Minutes After Death
You Are SAVED)
[Return to the Sermon Index]
mss is transcribed from a tape of a sermon delivered at the Rogersville Church
of Christ in April 2001]
back there was a sermon going around entitled, "Five Minutes After
Death." Various preachers had lessons on this theme. And it is a very
interesting topic because all of us are concerned about death and what awaits us
afterwards. I want to
give this lesson today with this purpose, and we will try to emphasize it again
as we come to the close of the lesson, to help us to understand the great
victory we have in Christ. One of the great blessings we have in Christ is that
we don't have to fear death.
our Lord came he came to destroy him who had the power of death; the one who was
holding death in his clutches. Today that power belongs to Jesus and that there
are great blessings to his people today.
are some fascinating stories about death and near death experiences. And to be
honest with you, I don't know how understand or how to explain some of them.
Because we certainly believe, as the scriptures teach, that the Christian is
made up of an outer man and an inner man. The scriptures sometimes speak of him,
as in 2 Corinthians 4:16 "For which cause we faint not; but though our
outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." KJV
And Ephesians 3:16 "That he would grant you, according to the riches
of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner
definitely the scriptures speak of us being a two-fold being. The outer person
that everyone can see, and the inner spirit that dwells within this body.
And we understand that death is the time when the spirit leaves the body.
also there are passages that speak of man as being triune. Not just a dual
being, but triune spirit,
soul, and body. Such as when Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in the verse 23 of
chapter five, 1 Thessalonians 5:23 "And
the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and
soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus
In that book to the Thessalonians Paul wrote about the Lord coming back
and the resurrection that would take place at that time, but Paul wrote to them
saying. "that may you be living, 'spirit and soul and body' until you see
that day when Christ does comes back." You see, Paul didn't know just when
that day was going to be.
when we speak of man as being triune, the scripture is talking about the 1)
body, 2) about breath or that part of the body that give its physical
life, and 3) then the spirit that dwells within the man.
Remember back in Genesis 2 when the Lord formed man; the body he
fashioned and formed out of the dust of the ground. And then Genesis 2:7 says
that God breathed into the nostrils the breath of life. That is, God then gave
physical life to this form that he had created and that life became a living
soul. So at that time, physical life came to that being and he also became a
spiritual being. God is spoken of as the father of our spirits and as
the one who retrieves the spirit after we pass from this world.
it is very interesting, because I believe that certainly we have the inner man
and the outer man and sometimes you will read of those who have had experiences,
and I don't know how to take it except to take their word. And they say they had
an experience where the spirit left the body and they could look down on their
body, or on the hospital scene and everyone gathered there, or something like
that. And they could tell you
about the things that were happening all around, and I don't know how to explain
that. But I do believe that
when the body comes to the point where it can no longer sustain this physical
part of life, the breath part of life, that the spirit can no longer dwell
within the body and the spirit returns to God who gave it [Eccl. 12:7].
what is going to happen "Five minutes after we die?" Well, I don't
know how long it may take, I don't know how long the spirit may dwell around.
But we are talking about what does happen after we die.
There is a very interesting story that Jesus tells in Luke 16.
Beginning in verse 19 he tells the story, or the parable, of Lazarus and
the rich man. We are not told that this is a parable.
It may well have been a true incident that our Lord knew about. If it is
a parable, it stands distinguished from all other parables in that the Lord uses
a proper name. But his point
about parables, a parable is always true to life.
A parable is not like a fable. But a parable is something true to life.
If it was a parable it was a true-to-life experience.
told about a poor beggar by the name of Lazarus who was sitting at the gate of a
rich man. And he was sitting there
daily, he was not cared for, the rich man didn't have any special pity on him at
all. And the scripture says that
Lazarus died, and that the angels carried him away to the bosom of Abraham. Now
I think there may be another passage with a reference like that but here we get
the impression, or the idea, that perhaps when we die the angels of God will be
there to escort us on our journey as we return to God. That is a very comforting
thought. It is interesting to note that when the rich man died in that story
that nothing is said about angels or anyone else escorting him. The Bible just
simply says that he died. And then in torment he lifted up his eyes in Hades.
have been several movies produced in the last few years about death and the
afterlife. You may recall that in the movie "Ghost" when the wicked
character died, there were the demons that appeared to escort or drag his spirit
away. I don't know if that might happen or not. Since Lazarus was escorted by
the angels, perhaps Satan's demons will be there to escort the wicked, those
that are his into his realm; it just may be, but I don't immediately think of a
passage that would indicate that. In that particularly movie there were the
flashing star-lights, angelic beings I suppose, that appeared to escort the
righteous to heaven. There were many things of course about that movie that are
a movie also called "City of Angels" that came out recently.
