WELCOME TO THEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES

 

 

               WHEN DOES CHRIST RETURN?  PART THIRTEEN  
 

Physical death versus spiritual death:

       Because of the manner in which Paul sometimes speaks of death, it is believed he is speaking of “spiritual death” as opposed to physical death. In Romans 5:20-21, Paul speaks of sin reigning in death.  Is Paul here speaking of spiritual death as opposed to physical/biological death.

       Romans 5:20-21: The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

       Here Paul essentially says the same thing he says in Romans 6:23.  The wages of sin is death in contrast to eternal life being obtained through Jesus Christ our Lord. Death is contrasted with eternal life. There is no reason to believe Paul is contrasting spiritual death with spiritual life.  Eternal life is seen as given through Jesus Christ.  Sin is seen as producing death while grace through righteousness is seen as bringing life through the Christ event. Scripture shows it is not by our righteousness but through the righteousness of Christ that we are saved from eternal death.

       Nothing in Scripture suggests Jesus died to release us from spiritual death. All indications are that Jesus died to release us from the death we all experience, the cessation of physical/biological life. Because of what Jesus cried out on the cross, some believe He experienced a "spiritual death" as well as the physical death He experienced when He drew His last breath.

Did Jesus die a spiritual death?

       Matthew 27:46: About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

         The Greek word translated “forsaken” means to “abandon, desert or leave helpless,” (see Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). Some believe this indicates Jesus experienced a momentary spiritual separation from God which is seen as a “spiritual death,” the same kind of death it is believe Adam and Eve experienced in the Garden and the same kind of death it is believed we all experience in addition to physical/biological death. 

       The statement “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is taken from Psalm 22:1. Psalm 22 appears to be prophetic of the events associated with the crucifixion of Jesus. A careful reading of this Psalm reveals the physical ordeal Jesus experienced at the time of His crucifixion. There is absolutely nothing in this Psalm that indicates a so-called spiritual death. The content of this Psalm speaks to the dynamics of Christ’s physical death and nothing more.  The following is an example of some of the language used to describe the physical trauma Christ experienced.

       Psalm 22:15-18: My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.  They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.

       In verse 8 we read "He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him."  It should be obvious this relates to deliverance from the physical death Jesus was experiencing and not a so-called spiritual death.  There simply is nothing in Psalm 22 about “spiritual death.”  While God did abandon Jesus to physical death, there is no Scriptural reason to believe God ever abandoned Jesus to a so-called spiritual death.

       While it could be argued that when Jesus took our sins upon himself this created a momentary spiritual separation from God, it is still the physical body of Jesus that is seen as being the sacrifice for sin and nothing more than that. Jesus is seen as experiencing a physical/biological death by the shedding of his blood. It is the shed blood of Christ that atones for the death that sin brings.

       Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice for sin pictured by the sacrificing of lambs under the Old Covenant. The sacrificing of physical lambs shedding physical blood was a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of the physical Jesus shedding physical blood. Nothing is said in Scripture about Jesus dying spiritually to atone for sin.  

       Hebrews 10:10b: we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  

       All the Old Testament prophecies associated with the death of Jesus discuss his death in physical terms. In addition to Psalm 22, here is what we see in Isaiah 53.   

       Isaiah 53:4-5: Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

      Isaiah 53: 8c-10a: For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer.

       Jesus saying “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” must be seen in the overall context of the pain and suffering he was experiencing. God did abandon Jesus to the death of the cross. God allowed Jesus to die a horrendously painful physical death. One can easily understand how Jesus would have felt abandoned by God and cried out what He did while experiencing the severity of crucifixion.  The phrase “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” must be seen in the context of Psalm 22 from which it is taken.  The context of this Psalm is all about the physical trauma Jesus was experiencing.

