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What Happens After You Die? Pt. 4

Woman 1: It's time now for Bible Talk. Join our hosts Gary Gibbs and John Bradshaw, speakers for the Amazing Facts Ministry, as they now open the Bible and discuss themes that affect your life today. Stay tuned because the next 15 minutes will deepen your understanding of God's word.

John Bradshaw: Hello friend and welcome to Bible Talk. I'm John Bradshaw. With me is Gary Gibbs. Gary lately we've been having some very interesting studies of the Bible about what happens to a person when they die. Now we know what is popularly believed in society today. But I want you to take us, just briefly, where we've been the last few visits we've have and review what we've studied here.

Gary Gibbs: John when I was a young boy, my father died when I was eight years old. Of course that broke my heart and I remember my mother comforting me with the thought that he was now in heaven. And that I could be happy that he was up in heaven.

Well that wasn't very comforting to me at the time. In fact it gave me nightmares because I kept dreaming that he was coming back to speak to me. As I grew older I realized the Bible didn't say that he was in heaven. The Bible says that he was sleeping in the grave awaiting the resurrection.

John: Now give me some, we don't have to take too much time here, but give me some Bible text, some verses, some Bible stories that reiterate the point that you just made. When I was a child, likewise I was told, dead straight to heaven. Now the unlucky ones went to hell but I never did go to too many funerals where the person in the box was preached into hell.

I guess we had a particularly homey church, everyone seemed to get preached into heaven in our church. But nevertheless, I was taught like you, where does the Bible nail us down that death is asleep.

Gary: More than 50 times the Bible says death is asleep. Psalm 13:3 talks about sleeping the sleep of death. Probably the most interesting story about death comes out of John 11 when Jesus was referring to Lazarus, a friend of his. He was very ill and then he died. And Jesus said "I need to go wake Lazarus up."

The disciple said "Well if he's sleeping then he's getting well."

John: Right.

Gary: But then Jesus said plainly, he said, "No Lazarus is dead" in John 11 Verse 14. So Jesus equated death with sleep.

John: You'll notice too in that story, and I know you've talked about this in earlier visits we've had, he talked to Lazarus and he said, "Lazarus come forth." He didn't say come down did he from heaven or come up from hell.

Gary: And Lazarus didn't come out with a whole bunch of glowing reports about what it was like in heaven. Lazarus didn't tell Jesus "Why did you do that with me? I was up in heaven signing and praising God and now you brought me back down to this sinful, dusty Earth."

John: Now is it true that the soul departs the body, goes to heaven, goes somewhere else? Where does the Bible kind of define this for us?

Gary: Genesis two Verse seven says that when God created man he combined two things the dust of the Earth with the breath of life. And that word breath there is the same word that's translated often as Spirit, as the light energizing force from God. When they united the Bible said in Genesis 2:7, John, "man became a living soul."

You know the heart started beating, blood started flowing, the lungs started filling with air. Man's thought processes began and so man became a living soul. A living soul is a person's thought processes. It's his character. It's who he is.

John: I'd hate for somebody to get all depressed about this because you're not trying to say are you that death is the end, death is no more.

Gary: Not at all. In fact that's what scares people. They say well, when you say death is asleep does that mean that's the end of everything. No it's a restful, peaceful sleep until the resurrection.

In fact I've got a favorite text on this topic. You find it in the book of Job. It asks the very question that we've been asking in this program. "But man dies and is laid away." Job 14 Verse 10 it says, "Indeed he breathes his last and where is he?" Isn't that the question?

John: Sure.

Gary: Where is he? Man breathes his last, where does he go? Verse 12 "So man lies down and does not rise til the heavens are no more. They will not awake or be roused from their sleep." Now John, when will the heavens be no more?

John: It sounds to me like that'll take place at the last trumpet.

Gary: That's right. Revelation Six talks about it as well. When the heavens depart and Peter talks about it. So it's at the last trumpet when Jesus comes. Verse 13 and Job 14 "Oh that you would hide me in the grave that you would conceal me until your wrath is past, that you would point me a set time and remember me."

