The Bible is a beautiful tapestry, with many threads woven through it, one of those threads being the proper understanding of death.
Many believe this life ends in death, and there is nothing more. God tells us there are two deaths. The first death marks the end of God’s attempts to woo us into an eternal relationship with Him, then comes the judgment, Heb 9:27, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” Only those who are alive when Jesus returns can escape this first death, 1 Thes 4:15-17, “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” We all have this first life to make up our minds about God and the eternal life He offers. Those who choose Jesus as their Lord and Savior will not face the second death, Rom 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” their belief will have saved them.
Why are there two deaths, and why do we have to believe in Jesus to avoid the second death? Because we cannot be good enough to earn our way into heaven, Rom 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” so, Jesus had to give His life on a cross to pay for our sins, Jn 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” It is His perfect life and sacrifice that covers our sins. When we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, we begin the process of changing into people capable of the kind of love required for citizenship in the kingdom of God. How does accepting Him as our Lord and Savior change us? We are changed because we finally understand God’s love, a love so great He was willing to lay down His life for us, Jn 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” When we think of the great brutality Jesus endured for our salvation, the beatings, and the death on the cross, we come to realize this isn't heaven. Our rebellion against His love, in the face of His sacrifice, shows He was willing to die to save us, Gal 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” which helps us understand how much He loves us. Feeling His agony, as He prayed to His Father, asking if there was some way to avoid what He was about to experience, Lk 22:42-44, “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” proves the pain He faced was real. We can all see this world is filled with evil, people hating and harming each other, as they did Jesus. There is, also plenty of good in this world, which allows us a glimpse at heaven. Of course, there will be no evil in heaven, which provides a stark contrast to this world.
Only God’s kind of love is fit for heaven. He cannot allow people willing to hate and harm each other into heaven; instead, it will be filled with loving people who willingly serve each other. So, His plan allows each of us to decide for ourselves; are we willing to love the way He does? 1 Jn 4:7-8, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”
God is creating a family He plans to live with for all eternity, which means some of us will have to face the second death. God is fair; He will allow us to face our accuser before we are sentenced; spoiler alert, we will be looking into a mirror. We will witness our own lives and the decisions we have made, which led us away from God and His love. He gives us this whole life to see the truth, no matter how many times we have sinned in the past. Eventually, we will look into the mirror of His truth, either in this life or at the judgment. He does not want us wasting eternity on the fruitless selfish pleasures of this life unto the second death, Deut 30:19, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” and Eze 18:32, “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.”
But what is the truth that leads us to His love? The truth is that Jesus is the good shepherd and His Word is His voice, which only His sheep will follow, Jn 10:3-5, “To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.” and His sheep are those of us who willingly lay down our pride and choose Him as our Lord. This is the answer to my question of why I feel God’s presence when I read His Word, for only God could be the author. And also, why I do not feel His presence when I read other religious scriptures. Before we judge this answer, I must explain that I was not a Christian when I started reading scriptures. I was a seeker reading them all with an honest desire to find the true path to God. My search has led me here, to God’s Word, the only way to God, Jn 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Until we understand this truth, we will be lost in this hopeless world of lies and deceptions, which we can witness if we honestly evaluate what we see.
Would a loving God kill a soul He created? The second death is God, allowing us to have our own way, not His, the ending He has been warning us about for thousands of years. We do not need to fear the first death, for it is but sleep before our eternal life if we have accepted Jesus as our Lord. However, once we understand what the second death is, we should indeed fear it, Matt 10:28, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” because only God can kill a soul, Eze 18:4, Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” and He does not do it willingly, He gains no pleasure in our choosing the second death.
God has given us this first life and has allowed us to live it any way we choose. He tells us He loves us, and if we reason with Him, by studying His Word, we will learn of His great love and His invitation to eternity. When we finally understand, we begin to love Him, 1 Jn 4:19, “We love him, because he first loved us.” The family God is creating will all love each other. Each of us has the opportunity to choose to be in His family by loving God and obeying Him, Jn 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” If we do not love Him, we will not be able to keep His commandments, Gal 5:14, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” and eventually this truth will become evident to all who willingly reason with it. Until the first death, we are either choosing eternal life with Him or this life only. The second death is the natural result of our choosing this life only. The problem we humans face is that we allow our pride to keep us from considering the possibility of a Creator, which means we will not lower ourselves to reason with His Word. We do not want to believe God knows what is best for us. Our pride fools us into thinking Jesus is not really God and makes Him a stumbling block on the path to eternity, Prov 16:18-19, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.” and Rom 9:33, “As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”
Rev 14:13 “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” He is God, He created us and everything else to fit together perfectly if we would just follow His instructions. Some of us think we are smarter than God, so we will not read the instructions. Walking away from His love is the saddest thing we can do.
Ps 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we can walk through this world, which is filled with evil and death, without fear, for our Lord and Savior has given us the hope of an eternity with Him. This hope allows us to live abundant, joyful lives, freed from fear, as we walk through this imperfect world filled with imperfect people, of whom I am foremost, Col 1:13, "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:"
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