Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The Fear of Your Death and of Our Immortal God

There is an abundant fear of death in our world.

The extent of that fear reaches absurd proportions when family members are prevented from being next to a loved one dying lest others die. 

If the public believed in the resurrection from the dead and God's promise of eternal life to those who trust Him and surrender their lives to Jesus' control, then one would demand to be next to a loved one dying because it is a "see you soon moment" rather than a fearful "this is the end of existence moment."

People fight dying because nobody likes non-existence. 

Most people either don't believe or understand the full impact of life, death, and the resurrection of the righteous to immortal life and for that reason, there is an inordinate fear of death.

Those afflicted with thanatophobia (e.g. "the fear of death") would serve themselves well be reading a few scholars who have recently written some seminal books on life, death, and resurrection.

It could change your life. 

Seminal writing is rare in the theological. The word "seminal" comes from the Latin word serere, which means "to sow." Writing that is seminal represents the seed (Latin: semen) of a future and greater harvest of truth that sets people free from the bondage of fear, for Jesus said, "When you know the truth, the truth will set you free" (John 8:31-32).

An example of seminal theological truth is Luther's Ninety-Five Theses (1517). In those theses that Luther penned, he declared that it is faith in Christ's work justifies a sinner before God, not the sacraments. Luther's writings on justification, though biblical, were deemed heretical by the Roman Catholic Church.

Five centuries later Luther's heresy has become evangelical orthodoxy, widely accepted by Christians around the world, including many Roman Catholics. Seminal theological writings are rare because as Solomon once declared:
"Is there anything of which one might say, "See this, it is new"? Already it has existed for ages which were before us" (Ecclesiastes 1:10).
Truth exists independent of truth's discovery. The only thing ever lost is one's understanding of truth. "God's word is truth" (John 17:17), and it isn't lost. But rare is the individual who uncovers truth from God that has been lost by others. When men are in darkness, the comprehension of truth in the mind of one man is often ridiculed. 

The Dark Ages brought about a great loss of human understanding of what it means to be made right with God through faith in Jesus alone. Luther's writings were seminal in that it only uncovered pre-existent and eternal truth. The greatest opposition to Luther's writing on justification by faith came from church leaders who adhered to centuries of church dogma on the subject.

Though Luther's teaching on being right with God through trusting Christ seemed new, it was in reality quite old truth because it was found in Scripture. Accepted church dogma can sometimes be the greatest hindrance to uncovering eternal truth via sola Scriptura (Scripture alone).

So for those afraid of death, it is possible that some seminal theological writing has taken place in the late 20th century and early portions of this century that could help you. New Testament scholars such as F.F. Bruce, Edward Fudge, John R.W. Stott, Richard Bauckham, John W. Wenham, and others have written on the subject of death, resurrection, the judgment, and afterlife, rejecting Plato's separation of soul and body and holding to what they call the biblical truth of indivisible unity between body and soul.

To these writers, the Hebrew word nephesh describes the life of man as soul and body united, with the consequence of sin being death to the whole person, both body and soul. The Bible portrays every man as a mortal. The belief that there is an independent, immaterial soul that lives apart from the body is from Plato, and not the Bible, say these New Testament scholars. They point out that the unique and profound teaching of both the Old and New Testaments is the resurrection of dead persons to face either judgment and eventually eternal death (i.e. 'the second death'), or to escape the coming judgment and to be granted the gift of immortal life through Jesus Christ.

In summary, the seminal theological writing of these modern scholars revolves around the following biblical truths:
(1). God alone possesses immortality (I Timothy 6:16), and the gift of God is eternal life to only those whose names are "written in the book of life" via their union with Jesus Christ (see John 3:16 and Revelation 20:12).
(2). Death destroys every mortal human being and is called "the last enemy" of those who die in Christ (I Cor. 15:26). But, these scholars say, "there is coming a day when all those who are in the tombs will hear His voice" (John 5:29) and be resurrected to life (nephesh) by God's power.
(3). Everyone will be resurrected from the dead, both the righteous and the unrighteous, and will either be judged and righteously punished for their actions on earth (John 5:29), or will be credited with the righteousness of Christ via their faith in Him and graciously escape the 'day of wrath' (Proverbs 11:4), being given immortal life which Jesus earned by His actions when He came to earth (Revelation 20:12).
(4). The punishment of the wicked by God is both equitable and proportional. That Day of Judgment will reveal various sentences of length and intensity for individual sinners, some punishments being more severe than others (Matt. 10:15).
(5). Hell is a holy prison where God's wrath is measured out in direct portion and relation to one's sins and crimes committed by each creature judged, with the final end of the unrighteous being their utter destruction, called "the second death" (Revelation 20:14).
(6). The end of every sinner without Christ is eternal death and the end of every justified sinner is immortal life (Romans 6:23).
Ironically, Martin Luther had a hand in these modern seminal writings. 

Both Luther and William Tyndale believed that "the dead are asleep, and feel nothing at all." Time is inconsequential during death, taught Luther, so regardless of the passage of time on earth, the next conscious thought after closing one's eyes in death is the awareness of hearing Christ's voice and feeling the power of the Creator in being raised from the dead. So when Jesus says, "Today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43) to the dying thief who believed in Him, it was indeed that day from the thief's perspective that he was with Christ in heaven. It's a little like going to sleep through anesthesia prior to surgery, only to wake up seemingly an instant later only to discover the long surgery is over. Time as measured on earth is irrelevant in the resurrection.

