4 But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5 For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten. 6 Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; Nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 9:4–6, NKJV)
Please do not be deceived into thinking the dead influence events on the earth. Inspiration informs us that as far as life on earth is concerned, the living have hope in participating in its events, but death removes us from active involvement in this realm. Those who claim to communicate with the dead on behalf of the living are deceived as they deceive others. Scripture identifies such practices as sinful and futile (Deuteronomy 18:9-14). We obtain our information about things beyond the grave from the living word of God, which gives ample insight into death and what comes after it (Luke 16:19-31; 1 Corinthians 15, et al.). Each of us must prepare for death. None of us knows when it will come, but when it does, our involvement in this world ends. Now is the time to prepare for death and the judgment of our lives while on earth (Hebrews 9:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:11-15). Nothing will change that judgment once we die. Put your faith in the living Son of God, who redeems us and intercedes for the living, not in dead saints and relatives whose time on earth has past (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).
1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. (Ephesians 2:1–3, NKJV)
God alone brings to life the sinner who is spiritually dead (Colossians 2:12-13). Before we were saved in Christ (“made alive”) we were “by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” How were “the others” children of wrath? To answer that question is to answer how we were also children of wrath. The answer given is this: The world walks in disobedience to God. Their nature, their habit and course of conduct, is living in sin. The world is under the sway of Satan and, because of its sin, under God’s wrath. Like them, we also conducted ourselves in fleshly lusts, fulfilling sinful desires. We chose to sin, and sin caused our spiritual death. We are not born sinners – we choose to walk “according to the course of this world.” We come under God’s wrath when we sin. Only the sacrifice of Jesus appeases God’s wrath and saves us from eternal death (1 John 2:2; 4:10). God makes us alive – gives us “newness of life” – when we are baptized with Christ and die to sin (Romans 6:4). This is when God makes dead sinners alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:5-6).
20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:20–22, NKJV)
The resurrection of Christ is the keystone of the gospel. Without it, the entire structure of human redemption from sin and death through Jesus Christ crumbles to the ground (1 Corinthians 15:14-19). With it, Christ is powerfully declared to be the Son of God (Romans 1:4). His resurrection from the dead proves all the dead will be raised (1 Corinthians 15:12-13). (Please note that this passage addresses bodily death and bodily resurrection.) Christ’s resurrection from the dead is described as the firstfruits – the beginning – of the resurrection of all the dead (Acts 26:23). Under the Law of Moses, the firstfruits of harvest were dedicated to the Lord, indicating the full harvest was a blessing from His hand (Exodus 23:19; Leviticus 23:10; Deuteronomy 26:1-11). In like manner, Christ’s resurrection assures us that all who experience physical death as a result of Adam will be raised from the dead (Genesis 3:19). Jesus said the time will come when “all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth” (John 5:28-29). Death will not end your existence. You will be raised from the dead to either eternal life or eternal condemnation (John 5:29). Get ready for your resurrection by always following Jesus Christ.
5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. (1 Peter 4:5–6, NKJV)
God’s assured judgment of sinners, including those practicing the immoral excesses named in this context (1 Peter 4:3), is the very reason the gospel is preached to the world. God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). The world is dead in sin. The gospel of God gives the sinner life out of spiritual death (Rom. 1:16-17; 6:23). Sinners who believe the gospel will obey it by repenting and being baptized (Acts 2:37-41; 1 Pet. 3:21). The result of this is salvation – life “according to God in the spirit.” This new life necessarily compels the saved to “cease from sin” (1 Pet. 4:1). Although the saved sinner will be judged harshly by those who continue to practice sin (see 1 Pet. 4:4), God’s assured forgiveness and promised eternal life confirms our heart and lives in Him. Being reviled for good conduct is but one way we are willing to “suffer in the flesh” because we have “ceased from sin” (1 Pet. 4:1).
10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.” 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (Romans 6:10-13, NKJV)
Jesus Christ died once for sin, and now, having been raised from the dead, He lives to God (Rom. 6:9). In the same way the person who is “buried with Him through baptism into death” dies to sin and is raised to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). Thus, the Christian is “alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (v. 11). This passage presents a problem for those who believe sin indwells every person due to a corrupted nature. Sin is a choice, not inbred by nature. Now that you are in Christ you make the choice not to let sin reign in your mortal body. You choose not to obey its lusts because sin is no longer your master. Jesus is. Therefore, present your body to God to serve righteousness and do not yield to sin’s allurement.