Death can be effective as way to escape hell
Death is a dreaded phenomenon—the understanding of which is complicated by mythical cultures practiced without verification. Suicidal occurrences confirm knowledge deficiency among those involved. The Bible provides answers. Yet without valuing the Bible, confusion remains. Here is simplified analysis, for those desiring knowledge, than relying on speculation. Firstly, let us deal with the most frequently asked questions on this topic:
Question 1. We hear that a person who believes in Jesus goes to heaven, after death. But why did God resurrect Lazarus—taking him out of his blissful lifestyle in Heaven? (John 11:1-27).
Answer: Lazarus was not in Heaven after his death at that time. Nevertheless, even after having been physically resurrected, Lazarus eventually died and remains unconscious, up this far (Revelation 20:4). There is no record showing the resurrection of Lazarus. When announcing Lazarus’ death, Jesus said Lazarus had fallen asleep (John 11:11-16). A person having fallen asleep is not conscious of what happens around him.
The resurrection of Lazarus was temporary. The only person known to have been resurrected for eternity, after death is Jesus. The rest, dying after becoming Christians, are like people having fallen asleep. Their physical bodies remain dead, wherever they are buried, awaiting future resurrection at Christ’s second-coming (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). Resurrecting Lazarus from death was one of the miracles, designed to help unbelievers to appreciate that Jesus was the Christ.
Question 2. Jesus told one of the two thieves on the cross, that on that same day, the thief would be with Jesus in Paradise. Is it true that the thief was taken to Heaven, immediately after his death on that same day? (Luke 23:43).
Answer: After death, the spirit of Jesus, together with that of the referred thief were to be preserved in Paradise, that same day. At the point of His death Jesus declared: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46. While the body of Jesus was to be laid into His grave, His Spirit became committed to His Father in Heaven. This, basically happens to true Christian, including the referred thief, dying on the cross. The spirits of true Christians are preserved in Heaven, awaiting the promised resurrection at Christ’s second-coming.
The thief became unconscious of his existence—as still waiting for his resurrection. Like all believers, he will become conscious of the referred Paradise, only after his resurrection at Christ’s second-coming. Jesus could also not have been conscious of Paradise on that same day. His body was in the grave for three days and three nights (Matthew 12:38-40). But, as has been shown, His Spirit had already been committed in Heaven.
The physical body is not the actual being, who is spirit. But the functionality of that human spirit requires the physical body, to effectively operate. At their death, both the spirits of the thief and Jesus were committed to God in Heaven. But the thief awaits resurrection, to then become conscious of the promised Paradise. Only Jesus was later resurrected after three days and three nights and was observed by His disciples and others (Matthew 12:40).
Currently, Jesus is the only known human being, ever to have become conscious of Heavenly Paradise. Though resurrected physically, Jesus’ body changed from terrestrial to celestial, right at the point of His resurrection. But, like Lazarus, the referred thief escaped the damnable consequences of dying without Christ. Although the redeemed thief is yet to become conscious of the referred Paradise. (Revelation 20:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 & 1 Corinthians 15).
Question 3. What about the story of Lazarus and rich man? Is it not true that Lazarus was taken to Abraham’s side, after death, while the rich man was immediately associated with tormenting in Hades? What does all this mean to Christians? (Luke 16:19-30).
Answer: The poor Lazarus’ physical body perished in the grave. His real being—the spirit—was taken to Abraham’s side, where all saints are preserved. Like all deceased Christians, Lazarus will be resurrected at the last trump when all Saints get resurrected at Christ’s second-coming (Revelation 20:4). Lazarus is not currently conscious of what goes on in this life, as still in state of unconsciousness.
Lazarus’ death is different from that of the rich man, as Lazarus escaped death, which intrinsically, denotes separation from God (Genesis 2:16-17). Lazarus was redeemed, as qualified to be on Abraham’s side. The rich man finds himself tormenting in hell—also typified in physical existence without Christ. The torment, experienced by the rich man, indicates being in physical state. This takes place after one thousand years of Christ’s reign (Revelation 20:11-12).
Having physically died, the rich man is not consciously aware of what happens to his spirit after death. Life makes sense to humanity, only when associated with physical nature. The rich man’s conscious awareness of himself is only when in physical body (Revelation 20:5).
The rich man continues in state of unconsciousness, until after one thousand years of Christ’s rule, as long as not in physical body. “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.”(Ecclesiastes 9:5). The interesting question ought to be what happens to the spirit of an unbeliever, as different from what happens to true Christians? This is what this article covers in detail.
In his restored physical condition, after resurrection, the rich man is observed as tormenting in physical state of poverty—as desiring physical necessities. He would no longer be associated with the wealth that he accumulated up to the point of his death. He is not even conscious of how long it has been since his death. He is described as observing Lazarus in the comfort of Paradise, as opposed to his own torment in physical condition.