So, there is technically nothing wrong with a believer in Christ saying at his mother's funeral, "Mom is smiling in heaven today," even though the reality is his mom arrives in heaven the same day as he does. The general resurrection for all mankind occurs on that coming day when the voice of Christ will raise the dead (John 5:28). For those who wonder at the power of God to raise the dead after millenniums of corruption and cellular dissolution, one only has to look at the universe to see the majesty and power of the Creator to call into existence by fiat things that are. On that great day of resurrection, which is the central theme of New Testament Christianity, God's people will experience the perishable being clothed:
"...with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory" (I Corinthians 15:54 NIV).
John Calvin opposed Luther's views on the death of both body and soul, and at the young age of twenty-five, he published Psychopannchia, a refutation of Luther's conditional immortality. Calvin took the position that the soul is innately immortal, and most post-reformation evangelicals have followed Calvin's views since. Unlike 'justification by faith,' Luther's teaching on the conditional immortality of the soul never blossomed into evangelical orthodoxy, even though Luther's writings on this subject were comparable to his writings on justification by faith in both breadth and depth.

What if we are living in a new day of fresh discovery of the eternal truth that God alone has immortality and that the gift of God is eternal life to only those who trust Jesus? What changes? Answer: Our understanding of heaven and hell.

The Implications

The Bible's use of the word "reward" for believers is always singular in the New Testament. Contrary to modern church dogma that various 'rewards' are given to Christians for the way they lived their lives on earth, the New Testament speaks of a singular reward given to all believers in union with Jesus Christ. This reward is eternal life. Jesus earned this reward for us by His perfect obedience as Man. Though He is God, He became Man for us. Eternal life is granted to only those who trust Him:
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
Notice, the wicked who die apart from Christ perish. If what these modern biblical scholars are saying is true, those who reject the only Savior given to mankind (Acts 4:12) will be raised from the dead to face the righteous condemnation of God for their sins against mankind and their Creator (Psalm 2:12), will serve penal sentences for their actions, and will then perish. Without question, the Bible teaches that hell is real and not imaginary, penal (punitive) and not corrective, and is eternal not temporal in terms of the end result of all punishments meted out by God.

The Bible's hell is the prison created by God where various sentences of divine punishment are served by those raised to judgment in order to die a second time as a consequence of their sins. However, it is in hell that God recognizes good things done in this life by giving a lighter sentence of punishment (Matthew 10:15). Degrees of punishment in hell is not mercy; it is justice. Righteous judges on earth never give the same sentence for different crimes. The punishment must always match the crime to be considered true justice.

So it is with the most righteous Judge of all. A person who dies without union to Christ, but has lived a moral, ethical, and selfless life as measured by the natural law in the heart of every man (see Romans 1:20), will receive a far less severe punishment from God than the rapists, serial murderers, and child abusers who also die without Christ. Therefore, the eternal part of hell is the end result of punishment (i.e. 'the second death') and not the process of punishing. The teaching of Jesus shows that the eternality of hell is not the torment, but the final punishment of destruction: 
"Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
My friend, Kyle Williams, told me he was in a bookstore and saw a book cover with a picture of a man holding a beer in his hand with the title being I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. Christ isn't sitting behind that kind of bar when He judges man. It will be a solemn experience for those without a Savior, and the severity and intensity of divine punishment will be in direct proportion to the wickedness of the thoughts, actions, character, and life choices of the one judged by Christ (see Romans 2). The good news of the gospel is that all those in Christ escape this day of wrath (see Romans 8:1).

As a branch eventually dies after being separated from the tree, so too, every unredeemed sinner raised to life to face judgment before the Creator will be "cast out" from God's presence to eventually die again (Matthew 13:41-43). The process of dying the second death while in hell will vary in degree, intensity and time -- according to the sins and crimes committed on earth; but the final end will be the second death for all the wicked (Revelation 20:14). Let me make it simple and clear. According to the Bible, the wicked will be destroyed (Psalm 37:38).

Those evangelicals who have believed in the eternal torment of the wicked may find it rather shocking to consider that the 'gift of God," which is called eternal life in Scripture (John 3:16), is only given to believers in Jesus and never to those who die apart from Christ. Jesus says those without Christ will perish (see again John 3:16). There are numerous other biblical passages where the end of wicked is made just as clear.
A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.
(Psalm 37: 10-11)
The wicked are like chaff that blows away.
(Psalm 1:4)
The wicked will be punished with everlasting destruction
and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.
(II Thessalonians 1:9)
As Edward Fudge writes,
"The wicked will not enjoy any of God's blessings that the redeemed enjoy, because they will perish (Romans 2:12). They are anathema, which means marked for destruction (I Cor. 16:22; Gal. 1:8-9). This is not a theoretical statement that might really happen and might not. No, God will destroy them (Rom. 2:12; I Cor. 3:17). Paul says it in every he can say it. The wicked will suffer destruction (Gal. 5:21; 6:8; Phil. 1:28; 3:19). That destruction will be sudden when it comes (I Thess. 5:3), and once accomplished, it will be everlasting (II Thess. 1:9)." (Hell: A Final Word, page 128).
For those Christians who object by saying, "But Jesus said in the parable of the sheep and the goats that These (the goats) will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into life eternal' (Matthew 25:46). 
"Doesn't eternal punishment mean eternal punishment?"
Yes, it does. But it is called eternal punishment, not eternal punishing

We read in the Bible of "eternal salvation" (Hebrews 5:9), "eternal redemption" (Hebrews 9:12), "eternal judgment" (Hebrews 6:2), "eternal punishment" (Matthew 25:46), and "eternal destruction" (II Thessalonians 1:9). 

