Post-Death Consciousness

[Okay, time for a confession: Although I say these weekly segments constitute the paper I turned into Mark (whose fixed paper or monograph I am rebutting), the truth is, every time I mean to publish one, I end up editing it . . . slightly. I think the goal is to make the paper tighter, more concise. At any rate, in the process, I usually end up nearly doubling its length. As my daughter is discourteous enough to get married right in the middle of my parvus opus,[1] I haven’t had much time to “fix” this week’s offering. As I am a very proud Irishman—except during Lent, as I am also Scotch and must give up something that doesn’t cost money—don’t expect frequent confessions hereafter. However, since we are on the topic (humility), let me just blame last week’s conspicuous typo on working late Friday night ‘til I was asleep.]

6th issue in series (find the other parts here.)

Leg 4

Of Jesus it is said that “He came to His own people,” and was by and large rejected. But some Jews received Jesus, including him who became the Church’s first martyr. In the process, Stephen—perhaps the more encouraged by the vision he saw—seemed to suppose he was leaving Earth for immediate reception in Heaven:

 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him—you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”

When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’

At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep (Acts 7:51-60).”

Jesus was up off of His throne! We know that after departing Earth, Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father.[2] But for this one moment, He was standing! The significance of this was not wasted on Stephen, who perceived a glorious reception[3] moments away!

Although a minority, the earlier passage cited (John 1:12-13 RSV) indicates that to such Jews as “received Him, who believed in His name, he [Jesus] gave power to become children of God, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Despite God first presenting this open invitation benefit to the Jews 2,000 years ago, He truly intended it just as zealously for you and me.[4] Today.[5]

So—although a gentile—speaking personally, I have received God’s lifebreath on at least two, but possibly up to four, occasions and/or levels.

  • God breathed into my father Adam some thousands of years ago. I, as the saying goes, was in his loins. (All men[6] enjoy God’s image and likeness; all men are sons of God in the most elemental sense.)[7]
  • Later, through faith, I exercised my right or power to become a child of God in this new way.
  • Furthermore, Jesus expired[8] for my inspiration.[9]
  • Then again, I suppose God’s breath entered me yet anew when Jesus “breathed” on my spiritual forefathers, saying, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit.”[10] (I was in their spiritual loins.)

Now, having arguably the breath of the Father, the breath of the Son, and the breath of the Holy Spirit in me, [my] fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son, Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3).”[11]

Death could not hold my Lord (Acts 2:24), as He is the Son of Life. “And [according to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:3] this is Eternal Life, that they know You, the only true God and Jesus Christ Whom You sent.” Christ’s victory over Death became my victory over Death and its sentence of condemnation. I am waiting for Christ’s return now; I will be waiting if I die before He comes. I will be resting.[12] Could have something to do with where my body[13] lies, more likely not.

In Christ, Death is a defeated foe: It can no longer separate me from [the love of] God.[14]

 

Sincerely,

Martin D. Carlson

 

[1] I am alternately thinking of calling the work my decipede, as I believe that term is unused, and as I will end up with a creature with 10 or more legs.

[2] Hebrews 8:1; Colossians 3:1; Ephesians 1:20 & 2:6; Romans 8:34; 1 Peter 3:22

3 Peter may refer to the sort of reception Stephen received (or, at least, as I say he received), as “a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:10-11).”

[4] Ephesians 2:11-22. If you are new to the Bible, this whole passage says that God intended salvation to gentiles (non-Jews) from the beginning. “You who once were far away” (gentiles). Notice especially verses 12-13: You were an outsider so that you might become an insider! Equally relevant is Romans 9:22-33. This passage in Romans is based on the first chapter of Hosea, where God told the Old Testament prophet to name his three children Scattered, Not Loved and Not My People. No one is so happy to be warm as he who came in from the cold!

[5] Hebrews 3:7-19

[6] Men. Not a gender specification, but Mankind.

[7] Luke 3:38

[8] Or exhaled. The same word that means died also means exhaled.

[9] Or inhalation. The same word that means to give life or vivification also means to inhale.

[10] Jubilee Bible 2000 (John 20:22).

[11] See also John 17:22-23: I am now one with both the Father and the Begotten. Concerning whether eternal life begins for the believer now or in the future, check out John 17: 3 also: I already enjoy eternal life, and I strongly infer that the death event can’t put me on hiatus.

[12] Revelation 14:13

[13] This “destroyed earthly tent” 2 Corinthians 5:1, HOWEVER, the whole topic of post-death consciousness is (perhaps) settled if you simply read 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10!

[14] Obviously, I cite Rom 8:38-39, but many tiny biblical allusions along the way I may not have sourced.

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