Chapter 11 - Love and Death

Love and Death

Where is God when we are dying? Where is He when the young die?

Who is this God who both kills1 and loves?2 How can these two be reconciled?

Here is one explanation with two parts:

The first part of the explanation is obvious. We are all mortal and we will all die. It is just a matter of time and only God can determine when that time will be. Some lives are long; some are short. Ironically, however, most of us live their lives as if there will always be a tomorrow. But there are only a certain number of tomorrows.

The second part of the explanation is more difficult to embrace. The second part of the explanation is that death is not the ultimate tragedy. Death is not the ultimate tragedy because, in addition to the fleeting hours of our mortal life, we, as Christians, have been given eternal life which is the ultimate gift of God who loves us.3

Eternal life is given to the soul, not to the body. We know this because all bodies will die whether they are saved or not:

it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.4

Although bodies will die, all souls will not die:

Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death5

everyone who lives and believes in Me [Jesus Christ] will never die.6

In Ezekiel the Creator speaks directly through the prophet and says:

Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth shall die.7

In this passage, God makes clear that the soul is not the same thing as the body.

Instead, He draws a clear delineation between the body and the soul and this clear line between the two is reiterated throughout scripture: There is a soul and there is a body and who we are is the soul, not the body. We are souls walking around in bodies.

The most comprehensive delineation of the soul as opposed to the body (as well as the fact that who we are is the soul) is found in the parable of Lazarus.8 Lazarus was a beggar who was scorned by a rich man daily. The rich man never gave to Lazarus, even though he could have. Eventually both Lazarus and the rich man died and Lazarus went to the bosom of Abraham but the rich man went to Hades, which is the abode of the dead.9 Following their death we find that they converse about their life and speak of their respective circumstances after death.

Thus, the respective souls of these men exist after death and are conversing intelligently and are reaping the results of the choices they made on earth. The bodies are not there because their bodies have died and lie buried somewhere on the earth. But their souls survived the death of their bodies and their souls are alive.

When Jesus gives the parable of Lazarus, He is speaking of the souls as being the very persons who had died. Who they were was not their bodies. Who they were, their thoughts, their desires, their loves and all of the non-physical aspects of them was who they were and all of who they were is embodied in their souls.

The fact that the dead are not simply the dead physical bodies can be seen by the scriptures that teach of the resurrection of the bodies of the just (the first resurrection)10 and resurrection of the unjust (the second resurrection).11 Everyone will be resurrected and reunited with their bodies. But one group will be resurrected for eternal life and the other for eternal death following the final judgment.12

Paul differentiates between the body and the soul in Romans 7 when he speaks of the “inward man” and the “flesh.” He laments the influence of the flesh (sin) on the inward man (the soul). Paul clarifies that the person that he really is the inward man, but sometimes the inward man serves the law of his members (sin):

For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.13

He wishes to be delivered from the effect of this “body of death” and, indeed, he has found the answer in Jesus Christ:

O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with thee mind I myself serve the law or God; but with the flesh the law of sin.14

The effect of death is to deprive the body of life, not to deprive the soul of life. The soul continues to live after death until, unless it has relied upon Jesus Christ, the final judgment. So there are two deaths. The first death is the death of the body and the second death is the death of the soul.

By coming to Christ we can avoid the second death. That is why Jesus Christ is so important. Salvation is when we turn to Christ and trust in Him for the forgiveness of all sin. If we do that then He gives us eternal life and we avoid the second death, which is eternal.

The second death is exactly what scripture says it is: it is death. It is real death, not eternal torment. God does not burn unbelievers in hell for eternity; there is no such thing as eternal torment for unbelievers. It is simply not in scripture. Anyone who questions this should open a concordance to the word "torment" and "eternal" or similar words. Eternal torment applies only to Satan, the antichrist and the false prophet.15

However, that is not to say that those who have rejected Christ will avoid any consequence for sins other than death. There is indeed a hell and, as we learn from the Parable of Lazarus, there are consequences to the soul between first and the second death.

During this life, we are a soul united with a living body. We are souls that are expressing themselves through bodies. To put it in colloquial language, our bodies are our “avatar,” our means of expression and interface in the material world. So when we die, it is our bodies, our avatar, that dies, not us. We, the real we, continues to live.16

We are not sparks of life that begin with a Darwinian accident and end in dust. We are souls created by a Creator and we will live for eternity if we drink from the well of eternal life offered by Christ.17

Whosoever drinketh of this water that I shall give him shall never thirst: but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.18

It is most comforting and enlightening to contemplate the difference between the body and the soul. The concept is etched into scripture and when we permit scripture to alter our perspective, we find that it is no longer necessary to mysticize the concept of eternal life, or to lament the tragedy of untimely death, or indeed, to fear our own death.

If we choose not to drink of the water of eternal life, we will not experience eternal life. Instead, we will continue to exist as a morally dead soul and when our body dies, our soul will, in the end, be judged and it will die just as our body did.

It all turns on righteousness. Spiritual life or spiritual death: it is all a question of righteousness; it is a question of good or evil, a question of moral or immoral. God has placed us in a world that is a moral free-for-all and He has done it for a reason. It is no accident that we are forced to make difficult choices and endure pain. There is a reason for it, and that reason is that in this way alone can He create eternal value. We become what we freely choose. And we cannot freely choose unless both options confront us. We live in a world of moral light and moral darkness. Ultimately morality is the center of it all and we choose:

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evilhe that doeth truth cometh to the light19

We “drink” of the water of eternal life when we trust in Christ for the forgiveness of all sin. At that point morally dead souls become alive again.

