What better place to start studying death than to contemplate the death of Jesus on the cross? This is where my personal understanding began.
Consider John 19:30, which reads: ‘When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.’
We see that Jesus died when his spirit left his body, when he ‘gave up’ his spirit! There was a moment in time when the two separated, and that was the moment of his death. What is more, his body hung there for all to see, but his spirit was elsewhere doing other things – which we will probe later.
The scripture that states, ‘The body without the spirit is dead’ (James 2:26) clarifies death, including that of Jesus. What could be clearer? It does not say that if the spirit returns to that body, it revives, but such is logically the case.
Jesus revived at least three people during his earthly ministry, and Father God revived others, including those who were raised from their graves at the time of Jesus’ Resurrection (Matthew 27:52). It follows that to God the Father and to Jesus, death is a reversible process. As thousands have testified, it is God who revives NDErs, just as he did people in the Bible; nevertheless, when physical death is not reversed another scripture applies: ‘people are destined to die once, and after that to face Judgment’ (Hebrews 9:27).
We find other cases in the Bible where death is equated to the spirit leaving the body. In Acts 7:59 Stephen’s dying prayer was ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’ and not, ‘receive my body’, while Paul wanted to ‘depart and be with Christ’ (Philippians 1:23) because it was preferable ‘to be away from the body and at home with the Lord’ (2Corinthians 5:8).
What might Paul have meant by saying it was preferable to be away from the body? Paradise is the garden idyll to which most spirits go at death, and as millions can now testify, it is far better than life on Earth – and a fantastic place to wait for the final Judgement, not least because of the quality time that may be spent there with God the Father, Jesus, angels, relatives and friends.
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