Post-Death Consciousness

Post-Death Consciousness (Leg 10)

12th issue in series (find the other parts here.)

 (. . . Dear Mark . . .)


Are people who die still conscious? Consider that Jesus already answered the question, when He said, “I Am the God of A, I, & J.” He is not—according to Jesus—the God of the dead, but of the living.[1] Considering that Jesus said this (i.e. reminds us that this was said) about three persons who had, from our perspective, “perished,” is that enough? Can the debate end right here? But if not:

What do you make out of Romans 11:22 “Behold the kindness and severity of God”?[2] I make good parenting out of that. Paul was quite aware that “God’s kindness leads men to repentance,”[3] but not always. A doting old grandfather may be the kindest person on earth, but that is not proof he would make a good parent replacement. That is because while some respond appropriately to the “kindness first” policy of an authority (Isaiah 26:9), others do not (Isaiah 26:10).

When it comes to seeing the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of Judaism instead of its bane, Paul was late to the party.[4] But what he brought to the party made up for his late showing. He would testify that, although he had been an enemy of the Gospel, he had never lacked zeal for the God and religion of his fathers. In addition to fiercely opposing the Church, how did this zeal manifest? Feasting upon and consuming the Scriptures—upon the Old Testament, that is, Paul is ALL OVER the O.T! It is so everywhere in his reasoning and writing. Sometimes in direct quotation; sometimes in verse splicing synopses; sometimes in mere allusions that he seems to assume his readers perceive.

So if, in the first half of the statement of Romans 11:22 (keeping in mind v. 9-12), Paul posits: “Behold the kindness and severity of God . . .” (As I wrote this out, I got it backwards—first writing “severity and kindness”—causing me to realize the excellence is not only the truth of the words, but also the sequence in which each attribute is nested. God prefers kindness and will offer it first.)

So, to begin that last paragraph again, according to Paul, the inveterate and consummate Old Testament expert: God is both kind and severe in His parenting approach toward Mankind. Therefore, two questions should perhaps occur to you:

1) From what Old Testament passages might Paul have been drawing? And,

2) For what reason or motive is God severe or stern? Consider the second question in light of these few examples, and as you do, consider it as a potential answer to the first:

In Leviticus Chapter 26,[5] God proposes kindness (”provided you continue on in His kindness”), but warns what will incur His severity. Summary: Obey me and your life will be extremely good. If, however, you need to find out whether or not I am mocked, I will, regrettably, correct you according to a certain level of severity. This severity is intended to redirect you, so that you may find the good life I desire to bestow upon you, once your corrective course concludes. If, however, I am again met with rebellion, Severity Phase 2 will be seven times as intense. Again, this is intended to redirect you away from the path of death you chose, back to the Abundant Life I wish to bestow upon you.” Five increments or levels of severity exist[6] until [Martin’s guess is] the most hardcore sinner cries, “Uncle!”

Isaiah 8:6-8 says (more or less), “What I had in mind for your baptism and cleansing was the gently flowing waters of Shiloah, but you would not. Therefore, your baptism and cleansing will be performed in the mighty Euphrates—overflowing its banks at flood stage.”

Assuming the main thrust and theme of the Psalter is Messianic along with the rest of the Old Testament, Psalms 120 makes a case that Christ’s intension and policy to those who are far away[7] is not so different than His intension and policy toward Israel. Psalms 120:5-7 says. “Woe is me, for I sojourn in Meshech, for I dwell among the tents of Kedar! Too long has my soul had its dwelling with those who hate peace. I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war (NASB).”

According to Isaiah 28:24-26, differing grains require differing husking “severities.” Since I have a very strong inner theme that God is not mocked, I find I want to submit at the lightest threshing level. But if not, God’s word to me (within the same chapter) is, “Now stop your mocking, or your chains will become heavier (v. 22).” He does all this as a good parent (as can be found within this chapter): “All this also comes from the LORD Almighty, whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent (vs. 28:29).”

So, God is severe to gain what must be gained. He wanted peace, but found hostility from you. He wanted your gentle handling, but found resistance from you. The good parent must “cross” the will of the strong willed child.