This parable does not reveal the exact period of existence of the two men, before their death. Except that they recognize each other at point of resurrection. For the rich man, the resurrection takes place after one thousand years of Christ’s reign (Revelation 20:5). As long as not connected with the physical body, the rich man’s spirit remains unconscious of what happens around him.
Question 4. Does a person experience rest, in dying?
Answer: Only true Christians experience rest after death. This is why Jesus declared: “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28) (ESV). Being spirit, humans do not necessarily perish at the demise of their physical bodies, as insinuated by Jesus: “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched” Mark 9:43-44) (KJV).
This fire is not necessarily the sulphuric fire denoting what takes place on the judgement day. This refers to the suffering and torment that an individual experiences due to ungodliness. It depicts the anguish experienced, due to sinfulness. Most people living in this world, experience it, one way or the other.
The spirits of those dying in sin, whose flesh perishes at death, lives on—awaiting final judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). For instance, a person who commits suicide, assuming to end his/her misery, is mistaken. He/she remains in misery, until able to confront and overcome his suicidal tendency. This is possible when taking advantage of Jesus—pursuing survival objectives—during physical existence.
Death is cessation of life, as consciously understood by those still living. However, death implies being cut off from the source—due to Adam’s sin at the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:17). As created in God’s image, man holds the attributes of not dying (Genesis 1:26-27). However, the story of Man, through Adam, is sustained in physical flesh—but susceptible to death:
“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17) (ESV).
Through Adam’s sin, humanity became the opposite of God’s likeness. But through Jesus—also representing the entire humanity—a convert can now revert to the original Godly image (1 Corinthians 15:45-47). As formed of the dust of the soil, Adam failed the test of becoming God’s image. The dust formation of Adam meant temporary existence in physical body.
In Adam’s loins, existed the entire humanity. In other words, Adam’s failure implied the entire humanity’s failure. The parental influence, since Adam, is strong, until one becomes willing to break it, as suggested by Jesus (Luke 14:26). Otherwise the person remains in perdition.
People are born to survive temporarily, only to die and be forgotten about. This was clearly described by Job: “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble. He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not” (Job 14:1-2) (ESV).
This is obvious, to those having lost their loved ones unexpectedly. No other adversary surpasses death, as tormenting humanity. A dead person has no share in what happens with those still living, as aptly put by Solomon:
“It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As the good one is, so is the sinner, and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath……But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:2-6) (ESV).
If humanity sought to meditatively analyse such Scriptures, and apply them, this world would be different. Even the Heads of State or Government, would be responsible—leading their subjects with humility. Job likens us to a flower that is here today, but withering, as to no longer exist, afterwards.
This is particularly true when noting the emphasis: “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.” This shows another approach that enables a person to appreciate the stupidity associated with vanity.
When alive we are conscious of possible death. But, death brings us back to the point before conception into our respective mothers’ wombs. Being conscious of our existence, is sustained within our physical nature. The actual person, in whom reality exists, is not physical, but spiritual.
When a person complains of his/her body being painful, he/she implies that the actual owner of the painful body is not the physical. That painful body’s, owner—though imprisoned physically—is spiritual. A deceased person’s body is owned by a spiritual person, having departed that body.
The privilege of being in the physical body, enables one to be conscious of being alive—thereby being able to make negative or positive decisions. Negative decisions imply obsession with anti-survival activities. While positive decisions imply preoccupation with issues of survival. See [The battle is lost or won in the mind]
The life of a human being is sustained in Godly image, which is spiritual. Adam’s failure, separated humanity from the source of existence. This is just as after uprooting a plant from the soil—being the source of its life—the plant withers.
The source of humanity is not the soil, as created in God’s own image. God, in whose image humans were created is Spiritual. Without God, a person is as good as dead, though physically alive. While death’s effect is discoursed in Genesis 3:8-24, within that passage, the redemption plan is also included (Genesis 3:15).
Adam, was to later languish towards his demise—confirming the reality of his death. From then on, Adam’s offspring was to similarly endure hard labour, towards eventual demise—but with a perfect promise. See [The Seventh Day Sabbath is a sign of God’s Kingdom].
Adam and Eve are dead—unable to know anything that we know today. However, the demise of Adam did not mean his termination, spiritually. While the body dies; the spirit—previously encased in physical body, lives on—being the essence of physical human existence. But that spirit—though being the real man, created in God’s image—remains ineffective, without the physical body.
Humanity ended their relationship with God after Adam had eaten the wrong fruit. While the body decays, the spirit—the real being—finds itself without sanctuary. The spirit of a dead person without God remains in hell or perdition. That spirit survives in very uncomfortable conditions, as unable to connect with the Creator.
