Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him.
Dave, tough question this time. We’ve been going over a lot of questions—not real easy to answer—some however, really foolish questions, but still it comes to mind.
Dave: And where do those questions come from?
Tom: They come your book In Defense of the Faith.
Dave: Well, I just wanted you to let people know that, Tom. We’re not making these questions up.
Tom: That’s right, and we are in chapter 12, so if they are going to run out and get the book to follow along in the program they had better get along with it. In Defense of the Faith you wrote about—how many years ago? Do you remember?
Dave: I don’t remember.
Tom: Well, the copyright is 1996, and…
Dave: That’s not so long ago—seven years ago.
Tom: But the questions are important for every generation, and you have interviewed lots of people, they’ve had lots of questions, and they are all together—you’ve put them in In Defense of the Faith, and we recommend that you get the book. Gary will tell you how to obtain the book a little later in the program.
Dave: The reason we call it Defense of the Faith is because the questions challenge the Bible, whether it’s true, the Christian faith. So if someone can put up a question that the Bible can’t answer, then throw Christianity out.
Tom: Because we’re all…the only thing we are left with is man’s speculation, man’s opinion.
Dave: That’s right. The Bible must prove that it is the Word of God by answering all questions. Now wait a minute—all questions that pertain to life and godliness, not about how to repair an engine or fly an airplane. This is what is important—man’s eternal destiny. Who is God? Who is man? And what’s the problem between them, and how can that be resolved? And that’s what the Bible deals with.
Tom: Yeah, and it’s also a foundation—the foundation to science. We couldn’t have science if we didn’t have a Creator, a designer. If everything happened by chance, not only did it not happen that way, but if it did, we couldn’t figure it out.
Dave: Well, there would be no purpose to it.
Tom: Right. Dave, again, the first question is very difficult. And before I get into it, one of the ways I would like you to go in addressing this is there are some things that we can’t comprehend, but it doesn’t mean it’s—or they are—irrational or illogical; it’s just beyond our comprehension. Well let’s see if this is one of them.
Dave: Well, there are many things, Tom, that we know must be but we can’t understand. For example, we know God must be eternal, without beginning. Otherwise, there would have been a time when nothing existed and everything came out of no one, nothing. There had to be someone who could create everything out of nothing. We know that has to be. It’s beyond our comprehension.
Tom: Well, how about this one? “I’ve heard it taught that Jesus not only died physically but that His Spirit died also. How could that be possible? That sounds like the doctrine of “soul sleep. If man, who is mortal, has an immortal soul and spirit that will be in heaven or hell, how then could Christ’s spirit die? Was the Trinity separated? If the Spirit of God died, who was in charge of the universe while God was dead? This question shakes my confidence in the Bible and in my salvation.”
Let me just quickly address “soul sleep.” There are some who teach that when a person dies they literally cease to exist, whether it’s annihilation or just—you’re nothing until God basically reconstructs or reconstitutes you later at the resurrection. So that would be one of the teachings with regard to soul sleep. Well, go ahead.
Dave: Well, the…I guess the rationale that some would use—and it’s pretty powerful—that we don’t really sleep but we all get to heaven at the same time. So that even though people died, you know this is kind of a time-warp thing.
Tom: Well, it’s like if you fall asleep and you wake up, sometimes you think it’s in the next instant but, Dave, if it’s one of your naps, it’s 20 minutes later, but you don’t…
Dave: Now come on, Tom! My naps do not last quite that long because Gary wakes me up. (laughing)
Tom: I’m not talking just radio—I mean when we used to work together, you would take a “power nap,” and you would take yours for 15 minutes.
