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Confusion in the Cemetery

Scripture: Revelation 1:18, Ezekiel 18:4
What happens when you die? What does the Bible really teach about this? Death will ultimately be conquered.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Welcome, friends. We’re so thankful that you are here and you’re being part of this program, this special presentation called Here We Stand. This is a unique series of meetings that is something of a conglomeration of a revival, encouragement, a little bit of gentle chastisement for people to take a stand in the church for the truth.

And evangelistic Christians, it’s an appeal for Christians everywhere to consider many of the biblical fundamentals that have been obscured over time that must be restored. We read in the Book of Jude that are in invited to contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints because the devil has been attacking some of these fundamental beliefs.

Now we’re looking at some of the distinctive differences of what the Seventh Day Adventists believe. We believe we’re Bible Christians. We talked about our understanding of Grace and the Law the first night. Last night we talked about a very obvious difference, which is dealing with the subject of the Sabbath Truth.

Tonight we’re going to be talking about the subject of death. Now some people have said Seventh Day Adventists, they’re the ones that believe in soul sleep. There are many misunderstandings about what we believe and really what the bible says. My appeal tonight to you, friends, is let’s find out what the bible says. And I hope you’ve got a pencil handy and that you’ll take some notes and look these things up because I’d like to encourage you to take a look for yourself, make your conclusions based on the scriptures. That must be the foundation on which our house is built. Amen? This the truth.

You know, the bible begins in a garden. How many of you know the first few words in Genesis? ‘In the beginning, God created…,’ right. How many know the last five words in Genesis? Let me tell you what they are, ‘…in a coffin in Egypt.’ Isn’t that something? It begins in a garden in paradise and the last five words are, speaking of Joseph, ‘-- in a coffin in Egypt.

Well, we get a very painful reminder about the penalty for sin, which is death. Death comes upon all the world. There’s a lot of sadness in the world today because of death. Everyone has been touched by it. And who was it, Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister, Elisa, when she was dying, uttered those most quoted words, ‘Very few things are as certain as death and taxes.’ You’ve heard that before. Of course some historians contest if she ever even actually said that, but it still makes for a good quote.

It’s like this undertaker in Washington, DC. He hands out these cards and he signs them, ‘Eventually yours.’ It’s a little sobering. But in spite of the fact that there’s a 100 percent death rate, well, if it wasn’t for some people like Elijah and Enoch, they kind of messed up the statistic. Technically there were a couple of exceptions we’ll talk about later. Otherwise, there’s 100 percent death rate.

There’s a lot of confusion about what happens when a person dies. I had some friends -- you get a lot of this emails, the polls, these interesting stories and I don’t know if it’s true or not, but someone emailed me this story about a young minister that was new in a district and the local mortician said, you know, we’ve been asked to do a service, a homeless man died, doesn’t have any family, and there’s this new cemetery out in the country and they’re having the funeral. We just don’t feel good just putting them in the ground and covering them up. Would you be kind enough to go and say a few words? And the minister thought this would be good. Of course I should do this. It would service the Lord and try and develop a relationship with the undertaker.

And so he gets directions and he’s driving out on these back roads in the country and he’s going to perform basically this committal service for this homeless individual. He gets a little lost, but eventually he finds the place and sure enough, the workers are there, the hole’s in the ground, the backhoe is there and they’re waiting just to cover the hole. And he thought, well, this is sort of pitiful. I’ll make quick work of it so I can I’ve done it. And he steps over to the grave the two workers had stopped for lunch and they decided they’d come over. So the two backhoe operators came over and they stand by the open hole and the vault has already been placed over the mouth and he begins to speak about what the purpose of life is and he thinks, well, these gentlemen here probably need to hear a message.

They don’t look like they’ve heard one in a while. And he just begins to preach and pretty soon one of them says Amen and the one says Hallelujah and he becomes more and more eloquent and he preaches and then he has his closing prayer. And he’s walking away, he hears one of them over his shoulder say to the other, ‘I’ve been putting in septic tanks for 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like this before.’ He found the wrong location.

I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it is exhibit A of Confusion in the Cemetery which happens to be the title of our message tonight. There is a lot of confusion in the cemetery. People don’t understand exactly what happens when you die.

Now, I like to start with an Amazing Fact. And I came across a very interesting one lately and it’s about someone by the name of Lewis Galdy. If you go to Jamaica and you go to Port Royale, one of the great earthquakes in history occurred there. Port Royale was once called the most wicked city in the world. And this was during the golden age of the pirates and the rum running and it was a very corrupt city. It was considered to be the Sodom of the world. As a matter of fact, many of the inhabitants there that were Christians were just expecting for the Lord to swallow the place up because it was such a wicked place.

And it actually happened. There was a massive earthquake in 1692. As a matter of fact, a series of three volcanic earthquakes, the whole city of Port Royale slid into the ocean and there was these eruptions. Well, there was one individual in the city -- and thousands of people died. One individual, Lewis Galdy. And on the screen there I think a moment ago it showed his tombstone. He, in the second eruption, earthquake, he found the ground opened up and with a bunch of other people he was swallowed up into the ground and felt all the dirt close within and he was deep in the bowels of the earth and couldn’t breathe, but he was still alive and conscious as he was suffocating.

