Redefining Hell - Part 3
The Purpose of Death
1 Corinthians 15:12-14, 16-17 (ESV)
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised… 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
Note what Paul said in verse 13. “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.” He did not say, “If Christ has not been raised from the dead, then there is no resurrection of the dead.” It’s the other way around, meaning that resurrection existed before Christ was raised and Christ was raised because resurrection already existed. How is this possible? Because the word “resurrection” simply means, “a standing up again.” and when we understand resurrection in its entirety, we will find that it is, in essence, the divine and universal principle of sowing and reaping. Here’s confirmation.
1 Corinthians 15:35-38 (ESV)
35 But someone will ask, "How are the dead raised (standing up again)? With what kind of body do they come?" 36 You foolish person! What you SOW does not COME TO LIFE unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.
What is Paul referring to in these passages if not the resurrection of the dead? And if one is dead and raised up from it, are they not “standing up again”? Isn’t this true concerning most any seed? Note what we find a few verses later.
1 Corinthians 15:42-44 (ESV)
42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is SOWN is perishable; what is RAISED (standing up again) is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised (standing up again) in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised (standing up again) in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised (standing up again) a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
As you see, I’ve taken the liberty to insert “standing up again” whenever the word “raised” is used. Strong’s defines this as, “To waken (transitive or intransitive), i.e. rouse,” as in “from death.” Now, here’s what Jesus taught regarding a seed.
John 12:24 (ESV)
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain (seed) of wheat falls into the earth AND DIES, it remains alone; but IF IT DIES, it bears much fruit.
Christ is clear. A “grain” or seed of wheat cannot bear fruit unless it “falls into the earth and dies.” Would this simple understanding, which is clearly the concept of sowing and reaping, explain why death exists? Now, consider what Jesus followed with.
John 12:25 (ESV)
25 Whoever loves his life (soul; Strong’s) loses it, and whoever hates his life (soul; Strong’s) in this world will keep it for eternal life.
In keeping with what the Lord said here, we find the following in Matthew.
Matthew 16:24-26 (NKJV)
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life (soul; Strong’s) will lose it, but whoever loses his life (soul; Strong’s) for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Look closely at verse 25. Do you see where, regardless of our choice, we lose our life or soul? Does this not equate to death? And isn’t the death or dissipation of the seed required before another “body” breaks out of the ground? (1st Cor. 15:35-38) So when death entered through Adam, does it not make sense that our Maker intended it as a prerequisite for life? Does this not satisfy the phrase “if it dies” in John 12:24 and “unless it dies” in 1st Corinthians 15:36?
So let’s come back to the Garden of Eden. The word “Eden” means the same as its root, which is “pleasure.” Wikipedia states that “pleasure refers to experience that feels good, that involves the enjoyment of something” while the Merriam-Webster Dictionary online gives one definition as “a particular desire or purpose: inclination.” Brought together, pleasure can be defined as the fulfillment of our desires. The Austrian neurologist and psychologist, Sigmund Freud, believed that the pleasure principle is the primary motivating force in human behavior. I wholeheartedly agree with this for it fits quite well within the scope of sowing and reaping. After all, is it not a seed’s desire to produce a tree and the tree’s desire to produce fruit? With all of this mind, consider the following.
1 John 2:15-17 (ESV)
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world— the DESIRES of the flesh (1) and the DESIRES of the eyes (2) and PRIDE in possessions (3)—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
In his book, The Biblical Meaning of Numbers from One to Forty, Stephen Jones states that the spiritual meaning of the number three is “a complete witness.” So in our preceding passages, the apostle John sums up “all that is in the world” as “the desires of the flesh” (1) the “desires of the eyes” (2), and “pride in possessions” (3), agreeing perfectly with Freud’s assessment and the imagery of the Garden of Eden. Might these three elements describe what Jesus meant by our “life” or “soul” in Matthew 16? Don’t Matthew 16 and 1st John 2 clearly address our desires? Now, let’s take another look at the principle of sowing and reaping.
Galatians 6:8 (ESV)
8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Why do we sow to our flesh? Is it not due to the “desires of the flesh” and “eyes” as John stipulates in 1st John 2:16? And does this not satisfy the meaning of the word “Eden” in Garden of Eden? Ah, but what does Paul tell us in regard to the desires of our flesh? He tells us that when we sow to it we reap corruption, this word meaning “decay” or “ruin,” “literal or figurative” (Strong’s). So, it is important for us to understand that corruption does not necessarily mean evil in every sense, rather, it speaks to the idea of those things which are temporary, for as all of us know, all of the pleasures we enjoy in this physical realm are just that, fleeting and quick to pass. No wonder Paul wrote the following.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (ESV)
17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.