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墓地中的困惑

作者:道格·巴契勒 牧师日期:2017-02-10 22:29:2浏览数:3107
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中文:

奇妙真相:1876年,数名暴徒想出一个病态的计划:盗取亚伯拉罕·林肯的尸体,以换取赎金。几天后,这些倒霉的盗墓贼被捕。美国政府因担心再度发生盗墓事件,于是秘密地将这位第16任总统的尸体,藏在一个没有标记的坟墓中,长达25年。1901年,在总统的遗孤罗伯特·林肯的强烈要求下,林肯总统的尸体被挖出,放在一个铁箱里,并埋在了3米深的地下墓穴中。时至今日,他的尸体依然葬在那里——橡树山陵园。那么,林肯总统是否知道自己的遗体被盗了?他不知道,至少没有证据显明,他对这一奇怪的盗墓行为有过投诉。人类对于生命问题最为关注的,便是死后会发生什么。但遗憾的是,不管是基督徒还是非基督徒,面对死亡,人们都有着许多的困惑。

对于死亡,也许最好的表述便是,轻描淡写地将之说成是一件令人不快的事儿。我们不愿谈及死亡,尤其是论及自己和我们所爱的人。在美国,若有人去世,按照惯例,我们会用白布覆盖,并尽快地把他们带走。虽然如此,但这个话题却又必须面对,因为死亡不仅最终会临到我们每个人,而且对于拥有永生的你我,了解死亡的真相,恰是一个大好的消息。

为何人们会如此困惑于死后所发生的事情,其实不难理解。即便形形色色的墓志铭,也揭示了这一混乱的状态。例如,某一碑文写道:“父亲安睡主怀,等候复活的号角吹响。”走过几个墓碑,另一碑文却写道:“母亲此刻正在黄金的街道上与天使一同歌唱。”

哪个才是正确的?死了的人是在坟墓中安睡,并等候复活,还是他们正在某处活着?如果他们果真活着,那么他们在做什么?即便是在善良而忠实的基督徒中,对于来生这个话题,也一直是争论不休。但我们仍然希望这篇简短的讲章,通过探究死亡的真相,能帮助您知道,在人类历史上最重要的文献——《圣经》中,对这一问题的解释。

生命与灵魂

在了解死亡真相之前,我们需要先认识生命的起源。圣经告诉我们,上帝用地上的尘土造了亚当,那人就成了有灵的活人。“耶和华上帝用地上的尘土造人,将生气吹在他鼻孔里,他就成了一个活的灵魂。(a living soul)”(创2:7 KJV直译)

请注意,这并不是说上帝“给了那人灵魂”,而是“他就成了一个活着的灵。”( a living soul)。地上的尘土(上帝用尘土造人的身体)与上帝所赐的生命之气息相结合,便产生了一个活着的灵魂。

相反,人去世,是创造的反向。“尘土仍归于地,灵仍归于赐灵的上帝。”(传12:7)在这节经文中,回归于上帝的“灵”,正是在创世记2:7提到的,上帝所赋予的那一使生命充满活力的“气息”——上帝用它激活了人的生命。

“我的气息(Breath)尚在我里面,神所赐呼吸之气仍在我的鼻孔内。”(伯27:3 KJV直译)在这里,约伯谈到了创世记2:7中的“生命的气息(the breath of life)”。事实上,“生命的气息”这个词,在这两处经文中,用的是同一个希伯来文。死亡——人的身体回归尘土,生命的气息归回上帝,人的灵魂便不复存在。

永恒的奖赏——来生

今天,并没有人正遭受地狱之火的焚烧,那些已死的历代圣徒们也并未在天堂。对此,你可能会感到震惊,但这正是圣经所清晰教导的。

“看哪,我必快来。赏罚在我,要照个人所行的报应他。”(启22:12)在耶稣再来时,每人都将得到各自的报赏。明白这点,对于即将面对审判大日的我们至关重要,我们还有时间悔改,因为耶稣还没有来,对吗?