It is based upon an erroneous biblical concept. Jude tells us that some
angels left their first estate, and went to another realm that God had not
assigned them. And there are some who understand that Genesis 6 in
speaking of the "sons of God" who took to themselves
"daughters of men" is referring to angels as "sons of God"
and they interpret that the angels left their heavenly habitation, their
celestial estate, and came to earth and took up marriage with women of this
world, and that this was the "fall" of angels.
That particular movie is based upon that assumption. Another very popular movie today is called
"The Sixth Sense," and
while it may be an entertaining movie I don't know of anything that is
scriptural at all about it when it talks about the afterlife.
we want to talk about what the Bible has to say about the after life and not
follow the misconceptions in the entertainment world.
So we see so far, that there is this abode of the dead.
It is referred to as the hadean world, or in the Old Testament as sheol.
And in the parable, or the story that Jesus told, he pointed out that there was
a great gulf between the place where Lazarus was and on the other side where the
rich man was in torment. And
the rich man was crying, oh if Lazarus could only dip his finger in water and
come and put a drop on my tongue but
the Lord said that is not possible. There is the great gulf fixed between the
also read in Acts 2:27 of a prophecy made about the Messiah, the son of God who
would come. The prophet said Acts 2:27 "Because thou wilt not leave my soul
in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption."
KJV And then on down
in verse 31, Acts 2:31 "He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of
Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see
corruption." 32 "This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are
You notice that the KJV uses this term "hell." and it indicates
that when Jesus died he went to hell and then that three days later he was
term here for hell however is the term "hades" and many of your modern
translations will read that he went to "hades."
The Greek term "hades" is equivalent to the O.T. term
"sheol" which means the grave of the soul, or of the spirits of men.
When Jesus was resurrected he indicated to Mary Magdalene who was trying to hold
on to him, "I have not yet ascended to my father," but he had been
dead for three days. The question is, where was Jesus during that three days?
The scripture says he was in hades, but he was not where the father was.
Yet he had said to the thief on the cross, "Today thou shalt be with me in
Jesus had gone to hades, or to paradise, and it was a place where the Father was
not. He had not yet ascended
to the Father. And so we have this picture, that as sinners and saints pass over
into death there was a placed called paradise, or Abraham's bosom where the
righteous were comforted, and a place of torment, that is also called "Tartarus" in 2 Peter 2:4,
where the wicked were consigned. Those angels we mentioned that had sinned,
Peter said of them that "God spared not those angels that sinned but cast
them down to hell [tartarus] and delivered them unto chains of darkness to be
reserved unto the judgment."
So there was a place of torment, a place of darkness, where evil angels
and wicked men were held in reservation for the judgment.
then, we noticed that our Lord went to the hadean world. He also said that he
came for the express purpose of destroying him who had the power of death. In
Hebrews 2 there is a great passage to notice. Hebrews 2:14 "Forasmuch then
as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took
part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of
death, that is, the devil' 15 And
deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to
Now one of the reasons why Jesus did not take on the form of an angel is
expressed here in this chapter, because he was going to die, and men die. And
men, since Satan's appearance to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, had been
dying and living in fear of death, and subject to the bondage that death
brought, where man was held in bondage in that hadean world.
But the Scripture says that Jesus came to destroy that, to change the
picture, to be victorious. We know that Jesus ascended from the grave
victorious. He took dominion over principalities and powers. We also know that
when Jesus entered into that hadean world, that he came out with the keys of
hades itself, Rev. 1:18. And
so Jesus took that power, that control, that authority over the hadean world
away from Satan.
let's notice a passage from the O.T. In Isaiah 53 we have the wonderful passage
that speaks of Christ as the suffering servant. It speaks of him coming to die,
being bruised for our iniquities, chastised for out sins, oppressed and
afflicted, verse 7. And yet
he opened not his mouth. In verse 9 his
grave was assigned with wicked men, he was with the rich in his death. We know
how that Jesus was crucified between thieves, criminals, poor men. Yet we know
how he was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Armathea. So Jesus was associated
with the rich and the poor in his death.
in verse 12, as prophet continued to speak of the Lord and his death, God says,
Isaiah 53:12 "Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he
shall divide the spoil ["booty"
NASV] with the strong; because he
hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors;
and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."
KJV If you recall
earlier when Jesus was accused of healing and performing miracles by the power
of Beelzebub he said to his challengers, "How could this be, first of all a
man would have to enter into the house of the strong man and bind him."
And of course, this is just exactly what Jesus did.
