Monday, May 30, 2011

State of the dead

After I die, then what?

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
John 5:28, 29

William Tyndale (c. 1492-1536), English reformer, Bible translator
“And ye, in putting them in heaven, hell and purgatory, destroy the arguments wherewith Christ and Paul prove the resurrection.  And again, if the souls be in heaven, tell me why they be not in as good case as the angels be?  And then what cause is there of the resurrection?” (1) 

A grave of a former slave, who was given the name of Scipio Africanus, which is situated in the churchyard of St Mary's Church in Henbury, near Bristol in South West England.  The second last line of this colourful epitaph reads 'whose glorious second coming here I wait', declaring this man' hope to be a part of the first resurrection at the Second Coming 
When a love one that is close to us dies, it is extremely hard and difficult for us to bear in mind that in this life, we will never smell, hear or see them ever again.  It is a painful experience where many of us ask the same question, why?  Death came very early upon the earth as a consequence of man’ disobedience to the command of God (Gen. 3).  It will be destroyed on the ‘day of judgment’, just prior to the recreation of the ‘new heaven and new earth’, where it will never come about ever again.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.
Romans 5:12

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
I Corinthians 15:26

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death.
Revelation 20:14

He shall swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away all tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoke it.
Isaiah 25:8

The Holy Scriptures is very clear what happens to an individual when they die, ‘…for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return’ (Gen. 3:19; Job 10:9; 21:25, 26; Eccl. 3:20).  The body, the material organism that is made up of different cells and tissues, the ‘…skin and flesh…with bones and sinews’ (Job 10:11) goes back into the earth where it came from and God calls death a sleep (I Kings 11:43; 14:20; I Cor. 15:6, 18, 20; I Thess. 4:13-15; Dan. 12:2).

But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?  As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.
Job 14:10-12

At death, ‘the spirit’, which is the breath (Job 27:3; 34:14) sometimes called ‘the ghost’ in the KJV Bible, is separated from the body and returns to heaven to ‘the God of the spirits of all flesh’ (Num. 16:22; 27:16) from where it originally came from.

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
Ecclesiastes 12:7

When the king and prophet, the great patriarch David died, he did not go straight into heaven, but his body is in the earth when he ‘fell on sleep’ (Acts 13:36) and he is waiting to be called from the grave at the first resurrection at the Second Coming.

So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.
I Kings 2:10

Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.  For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith, the LORD said unto my Lord, sit thou at they right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool
Acts 2:29, 34

Jesus also called death a ‘sleep’ when Mary and Martha’ brother, Lazarus, of Bethany died (John 11:11-14).  Four days after Lazarus’ death, when his sisters were in mourning, one of them, Martha, had a dialogue with Jesus about her brother’ death and said that if He was around, He could of prevented Lazarus’ death (John 11:20, 21).  She knew that her brother was not in heaven, for she was comforted that He would be resurrected at the Second Coming, known as ‘the resurrection of the just’ (Luke 14:14; Acts 24:15).

Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.  Martha saith unto Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
John 11:23, 24 

Not every one in the apostolic age believed in the resurrection.  The Sadducees, who seemed to be self-righteous religious sceptics disbelieved it (Matt. 22:23; Mark 12:18; Luke 20:27; Acts 20:8), the Greek philosophers in Athens, the Stoics and the Epicureans mocked the resurrection (Acts 17:32), others said that it was ‘past already’ (II Tim. 2:17, 18) and even till this day, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, better known as the Mormons, founded by Joseph Smith (1805-1844) allow their members to be ‘baptized for the dead?’ (I Cor. 15:29), for they deny the ‘resurrection of the dead’ and have the biggest genealogical record on earth.

‘One of Smith’s most remarkable revelations involved the baptism of the dead.  As a result, billions of people – all of them deceased long ago – have gone through the sealing ceremony.  Their posthumous welcome into the Church arises from Smith’s vision of ‘proxy ordinances’; by welcoming those who had died before Mormonism began it would be possible to recruit millions of souls.  As part of their mission to the dead the Mormons have generated the most extensive collection of family records in the world.  Their archives contain the names of almost ten billion people, most born after 1500. (2)

Unfortunately, the Mormon’ huge volumes of names and their baptisms or sealing ceremonies are all in vain, for each individual who has ever walked on this earth has to give an individual account for his/her own actions on the ‘day of judgment,’ and no one else can stand in their place as their representative.

The soul that sinneth, it shall die.  The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neithr shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
Ezekiel 18:20

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.
Hebrews 9:27 

The finite mind cannot understand the resurrection, for it is called a ‘marvel’ by Jesus (John 5:28, 29) and a ‘mystery’ by Paul (I Cor. 15:51-54) and only those who are ‘looking for the blessed hope’ (Titus 1:15) and have true faith, can fully grasp it.  Those who have died in Christ, through either natural causes or as a martyr with the promises of eternity in their hearts (Ps. 116:15; Rev. 14:13), will rise with the living ‘just’, in the first resurrection at the Second Coming of Christ.  All those who will rise in the first resurrection at the Second Coming of Christ would have retained their names in the book of life (Dan. 12:2; Rev. 3:5), will be given a crown of life (II Tim. 4:8; James 1:12; I Pet. 5:4; Rev. 2:10; 3:11), have a white stone with a new name (Rev. 2:17), have access to the tree of life (Rev. 2:7; 22:2), not be hurt of the second death (Rev. 2:11; 20:14; 21:8) and will be given white robes (Rev. 3:4, 5; 7:13) as their victory over this earth and the daily deceptions of Satan and his angels.

