Does the Bible Teach Soul Sleep? (Part One)

Some believe that when a Christian dies, his or her soul sleeps and that he is unconscious until Jesus comes for him at the end of this evil age that we are in. The Bible does have a few passages where Jesus talked about death for a Christian as “sleep.” When Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, for instance, He called it sleep:

11After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” 12His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep (John 11:11-13).

He deliberately waited another two days before He even left for the tomb (John 11:6). Have you ever wondered why Jesus waited before starting the journey to Jerusalem to raise Lazarus? The Jews had a tradition that the soul of a person could hang around the body anything up to three days afterward. Jesus deliberately waited so that He could prove to the skeptics that He had authority over death, but Lazarus was not sleeping in the tomb, he was dead. John the apostle explained this to us:

Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).

The Lord also talked about death as sleeping when He brought back Jairus’ daughter from the dead:

49While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher any more.” 50Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” 51When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. 52Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.” 53They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” 55Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. 56Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened (Luke 8:49-56, Emphasis mine).

The believer in Christ is never dead; he is separated from his body, a state that Jesus calls ‘sleep.’ When Jesus took the little girl’s hand and told her to get up, her spirit returned. Where had the little girl been? Her body was dead and laying on the bed, but the real person, her spirit, was somewhere else. Wouldn’t you like to have known what she experienced before Jesus called her back into the earthly home of her body? A person is only dead, according to the scriptures, when he is spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1, 5), and not yet a believer in Christ and receiving the life of God by being born-again of the Spirit (John 3:3). So, dear reader, have you yet received the free gift of new life in Christ? Let’s continue thinking on this tomorrow…

Keith Thomas

Does Jesus Know You?

UnknownMany of us have heard the question posed to us, “Do you know Jesus?” It’s a very important question that we all must ultimately answer either yes, or no to. It is very easy to assume that Jesus knows us. “Why of course Jesus knows me. He knows everything and everyone, right?”  In one sense, yes, that is very true. God is omniscient, but what does it really mean to know someone?

Suppose one were to dedicate a large part of their life learning everything there was to possibly know about the President of the United States. You would learn when he gets up, what he does during the day, all his accomplishments, where he was born, how many children he has, his wife’s name, his education, even down to minute details like what foods he may like and the friends he invites over for dinner. You could spend so much time and energy learning absolutely everything there is to know about him that you could almost say, “I know the President”. Now just imagine that someday you were able to find your way uninvited into the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC. The Secret Service grabs hold of you as you inform them, “It’s OK, I know the President!”  By chance if he is there, they are going to ask him if he knows you and should you hear him say: “No, I don’t know this person,” your future would quickly be determined. Unless you would have met him, spoken with him, sat with him, and spent time with him, he could never say he knew you at all. Let alone call you his friend. Knowing all about someone does not constitute a relationship.

21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’ (Matthew 7:21-23).

In the above verses we see that not everyone who claims to know the Lord Jesus will find that He will claim to know them. The word “know” as used in verse 23 is from the Greek word “Ginosko”, meaning “to know absolutely.” What’s even more profound is that the Greek word for never, as used in verse 23, “Oudepote,” means, “not even at any time, never at all.” So,  we can we spend our entire life learning everything there is to know about this one called Jesus, reading the Bible, going to church, even doing all the works and signs of a follower, and still have Him say, “I never knew you.” Jesus Himself said that MANY will find themselves in that position of being shut out (Matthew 7:21-23).

We would find ourselves in the same predicament as being in the Oval Office again, and not being recognized by the President. Actually infinitely worse off. So how can I be assured that He knows me? A beautiful illustration comes from The Lord Jesus Himself saying to us:

 20Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me (Revelation 3:20, ESV)

When we are invited to dinner at a friend’s house it is still as great an honor now as it has been for thousands of years. You enter into someone’s home that has possibly worked for quite some time preparing a meal for you in hopes that you will greatly enjoy the fruits of their labor prepared for you. Not only that, but you share details about your lives, your jobs, your children, your hopes, your dreams, etc. You certainly at this point have a relationship one with another. How much more so that the Creator of the heavens and the Earth and all that is in them, is knock, knock, knocking at the door of our hearts asking to come in and dine with us! To have a relationship with Him.

In the 3rd chapter of the book of John, a man named Nicodemus; a Pharisee; a Ruler of the Jews, comes to Jesus at night. He says to Jesus: “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him” (John 3:2). Jesus gives a most interesting answer in verse 3: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” That is the key: “You must be Born Again.” He knew exactly what Nicodemus, and every person who ever comes to Him needs to know. He then proceeded to explain to him (and us) how to enter into His kingdom and thus enjoy having a personal relationship with Him.

