JOURNEY OF THE SOUL AFTER DEATH
ne of the doctrines that's a bit confusing in mainstream Christianity is the subject of life after death. The majority of people aren't sure of what happens to a soul after death. The general accepted opinion among Christians is that if a righteous person dies he or she will immediately go to heaven, where he or she’ll spend eternity with God and if a sinner departs from this world, that person will go straight to hell fire where he’ll be tormented forever with Satan and his angels. Now, the problem with this philosophy is that it contradicts what's recorded in the scriptures; Jesus says,
“Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation”.(John5:28-29)
The Lord speaks about the day of resurrection, when the righteous ones will emerge from the grave and live forever, and the evil doers will resurrect unto damnation. Since the general opinion of the Christians is that a righteous soul ascends to heaven immediately after death, and the sinner goes to hell fire, the question now is; on the day of resurrection, are the righteous ones going to come down from heaven and enter graves and then resurrect unto life eternal? What about the sinners, are they going to come out from hell fire and re-enter their tombs and rise to be condemned? I think to accurately answer this question, we must seek for an accurate revelation of what happens to a soul after death.
THE NATURE OF MAN: Man is a tri-partite being – spirit, soul and body, every human being exists with a spirit soul and body (1 Thessalonians5:23). Our spirit, which is also called the inward man, is where God's Spirit dwells when we became born again. The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans8:16). Our soul which is also called the outward man contains our intellect, emotions, and will. Just as we are dressed in clothes, so our inward man “the spirit” wears an outward man “the soul”. Our body, which is called the outermost man, is where the spirit and soul inhabit. Man’s physical body is simply God’s stipulation for his existence. Without this body, man isn’t able to exist within the physical sphere. When a man’s body returns to dust, the man himself ceases to exist; hence, man’s existence on earth depends on the functioning of his mortal body.
WHAT IS DEATH? : Most people define death as the action of physically dying or being killed; the end of the life of a person or organism, however, it is recorded in the scriptures that death is a strong spiritual force (a spiritual enemy) that can separate the spirit from the mortal body( 1Corinthians15:26, 54-56, Revelation20:13-15). Death occurs when a spirit completely separates from the body with no possibility of coming back, death can be defined as the final departure of the spirit from the earthly body. James said for as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also (James2:26). Death is when the spirit departs fully from the body and doesn’t return. A body without the spirit will return to dust.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER DEATH: Most people don’t believe in life after death, but that doesn't deny the fact that death isn’t the end of life, death is just the beginning of a new life. For the righteous, death is a joyful journey to the Ultimate Reality, but to the sinners death is beginning a higher level of suffering in spiritual prison. As we are dressed in clothes, so our inward man “the spirit” wears an outward man “the soul”. A clear picture of this can be seen in an avocado, an avocado (also called alligator pear) exists in three layers, when you remove the first hard covering of an avocado, you’ll meet the soft greenish tissue which is the eatable part, afterwards you'll see the hard seed that contains the life of the avocado. Now, let’s say that the seed of the avocado presents the spirit, the soft tissue that surrounds the seed represents the soul, and the outer covering represents the physical body. Our soul serves as a spiritual body or a cloth to the spirit. When the spirit departs from the mortal body it will continue life in another dimension, either in heaven or hell.
IMMEDIATELY AFTER DEATH: There are different views about what happens immediately after the spirit separates from the body, according to early Jewish rabbinic tradition, the transition from death to life actually begins three days after death when the soul is believed to hover over the place of their physical death for three days hoping to be restored to the body. When the three days are over, the spirit will travel on to its spiritual destination. “In my opinion, that can be the main reason why Christ waited for four days before he came to where Lazarus died and brought Him back to life, so that the Pharisees and his other critics wouldn't consider it a clinical death” (John11). Many believe the primary reason why many spirits don't want to immediately leave the place of their physical death comes from a desire to mentally reach out to comfort their loved ones before progressing further into the spirit world. Many people have testified of seeing their deceased relatives, friends or love ones during their burial or after burial, most claimed that their dead relative gave them helpful instructions concerning this life; while others claimed that their deceased who died mysteriously have appeared to them and revealed how they were killed. People who have had "near death" or "out of body" experiences have testified also that their spirit was able to watch their lifeless body lying on earth before traveling on. Many have testified that their spirits were able to watch their lifeless body being carried to the morgue not realizing they were dead while attempting to ask people what was happening but no one could hear them. Religious people oftentimes find it difficult to believe that the deceased can hover over the place of their physical death for a specific time before their final exit into the spirit world because they can’t find it written plainly in their sacred books. Not every divine truth is written plainly in sacred books, that’s why spiritual growth is essential. We need revelation to comprehend the mysterious of God.
JOURNEY OF THE SPIRIT INTO THE SPIRIT WORLD: When a soul finally departs from the realm of the earth, it's going to be like a new born baby in the spiritual world and is not going to be familiar to its new environment. That soul will need assistance from a higher spirit being that’s familiar to the spirit world, just as Christ narrated in the story of the rich man and Lazarus; “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side(Luke16:22). An angel had to guide Lazarus to the realm where Abrahams bosom is located because he wasn't familiar to the spirit world. In Hebrew, the word angel is “malak” which has the same meaning as the Greek word “angelos” which means messengers or ministers. Apart from the angel Michael, Gabriel etc, the messengers of God includes those saints and prophets who have crossed over to the spiritual world before us, people like Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Elijah and the other glorified servants of the Lord. I know that many Christians won’t agree with me that some saints are already in the spirit realm working with God as divine messengers to welcome incoming souls, but what we should remember is that Moses and Elijah appeared to Christ during His transfiguration (Mathew 17). Their appearance didn’t occur in a dream and wasn’t fiction, it happened in real life. The story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16) wasn’t a parable, it was also real, the angel who showed John the mysteries in the book or revelation didn’t reveal himself as Angel Gabriel or Michael, he considered himself to be as a fellow servant of God like other prophets (Rev 19:10, 22:8-9). There are glorified people in the spirit world waiting for the arrival of souls from the earth.