       It is highly unlikely that God removed His spiritual presence from Jesus which could be viewed as spiritual death. A review of all Scripture that pertains to the death of Jesus shows His death to be physical in nature and nothing more. In taking our sin upon Himself, Jesus experienced the same physical/biological eternal death penalty for sin we all do.  However, since Jesus never sinned, He didn’t experience this penalty for His sins but for ours. Therefore, death could not hold Jesus. Through His resurrection to life, Jesus made resurrection to life possible for us all. 

       Jesus took our sins upon Him and died a physical/biological mortal death. Paul wrote to the Colossian Christians that God "has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation" (Colossians 1:22).  In Hebrews 9:22, the writer states that "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." In Hebrews 9:26 the writer follows up on this statement by showing that the shedding of blood is exactly what Jesus did. He writes in verse 25 that unlike the high priest who offers the blood of animals, Jesus offered His own blood. The writer them states that Jesus "has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself." 

       These passages confirm that the death Jesus died to reconciled us to God was a  physical/biological death. It was from this kind of death that Jesus was resurrected with a  transformed spirit body, the same kind of body we transition to upon physical/biological death.

       There is nothing in Scripture about Jesus dying a spiritual death and such death providing atonement for sin. While it can be argued that when Jesus physically died His spirit died as well, it is His physical death producing physical blood that is seen as atoning for sin and reconciling us to God.

       In Part Eleven we discussed the Corporate/Collective Body View (CBV) of resurrection which essentially teaches that the penalty for sin is "spiritual death" (spiritual separation from God) and the death of Jesus was to atone for spiritual death and spiritually reconcile us back to God. The question could be asked that if it is spiritual death Jesus died to atone for, why did He have to die a physical death where blood had to be shed?  If physical death is not the penalty for sin, why a physical death to atone for sin? Jesus didn't shed "spiritual blood."  The fact that Jesus had to die a blood shedding physical death appears to negate the CBV view. 

Paul's understanding of death:     

       Nowhere does Paul use the phrase “spiritual death” when discussing the matter of sin and death. As already discussed, Paul made it clear that since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  It is clear that Paul’s understanding of death was that death is a cessation of life and through resurrection life can be restored.

       This being the case, when Paul speaks of death in his writings there is no reason to conclude Paul is speaking of death in any way other than the cessation of physical/biological life. As already covered, the idea of spiritual death is derived from a passage in Isaiah 59:2 where God is quoted as saying, "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear."  While sin separates us from God, nowhere do the Scriptures define such separation as spiritual death. As already discussed, the Greek word rendered death occurs 119 times in the NT and by context can be seen over and over again to clearly identify physical/biological death.

       In Romans 6:7, Paul writes that “anyone who has died has been freed from sin.”  Death frees one from sinning.  One can’t sin when dead.  Scripture shows Jesus taking our sin upon Himself and dying for that sin.  However, Jesus couldn’t stay dead because He personally never sinned.  God resurrected Jesus and as Paul writes, "Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God" (Romans 6:8-11).

       Paul uses the literal death and resurrection of Jesus throughout Romans 6 to metaphorically teach that through baptism we mimic the death and resurrection of Jesus and in so doing we should turn from living a life of sin to living a life of righteousness.  We are seen as being buried with Christ into sin death as He was and resurrected to live for God as He was.

       Some believe Paul, in Romans 6, is speaking of moving from spiritual death to spiritual life in teaching that in Christ we die to sin and are raised to life.  However, Paul says nothing about spiritual death. He uses the physical/biological death of Jesus and His resurrection to life as the template for us putting sin to death in our behavior and living a transformed life of obedience to God.

      Paul concludes chapter 6 by writing that "When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in  Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:20-23).

       When Paul writes that being a slave to sin results in death, there is no reason to believe  Paul is referring to spiritual death. In Romans 6:12 Paul speaks of not allowing sin to reign in the mortal body. It should be evident that Paul is seeing sin and death associated with the death of the mortal body. By contrast, Paul sees righteousness as the pathway to eternal life which other Scripture teaches involves receiving a transformed spirit body at the time of physical/biological death.  

