Why Is The Consequence So Severe
The penalty is severe for two primary reasons. However, it must be understood that the ultimate consequence of any sin is death . Therefore, the word severe is relative to lesser civil punishments in Old Testament Israel.
The first reason the penalty for mediums was severe is that it acts as a deterrent to people considering the practice or seeking out those who do.
While the Old Testament lists the death penalty for certain behaviors, it doesnt always include examples or illustrations of someone actually receiving the penalty. This leads some scholars to conclude that the death penalty wasnt commonly practiced in ancient Israel.
The second reason the penalty for mediums was severe was because of the nature of the offense. Today, especially in the Western world, mediums and necromancers, as well as ghosts, evil spirits, demons, and other non-material entities, are used for entertainment purposes in movies and books.
This can desensitize people to the real nature of such practices in the same way that thinking of Satan as a cartoonish, small person in a red costume with small horns and a toy pitchfork doesnt do justice to the real thing.
The Bible teaches that when a person dies, they face judgment . The spirits of the deceased do not float around in a non-material realm, waiting for someone like a medium to say the right incantation or formula so they can communicate with the living.
The Truth About Life After Death Provides Hope And Comfort
While it may be comforting to those coping with the death of loved ones to think of them as looking down from heaven, this belief is not supported by the Bible. Instead, Gods Word comforts us with the fact that God will raise them to life again, and all will have a chance to become children of God, who will live happy, productive and abundant lives forever!
In the meantime, there is no suffering in the grave. The dead have no thoughts or consciousness and are unaware of the passage of time. They are sleeping in their graves.
But God promises they will live again! When the dead are resurrected, it will be as though they have awakened from a deep sleep.
Paul likened the perception of the dead from the time they die to the time they are resurrected as like a moment, in the twinkling of an eye . That means that the time between death and resurrection is like a split second to the personthe blink of an eye.
When the dead are resurrected, it will feel like their death occurred a moment agoeven though their death could have occurred hundreds of years before!
We can take great comfort in knowing that when they awaken, they will rise in a much different world, a world that Jesus Christ and the resurrected saints will have been ruling.
So, to summarize, do we go to heaven when we die?
The Bible answers this question very clearly: No. Only Jesus Christ has gone to heaven. Human beings dont go to heaven or hell at death.
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What Does The Bible Say About The Dead
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt .
The Bible speaks about death as sleep, and this is because the dead will actually be awakened at the end of time, some, as it is written, to everlasting life, others to everlasting contempt.
Behold, I shew you a mystery We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed .
Jesus Compared Death To Sleep
One of Jesus miracles recorded in the Bible was the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead . He had been dead for four days and Jesus said, Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up. His disciples said, Lord if he sleeps he will get well. However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep .
The Bible speaks of death comparing it to sleep more than fifty times. It is compared to us not being conscious during that phase and not being aware of what is going on around us.
The Bible says, for the living know that they will die but the dead know nothing their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished .
After Lazarus awoke, he didnt say anything about what he saw or experienced. He didnt have anything to tell, except that once he was dead, and now he is alive. He hadnt gone to heaven or hell but was simply sleeping in his tomb.
But at the resurrection, God reunites the body and His life-giving spiritand the person lives again.
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Bible Verses On The Future Resurrection Of The Dead
Here are other Bible verses that reiterate the truth that the dead will be resurrected at a future time. These can provide comfort when we are dealing with the death of a loved one.
- Jesus Christ speaking: This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And 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 .
- Jesus Christ speaking: Do not marvel at this for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forththose who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation .
- The apostle Paul writing: Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changedin a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed .
- Samuels mother, Hannah, in one of her prayers: The LORD kills and makes alive He brings down to the grave and brings up .
- Isaiah prophesying: Your dead shall live together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust for your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead .
And later there will be another resurrection of those who in their lifetime had not been called to be followers of Jesus Christ.
Sauls Attempt To Speak To Samuel Who Was Dead
An example of someone who tried to speak to the dead is found in 1 Samuel 28. The prophet Samuel had died and King Saul learned that the Philistines were gathered together to go to war against Israel. Saul feared greatly when he saw their army, so he prayed to God for advice, but God did not answer.
Saul became desperate and told his servants to find a woman with a familiar spirit. Once a woman was found, Saul disguised himself and went to her at night. He asked her to call upon the spirit to bring up someone. She refused out of fear of what would happen to her if she did it, but Saul swore upon the Lords name she would not be harmed.
The woman asked who he wanted her to call up and Saul told her Samuel. Immediately she had a terrifying vision. Saul asked her what she had seen and she said she had seen gods coming out of the earth and an old man covered with a head covering. Saul perceived it was Samuel and he bowed down to the ground. Then the old man, whom Saul could not see, chastised him for disturbing him. Despite this, Saul asked him what to do about the Philistines.
The old man said that God departed from Saul and was His enemy because he had not obeyed the Lord. He added that Saul and his sons, would be captured by the Philistines. When Saul heard this, he was consumed by fear and fainted. Later we learn that Saul was captured and he and his sons were killed.
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Knowing The Truth About Death Is Beneficial
15. Why is it comforting to know the truth about death?
15 What the Bible teaches about the condition of the dead is comforting. As we have seen, the dead do not suffer pain or heartache. There is no reason to be afraid of them, for they cannot harm us. They do not need our help, and they cannot help us. We cannot speak with them, and they cannot speak with us. Many religious leaders falsely claim that they can help those who have died, and people who believe such leaders give them money. But knowing the truth protects us from being deceived by those who teach such lies.