And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?  And white robes were given unto every one of them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
Revelation 6:9-11

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.  Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
I Thessalonians 4:16-18

What is hell?
This is a very misunderstood topic.  We have already clearly seen from the Holy Scriptures that when an individual dies it is called a ‘sleep’ and that the righteous dead and living both rise at the Second Coming of Christ at the first resurrection.  Why then do so many Christians believe that lost souls are now burning in torment upon death.  Does that mean that the first murderer on earth Cain has been burning from his death right up to this very day?  Does that not paint God as a barbarous unjust judge?  Is there some contradiction in the Holy Scriptures, or has a long held tradition that has panned itself out throughout Christendom by corrupted clergy, overrode the plain words of the LORD.  Jesus made it plain that each individual has to give an account for his actions on ‘the day of judgment’, and not prior to that and on that day, each soul that has chosen to be lost will be utterly destroyed by fire.

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books according to their works.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death.  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Revelation 20:11-15

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.  For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by the words thou shalt be condemned.
Matthew 12:36, 37

But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.  But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee.
Matthew 11:22, 24

But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
Matthew 5:22

He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.  As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.  The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 13:37-42, 49, 50  

The words of Jesus Christ are plain and clear.  He uses ‘the judgment’ and ‘hell fire’ interchangeably in Matthew 5:22 to show the same work being performed on the same day.  He makes it plain that ‘at the end of the world’, men will be ‘cast into the furnace of fire’.  So the question is this, why do Christians believe unbiblical doctrines that are contrary to the teachings of Christ?  Let us look at the word ‘hell’.
In the Old Testament the word ‘hell’ comes from the Hebrew word sheol, which just plainly means grave (Deut.32:22; II Sam. 22:6; Job 11:8; Ps. 16:10; Eze. 32:27, etc.). As we come into the New Testament, the word ‘hell’ has different meanings, but these meanings still don’t come in line with what many Christians believe.  There are three definitions for the word hell in the New Testament and they all have a different context.  There is hades, which like the Hebrew sheol means grave (Matt. 12:23; 16:18; Luke 10:15; Acts 2:27, 31; Rev. 1:18; 6:8; 20:13, 14).  There is gehenah that is the everlasting fire on judgment day (Matt. 5:22, 29; 10:28; 18:9; Luke 12:5) and the Greek word tartaros is only used once and is the description of the condition where the fallen angels are until they are destroyed on the Day of Judgment with the wicked after they are judged by the righteous (I Cor. 6:3; Jude 6; Matt. 25:41).

For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.
II Peter 2:4

Though we have established that death is a sleep where an individual’ body rests in the earth (sheol/hades) to awaken in either the first or second resurrection, many Christians still misinterpret many of the words of Christ and other New Testament writers and do not understand the object lessons from heaven.  A very misunderstood passage in the Holy Scriptures is the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16.  Many Christians overlook the object lesson Christ is trying to teach us and they do not believe it is a parable because it doesn’t start off with ‘He spake also this parable’.  Many of the parables in the book of Luke begin with the words ‘a certain’ (Luke 12:16; 13:6; 16:1; 20:9), which shows that Christ is trying to convey a very serious lesson to his hearers.  The Levite songwriter and choir leader, ‘Asaph the chief’ (I Chron. 16:4, 5) prophesied that Christ would teach many lessons of salvation through parables (Ps. 78:2; Matt. 13:34, 35), where He would use something literal to explain something spiritual (Luke 8:11).  Christ met everyone where they were at in their spiritual experience or state of mind.  He presented this parable in a language many of the Hellenized influenced Jews could understand and identify with.  Three men are mentioned in this parable – Lazarus, the rich man and Abraham.  It is based upon a figurative dialogue between the rich man and Abraham.  The rich man is ‘clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day’ (Luke 16:19) which showed that he was very well off and was always looking dapper and luxurious.  The rich man represents those who are rich in this life but have no compassion on the poor (I John 3:17; Matt. 19:21, 22; James 5:1-6).  The Lord has no problem with men being rich for He blessed both Job and Solomon with riches (Job 1:3; 42:12; I Kings 4:21-28), but He does have a problem when the rich do not look after the poor and suppress them (Dan. 4:27; James 5:1-6) and those who profess to be a child of God, but put more trust in their riches than in the Almighty and eternity (Mark 10:23-25).  Lazarus was a very poor ‘beggar’ who was ‘full of sores and was fed with crumbs from the rich man’s table’ (Luke 16:20, 21).  The object lesson in this parable is that in this life, we choose our eternal destiny, for a portion of the parable reads, ‘Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented’ (Luke 16:25).  At the point of death both of their destinies were determined (Luke 16:22, 23).  Before we explore the rest of this parable, let us look at some common sense.  If an individual was being tormented with flames, which anyone can imagine must be absolutely excruciating, then why would he only want his tongue cooled, and not the whole of his body, that doesn’t make any sense (Luke 16:24).  Is Abraham that big in stature that he can fit Lazarus in his bosom?  It is at the Second Coming of Christ that the angels at the command of Christ ‘shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other’ (Matt. 24:31), when both the righteous dead and living shall meet Christ in the air, a time the apostle Paul craved (Phili. 1:23; 3:20, 21; II Cor. 5:8; II Tim. 4:6-8).  The rich man whose eternal destiny was sealed for the fire and brimstone on the ‘day of judgment’ wanted Abraham to send Lazarus to witness to his brothers so they wouldn’t experience the same fate as him (Luke 16:27, 28).  He thought that as he was child of Abraham, an heir to the promises, he thought that salvation was automatically his, but he was mistaken. The Bible describes the Old Testament scriptures as ‘Moses and all the prophets’ (Luke 24:27) and Jesus made it quite clear to the Jews that in them they have ‘eternal life’ (John 5:39).  Abraham said to the rich man that salvation is offered to his five brothers through ‘Moses and the prophets’ (Luke 16:29), in other words they did not have a second chance upon the point of death and if they reject the prophets, then they have sealed their fate.  The rich man was adamant that they would repent ‘if one went unto them from the dead’ (Luke 16:30) but Abraham made it clear to the rich man ‘If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead’ (Luke 16:31).  Jesus made it quite clear in that parable, that if they reject the word of God, why would they be convinced if a man was to witness to them from the dead, for when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43-46) the Jews wanted to kill Lazarus (John 12:10,11).  It is very clear that this is a figurative dialogue, for the dead cannot have a conversation once they are put in the earth.  There lights are out.

