-identified as “Christians” during his brief visit to hell. His message to all is that once saved, always saved is a false declaration. His message is that hell is full of people who thought of themselves as Christians, yet they engaged in hidden intentional sin after their declaration of acceptance of Jesus Christ and never confessed their sins and asked for forgiveness before dying.
What is the evidence to support the claim that once saved does not mean always saved?
The Bible does not contain a single passage that states once saved, always saved. Many will point out, however, that several verses appear to point to the concept, such as John 10: 27-30:
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.”
Others will point to Ephesians 1:13: “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,”
I suspect the keyword is believed. A solid Christian teacher once said, “Sin is the treasonous act of unbelief.” If a person says the sinner’s prayer and then does what he or she wants and ignores Christ’s commandments, then they truly do not believe, and I suspect they will pay a price for unrepentant sin. A person who lives that way will need to ultimately ask for forgiveness or face the consequences.
A relevant passage that is related to the notion of “once saved, always saved unconditionally” is Paul’s letter to the Philippians 2:12-15 (underline added):
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
What does all this mean, and how is it all related?
God’s ways are above our ways, so we’ll never know the complete meaning of His holy words until we’re in His presence. Yet, we can deduce that God created laws of the universe to provide order, predictability, and continuity. He created the law of gravity so that solids and liquids, including us, stay secured to the earth's surface. We know that if we fail to respect the law of gravity, we can find ourselves injured or dead.
The same applies to the Law of Sin and Death and the Law of the Spirit. They are impersonal laws that are in effect 24/7. If you physically die with some remnant of the Holy Spirit in your own being to act as a homing beacon, angels will attend to you and bring you home. Your blood may also play an interconnected role. If you have no remnant of the Holy Spirit in you, then I believe the sinful nature of your body, soul, and spirit gives off a homing beacon to the demonic world in hell. Demons follow the signal and collect their prize.
Stay in a loving and respectful relationship with Jesus Christ through prayer and worship, and the Holy Spirit will remain comfortably inside your being. Because of the presence of the Holy Spirit within you, you will be picked up by God’s supernatural tracking system and brought home when you breathe your last breath. God does not have to act because his system is in place and works automatically.
Loving the Lord and pleasing him through obedience is not complicated, but it does require perseverance and forbearance while living in our fallen world. A small amount of determination in this life will bring about an eternity of bliss in the next, where we will spend eternity with Jesus Christ.
Please share your thoughts.
For a more in-depth discussion of near-death experiences, go to https://jeffwaltonbooks.com/blog/35.
Christianese: Christian Phrases and Words That Cause Confusion - Part Three
Christianese: Christian Phrases and Words That Cause Confusion – Part Two
Christianese: Do Some Christian Phrases and Words Confuse You? ? Part One
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