SPIRITUAL GATE OF THE SPIRIT WORLD: Most people who had "near death" or "out of body" experiences have testified about a white tunnel they had to cross before meeting a spiritual being that acted as a guide in the spirit world, the white tunnel represents a gate way out of this universe into the spiritual world. Many people believe the spirit world exists inside the universe but that’s not true because God isn’t residing inside of our universe; instead, the universe exists in God which is why the heaven and earth will pass away but God will still remain God. It’s important to realize that God can’t live inside of our universe and create the universe; He was already in existence before the heavens and earth and everything in them were created, and He created them all (Genesis1:1). God is the glorious temple that contains everything, all things exist inside of Him; it’s in God that we live and move and have our being (Act17:28). God is the mystical temple that covers every creature both visible and invisible, everything created exists in Him (Proverbs 18:10) When we die our spirit will leave this universe completely to ascend to the resting place that God has prepared for us in Him until the final Day of Judgment. After crossing the white tunnel or the boundary between mortality and immortality, a divine guide will approach our soul to welcome and direct us in the spirit world. These messengers can be the glorified saints, our fathers in the Lord, friends, or relatives, although it’s not recorded plainly in the bible that our ancestors will welcome us, this is what's recorded in one of the Jewish apocrypha's:
So then, let’s arm ourselves fully with the power that clear thinking gives for the control of the emotions. If we die this way, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will give us a warm welcome, and all the ancestors will praise us.” The brothers who were left behind were calling out to each one as he was being dragged away, “Don’t let us down, brother, or be disloyal to the brothers who have died before us!” (4Meccabbees13:16-18)
It's common to hear people say that they died in their sleep or when they were sick, and on their way into the spirit world they met one of their deceased family members or friends who directed them back to the earth, telling them “it’s not yet their time." There are some people who have never had this type of experience and won’t accept it to be the truth until they see it written in the bible or other sacred book. However, each of us has to journey after death, and what's important is who's coming to welcome you and where your soul is heading to. There are different apartments in the spirit world, the glorious region of light and the infernal places, and there are positive and negative spiritual entities that welcome souls in the spirit world.
NATURE OF THE SPIRITUAL WORLD ~ The only view most Christians hold so far about the spiritual realm is the orthodox concept of “heaven”, which teaches that heaven is a place where believers are going to occupy physical mansions in the astral world after the rapture, or a celestial city where the streets are paved with gold. The idea of going to heaven to walk in "streets of gold" resulted from the miss-interpretation of a scripture recorded in the book of revelation where John testifies that he saw the New Jerusalem, and that the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass(Revelation21:1-23). The New Jerusalem isn’t a representation of heaven, as recorded in the book of revelation John said he saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation21:2). Heaven (or the spiritual world) is beyond one place such as “a city” above the sky, holding the orthodox concept of heaven can really hinder your spiritual attainment. Jesus never promised going to heaven to build physical houses for us with paved streets of gold, however; Jesus said, in my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also (John14:2-3).The word “house” is translated from the Greek term “oikia” meaning “family,” and the term “mansion” is also from the Greek word “mano” which signifies “position”, the translation can be better read; in my father’s abode there are many (spiritual) positions, or different spiritual levels or dimensions...
But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him? who am I then, that I should build him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before him?(2Chronicle2:6)
The heaven, even the heavens, is the Lord's: but the earth hath he given to the children of men. (Psalm115:16)
It's clear as recorded in the above scriptures that there are different dimensions of heaven, or hierarchies, because the heavens in plural speak of different realms. The ladder Jacob saw in his dream symbolizes these levels of heaven…And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed(Genesis28:12-13). We should remember that Paul the apostle mentioned a man who visited the third heaven (2Corinthians12:2-4). The Old Testament tabernacle was patterned after the heavenly sanctuary. When Moses was preparing to build the tabernacle, God gave him this warning: “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain”(Hebrews8:1-5). The Old Testament tabernacle had three courts, the outer court, holy place and the holiest of all. These three courts in the Mosaic tabernacle represented three glorious dimensions in the heavenly realm, which Paul referred to as the first, second and the third heaven (2Corithians12:2). Noah’s ark also reveals these three heavenly courts or realms…A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. (Genesis6:16) The ark of Noah had three levels or three stories, which depict the same three glorious realms of heaven.
Each court of the celestial sanctuaries has its own apartments or levels; there are different realms, levels, or positions in the first heaven, the same with the second and the third heavens...at least the book of Enoch mentions about ten different spirit realms or levels in the spiritual world occupied by different spiritual entities. The highest point in heaven (the Eternal Holy of Holies) is where Christ our high priest dwells in unapproachable light, which no one has seen or can see… For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us(Hebrews9:24). In the third heaven, where the throne of Christ is positioned, can’t be occupied by any other being, Christ reigns in the highest spiritual point of the ascending order (1Timothy6:15-16). I believe that when Paul the apostle transported in the third heaven, he didn’t touch the dimension of unapproachable light where the throne of Christ is, he only entered a realm in the third heaven. Only Christ will exist in the highest unapproachable position in heaven, everything will still remain under Him, for He is the immortal self-existing God, the Almighty, glory be unto His name forever and ever Amen! To attain a high dimension in the heavenly realm requires sacrifice, we have to work it out here on earth, confessing Jesus Christ isn’t enough; we must totally submit our entire being to do His will; High dimensions in the spirit world are made for those in Christ who can say no sacrifice is too much!.......to be continued