But he was a dedicated Christian. He had fled religious persecution in France and he had come to Jamaica because he could freely practice. He was a merchant and he was committing his sole to the Lord. He was praying, he said, ‘Lord, I guess I’m dead now and there’s no obviously no hope and I commit my soul to you.’ And then all of a sudden, he felt himself flying through the air and he thought, I’m being caught up, it’s the resurrection.

But really happened is the third earthquake came and the ground exploded and just kind of burped him out. He popped like a cork -- according to his words -- out of the ground, flew through the air, landed in the ocean and one of the boats that had been washed out during the initial earthquake, it retrieved him and he survived and lived another 40-something years. He thought he was dead and being resurrected.

There’s a lot of confusion in the Bible about what happens when you die. And I know that this is a sensitive subject. There’s probably here or watching who’s not been touched by the pain of death. And that’s why sometimes we joke about it, because we, in our quiet moments when we think about it, we are naturally wired to do everything we can do avoid death. And even people who are secure in their faith, you don’t go jump in front of a train, even in this life. We want to live. God designed us to live forever. Death was not part of his original plan. It’s an enemy and I’d like to begin with the good news that death will ultimately be conquered.

Revelation 1:18 - ‘Jesus said I am he that lives and was dead and behold I am alive forever more.’ Amen. ‘And I have the keys of hell,’ that’s the grave. That’s what that words means. And death. The Lord knows how to unlock the tomb and the grave and to bring people forth.

Now, using our question and answer format, we’re going to explore the subject of death from the Bible and find out what the truth is, see if we can help lift the fog a little bit regarding the confusion in the cemetery. Have you ever walked through a cemetery? You read some of the tombstones.

I remember when I lived in Texas. Every ten miles there’s a town in Texas just because it was a great big farming community. And every ten miles there used to a Baptist church, a Methodist church and a Church of Christ. Some of you know what I’m talking about. And many of those churches had their cemeteries attached to them. And sometimes something we actually did with the family is one of the outings, sometimes we’d go to the cemetery, not to be morbid, but it was very interesting, the history. And you’d get different stories by reading some of the tombstones. I mean, sometimes you’d see a mother and an infant, she evidentially she died giving birth because of the dates that you’d see.

Well, what I always thought was amazing is the confusion about death that you can even pick up from reading what was on the tombstones. One tombstone, for instance, would say ‘Our dear mother now sleeping in the arms of Jesus waiting for the resurrection morning.’ You’ve probably seen some like this before. I’m talking about Baptist, Church of Christ, Methodist, in the same church cemetery. Another one would say, ‘Our dear mother now singing in the presence of Jesus.’ And you’re wondering where is she, is sleeping, is singing, is she in heaven. And there was confusion. They didn’t know what happens when you die, where do you go, what are you conscious of, when is the resurrection.

Well, let me start by telling you what it is I believe, because of what I’ve read in the Bible and then I’ll share with the scriptures. I believe that when people die, they sleep an unconscious dreamless sleep until Jesus comes and the resurrection takes place. According to the bible, people are not raised until they’re judged. The judgment has not taken place, the resurrection has not taken place and the resurrection takes place when Jesus comes.

Now, you’ve got a lot of questions and I invite your questions. You can email them into our website, 07Revive.org or .com and we’ll address them.

Question No. 1 - Before we can understand something about death, we need to understand life. How did we get here in the first place. Question number one. Well, there’s a number of versus in the bible we can look at. First of all Genesis 2:7 it says, ‘And the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.’

So after God formed Adam from the elements of the earth and there he was, he had a brain, but it wasn’t thinking. He had a heart, but it was not pumping, but he gave him that kiss of life and the Lord actually breathed into him. That’s what the word inspiration means. And suddenly Adam came alive. And the combination of the elements of the earth and the breath of life, he became a living soul.

Question No. 2 - What happens when a person dies? According to the bible, it’s creation in reverse, if you will. It tell us in Ecclesiastic 12:7 - ‘Then shall the dust --’ the elements of earth we all know that we just decompose and we turn back into dust, ‘-- it returns to the earth as it was and the spirit returns the God who gave it.’ Aha, Pastor Doug, doesn’t that mean that as soon as you die some ghost jumps out of you and flies back off to heaven? No, that spirit represents the breath of life. That’s what the word is in the bible. As a matter of fact, that’s our next question.

Question No. 3 - What is this spirit that returns the God at death? And you might be surprised to know according to the bible, it’s not talking about just the spirit of the good. It says of the spirit of the good, the spirit of the bad, indeed even the spirit of animals. The spirit of all living things returns the God who gave him. It’s that breath of life returns to God.

An example of that would be in Job 27:3, ‘All the while my breath is in me and the Spirit of God is in my nostrils.’ Now normally when you think about being filled with the Spirit of God, not too many of you have ever prayed, Lord, please, come into my nose, right? When it says the Spirit of God in nostrils, why did he say that? Because it is the exact same word, it’s talking about the breath of God, the breath of life is in my nostrils.

Now, that word for breath of life in Greek is the word pneuma. And that’s the word wind. When someone’s got pneumonia, they used to think that was because they caught a cold wind or an ill wind and they had problems breathing. You men who work with pneumatic tools, they’re driving by air.

And so in Hebrew, the word is ruah and it’s talking about the same thing, the breath of life, that aspiration or respiration from God. The bible says in James 2:26, ‘The body without the spirit, the breath is dead.’

