Today I walked past two places I thought were very interesting. They were directly opposite each other.
On the one side was a Funeral Parlor (Undertakers or Morticians). All three of these names imply ‘death’. When one dies, the normal practice is to obtain the services of a mortician to take care of the corpse (washing and preparing for burial or cremation) whilst the Undertaking part would be executed by those who do the actual funeral arrangements and burial. When a human being dies, the body starts the process of decay and needs to be buried or cremated. It is the end of the body in human terms.
On the other side of the street was an Auto Electrical & Mechanical Business. Their slogan is “Revitalize”. They would take vehicles that are limping and sluggish and repair or replace malfunctioning parts and ‘revitalize’ the engine to operate at peak performance again.
Quite interesting … on the one side of the street, they prepare corpses for burial, to dispose of the body, whilst across the street they renew and revitalize engines that are “dead”. By now, it’s pretty obvious to see where my mind is going!
When the body dies, humanly speaking, it is the end of the body … dead and buried. Spiritually speaking, the scenario is very different. The Bible teaches that a human being has a body and a soul … a physical and a spiritual dimension. The physical dies and decays once buried, or, if cremated, is rendered to ashes.
The spiritual does not end as the body does (yes, there is the resurrected body … but this body is a spiritual body). The spiritual dimension, being our soul, at death departs from the body. There are many views of what one could call ‘the intermediate state’, so I’ll refrain from addressing that matter. When the soul separates from the body at death, it departs to one of two places. The one place is called by the Bible, hell … the other is called heaven.
What I’m saying refers to the soul before the Judgment Day. Those without a relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ land up in hell. The future state in hell is one of agony and punishment (read Luke 16:19-31). The person saved by grace through faith departs to be with the Lord in glory. Often, the Bible refers to the ‘dead’ as those who are outside of the God’s grace and mercy. Those in relationship with Jesus are ‘alive’ enjoying God’s love and kindness. So, at death, the ‘dead’ and ‘alive’ depart into the spirit world. The ‘dead’ are separated from God whilst the ‘alive’ are with Him. This state will be finalize permanently at the Judgment.
Death can be very traumatic for the bereaved … but unknown to them, it is brutal for the deceased! The trauma of bereavement can be harsh because of loss. The loved one is no more! The end of a marriage, the loss of a breadwinner or parent, the death of a child, good friend, colleague, etc. Maybe a mess was left to sort out such as debt, no will, relational dysfunction that was not sorted out, etc. However, the deceased lands up in hell and realizes for the first time that the Gospel message was right and it is too late to change places!
Rev 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
What agony! What finality! How horrific!
But there is life! Jesus says:
Jn 8:12 … “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Jn 11:25 … “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
We are born spiritually dead. That condition leads to eternal damnation, yet when a person believes the gospel message, confesses, repents and believes, he is ‘saved’ … is granted ‘spiritual life’. Paul says it so beautifully in Ephesians:
Eph 2:4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
Now, think of that Auto Shop where vehicles are revitalized. They put life back into a dead engine. That is what Paul is speaking about when he says “[God] made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions” … revitalized … made truly alive for the first time in the your life! Where you were spiritually sluggish … spiritually dead … through Jesus’ substitutional sacrificial death, you are made alive … your soul is revitalized. This is the start of your new life in Christ … the experience the Bible calls ‘being born again’ or the ‘new birth’ … and here’s the thing … it never ends!
Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Almighty God, thank You for revitalizing my soul. When I was spiritually dead, You made me alive in Jesus. Amen.