A bit further on, in one of the most famous verses in all the Bible we read: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever lives and believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The word “believes” is from the Greek word “Pisteuo,” meaning “to entrust, commit, put in trust with.” It is far more than just accepting a stated fact as being true. So in conclusion, when a person comes to Jesus and truly “believes” in Him by trusting in Him, committing their hearts and minds and lives to Him, and repenting of their sins, they then become Born Again; thus entering into a personal relationship with Him and receiving all the rights and privileges of a child of the King of Kings. Their names are then written down in “The Lamb’s Book of Life” (Revelation 3:27).

Dear ones, if you have never entered into a personal relationship with The Lord Jesus, before it is too late, we urge you with every fiber of our being to come humbly at His feet, admit you are a sinner, and accept the free gift of salvation that was so completely secured by Him alone at a very great price.

Mike Engel

The Suffering Servant of God

jesus-bowed-under-weight-of-cross1The Lord God, the creator of the Universe, knows ahead of time what is going to happen. To show that He alone is God, He spoke through various prophets letting them know and us, what He was going to do. The prophet Isaiah, for instance, ministered for over forty years (740-697 B.C.) and spoke about a time when God would send a suffering servant to the nation of Israel. This servant of God would be humiliated, persecuted, spat upon, mocked, the hair from His beard would be pulled out, and His back would be whipped:

6I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; 
I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting (Isaiah 50:6)

Isaiah went on to prophesy about this Suffering Servant, that He would be despised and rejected, but in this act of suffering He would carry our transgressions, sorrows and our infirmities (physical or mental weaknesses):

3He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 4Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, 
yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 
5But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; 
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 
6We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; 
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:4-6).

The prophet Isaiah, five hundred or so years before Christ, spoke in detail about the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ, sharing with us that this One sent from God would make His life an offering for sin. Jesus fulfilled all of these things and much more. He was brutally whipped on His back, beaten by the company of soldiers about His head, humiliated and mocked as they impaled Him with a crown of thorns, before leading Him off to one of the worst tortures that man has devised—crucifixion. He would come as a substitute and take the guilt that we have incurred by our lives of sin and animosity toward God, and pay the penalty that our sins deserve. Because of this one act of love by the suffering servant, Jesus, God can deal with us in grace and mercy. This suffering servant would be God Himself. He Himself would show us how much He loves us and desires us to enjoy relationship with Him. This plan to buy us back from Satan’s slave market of sin, was put into operation thousands of years ago when man decided that he would listen and obey Satan rather than God in the Garden of Eden. The just penalty that God had to place on this rebellion was death and separation from God (Genesis 2:17). But because of God’s love and mercy He did not leave us in this state—He would come and take the just penalty on Himself for sin. This act of love would be a covenant in blood, a solemn agreement by two people—you and God. For all those who agree to the terms of this solemn covenant or agreement, He will take your sin and count it paid for by the act of love by the Suffering substitutionary Servant, Christ. What about you, dear reader, will you agree to the terms of this covenant? Your sin has been paid for two thousand years ago by One who came to die in your place. To agree to the terms of the covenant, you must repent (turn from your sin towards God in obedience to Him) and believe (trust in Christ as your Savior from sin) the gospel (the good news that God loves you and has taken the initiative to cancel out your guilt and everything that keeps you from enjoying eternal life with Him). If you will call upon the name of the Lord in this way, the promise is that you will enjoy eternal life:

16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son (John 3:16-18).

He is only a prayer away. No matter what sin you have done, He will forgive you on the basis of the substitutionary death in your place of His Son Jesus. He hears every heart cry. Let this be your day. Eternity is a long time—there is no time like the present. Turn to the lover of your soul.

Keith Thomas

The Unseen Realm Part 1

There are three parts to this first talk on my new series called: If God is For Us, Who Can Be Against Us? The first session of this series is called The Unseen Realm. The notes are free and in the middle column under the heading of this same series. The other two parts of this talk can be found below. I start this talk with an illustration from my early days as a commercial fisherman when I caught an unexploded mine in my nets.

The Unseen Realm, Part 3

There are three parts to my talk on the Unseen Realm. This third part begins with the story of an unseen angel that stood to confront Balaam. The angel was seen by the donkey that Balaam was riding on, but beyond the senses of the prophet who was filled with greed. You may want to see Parts 1 and 2 before listening to this third part.