Clifton H. Rodriquez is a certified public accountant (CPA) by profession, but a passionate Bible scholar. He believes in studying the Word.
Life Begins At Conception
LIFE BEGAN, BUT ENDED WITH DISOBEDIENCE
There is no disputing that all men are born of a woman. Life begins at conception, or when a sperm fertilizes an egg in the womb of a woman. The gestation period for human embryos is nine (9) months. After that period of time, the new human life is born into the world. There is only one way to be physically born, and everyone accepts that fact. The human child takes his or her first breath and begins a life on earth; that life can be as short as a few months, or as long as one hundred (100) years. In general, the average life span of a human being is roughly about seventy-five (75) years, and then that same life comes to an end when that person takes their final breath of life. Their spirit departs and their body returns to the earth from whence their forebearer Adam came (See Ecceliastes 12:7).
WHAT IS ADAM'S DEATH?
Adam's death is in effect our physical or biological death. It came about as a result of Adam and Eve's disobedience to God. God imposed it upon Adam and all of his descendants. Up to that point, or prior to the act of disobedience, the man had "conditional immortality". In other words, as long as man obeyed God, he would continue to exist without ever dying, or coming to the end of his existence in the Garden of Eden. However, the act of disobedience brought a hasty end to man's conditional immortality. Not only did he lose his conditional immortality, but he lost his home in the Garden of Eden. God decided to cast the man out of the Garden lest he would stretch out his hand and eat from the "Tree of Life", and in effect live forever in his state of sin (Read Genesis 3:22). Adam's Death could have become a permanent and everlasting death except that God had made a plan to redeem man from his condition of sin and eternal separation from the presence and glory of God.
Removal of Christ's Body From the Cross
What Happened To Christ After Death?
The best way to understand what happens to us after we breathe our last breath is to examine what happened to Christ after he died on the cross. After he had undergone considerable suffering at the hands of evil and wicked me for the sins of men, Jesus cried out and said: "It is finished. Father in thy hands I commend my spirit". Why is this quote so important? In effect, Christ's final words prior to death are underscored by King Solomon's Ecclesiastes 12:7. When a man dies his spirit returns to the Maker, God Almighty, and everything else that made up man (body and soul) return to the earth from whence it came. We have a confirmation of this FACT from Psalm 6 and 16. Also, Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 9:4-10 that the dead does not even know that they are dead. Jesus was laid to rest in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb where he remained in a state of death until his resurrection (restoration of body and spirit) three days later. Jesus did not descend to "Hell", or even Heaven to commune with his Heavenly Father. Hell is supposedly a place of torment and torture as specified in Luke 16:19-32. It is a place where departed souls of evil people go to undergo torment and torture at the hands of Satan and his demon followers. Christ's body did not see corruption (i.e., it did not decompose in any manner). When Jesus was resurrected by God Almighty not only did his spirit return to his body, and he lived again, but he was transformed from corruptible to incorruptible flesh. Jesus was granted his immortality again. Despite the facts as recorded in the Word of God, the question still remains, "What happened to Christ's spirit after he took his last breath on the cross?" Christ's spirit returned to God. Remember that the Lord in his dying breath commended his spirit into the hands of the Father. Thus, the spirits of all men, good and evil, return to the Maker and will remain with Christ until the time of the resurrection and transformation (see Job 14:14).
A Resurrected Christ
Christ's Promise To Grant Eternal Life Through the Resurrection of the Body
Despite the constant debates as to whether men have "immortal souls", the Bible points to one truism. It is God's intent to grant men the gift of eternal life through the resurrection of the body. What evidence is there to support this supposition? The Bible states in John 3:16 and Romans 6:23 that the "wages of sin are death, but the gift of God is eternal life" for all who would come to complete reconciliation through God's Sacrificial Lamb, Jesus Christ. The death that John 3:16 and Romans 6:23 refer to is not "Adam's Death", but the "Second Death". All men will endure Adam's death because of Adam's disobedience. This death would have turned into a permanent and everlasting death if Christ had not died on the Cross. Thus, a sinner needs only to accept Christ and believe in him as God's Sacrificial Lamb. Thus, Jesus stressed this fact at Bethany when he resurrected Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary (see John 10 & 11). Jesus himself after dying on the Cross experienced resurrection and transformation (see John 20:17). The Bible calls him the Firstborn of many to be born from Adam's Death (see Romans 8:29). All of these scriptures, including Job 14:14, clearly indicate that it has always been God's intent to grant righteous believers (Christ's Elect) eternal life on the "Last Day" through the resurrection of the body (see Job 14:14, John 5:24-29, John 6:54). The Word states that those who died faithfully in Christ will be a part of the "First Resurrection" and will be immediately transformed from corruptible to incorruptible flesh upon their resurrection. There is nothing in the Living Word that states that God will use any other means to which He will grant eternal life, or immortality to men. It would indeed be somewhat superfluous (i.e., completely unnecessary) for God to make this promise in John 3:16 and Romans 6:23, or make a promise in John 6:54 if men had immortal souls already.