He entered into the house of the strongman Satan and God said in Isaiah
53:12 that he divided the spoil, or the booty with him. Satan has those that
belong to him, the wicked. And Jesus has those that have been redeemed and
atoned; those that are righteous
with God. Those saints of the Old Testament time. And up until the time our Lord
entered into that hadean world.
then also Ephesians chapter 4 speaks of Jesus' death and entrance into the
grave. In this particular passage it is speaking of him coming down from heaven
to earth, to the mission that God had given him to do, and descending down into
the depths of the earth, that would be into that hadean world. It reads in
Ephesians 4:8-9 "Therefore it
says, "When He ascended on high [ascending back to heave then ] , He led
captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men."
9 (Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except
that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?)" NASB
These gifts that the Lord gave when he got back to heaven are those
spiritual gifts that he mentions on in verse 11. "Some to be apostles, some
to be prophets, some to be evangelists and pastors."
now Paul parenthetically stops, and
in verse 9 and 10, he explains
about Jesus coming here to earth and ascending back to the Father. And so, in
parenthesis, if you have it, "(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he
also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is
the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all
8 said that when Jesus ascended upon high he led captivity captive. Those that
had been held in that hadean world, the righteous, that he took back with him to
heaven. And we are going to show you other passages that you have got to
what we are saying then is that with Jesus' great victory over the grave, those
righteous who had been in that hadean world,
after the Lord's death they accompanied him back to heaven and became a
part of that world where Jesus is today himself.
regard to Jesus' victory over the grave and his opening up the gates of death
and hades, there are some things about it that we don't understand. There is a
passage in Matthew 27 that I just don't understand. Vs. 51-53 reads,
"And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top
to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent [that's talking about
the time when Jesus died, and the great effect of his death upon the physical
universe, but there was an even greater effect upon the spiritual side of the
universe]; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which
slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into
the holy city, and appeared unto many." KJV
Now to be honest with you, I don't know what all that involved, or means.
I would kind of like to think that what it is saying, is that after Jesus'
resurrection, notice that they did not come forth until after He did, he led the
way; that many of these ascended to the holy city and I would like to think of
that holy city as being heaven. But that just doesn't seem to be the tone of it.
It seems that when he opened the gates of that hadean world that some of
those saints, whose bodies were perhaps still capable of sustaining life in some
way, came back to life and were seen in Jerusalem. I'm sure to die again, if
they remained visible very long. Perhaps they went on with him to heaven. I
admit I don't understand it. There are many things that we don't understand, but
this is something to notice and to observe, because the inspired writers have
put it there.
BE WITH CHRIST
let's look at what Paul has said in writing to the Philippians, Paul is in
prison at Rome, he doesn't know whether there is going to be a sentence of death
upon him, or whether he is going to live. And he says in verse 23, "But I
am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with
Christ, for that is very much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more
necessary for your sake." NASB
Paul says, I am ready to die. I'm ready to go and be with the Lord, or
I'm ready to stay here if he wants me to continue working.
notice that Paul indicated that to die is to "be with the Lord!" Today
for the saints to die, it is not to go to the hadean world, separated somehow,
someplace from God, in Abraham's bosom or in paradise. But it is to go to be
with the Lord.
he said in 2 Corinthians 5:6 writing to the Corinthians, "Therefore we are
always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent
from the Lord:" KJV His
indication is then that when we leave this body, writing to saints, it means
that we will be with the Lord, where the Lord is.
And the Lord is there in heaven at the right hand of God! Not there in some part of the hadean world today.
Stephen was stoned in Acts 7:58-59, he knelt down and he prayed. Acts 7:59
"And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive
my spirit." KJV He
looked into heaven and he saw the Lord standing there looking down at him. And
he said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
the book of Revelation, John is carried away into heaven. And while he is there,
he sees some saints that are there. In Revelation 7 he is asked,
"who are these who are clothed in the white robes, and from where
have they come?" Notice that the spirits of the departed are not pictured
anywhere as yet having a body because they do not receive that body until they
come back with the Lord for the resurrection. 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 says
that the Lord will bring the saints with him. So there is another indication
that they are with him there in heaven. And he is going to bring the dead saints
with him for the resurrection of their bodies.
And while they are in heaven, they are bodiless. John is asked about who
these are that have these white robes. And John says, no, I don't know.
And so John is told, "These are they which came out of great
tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of
the Lamb. 15Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and
night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among
earlier in chapter 6, with the opening of the 5th seal. " I saw under the
altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the
testimony which they held: 10And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long,
O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that
dwell on the earth? 11And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it
was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their
fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were,
should be fulfilled."