You know, everything breathes. Fish breathe. One day I tried to take some bass from one pond in the hills to another pond. I put them in the bucket and drove along and by the time I got to the other pond, they were all dead. There just wasn’t enough air in the water in the bucket for them to live. Plants breathe. Mushrooms breathe. Everything alive, worms breathe through their skin.

I’m a scuba diver and when you go scuba diving, not only do you have your regulator, you’ve got an emergency backup because if you’re down over 100 feet or so and all of a sudden you’ve got some problem, you may not make it back up. You’ve got to breathe. All creatures have this breath of life and when your cells are not supplied with oxygen for long enough, it was can result in brain damage and eventually death. You must breathe. And so God calls it this breath of life.

Question No. 4 - What is a soul? You want to see what a soul is? Okay, I’m going to reveal a soul to you right now. Let’s just create the right atmosphere. Are you ready? Close your eyes, trust me. You’re not cooperating, you don’t trust me. Slowly, if you feel a presence near you, turn to your right or left and open your eyes. Boo, there’s a soul. Nobody’s cooperating. You’re a soul.

People think these souls are some kind of ghostly butterfly that flits around. You’re a soul. According to the bible, the combination of the breath of life and the elements of the earth equal a living soul. One more time, Genesis 2:7, ‘And the Lord God formed men from the dust of the ground and he breathed in his nostrils the breath of life and he became a living soul.’

And I’ve often heard it illustrated very simply. If I’ve got a little pile of wooden blocks and I’ve got some nails here and I assembled them together and make a box from the wood planks and the nails, the combination of the nails and the wood planks equal a box. If I separate them again, where did the box go? It ceases to be a box when you separate the two. In order for you to be a soul, you need the combination of the breath of life the body in which that life animates and operates. The idea that the soul goes off haunting is not taught in the bible.

Question No. 5 - Do souls die? Now this is the big question. Can a soul die? What does the bible say? Ezekiel 18:4, you can read that with me, ‘The soul that sinneth it shall die.’ Now about as clear -- that’s a dictionary definition. The bible tells us that souls do die, yet how many times have you heard someone say, well wait a second, Pastor Doug, we’ve sung about this for years. How many times have you heard a preacher say we’ve got immortal souls to save? Have you heard that before? The immortality of the soul is one of these misunderstood subjects.

One verse in the bible -- supply it for me -- that says you’ve got an immortal soul. There’s no verse that says you’ve got an immortal soul. This is a teaching that came through the dark ages and paganism to frighten people and we’ll get into this in our study tomorrow night. But what does the bible say? Does man have immortality or is he mortal? Job 4:17, ‘Shall mortal man be more just than God.’ The bible tell us we’re mortal. And again, 1 Timothy 6:15, 16, ‘The king of kings, the lord of host who only has immortality.’ The Lord is the one who has immortality. You and I, we know that we’re mortal. So the idea that our souls are immortal is not taught in the bible.

As a matter of fact, the very first thing that God said to Adam and Eve is, ‘If you sin, you will die.’ What is the most memorized verse in the bible? John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son what whosoever believes in him might not perish,’ die, ‘but have everlasting life.’

We’ve got two choices. Perish or everlasting life. The idea that you’re going to live forever and ever no matter what is not taught in the bible. It’s life or death. That’s what the Gospel is all about. Revelation 16:3, ‘Every living soul died in the sea.’ Souls do die according to the bible.

Question No. 6 - Do good people go to heaven immediately when they die? Where do they go? Job 17:13, ‘If I wait, the grave is my house.’ The bible was telling us very clearly that people spend some time in the grave. They’re just not conscious of that. It’s like they’re asleep.

Peter made it very clear in Acts 2:29, he was preaching his sermon on the day of Pentecost and he’s speaking to the assembled Jews and he says, ‘Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David is he both dead and buried and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.’

Now, he’s speaking about King David. Let me ask you; King David, do you think he’s safe? This is the one that killed Goliath, man after God’s own heart. If you were going to bet according to what the bible says, will David be safe? Okay. Peter speaks of him in positive terms, but what does he say? He says David is up in heaven floating around, is that what he says? Playing a harp or something like that? Or does he say he’s dead, he’s buried, his tomb is with us.

Read along a little further down. It says in verse 34, ‘For David is ascended into the heaven.’ Now keep in mind, this is Pentecost. This is 50 days after the resurrection. Some people say, well, in the Old Testament they did sleep, but once Jesus rose they all went to heaven. Here you are 50 days after the resurrection, Peter says, ‘No, the good King David, dead, buried, not ascended.’

Now if he’s still in the grave, does it seem like it’s been 3,000 years for David? The bible says David went to sleep. It’s 1,000 years approximately before Christ is when David lived. He died. That’s 3,000 years ago from where we are today. Has it seemed like 3,000 years to David? No, there’s no consciousness of time and death. God doesn’t operate in the same dimension of time that you and I do.

Jesus said in John 25:28, 29, ‘When He comes again, all that are in their graves will hear His voice and come forth.’ Those that of good, resurrection of life. Those that have done evil, resurrection of damnation. So when He comes, they’re going to be raised. Where are they now? In their graves. Who said that? Pastor Doug, you’re telling us that people are still in their graves and they’re not with Jesus if they die saved? I didn’t say it, Jesus said it. Take it up with Him. He said, ‘When I come, those that are in their graves.’ Somebody is in their grave; He’s going to resurrect them when He comes. So if everybody goes right to heaven when they die, who’s He going to resurrect? The lost? No, the bible says the dead in Christ rise first.