       Paul sees the association between sin and death as an actual law which he contrasts with what he called the law of the Spirit. Paul frequently speaks in terms of sin leading to death while behavior in line with the spirit leading to righteousness and life. Contrast is made between death caused by sin and life caused by the Spirit of God.

       Romans 8:2: because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

       Romans 8:6: The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.

       Paul told the Ephesians they were dead in their transgressions and sins but made alive with Christ and adds it is by grace they were saved.

       Ephesians 2:1a: As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,

       Ephesians 2:4-5: But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved.

       Let's take a closer look at Ephesians 2:1a and 2:4-5.  "As for you, you were (being) dead in your transgressions and sins...But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were (being) dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved." The Greek word rendered "were" is ὄντας (ontas) which means "in a state of being." Young's Literal Translation renders it as "Also you -- being dead in the trespasses and the sins."  Paul is speaking of being in a present state of death but being made alive through the Christ event. This is consistent with Paul saying "the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).  

      How were these Ephesians dead?  Where they dead in some spiritual sense or where they dead in that they were doomed to eternal death because of sin no different than Adam was doomed to such death when he sinned?  Paul concludes they were saved by grace. We see in Scripture that because of the grace of God we are saved from the penalty of eternal death.  Throughout the NT we see death as the cessation of physical life.  As already discussed, nowhere is death defined as spiritual.

       When Paul told the Ephesians they were dead in their sins, there is no reason to believe Paul is talking about any kind of death other than the eternal death sin produces.  Being made alive with Christ is to be given an indwelling seed of eternal life. Peter spoke of having "been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God"(1 Peter 1:23). This rebirth was seen as already present within the mortal body. Upon death of the mortal body this rebirth is manifested in the granting of a spirit body to replace the mortal body that died. This is the rebirth Jesus spoke of in John 3 when He spoke to Nicodemus about the need to be born again in order to enter the Kingdom of God.

       Jesus told Nicodemus that "no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit" (John 3:5-6).  Jesus continued to say "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit" (John 3:8). When Jesus speaks of being born of water, it is often believed he is speaking of water baptism.  However, Jesus follows up this statement by saying "flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit." Jesus speaks of being born of water and Spirit and then speaks of being born of flesh and Spirit. It appears Jesus is contrasting the fleshly birth process which involves the breaking of the watery female placenta with being born of the Spirit which is a non-fleshly, supernatural experience.  

       Jesus is not here talking about being reborn of the Spirit after having experienced spiritual death.  Jesus is talking about being reborn from the eternal death of the fleshly, mortal body. He is talking about being born to a whole new dimension of existence.  He is talking about moving from being composed of flesh and blood to being composed of Spirit. He is talking about a transformation from being mortal to being immortal, perishable to imperishable.  Peter indicates we can have the seed of this transformation abiding in us while still mortal. Jesus indicated the same thing when he said that even though we die, we will live (John 11:25-26).  

       Now it could be argued that the spirit in man is what generates sin and therefore sin is spiritual in nature. However, even though sin may be spiritual in nature, the fact remains that it results in eternal biological death.  While it can be argued that spiritual sin causes separation from God, nowhere in Scripture is such separation defined as spiritual death. The death that is seen in Scripture due to sin is cessation of physical/biological life, not cessation of spirit life. Paul speaks of sin reigning in death and contrasts it with eternal life through Christ.  There is nothing here to suggest Paul is speaking of spiritual death.

       Romans 5:20-21: The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.    

       In Romans 7, Paul continues to use the death and resurrection of Jesus as a template for teaching that we are to abandon sin that results in death and embrace righteousness which results in life.

       Romans 7:4-5: So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death.

       In Romans 8, Paul shows how our physical body is dead because of sin while at the same time our spirit is alive because of righteousness. This is congruent with what Jesus said about not dying even thought we die (John 11:25-26).  Paul is saying that though we have death residing within us because of sin and we will physically/biologically die, we also have life residing within us guaranteeing release from death.  