Let me not be ashamed, O LORD; for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave.
Psalm 31:17

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
Ecclesiastes 9:10 

When the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for its sexual immorality and for not looking after the poor and needy (Eze. 16:49, 50), ‘He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground’ for God ‘destroyed them all’ (Gen. 19:24, 25; Luke 17:29).  Jesus is clear that Sodom and Gomorrah will have to give an account for their actions ‘in the day of judgment’ (Matt. 10:15; 11:24) and on that day the wicked’ fate will be ‘like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah’ (Deut. 29:23) as two New Testament writers have confirmed.  Unfortunately many have misunderstood the wording of the Holy Scriptures and have taught error by not following the divine guidelines of  ‘rightly dividing the word of truth’ (II Tim. 2:15) and ‘comparing spiritual with spiritual’ (I Cor. 2:13).  You can interfere with an individual’ whole concept of redemption if you explain things to them wrongly, for ‘a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump’ (I Cor. 5:6).  Many have misunderstood the following text and have taken it out of its context.

Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
Jude 7

Many have misunderstood the wording ‘suffering the vengeance of eternal fire’ and have sadly taught that the Sodomites are now at present burning in eternal fire.  If the passage is looked at carefully and thoroughly, it will clearly be seen that the preceding words ‘are set forth for an example’ is describing the fate of the wicked who will suffer ‘the vengeance of eternal fire’ on ‘the day of judgment’ in the same way Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed by God.  When the passage of scipture is compared with another text describing the same thing, you will clearly see the message the Lord is trying to teach us and it is not instant torment upon death.

And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.
II Peter 2:6-9

Q.  Why do many Christians teach the doctrine of burning in hell fire upon death and where did that teaching come from, the Jews or the Gentiles?

Jews (Essenes):
Among the Jews there are three schools of thought, whose adherents are called Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes respectively.  The Essenes profess a severer discipline: they are Jews by birth and are peculiarly attached to each other.  Teaching the same doctrine as the sons of Greece, they declare that for the good souls there waits a home beyond the ocean, a place troubled by neither rain nor snow nor heat, but refreshed by the zephyr that blows ever gentle from the ocean.  Bad souls they consign to a darksome, stormy abyss, full of punishments that know no end. (3)            

The mythology of Hell owes most to Buddhism: on arriving in the Underworld, the soul comes before Yen Wang, who examines the register recording all good and evil actions.  Those who sons or believers have done good deeds – are able to proceed directly to join the Buddha himself, to go to the mount Kunlun, the home of the immortals, or to be reborn immediately as a human being.  Sinners are required to come before one of the nine judges who mete out the punishment appropriate to the offences committed. (4)

Ancient Egypt:
The Egyptian underworld was imagined as an elaborate landscape of rivers and islands, deserts and lakes of fire.  To find a way through it, and to placate or overcome the gods and demons who inhabited it, the soul had to become a hero-magician.  From the late 3rd millennium BC, people of rank and wealth had spells inscribed on their coffin.  Later these spells were developed into the body of texts known as the Book of the Dead, and papyrus scrolls containing illustrated selections from the book were buried with wealthy Egyptians from the 16th century BC on.  The deceased would be depicted overcoming such underworld dangers as the Four Crocodiles of the West.  On reaching the throne room of Osiris, a dead person had to declare himself or herself innocent of various crimes before the forty-two judges of the underworld.  The heart (that is, the conscience) of the dead person was weighed on a pair of scales against the feathers of the goddess Maat, who was the personification of justice and truth. A female monster called the Devourer of the Dead squatted by the scales, ready to consume the deceased if the heart weighed more than the feather.  This fate could be avoided by use of a spell that stopped the heart from declaring its owner’s crimes.  Those who passed this test were judged pure and became spirits with the power to move among the gods.  They might be invited to join the millions who travelled in the barque of the sun and battled against the chaos serpent, Apep. (5)

Ancient Babylon:
Below the earth was the subterranean sea called “Apsu” which could be reached by an opening in the ground; it was surrounded by a sea that enclosed all earth and heaven.  Near the mountain of the Sunset was the entrance to the Underworld, which was called Kurnugia, or Arali, and occupied the uttermost depths of the earth.  This region was divided into seven parts by seven girdle-walls, each of which was divided with two doors.  It was ruled over by a goddess called Allatu, or Ereshkigal, who, with the help of Six Hundred Anunnaki, took charge of the spirits of the dead.  The gods of the passage to the Underworld, or the “Land of no return,” were Birtu and Manungal.  To reach the underworld the spirits bound thither had to cross the river Khubur and pass through the Seven Gates, which divided it into seven parts, like the Seven Arits of the Book of the Dead.  The Underworld, which was usually called Kigallu, or Arallu, or Ikalla, was situated under the earth, and the spirit of the dead entered into it through an opening in the earth in the West. (6)

The heathens were the first that kindled the fire of Purgatory in the world; And the truth is Bellarmine himself confesses so much, when he proves the Doctrine of Purgatory from the testimony of Plato, Cicero and Virgil. (7)

Plato (428/427 BC - 348/347 BC) 

Virgil (70 BC - 19 BC)

Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC)

Saint Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), Italian Jesuit

The Magic Lantern show, the precursor to the Motion Pictures was used in the Dark Ages to coerce people into a state of fear.  The illustration above is from the 17th century Jesuit priest, Athanasius Kircher’s Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae that shows an image of someone burning in torment.  The Jesuit priests would burn sulphur that would give an effect of the smell of purgatory.

