Unto Whom Much Is Given
Vol: 20 Issue: 14 Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Christianity, in the sense of a philosophy, is fraught with seemingly contradictory notions, as seen from the perspective of this world. For example, one attains victory over sin by surrender to Jesus.
Christian philosophy teaches that human weakness demonstrates Christ’s strength. Victory by surrender and strength through weakness are not commonly practiced strategies.
It is our nature to attain victory by overcoming the opposition and develop strength by force. The carnal existence is driven, at its most base level, by the two prime motivators; the acquisition of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.
In most human pursuit, the objective is to win and the prize is to live.
Paul writes to the Philippians;
“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (1:21)
Of all the seemingly contradictory thoughts within Christian philosophy, it is this one that most of us have the hardest time with. And it completely baffles the world.
“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” (Revelation 14:13)
The New Testament begins with Jesus pronouncing God’s blessing on the living in the Beatitudes. It concludes with this beatitude for “those who die in the Lord.”
God says that death is an enemy, the product of sin, but that for those who know Christ, it is not the end, but rather it is the beginning. Here is another seemingly contradictory analogy. When a baby is born, it is both the end of a pregnancy and the start of a new life. For a Christian, death is like that.
The Bible says that when we die, we are immediately received into the Presence of God. It doesn’t happen at some time in the future, or at a faraway place or a faraway time. Your soul, (your mind, will and emotions, the ‘ghost in the machine’ that makes you You) does not cease when the body does.
Your soul is primarily shaped by the events of your lifetime. You are, to a large degree, the product of your experiences. That is how we are designed – the Bible equates age with wisdom because there is no teacher like one’s own experiences.
But it isn’t your soul that has experiences, it is the body. Think of a person born deaf, blind and dumb and stuck in an iron lung, devoid of human contact. It’s a horrible thought – unimaginably horrible, really. To be stuck like that, a mind without a body, without sight, sound, touch . . . brrrrr!
The experiences of the body provide the majority of the input that makes you You, but the body is not You. It is your possession, not your essence. Your body is the gateway to the soul through which we receive input via the five senses of touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing.
The seeming contradictions between the carnal understandings of Christian philosophy like victory and death are the consequence of the Christian’s ‘sixth sense’ as expressed by the Apostle Paul.
“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)
The carnal mind has but the five senses of input. The sixth sense is spiritual; to be spiritual minded is to be able to ‘see’ via your spirit, which was ‘quickened’ or made alive, by the indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit.
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” (Romans 8:16)
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1st Corinthians 2:14)
Do you see? It is more than simply the fact that salvation and the things of God seem foolish to the unsaved. It is that the spirit is stillborn, like the horrifying example of the active mind trapped in a useless body devoid of sensory input.
Saved or lost, that part of you that makes you You is immortal. When the gateway through the body closes at physical death, your soul now gets its input via the spirit. We receive spiritual insights now; our souls hunger for spiritual input now; but we also have the five carnal senses now.
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1st Corinthians 13:12)
When the body’s sensory gates are closed at death, that glass is no longer clouded. If one’s spirit is alive, that is. If one’s spirit has not been quickened, the carnal sensory input stops.
That is the first death. One’s soul is in hell, trapped in a dead spirit, much as one might imagine being trapped in a dead body. Like being buried alive.
At the Great White Throne, the souls of the dead without Christ are assembled for final judgment and the resurrection of the dead.
“And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” (Revelation 20:13)
Those souls are now equipped once more with bodily, carnal sensory input capabilities. Now that they are reunited, body and soul . . .
“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” (Revelation 20:14)
In truth, death is all about appearances. We see the grave and we sorrow, we mourn, we grieve – but God sees it from the perspective of eternity to come. God grieves for us in our ignorance, telling us that;
“. . .Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” (1st Corinthians 2:9)
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” (Romans 8:18-19)
When we die, we don’t ‘wake up’ on the ‘other side’ so much as we merely switch glasses. Both science and the Bible agree that there is both a visible and invisible existence. Quantum physics demands the existence of additional dimensions beyond the three dimensions we now occupy.
“For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” (Romans 1:20)
The invisible things of Him are as real as the three-dimensional creation that we currently occupy. What is the evidence for the invisible? Oftentimes I’ll hear somebody use ‘air’ as an example of something that is invisible but yet exists.
That’s not entirely satisfactory. I can spray a colored substance and ‘see’ air. I can ‘see’ air through refracted light. Air has substance. Air is real.
But even more real than air is Me. “I think therefore I am.” There is nothing more real to me than Me, and everything about me that makes me Me is more invisible than air.
My soul has no mass. It cannot be detected by weight. It has no substance or shape or dimensions. But it is as real as . . well, it is as real as I am. And everybody has a soul. The invisible is very, very real.
Death is real. But it is real only in the sense that a pregnancy is real. The goal of the pregnancy is for it to end with the beginning a newer, richer existence.
Knowing all this information is empowering. But there is nothing in this world that comes without cost, and the price of this empowering and comforting knowledge is high, indeed.
I know what will happen when I die – at least, in know in part. Right now, I see through a glass, darkly. I know I will see my loved ones again. And like Job, I know it will be in my flesh, and not another’s. I will see my Savior in my flesh, with mine own eyes, and not another’s. (Job 19:25-27)
That’s the comforting and empowering part of this knowledge. But I also know what awaits those who enter eternity with their spiritual eyes closed. That’s the price tag that comes with it.
It is why we should “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1st Peter 3:15)
“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: (Luke 12:48)
The Letter was written by Jack Kinsella September 18, 2009