       Romans 8:10-11: But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

       Romans 8:15-16: For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by him we cry, "Abba,  Father."  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.

       Our bodies are mortal, subject to biological death. Death is seen throughout Scripture as pertaining to our physical mortal bodies. On the other hand, spirit is associated in Scripture with life. It is through spirit we are restored to life, not mortal life but spirit life.  As discussed above, Paul taught there is a natural body and there is a spiritual body. Jesus, Himself, experienced mortal, physical/biological death of the natural body and then experienced being restored to life through the spirit of God. 

       1 Peter 3:18b: He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.

       Adam was a natural biological perishable human made from the dust of the ground. As such he was subject to biological death. When he sinned he became subject to eternal death. All humans have the same perishable body as did Adam and reap the wages of sin which is the eternal death of the perishable body. Jesus was born a physical/biological human subject to physical/biological death.  Because Jesus never sinned, He was not subject to eternal death. However, Jesus took our sins upon Himself thus making Himself subject to eternal death. Because Jesus never personally sinned, death couldn’t hold Jesus and God the Father resurrected Jesus and gave him a transformed spirit body.

       Acts 2:24: But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.   

The spirit of life:

       While it may be appropriate to say sin creates a spiritual separation between God and man, it may be best to classify such separation simply as spiritual separation and not spiritual death.  The terms spirit and spiritual are not seen in Scripture to be connected with death. Instead these terms are frequently connected to life.  As already discussed, Paul wrote that “through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”  Paul also wrote that “if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.”

       The term spirit in Scripture is associated with life, not with death. Therefore, the concept of spiritual death appears contrary to how spirit is seen and used by Scriptural writers.  It should be apparent that we are all subject to physical/biological death because of having been created mortal and we become subject to staying dead because of sin as was the case with Adam and Eve. 

       The Christ event does not do away with physical/biological death. It does away with that death being permanent due to sin. As Paul said, "your body is dead because of sin." Scripture shows this death is an eternal death. The Christ event does away with the sentence of eternal death.  The Christ event does away with staying dead. The Christ event facilitates removal of sin death (eternal death). The removal of sin death results in being given an immortal spirit body.  Thus eternal death is replaced by eternal life and as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, such death is swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:54).

       Resurrection is all about having our mortal, physically/biologically dead body transformed into a body of new composition, a body like the one Jesus was given upon His resurrection. Paul wrote that Jesus "by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body" (Philippians 3:21).

Were Adam and Eve “provisionally saved”?

       Since Adam and Eve remained physically alive for many years after being told they would die if they ate of the forbidden tree, some believe they were “provisionally saved” from physical death when God make garments of skin to cloth them. To be provisionally saved means they were given a temporary stay of execution. It is recorded that God made garments of skin for Adam and Eve and clothed them.

       Genesis 3:21: The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.   

       Some believe God killed an animal to obtain the skin to make the garments. In so doing, it is believed the shed blood of the animal covered Adam and Eve's sin and temporally saved them from the death God said would occur on the day they ate from the forbidden tree.  The death of an animal was substituted for their death and they were allowed to continue living beyond the day they ate of the tree.      

       This perspective is based on the belief that Adam and Eve had to physically/biologically  die on the specific day they ate from the forbidden tree. Since they didn't physically/biologically die on that day, it is believed God must have killed an animal to die in their stead and this provided a "provisional atonement" for them that allowed them to continue living.      

       While it is certainly possible God killed an animal to make the garments for Adam and Eve, this would not have provided a "provisional atonement" that allowed them to continue living for the simple reason there would not have been a need for such a thing. As already discussed, God didn't say that on the day they eat of the forbidden tree they would die but that their death would become guaranteed/certain on that day.  That death became a reality many years later.