Does this make sense? Oh, wait a second, Pastor Doug? What about the thief on the cross? Didn’t Jesus say you’ll be with me today in paradise? Write that down, we’ll do that during our question time tomorrow night. I’ve got to do something to keep you coming. If I tell you everything all at once -- Is anybody in heaven now? Yes, the bible tells us there are some in heaven now and it gives the specifics on who those are.

Some of you remember when Jesus went up what they call the Mount of Transfiguration, there was this glorious vision up there. I actually wrote a little book about that called The Two Witnesses. Moses and Elijah appeared. So we know Moses is in heaven. They talked to Jesus. Elijah is in heaven. How did Elijah get to heaven? Well, it tells us very clearly in the bible that limousine of angels came down, scooped him up and took him back to glory. He did not die.

What about Moses? How did he get to heaven? You read in the Book of Jude that Michael came to resurrect him. And even Jewish tradition tells us it was the third day after he died, he had been raised before he saw corruption. That’s not in the bible, but that is Jewish tradition.

Anyone else in heaven besides Moses and Elijah? Enoch’s in heaven. Well, to start with, you’ve got these 24 elders they talk about around the throne of the Lord in heaven. How did they get there? Well, in Mathew 27:52, 53, let’s read that. ‘And the graves were open and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.’ Does it say all or many? Not all of them. It was a specific group coming out of their graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

The Lord resurrected something of a first fruits. After He died, there was this great earthquake and the graves opened up and when He ascended, He brought them with them sort of as a trophy representing those who will be redeemed at the second coming when the dead in Christ rise. We don’t know who was in that group. Some of the patriarchs, prophets and kings, maybe Jeremiah was in there, Isaiah, maybe even John the Baptist. We don’t know.

But there’s a group and then it talks about these 24 elders around the throne probably comprised of some from that special resurrection. And I already mentioned a minute ago Enoch. The bible tells us that he walked with God and he was not.

Who’s the oldest man that ever lived? Methuselah is the oldest man who ever died. That was the son of Enoch. Enoch is the oldest man whoever lived because he still hasn’t died, has he? And he’s older than even Moses and Elijah. So there’s some that are in heaven now, but the vast majority of people, they die, they rest in their grave until the resurrection.

What do they know after they die? I mean, don’t they go to maybe some special place called Abraham’s Bosom? This is the whole theology that’s been created, sort of a protestant version of limbo that people go to called Abraham’s Bosom and they got this from the parable of the Rich Man in Lazarus. And by the way, that’s our message for tomorrow night. We’ll talk about that. The bible doesn’t teach that. You’re either asleep or you’re all awake. We don’t go around as disembodied spirits for thousands of years.

Question No. 7 - How much does someone know or comprehend after death? I want to find out what the bible says. Don’t you, friends? Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10, ‘The dead know not anything.’ The bible tells us the living know they’ll die, but the dead know how much? They don’t know anything. ‘Neither have they anymore a reward for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, their envy is now perished. Neither have they have anymore a portion forever on anything that is done under the sun.’ Meaning they don’t have anything to do with anything evermore in this life. They don’t know anything. And so the idea that you’re being haunted is not biblical.

Question No. 8 - But can’t the dead communicate with the living in some way and aren’t they aware of what the living are doing? When Grandma Batchelor, my father’s mother was a Baptist and I’m optimistic that she’ll be in heaven. The dear lady had to raise four boys by herself. Her husband died when my father was seven, during the depression. She took them all to church every week.

I don’t find any comfort at all in the idea that Grandma Bachelor is up in heaven spying on everybody. And if she saw her four boys, they all sort of forsook their faith after they grew up and left home. How would she enjoy that? What comfort would there be? Could she enjoy heaven like that?

These ideas that people are up there looking down, the bible doesn’t teach that. It says in Job 7:10, speaking of the dead, ‘He shall return no more to his house.’ They don’t come and haunt anybody. If you’ve got someone out there and they’ve sort of been your adversary and you’re worried that now they died and they’re going to come after you, their spirit is going to haunt you, you’re home free right now. They’re in their grave, they don’t know anything.

Again, Job 14:12, ‘So man lies down and he rises not --’ when does he rise, ‘-- till the heavens be no more.’ Doesn’t the bible say when Jesus comes the heavens will depart as a scroll? The sun turns dark, moon turns to blood, stars fall from heaven? It’s describing the Second Coming here. He will rise again when the heavens be no more. They shall not be awakened or raised out of their sleep. Meaning what? What are they doing right now? They’re sleeping. They’re not conscious. They are mortals.

Job 14:21, speaking of someone who dies, ‘His sons come to honor,’ a man dies, his sons, they might be exalted, they might be honored. He doesn’t know. ‘And they’re brought low he perceives not of them.’ They don’t know what happens to their children after they die. They’re not up in heaven spying on them. Read these verses. Job 21:32, ‘He shall be brought to the grave,’ and where does he go, ‘he remains in the tomb,’ until when, ‘until the resurrection.’

Again Ecclesiastes 9:10, ‘For there is no work nor device nor knowledge nor wisdom in the grave where they go.’ How much do they know in the grave? No knowledge, no wisdom, no work, no device.

