Saturday, June 11, 2011

Question #29

In Rev 14:13, how can the dead be "happy" and find "rest", if there is no conscious awareness after death?

There is conscious awareness after death. It comes about by means of the resurrection from the dead.

This question really reflects an appalling ignorance of a very basic truth. When Jesus was on earth he plainly taught that the dead are asleep. Anyone who has ever read the Gospel knows that to be true. When his friend Lazarus died Jesus said that he had gone to sleep. Jesus woke him from the dead. Jesus taught that everyone in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and return to life again. Until that day, though, the dead are dead - as if asleep in the ground.

Paul also referred to those sleeping in death. The reason death is likened to sleep is because when we sleep we are unconscious. The Bible says the dead are unconscious.  People who study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses understand these basic Bible truths in the first few sessions.

Because the churches were long ago infused with mysticism and paganism, people who today imagine themselves to be Christians actually have more in common with Hindus, Muslims and New Age pantheists, who all believe in a mystical soul that survives death and flits off into the world beyond, or wherever. However, while the Bible clearly teaches that the dead are unconscious and will remain in that state until the resurrection, at 1 Corinthians 15:51 Paul revealed a sacred secret. “Look! I tell you a sacred secret: We shall not all fall asleep in death, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, during the last trumpet.”

So, according to Paul not all anointed Christians will sleep in death. How is that? Paul explains at 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, saying: “For this is what we tell you by Jehovah’s word, that we the living who survive to the presence of the Lord shall in no way precede those who have fallen asleep in death; because the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’s voice and with God’s trumpet, and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first. Afterward we the living who are surviving will, together with them, be caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

So, Paul reveals that all Christians who are in union with Christ who die before his return, or presence, do indeed sleep in death. And they will be resurrected first. However, the chosen ones living during the presence do not have to sleep in death. But they do have to die in the flesh, because as Paul explained flesh and blood cannot inherit the heavenly kingdom. But the difference is, those chosen ones who will die during the presence of Christ do not sleep in death. They will be instantaneously transformed into immortal spirits.

Understanding the sacred secrets revealed by Paul allows us to understand Revelation 14:13, which states in full: “And I heard a voice out of heaven say: 'Write: Happy are the dead who die in union with the Lord from this time onward. Yes, says the spirit, let them rest from their labors, for the things they did go right with them.”

This verse, the context of which is in relation to the 144,000 holy ones, is in complete harmony with the writings of the apostle, showing that there is a specific point at which those who die in union with Christ do not sleep in death. But contrary to the fictions associated with rapture spun by ignorant evangelicals, those in union with Christ must all die eventually. 

To re-state the point: The only difference is those who die during the conclusion will not sleep in death as their predecessors.

Least someone conjure up Hollywood images of happy zombies, the verse in question only refers to them being dead from a human standpoint. They find "rest," not in death, but they rest from the works of faith performed on earth, struggling to get into the kingdom through the narrow door of salvation, trying to serve God and Christ. They rest, in that, “The things they did go right with them” - to heaven.

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