A Theology of Life and Death
The Bible speaks about life and death from cover to cover and has a lot of helpful instruction and information about both. I believe the Bible reveals the true meaning of life and death. Understanding who we are and where we came from and how we got here and where we are going has direct connections to these two. For instance: the biblical creation model’s biggest problem and final enemy is what? 1 Cor, 15:26. Death! The atheistic evolutionary model’s biggest problem and elusive but blatantly obvious issue is what? Life!
Life and death… Which came first? Which has the ultimate victory? The first law of thermal dynamics is: Energy can not come from nothing. The second law of thermal dynamics, which is basically the law of entropy, says that everything moves toward disorder. Things wind down, not up. So, by these laws of science death has the ultimate victory. Everything in the universe is winding down, burning out, growing old, dying. Life may have accidentally occurred, but ultimately it will not survive the harshness of natural disaster, or entropy. Although scientists are trying to construct a natural/material case for eternity, their own obvious natural laws point to the conclusion that Death wins.
That is, if there is no God.
In the scriptures, on the other hand, there is an optimistic conclusion: Life wins. Death, which came on the scene rather recently, is ultimately defeated and swallowed up by Life. But we must understand what life and death are and define them properly. Life, as described in scripture, has much richer properties and characteristics than just what happens between birth and burial. Death, also is much more complex than biological, physical cessation. In fact, Adam and Eve’s earthly life became temporary in the garden when sin entered and brought death. Death was not a part of the original creation. God gave life to every living thing. The Bible tells us that life came first because the living God gave it to us. God is eternal, without beginning and without end. Life was first. Without life, there can be no death, there is only nonliving stuff, not stuff that died.
This poses the most difficult question for atheists and evolutionists. How did something as complex as life occur by chance combinations of nonliving stuff? They CAN NOT admit to a living, intelligent designer of life or their entire system crashes. Life, how did it all start? This is the weakest link in the atheistic evolutionary model. The geological columns and so called “deep time” dating don’t answer that.
I was looking online for what science thinks may be some of the earliest forms of life. Extremophiles are the answer. These are amazing life forms that are found under extremely unfriendly conditions. Deinococcus radiodurans bacterium can survive a 15,000 gray dose of radiation, where 10 grays would kill a human and it takes over 1,000 grays to kill a cockroach. This species, in fact, is exemplary in many ways, encompassing also the ability to survive cold, dehydration, vacuum and acid. The Guinness Book of World Records lists D. radiodurans as the world’s toughest bacterium. But is this life form an accident? Upon close observation, just the membrane alone on this bacterium is extremely complex. Not to mention its internal organelles that are adapted to resist radiation and the DNA that self repairs under radiation that strips away electrons within the very atoms of the DNA creating ions that would normally destroy all possibility of accurate reproduction necessary for continued life. Life, even in its simplest forms requires too much order and design where multiple parts all have to work together with extreme precision to have happened by accident. Spontaneous generation of life and all that it requires, is beyond improbable.
But lets look at the next level of challenge for the atheist and origin of life.
Follow this: the accidental original life happened, but had nothing to eat and live on except inorganic, nonliving matter, BUT it also had to accidentally had the ability to consume just that AND was accidentally equipped to turn them into the proteins and other building blocks of life to survive. So this accidental original life had to not simply accidentally happen, BUT accidentally happen in the right environment, AND it had to also accidentally be equipped to survive, AND accidentally be self sufficient, AND to accidentally live on nothing else, UNTIL it accidentally multiplied and THEN accidentally advanced in complexity enough TO accidentally start eating each other WITH it’s accidentally developed digestive system. (That’s a lot of accidents).
Knowing the details and complexity necessary, it’s hard enough to believe life started without God. It’s another thing entirely to believe it could keep itself alive all by itself long enough to figure out how to consume what it needed to continue to survive, and also somehow figure out how to reproduce itself, and all this using only minerals and loose atoms and molecules and energy from either heat, or the sun. Then, somehow, beyond that, to start the evolutionary process of competing and then eating one another. Was that good luck or “Good God.” Life is pretty fragile stuff with amazingly complex needs to survive. It can far more easily die than come to life. So the greatest challenge of the atheistic evolutionist is: Life.
On the other hand, the most difficult question a biblical creationist has to answer involves death. We are witnesses of thousands of extinct fossilized animals that once roamed all over the planet. A geological column has been diagramed to explain the evolutionary process from single cell to modern times. This interpretation of earth’s history requires millions of years of evolutionary processes which the evolutionist believes is proven in the geological column. This involves a lot of deaths over a very very long period of time. As a biblical creationist I CAN NOT admit that this all came about by chance through deep time periods. But I have a further problem. How is it that a God of life allows all the death and evil we see today? We witness terrible injustice and suffering, sometimes by evil actions of people, and sometimes by catastrophic occurrences within nature itself. While we live on a beautiful planet, yet there are many ugly and unjust things that happen all around us. Innocent people get sick, mean and vicious people live happy lives themselves and seem to get away with atrocities. Why? If there is a good, living, all powerful God who created all things, then why does all this evil exist? The biblical answer is simple, but not satisfying to many. God is good but we, by our own choices, live in a fallen world. Why doesn’t God fix it? (Here’s where it gets more interesting, even threatening or encouraging, depending on your faith, or not). The Bible says that He will. God will ultimately bring about justice and give His people eternal life. Death, and evil will lose. Life and good will win. Biblically, life is eternal. It has always been and will always be. Death, and evil are temporal. Death is allowed to have it’s day, but it will not last. Life is bound up in God who is also love and holiness. Death is bound up in evil and rebellion against God. God will destroy both death and evil.