What would be the first thing you would do if you were conscious after death and if you’re saved? The very thing you do is you’re caught up in the presence of the Lord. How many times have you been to a funeral and they talk about, well, our beloved departed friend, dear one, they’re now with the Lord, they’re in the presence of the Lord.

And you know, I’ve conducted a lot of funerals and it’s not part of my job description I enjoy. Some are easier than others. Sometimes I’ve done funerals for people who live a full life and they die from old age and you know that they had a relationship with the Lord and you can do those funerals. As a matter of fact, I’ve done some funerals where I’m actually envious. I wish I could trade places because their next conscious thought is the resurrection.

And man, and then I’ve done some funerals for people, they’re a little worried about them. You know, pastors sometimes know more about people’s lives than you want to know. But I’ve been to a lot of funerals where preachers, in an effort to comfort the family, they kind of preach everybody into heaven. I’ve never been to one where they said, well, we all know that this fellow is doomed. Which, you know, obviously that wouldn’t be very comforting.

But if you’re saved and you go to heaven, your next conscious thought would be presence of the Lord, right? You’d be rejoicing. What does it say? Psalms 115:17, ‘The dead praise not the Lord.’ It doesn’t say the dead wicked or the dead righteous, but all the dead. They’re not praising the Lord. They’re dead.

And that’s again why it says in Psalms 6:5, ‘In death, there is no remembrance of thee.’ You want to serve the Lord with this life with all your heart and all your soul because this life is your only period of probationary time that determines your eternal destiny. But until the resurrection, you’re asleep.

Isaiah 38:18, ‘Death cannot celebrate thee.’ Verse after verse after verse and you’re thinking probably thinking, Pastor Doug, there’s so many verses. Why is there so much confusion among Christians on this subject? Well, there’s certain pet doctrines that are traditions people don’t want to let go of. It doesn’t matter how much biblical evidence you give them.

And you know what I’ve seen before is that when a person makes up their mind that they want to believe something, they will focus on one obscure verse or a couple of obscure versus and they’ll omit, they’ll completely put blinders and they’ll omit the bulk of evidence. The bulk of evidence in the bible is very clear.

Again, Psalms 146:4, I’ll tell you the whole thing. It says, ‘Put not your trust in princes, neither in the son of man in whom there’s no help in the day that he dies, his breath goes forth, his thoughts perish.’ He stops thinking when he dies. Verse after verse. This is just a small sample.

Oh, by the way, get that website ready, Cheryl. I’ll forget if I don’t do this right now. There’s a website I hope that you’ll write down. We gave you one last night on the Sabbath, it was called SabbathTruth.com. This one is called TruthAboutDeath.com. TruthAboutDeath.com. There are thousands of references in the bible that make this truth very, very clear and I can only cover some of them during this presentation. I hope you’ll look that up.

Question No. 9 - Jesus calls the unconscious state of the dead asleep. Now who said that? Jesus does. How long do they sleep? 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, ‘We shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.’ Now, this is very clear. Paul is telling us when the resurrection takes place. ‘For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible.’ When the Lord comes and the trumpet sounds. ‘For this corruptible would put on incorruption and this --’ say that with me, this what? ‘-- mortal --’ we’re mortal now, ‘-- will put on --’ what? ‘-- immortality.’ When? When Jesus comes, then the mortals become immortal. Right now we’re mortal.

You remember Jesus had a dear friend. He was friends, of course, with Martha and Mary and Lazarus. And Lazarus got sick and died and Jesus made it very clear, he said, ‘Our friend Lazarus sleepeth.’ And the disciples weren’t sure, they thought, oh well, he’s got a fever, sleep will do him. They didn’t understand. Jesus explained what he meant by sleep. He said Lazarus is dead. How did Jesus refer to death? That’s good enough for me, what about you? What are the dead doing? They’re sleeping.

Now, if that’s not enough, think about what happened. If you go on in the story, he came to the grave, he’s about to perform a resurrection, he tells the people nearby to roll away the stone and Martha protested. She said, ‘Lord, by this time there’s a bad odor because he’s dead for four days.’ He had already begun to decompose. Lazarus was not just dead, he was really dead, truly dead.

John 11:14, Now when he said these things, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus come forth.’ And when he said that, there was a shuffling in the tomb. Pretty soon in the darkened mouth of the tomb, this form began to come out and there all bandaged like a animated mummy was the form of Lazarus. He was still wrapped up. Nobody knew what to do. They stood there watching him. Nobody wanted to help him. And he’s shuffling out and finally Jesus said help him out. Stumbling out the grave he’s alive.

Now, the reason I try to make this probably a little more colorful is because I want you to think about this. How long was he dead? Four days. Would that be long enough if a person goes right to heaven or hell at death, would that be long enough to get them there? Yeah, angels travel the speed of thought.

And so even after four days, if that happened today, somebody had been in the grave and they exhumed them and they’re pronounced dead, four days they’re dead, and they come back to life, a bona fide medically viewed resurrection. There were many witnesses for this.

Am I right that you would have every news agency in the world with cameramen there and they’d probably have helicopters hovering overhead and they’d have to have guards to protect Lazarus and everybody would be pushing their microphones into his face and they’d be asking the big question. Do you know what that question would be? What happened when you died? What was it like? What did you see? What did you experience? And what’s he going to say? What did Lazarus say? The question of the ages, what does he say? Nothing. Why? Because he didn’t know anything.