With some cultures, such human spirits interfere in lives of their physical offspring—through ancestral worship. The deceased ancestors incarnate with the living—utilizing the bodies of those welcoming them. This is what is known as masvikiro in Shona or amadhlozi in Sindebele.
A spirit cannot operate without a physical body. The ancestral spirit of a deceased person enters into another living person’s body, when invited, or accepted. Thereby finding refuge—also advancing what the deceased person failed to accomplish during his/her life-time. But all this depends on the willingness of the living person involved; whether accepting the incarnation, or not.
The challenge faced by humanity is that death is unpredictable. However, humanity refuses to appreciate death, although having witnessed their loved ones dying? Death is a dreaded phenomenon, but there is nothing new about it, as the preacher puts it plainly:
“It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice” (Ecclesiastes 9:2a).
Those living today, know that they will die, at some point. But, generally, very few people can predict their death. The privileged ones to know when to die—can only be those sentenced to hang on specific days, for instance. But, even then, the unforeseen events could change that reality.
The testimony of President Mnangagwa is that he miraculously escaped hanging for political activism. I suppose—as he waited in cells—President Munagagwa anticipated his imminent death. Clearly, Jesus also knew His day of death and burial, including His resurrection (Matthew 12:38-40).
But, as for ordinary humanity, knowing or not knowing specific days of death is immaterial, as the effect of death remains the same. You may die after an accident, or die peacefully at old age, but the effect remains the same.
You may also die after a very long illness, as being aware of the imminence of your death. There are many people who die anticipating—taking time to communicate with their loved ones for the last time. Yet others die still expecting to accomplish the best of their goals and objectives.
But the common denominator is that once dead, no-one can do things intended to be accomplished in one’s life-time. Without connecting with one’s Creator, that person is in hell. Whether incarnating in other people’s lives, or being recycled into another conception, the person remains in hell. As long as unbelieving that Jesus is the Christ, a person is as good as dead.
The biggest challenge for most Christians is seeking to adopt Jesus’ truths via somebody else. This is what has made it almost extremely impossible for ordinary people to grasp Jesus’ teachings. The hard truths of Jesus, as taken from the four gospel books, cannot be readily acceptable, almost in the entire Christian world.
What happens when a person dies, is one of those tough questions of the Bible, as addressed in this dissertation. The illustration in Lazarus and rich man story is highly effective, in describing what happens after death (Luke 16:19-31).
What is most interesting about that rich man, is that he had become aware of having died. He also recognized Lazarus, having also died, like him. The rich man’s helpless condition should attract our focus. Why had he become unable to apply his ingenuity, to acquire wealth, as before death?
The answer lies in that the human ability is sustained only in the physical body. This is why it becomes impossible for a frail old man to do things he used to do when young—during his finite body lifespan.
Therefore, this should help us to appreciate that focussing on things physical, is clear stupidity, due to helplessness after death. A human being was created in God’s image—but is terribly unaware of that reality, due to self-centredness. The blinding factor is pride, which Solomon described as vanity.
The interesting thing about truth is that it is found in self. It is not necessary to even look elsewhere, when desiring truth—though not acceptable to self-centred people. While knowledge is also accessible from other people, it is the analytical prowess that enables a person to deduce truth from falsehood.
Wisdom implies the ability to deduce truth from falsehood, without influence from others, necessarily. What is fascinating about own discovery of truth, is conviction and confidence—derived from assessment ability to appreciate what is truthful. Like Jesus, the person becomes willing to die for what he/she knows to be truthful.
Without willingness to die for certainty, the person remains in falsehood. What makes our educational system questionable, is quoting other renowned Scholars—even those of yesteryear—to authenticate one’s conviction. This conduct is what qualifies most of our esteemed graduates. One cannot be accepted as a scholar, without quoting those previously renowned in similar field, for instance.
With pomp and fanfare, such people are graduated, yet lacking conviction in what they are graduated in. Their knowledge is based on other people’s discoveries. That person finds security, only in what other people approve of him, rather than his own intellectual conviction.
Most young people focus on acquiring certification, rather than abilities derived in confidence in their own abilities. Their educational achievements are validated by others, rather than own conviction. With certification, they may be handsomely rewarded in life. But without certainty—demanding willingness to die for what they believe to be true—such scholars are under delusion.
Having not experienced life in Jesus, the unbeliever continues in the cycle of experiencing life in hell. Whether in perdition, or in current physical flesh—the unbeliever’s lifestyle is roller-coaster. That person survives for what the preacher described as vanity (Ecclesiastes 2:18-26). Life can seem good, but life can still turn out to be bad for him/her.
A physically conceived person without Christ—enters into another different genealogical experience. This may mean being born in different continents—but still experiencing misery—as living without God. The spirit of that person becomes dejected, without the physical body. But still susceptible to misery even when encased in some other physical body.