Finally[8] Paul, in Romans 11, takes the “forever” condemnation David pronounced on his own murderous, enemy countrymen and interprets it for us.

David: [9] May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.”

Paul (commenting on what David has said here, and whether it pertains to any Jew’s “final state,” says [more or less]) “Forever, then? Are you, dear Roman Christian epistle-reader, taking this “forever” imprecation and thinking like, “forever and ever?” God forbid!” For redemption is what Romans 11:9-11 and following is all about. Redemption is and will be in God’s very nature as long as anyone remains who needs redeemed.

Yes, Ephraim (Israel)[10] needed correction. According to Jeremiah 31:16 he was banished to the land of the enemy—who is Death[11]—where he received that correction. He will also:

“. . . return from the land of the enemy. So there is hope for your descendants, ”declares YHWH. “Your children will return to their own land. (For)

“I have surely heard Ephraim’s moaning:

‘You disciplined me like an unruly calf,
and I have been disciplined.
Restore me, and I will return,
because you are YHWH my God.
After I strayed,
I repented;
after I came to understand,
I beat my breast.
I was ashamed and humiliated
because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’

“Is not Ephraim my dear son,
the child in whom I delight?
Though I often speak against him,
I still remember him.
Therefore my heart yearns for him;
I have great compassion for him,”
declares YHWH (Jeremiah 31:16-20).


A good parent, God prefers kindness, but, regrettably, must dispense severity when needed. With Man, that is not seldom.


God is not mocked. A man does not remain lost.[12] Satan has no legacy other than being the butt of an everlasting joke—as he so richly deserves. Therefore, when our season has fully come[13]—characterized by being “the time to accept money, clothing, groves, [etc.]”—we (constituting those inside when the doors are closed and locked)[14] will worship, rejoice and laugh without ceasing. It will all be one thing together.


Goodbye for now,

—Martin D. Carlson

[1] Mark 12:26-27. I feel a little embarrassed to admit that my wife had to remind me of this. My only attempt to justify myself is to say that I think that early on I intended to use this scripture, but simply forgot as I got underway.

[2] If, Dear Blog Reader, you don’t immediately see where this argument is going, hold on. It takes several paragraphs to develop.

[3] Romans 2:4

[4] Only by the restraint element of the fruit of the Spirit did I resist saying “He came to the party tardy,” me hardy.

[5] Teaching pretty nearly requires the whole chapter. Notice: What is severity level Enormous (v 14-17) times 7 (v 18-20), X 7 (v 21-22), X 7 (23-26), X 7 (v 27-39)? Answer: Punishment that has no (foreseeable) end! Hint: You do not want this!

[6] Possibly appertaining to (or at least in an interesting parallel with) the differing pressures required in the threshing of caraway, cumin, wheat, barley and spelt (Isaiah 28:24-26).

[7] Far away. See Isaiah 57:19, but for greater blessing see Ephesians 2:17—but don’t neglect the context (esp. v 14-18). (You might want to notice yet again that out of the abundance of Paul’s heart pores Old Testament snippets.)

[8] Finally. Meaning I wanted to say just one more thing.

[9] From Romans 11:9-12 (but originally from Psalm 69:22-23).

[10] Okay, shortly after Solomon’s death, Israel divides into two kingdoms. One will be referred to thereafter as Israel (to the North) and the other as Judah (the more often obedient, including in its kingly line). However, sometimes God calls the northern kingdom by the youngest of the heads of the tribes of Israel, Ephraim, a mere nephew in the eyes of the other princes.

[11] See whole of Jeremiah 31 for context.

[12] Whereas Matthew’s genealogy dates forward from Abraham to the Christ, the genealogy of Luke, of course, dates backward, going back, for instance, to Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. God is the father of Man.

[13] 2 Kings 5:26b. (For by asking rhetorically, “Is this the time ? . . ” Elisha makes it clear that such a time exists and will come.)

[14] No man is lost vs. those inside when the doors are closed. Okay, I have become a little complex, here. I acknowledge a salvation for the obedient/vigilant (Matthew 25:1-13), which is necessarily prior to the salvation of “the many” (Romans 5:15) whom Adam “took out” in his disobedience.

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