So Job says he's going to be hidden in the grave until the wrath is past, the final judgment on planet Earth, on the living wicked. And that God would have a set time and remember him.

John: So what we're saying very equivocally I suppose is that human beings do not possess an immortal soul.

Gary: No we don't. In fact the Bible says in one Timothy Chapter One as well as Chapter Six that "Only God has immortality." He's the only one that has immortality and He gives it to us as a gift when we accept Jesus Christ. And it's held in reserve for us until the resurrection day.

John: Now Gary here's what I know. There are people listening to Bible Talk, have heard these last few programs. They've said, "This is fine. It sounds great. Death is asleep. I can live with that. I may even be happy to know it."

However, there's one story in the Bible that often acts in a way that just pulls the theological rug out from under people's feet on this subject and this is where Jesus speaks with the thief on the cross. I'm going to challenge you here. You've put yourself on the line saying what you said. What about the thief on the cross? Because Jesus said to him, "Thief today you will be with me in paradise." Now this is Good Friday they're on the cross, they're dying, if you like. And he says to him "Today."

So look at that passage with me, it's going to be found in Luke Chapter 23. What's the deal there?

Gary: Jesus is hanging on the cross, flanking him on either side are two thieves crucified at the same time He was crucified. One thief is an unbelieving thief. He's cursing Jesus. The other though as he looks at Jesus and sees Him dying, he recognizes the vanity in cross. And that sparks belief and faith in him. So in Luke 23:42, this thief says, "Lord remember me when you come into your Kingdom."

John: Right.

Gary: "Lord remember me."

John: Sure.

Gary: And Jesus responds in Verse 43.

John: We know what He says here.

Gary: "Assuredly I say to you today you will be with me in paradise."

John: Right. There it is then and so there are people everywhere are listening to you and saying "Well all what you've said has gone out the window because Jesus said this to him, 'Today you'll be with me in paradise.'"

Gary: Now, where is Paradise John?

John: Well, biblically, I believe that Paradise and Heaven are one and the same thing.

Gary: They are. Now, some people would try to make you believe that it's not heaven. That Paradise is kind of a mid-way point.

John: Oh sure, I've heard that. In fact, a lot of people have said to me that Paradise is where the Old Testament saints went until Jesus came and rose from the dead - or variations on that.

Gary: But that's not what the Bible says.

John: What does the Bible say?

Gary: The Bible says, in Revelation 2:7, that the Tree of Life is where Paradise is, listen to this, it says, "I will give you to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." That's Revelation 2:7. They compare that with Revelation 22:1-2, and it tells us where the Tree of Life is, says, "There he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. And in the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the Tree of Life." So the Tree of Life spans the River of Life, which proceeds from where? The throne of God.

John: That's heaven.

Gary: That's heaven. The throne of God is in heaven, and that's where Paradise is.

John: OK. So Jesus says to him, "You'll be with me in heaven", this doesn't get you off the hook, because he says, "Today you'll be with me in heaven." You've said the Bible says you're going to sleep, not go to heaven until the resurrection when Jesus comes.

Gary: OK. Now, let's see if Jesus went to heaven that day. You go over to John 20, this is John's version of the resurrection.

John: Alright.

Gary: John 20:17, and you have Martha there, she finds Jesus on resurrection morning in the garden.

John: OK, that's Martha?

Gary: Well it's Mary, excuse me, thank you. John 20, and we are looking there at about verse 17, and she falls at the feet of Jesus, and she's weeping with joy because she's found him alive, and He says to her, "Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to my Father."

John: OK. Now, what's the point of all of that?

Gary: This is Sunday morning.

John: Right.

Gary: Jesus died on Friday. On Friday He told the thief, "I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise." Did Jesus go to Paradise that day? Paradise, as we've already looked at in revelation, is where the throne of God is. Who sits on the throne of God?

