Why we die? – The initial rebellion

“What, in the world, is going on?”It seems that our world is going crazy. Wars, murders, illness, deterioration, deformity, and so many other things that make us pause and ponder: “How did we get here?”and “Why do we die?”

There are many reasons and ways for why people die. The immediate causes of death are: Sickness, Deformity, Deterioration (age), and Human violence and cruelty. But those reasons do not tell the whole story. They do not explain the real reasons why people die. They tell us only part of the story.

To understand why people die, we need to go beyond the pain and suffering that we experience here in this life. The Hindus believe that you suffer and die, because you are in a process of development. You suffer here to pay for something that you did in your past life. Every religion has its own explanation for death and life.

I believe that Christianity has the best explanation of all, and I would like to share with you that explanation, the one that really makes sense.

The Bible can help us to understand the real reasons why we die. It tells our story, the human story, and guides us through the whole process of death. When God created humans, they were perfect, without any problem, disease, or violence inclination. They were created to have a relationship and fellowship with God and with each other.

God gave them instructions about many things. But one of the instructions was a moral one. They could not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That was the first and only rule or law that God gave to them. The consequence of disobedience would be death.

Here is the text: “Genesis 2:15-17 – [15] The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. [16] And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; [17] but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”This text in Genesis helps us to understand how death came into the world.

The first thing that happened was an initial rebellion. Adam and Eve disobeyed God; they broke the law and ate from the tree that was forbidden to them.

That initial rebellion produced a crisis that changed humanity forever. That was the first death that occurred, it was a SPIRITUAL DEATH.

The relationship with God was broken, and man and woman died spiritually. After that the other relationships that humans had were also broken: Relationships with each other, relationships with nature, and relationships with themselves.

That initial rebellion changed our spiritual DNA and also our physical DNA. We started to die physically after that event. Because people lived in a perfect world, and had a perfect body those first generations were able to live long lives. That explains people living many hundreds of years. Little by little death, sickness, and destruction started to take control of the situation.

The initial rebellion was that humans wanted to be God. Do not get me wrong; we all have that same rebellion inside of us today. We all want to be God, and do whatever we wish. We turned our backs to God and usurped His Throne in our lives. That helps us to understand why we are so broken and messed up.

It is only by the grace and mercy of God that we can have that situation fixed.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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What happen when we die? – The Beginning of the Intermediate State

For some people the story that Jesus told in Luke 16: 19-31 is reason for concerns. Jesus could not be clearer than that about death, heaven and hell. Christianity postulates that there will be a resurrection of the body at the end of the age. The intermediate state is the state of being for those who died before that time. Jesus helps us to understand what happens during that time.

A – The Two Destinations

In this story we learn that there are two possible destinations after death: HEAVEN AND HELL. After the first judgment the souls will take different paths. The soul of the saved, believer and righteous will go to Heaven and the soul of the nonbeliever, unrighteous, and not saved goes to Hell.

This is what The Second Helvetic Confession – Chapter XXVI, states:

“THE STATE OF THE SOUL DEPARTED FROM THE BODY.  For we believe that the faithful, after bodily death, go directly to Christ, and, therefore, do not need the eulogies and prayers of the living for the dead and their services.  Likewise we believe that unbelievers are immediately cast into hell from which no exit is opened for the wicked by any services of the living.”

B – The souls will keep their Consciousness 

Some people believe that when we die we will not be able to remember and be aware of what we did and who we were. In this story Jesus tells us something totally different. The rich man was able to recognize his situation, remember his family and even Lazarus. He knows what is going on, and why he is where he is.

C – The state of the soul is Permanent

Finally, we learn that that state is permanent. Abraham makes clear to the rich man that there is a chasm between them and that chasm cannot be crossed. Also they cannot return to earth. As the popular culture and other religions try to tell us, Jesus strongly affirms that there is no way for someone to stay back after death, or to comeback from the dead.

As you can see death is a serious thing that we should not take lightly. Every one of us will have to face it. This is what you should know for sure about death: When you die your soul separates from your body immediately. That separation is permanent. After that separation the final destiny of the soul is already sealed. The soul of the believer starts enjoying Heaven and the soul of the nonbeliever starts suffering in Hell.

That state will change at the resurrection of the body when the person will keep his or her state with the resurrected body. This is why it is so important to make the right decisions right now while we are alive.

This is what the God in His word urges us to do:

“[15] See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 

[19] This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live [20] and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” Deuteronomy 30:15, 19, 20a

“[6] It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. 