It is quite clear that the belief of instant torment upon death or instant paradise at death is a pagan belief that the Catholic Church has embraced as dogma and also her many daughters.  Though Muslims believe in judgment day, their sacred book the Quran, like Catholicism, teaches the pagan belief of torment upon death and has borrowed from the Babylonians, the belief that there are seven gates of hell in the underworld.  This is not at all in line with the Scriptures.

And if you could see when the angels take away the souls of those who disbelieve (at death), they smite their faces and their backs, (saying): "Taste the punishment of blazing fire."
Surah 8:50

"it (Hell) has seven gates, for each of those gates is a (special) class (of sinners) asigned.
Surah 15:44

Why is praying for the dead meaningless and an absolute waste of time and energy and also very, very dangerous?  It is a form of necromancy/witchcraft (Deut. 18:9-12) and there is nowhere in the Holy Scriptures that anyone ever prayed for their departed loves ones, for they all knew that their dead are unequivocally dead.

For the dead cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.
Isaiah 38:18

The Papacy has embraced the pagan teachings of life after death and it has influenced many other churches and their souls throughout Christendom and even people who do not believe in the Holy Scriptures.  The present Pope, Benedict XVI, when he was ‘the ultra-conservative German Cardinal Josef Ratzinger’ was the ‘author of the new 492-page Catechism for the Universal Church,’ (8) published in 1991, that teaches Catholics to pray for their dead loved ones.  The Papal dogma of praying for the dead can be traced not the Holy Scriptures, but to the book of Esdras, which is a part of the Apocrypha. The Apocrypha (Greek for “hidden”) is not in the proto-canonical books contained in the Massoretic text, the Hebrew Bible (Genesis to II Chronicles), neither is it quoted in the New Testament by Christ or the apostles, for it was out of harmony with rest of the Holy Scriptures.  The Deutero-Canonical books that make up the Catholic Bible that consists of the Apocrypha, teaches unbiblical doctrines.

Requiem Masses are Masses that are offered for the dead.  They derive their name from the first word of the Introit, which may be traced to the Fourth Book of Esdras, one of the Apocrypha, at the passage “Expectate pastorem vestrum, requiem aeternitatis dabit vobis…Parati estote ad praemia regni, quia lux perpetua lucebit vobis per oeternitatem temporis (IV Esd., ii, 34, 35). (9) Purgatory in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.  This doctrine that many who have died are still in place of purification and that prayers avail to help the dead is part of the very earliest Christian tradition. (10)

In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honoured with great respect the memory of the dead; and “because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins” she offers her suffrages for them.  Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective. (11)

What about ghosts?
In the 19th century there arose a new trend in the modern world, that people can communicate with spirits or departed loved ones, which today is termed as ‘Spiritualism’, but which really is ‘doctrines of devils’.  In New York, U.S.A., there was Leah Fox (1814-1819), Margaret Fox (1833-1893) and Kate Fox (1837-1892) better known as ‘The Fox sisters’ who started the ‘Mr. Splitfoot’ movement in 1848.  Though it was short lived, there has been a modern 21st century revival in people taking a keen interest in wanting to communicate with the dead, from scientists, Hollywood celebrities and not surprisingly, the arbiter of deception, the Vatican.    The Holy Scriptures is very clear what happens to an individual at death.

For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.  Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6
As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up n more.  He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place no him any more.
Job 7:9, 10

But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast?  Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.
II Samuel 12:23

The above texts are very explicit and clear, so why do people all over the world believe in ancestor worship or think that they are being visited by their dead relatives.  Gary H. Kah a high-ranking government liaison and a former Europe and Middle East trade specialist for the Indiana Government in the United States, wrote how the masses are being and will be deceived in his book En Route to Global Occupation.
‘Some people, who regularly put themselves in trances may eventually be directly approached by spirit beings during their trance.  Some theologians believe that these spirits, which are actually demons, can take on any form they choose, depending on what that particular person believes.  For example, a New Ager who has embraced pantheism along with its inherent belief in reincarnation, may, while in a trance, encounter a spirit which approaches under the guise of being a more highly evolved being.  This being, or “ascended master,” has gone through several incarnations, and is allegedly therefore able to communicate in ways that less evolved humans cannot.  Those in the fields of philosophy and psychology who have delved into the occult, such as Carl Jung, have had similar experiences-only they refer to these beings as archetypal images or “Ideal Forms.”  Strict humanists, on the other hand, who do not believe in the existence of a spirit realm, are more commonly approached by beings posing as extraterrestrials who claim that they are higher forms of life from other worlds and are able to communicate in ways that humans have not yet discovered.  In short, demons will tell people whatever they want to hear and are willing to accept.  It is amazing that so many people, who refuse to believe in the existence of a God are not willingly, but eager, to accept such lies.  Not much has changed over the years.  It was the same way during the Old Testament era.’ (12)

His excellent expose of ‘spiritual wickedness in high places’ (Eph. 6:12) was supported by the late Roger Morneau (1925-1998), a French-Canadian Christian, who was raised a Roman Catholic, almost became a spiritist and converted to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.  Roger Morneau went a little further and with his little exposure to spiritualism, he unmasked through his first hand knowledge the agenda of Satan and his fallen angels and their plans to impersonate the dead.

‘The priest…said that demonic spirits have worked through the centuries to convince people to accept the concept that human beings have an inherently immortal soul.  He explained how spirits have taken great delight in impersonating dead loved ones or famous people – all in an attempt to persuade humanity that the human personality does not perish with the body.  My encounter with spirtism has made me extremely aware that the belief in life after death is part of a list of nine activities that expose people to the world of supernatural spirits.  Scriptures calls all of them abominations. (13)

The Holy Scriptures describes our adversary as ‘the great dragon…that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world’ (Rev. 12:9) and the more people reject God, the more they are opening themselves up to satanic deception, for God will allow individuals to be deceived by Satan and his fallen angels if they totally reject the light of the everlasting gospel.