Dave: Well, it’s an appealing idea that my father, who died, went to be with the Lord; well, we say, “absent from the body, present with the Lord”—he went to be with the Lord…how long ago would it be now? Must be at least 10 or 15 years, that—and let’s say the Rapture occurs today, that his body is raised and reunited, a new body of course, transformed, reunited with his soul and spirit, and we are caught up together with him to meet the Lord in the air—that is, those of us who are alive and remain. That it’s all simultaneous. We all arrive in heaven together. But the Bible says, “absent from the body, present with the Lord, which is far better.” And it says those—this is 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4: “Those who sleep in Jesus…”—that is, the body is sleeping…
Tom: Figurative language.
Dave:…will God bring with Him.” So, in fact, Zechariah, chapter 14, says that when His feet touch the Mount of Olives, He brings all the saints from heaven with Him. Now that’s the Second Coming, and they have already been resurrected and taken up there. But at the Rapture, He brings those who have died—not all saints but those who have died come with Him. Well, that can only be the soul and spirit, because they are coming to be reunited with their resurrected bodies. So, we couldn’t all arrive simultaneously. Furthermore, Jesus told of the rich man and Lazarus, remember? “In hell, he lift up his eyes being in torment.”
Tom: That is, the rich man.
Dave: The rich man, right, and he sees Lazarus, the beggar, far off in Abraham’s bosom. There is a conversation going on, so Abraham is apparently conscious, and the scripture tells us that Jesus cleared out that side—this is paradise. He said to the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
Now Jehovah’s Witnesses and others try to turn that around and have Jesus say, “Verily, today I say to you, you will be with me in paradise.” That’s ridiculous language. Why does He say, “Today I say to you”? Because there He is—everybody knows it’s today, the thief knows it’s today. No, “Today thou shalt be with me in paradise. I say, unto you today thou shalt be with me in paradise, verily, verily,” Jesus says.
Okay, so we know from a number of scriptures that death does not end consciousness, and that deals with one of the questions, or part of the question. If Jesus is God, and Jesus is dead—we’ve talked about that before on this program, I believe, it was some time ago—then when Jesus is dead, who is running the universe? Well, but death does not mean unconsciousness. So Jesus is conscious in Hades, in hell, which had at that time, two compartments…
Tom: This gets to be confusing, Dave, let me just jump in here. Because hell—that seems to lead to another thing: that He was in hell suffering the hell fires.
Dave: Right, he was not. The Bible uses a couple of terms, Sheol, Hades, and so forth, and it indicates…
Tom: And Gehenna.
Dave: Yeah, that would be the place of torment. It indicates to us that there were two compartments. One was called paradise—that’s where Abraham went. It’s also called Abraham’s bosom. And the other one is where the damned go, who will one day—Revelation, chapter 20: “Death and hell will give up the dead that are in them,” and they will stand before the Great White Throne Judgment. “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; the books were opened, and the sea gave up the dead which were in it, hell gave up the dead which were in it,” and so forth, okay?
Tom: These are those who were condemned already; they are not believers.
Dave: Right, they are not there to find out whether they are going to the lake of fire or not. They are there to find out the amount of punishment that will be meted out to each one according to their works, okay? But the other side, paradise, Jesus said, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” That was where the redeemed went, those who had faith in Christ. They are called, in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4, “Those who sleep in Jesus.” I think that includes Abraham, for sure. Those who died in faith in Christ—they are in this place —they were in this place called paradise. Now it was impossible for them to go to heaven because Christ had not yet died for our sins—He had not opened the door, and Hebrews, chapter 7, I believe it is, calls Him the forerunner. And the term there is like the torchbearer in the Olympic Games, and all the others follow behind Him.
So Christ, having paid the penalty for our sins—that having been accepted by the Father—He is raised from the dead, and He ascends to heaven now, having obtained eternal redemption for us, the scripture says. And it says He took a multitude with Him; that would be the ones who were in paradise.
So, death is not unconsciousness. So, Jesus would be conscious in paradise, just as Abraham and the others, so He could run the universe from there just as well as from anywhere else. But of course that raises other questions. How can God die? Well, the Father didn’t die, the Holy Spirit didn’t die. That’s one of the reasons why we need a Trinity; we have to have a Trinity for a number of reasons. And again, we’ve been over this, but it would not hurt to review it briefly.
