I recently listened to an interview with a Cognitive Scientist, AI Researcher, and Philosopher. He was speaking of increasing levels of human development as a person matures in cognitive, intellectual, and spiritual areas. The gist, it seemed to me, of what he was addressing was the progress and aim of human transcendence. Basically, humans may reach higher and higher levels of growth and transcend our current physical and mental limitations.
I’m not debating here whether what he believes is right or wrong. Instead, a rather interesting question came to mind as I listened to him, and that question is “What happens to human nature after death?”
If there is an afterlife, then what becomes of human nature and the corruptions of it that we witness so vividly here in the physical realm? Is evil, depravity, and immorality only a part of this world, or does it carry over into the next?
I believe these questions are important because it seems the common secular viewpoints on the afterlife are either there is none – there is no spiritual realm and we become nothing, or everyone goes to a better place, or we transcend physical limitations and move to a higher existence.
The first – that we cease to exist, in my opinion, is largely due to the destructive error of evolutionary theory. The hopelessness and emptiness of this philosophy is responsible for much of the depression, immorality, and self-destructiveness of modern society. The second and third viewpoints sound nice, but they don’t seem to take into consideration the obvious evil that permeates the human condition. Do bad people automatically become good when they die and go to the “Better Place”? And through all the centuries of humanity, is there any actual evidence of transcendence? If anything, it seems humanity has descended in a spiritual and moral sense.
Modern technology provides glaring evidence of this descending evil of the human condition. What could be and often are tools for good such as the internet, social media, and mainstream media, are corrupted by the depravity of humanity and become amplifiers and accelerators of immorality, hate, greed, and manipulation.
If it seems harsh to consider human nature to be evil, consider that Christ referred to his closest disciples as such. In Matthew 7:11, Christ says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” And in Romans 3:10-12, Paul writes, “as it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.’" Even the best people are evil in the light of the perfect holiness of God.
So, what happens to evil human nature when humans die and leave this physical existence?
The nature of a person reflects their spirit - what we see acted out in the physical realm reflects the condition of the spiritual. The spirit can be affected and influenced by the physical, but it does not need the physical to exist; when a person dies, their spirit carries on. And, since human nature reflects the spirit, then human nature must continue beyond physical existence. With this being so, it is frightening to consider evil human nature carrying over into the spiritual realm, free from the constraints of physical limitations.
The issue I’m addressing is that in all the secular philosophies, it seems evil human nature is not considered when it comes to the afterlife. The theory of transcendence may address it in a way, but as I mentioned earlier, there is no actual evidence – at least that I am aware of humans transcending beyond human nature. And, if human nature does carry over to the realm of the afterlife, then it must indeed be Hell.
So, if there is an afterlife in a spiritual realm, how do we deal with evil human nature carrying over into it? The truth is that we can’t – we cannot change human nature in this physical world, and we can’t keep it from the spiritual realm; it will be there just as it is here. This is a frightening thing to contemplate.
Consider all the evil people that have existed throughout history; Herod, Genghis Khan, Vlad the Impaler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Joseph Stalin, and the man who most personifies evil in the modern age – Adolf Hitler. Not to mention all the serial killers like Jack the Ripper, The Night Stalker – Richard Ramirez, and Jeffrey Dahmer. When these terrible people died, their evil spirits that drove them to commit the most depraved atrocities carried over to the spiritual realm. While we don’t know what that realm is like, we do know that those unrepentant evil individuals that have gone over await the final day of judgment. Christ says in John 5:28-29, "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” They did not become good when they left the physical realm, and they did not go to a “Better Place” as is often claimed by people when someone dies. Their evil spirits and their evil deeds went with them to await the final day.
Those individuals mentioned above are examples of the worst evil and depravity of mankind. But as I wrote earlier, every human is evil in the perfect light of God’s holiness. Even the best people in a human context are evil by nature – that is a fact of the human condition. And even though we can do good and caring works, with the best of intentions, they are still tainted because of our nature. So how do we overcome our nature when we are powerless to change it? This is why the message of the gospel is so important and why neglect of the gospel is so destructive.
We can’t change our nature, but God can and does. To the credit of the disciples who walked with Christ in His incarnation, they asked a very insightful question when faced with the impossibility of changing our own nature. Matthew 19:23-25 says, And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. "Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, "Then who can be saved?" These men understood that evil human nature makes it impossible for anyone to enter the kingdom of heaven, because we can’t change our nature. But Jesus’ response is what we all must come to understand and believe if we are to have any hope of being set free from the bondage and the consequences of our own evil nature.
And looking at them Jesus said to them, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." – Matthew 19:26. We cannot change our nature, and because of our nature we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. But God changes human nature, cleanses us of its evil and its consequences and penalty, not by any merit of our own because our nature has none, but by the merit of the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. Our evil nature is washed in the blood of Christ, the only human to ever possess a perfect and righteous nature, free from evil and sin.
This is why the gospel tells us that we must be born again from above, regenerated, made a new creation in Christ. Because it is all of, by, and through His power and love and mercy. Evil human nature is so depraved that we sin against our creator and are in rebellion against Him, until by His working we are made to see the truth of who and what we are, and by His grace are blessed to place our faith and trust in Him to save us from the wrath of God we deserve because of our sinful nature.