The soul is dead because of sin unless Christ makes it alive by paying the penalty for sin:

And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened [made alive] together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses20

And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins…21

The soul that sinneth, it shall die.22

And how do we know that our soul has become alive? When a dead soul becomes alive-and no longer intends to embrace death by committing immoral acts-it experiences the presence of the Creator:

He that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.23

Eternal life is therefore not simply an extension of mortal life. It is an experience. It is spiritual life and it is an entirely different life from our physical life. That is the reason why the experience is called being "born again."24 It spiritual life that we receive before the body dies and it is intended to be experienced.

Mortal life has a beginning and it has an end. Eternal life does not. Eternal life, being eternal, has neither beginning nor end. Eternal life has a point of commencement for us because we receive it at one point in time, but what we receive is life that has existed for eternity. Eternal life is therefore not simply an extension of mortal life; it is something entirely different.

Eternal life is Christ’s life:

“I am ... the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.”25

Eternal life is a supernatural life that is superimposed on mortal life and lived and experienced in this life and thereafter. Eternal life is knowing God.26 We experience this life until we mar it with immorality and sin. It is a marvelous life that must be experienced to be comprehended:

“In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”27

One day the mortal life of the Christian will end. But is that day the ultimate adversity?

Death of the Redeemed

For the Christian, that day of his death will be like the lady who returned to her home on a cold day. She is tired, and rather than hanging her ragged coat in the closet, she walks into her home and lets it slip to the floor behind her. But the real person, who she really is, walks on. That is death for the Christian. The ragged body slips off to the floor, but the person continues on. That is what Christ meant when He said, "I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish."28 He did not mean that our bodies would never die. He meant that our souls will never die. Our stay here is temporary. It always has been.

Death of the Unredeemed

What of the man, the son or the daughter who dies apparently without accepting Christ and without receiving eternal life?

We know first that God is in control29 so no matter what the deceased had done or said before his demise, he or she may have been saved. God is not limited by the uninformed choices of man. Salvation that occurs moments before death is no more limited than the boundaries of God’s omnipotence. God is limited by neither time nor circumstance. He is not limited by the roller-coaster of youth, the depth of a depression, the death of love or the bullet of an assailant. And He will not permit one pebble on the coast of His eternity to be misplaced by the thoughtless designs of anyone. All good, all evil and all else are under His just control. There is always hope for salvation.

A man or a woman, however, who does die without Christ does not face an eternity in the flames of hell. After the body dies, the soul faces a stay in hell, which may or may not be horrendous, depending upon the sins committed during life. Each person will be judged by a just God based upon what he did in life.30 But in the end his soul will die.31

Many evangelical churches teach that those who do not turn to Christ during this lifetime will be sentenced to be tormented for eternity. There is no scripture that makes this statement. On the contrary, scripture repeatedly states that the inescapable result of sin is death, not eternal torment.32

If you are the parent, the spouse or friend of someone who rejected Christ to his dying breath, you still do not know that he was not saved. But even if he was not, you may rest assured that although he will be judged for his sins, he will be rightly judged and he will not be burned in hell forever.


1. Luke 12:5 “Fear Him, which after He hath killed hath power to cast into hell.”

2. John 8:16 “God is love.” John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

3. 1 John 2:25 “And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life.”

4. Hebrews 9:27

5. James 5:20

6. John 11:26

7. Ezekiel 18:4

8. Luke 16:19-31

9. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich (University of Chicago Press), 2d Ed. 1958, p. 563, s.v. άδης “the underworld, the place of the dead.” This word should be distinguished from “hell.” See id. s.v. γέενα “Valley of the sons of Hinnom…the place of punishment…”

10. Revelation 20:4-6 “ I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God…But the rest of the dead lived no again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power…”

11. John 5:29 “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.”

12. Scriptures teaches that the final state of the unredeemed is eternal death (the second death), not eternal torment. Eternal torment is reserved for Satan, the antichrist and the false prophet. See A Scriptural Discussion OF Hell.

13. Romans 7:22, 23

14. Romans 7:24, 25

15. Revelation 21:8 “[the] unbelievingshall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Ezekiel 18:4 “Behold, all souls are minethe soul that sinneth shall die...” Scripture teaches that the soul that sins shall die. Scripture does not teach that the soul that sins shall be tormented eternally. See the author's Fate of Unbelievers.

16. John 5:24 “Verily, verily, I say unto you. He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, that everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; bu is passed from death unto life.”

17. John 4:14 " But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."

18. John 4:14

19. John 3:19,21

20. Colossians 2:13

21. Ephesians 2:1

22. Ezekiel 18:20

23. John 14:21

24. John 4:6,7

25. John 14:6

26. John 17:3 “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.”

27. John 3:5,6 "Except a man be born of water [physical birth] and of the Spirit [spiritual birth] he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."

28. John 10:28 (nasv)

29. Ephesians 1:4,5 “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be hold and without blame before Him in love; Having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.”

30. Revelation 20:13 “and they were judged every man according to their works.”

31. See the author's Fate of Unbelievers, which examines all of the scriptures that relate to the doctrinal error called "eternal torment."

32. There are 48 such scriptures all of which are quoted in A Scriptural Discussion of Hell, supra..