Paul is the biblical writer to take us through the deepest spiritual philosophical revelation on life and death. But Moses introduces it in the first five books of the Bible.
When Moses gathered the Israelites together to renew the covenant between them and the Lord, he states the following words to describe what he has done:
Deuteronomy 30:15 Behold, today I set before you life and good, death and evil.
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. NOW CHOOSE LIFE, SO THAT YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN MY LIVE and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD IS YOUR LIFE, and He will give you many years in the land He swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus later says in His prayer in John 17: “This is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
That sounds like an easy choice, does it not? Choose between these two: Life or death. Ok, let’s see… Hmmmm, which should I choose?
Yet, given the choice of following God’s ways and walking with Him in obedient faith, OR disregarding God’s will and following our own will, what do we do? Isaiah 53 says: all we, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way… Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 say the same thing: There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
Then in the New Testament we read things like Romans 6:23 that says: The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Jesus said in John 14:6 I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except by me. And in John 10:10 Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
John begins his gospel about Jesus saying, “In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.”
Now, I realize I’ve just thrown a lot of Bible verses at you and you may be having trouble gathering it all in. Let me explain:
The Bible shows that there is a lot more to life than we can imagine. While a living cell is amazing, it is nothing compared to eternal life in Christ. Life in Christ is beyond our comprehension. Life, real life, is less about what happens here in our earthly journey, and much more about what happens on the other side of the grave in the presence of God, that is if we receive life instead of death as our reward.
There is also a lot more to death than most people realize. Paul refers to living on earth as “this body of death” and “O wretched man that I am, who will rescue me from this!” Paul said those words NOT because he couldn’t have fun here, but because evil and death dwells in nearly everything here. Even Paul experienced its miserable pull. Paul also said, “If only in this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied. In other words, if this is all there is, what a sad condition we are in!
Moses words to Israel to choose life are less about getting everything you want out of earthly existence and more about loving and knowing the Lord God and walking in His ways during this earthly existence. King David got it! In Psalms 23 he concludes with these words, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, AND I SHALL DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD FOREVER! This is true life! God does indeed reward His faithful people with abundance on earth, but He then has to constantly warn us not to let our abundance cause us to lose LIFE!
Choose life! Now let me ask you a question: Do you want to live? I’m not asking if you don’t want to die, this is a different question. Do you want to live? A deeper question is: Do you know what it really means to live? Do you know the WAYS OF LIFE?
The Bible begins with this statement: In the beginning, God… God is alive. He always has been, always will be. Now, that’s hard to fathom in our present condition, but God does not lie and He does not die. God’s not dead, He lives. In fact, He is the source of all life. Jesus, the Son of God was made flesh so that He, the Prince of life, could be put to death on the cross in order to rescue you and me from death and give us life, His life. And three days after His death, Jesus rose to life again. God the Father sacrificed God the Son to death on the cross, and in doing so, Jesus defeated death and rose to life again. Biblically speaking: Life rules! Ironically, God will ultimately kill death, and He has proven He can do it by raising Jesus from death to life, never to die again. Today, through the scriptures, He’s saying to you and me: I set before you life and death, blessings and curses, now CHOOSE LIFE.
Do you want LIFE?
Life is not simply a biological process that begins with conception and ends in consumption.
We live in a fallen world where death and decay are our normal experience. Living forever is beyond what we see around us, and even seems like a mythical hope to most people. Because of this, it is easy to dismiss the notion that life is more than what we see that happens between our birth and our burial, and actually much more than what happens here in this body. Like a seed that is sown, but springs up into a plant, 1 Cor. 15 describes what happens after we physically die. But we have to take God’s word on this in faith. If we can’t see it, we may find it hard to accept it as true.
As I was looking online at “Choose Life” I found this statement connected to a modern life and death issue that illustrates how important it is to define things correctly.
Abortionists in the 1970’s did not have 3 D ultrasound to see that what was growing inside a pregnant woman’s body was not simply a blob of tissue, but indeed a living human baby. But once denial of human life was established and legalized and practiced, abortionists claimed (and still do today) that this is not a choice of death, but a simply a human right and a mother’s choice to have control over her own body. As long as that which is aborted is not considered a human life, but mere “fetal tissue” it is then ok to “terminate the pregnancy.” Do you hear any deceptive language in those words? “Fetal tissue” and “terminate the pregnancy” sound much more civil and righteous than “living baby” and “putting to death a child.”
A lot of people who have a big problem with what Deuteronomy says about putting people to death who have broken God’s laws, have absolutely no problem with abortion, putting to death an unborn baby who has done no wrong. If the unborn are simply fetal tissue, what makes the new born a human? Thankfully, so far at least, we still recognize babies as humans with rights.
God, who punishes idolatry and rebellious sin with the death penalty says to Israel: Choose life.
God, who put to death every firstborn in Egypt who did not have the blood of the lamb on their door post and lentil says: Choose life.
God created all life. He is its source. All life belongs to Him. He alone has authority to give and take life. He alone is positioned to extend that right to whomever He chooses. It is a violation of God’s rule to take life without His permission or command. When God set up the nation of Israel, He extended His authority to put certain violators to death. God is holy. So must be those who live. Unholiness is temporal. It will not last. Unholiness is the stuff of sin. It is the stuff of unbelief and disobedience to God. When God gathers in those who will forever enjoy LIFE, the unholy will not be found among them. God will completely purify His people to welcome us into His presence.
In short what is Life? Life = eternity with God
What is death? Death = eternity without God