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
II Thessalonians 2:11, 12

Satan and his fallen angels, also known as ‘devils’ and ‘unclean’ and ‘evil’ spirits since their fall (Matt. 4:24; 12:24; James 2:19; Luke 7:21; Acts 19:13-15; Rev. 16:13, 14), are not hideous and monstrous looking as horror films and pre-Christian cultures depict demons.  The Holy Scriptures describes Satan in a totally different light.  Lucifer, which means light-bearer name changed to Satan and the Devil after his fall.

...full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.  Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; THou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.  Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.  Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.  Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground,  I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.  Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of they traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall deliver thee, and I will bring thee to the ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that beheld thee.
Ezekiel 28:12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18

And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
II Corinthians 11:14

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.  Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.  They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake the kingdoms; That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of prisoners?
Isaiah 14:12-17

Satan knows that his biography is written out in the Holy Scriptures and he is going to deceive the masses ‘because he knoweth that he hath but a short time’ (Rev. 12:12).    If Satan is ‘perfect in beauty’ and can transform himself ‘into an angel of light’, he and his angels can also impersonate the dead.  This was the case with King Saul after God rejected him for his constant disobedience (I Sam.16:1).  Though Saul got rid of ‘those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards out of the land’ (I Sam. 28:3), in total desperation, fear and panic, when he saw the Philistine army ready to invade Israel, he inquired advice from the very people the Holy Scriptures in the ‘law of Moses’ forbids to be in contact with (Ex. 22:18; Lev. 19:31; 20:27; Deut. 18:10, 11).  Many Christians misunderstand this text.  The Holy Scriptures mentions twice that the prophet Samuel was dead (I Sam. 25:1; 28:3).  It is also clear that God rejected Saul.

And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.
I Samuel 28:6

So Saul went to an occultist, the woman known as the witch of Endor, who had ‘a familiar spirit’ (I Sam. 28:7).  What is a familiar spirit? It is a fallen angel, also known as ‘a spirit of divination’ (Acts 16:16-18).  So this witch was in contact with ‘devils.’  We have seen that God rejected Saul and it is clear that at death the ‘spirit of man…goeth upward’ and shall ‘return unto God who gave it’ (Ecc. 3:21; 12:7).  What did Saul ask the witch to do for him in his hour of anxiety?

Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? and he said, Bring up Samuel.
I Samuel 28:11

If an individual’ spirit goes back to God, why has Saul asked for the dead prophet Samuel to come up.  How could he ask a witch to summon up a man of God who was dead?  That is necromancy and ‘God is not the author of confusion’ (I Cor. 14:33), he will not say it is forbidden and then sanction it, so what did Saul see come up? 

And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spoke to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me?  for thou art Saul.  And the king said unto her, Be not afraid; for what sawest thou?  And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.  And he said unto her, What form is he of?  And she said, And old man cometh up: and he is covered with a mantle. And saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.
I Samuel 28:12-14 
Did Saul actually see Samuel or an impersonation of him by a fallen angel?  If ‘the dead know not anything’ as the scriptures have made plain, what exactly did Saul see?  The prophet Samuel’ mantle was torn by Saul when he was alive (I Sam. 15:27), so how could he be ‘covered’ in the mantle.  A key word in that passage of the Holy Scripture is ‘perceived’.  Saul had to ask the witch what she saw so when ‘Saul perceived it was Samuel’ it was based on the account of the witch medium.

And Samuel said to saul, Why hast thou disquited me, to bring me up?  And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.  Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy.
I Samuel 28:15, 16
The fallen angel or unclean spirit that impersonated Samuel also confirms to Saul that he knows that God has refused to communicate with him any more, so it is clear that God who rejected him by ‘prophets’ and ‘dreams’ is not then going to communicate to him through a dead prophet via a clairvoyant/medium.  Fallen angels know if we are connected to God or not, or if God’ presence has departed from us (Acts 19:13-16), for Saul was previously under torment by ‘an evil spirit’ when the Holy Spirit was departed from him because of his constant rebellion against God (I Sam. 16:14), so this fallen angel could clearly foretell Saul that his kingdom would be given to David and of his destruction by the Philistine army (I Sam. 28:17-20). 
To verify from the Holy Scriptures that God was displeased with what Saul did in his hour of despair by contacting a necromancer/clairvoyant, we have to compare scripture with scripture as the Holy Scriptures divinely instructs us.

So Saul died for his transgressions which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it; And inquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto the kingdom of Jesse.
I Chronicles 10:13, 14

The passage of scripture above is clear that Saul was communicating with a fallen angel, a demonic spirit and not the prophet Samuel.  The Holy Scriptures is its own interpreter and always explains itself and no one should be confused about this passage if we carefully study it out.  The dead are unequivocally dead.   
Jesus clearly tells us that Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44) and only those who are in tune with God will not be deceived by fallen angels in these last days of earth’ history as we are forewarned and told (Heb 5:14; Gal. 1:8; Col. 2:8; II Cor. 11:3).
But the masses are going to be deceived.  How will this be accomplished?  The best way to promote any idea is through an entertainment icon.  What many people once viewed as abnormal can be accepted as normal if a celebrity uses his or her influence to endorse it.  Hollywood actors are pawns in a game.  The Film the Exorcist (1973) glamorised communicating with the dead by using the Ouija board and the rap group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony glorified the Ouija by attempting to communicate with the late rapper Eric “Easy-E” Wright (1963- 1995) through their music, but it was the film Ghost (1990) starring the late Patrick Swayze (1952-2009), Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg that opened the door for people communicating with the dead and this started a trend of other Hollywood movies such as The Sixth Sense (1999); Gothika (2003), White Noise (2004), The Orphange (2007), The Lovely Bones (2009), The Haunting in Connecticut (2009), Charlie St. Cloud (2010) and Hereafter (2010), where big names were used to promote an idea that was once viewed as occultic, taboo, and dangerous.  The following accounts are how people in the U.S.A. and Great Britain are being deceived, like King Saul that the dead are communicating with them.