Through birth, a child gets conceived through any parental genes. But that child remains a totally different individual—as compared with his/her currently adopted genealogical parentage. It is possible for a child of the newly adopted genealogical parents to adopt the trade, profession or interests of the adopted parents. But the reality of that child is that such parents are strangers.
His/her spiritual identity is different from the adopted behaviour of the genealogical parents. The lives of those parents may also be artificially practiced according to previously adopted genealogical patterns from elsewhere. This describes the misery of humanity in physical nature.
In other words, I may have lived my physical life as a white man in my previous life. Only to acquire a different race, at my next genealogical conception. That means becoming identified as black or Asian. In other words, a newly born baby is not necessarily appearing on earth, for the first time.
The child being born today, previously lived in different physical lives, as many times as can be imagined, since creation. His/her deliverance lies in going back to his/her original source. This is why Jesus instructed his disciples to call no man on earth their father (Matthew 23:9).
The person does not remember what happened in his previous lives, due to forgetting mechanism, inherent with humanity. He/she assumes having come on earth for the very first time, at birth. But not being aware of having lived other lives elsewhere, before current birth.
As long as not having learnt the futility of putting value in physical flesh, the person continues toiling, and suffering in this world, over and over again. However, the story becomes different when the person takes advantage of physical existence, using it to accept Christ.
An unconverted person may have previously enjoyed life—having been born by rich parents. But, as long as dying without knowing God, the person may next be conceived in poorest of families in Africa, for instance. Life in physical nature, is hell. The problem lies in lacking truth about personal identity.
The most important datum is that the real person—dying and being conceived over and over again, through multiple genealogies, is not physical. That person borrows genes from different parents, through conception. However, that person remains spiritual, whose origin is God.
He/she may unconsciously be influenced by circumstances of his/her previous lives. This is why at times good parents produce bad children—while bad parents produce good children. The person may also have previously been female, but being male, through new conception.
This explains the homosexual phenomenon that has baffled humanity, including Christians. A person having been female in previous life becomes confused, when wearing a male body in the next life. Hence the tendency for feminine behaviour when a person would be known as being male, or vice versa.
Physically, we are of our fathers who raised us up and did everything to support us, including sending us to school. But spiritually, we are alienated to those physical parents, though being unaware of that reality. However, being born into this physical life, whether out of rape or any other undignified circumstances, is still a greatest privilege for any person. Choices are made in physical life.
This is because the physical life gives opportunity to reflect on true identity—not possible, without the physical body. All humans are God’s children, lost in sinfulness. It is only in their physical lives that they can discover their true identity and mend their corrupted lifestyles.
Those obsessed with Law-keeping in Christianity, are known for dogmatism in marginalising the homosexuals, for instance. But that is out of ignorance of the background in the life of an individual being negatively evaluated. People condemn other fellow humans, supposing that to please God, yet the opposite is true. This is also why the Preacher declared:
“It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As the good one is, so is the sinner, and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath.” (Ecclesiastes 9:2) (ESV).
Jesus instructed His disciples not to judge anyone (Matthew 7:1-4) or to call anyone on earth their father (Matthew 23:9). The only Father of humanity is God, who is spiritually cognizant of each individual—not necessarily by race or some physical structure, but spiritually.
The individual may not know God, but God knows that individual, even in his lost and confused condition. A truly converted person can never condemn anyone, but empathises with those still in sin. As enlightened, that person fully appreciates the predicaments of those languishing in sin.
A free person is equipped with empathetic abilities. This is why the disciples were murdered, but not desiring to revenge, against those murderers. Those murderers did not understand the disciples, but the disciples understood them, from the disciples’ vantage point of freedom.
When pronouncing a curse on Adam, God declared: “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19) (ESV).
Some women hold bad feelings for being born female, when they may have preferred to be male, or vice versa. But throughout the period of a person’s time track, the person lived either sexes, as many times as can be imagined. It is unnecessary to boast about being male, or female.
The person created in God’s image is not identified by sex, necessarily (Matthew 22:30). That person is spirit, just as God, in whose image the person was created is Spirit. Interestingly, when a person says: “My body is painful,” that shows awareness of actual identity—as not represented in physical body.
To escape from hell in physical nature, a person needs discovering his/her true identify. This has become possible through the services of Jesus. This life ceases to be adorable, to those having obtained true identity in Christ—except when desiring to salvage others from sinfulness. The redeemed are not scared of death anymore.
They are like the Preacher, having realised that all is vanity, except fearing God and observing God’s commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, it has become possible for humanity to reconnect with their Creator. This is possible, only for those willing to move out of falsehood, when embracing truth from the actual source at all times (John 8:31-32).
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
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