“人也是这样,躺下不再起来,等到诸天不再有了。”(伯14:12 KJV直译)死人躺在坟墓,“不再起来”,直等诸天不再有。什么时候诸天才不再有?“但主的日子来到…诸天必在一声巨响中废去。”(彼后3:10 KJV直译)主耶稣再来时,诸天都要废去。在那之前,死人安睡在坟墓中,“不再起来”。

现有人在天国里吗?

有。但只有少数,而且是例外。在四福音书中,提到耶稣登山变像的故事。当摩西和以利亚在山顶向耶稣显现时,他们是有血有肉的实体。耶稣和他们说话,门徒们也看到了。摩西和以利亚从天国而来,为耶稣带来鼓励。那么,他们是如何去到天国的?

在列王纪下2:11节圣经告诉我们,有火车火马从天降下,将以利亚接走。因此以利亚是没有经受死亡,直接被接升天。相反,摩西经历了死亡,但主将他扶起,带进天国。(犹9)

在马太福音27章,耶稣被钉十架,断气那一刻,有大地震,耶路撒冷附近的许多坟墓都裂开。许多死去的圣徒——那些在基督诞生前的先祖与先知们,在这个特别的时刻复活了。虽然圣经没有写出这些圣徒的名字,他们究竟是谁,我们不得而知。但圣经告诉我们,耶稣复活后,这些圣徒从坟墓里出来,进了圣城,向许多人显现。这群圣徒是与耶稣一同升天,正如圣经所说,他们将作为耶稣救赎使命成功的“初熟的果子”。

空空的坟墓

假如你去到一个坟墓,发现里面是空的,是否感到毛骨悚然?尤其是在日落时分,天色昏暗,是否觉得随时会有幽灵从坟墓里蹿出来,抓住你的脚?受到传统文化的影响,我们都觉得人死后还有灵魂,这些鬼魂萦绕在墓地周围,随时会出现。但圣经明确教导,死人不能行走,无法言语,当然也不会出现在墓地!

你试过只小睡片时,却发现一觉醒来,睡过头了吗?在睡眠时,你我对时间都会失去意识。圣经对死亡的描述正如睡觉一般。得救或失丧的人,面对死亡,也是如此。

“耶和华我的上帝啊,求祢看顾我,应允我,使我眼目光明,免得我沉睡至死。”(诗13:3)不但旧约重申死亡如“睡眠”,在新约时代,耶稣谈到拉撒路时,也明确提到死亡就像“睡眠”一样。“我们的朋友拉撒路睡了,我去叫醒他。”(约11:11)当时的使徒们从字面意思理解这句话,以为拉撒路睡着了,因此在接下来约11:14节耶稣明明地告诉他们,拉撒路确实是死了,安睡了。

耶稣来到拉撒路的坟前,拉撒路在坟墓里已经过了四天。尸体腐烂,正分解成尘土。马大甚至担心打开坟墓,会传出恶臭。他们不愿推开挡在坟前的巨石,耶稣看到这情况,便大声呼叫说,“拉撒路出来!”(约11:43)之后,那死人就出来了。

一些怀疑论者认为,圣经提到的其他人的复活,可能那人只是昏迷,不是真的死了。我相信,耶稣让拉撒路死后在坟墓里放了四天,是有祂的美意,这样所有人都不会怀疑拉撒路是否真的死了,因为他确实已死去多日,并且,按犹太人的传统,用防腐药物包裹尸体保存。若拉撒路还活着,恐怕他也会被裹尸布缠得窒息而死!所以当拉撒路在坟茔,听到耶稣吩咐他出来时,坟墓外的人都能闻到,他腐烂尸体所散发的阵阵恶臭,但他复活了。

拉撒路如果在今天复活,肯定会被美国两大新闻台,福克斯新闻频道(Fox News)和有线电视新闻网(CNN)追访。猜猜看,他们会问拉撒路的第一个问题是什么?