[7] Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” Hebrews 4:6-7

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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What happens when we die? – The Spirit/Soul Separates from the Body

In his poem “If You Could See Me Now”, Patsy Stambaugh says this:

“If you could see me now you wouldn’t shed a tear.
Though you may not understand why I’m no longer there.
Remember my spirit that is the real me because I’m still very
Much alive, I’ve just been set free, Oh, if you could only see!”

As we all know death is separation. In death we experience many separations. The spiritual death is separation of the soul from God. Eternal death is the final separation from God, also called the second death.

The Physical Death is the separation of the soul from the body. This is the separation or death that we are more accustomed to experience. In the story that Jesus told in Luke 16: 19-31, he mentions that separation: “[22] “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.”

Let me share with you what we learn from Jesus about this separation.

A – An Immediate Separation

The first thing that we learn is that this separation is immediate. As Paul says, it is “in a blink of an eye”. When a person dies his or her soul separates immediately from his or her body. “and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it Ecclesiastes 12:7.”There is no lingering. This event is immediate. The text that we mentioned above makes clear that when Lazarus died he was immediately taken to Abraham’s side.

B – Irreversible Separation

The second thing that we learn about that separation is that it is irreversible. There is no return. In the story Jesus also emphasizes that the separation cannot be reversed, here is the text: “[26] And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.”In Job we hear the same thing:“Only a few years will pass before I go on the journey of no return. Job 16:22”

C – The Soul goes before God

Finally, at that point the soul faces its first judgment. Jesus did not describe this part with details, but it is clear that both of them went through some sort of judgment to have their destination decided. In the letter to the Hebrews we learn what happened at that moment: “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, Hebrews 9:27.” 

On top of the spirit/soul being separated from the body, we have other separations that also cause so much pain. It is the separation from family and friends. There is a Brazilian chorus that describes not only the hope, but the comfort that death could bring to each one of us. I translated the meaning but I was not able to duplicate the poetry:

When my eyes close

Jasiel F. Botelho

When my eyes close for that great trip, 

I went to Jesus. 

When you look for me and do not find me, 

I went to Jesus. 

When your eyes cry because you miss me 

I went to Jesus.

I live this life waiting for that day, 

When I am going to live with Jesus.

When your eyes close, for that great trip, 

Would you go to live with Jesus? 

When I look for you and do not find you 

Will it be because you went to live with Jesus? 

Because the Lord had suffered on the cross, 

Just to save you

Ask God the forgiveness of your errors

And receive Jesus, yes Jesus, the Savior.”

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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What happen when we die

“Flatliners 2017” is a remake of a 1990 movie. In this version we have five medical students who are obsessed by what lies beyond the confines of life. In other words, they want to know what happens when someone dies. To find out they embark on a daring experiment: by stopping their hearts for short periods of time, each triggers a near-death experience – giving them a firsthand account of the afterlife. 

Even though both movies failed, the idea is very interesting because, like those young doctors, everybody wants to know what comes after we die. This is why every religion and philosophy, in one way or the other, deals with this topic. 

Here are some of those ideas:

A – Rebirth into another life form (Eastern Religions and New Age)

This is the reincarnation theory. 

B – An unconscious state of the soul (Seventh Day Adventism)

They believe that the soul and the body sleep, waiting for the resurrection.

C – Being absorbed by the “cosmic consciousness” (Buddhism)

After many stages of progress the person finally reaches the Nirvana.

D – The doorway into eternal bliss for everyone (Universalism)

They believe that everybody goes to Heaven.

E – The end of our existence (Humanism)

It is the same as the atheists believe, the person ceases to exist.

F – Soul Migration (Animistic or Tribal Religions)

They believe that the soul remains and wanders on the earth, or travels to join the departed spirits of the ancestors in the underworld, also called the realm of the shadows

Some people take a different route; they joke around and make fun of those who have a strong belief, probably because they do not want to deal or think about it. People take it lightly and because of that they do not understand the seriousness of the situation.

In the New Testament we have a story that Jesus told which can help us to understand His ideas about what happens when we die. The story is found in Luke 16: 19-31. It is the story of The Rich Man and Lazarus. It comes straight from Jesus’ mouth. Some people believe that it is a parable, even though a parable is a story to illustrate a spiritual lesson. Being a parable does not mean that the event did not happen.