Now suppose was Lazarus was in heaven and Jesus brought him back. Would that be very nice? Just picture that. Poor guy. The last thing he knows is he’s sick, he’s dying of this fever, all of a sudden he goes unconscious and then Lewis Galdy, he’s flying through the air, he thinks he’s going to heaven, but instead he flies back down to the ocean. All of a sudden he’s up on these golden streets. Lazarus is now singing with the angels. He’s about to reach out and pluck from the tree of life and poof, he’s back in grave clothes. Thanks Jesus. Would you do that to your friend?

Or if you go right to hell, you know, there he is, he’s about to be plunged into this molten sulfur and brimstone and he didn’t come and say thank you for rescuing me. He didn’t say anything about it because he had no consciousness of it. The silence -- as a matter of fact, there’s about 12 resurrections in the bible. None of them make any comment on what they experienced in death. That ought to tell us something.

Matthew 27:5, we already read this one. ‘The graves of many were open. Many of the bodies of the saints arose.’ One of the many resurrections that you find. Psalms 13:3, ‘Consider and hear me, oh, Lord, my God, enlighten mine eyes lest I sleep the sleep of death.’ How does the bible refer to death? It is a dreamless sleep. No. 10 - What happens to the righteous dead at the Second Coming of Christ? This is where it gets pretty, friends. 1 Corinthians 15, ‘We shall all be changed in a moment, in a twinkle of the eye, at the last trumpet, for the trumpet will sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible. This mortal must put on immortality.’ When the Lord comes is when this is going to happen.

And again, Revelation 22:12, he says, ‘Behold I come quickly and my reward is with me to give to every man according as work shall be.’ When do they get the rewards? ‘Behold I come to reward.’ If people go right to heaven or hell when they die, if they’re getting any kind of bliss or reward when they die before the judgment, that’s not going with what the bible says. They are not resurrected, they are not rewarded, until the judgment, until the last day.

1 Thessalonians 4:16, ‘For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with a voice of the Archangel and with the trump of God and the dead in Christ will rise first.’ It’s at the trump of the Lord, when the Lord descends from heaven. That’s when they’re going to rise. John 5:28, 29, ‘Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves will hear his voice and come forth. They that have done good, the resurrection of life. They that have done evil, the resurrection of damnation.’

And again, John 6:39, ‘This is the will of the Father who sent me that of all that He has given me, I should lose nothing.’ Catch this. ‘But I should raise it up the last day. This is the will of Him who sent me.’ Matter of fact, I don’t even have time to read them all. There’s another one. John 6 again, ‘I will raise Him up the last day.’ And that’s in verse 39 and 40. Verse 44, again, ‘I will raise him up the last day.’

Jesus says again and again and again, Martha said I know that Lazarus will come forth in the resurrection at the last day. Has that last day happened yet? [No.] Then they haven’t been raised yet, have they? Verse after verse in the bible. 1 Corinthians 15, this to me is what they call a slam dunk. You know what that is, John. ‘For as in Adam, I’ll die. Even so in Christ shall be made alive, but every man in his own order.’ Here’s the order, here’s the timing. ‘Christ the first fruits, afterward, those that are Christ at His coming.’ When are they made alive? At His coming. The dead don’t know anything until His coming.

I know what some of you are thinking. Wait a second, Pastor Doug. What about the verse that says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord? That’s true. Think about this for a second. If you’re a Christian and you die right now, what is your next conscious thought? It’s the resurrection, being caught up to meet the Lord in the air. We keep thinking that God lives in the same dimension of time we live in.

You realize that God -- can God see the future? How far in advance? Eternity. Can see the past? You know, if Einstein taught us anything, we understood that time is not exactly the pinpoint present that we think it is. It’s something of a mystery for us. You and I live in this present dimension of time that our world and our galaxy is confined to, but God is outside of that. And when someone dies and they’re saved, their next conscious thought is the resurrection. So you can be comforted with that truth. But they’re not there yet, as far as our understanding in history goes. Does that make sense? They’re dead, they’re unconscious. It hasn’t happened yet, on the scale of the timeline.

Question No. 11 - What was the first lie that the devil told? What was the devil’s first lie? He said in Genesis 3:4, ‘The serpent said unto the woman, you shall not surely die.’ You don’t really die. When you think you die, you just go through an altered state of consciousness and your spirit goes off somewhere.

Question No. 12 - Why did the devil lie to Eve about death? Why is it so important that the devil deceive Christians on this subject? Answer, Isaiah 8:19, ‘And when they say to you, seek unto those who are mediums and wizards who whisper and mutter. Should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living?’ Does God want us to try to consult with the dead to get information? Absolutely not. And yet today, it’s a very common practice.

Christians today have a whole different attitude about death. It’s because they’re being influenced by the media. So many of the programs going all the way from the cartoons that children watch to the moves and the television programs that people watch, all are filled with spiritism that imply that ghosts and people after they die can still communicate with the living. Am I right?

And after all of hearing this and getting it all, they get it all mushed up with angels and with Christianity. Christians are cloudy about this subject. And the devil wants to use the idea that the dead are not really dead, that they can still communicate with you to deceive, because he’s going to use these fallen angels on the last days to pose as spirits of the dead.

