AN ENCOURAGING THOUGHT ABOUT DEATH

Death has two different meanings that are essential for us to differentiate:

  1. The ACT OF DYING or termination of life.

  2. The STATE OF BEING DEAD.

All humanity will experience "the act of dying," but absolutely no one will ever experience the "state of being dead." And this is because:

"For the living know that they shall die but the dead know not anything…" (Ecclesiastes 9:5).

This may be comforting to some, but scary to others. It all depends on your point of view; your perspective; your emotional stability; your up-bringing; your understanding. What I want to do in this little article is give you an encouraging perspective of death. "How can anything be encouraging when it comes to death?" you are probably asking. Well, let me try and answer that for you.

Virtually every time that I have read that verse (dozens of times), it was to prove to someone that we do not have an immortal soul that lives on after death of the body, nor do we have consciousness as is taught in Christendom. But this past year I took another look at this verse and saw something else that I had never contemplated before.

Not only is there no consciousness in death, but there is no consciousness OF death either. This is the encouraging part.

"The living KNOW that they shall die, but the dead KNOW NOT ANYTHING."

Let’s think about that for a few moments and see if this is not quite encouraging.

"The living KNOW… the dead know NOTHING." The dead don’t know that they are dead. When you die, you will NOT KNOW THAT YOU ARE DEAD! But it gets better. Not only will you never know that you are dead at some point in the future, but from your perspective YOU NEVER EVEN LOST CONSCIOUSNESS. This to me was a marvelous revelation.

Once God creates consciousness in a human they will NEVER EVER know anything BUT CONSCIOUSNESS. From my perspective and from your perspective we will never "know" ANYTHING but life and feelings and emotions and consciousness. From our perspective we will never "know" what it is like to be dead. Oh we will probably die some day (assuming that the Lord doesn’t come first), but we will never know that we were dead; we will never know what it is to BE dead, or to BE unconscious. Others will know and sorrow (maybe?) that we are dead and gone, but from OUR perspective we will never lose conscious reality, and we will never "experience" being dead.

Now I didn’t say we would not experience "dying." Most (albeit not all) people who die, experience dying, but they do NOT experience death itself, nor will they ever. It is impossible for someone to experience the death state, seeing that where there is no consciousness, there is no experience, and therefore there is no memory of it. I will carry this one step further. Even if there was no such thing as a resurrection from the dead, the dead would never know that they died and would never know that they are dead.

This to me is an amazing thing. Once God created consciousness, cognizance, awareness, perception, sensation, emotions, and the like; we never ever loose it from OUR PERSPECTIVE, and after all, whose perspective counts the most when it comes to death—ours or someone else’s?

We may all go through the fear of dying or even the pain of dying, but there is no pain and no fear IN DEATH ITSELF. No one who is presently dead is aware of it, or experiencing it, or being frightened by it, or anything else.

DEATH IS SLEEP

I was tempted to make that caption: DEATH IS LIKE SLEEP, but that would be Scripturally inaccurate, as nowhere do the Scriptures state that death is "like" sleep, but rather that death IS SLEEP. God prepared Moses for death with the following:

"And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, you shall sleep [Heb: shakab—to lie down, to rest, to sleep, to decease] with your fathers…" (Deut. 31:16).

David said:

"Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death" (Psalm 13:3).

When Lazarus was dead (John 11:14), Jesus said:

"Our friend Lazarus sleeps: but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep" (John 11:11).

Do you fear when your children "sleep" at night? You know that they are safe in sleep. Even in sleep we have a slight awareness of life, especially when we are dreaming or falling in and out of sleep, but in death there is no consciousness nor sub-consciousness, and so you will never know that you are sleeping. You know that your children will awake in the morning. We all who died IN CHRIST, shall awake in the morning of resurrection. And when we do, we might remember dying, but we will not remember ever being dead.

On five different occasions I came very near to death. Three of the five times I was unconscious. For all practicality, I was dead. I remember what happened before and after being unconscious, but I remember nothing of BEING unconscious. Yet I knew that I was, but only after the fact by the evidence, not from my actual experience of having been under. The actual fact of death is no different from what I already experienced several times. And you have all experienced it already as well. We all sleep, and unless we have bad dreams, the experience of sleep itself is nothing fearful or painful.

Sleep is a way that God can set people aside for a little while as He works with our children and our children’s children. Centuries and millennia will pass for some, yet they will know no death, only consciousness. From our perspective we will never know anything but life and consciousness. Death won’t even be an illusion: it won’t be AT ALL. And that is because "The living know that they shall die, but the dead know not anything."

The Apostle Paul was familiar with this verse, seeing that he earnestly studied the Hebrew Scriptures. With relation to this concept that "…the dead know not anything," Paul made the following statements:

"For we know, That if the tent of our earthy dwelling be taken down, we have a building from God, a house not made by hands, aionian, in the heavens. For indeed to this we are groaning, earnestly desiring to be invested with that habitation of our which is from [not ‘in’] heaven: surely, having been invested, we shall not be found destitute.

For, indeed, those being in the tent are groaning, being oppressed; in which we desire not to be divested [naked], but invested [clothed], that the mortal may be absorbed by LIFE. Now He Who has produced this for this same thing is that God Who has given to us the pledge of the Spirit.

Therefore, being always confident, and knowing that being at home in the body [our body, in the flesh] we are from home [our real home, our immortal home], away from the Lord; for we are walking by Faith, not by sight [‘Blessed are they that have NOT seen, and yet have believed’ John 20:29] But we are confident, and well-pleased rather to be separated from the body, and TO BE [not instantly, but at a future time] at home [with our new spiritual bodies like Christ’s] with the Lord" (II Cor. 5:1-8, Emphatic Diaglott).

Yes, Paul knew that once he died the next waking moment would be in resurrection with a new body (I Cor. 15:49), and although it would happen in an instant (from this life to the next life without missing a heart beat), in the twinkling of an eye (less than a second), nonetheless, it would have to wait until "the LAST TRUMP’ (I Cor. 15:51). But to Paul from his perspective, it would only be but a moment in time, seeing that, "the living KNOW that they shall die, but the dead KNOW NOT ANYTHING."

"But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that SLEPT" (I Cor. 15:20).

Soon we too shall be like Him and see our Creator as He is:

"Beloved now are we the sons of God, but it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He shall appear, we shall BE LIKE HIM; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as HE is pure" (I John 3:2-3)

Make no mistake: death is an enemy, but it is "being ABOLISHED" (I Cor. 15:26) by the One who has already had victory over it. And although we will never experience being dead, we certainly experience the loss of our loved ones who have died, and they will experience loss when we die.

So take courage: If you are reading this little article then you are alive, and that is all you will EVER KNOW… LIFE!

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