Tom: Dave, as you get into this, the thought that we brought up earlier that there are some things that we cannot fully comprehend. We can’t comprehend one God, three persons—fully comprehend it. We would have to be God in order to do that, but it has to be. This is another doctrine, or teaching, that we can reason with.
Dave: Yeah, we can understand the necessity of it. On one end of the scale you have polytheism, for example—many gods. You have diversity but no unity. On the other end of the scale, you have one God but a single entity. That is the teaching of Islam regarding Allah, a single individual. And most Jews think that Yahweh is a single individual. Well, then we have unity but no diversity. Before this “God” created other beings, he could not experience love, fellowship, communion.
Tom: He would be in need of His creation.
Dave: Right, He is incomplete. Now the Bible teaches Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—three persons, one God. And you get that even in the shema, Israel’s declaration of God. This is Deuteronomy:6:4-5. This is the great commandment: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord (that means Yahweh) our God (that is Elohim, it’s a plural form, El is the singular of God…
Tom: “The gods…”
Dave: Right. …‘The Lord our Gods’ is literally what it says) is one Yahweh,” and the word for “one” there is echad. It doesn’t mean a single entity; it means a unity. So, in Genesis:2:24, when God presented Eve to Adam, having just created her out of his rib, it says the two became one flesh, echad, a unity. If you went to Exodus:36:13, it’s talking about the components of the tabernacle, the curtains and the rods and the posts and so forth. And when they were all put together, they became one tabernacle, echad, one. In other words, it’s a unity.
Or you have 2 Samuel:2:25, when you had a number of warriors and they came together, one troop, echad. We have that enough times to know that it means a unity, not a singularity. So, let me read it again: Deuteronomy:2:4-5, “Hear, O Israel, Yahweh, our Elohim is one—echad— Yahweh,” is what it says. So, we must have a Trinity; otherwise you couldn’t have the Cross, the sacrifice on the Cross: you could not have our redemption. First John:4:14, is it somewhere around there, Tom? It says, “The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” Jesus said, in John’s gospel, “The Father loveth the Son and has committed all things…the Son is going to judge the world,” and so forth. So, we have the interaction between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—absolutely essential for a sound—philosophically sound—concept of God. The others won’t work; you either have unity without diversity or diversity without unity.
Okay, so now, when Christ, who became man—the Father didn’t become man, the Holy Spirit didn’t become man—when Christ, who became man, tasted death, Hebrews:2:9: “he tasted death for every man,” then He must have tasted, as a man, but you can’t separate Him from being God because God does not cease to be God. Jesus Christ, it says, the same—this is Hebrews 13: “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Well, if Jesus Christ was once God—which He is, God became man, Isaiah:9:6: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, the government shall be upon his shoulders, his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father,” okay? Well, Jesus is God, the eternal Son of God, who became a man—He didn’t cease to be God, He couldn’t cease to be God, He will never cease to be man, He is the one and only God/man. He is God and man in one person. Okay, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever,” then He must always be God and man. Then on the Cross, He is God and man. And, as you said, we can’t fathom this but He died for our sins, and He died as God, because you can’t say, “Oh, when He died, He wasn’t God anymore, or somehow His Godhood was separated from His manhood….”
Tom: Or, some would say that He had laid aside His divinity.
Dave: You cannot do that. The Bible says He laid aside His glory. He did not manifest His glory, and He said to the Father in John 17, “Glorify thou me with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” But He could not lay aside His divinity. Now it is beyond my comprehension, I cannot understand it, but He must have tasted spiritual death. That’s the point this person is making, and we’re not talking about dying spiritually as Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, people like that would say that Jesus ended up in hell.
Tom: Being tortured by demons. That’s where He paid the—so we really have Satan to thank for applying enough torture to Jesus that our sins are—the penalty is paid. It’s ridiculous, blasphemous….