究竟发生了什么?

你死后看见了什么?遇见了谁?又做了什么?经历死亡,你的感受是什么?

尽管拉撒路的复活,是耶稣所行神迹中最公开的一次,门徒们都亲眼看到,但从四福音书中,我们找不到任何关于拉撒路复活后的描述。

按理说,拉撒路应当是人类历史上,对死亡这至大问题,最有发言权的。那么,我们为什么找不到他对此作出的任何评价呢?拉撒路发热害病,失去知觉,最后死去,被放到坟墓中。在那里,他对周围事物一无所知,直到突然醒来,感觉非常好。他发现自己全身被急救绷带裹着,身上发出阵阵香气,并且听到耶稣在呼唤他。这就是他所知道的一切。因为耶稣告诉我们,拉撒路的死,只是睡着了。他踉踉跄跄地走到光亮的坟墓口,对他而言,就像刚从小睡中醒来一样。

有些人认为,人死后,身体会毁坏,但灵魂不死,依然有意识。然而,在传道书9:5-6节,圣经告诉我们:“活着的人知道必死,死了的人毫无所知,也不再得赏赐,他们的名无人纪念。他们的爱,他们的恨,他们的嫉妒,早都消灭了。在日光之下所行的一切事上,他们永不再有份了。”(传9:5-6)

与死人说话

保罗在帖撒罗尼迦前书论到死亡,他说:“论到睡了的人,我们不愿意弟兄们不知道,恐怕你们忧伤,像那些没有指望的人一样。”(帖前4:13)保罗希望我们明白死亡的真相,因为在末后的日子,很多人都会在这点上受迷惑。

事实上,好几个著名的电视节目,都以直接或间接的通灵方式与死去亲人交谈,作为卖点。某些节目还揭示了一些只有亲人之间才知道的事情。按照圣经的教导,这些提供信息的“魂灵”,并不是他们死去的亲人,而是节目哄骗人的花招,或撒但爪牙的假扮。须知,撒但对我们非常了解,甚至知道我们的秘密。他们利用这些来欺哄我们,让我们以为正和死去的亲人谈话。

我时常想念去世的哥哥,希望能和他聊天。但我不能,因为他去世了。若有一天,某人出现在我面前,和我哥哥长得一模一样,有着棕色头发和雀斑,且知道一切只有我俩才知道的事,又自称是我的哥哥,虽然我非常想念他,但根据圣经,我知道他绝非我的哥哥。不管是心理作祟,还是魔鬼的把戏,我都知道这不是真的。

圣经有上百处的经文论到死亡,那么,教会为什么还会在这点上被迷惑?撒但是如何借此来欺骗基督徒的?他为何要花这么大的精力,在这个话题上蒙骗教会?因为,在耶稣再来之前,撒但要利用这个话题,来大大地搅扰并迷惑人心。“圣灵明说:在后来的时候,必有人离弃真道,听从那引诱人的邪灵和鬼魔的道理。”(提前4:1)

死亡的真相为何如此重要

当然,你可能听过一些人讲述他们的濒死体验,或有人在手术台上灵魂出窍的故事。学者们经研究发现,人在短暂停止呼吸时,身体会迅速产生大量的二氧化碳,导致人出现幻觉。有些人将这些幻觉诠释为灵魂出窍,但是,若你我将神学信仰,建立在这种手术台上的异梦或幻觉上,则是非常危险和荒诞的。

列王纪上22章讲到,“他说:‘我去要在他众先知口中作谎言的灵。’”(王上22:22)在末时,会有说谎言的假先知。启示录16章说,这些污秽的灵,“他们本是鬼魔的灵,施行奇事,出去到普天下众王那里。”(启16:14)欺哄人们去相信并接受,一种建立在魔鬼藉着冒充死人的灵魂来做见证,从而纺织出来的虚假神学,这种效应称为“涓滴效应”。(注:“涓滴效应”是指,在经济发展过程中,并不给予贫困阶层、弱势群体或贫困地区以特别的优待,而是由优先发展起来的群体或地区通过消费或劳工需要等方面,来惠及贫困阶层或地区,以带动其发展和富裕,这被称作是“涓滴效应”。)