These five works of God will not be fully known or experienced by individuals until the age to come. But there is something very interesting about these eternal activities of God.
(1). Eternal salvation is the result of saving
(2). Eternal redemption is the result of redeeming.
(3). Eternal judgment is the result of judging.
(4). Eternal punishment is the result of punishing.
(5). Eternal destruction is the result of destroying.
We Christians correctly point out that the Bible teaches the process of saving us is not eternal. God doesn't keep continually saving; He saved us at the cross. It is the results of saving which are eternalEternal salvation is life. Yet, many Christians contradict Scripture and logic by not teaching that the process of punishing comes to end as well, and it is the end result of God's punishing that is eternal. Eternal punishment is death.  

Eternal salvation results from a saving that ends, but the sinner's salvation (life) is eternal. Eternal redemption results from a redeeming that ends, but the sinner's redemption (forgiveness) is eternal. So too, the punishing of a sinner (God's judicial review of one's life at the judgment) ends, but the sinner's punishment is eternal (the second death). God's eternal destroying of the sinner stops, but the destruction of that sinner is eternal. 

The Principle

The reward for every sinner who surrenders his or her life to Jesus Christ and trusts His work on the cross for sinners is the gift of eternal life. That life eternal is won by the perfect obedience of Christ on behalf of His people. The notion that there will be different degrees of enjoyment in heaven based upon one's meritorious works on earth is both contrary to the teaching of Scripture and the principles of grace.

But on the other hand...

The degrees of punishment, retribution, and vengeance in hell vary according to the actions of a person in this life. The moral, good and selfless person who rejects Christ will find the process of punishing and the progress toward his ultimate destruction (the second death) less painful, more tolerable, and ultimately unequal to that of a rapist, serial murderer, and other vile criminals. All the wicked will end up like ‘chaff blown away’ (Psalm 1:4), but the process of dying the second death will vary according to ‘the deeds done in the body.”

The Bible declares that this process of dying the second death in the prison of hell will include distress (Romans 2:9), fury (Romans 2:8), tribulation (Romans 2:9) and resentment (Luke 13:28). God’s wrath will be judicially measured and meted out according to the individual's crimes committed on earth (Romans 2:8; I Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9), but in the end, the Lord will remove the wicked."
"The face of the LORD is set against those who do what
is evil, to erase all memory of them" (Psalm 34:16).
After proofreading this article for me, my wife said, "Wade, it gives me a great deal of comfort knowing that Adolph Hitler, Osama bin Laden, and others who lived such wicked lives on earth will be destroyed by God and not live for eternity." I told her it also could bring great comfort to those who see the inherent beauty of justice, for God will not punish all the wicked the same. Of course, the ultimate plumb-line for truth is not our comfort. Truth will set people free. The truth of Scripture regarding death, resurrection, judgment and eternal life will free people to see the depth and beauty of both God's love and His justice.

Truth is eternal

Heaven is equal ground; hell is unequal ground. 

The reason there is such a fear of death in our world today is that people know intuitively and individually that this life is all there is for the wicked, other than a fearful waiting for the Judgment.

For indeed, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living (immortal) God (Hebrews 10:31). 

It is fearful, that is, unless you know that the immortal God has given to you the gift of immortal life. 
"For the wages of your sin is death, but the free gift of God is immortal life in Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23). 


Bob Cleveland said...

It will be a couple more days, yet, until Peg ... my wife of 61 years ... has been dead one week.

She was as staunch a believer in Jesus, Heaven, and the truth of Scripture, as anyone I know. As is the rest of the family, as well!

The effects on the family have been purely joyful. In an air of sadness, of course, but there's been laughter, tales told, and reflection on what a gift she really was.

In an ironic twist, the same morning she unexpectedly went into the hospital, we had discussed (at the breakfast table) what we would do if the other one died.Truly providential.

I cannot describe the absolute necessity of reliance of and trust in Scripture and the wisdom of ironing that all out, now.

Christiane said...

so sorry to hear of your loss, BOB CLEVELAND

I will pray for you and your family. God Bless!

Paul D said...

Wade - beautiful post.

I too agree with Luther that the dead are asleep. Is there a good answer for Biblical admonishments against communicating with dead?


Anonymous said...

'Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was:
and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.'

Paul D said...

Bob Cleveland - no words. That is inspiring. You have my upmost respect and most sincere condolences on your loss. Thank God for another age to come.


Rex Ray said...

Dear Bob,

It’s with sadness I’m writing now. 61 years. I can’t imagine the shock of loosing your wife that seemed healthy the same day. I’d want to cry, WHY LORD

Losing my wife, Belle, of 55 years, 12-27-12, was not a shock as it took five years for her to meet Jesus, but I still cried my eyes out when the day came.

It’s good to hear “…there’s been laughter, tales told…”. The ones that loved my twin brother that ‘left’ March 17, are still swapping stories.

