The atheist, the agnostic, and the devout religious alike; each and every one of us must at some point come to address these universal questions – Why are we here? How did we get here? What is the meaning of life?
In the previous chapter, What is the Matrix, we examined several potential answers to these questions. A close study of the bible tells us that we were all born into this life as part of a predestined plan for salvation.
Several passages of scripture strongly suggest a great multitude of what would ultimately become mankind (metaphorically referred to as a system of “trees”) existed in the Garden of Eden alongside “Adam” and “Eve” (Ezekiel 17:12-24; 28:12-13; 31:8-14; Isaiah 14:8-15). These vast nations of trees committed a number of heinous sins while in Eden, the garden of God. Engulfed by their own pride, they would be cast down to earth, to the depths of sheol (Ezekiel 31:14; Isaiah 14:15; Revelation 12:4).
At some point while still in Eden, Adam and Eve had finally succumbed to the realization of their own transgressions. They chose to hide themselves “among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8).
Our heavenly Father knew these transgressions could not go unpunished. Something needed to be done. Being overcome by his undying love for us, God predestined a plan to die a most gruesome death on our behalf – a sacrificial offering for sins of his children. The Father would create from his own being, a likeness of Himself. A Christ for all mankind.
“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground…He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows… but he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him: and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:2-6; emphasis mine)
Christ, in the image of the Father, entered the martix (the womb) to be physically born into this world. He grew into a young man who would preach the true gospel message of repentance from sin, and the arrival of the kingdom of God (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15; Luke 10:9). Christ would then fulfill the Fathers plan by offering his own blood on the cross and declaring his power over death by rising from the grave. This sacrifice offering paved the way for all who believe in him to eventually regain access to the eternal “tree” of life (Genesis 2:9; 3:24; Revelation 22:2).
Our purpose in this world is to love God, and to love one another as he loves us (John 13:34). To be reconciled back into the Father’s kingdom; this is the meaning of life.
Now… continuing this line of biblical logic, the next question we face is an obvious extension of the former; what is death? What happens to us after we die?
The atheist’s response to this great mystery is simple. Nothing, we cease to exist. The agnostic response is to say, I don’t know and I don’t care. There is no way to prove it one way or the other. The Christian will respond with a statement we have all heard a thousand times. At the moment of death, bad people go to hell where they will burn in a lake of fire for all eternity. Good people go to heaven to be with Jesus where they will be reunited with their loved ones.
Popular culture paints a picture where at the moment of death we travel down a tunnel… we begin to see a bright light… and then, we are immediately “in heaven” with Jesus and all our loved ones who did not go to hell.
There are several books and movies claiming men, woman, and children have “been to heaven”. Some claim they have even met with the Lord Jesus Christ and their departed family members. Then, these individuals returned to earth to tell their heavenly stories. Okay, fantastic. Maybe they did indeed experience something other worldly. Perhaps their experiences were very real. Or, perhaps some of them are charlatans and they are fabricating their stories. What we can know for certain however is what the bible says about this mystery.
The truth, as revealed in the bible, is much more elaborate than an immediate transference to “heaven” or to the “lake of fire” at the moment of our death.
In this chapter, it will be revealed that never once does the bible ever say a human soul goes straight to heaven or straight to the lake of fire at the moment of death. In fact, the bible declares nothing of the sort. We will see that from cover to cover, there is zero evidence to support the false doctrine that heaven immediately awaits Christians who pass away. Nor will we find any scripture to declare the lake of fire immediately awaits the wicked.
The bible clearly teaches there are several extraordinary events which must transpire before we reach our final destination. The events which precede the lake of fire for the wicked, and paradise for the redeemed in Christ, are many. Such events include; sheol/hades (explained thoroughly in the chapter you are now reading), the resurrection of the living (first resurrection at the end of this current earth age – 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 20:4-6), the “millennium” reign of Christ right here on planet earth (Revelation 20:4), the resurrection of the dead (second resurrection at the end of the millennium – Revelation 20:3; 5), the final battle of good and evil (Revelation 20:7-10; Ezekiel 38; 39) and then, an event referred to by many as “the white throne judgement” where all mankind and fallen angels will be eternally judged (Revelation 20:11-15).
It is only after these supernatural events have taken place where the lost souls will be thrown into the lake of fire and the redeemed in Christ will be granted entrance into paradise. It is at that time, at the very end of it all… the creation of new heavens and a new earth will have been completed (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:12-13; Revelation 21:1).
“…what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2 Peter 3:11-13; emphasis in bold mine throughout this chapter)
It is here, in the new heavens (G3772; Ouranos) and new earth (G1093; Ge) where the redeemed in Christ will live in paradise for all eternity; just as it was in the Garden of Eden.
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Stacks and stacks of biblical evidence are cited, with definition and context.
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