Why Should We Not Take Luke 16:19-32 Literally
The Gospel of Luke was written by a Greek Gentile. What is interesting about the Gospel of Luke is that it is the only book of the Bible that addresses the issue of consciousness after Adam's Death. No other books of the Bible dear to address the issue. Why? Well before we answer that question, we must review who this person was. He was a Greek physician who had been raised in the "Hellenistic Way". There is no written evidence that this Greek Gentile ever converted to Christianity. We only know that he was a companion of the Apostle Paul, Christ 13th, and the final Apostle. Luke did not witness the life, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord, although he was deemed to be a contemporary of Jesus Christ. His book is referred to as a "hearsay" Gospel because he was not a primary witness as John and Matthew. Given everything that we know about this writer, it is very evident that his writings were influenced by his socialization (i.e., how he was raised to adulthood). Theologians have reasoned that Luke might have made up the "parable" given that the parable is not found in any other Gospel book. Given his training as a tax collector, there is no doubt that if Christ had told this parable, Matthew would have recorded it in his Gospel book, even if John had opted to leave it out of his Gospel book. Thus, many a theologian advise us not to take the parable literally because there is no evidence that Christ told it, and it simply conflicts with other books like Psalm and Ecclesiastes which teach the opposite,i.e., there is no conscious thought after Adam's death.
Luke, "The Evangelist"!
Did Luke, the Greek Gentile Influence the Apostle Paul?
Luke, the Greek Gentile, who authored "The Gospel of Luke" as well as "Acts of the Apostles" was a travelling companion with the Apostle Paul. Some theologians have gone as far as stating that he was a "close friend" of the Apostle. What is the significance of this close relationship? It is a known fact that Luke, a physician by profession, was raised in the "Hellenistic Way". In a nutshell, it means that it was ingrained into this man that he had an "immortal soul". This belief, concept or idea was heavily advocated by Socrates and Plato, and in effect infiltrated Greek spiritual culture by the First Century AD. Luke frequently traveled with Paul on his missionary journeys, and the two men probably discussed various spiritual issues. As a Jew Paul could not outwardly endorse or accept such a philosophy or theology of man being a "demi-god" given the lack of acceptance in Judaism, or the young Christian faith. However, Paul writings to the various churches displayed an implied acceptance of Luke's views. For example, Paul stated in 2 Corinthian 5:8 (NLJV):
"We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord".
Many theologians have argued that Paul was in effect giving tacit approval to Luke's the parable of the "Rich man and Lazarus" at Luke 16:19-32. It might be accurate to say that this statement is a clear indication of Luke's influence on Paul. Others have argued that the Apostle Paul simply did not understand that the dead are not aware of the passage of time (See Ecclesiastes 9:1-10). The statement itself conflicts with John 5:24-19, Job 14:14 as well as John 5:24-29. Jesus stated that we should not marvel that the day is coming when many shall hear His voice and shall come forth from their graves. Job confirms this fact at Job 14:14. To further drive the point home, the Apostle Paul himself confirmed at Romans 8:29 that Christ was the firstborn of many to come from Adam's death. He is stated at 1 Thessalonians 4:13 the following statements:
"Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope."
Paul's statement here is more in alignment with his Judo-Christian convictions than his statement at 2 Corinthian 5:8. Despite the apparent conflict in conviction, one can only concluded that Luke influenced Paul more than Paul influenced Luke. There is no evidence that the Luke ever converted to the Christian faith despite his long relationship with Paul; he was supposedly there at the very end of Paul's life on earth.
© 2021 Clifton H. Rodriquez