QUESTION 19

 

IF JESUS DIED FOR US, THEN WHY ARE WE STILL DYING?

 

 

The fact that we are still dying in spite of Jesus dying for us shows death is more than what we know it to be.

There is something called "second death" in the Bible (See Revelation 20:6, 14). If there is a second death, then there has to be

a first death. That is logical.

When talking about death, from Genesis to Revelation, it does not specify which death (except in Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8).

But the context elsewhere always makes it clear which death is referred to. Therefore the Bible has not to be just read, it has to be studied carefully and prayerfully as Jesus Himself said "Search the scriptures" John 5:39.

ONE MIGHT SAY: If things can get mixed up like this, I might as well not read the Bible at all; I rather listen to the priest's interpretation.

If you think that way, then you are disobeying the command of

Jesus. His instruction to all is "search the scriptures" and not ignore it, or let others search for you. The divine Teacher will satisfy anyone who comes to Him with a learning attitude and a teachable spirit. But it requires a prayerful search on our part.

One of the first things God told Adam was regarding the forbidden fruit. He said:

For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:17) 

The same day they were supposed to have been paying the penalty for their disobedience; the penalty was death.

For the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)

But why didn't they die the same day? Because:

God so loved the world. (John 3:16)

He loved them so much, that He Himself decided to pay the price in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. A substitute was found and therefore the penalty of sin was differed. The Bible says:

Adam lived... nine hundred and thirty years: and he died. (Genesis 5:5)

Was he paying the penalty of sin after nine hundred and thirty years? No! Jesus paid the penalty for Adam's sin and for all the sins of mankind. Adam's probationary period of overcoming sin was over at nine hundred and thirty years; his lifespan ended.

In fact the Bible uses another word, many a time, when talking about the death that comes at the end of a lifetime. It is also called sleep. Talking about Lazarus' death, Jesus himself called it sleep.

He said:

Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. (John 11:1-14)

This word "sleep" has been used several times, both in the Old and in the New Testament, in reference to the first death or the natural death that all have to face in this sinful world. (For e.g. See Job 14:10-12, 1 Thessalonians 4:15, 16). All the people who ever died on planet earth died only the natural death or the first death; and first death is the consequence (natural result) of sin-because of Adam's fall-and not the wages (punishment) of sin.

But which death did Jesus die? Was it the natural consequence of sin that took Him to Calvary, or, was He paying the penalty for the human race on the Cross?

Let us first analyze the mystery of godliness. Though Christ came as a man-in our nature-He had life in Himself. Jesus declared:

For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself. (John 5:26)

John wrote, "In him was life" (John1: 4). His life was His own, but our life is borrowed from God. And about His death Jesus said:

No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. (John 10:18)

The death of Christ and also His resurrection were divine acts, and not natural acts. Death had no power on Him, as He did not sin. For us to die is natural, for Christ it was not. He was doing something that otherwise would not have happened.

Just before Jesus could go to Calvary, this is what He said about Satan:

For the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. (John 14:30)

Satan had no power over Christ, as Christ did not yield to temptation.

He had to lay His life down as a voluntary act for our salvation, and He did it. He was paying the penalty of the human race on the cruel Cross. He was dying the death that we deserved. Paul wrote:

He by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Hebrew 2:9)

Christ tasted death for "every man"-that means we can escape death, as He tasted it for every man. Which death was it that He died-the first or the second death? It has to be the second death that Christ died. For if He died the first death, then why are we still dying? Remember He paid the penalty for our sins, so that we need not have to pay it in the lake of fire. For:

Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Some are of the opinion that Jesus died both the deaths-the first and the second-at Calvary. But a little insight will clarify that it was only the second death He died.

What is the first death? The first death is a natural consequence of sin. Whether one is a believer or unbeliever, the first death is for all, whether a saint or a sinner. It is the close of probationary time, either to make it or break it to Heaven. When Adam and Eve were told that they would die the day they ate the fruit, was it a reference to the first death (the end of this probationary time) or was it a reference to the second death (the eternal extinction)? It was the eternal extinction-the second death-that God was referring to.

The difference between the first and the second death is this: The first death physically destroys the body, but it is not an eternal destruction, as there will be a resurrection. But the second death is the eternal destruction of the person. So the second death is the real death, the complete death. The first death has only a part of the second death in it. The second death has the first death and more in it.

Christ died the second death, the complete death. It is technically incorrect to say He died the first and the second death together, as the second death embraces the first too. When the impenitent die in the lake of fire, it is called the "second death"

(Rev 20:6, 14, 15; 21:8), and not "first and second death", as the second death is the complete death.

Those who die the second death have no resurrection. But Jesus rose from the dead even though He died the second death. Well, because He was sinless, He was dying a substitution death. He was not dying for His sin (He did no sin), but for the sins of the others (the whole world).

When we die the first death, we can afford to smile and die, and even sing while burning at the stake, because we know it is only the first death, and there is a resurrection. But when Jesus was dying the death on Calvary, He cried in bitter agony:

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46)

But when we die our natural death, we don't cry that way, as God does not forsake us. It is at the final death, the second death, when people pay the wages of sin, they would feel the bitter agony of being forever cut off from God and from life, and then all will cry and weep and gnash their teeth.

When Christ bore the sins of the world on Him, He could not, for that moment, see beyond the portals of the tomb, as it was total darkness within Him and around Him too. Only by faith He knew that resurrection was possible for Him while He was bearing our sins upon Himself. And that's how He gave hope to the thief, and that's how He committed His breath into the hands of His Heavenly

Father and died. And lo! And behold! On the third day our Lord conquered the grave as He conquered death! Listen to the Victor:

I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. (Revelation 1:18)

The word "hell" is the Greek word Hades, meaning, grave.

Christ has conquered death and grave and has the keys of both. At

His second coming, He will resurrect all His saints and bring them out of their graves, and bestow immortality to them. And the wicked, later, will be resurrected from the first death to face second death-to pay the wages of sin in the fires of hell according to the amount of sins committed, and then face the "second death".

So the reason we still die today is because Jesus died the "second death" for us, and not the first death.

Many times we see the word death in the Bible having a reference to the second death, and not just first. Look up the following texts. All of these refer to the second death and not the first. (See Genesis 2:17; Ezekiel 33:11; John 5:24; John 8: 51, 52; Romans 6:23; Romans 8:6, etc.)