16. Who has influenced the teachings of many religions, and in what way?
16 Does your religion agree with what the Bible teaches about the dead? Most do not. Why? Because their teachings have been influenced by Satan. He uses false religion to get people to believe that after their body dies, they will continue to live in the spirit realm. This is a lie that Satan combines with other lies to turn people away from Jehovah God. How so?
17. Why does the teaching of eternal torment dishonor Jehovah?
18. Worship of the dead is based on what religious lie?
19. Knowing the truth about death helps us to understand what other Bible teaching?
20. What question will we consider in the next chapter?
To Dust You Will Return
God explained what happens when we die when he spoke to the first man, Adam. Because Adam was disobedient, God said to him: Dust you are and to dust you will return. Before God created Adam out of dust from the ground, Adam did not exist. Likewise, when Adam died, he returned to dust and ceased to exist.
The same thing happens to those who die now. Speaking of both humans and animals, the Bible says: They have all come to be from the dust, and they are all returning to the dust.Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20.
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What Does The Bible Say About Having To Be Baptized
When the centurion asked Peter What must I do to be saved? the reply was Repent and be baptized, you and your entire house.
And Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38, ESV
So does that mean you have to be baptized in order to be saved?
Christ promised salvation to a thief on the cross who had no opportunity to be baptized. So what did Peter mean in the quote above?
What he meant is that baptism comes after salvation, and a saved person will get baptized as an expression of his faith and trust in God.
Baptism is faith in action.
Baptism doesnt save a person. Believing and trusting in God leads to salvation.
Which leads us back to baptizing of the dead.
If somebodys dead, how are they going to believe? How will they have faith to trust the Living God if theyre already dead?
Then how about what the Bible says about judgment?
It is appointed for men once to die, and after this the judgment
After we die, the decision to follow or not follow Christ has already been made. Either you did or you didnt.
Then comes the judgment.
Thats it. So the time to make that decision is here. And now.
There are no more salvation decisions to be made after death.
Then lets also think of it this way
What Happens To Your Soul When You Die
Many Christians think of the soul as an immortal entity within us that goes on living after death. What does the Bible say? Describing the creation of human beings in the beginning, the Bible says, And 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 . Other Bible translations say, . . . and man became a living being . God did not put a soul into man. He formed the body from the dust of the ground, and then He breathed His life-giving spirit into the lifeless bodyand the result was a soul, or a living being. When a person dies, the reverse takes place. The breath of life departs from the body, and the soul no longer exists. Thats what the Bible says. The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it . At the resurrection, God reunites the body and His life-giving spiritand the person lives again.
If souls existed as separate entities that lived on after we died, that would mean we have immortality. However, the Bible says human beings do not have immortality. Only God is immortal . Paul says that the righteous seek for glory, honor, and immortality . If we had immortal souls, why would the righteous seek after something they already have?
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Can You Explain The Rapture
The Christian New Testament refers to the second coming of Jesus in a passage from 1 Thessalonians chapter 4: For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangels call and with the sound of Gods trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air and so we will be with the Lord for ever.
Here, the Bible is talking about what will happen at the end of time when Jesus returns, on the day thats traditionally known as the Last Judgment. This passage has been taken very literally by some groups, who argue that the dead will rise up and walk around, and those Christians who are being saved, will be physically lifted up into the sky, while everyone else will be subjected to eternal punishment and destruction.
Cremation Or Burialhow To Decide
When deciding how to dispose of a dead body, consider the following factors.
Local customs. These often have a bearing on how dead bodies are treated. For instance, in Bible times, people customarily buried the dead. Likewise today, a person may choose to deal with the remains of the deceased according to local customs as long as such customs do not conflict with Bible principles.
Legal requirements. The Bible encourages obedience to secular authorities. In some areas, the authorities enact laws about the treatment of dead bodies. For instance, in the case of cremation, some authorities place restrictions on where the ashes may be disposed of.
The feelings of others. The Scriptures encourage us to look out for the interests of others. When deciding how to deal with a dead persons remains, we might consider these questions: How do other family members feel about cremation or burial of the deceased? How does the local community view such customs?
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God Has Power Over Death
Over the course of Jesus ministry, He impacted many lives and made a number of close friends. Of these friends were Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazarus. They lived in the town of Bethany, just outside Jerusalem.
One day, Lazarus got sick. Mary and Martha immediately sent word to Jesus, knowing he could help. But instead of coming right away, as soon as He received the message, Jesus chose to remain where he was for two more days. The disciples were concerned, but Jesus told them:
Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.
Then His disciples said, Lord, if he sleeps he will get well. However, Jesus was actually talking about his death. But they thought He was speaking about resting in sleep.
Then Jesus said to them plainly,
Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him .
When Jesus and His disciples got to Bethany, Martha was the first to meet them. She ran to Jesus, crying, saying that if He had been there, Lazarus wouldnt have died. It was then that Jesus said some of the most comforting words found in the Bible.
Jesus said to her,
Your brother will rise again.
Martha said to him, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.
Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die .
Satan And Demons Are Deceivers
Satan and demons trick people for the purpose of keeping them from God and hiding the truth. Their nature is to fool people into believing what is false, as the following verses make clear:
- 2 Corinthians 11:14, And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
- John 8:44, You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your fathers desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
- 1 Timothy 4:1, Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.
Are mediums interacting with demons without knowing it? Many scholars believe they are. Another possibility that scholars suggest is that mediums are manifesting extreme psychological abnormalities that make them and others think their practices are legitimate.
Yet another possibility is that some mediums are simply fraudsters who are driven by greed, since the practice can be lucrative.
What should people who have sought out mediums do instead? First, they should repent and ask God for forgiveness that he freely gives through Jesus Christ. Second, they should seek God through reading Scripture, prayer that is biblically-based, and involvement in a Bible-believing, Christ-centered church.
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