·      Looks like the late soccer legend George Best is up to old tricks again – flirting between three of his lovers after coming back as a GHOST!  The boozy Manchester United icon’s widow Alex, his mistress Gina Devino and his last lover Ros Hollidge have all reported haunting experiences.  Georges agen and best pal Phim Hughes said he also got spooked when an unseen hand mysteriously moved his DRINKS CABINET!  Mum-of-two Gina was so freaked out she turned to a medium – that’s a psychic not a sherry – who insisted…that Best IS in contact from beyond the grave, a year after his death. (14)

·      Sixth Sense star Bruce Willis claims to have spoken to his brother from beyond the grave.  The Hollywood star was with brother Robert when he died in hospital of Pancreatic cancer.  But he was so upset that he agreed to a suggestion from ex-wife Demi Moore to see a clairvoyant.  Willis, 46, is said to have been convinced his brother was in the room because the clairvoyant was speaking exactly like him.  He said: ‘Now I know there is life after death.  I do not know how it works but I believe it.’ (15)

·      Diana, Princess of Wales is enjoying the afterlife, spending time with Mother Teresa and working with children, according to mediums who claim to have contacted her.  Craig and Jane Hamilton-Parker said they talked to the Princess in two séances held in London for a US TV show.  ‘She was getting excited.  She found it all rather amusing,’ said Mrs Hamilton-Parker. (16)

Internationally acclaimed psychic medium John Edwards rose to fame at the start of the New Millennium with his claims of communicating with the dead.  Unlike other mediums before him who were mostly women, he is young looking and handsome, speaks gently and dresses in timberlands and combats when he walks into the studio.  He looks at someone in the crowd on his show and then he slowly describes what a dead relative wore, the car they drove, their house number or he mentions a nickname only that relative would of known them by and then that person in the crowd is brought to tears and John Edwards falsely comforts them and assures them that their dead relative is at peace in the afterlife, wherever that is.  John Edwards has recorded his experiences in a number of books he has authored and verifies that fallen angels, which he calls ‘spirit guides’ guided him into this field.

John Edwards, US Psychic medium

‘I’m a media medium.  It wasn’t until I was a teenager, after an encounter with a psychic named Lydia Clar, that I began to explore what was going on inside my head, and by college I was spending free time as a psychic medium.  By 1995, my spirit guides were pushing me to put more time and energy into that part of my life.  They were leading me to the understanding that I was on a path to a life’s work connecting the physical world to the spirit world.’ (17)

John Edwards has also reached out to the rich and famous.  Diana is the mother of the late R & B singer, actress and model Aaliyah (1979-2001) who was killed in a plane crash after a video shoot in the Bahamas.  Diana was so distraught over her daughter’ death that she contacted John Edwards to see if she could communicate with her daughter or to see if she was in the afterlife, this is what the spirit guides or fallen angels told John Edwards to tell Diana who is also a faithful Catholic.

As she explained to me afterward, “I was in the hotel, and I walked around by myself thinking, Should I do this? Does Lili want me to do this?  I knew she had a very strong belief in the afterlife.  She had begun to talk about it quite a bit as she got older, and she had brought books on it.  That’s another reason why I wanted to do it, because she had the belief.  And the reading really did help me.  It really did.  It was amazing…there were so many parts that were so on point.  As soon as the “dominant” energy came through me, even as I thought it might be male, Diane knew it was her Lili.  As our session came to a close, Aaliyah’s strong energy lingered in the room.  “Aaliyah is still connected to you, and she’s counting on you,” I told her.  And all of us must remember this when we lose someone we love.  Cry, then pick yourself up bravely, because they’re watching over us and hoping we’ll do well during the rest of our years here, fulfilling whatever destiny we have. (18)

This “dominant energy” that John Edwards experienced channelling through him was a fallen angel who was able to tell him about Aaliyah’ life.  It is not just the rich and famous that are tapping into the paranormal or attempting to communicate with the dead, but it is also surprisingly scientists and the men in the Vatican.  When the film White Noise was released in 2004 starring Michael Keaton, information came out on how much people are actually trying to communicate with the dead.

Professor Ernst Senkowski claims to have stumbled upon in the course of his experiments a device communicating with the dead.  Eccentric though he sounds, Emeritus Professor Senkowski is a distinguished physicist from Bingen technical university in Germany, and one of a growing band of academics around the world studying messages that appear to come from the dead.  Researchers claim these communications, known as Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) can be heard loud and clear.  Perhaps inevitably, Hollywood has got in on the story and on Friday the film White Noise, starring Michael Keaton, will be released.  It tells the story of a successful architect who is contacted from beyond the grave by his murdered wife and the shocking events that unfold.
Around 20 countries now host research groups dedicated to studying the phenomena.  And British researchers have gathered compelling evidence which, they believe, proves the ghostly voices do indeed come from the dead.  Electronic Voice Phenomena were first detected shortly after the invention of radio.  After a while, such occasional ghosts in the machine were ignored by engineers and written off as ‘interference’.  But all that changed in the early 1950s when the Roman Catholic Church started taking an interest.  Strange as it may seem, the Vatican employs a large number of scientists to ensure that the Church is up to date with technological developments.  They are often highly gifted and dedicated researchers who bring to science a refreshingly different perspective.  In 1952, two of these researchers stumbled across ghostly messages while recording some Gregorian chanting.  As they played back the recording, Fathers Genelli and Ernetti noticed a whispering voice in the background – one that was definitely not there in the original performance.  After a while Genelli realised that it was his own father’s voice.  The priests then recorded the chanting once more – and again heard the voice.  It said quite clearly: ‘But Zucchini, it is clear, don’t you know it is I?’  Again it was Gemelli’s father’s voice, but more significantly, he used the nickname Zucchini, a name known only to the priest’s parents.  These few words convinced Genelli that he was hearing from his father.  The priests took their findings to Pope Pius XII, with surprising results.  Expecting to be chastised for involving themselves in black magic, the two priests were shocked to discover that the Pope was delighted with their research.  The Pope reassured them: ‘This experiment may perhaps become the cornerstone for building scientific studies which will strengthen people’s faith in the hereafter.’ (19)