Wade Burleson said...


As I shared with you, Rachelle and I continue to keep you and your family in our prayers. It was my privilege to have been able to meet Peg and call her a friend. Your loss is our loss, but we are so grateful for the truth of the resurrection and the gift of life forever. We'll once again enjoy her smile, laughter, and uplifting encouragement. Blessings.

Anonymous said...

Christiane said...

Dear people,
please pray for the sick in the Rio Grande Valley of TX who are being 'triaged' and 'sent home' because there is no room for all who need care in the hospitals. There is not enough oxygen to send some these patients home with oxygen support.

The news coming from that part of Texas is so awful, I'm wondering why in this case, the federal government doesn't step in and offer support because of the intensity of the crisis. In Starr County, two US Navy doctors with special training are coming to help out. And refrigerated trucks which can hold up to fifty bodies are being sent to the area morgues and crematory facilities because of the overflow need.
I hope and pray some help comes for these folks in time to save lives. Please pray.

If something CAN be done, at least to give portable oxygen to those sent home, it would be the humane thing to do for these souls who are suffering. Very sad news from Starr and Hidalgo counties indeed.

Rex Ray said...


I staple four and a half pages with a closepin (easy to find) near my computer. They are a list of your post (starting 11-21-19 and the number of comments each. I read any new comment on all post until it gets to “Older post”. It takes about five minutes to see if any new comment has been added.

How do you check for new comments? It disturbs me when days go by and I can’t make a comment because “Comment moderation has been enabled. All comments must be approved by the blog author.”

Rex Ray said...



Before discussing the Scriptures you listed, how many obituaries have you read that said the deceased was in their grave? How many said they were in heaven?

I liked the way you conducted you father-in-law’s funeral. Everything you said lifted him up in praise. (I thought, I’d like for you to preach my funeral someday.) You didn’t mention where his body and soul were at the present.

In this Post you wrote:
“Everyone will be resurrected from the dead, both the righteous and the unrighteous, and will either be judged and righteously punished for their actions on earth (John 5:29)”

I agree that the “righteous” are those of John 3:16, and the unrighteous are those not of that Scripture.

(John 5:28-29 NLT) “Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to judgment.”

Wade, I believe all that is true in the Bible is from God, anything not true in the Bible is NOT from God. What is untrue about the verses above is saying eternal life is based on OUR WORKS OF BEING GOOD. DUH! That implies Muslims have eternal life if they’ve been good.

“Riches won’t help in the day of judgment, but right living is a safeguard against death.” (Proverbs 11:4 NLT)

But you put a TWIST on this verse saying: Everyone will be credited with the righteousness of Christ via their faith in Him and graciously escape the ‘day of wrath.

“…Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42 NLT)

Jesus didn’t explain he’d spend three days in his grave and many more on the earth before he went to his kingdom. “And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be WITH ME in paradise.” (Luke 23:43 NLT)

But Wade, you put a spin on “today”: “It’s a little like going to sleep through anesthesia prior to surgery…” (blab, blab, because)

“Jesus replied…now as to whether the dead will be raised…God said…he is the God of the living, not the dead…” (Mark 12:24-27 NLT)

Christiane said...

" . . . whoever abides in love abides in God, and God in him." (1 John, chapter 4)

does this help?

Christiane said...

Hello there REX RAY,

stay faithful 'in the Word'

'the Word' is not the source of confusion, we humans are the problem :)

RB Kuter said...

"The news coming from that part of Texas is so awful, I'm wondering why in this case, the federal government doesn't step in and offer support because of the intensity of the crisis."

Don't know, of course, but given that simple observation shows immediate and overwhelming response by Federal Government to requests for masks, ventilators, hospital ships, Federal resources to turn hotels into huge hospitals, I'm guessing that the Federal Government has not been asked to contribute.

Christiane said...

Hello Mr. Kuter,

Do you think the governor of Texas might ask for help from the federal government for these people?

RB Kuter said...

Christiane, I apologize for not viewing the link that you shared originally but have gathered more information on that situation after viewing it. It seems to be a weird case where local officials are responding by telling the people that they need to shelter in place, etc. to address the spike in cases. They say that the people went to far in returning to normal lifestyles of gathering in crowds, etc. too fast.

But the local officials did not address ways to address the overwhelming of their medical resources. They didn't even mention asking the state to step in which would probably have to be done prior to the Federal Government responding. So they acknowledge they have a problem beyond their means to resolve it but aren't mentioning requesting assistance from the state officials, at least not in that report on the link. I saw no reference to that.

The logical thing to do to slow the spike would be to announce policies to back off and opening of social activities. The logical thing to do to address the shortage in medical resources would seem to be to simply ask for assistance. If neither of these things are happening it seems to be yet another instance when local politicians don't step up to the challenge of fulfilling the responsibilities of their office.

I am no doubt simplifying things due to my lack of information, but on the surface that is what I understand the situation to be.

Rex Ray said...


“Do not worship any other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3 NLT) Can the Bible be made into a god? Maybe God allowed errors so we wouldn’t do that.

Paul wrote: “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 KJ)

CHRISTIANE, how do we divide truth?

As a prisoner Paul presented his case before Felix who kept him in prison two years before Festus took his position.

