Post-Death Consciousness

Post-Death Consciousness (Leg 9)

11th issue in series (find the other parts here.)

 (. . . Dear Mark . . .)



After thousands of years of Israel waiting for the promised One, He finally came. Things turned out to be so very differently from everyone’s anticipation of His coming, however. Reading between the lines, even Cousin John tried to provoke Him to hurry up and get the revolt moving forward.[1] In fact, if He intended to lead a revolt against Rome, He seemed slow getting off the mark.

On the contrary, the poor Lamb seemed strangely intent on returning again and again to Jerusalem—the site of his greatest opposition—as if preoccupied with checking to see if the oven was finally hot enough to step into, until it finally was! He did. Let us Passover the painful, gory details. So much for the Messiah and the hope of thousands of years! Oh, sure, he had worked thousands of miracles, but what of it, when Satan so clearly seemed to have at last won?

Death supposed it had taken Him, but could not hold Him, as He is its master—as He is the Son of Life. Christ’s military campaign that all Israel had waited for took place underground. He conquered Death ultimately (but not for Himself).

That would seem to be in stark contrast to Death’s relationship with us. Death’s grip on us was fastidious and perpetual—without exception. Was!

Now, just as an aside, I have never heard anyone suggest that Christ’s descent was bodily. As far as I know, we all believe that His body was in the tomb for those (parts of) three days.

But with or without a body, Jesus did descend. He did clean Death’s clock—for all time!

I say again: Death had us forever! Until it no longer did! I wonder if you would care to liken this perpetual until sovereignty Death had up until then enjoyed to certain passages of God’s testimony in Job, how two not-overly-familiar creatures seem to be phenomenal or even hold sway.

Of one God “encourages” man (in essence) to “Try him out; you won’t do so a second time! But if I am wrong—and you prove a match for him—perhaps consider putting him on a leash (and muzzle) for your little children to safely lead about.” No, but rather, “He is king over all the sons of pride,”[2] God says of that one, while of the other[3] He (more or less)  says, “You probably shouldn’t think to approach him—no, not with strongest sword! Perhaps that is a job[4] best left to his Maker.”

Have you considered how these two creatures resemble Death—one perhaps being the instance (teeth and throat), the other seeming very much as the bin (or belly)?[5]

You mentioned Lazarus didn’t—to the best of our knowledge—hold seminars on his experience in the grave. What about the little girl to whom Jesus said, “Little girl, I say to you, ‘Arise’”?[6] Was she more likely to “spill the beans” about where she’d been when her parents asked her later? Was she already trying to talk about it?

How interesting that Jesus tells her parents, “Give her something to eat.” Was she perhaps needing to be taken a distance from her experience—as though from a dream—so as to obscure, to make her forget the foreign land or altered state to which she may have been? The more she operated in the five senses of life, the more remote her memory of death would become? I don’t say it has to be so, but assuming the Bible has no unimportant inclusions, I just find the “give her something to eat,” statement intriguingly curious.

Well, that’s where I will have to stop for the moment. I know this work is rambling, but food for thought is within if you are hungry, so “Into your hands I commit my [work] .”[7]

[If you are a new reader to this post line—this Post-Death Consciousness series—I have not been as direct in my biblical refutation against cessation of consciousness in the grave as usual. Therefore, if the topic interests you slightly, or you simply must know whether consciousness remains after death, read any or all of my other legs within the series. What I have shared up ‘til now in tonight’s edition is gentle, meditative speculative thought on the topic. I do give a clincher below, however.]

No, perhaps one more, because I do think a certain level of eccentric and awkward contortions is required to make one particular passage say . . . something other than what it fairly perspicaciously says. To wit:

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me (Philipians 1:20-26).”[8]

Can anyone simply deny that Paul is saying that choosing from a self-interested standpoint he would like to depart in death (to a better fellowship with Jesus), but that out of love, if the choice is really his, he will stay, for their benefit? Will you really put this through such unnatural gymnastics as to say he could even possibly mean these words some other way?




Martin D. Carlson

[1] You’ll find the story at the beginning of Matthew 11 or a ways down the page in Luke 7. Read before and after to gain context.

[2] All of Job 41 is about him.

[3] Read about him in Job 40:15-44.

[4] No pun intended.

[5] Waters flow into the Dead Sea; none flow out again. (For water to leave it must be “assumed” like Moses or raptured away like Enoch.)

[6] Mark 5:40-43 (This was concealed from the (carnal) Town, but is now known as a Continental Scripture.) Let it go!

[7] Remembering, of course, that the original fellow here said “spirit.”

[8] Notice that Paul does not consider the result of himself dying to be Death, but a crossing over to a richer Life.

1 Comment

  1. Howdy brother Martin. Your following aside caught my attention: “Now, just as an aside, I have never heard anyone suggest that Christ’s descent was bodily. As far as I know, we all believe that His body was in the tomb for those (parts of) three days.” Are you referring to the Apostles’ Creed, in which the older translations state, “He descended into Hell.”? Newer, less controversial, translations say, “…descended to the dead.” My position is that Christ’s spirit immediately went to be with the Father the moment his physical body died. Neither His spirit or body descended into Hell, as many Christians believe. Jesus told one of the thieves, “…, today you will be with me in paradise.” I couldn’t find any translations that put the comma after “today.” Also, I believe when Jesus said, “It is finished,” He was referring to His atoning work on the cross, not the three days in the tomb. Any extra atoning sacrifice in hell was not required to pay for our sins. Anyway, I just had to get that off my chest. Feel free to push back.


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