And if you don’t know the dead are dead, then you are a sitting duck. You are an easy target for the devil when it comes to this major deception. 1 Timothy 4:1, ‘In the last days some will depart from the faith giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.’ And believe it or not, it is a dangerous diabolical doctrine, the idea that the dead aren’t really dead and you can communicate with them. U.S. news world report, life after death. Oh, there’s so many stories in magazines of people delving into this. Even respectable periodicals.

It’s talking about near-death experiences. Have you heard about that? Right now on the New York Times Bestseller list, this fellow has his book, he’s a Baptist preacher by the name of Don Piper. He wrote a book called 90 Minutes in Heaven. I’m not endorsing the book. I’m just giving you a sample of what’s out there. Christians are absorbing it. They’re devouring this stuff.

The fellow had a head-on collision. He may have been perfectly sincere and he said that he died. As a matter of fact, in the book, you can read that verse there from the end of the first chapter ‘In one powerful overwhelming second, I died,’ and he says he was dead for 90 minutes, but someone prayed for him and he came back. I believe in resurrections, but he said he was actually in heaven enjoying himself and God brought him back down as though the Lord did something for him that he didn’t even do for Lazarus. And he tells about his experience in heaven and all of his trials. And I’m not condemning him, he’s probably very sincere.

But is that how be base our theology on some pastor that writes a book or do you base it on the bible? Somebody that has an experience? What about all these thousands of people that say, I died on the operating table? And they’re not all Christians. Some of them are Buddhists and some of them are Hindus and all different religions and they say, yes and I saw this light and went towards the light and I was about to be reincarnated and they said, oh, it’s too soon, you’ve got to go back and, oh, there’s two doors and one was blue and one was pink and I had to decide if I want to be a boy or girl in my next life. You hear all these crazy, crazy stories.

Just this last month in August of 2007, BBC reported that they’d done some experiments in the University College of the United Kingdom regarding out of body experiences and they realized they can induce these out of body experiences with goggles. They found ways to trigger it. And they’re thinking of using it for games so people can disembody themselves and play videogames and they’re doing research on this for videogames. So when someone says I’ve had this experience, oh, I better finish reading this here. It says the experiments described in the Scientific Journal offer a scientific explanation for these near-death-experience phenomenon. There’s so much information out there that’s confusing people about these near-death experiences.

Question No. 13 - Can devils really perform miracles and pose as spirits of the dead? Oh, yes, and they do. You know, the bible tells us the story of King Saul. He became discouraged and even though God had told him not to consult with the witch that was going to consult with supposed dead spirits, he did it. She ostensibly called up the spirit of Samuel who gave a totally discouraging message to King Saul. And King Saul went out the next day, lost the battle and killed himself. I don’t believe it was Samuel the prophet that talked to him. I believe it was a fallen angel, a devil, a demon, that was posing as a spirit of the dead.

Does the devil, do witches have power to resurrect God’s saints? Absolutely not. And there’s going to be more of this in the last days. You drive up and down the streets and you see all these people, they’re mediums, they’re going to read your cards and read your future and they can channel and consult with your dead friends, right?

Revelation 16:14, it says, ‘They are spirits of devils working miracles.’ 2 Corinthians 11, ‘Satan himself has transformed into an angel of light.’ They can transform themselves and appear to be somebody and they know what your loved ones that died look like. They can pose as ancient bible characters. They can masquerade as all kinds of things. These are angels of deception and much of the world is going to be deceived in the last days.

Many Christians who don’t go by the bible are going to be deceived by apparitions and visions and dead people that are supposedly coming back and giving them fresh information. The bible is the old letter of the law and it’s been changed by man, but I’ve come heaven to give you fresh information, posing as spirits in the dead.

We’ve got to have our facts straight. 1 Kings 22:22, He said, ‘I’ll go forth and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all the prophets.’ There are spirits of devils, there are lying spirits out there and we’ve got to know that the dead are dead, amen? They are asleep. They don’t know anything. You don’t need to be afraid of them. If you’re walking through a cemetery at night, the only thing you’ve got to be afraid of is tripping on a tombstone. Nobody there is going to bother you.

As a matter of fact, if you live in the big city, the safest place to go is the cemetery because all the criminals are afraid. Matthew 24:24, 25, ‘There will arise in the last days false christs and false prophets and they’re going to show signs and wonders.’ These miracles, insomuch that if it were possible, they would deceive even the very elect. We need to understand this.

Revelation 18:23, it says, ‘By thy sorceries were the nations deceived.’ Spiritualism has absolutely penetrated the fabric, the fiber, the warp and woof of the whole Christian -- well, there are exceptions, but it’s permeated the whole church. People are so confused with these things because they’re being bombarded through the media with the wrong message. The dead are asleep, friends.

Revelation 18:2, ‘Babylon the great has fallen --’ Babylon represents a lot of the fallen religions of the world. ‘-- and become the habitation of devils and the hold of --’ What? ‘-- every foul spirit.’ Spiritualism, it says becomes rife and rampant in the church.

And all the focus on angels now, I believe in angels. I believe that I’ve probably seen them, you’ve probably seen them. But don’t forget that the devil also has angels. Just be aware of them.