       While God may have shed the blood of an animal in the presence of Adam and Eve to provide a foreshadowing of the redemptive act of Christ, there is nothing in Scripture that says this.  All we know for sure about this event is what we read in Genesis 3:21. "The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them." Nothing is said here about God killing and shedding the blood of an animal. Nothing is said here about the act of clothing Adam and Eve with garments of skin provisionally covering their sin as some have concluded.

       Since nothing is written anywhere else in Scripture about the event describe in Genesis 3:21, any meaning ascribed to it over and above what is written is speculative.  I personally have chosen not to create speculative theology on this matter.

How is the penalty for sin paid?

       Scripture teaches that death is the penalty for sin. The Christian theological system teaches that Jesus paid the penalty of death in our stead. Jesus died a physical/biological death. Jesus experienced cessation of physical/biological death as we all do. Jesus shed physical blood to atone for the eternal death we all experience due to sin. It would appear our physical/biological death is the penalty for sin. If Jesus paid this penalty for us, why do we continue to physically die? 

        Paul wrote that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). If the death penalty for the sin that Paul speaks of is our physical/biological death, are we not paying that penalty ourselves when we physically/biologically die?  If mortal death is the penalty for sin, then we all individually pay this penalty and the death of Christ on our behalf becomes superfluous and meaningless.    

       Because of this seeming dilemma, some believe, as already discussed, that it is spiritual death, defined as spiritual separation from God, that sin produces and nothing more than that. The death of Christ is seen as paying the price of spiritual death and not our physical/biological death. Physical/biological death is seen as nothing more than the natural consequence of having been created mortal.

       It is argued that physical death is simply the normal and natural consequence of being born mortal. Therefore, the death that sin produces is not the physical/biological death that is common to all physical creatures but instead it must be spiritual death that sin produces. Let's take a careful look at this perspective.

       As covered in Part Eleven of this series, Solomon made it clear that physical death is a death that is common to both man and animals. 

        Ecclesiastes 3:19-20: Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath ; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.

       Is the death Solomon speaks of here the kind of death that sin produces?  Solomon is here speaking of a death associated with our mortal makeup. To be mortal is to be subject to death which is cessation of life. Mortal death is the kind of death produced by disease, accidents and the simple deterioration of the physical body. It is a death common to humans and animals.  Animals don't sin and yet the same kind of death is seen happening to them as happens to humans.           

       Adam was created a mortal body, a body made from the physical elements of the earth. A mortal body, by definition, is not a body designed to live forever. The fact that God barred Adam and Eve from eating from the tree of life and living forever gives witness to they being created mortal and subject to death (Genesis 3:22). They would have had to eat from the tree of life to become immortal and that would have meant a change in bodily composition.  God prevented this from happening.

       So what kind of death does sin produce?  Is it spiritual death only as some argue?  Is it both spiritual and physical?  Since the death of Jesus does not prevent our physical/biological death, it would not appear that our physical/biological death is the death Jesus paid the price for.  If physical/biological death is the penalty for sin, then we all pay the price for our own sin since we all physically/biologically die.  

       So what does the death of Jesus do for us?  The death of Jesus is clearly seen as facilitating restoration to life. Is this a restoration to life from spiritual death, physical/biological death or both. The answer to that question can be found in the kind of death Jesus died   Jesus died a physical/biological death and shed physical blood to pay the eternal death penalty we have all incurred because of sin. There is nothing in Scripture about Jesus dying a spiritual death to atone for sin. Jesus did not shed spiritual blood.    

       The death of Jesus was the death of his physical body.  He was resurrected from this physical death and given a spirit body, a body of a different composition. Jesus was changed from being mortal to immortal. This change that Jesus experienced allows for our change from mortal  to immortal.  The change Jesus experienced facilitates our change from having a perishable body to having an imperishable body, a change from being a physical body to being a spirit body.

       There is nothing in Scripture saying this change is a restoration of spiritual life after having died a spiritual death. While a change from having a physical body to having a spirit body includes a change in our spiritual makeup. the fact remains that the death of Jesus facilitates a change in bodily composition as clearly taught by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15.  