Dave: Tom, blasphemy, blasphemy! The scripture says, Isaiah 53, that “Yahweh, Jehovah, laid on him our sins. It pleased Jehovah to bruise him.” Satan is not bruising Him; Satan isn’t even in hell yet. He certainly isn’t the proprietor of hell; he’s not running it and torturing anybody. It’s a place where Satan will be tormented forever!
Tom: Yeah, it’s the last place he wants to be.
Dave: That’s right. So, that was where Jesus paid for our sins? Hagin and Copeland and these people are very firm on this. Christ said on the Cross: “It is finished!” The penalty is paid—tetelestai—that means paid in full. They say, “Oh, no, it wasn’t finished. We don’t have redemption through His blood, as the Bible says, but we got redemption because He went to hell and Satan tormented Him down there.” And, as we have often said, Satan is smart enough that he would torment Him just not quite enough to save us. Well, but wait a minute! Satan does not set the standard of how much torment, and it’s not that kind of torment anyway. I don’t know what it means that “He tasted death for every man.” It is the eternal separation from God and the punishment that every person, according to their works—the worst person, Hitler, would endure, Christ paid it all, and without that, there is no salvation for any of us.
Tom: Dave, I know we can’t fathom this, but again, some points that have to be if Jesus tasted death—in other words, if He paid the full penalty, and He said he did—that He could only do that as God because it’s an infinite penalty. Somehow, as a human being, God sent His only begotten Son, He became flesh, so as a human being He is on the Cross, yet as God, somehow He is able to experience what it would be like for a human for eternity to—you know, that penalty had to be paid.
Dave: Only God, as you said, is infinite. The penalty is infinite because God who pronounced the penalty is infinite; therefore only God could endure that. Of course, it wouldn’t be just for God to endure it because He is not one of us, so He became a man—didn’t cease to be God, of course—He couldn’t possibly cease to be God.
Tom: Well, if He did, He couldn’t pay the penalty, that’s my point.
Dave: Exactly, and all through the Old Testament, Yahweh says He’s the only Savior: “Beside me there is no savior,” Isaiah:43:11.
Tom: And then you go to Titus, and it flip-flops back and forth; God is our only savior, Jesus Christ is our savior, God is our savior, Jesus Christ is our savior…
Dave: Right, exactly. In fact, Jesus said in John 8:, “Except you believe that I am….” And “he” is in italics. I am, of course, is the name of God, Yahweh.
Tom: The self-existent one.
Dave: “If you don’t believe that I am God,” Jesus said, “you will die in your sins.” If you believe that Jesus is anything less than God, that He is not fully God and fully man, then you are trusting in someone less than God to be your savior. But God says He’s the only savior, okay? So Tom, as you said, it’s a mystery beyond my comprehension. On the other hand, we know it must be.
Tom: And the simple aspect to all of this is people say, “Well, you have to do something; it can’t just be by faith.” No, God alone could pay the penalty for our sins. And the only thing that we have…there is nothing else we can bring to it except putting our trust in Him. But that’s the way God set it up.
Dave: Exactly, it’s the way it has to be. As you said, Tom, what could we offer? What could we add? What could we do for our salvation? Nothing, and we’ve often used the example—let me just use it again—the Bible says, “The wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life.” This is a gift! If you are going to receive salvation from God, you’re going to have to receive it as a gift. You cannot earn it. You can’t earn a gift, you can’t pay for a gift, you can’t merit a gift. A gift is a gift! So if you are—whoever is listening out there, and you do not know Christ, if you are going to receive eternal life and forgiveness of sins and be with Christ in His Father’s house forever, you must humble yourself and acknowledge you cannot earn this, you do not merit it, you don’t deserve it, you deserve eternal separation from God. And then, in His grace, in His mercy, in His love, thank Him, and receive this gift from Him.