The Scriptural record of man’s state without Christ is clear. Absent saving grace, man is dead, lost, and hopeless. He …
My formative years in the Christian faith were spent in Baptist churches. Faith wasn’t a private issue but something we had a responsibility to share. The altar call, the baptismal water, the gospel tract, and the Billy Graham Crusade all had the same goal. We wanted people to come to Jesus and be saved. The salvation offered through the sinner’s prayer or the Roman Road is the salvation of the spirit of man. It is the salvation that makes all others possible and is the one that cannot be lost. It is the salvation in view when we share one of the most familiar salvation quotes from the Master Himself.
Jesus said that people would know we were his disciples through our love for one another, not by our lockstep …
Salvation, the born-again experience, happens when we believe Jesus’ dying proclamation from the cross that, “It is finished.”
Somehow, once saved many of us forget that we could never earn it. Somewhere on discipleship road, we find ourselves in the cul-de-sac of works. Having recognized Christ love for us and accepting it in gratefulness at our salvation, we soon turn to trying to earn it. This performance trap leaves us open to the fear of being disowned by our Father and cast out by our Lord. Thankfully, neither is possible.
Jesus paid the price for our sin. We more often than not think in terms of “payment for” instead of “payment to.” Some say that the payment was made to Satan to purchase the souls of men back from him. Though it is true that we are redeemed from his torments, Satan was not holding the debt marker. He is an offender like us, not the offended. The Lord is the One who is sinned against. The debt of sin is owed to Him. Because no man had the wherewithal to pay the price, He paid the price Himself.
Adam lived to be 930 years old. What died the day he ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil? We know it wasn’t his body because if it had, we wouldn’t be here. His soul didn’t go immediately to Sheol, so it wasn’t his soul. Adam breathing, eating, and procreating after he ate the forbidden fruit is evidence that death is not a cessation of existence; it is a change of state. The Adam on the other side of sin was not the same as the Adam before. His spirit was dead. As his children, we were born spiritually dead.
I am convinced that much of what flies under the banner of a crisis of faith is really a crisis of love. We doubt God most when we believe in His love for us the least. When our prayers are not answered in the time or way expected, we accuse God of indifference. God is love. All His actions flow from a heart of love. When we assure ourselves of His love, which was painted in blood for the whole world to see, our faith will find no crisis. It can only lead us through the cross to victory and praise.
Anyone who purports that the dead experience no intermediate conscious state prior to physical resurrection must deal with the declaration of Jesus that the dead hear, speak, and can experience comfort or misery. Jesus referred to death as sleeping. The correlation is deeper than mere idiom. God created the natural order to teach us about Himself and the spiritual order.
The Lord doesn’t use language haphazardly. As odd or bizarre as His statements may seem, they are true statements. When He says that a dead person is sleeping, He is not denying the reality of the corpse. He is simply defining the state of its dormancy. And He is using a very profound analogy. But before we look at that, we need to discuss the concept of soul sleep.
The Creator who called forth the grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit trees with seeds in the fruit …