       It is apparent that the kind of death sin produces is an eternal death, an eternal cessation of life. Sin produces eternal mortal death, a sin death.  We all die a natural death due to our mortally. We all experience cessation of physical/biological life. Such cessation of life would be permanent if it wasn't for the Christ event. While physical/biological death is the fate of all living creatures, Sin death appears to be the eternal cessation of life for mankind which amounts to eternal separation from the tree of life.

       It took the death and resurrection of the sinless Christ Jesus to regain access to the tree of life. The death of Jesus cancels out the eternal death sin produces and allows for the restoration of life. The Book of Revelation associates access to the tree of life as access to life. The death and resurrection of Jesus does not protect us from physical/biological death. It protects us from staying eternally dead.  So when we see Paul and others speak of sin producing death, it is eternal death that is meant. It is a death from which we can never be restored save for the substitutionary death of Christ Jesus.

       Normal physical/biological death is a death you can be temporally resurrected from.  We see a number of such temporary resurrections in Scripture as covered in Part Eleven of this series. These resurrections were resurrections from mortal death to mortal life.  These folks weren't resurrected to eternal life, they were resurrected to perishable mortal life.  Those resurrected in this manner died again. The kind of resurrection Christ has facilitated for us is resurrection to eternal life, not temporal life where we can die again. The life Christ has facilitated for us is a life over which death has no power. Christ has facilitated resurrection from sin death which is resurrection from the kind of death that is eternal.

       God made it clear to Adam that the penalty for eating of the forbidden tree was certain death. It is evident that this death was an eternal death, a cessation of life for ever. a sin death. Once they physically/biologically died they would say dead forever. They would return to the dust from which they were made and that would be the end of it. This same penalty has passed on to all humans because all humans sin. The Christ event overturned the eternal death penalty for sin.     

How did Jesus die?

       In Romans 6, Paul said the death Christ died was to sin and that is why He could not die again. Christ physically died and was resurrected to eternal life which means He could not die again. Through resurrection to eternal life, Jesus destroyed eternal death. Paul reveals what the cause of eternal death is.

       1 Corinthians 15:56: The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

       2 Corinthians 3:6-10: He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant-not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory.

       Romans 10:4: Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

      Galatians 3:13: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’

        The law defined sin. Paul said in Romans 5:13 that where there is no law there is no sin. Paul also shows in Romans 5 that sin had been around since Adam. Therefore law had been in place since Adam. Paul explained that the Old Covenant codified law system facilitated by Moses was actually added to increase sin (Romans 5:20). By codifying the law, it made it even more apparent when law was broken and sin occurred. Scripture defines sin as lawlessness (1 John 3:4). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Man was never able to avoid breaking law and avoid sinning. Since sin causes eternal death, man was unable to avoid such death.

       Breaking God’s law demands eternal death. Jesus voluntarily took our sins upon Himself and in so doing paid the eternal death penalty in our stead. Since this is the case, wouldn't Jesus have had to remain eternally dead? How can it be said He paid the eternal death penalty on our behalf if he didn't remain eternally dead? 

       Jesus didn't remain eternally dead because Jesus never personally committed sin death. While it is true Jesus took our sin upon himself and in that respect experienced eternal sin death on our behalf, such death couldn't hold Him because He never sinned. So what God did is apply the sin death sacrifice of Jesus as payment for the eternal sin death we all have incurred because of sin. God then resurrected Jesus to eternal life thus making our resurrection to eternal life possible as well. 

       When Jesus had nails driven into his hands and feet and experienced a great loss of  blood due to His many wounds, he died a physical/biological death as any one of us would have died under such circumstances. Sin did not cause the physical/biological death of Jesus. The injuries to His mortal body caused His death. However, in Jesus taking our sins upon Himself, He also died a sin death which would have been an eternal death except for God negating that penalty and bringing Jesus back to life.

PART FOURTEEN