Church of God, New World Ministries

Life or Death - YOUR CHOICE!

Recently, I had to deal with a life and death issue. It was a traumatic experience, in which it consumed my thoughts and my time, to a great degree. It influenced my sleep patterns, my eating habits, perhaps even my health. As I look back on it now, I ask myself, “Did I put a bit too much emphasis on this concern in my life? ”Maybe, because my worry was about an animal. It was about our family pet, a dog! Some of us, who are prone to be more sentimental, more “soft hearted ”(maybe “soft headed?”), can get overly involved in things that may not be that important to others.

I have used this scenario to lead up to something that is paramount and very important to human beings. We don’t want to dwell on the morbid or negative side of this physical life, but it is important that we recognize that we all, humans and animals, were created by a Great God in a temporary, finite, life existence. We are limited in our life span at this time.

God is Creator

Genesis 1:20 “And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life , and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. 21. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought abundantly, after his kind:… ” 24. “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. 25. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth …”Here, we see the creation account of the animal kingdom. You’ll notice I’ve emphasized the words pertaining to “life” or “living”, with bold print. Also, you need to know that these animal vertebrates are called “ nephesh ” in the original Hebrew language. Keep this in mind.

Now we come to the crowning achievement of God, in this creation of physical LIFE !

Verse 26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness : and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them . ”

At this time I want to quote from a marvelous book written by the late Herbert W. Armstrong, “ Mystery of the Ages ”: from pgs. 84, 85, from the chapter on “ The Mystery of Man ”.

“So God now determined, or had determined, to accomplish the SUPREME creative feat--by reproducing himself! That was to be accomplished through MAN! God knew this must be brought about through MATTER.” 85. “Why did the Creator God put man on the earth? For God’s ultimate supreme purpose of reproducing himself - of recreating himself, as it were, by the supreme objective of creating the righteous divine character ultimately in millions unnumbered begotten and born children who shall become God beings, members of the God family.”

Genesis 2:7 “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Please note this carefully. The man became a LIVING SOUL! It does not say that man has a soul! It says man is a soul! Further more, The Bible tells us that these “souls can die! Ezekiel 18:4 “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” 20. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”

If you will look this word “soul” up in any good Bible Concordance or Dictionary, you will see that the original Hebrew language calls it “NEPHESH”. It merely means “temporary life”, “animal life” or physical life. Animals are referred to as “nephesh”, the same as human beings! So, for the present state of man, he is still physical, temporary, composed of the very elements of this earth; so he is mortal. He does not have immortality at this time, but that is to be made available to him through Jesus Christ! (We’ll discuss this later as we progress in our subject.)

So mankind does not have an “immortal soul”, as has been believed by so many deceived people! Man is a soul, a nephesh!! That is what your Bible teaches, not what the master liar, Satan the devil, has deceived humanity with. Genesis 3:2And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3. But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” (you are not immortal, but flesh.) Verse 4And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: (i.e. you have an immortal soul.) 5. For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” The great lie!

These two human beings were now convinced they had the ability, the right to choose what is good and what is wrong, in their own estimation. They no longer needed God, who is perfect in righteousness, perfect in judgment, perfect in wisdom and perfect in character, to guide them in the right way to live. Satan convinced them that they already had immortality and had the right to choose the way of life they wanted. But God’s Word tells us, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12). Man has followed that faulty reasoning ever since he believed Satan. Mankind still has that defiant, rebellious animosity toward his Creator! Unless repented of, all will incur the death penalty!

Also, with this colossal lie, Satan has used it to promulgate the idea of an ever burning hell fire, that torments and tortures the wicked, but never really burns them up. (This takes another complete sermon on the subject of “hell”, that is available on our Website and explains it thoroughly, given by Mr. George Trent.”) I’ll give you a couple of Scriptures that should point you to the Truth about the fate of the wicked: Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Malachi 4:1 For behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up; saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. 3. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this , saith the LORD of hosts.”

The only choices God ever laid out for man, was LIFE and DEATH! Deuteronomy 30:15 See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil; 19. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live.”

And this brings us full circle back to the topic of our subject of “Life is Everything”.

Old Testament Israel was only given promises of temporary, physical lives, under the old covenant. They could be blessed in that life, if they were obedient to God’s Laws, statutes and judgments, but their human righteousness could never merit them eternal life! Isaiah 64:6 “But we are all as an unclean thing, and our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”

All who have ever lived, have an appointment with death, at some time in their lives! Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28. So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

Even the faithful heroes and persons of faith listed in the “faith chapter” of Hebrews 11, have not obtained the promise of ETERNAL LIFE! Read about these courageous people who lived by FAITH, despite all the hardships, trials, even martyrdom, that they might obtain that better resurrection (Verse 35). Read the whole chapter for great inspiration from these people of God.

Hebrews 11:13 “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Verse 39 “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40. God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be MADE PERFECT.” Yes, given ETERNAL LIFE!
These people DESIRED and really understood and appreciated the value of life-ETERNAL LIFE! DO WE? Verse 16. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly; (to be established on this earth, at the return of Jesus Christ: Revelation 5:10; 11:15; 19:16; 20:4,6) wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: For He hath prepared for them a city.” Zechariah 8:3 Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and I will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain. 4. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. 5. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.” (And, of course “the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven” is eventually promised to those that have gained eternal life through Jesus Christ and are a part of his Bride.)

Without Life, none of this is possible! Death is the end of everything! Ecclesiastes 9:4 “For to him that 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 shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. 6. also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.”

Even a young Jewish man knew the great value of eternal life. Matthew 19:16 “And behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17. And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God: but if you will enter into life, keep the commandments.” Then Christ enumerated five of the Ten Commandments, showing that He was stressing obedience to all ten, of course. But, sadly, the young man had not admitted, perhaps to himself, that he still had the sin of covetousness, that he was not willing to give up. More sadly, he may have rejected Christ’s offer of eternal life, for the things offered by this world

As stated previously, God encouraged man to choose life”, rather than making the choice of death. ( Deuteronomy 30:19. )

In the Book of Genesis, after placing man in the Garden of Eden, He had made available the “tree of life”. But we learned that our first parents made the wrong choice! Instead, under the deception and lies of Satan the devil, they decided to partake of “the tree of knowledge of good and evil”. Genesis 2:8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”

Had they made the right choice, they would have access to eternal life, which the ‘tree of life” represented. All the horrific evils of our present world could have been avoided! But despite Satan’s success in his deception, God has a divine plan in motion to give opportunity for all mankind to achieve that “Tree of Life”. Notice Revelation 22:1 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of the Lamb. 2. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 14. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Yes the same “city” the faithful of Hebrews 11, sought after!

THE TREE OF LIFE! ETERNAL LIFE! What a fantastic reward to those who have been called by God to have the opportunity, and to have the right to this Tree! There is only one way to that Tree, and that way is through Jesus Christ. John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” It also requires a willingness to obey the commandments of God, as He told the young man in Matthew 19:17. He reiterates this in: John 15:10 “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.”

Finally, You could talk about the offer of eternal life or immortality for hours, by simply looking up the word “life” in a Bible Concordance. There is not a more important subject in the Bible! Life is everything! Romans 2:7 “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.”

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