And I’m going to really go out on a limb right now. Since we’re talking about praying to the dead and talking to the dead, how many people out there pray to Mary? Oh, about a billion. Is there anything in the bible that tells us that she’s in heaven now? Are we told to pray to the dead saints? And people who say I was praying to my patron saint, whoever that saint was, whether it’s Mother Teresa or whoever. I don’t know, have they canonized her yet? Not yet, huh. And somebody supposedly says, oh, I got a message from Mary. There’s been an apparition of Mary. I believe Mary was a saint. I do believe that. I believe she was holy, chosen by God, but nothing in the bible tells us that she went to heaven and nothing in the bible tells us to talk to her or prayer to her. I’m going to get letters on this, I know. Show me a scripture. Don’t complain. This is the bible. You show me where in the bible it says that we’re supposed to talk to people who are dead.

The only one we’re supposed to pray to is Jesus. The reason I’m getting this out there now is because what if Mary should really appear in public somewhere, this apparition in the sky. So many people believe it, they would believe what Mary said rather than what the bible says. Am I right? What are you going to believe? Where do you stand? On the word of God or on feelings, on visions and hallucinations that people might have? The devil can make you see things.

And I’ve got to be very careful because I know there are folks here and you’ve got loved ones that you’ve lost. We’ve all been touched by death. All of my immediate family has died. My grandfather was one of the last to go, 93 years old. My mother, my father, my brother, I lost a son.

Death is ugly. It’s an enemy and it’s mentioned 1,000 times in the bible. It’s a curse. And sometimes you love somebody and they die and you sense that they’re still there. You know, when my brother died, I was born and he was there. He was an older. I never remember my brother not being where I could call him. And when he died, I remember one time going to the phone and I thought I haven’t talked to Falcon (phonetic). I used to just call him all the time. I went to dial, he was still in my phone on speed dial and it was such a terrible feeling because I felt like he was telling me to give him a call and went and pressed the button and I realized he’s dead. Well, I have these memories and these feelings and that can play tricks on you.

Couples that are married 50, 60, 70 years and then one of the spouses dies, but they’re not up in heaven or down in hades talking to you. They’re sleeping. Whatever their fate, they’re sleeping a peaceful, dreamless sleep.

Question No. 14 - Why will God’s people not be deceived in the last day? Because we’re standing on the rock of his Word. Amen. Acts 17:11, ‘They received the word with all readiness of mind and they searched the --‘ what? ‘-- scriptures daily to see whether these things are so.’ Friends, that’s my appeal to you. During the series, please evaluate what we’re saying based upon the sacred oracles of God. Find out if it’s in the Bible.

Isaiah 8:20, it says, ‘If they speak not according to this word, it’s because there is no light in them.’ It doesn’t matter what vision or apparition or hallucination a person might have, what feelings. They might die on the operating table and it might be three-dimensional. Whatever the experience is, if it goes against the word, what are you going to trust? Feelings, best-selling books, movies, preacher pundits on television or what does the bible say? This is the only safe place to build your house when the storm comes, friend, because everyone else is going to be deceived.

Question No. 15 - What did God command should be done to people who taught that the dead were alive in Moses’s day? Should we even consult with those kind of people? That’s very dangerous. God does not want us deceived. Leviticus 20:27, if you want to know how God feels about people who are mediums talking to the dead, ‘A woman also that has a familiar spirit --‘ that’s a medium, someone who’s supposedly channeling with the dead, ‘-- or that as a wizard or man that is a wizard shall surely be put to death. They’ll stone them with stones.’ God doesn’t want His people getting mixed up on this subject.

Ephesians 5:11, ‘Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.’ That’s what I’m doing right now. Galatians 5:19-21, ‘The works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, sorcerers,’ notice this, witchcraft. Revelation 21, ‘Sorcerers shall have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone that is the second death.’

Question No. 16 -- Will righteous people who are raised in the resurrection ever die again? Here’s the good news. Here’s the good news. Luke 20:35, 36, ‘They that shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world and the resurrection of the dead, never can they die anymore.’ Can you say Amen? [Amen]

I’m so tired of doing funerals. I’m looking forward to the day when you can live in a world where there’s no more cemeteries, no more death, no more sickness, no more disease. Death is an enemy. Revelation 21:4, ‘God will wipe away all tears from their eyes and there will be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crime, for all the former things have passed away.’

Now, this is a very important subject, friends, and I thought it was important to include it in this series. Not only because it is one of the distinctive differences that it’s embraced by the Seventh Day Adventists. We’re obviously not the only church that believes these things, but a lot of folks have been confused. I have met so many people when they hear about this, they say I’m am so thankful to know that my loved ones are just resting now, that they’re not floating around, to know where they are, that it gives them peace.

And to know what we can have eternal life because of the sacrifice of Jesus. That’s what this is really about. It’s about eternal life or perish. Believe in him and live. Don’t believe in him and die. Ultimately the last enemy that will be destroyed is death itself, will be cast into the lake of fire. Isn’t that good news, friends?

Do you have that life? The bible says if you don’t have the sun, you don’t have life. There’s some people walking around today and they’re animated and they’re moving around, but they’re not alive. They’re spiritually dead. You can have spiritual life and the Lord wants you to have that tonight. Have you made a decision yet to accept Jesus into your hearts?

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Spirits of the Dead (PB) by Joe Crews

Spirits of the Dead (PB) by Joe Crews
God's Promises




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