Again then, John saw these souls that had been beheaded, been martyred,
and they were given white robes.
have taken the position, and understood that:
Well then, it is those who are martyred for Christ who go directly to be
with Christ and with God, such as Stephen and Paul, and others who are killed
for the Lord's sake. Those
that are martyred. That was an early view in the church. And the Islamic faith picked up on that little belief,
and Mohammed carried it over into his construction of the Islamic religion.
Mohammed took a little bit of Judaism, and a little bit of Christianity, and in
the sixth century he combined these various elements and tried to make a
syncretistic religion to unite the Arabs together in a national cause. And So
Mohammed said that those who die in the cause of Ali in a jihad, that is, in a
holy war, get to go immediately to be with Ali. And this has become one of the
strong fundamental doctrines of Islam.
To die a martyrs death so one can go straight to be with Ali.
there were some early Christians who had thought from the book of Revelation,
that if you were to be beheaded you got to go to be with God immediately. But if
you look at it closely, you observe that it is those who had been beheaded who
cry out for vengeance. It doesn't say they were the only saints there with God.
This passage is speaking about other saints. But the ones who were crying out
for vengeance were those who had been beheaded for the Lord.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians and said to them that to be present in the body
was to be absent from the Lord. That's not an indication that only those who are
martyred for Christ get to be with the Lord.
But there is the indication in that passage that all of those who are
God's people, who are righteous and holy with them, that when we leave this
world we go to be with him. Perhaps escorted by the angels to be with him and to
wait with him, until the time of the second coming and we come with Christ back
for the resurrection of our bodies.
FOR THE CHRISTIAN
we indicated earlier, that we wanted to point out the real blessing of the
Christians in this. That Christians
today don't have to fear about dying and going to someplace where Satan any has
any kind of power or any kind of control.
Christians today get to share in the victory that Jesus had over the
grave. Because when we die, we don't have to go to that hadean world, to the
world of Satan's dominion. We get to go and be with the Lord.
will be the time, after the resurrection, when we have our new bodies, that we
all be assembled before God at the judgment where he condemns the wicked to
eternal hell, and we will be escorted into eternity with God in heaven.
Men will be with God in heaven, or with Satan in gehenna hell, and that
hell is different from hades.
Jesus's great victory encompasses such things as found in Colossians 2:15, that
the Lord "spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly,
triumphing over them in it." KJV
(Colossians 2:15 When He had
disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having
triumphed over them through Him. NASB )
says in 1 John 3:8 "the
one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the
beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the
works of the devil." NASB. What
ever all things "works" included, it included death. You see, the great blessing for the Christian, is that
now we don't have to worry about the sting of death. 1 Corinthians chapter 15
speaks about the resurrection of the body from the grave. And Paul points out
how the Lord has taken the sting out of death for those of us that are his.
the Revelation letter one of those passages we love to read at funerals is
Revelation 14:13 "And I
heard a voice from heaven, saying, "Write, [this is John, he has been
transported into heaven, and he is instructed now, "write this down
John"] 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'"
"Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors,
for their deeds follow with them."
NASB. Now I think it
was a blessed thing to die right with God even before the Lord's resurrection
and victory over the grave. It was a blessed thing to be able to be there in
Abraham's bosom and to be comforted there. But how much more blessed we are now
to be able to go right into the presence of the Lord Jesus and to be with him
when we die. Read that again. Revelation
14:13, "Write, blessed are the dead that die in the Lord from henceforth.
yea saith the spirit, that they may rest for the labors and their works do
lesson is this: That those of us who are in Christ should not have any fear of
death. Because to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. The
Lord has taken the sting of death away. And we are bless when understand this
victory of Jesus over the grave, what he conquered, and for us to realize that
we participate in that victory, and that when we die we pass from here to go and
be with the Lord. What a
blessing God has given to us through Jesus Christ.
I hope that you will be comforted with this message.
wrote to the Thessalonians saying, "Wherefore comfort one another with
these words." And I hope that you will make a study of these things and be
blessed. Many people's understand is muddy on this. Many have question. We
wonder, "Where are the dead?" "What is going to happen when we
spoke in Luke 16 of the way that it was then, before he died. Many assume that
this is still the way it is today. But this story is about how things were
before his victory over the grave. We have a greater blessing today, if we die
in the Lord we can go and be with him.
the closing thought is, are you with the Lord tonight? Are you are part of his
flock? If you were to be called to leave this world, what kind of an exit would
you be making? Would you be going home to be with the Lord?
Do you have hope of seeing the angels there to escort you?
you are not right with Him please take advantage of this opportunity this
service to confess your faith in Jesus as the Son of God and be baptized into
Him for the remission of your sins and to live to his glory and honor.
Return to TOP of Page