THE GOSPEL MESSAGE
Continuing on from where we left off at the end of Part one…
Q.: Does the Bible indicate where such souls continue to live?
A.: I believe it does (Romans 15: 4).
The soul of David’s physically dead son (See 2Sam. 12)) departed the body. Scripture teach that the departed souls of the Old Testament believers went to the Paradise section of Hades. This section of Hades provided departed souls with rest and comfort (Luke 16: 25).
2Sam. 12 teach that during the Old Testament dispensation, the departed souls of children that did not reach the age or stage of moral accountability went to Paradise, as did the souls of believers.
David, a believer, knew that he and his departed child would be reunited again when it came time for David to depart this world and enter Paradise. For all of his faults, David was a man of great faith.
The lake of fire is for unbelievers (Rev. 20: 15). An unbeliever is one who is/was presented with the Gospel Message and then chooses to disbelieve it. This would not be the case involving children (or adults) who never reached the age or stage of moral accountability.
This same Paradise was the one that our Lord spoke of while in conversation with the believing man on the cross next to His. It was in this Paradise that the Lord spent three days and three nights before being reunited with His body that was raised from the tomb on what we call Easter.
All of the departed Old Testament believers that were (past tense) in Paradise are now in the 3rd Heaven (2Cor. 12:2) where the Lord Jesus is presently seated (Mark 16: 19).
Many see the gravesite as being their last point of contact, and a place where they can “visit” the departed soul. In truth, their last point of contact was the last time that they interacted with the now departed soul before the soul left the body. The window of opportunity to interact with the departed soul closed when the soul departed at the moment of physical death.
No arrangements, wake, funeral, or religious activity can change the location or environment, for the better or the worse, that the soul that has already departed soul experiences. The location and the environment that any given soul experiences were already determined by the choices he/she made while he/she was here on Earth.
The only significance of the bodily remains of a born again believer is that it will be raised up in resurrection form when the Rapture takes place. At that time, the departed soul that had been in an interim body in Heaven (2Cor. 5: 1), will then be reunited with the body he/she left behind after it is raised in resurrection form.
There is not one soul in a corpse, a funeral parlor, an urn, a casket, or a cemetery. There are only the bodily remains in different stages of turning back to dust (Gen. 3: 19).
The bodily remains of born again believers (wherever they are and whatever stage of decomposing they may be in at the time) will be raised in glorious resurrection form when the Rapture takes place. No disaster or event here on Earth can or will keep God from doing so. This truth can be a source of great comfort if graves are destroyed or when the bodily remains of born again believers are not available to be buried or otherwise take care of by the ones he/she leaves behind.
Departing souls of the Church Age do not go to the Paradise of Hades. At the moment of physical death the soul and the regenerated (Titus 3: 5) spirit of born again believers go to the 3rd Heaven (2Cor. 12: 2).
Departed souls of Church Age believers are presently In Heaven in their interim bodies (2Cor. 5: 1-3). Among other activities, they are there awaiting the bodily resurrection that takes place at the Rapture (1Thess 4: 16). Those who are in interim bodies when the Rapture takes place exchange them for their resurrected bodies of glory.
The Church Age believers who are physically alive on the Earth when the Rapture takes place are instantaneously (1Cor. 15: 51-53) transformed into their resurrected bodies. As of that time, all of the believers who had been in interim bodies in Heaven and all the believers who are on the Earth when the Rapture takes place are united into one group, meeting with the Lord in the air (1Thess. 4: 17).
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I believe that God inspired (2Tim. 3: 16) the human author of (2Sam. 12) to include the details concerning the reasons for the death and the status of the departed soul of David’s dead child. I believe He did so not only to demonstrate the severe divine discipline that David received (2Sam. 12: 10-14), but to reveal to us the status of souls that leave this world before reaching the age or stage of moral accountability.
I believe that the loss of a child by way of miscarriage, abortion, still birth, or through physical death at a relatively young age can be one the greatest losses and sorrows that a human soul can experience.
David not only had to face this loss, but had to deal with the knowledge that, in his case, it was he that was responsible (2Sam. 12: 9, 10, 14). There can be times when the hardest one to forgive is the one we face in the mirror.
David had spent days and nights tearfully pleading with God to spare the life of his sick son (2Sam12: 15)-18). When the child died, those involved were afraid to tell him, fearing he would inflict harm to himself (2Sam. 12: 18).
David’s rather quick recovery (2Sam. 12: 20) and the willingness to move on with the plan of God was itself, I believe, a miracle.
One of the lessons to be learned is that one can be eternally saved and Heaven bound, and yet still sin and suffer the crushing weight of severe divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6) while here on Earth.
Q. What about those who by no fault of their own never hear the Gospel Message?
A. I believe that such souls are judged by God on the basis of their chosen response to what information they did receive during the course of their time here on Earth. This information begins with the concept of eternity that God places in every soul that He creates (Eccl. 3: 11).
Concerning the salvation of the Old Testament people of God, one might ask, “Believers in what?” The name of Jesus had not yet even been announced (Matt. 1: 21).
The concept of a coming Savior through the seed was first referenced after the Fall in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3: 15). Many more details would be released in God’s timing as to the identity of who this Savior would be throughout the course of Biblical history.
This Genesis 3: 15 revelation was passed down by oral tradition and revealed to some by way of what some call the Gospel Written in the Stars. Since Creation, there is a line of constellations (Psalms 19: 4) that symbolically tell the Gospel Message. As of the days of Moses (around 1500 years BC), the oral words of God began to be recorded in what we now refer to as the Written Word of God, aka The Bible.
Old Testament souls became “believers” (Gen. 5: 17) by choosing to place their trust and confidence in plan of God, to the extent that God had made it known to them during each dispensation (period of time) in the plan of God.
Here in the Church Age, the Gospel Message could not have been made any clearer. With this clarity however, comes responsibility. For to whom more information is given, there is more accountability and responsibility.
Preserving and presenting the unadulterated Gospel Message to spiritually dead souls is the primary external (outside) mission that was given to the Church. The internal (inside) mission of the Church is to make disciples (students and appliers of the Word of God) out of those who have already settled the issue of their salvation.
(To be continued in Part three)
END PART TWO