马太福音24章告诉我们,“因为假基督、假先知将要起来,显大神迹、大奇事。”(太24:24)假先知的招魂术,正在空前的荼毒着今日的教会。并且将在末时,成为撒但用以欺骗世人的绝佳手段。正如扫罗王,当年与非利士人交战,导致以色列民陷入绝境。于是,在临死前的几天,他去见了一位交鬼的妇人。女巫为他招上来的,并不是已故的先知撒母耳,而是一个邪灵,并且这邪灵所说的话,令扫罗甚是惧怕,毫无气力。最终,扫罗于次日,在基利波自杀身亡。

听到这里,我们不免要问,生活在末时,我们要如何避免欺骗?圣经在使徒行传17章讲到,“这地方的人贤于帖撒罗尼迦的人,甘心领受这道,天天考查圣经,要晓得这道是与不是。”(徒17:11)上帝的圣言,是我们信仰唯一可靠的根基。“人当以训诲和法度为标准,他们所说的若不与此相符,必不得见晨光。”(赛8:20)从这些经文,我们可知,无论何时,不管你听到的是你去世的祖母,还是耶稣在地上的母亲马利亚对你说话,就算她们(他们)知道只有亲人之间才知道的一切秘密,甚至他们以死去时的样子真实地出现在你眼前,你都不要相信,因为那绝不是你去世的亲人,也不是先知,而是魔鬼的假扮,或是你的头脑不灵光,想入非非的结果。

义人的命运

“因为主必亲自从天降临,有呼叫的声音和天使长的声音,又有上帝的号吹响,那在基督里死了的人必先复活。”(帖前4:16)在这里,耶稣明确地让我们看到末后复活的图景。

“你们不要把这事看作稀奇,时候要到,凡在坟墓里的,都要听见祂的声音,就出来。行善的复活得生,”[第一次的复活]“作恶的复活定罪。”[第二次的复活,千禧年后的恶人审判](约5:28,29)

“因为我父的意思是叫一切见子而信的人得永生,并且在末日我要叫他复活。”(约6:40)耶稣的话再清楚不过!有多少人会在死去时立即复活?一个都没有。得救之人将在“末日”复活。

在哥林多前书还有一段经文,“在亚当里众人都死了,照样,在基督里众人也都要复活。但各人是按着自己的次序复活,初熟的果子是基督,以后在祂来的时候,是那些属基督的。”(林前15:22,23)死去的信徒,将在耶稣再来时复活!

圣经应许我们,在将来的某一天,“上帝要擦去他们一切的眼泪,不再有死亡,也不再有悲哀、哭号、疼痛,因为以前的事都过去了。”(启21:4)不幸的是,死亡是我们在世上不可避免的事实,它将会带来痛苦。但你不需要害怕死亡,因为最重要的是,耶稣应许我们,“人有了上帝的儿子就有生命。”(约壹5:12)

永恒的生命现在就可开始,因为基督徒不会永远死去!你可能会经历一个短暂的,不会做梦的睡眠,但耶稣会在复临之日将你唤醒。你拥有耶稣,就无需害怕。所以,今天我邀请您,接受耶稣话语的丰盛,让祂的恩典进入你的生活。

关于更多信息,可浏览奇妙真相网站,www.qimiaozhenxiang.com那里有更多关于灵魂和死亡的文章与视频。

对有关死亡的圣经章节的误解

我们要如何理解耶稣对与祂同钉十架的强盗所说的话呢?“我实在告诉你:今日你要同我在乐园里了。”(路23:43)乍看这节经文,耶稣似乎告诉强盗,在当天,他俩要一同进入天国。但这是一处翻译上的失误。事实上,在希伯来文的原文圣经上,是没有标点符号的,因此,译者不得不猜测要在哪里加逗号停顿,于是,他们决定按普通文法翻译。