If the Papacy already endorses necromancy by praying to the dead in its dogma in total contradiction to God’ command (Deut. 18:9-12), then it should be of no surprise that they would sanction priests communicating with the dead.  If all the world will eventually follow the Papal beast (Rev. 13:3, 4, 8; 17:8), it should not be a surprise that this system which has ‘become the habitation of devils and the hold of every foul spirit’ (Rev. 18:2) will lead out in this modern revival of Spiritualism.

We have seen from the authority of the Holy Scriptures that at death the body lies in the earth and the spirit returns to God, so the dead are unequivocally dead and they will not be alive again until either the first resurrection, also described by Jesus as ‘the resurrection of life’ for all those who are saved and have sealed their ticket into eternity and the second resurrection known as ‘the second death’, that will come upon all the wicked on the ‘day of judgment’ who have rejected salvation and eternity.

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Daniel 12:2

And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow,  that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.
Acts 24:15

That the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction? they shall be brought forth to the day of wrath.
Job 21:30

The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.
II Peter 2:19

When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with him, then He shall sit upon the throne of His glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.  Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty,  and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.  Then shall the righteous answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?  When we saw thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?  Or when we saw thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto them. Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.  Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meet: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.  Then shall they also answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did mot minister unto thee?  Then shall He answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.  And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
Matthew 25:31-46

These texts of the resurrection and of judgment day are in conflict with the pagan belief that has been embraced by the majority of the churches, that at death an individual goes straight into heaven.  The resurrection for the dead and the ascension of the living at the Second Coming of Christ will be the time when the saved will go into heaven (Col. 1:5; I Pet. 1:7; John 14:1-3; I Thess. 4:13-18) and they will have qualified for the criteria to enter in.  The following texts show us what each person has overcome in this life to enter into eternity, for Jesus is clear that those who follow the narrow way will enter into eternity at His Second Coming (Matt. 7:13, 14).

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
I Corinthians 6:9, 10

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater,, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Ephesians 5:5

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkeness, revellings, and such like: of the which I told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Revelation 21:8

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.  For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
Revelation 22:14, 15

Prior to the first resurrection there have been the odd exceptions.  Three individuals are known to have made it into heaven before Jesus came onto this earth.  Adam’ sixth descendant, the Patriarch Enoch (Gen. 5:21-24; Heb. 11:5) and the prophet Elijah (II Kings 2:11) were ‘translated’ or ascended into heaven, for they did not taste death.  Moses, on the other hand was to experience death, for God said to him that ‘thou shalt sleep with thy fathers’ (Deut. 31:16), for when he died at 120 years old he was ‘…buried…in a valley in the land of Moab’ (Deut. 34:6).  Though King David was ‘not ascended into the heavens’, Moses was privileged in that he was resurrected which had led to a big dispute between Michael and Satan, for Satan accuses the brethren and thinks that God should have no mercy on us when we fall, but that we should die when we sin, but God always steps in for us (Zech. 3:1-4; Rev. 12:11).

Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
Jude 9

When Christ was transfigured in ‘the high mountain’, God the Father repeated what He said at Christ’ baptism and the disciples saw both Moses and Elijah talking to Christ who represented both the ascension and the resurrection (Matt. 17:1-6).  When Jesus was resurrected, there were also a number of saints that were also resurrected with Him and they also ascended with Him into heaven in fulfilment of prophecy (Ps. 68:18) and these are the 24 elders who are interceding with Christ our ‘high priest’ in the ‘temple of the tabernale of the testimony in heaven’, for they were adorned with white robes and crowns on their head that represents their victory over this world (Rev. 3:5; 7:9, 14; 6:11; II Tim. 4:8; James 1:12; I Pet. 5:4; Rev. 2:10; 3:11).  There were also 24 priests in the sanctuary service on earth (I Chron. 24:4).

Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud vice, yielded up the ghost.  And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the city, and appeared unto many.
Matthew 27:50-53

Wherefore he saith, When He ascendeth up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
Ephesians 4:8

And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment: and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
Revelation 4:4

And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
Revelation 5:8

All those who are ‘looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ’ (Titus 2:13) will be a part of the first resurrection and ascension and a few Bible scholars have recorded this grand event.

Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Presbyterian minister
‘Who shall be raised: All that are in the graves, all that have died from the beginning of time, and all that shall die to the end of time.  It was said (Dan. 12:2), Many shall arise; Christ here tells us that those many shall be all; all must appear before the judge, and therefore all must be raised; every person, and the whole of every person, and the whole of every person; every soul shall return to its body, and every bone to its bone.  The grave is the prison of dead bodies, where they are detained.  Even those that are not put into graves shall arise; but, because most are put into graves, Christ uses this expression, all that are in the graves.  The Jews used the word sheol for the grave, which signifies the state of the dead; all that are in that state shall hear.  How they shall be raised.  They shall hear his voice; The Lord shall descend with a shout, the shout of a king, with the voice of the archangel; either Christ himself, the prince of the angels, or the commander-in-chief, under him, of the heavenly hosts.  The resurrection of the body will be a resurrection of life to all those, and those only, that have been sincere and constant in doing good.  They shall not only be acquitted, as a pardoned criminal, we say, has his life, but they shall be admitted into the presence of God, and that is life, it is better than life, they shall be attended with comfort into perfection.  To live is to be happy, and they shall be advanced above the fear of death; that is life indeed in which mortality is for ever swallowed up.  The dead in Christ shall rise first, before those who are found alive at Christ’s coming shall be changed; and so it appears that those who shall then be found alive shall not prevent those that are asleep.  The first care of the Redeemer in that day will be about his dead saints; he will raise them before the great change passes on those who feel asleep in Jesus.  At, or immediately before, this rapture into the clouds, those who are alive will undergo a mighty change, which will be equivalent to dying.  This change is so mysterious that we cannot comprehend it: we know little or nothing of it, I Co 15:51.  Only, in the general, this mortal must put on immortality, and these bodies will be made fit to inherit the kingdom of God, which flesh and blood in its present state are not capable of.  This change will be in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (I Co. 15:52), in the very instant, or not long after the raising up of those that sleep in Jesus.  (20)

John Nevis Andrews (1829-1883), Seventh-day Adventist missionary
‘The resurrection of the righteous to immortality is decisive proof that they have already passed the test of the judgment, and have been accepted of the Judge.  The resurrection of the saints is to immortal life, and they are made immortal in the very act of the resurrection.  The decision of their cases is, therefore, passed before their resurrection, for the nature of their resurrection is declarative of their eternal salvation.  There is a resurrection which bears the inspired designation of the “first resurrection”.  All who have part in the first resurrection are pronounced “blessed and holy”.  On them “the second death hath no power”.  This resurrection is out from among the dead.  Paul earnestly laboured to attain to it.  It is to be at the Coming of Christ.  Only those who are Christ’s shall have part in it.  All that have part in it are the children of God because they are the children of the resurrection of life.  These facts clearly prove that the examination of the cases of the righteous precedes their resurrection of the advent of Christ, that event being really declarative of their innocence in the sight of God, and of their eternal salvation.  Such as are accepted of God are raised; the others sleep till the resurrection to damnation.  These facts are decisive proof that the righteous are judged before they are raised.  But we have a still more explicit statement yet to notice.  Says our Lord: “But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead”, etc.  Then it is certain that the act of accounting worthy to obtain the resurrection from among the dead, and a part in the world to come, does precede the resurrection of the righteous.  But this act of accounting men worthy of a part in the kingdom of God is the very act of acquitting them in the judgment.  The investigative judgment in the cases of the righteous is, therefore, past before their resurrection.  As the resurrection of the just is at the advent of Christ, it follows that they pass their examination, and are accounted worthy of a place in the kingdom of God, before the Saviour returns to the earth to gather them to himself.  It is proved, therefore, that the resurrection of the saints to immortal life is declarative of their acceptance before God.  The saints alone are to be caught up to meet Christ in the air. I Thess. 4:17.  But the decision who these are saints are, who shall thus be caught up, rests not with angels who execute the work, but with the Judge, who gives them their commission. (21)

We see that at the Second Coming, the resurrection and the ascension is the joy and hope of Christ’ faithful saints and Jesus is coming back for a people who are ready.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; That He might sanctify it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Ephesians 5:25-27

To the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at he coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.
I Thessalonians 3:13

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I Thessalonians 5:23

So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I Corinthians 1:7, 8

Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth rigteousness.  Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
II Peter 3:13, 14

Many Christians have a problem with these texts for they believe that when Christ returns, He will change our characters, but that is in contradiction to Christ’ parable of the marriage feast.  For when Christ returns which is described as a marriage by John (Rev. 19:7-9), those who have not prepared themselves and are not sealed in their foreheads (Rev. 7:1-3) will be destroyed by Christ’ brightness at His Second Coming.

And when the king came into the see the guests, He saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having on a wedding garment? And he was speechless.  Then said the King to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  For many are called, but few are chosen.
Matthew 22:11-14

Let us earnestly pray without ceasing that we are not deceived into any unbiblical false teachings, either by mortal men or by fallen angels as to the state of the dead.  Every text that you have read in this study, go over each one of them so that you know that everything is in context.   Let us pray that we become a part of the first and not the second resurrection so that we can boldly look at Christ when He returns.

For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
Hebrews 10:37

Source: (1) Tyndale’s Answer to Sir Thomas Moore’s Dialogue by William Tyndale pp. 180, 181; (2) In the Blood by Steve Jones pp. 54, 58, 59; (3) The Jewish War by Flavius Josephus pp. 133, 136, 137; (4) Myths and Legends p.126; (5) World Mythology by Roy Willis p.55; (6) Babylonian Life and History by E. A. Wallis Budge pp. 99, 100, 108, 114; (7) The History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of Piemont by Samuel Morland pp. c, ci; (8) The Sunday Telegraph, July 21, 1991; (9) The Catholic Encyclopaedia, volume 12, p.776; (10) Ibid, pp. 575, 577; (11) Catechism of the Catholic Church, 938;  (12) En Route to Global Occupation by Gary Kah p.73; (13) A Trip into the Supernatural by Roger Morneau pp. 59, 62; (14) News of the World, December 3, 2006 p.40; (15) METRO, Monday, February 11, 2002 p.4; (16) METRO, March 10, 2003 p.9; (17) Crossing Over by John Edwards pp. xv, 6; (18) Afterlife by John Edwards pp. 41, 43, 44; (19) Daily Mail, January 3, 2005 p.22; (20) Matthew Henry’s Whole Commentary on the Whole Bible pp. 1945, 2343; (21) The Judgment, Its events and their Order by J. N. Andrews pp. 7, 8, 9, 10

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Blogger Templates