John: Yeah OK, and Jesus says in John, "Touch me not for I have..." what?

Gary: "... not yet ascended to my Father."

John: So OK. If this is consistent, is the Bible wrong? Because Jesus said to the thief on Friday, "Today you'll be with me in Paradise, " He says to Mary on Sunday morning, "Today..." Sunday, "I haven't been to Paradise yet..." now you've got to help us get out of this jam.

Gary: Well, it's how you punctuate the text. You have to remember, in the original text, there were no punctuation marks, no chapter divisions, no verse divisions even. And so people came later and they started adding it. In fact they added punctuation - what was it? - in the Middle Ages some time wasn't it, 13th 14th century?

John: That's correct.

Gary: And so they had to decide where to put the commas. Here, they punctuate it so that it sounds like He's telling them - the thief - that he's going to Paradise with Him that day. But when you compare the other text over in John, you see clearly Jesus didn't go to Paradise. So, what does it say? I'd like to propose this punctuation, because you have to remember, punctuation is not inspired.

John: Yeah, I'm going to talk to you about this and say, how can you go moving the dots and dits and commas and so forth? Do we have license to do that?

Gary: Only as the Bible explains itself. And so, when you go to John 20 and see Jesus didn't go to Paradise that day, then obviously somebody in the Middle Ages didn't punctuate that properly. In fact, I can show you a text over in Acts where it talks about the sick handkerchiefs that Paul was taking to those who were ill, and the punctuation is improper there because handkerchiefs weren't sick - he was taking handkerchiefs to sick people.

John: OK.

Gary: So, here is how it would properly read, "Verily, verily I say to you today. You will be with me in Paradise." In other words, "Today, while I'm hanging on the cross, while I'm dying here, it looks like I am the loser. I am really the victor, and you will be with me Paradise."

John: And at the same time, too, He's giving that thief assurance. He's able to say to the thief, as He says to sinners everywhere, as you come to me I can give you assurance right now, that through me you will be in Paradise.

Gary: John, this is what the thief wanted. That's why he asks the Lord, "Remember me, when you come into your kingdom." He didn't say, "Take me into your kingdom today, " he said, "Remember me when you come into your kingdom."

John: Now, is there a difference?

Gary: Certainly, when does Jesus come into His kingdom? And when does he take us into his kingdom?

John: Well, you tell me. What does the Bible say there?

Gary: The Bible says that when we receive the kingdom, we'll be at the Second Coming. It says that in the book of Revelation. Revelation chapter, what is it, 21.

John: And something else, when you think about this. What about the Lord's prayer? Think of what the thief said, "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom." How does the Lord's prayer start, "Our Father which art in Heaven, hallowed by thy name..."

Gary: "Thy kingdom come..."

John: So we are still praying for that day to come.

Gary: [rhetorically] It isn't here yet is it?

John: And the thief on the cross knew that. He looked forward and said, "Remember me when you come in your kingdom."

Gary: That's right.

John: Well, it's pretty clear, Jesus spoke to that man and didn't tell him that he was going to go to heaven with him that day, but he did give him assurance right then, that as a sinner he could have hope through Jesus. Friends, that's what we have. Let us continue to study this tremendous subject. Next time, we'll talk about the rich man and Lazarus right here. Join us, don't miss it, on "Bible Talk."

[conclusion music]

Recording: If you'd like more information on what we've been studying today, we have a comprehensive Bible Study Guide we'd love to share with you that's absolutely free. This study includes many of the texts we've just discussed, and expands on the subject including information you'll want to know.

To receive this free informative Bible Study Guide, simply call, write, or email and ask for "BT110: Are the dead really dead?" The toll-free number is 866-BIBLE-SAYS, that's 866-242-5372. You can write to us at Bible Talk, P.O. Box 1058, Roseville, California 95678. Or email us at bibletalk@amazingfacts.org. "Bible Talk" has been produced in association with "Amazing Facts" in the studios of Lifetalk Radio.

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