Other people believe that this is a real story because Jesus names two people in the story: Abraham and Lazarus. It would be the only parable in which Jesus did that.

Our goal here is to learn what happens when we die. The first lesson that Jesus teaches us about death in this story is that life continues. Death is not the end of our existence. In this text Jesus describes what happened with both men:“Luke 16:22-23 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.”

Do not be fooled by any religion, philosophy, and opinion that tells you that everything ends when you die. Jesus made clear in this story that there is life after death.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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The first things in Heaven – 3 – Jesus’ Sacrifice

Heaven will be breathtaking! When we arrive there, we will see so many things that it will be hard to decide what to see first. We will see the Glory of God, His Throne and Justice. But John saw something else there that attracted his attention. Besides the beauty, majesty, and awesomeness he saw a “Lamb looking as if it had been slain. Revelation 5:6.”

This was the next thing that he saw and we will see in Heaven. John made clear that it was Jesus. John the Baptist called Him “The Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. John 1:29.”After seeing the glory of God and His justice we will turn and see the Sacrifice of Jesus like it has just happened. That vision will remind us important lessons about Heaven.

            A – It Will Remind Us the Reason to Be There –We will know and see that we are in Heaven not because of our good deeds, but because of Jesus’ sacrifice. When we see that “lamb looking as if it had been slain”, we will know the reason. We will be in Heaven because of Jesus and not because of anything that we did. It was he who promised a place for us:“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.John 14:2-3.”

            B – It Will Remind Us the Price of Being There –John saw a lamb that was just sacrificed. That vision made an indelible mark in John’s mind and heart. It will mark us too. That will show us the price that was paid for our salvation. This is what Peter in his first letter wrote: For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1Pet. 1:18-19.”That will be an eternal reminder in Heaven. We will be able to see the scars on Jesus’ hands, feet, and side, and realize that a high price was paid for us.

            C – It Will Remind Us the Love That Brought Us There –That vision will reminds us of the Great Love that God has for us. We will be there because of that wonderful and sacrificial love. John 3:16 will echo in our minds and hearts: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,”and also 1John 3:16: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”

Jesus, the Lamb of God, who gave His life for us, will be one of the first things in Heaven. We will see Him, and we will not be able to contain ourselves. We will join the voices of people from all over the world and praise and thank Him for His wonderful grace and love.

We do not need to get to Heaven to begin to worship Him, thank Him, and surrender our lives to Him. We can start right now.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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The first things in Heaven – 2 – God’s Justice

October 1, 2017 will be another date that we will remember, not because something great happened, but because something awful happened. A deranged man armed to the teeth opened fire from a hotel window in Las Vegas on a peaceful and joyous crowd, whose only crime was to have fun and listen to their favorite artists.

Every time that we witness or hear something like this, the first thing that comes to our minds is, “Where was God?” or “Why God allowed that to happen?” Some of us would dare to go a little bit farther and say: “God is not fair!” On the other hand people think that they can do all those terrible things, destroy lives, families, hopes and dreams without facing a final justice. They are absolutely wrong.

When we come to The Book of Revelation we learn with the apostle John that the second thing that he saw in Heaven was God’s Justice. This are how John describes that for us: “At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. Revelation 4:2.”Later he has this to say in verse 8: “Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”

In Heaven we will understand things that now we cannot put together. We will see that God was Just, not only some times, but always. Let me share with you what that means.

            A – It Means Righteousness

That justice means Righteousness. God is a righteous God. Everything that God does is right. We will be able to understand that. Even about things in our life that we did not understand why it happened, we will be able to accept that God was right, His actions were right and He was just and fair. We will be able to recognize righteousness even in the case we don’t see some people in Heaven who we expected to be there. We will be able to accept that God is right.

            B – It Means Trustfulness

The second meaning of justice is trustfulness. I can trust in God because I know that He is powerful, just, righteous, and fair. I will be able to trust in His justice. I will be able to accept that those decisions that He made were the best and the right ones. We will be able to see His justice with different eyes. Our trust in Him will enable us to accept His acts and His justice.

            C – It Means Finality

The last meaning of God’s Justice is its Finality. In Heaven we will realize that what was done is done, and it is over. We will put aside all the questions that we have against His justice, or our feeling that He was unjust. We will be able to realize that God has the final word, and what He decides is right and just. We will not feel bad, sad, or disappointed. We just will recognize and know that God is God, He is seated on the throne of Heaven, and He controls everything all the time.