When Festus heard his case, Paul said: “…no one has the right to turn me over to these men to kill me. I APPEAL TO CAESAR!” (Acts 25:11 NLT)

King “Agrippa said to Festus, “…He could have been set free if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar.” (Acts 26:32 NLT)

Many years later in Rome:

“Three days after Paul’s arrival, he called together the local Jewish leaders. He said to them, “Brothers, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Roman government [Felix and Festus] …The Romans [King Agrippa] tried me [there was no trial, they only heard your story] and wanted to release me [they couldn’t because you had appealed to Caesar] But when the Jewish leaders protested the decision [Only people there were Agrippa, Festus, and you.] I felt it necessary to appeal to Caesar.” (Acts 28:17-19 NLT)

WHAT! Paul, can you remember anything?

Christiane said...

Thank you for responding, Mr. Kuter.

REX RAY, I was trying the ENCOURAGE you in GOOD direction in accordance with your faith tradition!!!! :) I tried.

Christiane said...


I have struggled with much, as you know, and I have tried to comprehend what is meaningful to others.

Sometimes I think the disparity in how people see things comes from the variant sources they use for information,
but lately, I'm wondering if the differences might be much more complicated than that. It occurs that people struggle often with what is 'ambiguous' so that rather than attempt to accept the ambiguity (the mystery) that is 'the holy', they NEED what is more concrete and within the limits of how they can comprehend literally, in small steps, more fundamental than philosophical. (?)

I just have written something on another blog (it is not approved yet, nor may it ever be) and I would like to share it with you as I am trying to sort some thoughts out, so here is what I wrote:

(Preface for context:
The blog mentioned Tillich's insights into 'the demonic' and the ambiguities of good and evil in what exists in God's creation.)

"yes, the ambiguity of 'the fire' . . . . it gives light, yes;
but does it destroy utterly or purify? Paul Tillich sees deeper into 'the holy' than our usual grasp on the dichotomy of 'good' versus 'evil';

the ancient evil? the ancient images of mysticism, seen in many cultures throughout the world . . . . Norse, Celtic, Hebraic, expressed in 'sacrifices' for good causes . . . no salvation without the shedding of innocent blood? And in the faith, eventually, we come to see a deeper desire from God than offering something external for 'sacrifice' to please Him: that we give OF OURSELVES for the sake of 'the other' without thought of our own benefit and that it is this selfless self-giving, which we MAY THEN call 'love', WHICH WE FIRST LEARN FROM GOD HIMSELF AT CALVARY, and as we learn revealed in sacred Scripture 'God is love'. and we re-define our concepts of what God demands from us that is 'good' . . . . and fundamentalism doesn't understand this fully yet, does it, Dr._____, maybe because it is TOO 'ambiguous' and fundamentalism requires concrete literal terms to grasp meaning? (?)
I am asking, not stating this, as I have thought also much about the nature of 'fundamentalism' and how it has needed to evolve in its realization of 'the holy', so I am curious that you brought Tillich up, and a bit glad to see that you did in the present context of this post. :) "

WADE, I am in process of grieving, as you know, and I have discovered that the pain I am experiencing is above all things, an expression of love for the dear one who has passed. And when I think about this, there is some comfort that comes. 'Love' is 'more than' what we humans can sometimes bear as it opens us up to suffering when there is loss.
It is good that Our Lord has given us His Peace and there we find sanctuary and help from the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.
I am praying for Bob Cleveland this week, that he is comforted. May it be so.

Rex Ray said...

For those of us that have lost loved ones.

Go Down, Death
James Weldon Johnson - 1871-1938
Weep not, weep not,
She is not dead;
She's resting in the bosom of Jesus.
Heart-broken husband--weep no more;
Grief-stricken son--weep no more;
Left-lonesome daughter --weep no more;
She only just gone home.
Day before yesterday morning,
God was looking down from his great, high heaven,
Looking down on all his children,
And his eye fell on Sister Caroline,
Tossing on her bed of pain.
And God's big heart was touched with pity,
With the everlasting pity.
And God sat back on his throne,
And he commanded that tall, bright angel standing at his right hand:
Call me Death!
And that tall, bright angel cried in a voice
That broke like a clap of thunder:
Call Death!--Call Death!
And the echo sounded down the streets of heaven
Till it reached away back to that shadowy place,
Where Death waits with his pale, white horses.
And Death heard the summons,
And he leaped on his fastest horse,
Pale as a sheet in the moonlight.
Up the golden street Death galloped,
And the hooves of his horses struck fire from the gold,
But they didn't make no sound.
Up Death rode to the Great White Throne,
And waited for God's command.
And God said: Go down, Death, go down,
Go down to Savannah, Georgia,
Down in Yamacraw,
And find Sister Caroline.
She's borne the burden and heat of the day,
She's labored long in my vineyard,
And she's tired--
She's weary--
Go down, Death, and bring her to me.
And Death didn't say a word,
But he loosed the reins on his pale, white horse,
And he clamped the spurs to his bloodless sides,
And out and down he rode,
Through heaven's pearly gates,
Past suns and moons and stars;
on Death rode,
Leaving the lightning's flash behind;
Straight down he came.
While we were watching round her bed,
She turned her eyes and looked away,
She saw what we couldn't see;
She saw Old Death. She saw Old Death
Coming like a falling star.
But Death didn't frighten Sister Caroline;
He looked to her like a welcome friend.
And she whispered to us: I'm going home,
And she smiled and closed her eyes.
And Death took her up like a baby,
And she lay in his icy arms,
But she didn't feel no chill.
And death began to ride again--
Up beyond the evening star,
Into the glittering light of glory,
On to the Great White Throne.
And there he laid Sister Caroline
On the loving breast of Jesus.
And Jesus took his own hand and wiped away her tears,
And he smoothed the furrows from her face,
And the angels sang a little song,
And Jesus rocked her in his arms,
And kept a-saying: Take your rest,
Take your rest.
Weep not--weep not,
She is not dead;
She's resting in the bosom of Jesus.