So, what happens to human nature after death? For those outside of faith in Jesus Christ, their evil nature remains until the day of judgment, when they must answer not only for their sins, but for rejecting the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ from the wages of sin which is the wrath of God and death.
And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. – And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. - Revelation 20:12,15
For those washed in the blood of the lamb, who have placed their faith and trust in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, whose names are written in the book of life; we are blessed to witness His eternal perfect glory in a new heaven and a new earth. Our original nature is done away with, and we will live in the perfect righteous nature of Jesus Christ.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He *said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." – Revelation 21:3-5
Therapeutic Humanism seems to sum up the erroneous aim and focus of so much of the contemporary Church.
From Grudem's Systematic Theology regarding “Kenosis Theory” page 551: It just seemed too incredible for modern rational and “scientific” people to believe that Jesus Christ could be truly human and fully, absolutely, God at the same time...Smith points out that one of the primary influences leading some to adopt Kenotic theology was the growth of modern psychology in the nineteenth century: ‘The age was learning to think in terms of the categories of psychology. Consciousness was a central category. If at our ‘center’ is our consciousness, and if Jesus was both omniscient God and limited man, then He has two centers and was thus fundamentally not one of us. Christology was becoming inconceivable for some.’...In other words, pressures of modern psychological study were making belief in the combination of full deity and full humanity in the one person of Christ difficult to explain or even intellectually embarrassing: How could someone be so different from us and still be truly a man?... In this as in many other points of doctrine, our understanding of what is ‘possible’ must be determined not by modern empirical study of a finite, fallen world, but by the teachings of scripture itself.
This same type of erroneous thinking and belief is what has led to the prevalence of therapeutic humanism in the modern Church as evidenced by the prevalence of the modern recovery movement/industry in the modern Church.
Journal entry from October 15, 2018
"Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; - Luke 21:34
This verse really speaks to me this morning, because it addresses what I have struggled with so much - my mind being pulled because of “worries of life.”
By the Lord’s command, I must “be on guard” in order to overcome and rise above the worries of life. To be on guard I must abide in Christ, in His word, rejoicing always, praying without ceasing, in communion with the Lord and fellowship with His Church.
Thank you Lord for this wonderful light of truth, of clarity, of wisdom from you. Praise the Lord!
Humans by nature view free will as something humans possess that is not affected or influenced by God - as separate from God. But in truth, there is no will outside the sovereignty of God. If the human will is outside of God, then God is not completely sovereign and omnipotent.
To claim that man has a will that is free of the sovereign influence and control of God has got to be rebellion. The fact of the matter is that no human can understand complete human free will because it does not and has not ever existed - there is no will outside of God’s will.
in Him we live and move and exist - Acts 17:28a
Also, it seems that if the human will is required, if it is the initiating force to accept the working of God’s will - especially through His plan of salvation, then the truth of God’s word being living and active would have to be rejected. God’s word is living and active because of God’s will working through it. If the choice to accept or reject the gospel in God’s word is reliant upon the decision of man, then how could the word be living and active? Why would it need to be living and active?
The argument that God is only justified in pouring out His wrath on those who reject the gospel because they had an opportunity to make a free will choice is absurd. God would be justified if He chose to save no one. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and are saved only by God’s merciful grace.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, [it is] the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9
It’s as if God is saying, “I am far more than you can see and comprehend. So, I have given you my word in scripture so that through it you may see and know enough of me to keep you and guide you until I bring you home. Abide in me, abide in my word on your journey. Do not leave the narrow path that I have set before you through my word - and there will be many who will try to entice you to do so.”
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. - 1 Corinthians 13:12
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you." - Psalm 16:1-2
In light of the person and work of Jesus Christ, in all that we see of Him in just this one Psalm, in light of the gospel, what is it so many Christians are looking for?
How does the Holy Spirit work? What is the Holy Spirit's purpose in God's plan of salvation? In the gospel?
Why the trinity?
In much of the modern Church, the Holy Spirit is treated like a genie or a spiritual force that can be called forth according to the will of man.
What is the truth of the Holy Spirit?
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. - John 16:13
David was greatly distressed, for the men spoke of stoning him because the souls of them all were bitterly grieved, each man for his sons and daughters. But David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God. - 1 Samuel 30:6
The calamity David was in now came about because he had been acting according to his own will and council rather than the Lords. Here, David had gone on his own, without the Lord's leading, and was off the narrow way. He was plotting and scheming like an unbeliever. He was no longer trusting in God in spite of all the Lord had done for him, blessed him with, and delivered him from throughout his life.
Jesus said to him, "Get up, take up your bed, and walk." And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. - John 5:8-9
Where is the man’s will and choice in this narrative? Where is there any evidence in this story that testifies to this invalid making a choice to let Jesus heal him?
This miracle is a glorious affirmation of God’s sovereignty and grace in saving invalids with no power to save ourselves. This man had no idea who he was speaking to. Jesus commanded him, the man was healed and he took up his bed and walked.
In honor of my friend Terry who went home to be with the Lord.
Death, are you ready for it?
When someone dies we should reflect on the reality of death. What happens when we leave this physical existence?
"O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. - 1 Corinthians 15:55-57
Chad Prigmore is Pastor and President of The Way R122 Ministry USA & Kenya.