但遗憾的是,他们下逗号的位置错了,此处经文应该译成:“今日,我实在告诉你,你将与我同在乐园里。”耶稣向强盗表达的是:虽然现在,祂在十架上不像一位君王,但因着“你称我为主、为王”,你将在天国与我同在。

我们知道,因着逗号的错误标注,翻译出现了歧义,很显然,在那天,耶稣并没有去到天国,而是在坟墓中。这应许发出之后的第三日,耶稣才复活,并向抹大拉的马利亚显现,马利亚当时抓住祂的脚跟,于是耶稣对她说:“不要摸我,因我还没有升上去见我的父。”(约20:17)你看,耶稣亲自说,自己还没有升到天上见天父。耶稣不可能在星期五升上天国!圣经已经明确地显明,强盗并没有在星期五下午和耶稣一同进入天国。


英文字体:【

英文:

Confusion in the Cemetery

By Pastor Doug Batchelor

An Amazing Fact: In 1876 a handful of mobsters botched a morbid plan to kidnap the body of Abraham Lincoln and hold it ransom. The hapless grave robbers were arrested just a few days later. Fearing another attempt, the government secretly hid the body of the sixteenth president in an unmarked grave for 25 years. Then in 1901, under the urging of Robert Lincoln, the president’s only surviving child, Lincoln’s body was dug up and placed inside a steel cage, lowered into a 10-foot-deep vault, and buried under tons of concrete. He’s still there today, in his tomb, on the grounds of Oak Ridge Cemetery. So do the dead care when their remains are disturbed? There’s no evidence that Abraham Lincoln ever complained about all the odd grave shuffling.

One of the most important subjects in life is to understand what happens when it’s over. Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion about death, inside and outside the church, which makes it very difficult for the average person to understand such a vital subject.

Perhaps the greatest understatement ever would be to say that death is unpleasant. In our culture, when people die, we quickly cover them up and whisk them away. We don’t want to think about death, especially when it comes to those we love and ourselves. But the topic must be faced, not only for the practical reason that we’re all touched by it eventually, but because understanding the truth about death is actually good news if you have everlasting life.

It’s not hard to see why people are so confused about what happens when we die. Even the many and varied tombstones at graveyards reveal this state of confusion. For example, one tombstone might read, “Father is sleeping now in the arms of Jesus, waiting for the resurrection trumpet.” But a few tombstones over, one reads, “Mother is now singing on golden streets with the angels.”

So which is it? Are the dead sleeping, waiting for the resurrection, or are they alive somewhere? If so, what are they doing? There is a debate about the afterlife, even among good and honest Christians. This brief study on death will help you see what the most important document in human history —the Holy Bible —really says about the subject.

Life and the Human Soul

Before we can understand what happens at death, we need to understand the basics of how life happened. The Bible tells us that when God made Adam in the garden of Eden, the man became a living soul. “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7).

Notice it doesn’t say that God “gave man a soul,” but rather, “man became a living soul.” The dust from the ground (the body), combined with the vital breath of life from God, produced a soul.

When someone dies, it is creation in reverse. “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). The spirit that returns to God at death is the energizing breath of life given by God in Genesis 2:7.

All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils” (Job 27:3). Here Job is talking about “the breath of life” mentioned in Genesis 2:7. In fact, it’s the very same Hebrew word in both passages. At death, the body returns to dust, the breath of life returns to God, and the human soul ceases to exist.

An Eternal Reward—the Afterlife

Nobody is suffering in hellfire today, and the vast majority of people who have died are not in heaven. This might shock you, but it’s exactly what the Bible teaches.

Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12). Everyone gets his or her reward when Jesus returns. It’s important to understand this because Jesus hasn’t returned, has He? Judgment Day is still in the future.