Rex Ray said...

Last words of my 5-year-old cousin: “Mama which one is our house?

Last words of my grandmother: “It’s so beautiful. I see Poppa.”

Christiane said...

Thank you for the good words, REX RAY.

Wade Burleson said...


I would be honored to do your funeral when you die at 150 years of age! :)

Remember... "I assure you today, you will be with me in paradise."

There is no punctuation in the Greek New Testament. Where you put the comma makes all the difference in the world.

Christiane, thanks again for your comments. Prayers continue for you in the processing of all that is going on in the world and in your life.

I agree with your definition of LOVE! The world could stand a much bigger dose of it from all of us.

RB Kuter said...

"Truth exists independent of truth's discovery. The only thing ever lost is one's understanding of truth. "God's word is truth" (John 17:17), and it isn't lost. But rare is the individual who uncovers truth from God that has been lost by others. When men are in darkness, the comprehension of truth in the mind of one man is often ridiculed."

WHERE do you get these things?! Was this from Luther or Burleson? Man, that's deep, but illuminating. I especially like the part, "Truth exists independent of truth's discovery." but equally profound, "The only thing ever lost is one's understanding of truth"!

How appropriate in today's society and particularly today's society as reflected in our USA. "Truth....what IS truth?"

Anonymous said...

"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"

Rex Ray said...


Bad news! Doctor told me last month I’d not live to 122.

Rex Ray said...


What did Jesus mean when He said, ‘Today you will be with me in paradise’?"

Answer: It is common knowledge that punctuation, including commas, was introduced into the biblical manuscripts centuries after the books were completed. Therefore, commas are not authoritative.

However, the placement of commas can affect our understanding of a text. For example, in Luke 23, one of the thieves crucified next to Jesus says, “‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise’” (verses 42-43). Commas help us keep the original phrasing intact. Was Jesus saying, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me . . .” (meaning that “today” is when the thief would be in paradise)? Or was He saying, “I tell you the truth today, you will be with me . . .” (meaning that “today” is when Jesus was speaking”)?

First, we note that every major Bible translation inserts the comma before the word today. Thus, the KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV, ESV, RSV, and NLT all agree that Jesus was speaking of the time that the thief would enter paradise. The thief would be in paradise with Jesus on that very same day.

Also, Jesus prefaced His response with the phrase, “I tell you the truth” (“Verily I say unto thee” in the KJV). Many scholars have noticed that Jesus uses this as a prefix phrase when He is about to say something that should be listened to with care. Seventy-six times in the New Testament, Jesus uses the phrase. Interestingly, no one but Jesus ever says it. When the Lord says “I tell you the truth,” He is affirming that what He is about to say is worthy of special attention. It was Jesus’ way of saying, “Listen up! What I’m about to say is very important and should be listened to carefully.” We’re too used to hearing the phrase to appreciate the astonishing authority it expresses and the often-solemn nature of the announcement that follows. In every one of the 76 times Christ uses this introductory phrase, He simply says it and then makes a startling statement.

It would be strange indeed if, in this one instance, Jesus departed from His normal way of making His signature statement by adding the word today to it. In every case where this sort of introductory phrase is used, Greek scholars add a punctuation break after the phrase in question and before the rest of the statement. So, the translators have it right. The comma in Luke 23:43 belongs where they put it.

RB Kuter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RB Kuter said...

Rex Ray, you and I have debated this point with Wade before along with some other disagreements. He just won't yield to our wisdom and insight! Don't know what we're going to do with him. Guess we'll just have to be patient and keep loving him until we bring him around.

On our correct understanding that "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord" position, I tend to feel that if Jesus meant for us to believe that our presence in heaven was going to be delayed until His return and the rapture, He would have told us. It would seem like a deceptive tactic for Him to preach and teach as He did and then for the reality to be that our souls slept somewhere and for us to be separated from our Lord until His return instead of our being immediately with Him in glory following our taking our final breath in this world. What happens to the living, eternal presence of God's Holy Spirit in our soul when we die under those circumstances? Does He take a nap too?

Plus, the frequency of those references to our soul immediately being with God in heaven upon our death is so great as to create that context for the understanding of this doctrine. This in addition to the many occurrences given in Scripture of there being life immediately following death and simultaneously with the life going on in this physical world. He is the God of the living, Moses and Elijah present with Jesus on the mount, the very relative story (no matter whether a parable or actual event) of the rich man and poor Lazarus, etc.

But we do know that Wade and those that hold to his position are our brothers. If the three of us die before others in this world, we will meet Wade in heaven and say to him, "WE TOLD YOU SO!!"

Anonymous said...

"“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4)

Rex Ray said...


I like your humor.