Sometimes, circumstances happen in our lives that have the ability to shake that knowledge and trust that God is still in control. John with his experience is trying to help us to understand that our God is a Just and Righteous God, no matter what happens.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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The first things in Heaven – 1 – God’s Glory

What happens to us when we die? Movies and books telling the stories of people who died and came back to tell their ordeal, are increasing on the bookshelves of every bookstore in the world. People are just too curious about what is going to happen when they die.

In the Bible this experience is extremely rare. We have Paul, going there and coming back, but he did not say anything about his experience. We also have the Apostle John, narrating with details his experience in the book of Revelation. In chapters 5 and 6 we learn about the first things that John saw in Heaven. Here is how he starts telling about his experience: “After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” Revelation 5:1.”

“COME UP HERE”, said the voice, probably the voice of Jesus Himself, inviting John to go up to Heaven and see things that only a few people ever saw. John shared with us his experience there, and that will help us to understand what he saw and what it looks like.

This text tells us the first things that the Apostle John saw when he went to Heaven after receiving an invitation from Jesus. It will help us to have an idea of what we will see when we get there.

The first thing that we will see in Heaven is the Glory of God. John tries to translate that beauty with human words. We know that this is hard. What does all that grandeur, beauty, and immensity mean?

            A – It Means Majesty

The Glory of God, first of all means, Majesty. We will see the Majesty of God and His Sovereignty. We will realize that God is really The God, the only one, the creator, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. John saw the throne, the lights, the sounds, the elders, and the heavenly beings; all of them worshiping in awe His Majesty. Yes, we will see God’s Majesty with all its grandiosity. 

            B – It Means Control

The second meaning of that entire Throne is Control. God is in control. The Glory of God is manifested in His control. He controls everything, not just things pertaining to His church and people. He controls the whole universe. We will realize that He never lost control, and never will. During the whole vision of the Apocalypse, or Revelation that John had, God never lost control of anything. He is seated on the Throne, commanding and governing everything.

            C – It Means Power

The Glory of God also means power. John was able to see the power of God right in front of his eyes. We also will see how powerful and mighty God is when we arrive in Heaven. John had the experience that God is a powerful God, who does what He says and wants. Unfortunately our generation is remaking the image of God. God has been described as small, weak, and sometimes irrelevant. The God that John saw was tremendous, dominant, and mighty.

My friend, when we arrive in Heaven, the first thing that we will see is God’s Glory full of Majesty. We will realize that He is powerful and was and is always in control of everything. It would be great if we could start seeing Him like that right now in our lives.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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I believe in the life everlasting – The right attitude

When you attend a memorial service, do you ponder about your own mortality? When someone shares with you about his or her illness, do you imagine how you would handle yourself in that situation? When you hear about the unexpected death of people healthier and younger than you, do you think about how we have no control of our life and death? 

What should we do? How should we behave? Is there anything that we should do or say? When we join with the universal church and declare that we believe in the life everlasting, we are doing exactly what we are supposed to do. We are not doing something just for us; we are doing something for the others who are listening. That is the right attitude that we should have

Paul ends this topic with these words, “Therefore encourage each other with these words. 1Thessalonians 4:18.”When we have knowledge and hope in the life everlasting the next step is to share that with other people.

That belief and assurance comforts me, and it should comfort others. This last element is the consequence of the first two before, knowledge and hope. Because we know what is going on, because we know who is in control of everything, because we hope that things will be all right, we not only have comfort but also we can comfort other people.

We become the instruments of God to bring comfort to those who are suffering with doubts and fears about the life everlasting. This is what the apostle Paul has to say, “[3] Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, [4] who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.”

Our attitude is to bring comfort to those who are heartbroken. It does not mean that we will preach and teach during the grieving time, but they will know that we have the answers for their doubts and fears. Maybe we will just be there beside them, listening, crying, and mourning. They will know, they will feel, they will understand.

But we have to be ready at any time to give answers to questions about our hope in the life everlasting. This is what Peter wrote: “1Pet. 3:15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for thehopethat you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”During those sad and dark times people will look for explanations, some light at the end of the tunnel. We should be able to share with them what we believe, what we know, and where our hope is.

If you have the right knowledge, the right hope, and the right attitude, you will not have fear or doubts when you recite the Apostles’ Creed saying: “I believe in the life everlasting.”You will be filled with a sound conviction and an exuberant joy.

Have a blessed week,Pastor Lucas

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