So man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more” (Job 14:12 NKJV). The dead do “not rise” from the grave until the heavens are no more. When will the heavens be no more? “The day of the Lord will come … in which the heavens will pass away (2 Peter 3:10 NKJV). The heavens pass away on the day of the Lord, when Jesus returns to the earth. Until then, the dead do “not rise” from the grave.

But aren’t there people in heaven now?

Yes. A few. They are the exceptions. The Gospels tell the story of the transfiguration, when Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus on the mountaintop. They were real and in the flesh. Jesus spoke with them; the apostles saw them. They had come from heaven to offer encouragement to Jesus. But how did they get to heaven?

In 2 Kings 2:11, the Bible tells us that Elijah was caught up to heaven in a fiery chariot. Elijah went to heaven, even though he didn’t die. Moses died first, but the Lord raised him up and took him to heaven (Jude 9).

In Matthew 27, during the time when Christ died on the cross, there was a strong earthquake, and many of the graves around Jerusalem opened up. Many of the saints who had died—patriarchs and prophets who lived prior to the time of Christ—were raised in a special resurrection. It doesn’t name names, so we don’t know who they were. But the Bible says they came out of the graves after His resurrection and went into the holy city where they appeared to many.1 At the ascension of Christ, they ascended with Him.2 These resurrected humans were what the Bible calls the first fruits of Jesus’ successful mission.

Empty Cemeteries

When you go to the cemetery, does it ever make you feel creepy? Especially around sundown, are you afraid that some ghost is going to lunge out from the grave and grab your ankle? We’ve been trained in our culture to think that the dead aren’t really dead. But the Bible teaches the dead don’t come back. They can’t communicate. They certainly don’t haunt cemeteries!

Have you ever gone to bed and woken up, thinking you had only slept a short while, then you peek at the clock to discover it was hours longer than you thought? You have no awareness of time in sleep. That’s how the Bible describes the sleep of death. For the saved and the lost, it’s the same.

Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death” (Psalms 13:3). Death is called “sleep” over and over again in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments. Jesus clearly referred to death as “sleep” when speaking about Lazarus. “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep” (John 11:11). The apostles took Jesus literally, so Jesus clarified for them that Lazarus was, indeed, dead.

It took Jesus four days to get to Lazarus’ tomb. Lazarus’ body was decomposing, turning back into dust. Martha was even afraid of the stench of an open tomb. They reluctantly rolled away the stone, and Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” That’s what Lazarus did.

I believe Jesus allowed Lazarus to be in the grave for four days so there would be no doubt that Lazarus was very dead. Some skeptics suggest that other resurrections in the Bible were probably due to coma, arguing the people weren’t really dead yet. But Lazarus had been embalmed and wrapped up. If he had been alive, he would surely have suffocated to death! The stench of his decomposing body wafted out of the open tomb and gagged them. But Lazarus came out alive at Jesus’ command.

If that happened today, FoxNews and CNN would have called Lazarus for an interview. What do you think would have been their first questions?

What happened?

What did you see?

What did you do?

Who’d you meet?

What was it like to be dead?

Despite the fact that this is one of the most public miracles of Jesus, and all the Gospel writers knew about it, we find nothing regarding Lazarus commenting on his experience.

Lazarus has the answer to the biggest question in history! But there’s no comment. Why? Jesus tells us Lazarus was asleep. Lazarus had a fever, he was sick, he lost consciousness, and eventually he died. He didn’t know anything until, all of a sudden, he woke up feeling great, wrapped up in something like perfumed first-aid bandages. He didn’t know what was going on. He was hearing Jesus call him. That’s all he knew. He stumbled to his feet and shuffled to the shiny entrance. To him it was like waking up from a nap.

Some believe that while the body might perish, the soul remains conscious. But the Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.”

Talking to the Dead

Paul, to the Thessalonians, writes about death, “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep” (4:13). Paul wants you to understand the truth about death because not understanding this opens you up to deception in the last days.