Wade’s bringing up the Scripture when the thief on the cross would be in heaven turned out to be about like Hamon being hung on his own gallows.

On the other hand, it’s his blog, and may feel like Rodney Dangerfield saying “I can’t get no respect!” :)

RB Kuter said...

Yeah, but we must like him because we keep "hanging" around!

Christiane said...

Maybe EVERYONE is not so far off . . . ?

"behold, the kingdom of God is within you." (from the Holy Gospel of St.Luke 17:21)

when Augustine had first been converted he was discussing these matters with his mother who was a Christian woman and she said to him:

" you have already begun living an eternal life "

In the light of what we know about the Body of Christ, I think what she said made sense. Because in Christ, the temporal and the eternal are JOINED, and when He was 'incarnated', He took our whole humanity (from the ages to the ages) to Himself in order to heal it.

I think our comprehension of this is thwarted by our human limitations, but we live 'in Christ, with Christ, and through Christ' as Christian people in this world and on into eternity. So maybe Mr. Kuter and REX RAY and WADE are all of you correct in some way associated with the Paschal mysteries of how it is that Our Lord saves. Example: while in a human body, was Our Lord not able to be transfigured, if even for a moment as witnessed by the Apostles, before resuming His corporeal state? :)

Time and Eternity: don't worry so much about this, good people, the great philosophers and religious leaders haven't been able to 'transfigure' and return to Earth to tell us how this happens, so have some TRUST in the words of Our Lord as recorded in the Holy Gospel of St. Luke, and be at peace with yourselves and with each other. :)

RB Kuter said...

I agree that when Jesus taught that a person had to be "born again" to enter into the Kingdom of God He meant that literally in the sense of being born spiritually and it was an "eternal" life in which we are "born" into. So we should really celebrate our life as beginning on that day we made a decision to surrender to Christ as Lord and experienced that re-birth.

You are also correct, Christiane, in saying that whether Wade sleeps during those years after he dies while he is waiting on the rapture or not, Rex and I will be partying it up in heaven and waiting for his alarm clock to go off and join us. It is of no consequence in determining our salvation. Wade will eventually get there and we'll show him around.

Rex Ray said...


You’re making me smile again!

“…They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead…he got up and went back into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.” (Acts 14:19-20 NLT) (Sounds like Paul wasn’t hurting at all.)

WADE, did anyone in the Bible recover from stoning besides Paul?

“…I was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or outside my body, I don’t know; only God knows. Yes, only God knows whether I was in my body or outside my body. But I do know I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell.” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4 NLT)

Wade, sounds like heaven is GREAT! Noticed Paul said, “paradise” just as Jesus told the thief on his cross.

Rex Ray said...


I hope you’re not like the guy that said, “My mind’s made up; don’t confuse me with facts.”

Christiane said...

LOL, I do try but you guys are a challenge! :)

Rex Ray said...


Thanks for trying to pour oil on troubled waters. (Trying to settle a dispute with words intended to pacify those involved.)

BUT these ‘waters’ are a raging Sea that words cannot soothe. :)

Troy Long said...

Is a local legally libel for spreading the virus?

Troy Long said...


Bob Cleveland said...

One of the real foibles of imperfect humanity is the belief that we can understand everything ... really grasp Spiritual truths, comprehend Scripture, things of that sort. Well, we cannot.

If we could wrap our minds around it all, it would not take nearly the faith it does.

End times & Calendars? Where the dead in Christ are until He comes back? The exact characteristics of Heaven and Hell? I really don't care.

I guess I'll just trust Him.

Christiane said...

the "how many angels on the head of a pin syndrome"
does sometimes seem
like an extension of our implanted great need to 'know'
and we grown impatient and we begin to worry and then to be fearful . . .

it takes the fruit of the Holy Spirit to enable us to 'trust Him', yes,
as with it comes 'patience' and 'long-suffering' and even a kindness towards our own woundedness which we did not bring upon ourselves but with which we became in need
of a Savior

we forget how much of MERCY and GRACE we have been given sometimes

like those times we forget that one of the most beautiful names for Christ is
"The Great Physician" Who does not give us this spirit of fearfulness

Christiane said...

some thoughts also about how we see each other in our 'strange, strange' time of the coronvirus when we self-isolate to protect one another from contamination:

I had this thought that maybe AFTER we all have the virus vaccine in future and can once again be as we were in our communities,
that it might be a similar epiphany for us as what happened to Thomas Merton who, after a long time of living isolated from people, experienced in Louisville as he recorded, “IT WAS LIKE WAKING FROM A DREAM OF SEPARATENESS, OF SPURIOUS SELF-ISOLATION IN A SPECIAL WORLD”, this:

““In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world. . . .

This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . . I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”

Merton’s words so fit current situation with ‘sheltering’ from contamination by one another, that I wonder sometimes
how prescient was his vision . . . was it some forecast of a time to come, and will we also in this strange, strange time of ‘self-isolation’ find our fellow humans to be radiant when we can once again be ‘with’ them in community?

Merton had his insights, but was he also a prophet?

RB Kuter said...

Bob, I understand your sentiments and I don't believe that any of us are so concerned about whether our position is correct or not that it keeps us up at night fretting.

It's just a matter of dialogue between brothers and sisters over doctrine and searching to see what we can glean from Scripture that will provide more insight as to what God intends for us to know. I don't believe He would have given us details about such matters if He didn't intend for us to wrestle with it and search for those gems of revelation into the marvel of what He has in store for us otherwise.

There are so many things in which we cannot be certain related to exactly what God will do. Another one of those mysteries worth discussing and considering is whether or not God intends to utterly vaporize this planet and universe, which I believe would occur following the Millennium. Many well-versed theologians and pastors hold the position that God will not utterly remove it from existence but will purge the surface of this planet with fire and establish His New Heaven and New Earth within the confines of this creation that exists today. I don't agree but again, it's there and worth discussing.

You mentioned that you "really don't care", and perhaps it is of no consequence to you, but when we are called upon to teach The Word it is critical that we have wrestled with these things so as to better equip us for teaching others as to the options presented which have substantive foundation in Scripture. These are important matters that impact our lives, or will impact them, and we should do all we can to equip ourselves for what lies ahead.

When you are called upon to lead as pastor in a funeral, it is critical that we do not mislead those whose spirits are open and exposed as an open wound in grief over their loved one that has just passed on into that place God has in store for followers of His Son. I personally believe that is one objective intended by God when He did reveal to us what is in store for believers.

I also believe that is one purpose for The Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the account of His being active, conscious, and at work in that interim period between His Death and His Resurrection. As with the Mount of Transfiguration event,He was providing us a model for what we should anticipate for ourselves when we exit this realm into the next. These things are critical and perhaps the most important message a grieving survivor wants to know and we should not avoid addressing it just because there are those who may hold a different position on the matter than we.

The same goes for our teaching what Scripture says about Heaven and Hell. The reality of those places and our describing what is in store for those who end up in one or the other are the most important matters that a person must understand as they take their final breath in this world. People need to know and it would be cruel and probably not responsible for us to not boldly proclaim what we have gleaned from The Word of God on these matters. It is critical that we do our very best to discern what we can as being the very most likely reality.

Of course, it is good and right to address alternative positions held by some credible theologians and lead people to Scripture that supports both. I would never mind telling others what Wade's position is regarding what follows death of a believer. As a matter of fact, I have told others what Wade says on this matter more than once and explained that there are other very credible pastors who hold to the same position that he has. At the same time, I will explain to them my position and try not to be argumentative about it but be objective and allow Scripture to determine where the listener settles on the matter.

I think that is why we enjoy the dialogue and debate on such issues on this blog and it's one of the things that makes it so popular and well-visited. Wade does an awesome job of creating that kind of forum.

Christiane said...

An Anglican priest writes about the Coming of Christ into the world and of 'time' and of 'Eternity' and of our salvation,

"“Come to us Wisdom, come Unspoken Name
Come Root, and Key, and King, and Holy Flame,
O quickened little wick so tightly curled,
Be folded with us into time and place,
Unfold for us the mystery of grace
And make a womb of all this wounded world.
O Heart of Heaven beating in the earth,
O tiny Hope within our hopelessness
Come to be born, to bear us to our birth,
To touch a dying world with new-made Hands
And make these rags of time our swaddling bands.”

(Malcolm Guite)

Rex Ray said...

Well said!

CHRISTIANE, You saying: “An Anglican priest…” reminded me of the story of three small boys believing they were shunned by other boys because they hadn’t been baptized. A school janitor heard them talking and said, “I can baptize you.”

He pronounced them baptized after he ducked their heads in a commode. Afterwards, they wondered among themselves what denomination they were.

Finally, one said, “I know what we are! We’re Episcopalians! Don’t you remember that smell?”

Sorry, the devil made me do it.

Rex Ray said...


I won’t be upset if you delete this comment and the one above.

Christiane said...

REX RAY, it's too early in the day to get into trouble! Slow down, already. LOL :)

RB Kuter said...


Okay, guys, I know some of you reject anything proposed as a remedy for COVID like chloroquine or asthma medicine even when it is proven to be effective, but here again is support for Dr. Richard Barlett's (Texas) remedy which he has used almost 100% effectively on all of his COVID patients.

This report from "Hospimedica" medical news says that additional test trials are being run to affirm the use of the relatively simple and inexpensive remedy. Queensland University of Technology is running the trial.

The Budesonide proposal, like hydroxychloroquine, has been shrugged off and even opposed by those who seem bent on seeing this plague continue, apparently for alternative motives. Both frequently used medications (for asthma and malaria) offer very little risk from side effects, have been used for decades and are extremely practical.

When, and if, a vaccine is determined to be effective, we can anticipate immense opposition from those same forces bent on keeping the virus and it's immense amount of collateral damage (economy, unemployment, closed society) on-going until after November, and perhaps after, depending upon the outcome of the election. Those same forces seem to be the ones determined to undermine propositions for practical cures such as these.

My intention is not to highlight the politics, so sorry for veering off course. My motive for posting this is to offer any who may want to see your doctor about the possibilities of these remedies in the event you acquire the first symptoms of COVID. That's the time for this treatment, NOT after your condition has progressed to pneumonia and you have to go to the hospital.

Anonymous said...

meet Dr. Bartlett

Anonymous said...

Dr. Bartlett

RB Kuter said...

Anonymous, I don't believe the person in your first link is the same doctor.

Anonymous said...

RB Kuter said...

Yes, I did see that "Anonymous". Thank you for providing the link.