In fact, there are several prominent television programs that feature folks who allegedly talk to or “channel” the dead. Some of them reveal things only loved ones would know. According to the Bible, it’s not dead people. It is either trickery or Satan’s minions. They know a lot about us, even our secrets. They can use these bits of knowledge to trick you into thinking you’re talking to your dead loved one.

I miss my brother Falcon and would love to talk to him. But I can’t. He’s dead. If anyone appears to me with red hair and freckles claiming to be my brother, as much as I miss him, I know from the Bible it’s not my brother. Either my mind is playing tricks on me or it’s the devil.

There are hundreds of scriptures on the subject of death, so how can the church be so confused on this topic? How has the devil been able to bamboozle Christians? Why has he bothered to put so much energy into deceiving the church on this subject? Because he’s going to use it to his advantage before Jesus comes again! “In the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1).

Why the Truth About Death Is So Important

Of course, you’ve heard reports of near-death experiences, of people on the operating table who floated around the room. Yet researchers have shown that when people temporarily stop breathing, they will quickly build up too much carbon dioxide in their system and hallucinate. Some have interpreted these events as visions, but it’s dangerous to base your theology on an operating table dream or hallucination.

He said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets” (1 Kings 22:22). There are going to be in the last days lying spirits in the mouths of false prophets. Revelation 16 says these unclean spirits go forth to the kings of the earth, working miracles to deceive. That will have a trickle-down effect and deceive people into thinking they should embrace a certain theology based on the testimony of demons posing to be the spirits of the dead.

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders” (Matthew 24:24). The spiritualism infecting the church today is going to be used by the devil in the last days to deceive, similar to how he deceived Saul. Israel’s troubled king, in the desperation of his last days, went to see a witch. He saw a devilish apparition, not the dead prophet Samuel, that greatly discouraged him, and he committed suicide the next day.

How can we avoid being deceived in the last days? “They received the word of God with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). The Word of God is our only sure foundation. “If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). It doesn’t matter if it looks and sounds just like your departed grandma or Mary the mother of Jesus, and it knows all the intimate secrets only they would know. If someone dead appears to you, it’s of the devil or your brain is not functioning properly.

The Fate of the Righteous

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Jesus made it very clear that this resurrection is in the last days …

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life;” [the first resurrection] “and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” [the second resurrection, at the end of the thousand years] (John 5:28, 29).

This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40 NKJV, my emphasis). The words of Jesus could not be clearer! How many are raised when they die? None. The saved are raised up at the “last day.”

One more: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:22, 23 NKJV). The dead believers are raised at Jesus’ coming!

The Bible promises that one day, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain” (Revelation 21:4). Unfortunately, death is a reality in our world today—and it does and should cause us sorrow. But, most important, you don’t need to be afraid of death. Jesus promises, “He who has the Son has life” (1 John 5:12 NKJV).

That life begins now because Christians don’t die permanently! You might experience a momentary dreamless sleep, but Jesus will awaken you on that great day. You don’t need to be afraid of death if you have Jesus. So I invite you today to accept the fullness of His Word and take His grace into your life.

For more information on this subject, visit www.truthaboutdeath.com

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A Misunderstood Bible Passage Regarding Death

How do we explain what Jesus told the thief on the cross? “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). It seems, at first glance, that Jesus is telling the thief that on that very day, both of them will be in heaven together. This is an unfortunate mistranslation. The original Greek had no punctuation, so translators had to guess about where to place a comma. They decided on the common rendering of the text.

But they got it wrong. It should read: “Verily I say unto thee today, shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Jesus is saying, even though right now I don’t look like a king, I’m telling you right now that because you called me Lord and King, you’re going to be with me in heaven.

We know it’s a misplaced comma because Jesus didn’t go to heaven that day! Three days after that promise, Mary saw Jesus after His resurrection and grabbed hold of His ankles. He said, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father” (John 20:17). He could not have been in heaven on Friday! The Bible makes it clear that the thief did not go to heaven with Jesus Friday afternoon.