To Perish or To Die

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In this article, I want to discuss the difference between dying and perishing. The meaning of these two expressions is vastly different. Understanding what each of them means gives us the proper understanding of who will be resurrected, who will not, and who will go into what The Revelation By Jesus Christ That God Gave Him To Show His Slaves What Must Shortly Take Place (Commonly Known As The Book of Revelation) speaks of about who will be granted passage into God’s everlasting Kingdom when it comes down to the earth and who will not be granted passage but who will go into The Lake of Fire which means The Second Death. (Revelation 1:1 and Revelation 20:14-15)

Why Did God Dispatch His Only Begotten Son Into A Wicked World?

The answer to this question can be found at John 3:16 …

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Notice that The Highest God sent his only begotten Son (created directly by him) into the world (of mankind, His creation who he loved) NOT that they will not DIE, but that they will not PERISH!

It is obvious that people are born, they grow old, get sick, and die. Or they die from other causes. The point here is that people die. This is undeniable. Even Jesus died. So how are we to understand the word perish as opposed to dying?

Before I proceed, it is very important that you understand the expression “Born-Again” as Jesus referenced it. It is not to be understood in the watered-down simplistic teaching of the world’s religious systems today.

Jesus’ Discussion With Nicodemus

If we read and listen to the conversation Jesus had with the Pharisee, Nicodemus, we come to a clear understanding what Jesus meant when he meant by the expression “Born-Again.”

That discussion is found at John Chapter 3. I will cover the first eight verses as they are plenty enough to extract the meaning of the expression, Born-Again.

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 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 3:1-8

Notice that Jesus told Nicodemus that NO ONE can SEE (no less enter) the kingdom of God unless they are born again.

Notice that Nicodemus – a Pharisee and teacher of the law – did not understand what Jesus was talking about. This is obvious in that he asked, “How can someone be born when they are old?“Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Nicodemus was visualizing a person somehow climbing back into his/her mother’s womb a second time to be “born-again.” Obviously, Nicodemus knew that was not possible. So what was Jesus talking about?

Jesus was referring to the promised resurrection of all of mankind who will have died from all periods of time past and yet future. (John 5:28-29)

Jesus was explaining to Nicodemus that the prerequisite to qualify for a resurrection was death. One had to die. Unless one is resurrected – that is, born-again from the dead to become a living soul again – it will not be possible to see God’s perfect kingdom of God. If one cannot see it, there is no way one can enter it.

The First Birth

Each and every person ever to have lived on the earth had a birth; a first birth. We were born from the union of a male and female parent. Our life’s course begins and then ends in death. That is the eventuality of all who have lived in the past and up to today.

The First Death

Each and every person ever to have lived on the earth will experience a first death. We die. whether it is by old age, sickness, or some other act that snuffs out our lives. We WILL die. The First Death is the eventuality of all who were and are born.

When we are born, what we all see “in front” of us is one day dying. We KNOW that one day we will die. (Eccl 9:5)

The Second Birth

The Born-Again experience that Jesus was explaining to Nicodemus was the resurrection. That is, being born-again from the dead. It will not be a physical woman who will bring about that second birth. But the very same spirit that entered into Adam’s nostrils that brought him from the state of being a “dead soul or being” to a ‘living soul or being.” (Genesis 2:7)

What then, does a person who will have been resurrected see in front of them? Death and re-entering the grave to be resurrected again? No!

This time, they will see what is called The Second Death. This is where it gets interesting.

The Second Death

At Revelation 20:14, we are told that The Lake of Fire is The Second Death.

Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.

We are told who and what is thrown into The Lake of Fire which is The Second Death: Death and Hades (Hell).

Can death itself die? Can death itself be burned? Can Hades die? Can Hades be burned? No! Therefore, The Lake of Fire which is The Second Death must men something else. What?

To perish!

So what does it mean to perish? It means to no longer exist!

Well is that not what death is? No!

If a person dies, they still exist in God’s memory (Book fo Life) as a dead soul or being. Did not God form the first man (Adam) from the ground and Adam did not become a “living soul” until God breathed his spirit into his nostrils? So Adam existed as a “dead soul” and later as a “living soul.” At present, Adam is a dead soul. Why? Because we are told that Adam died at the age of 930 years. (he did not perish). (Genesis 5:5)

If one perishes, there is no hope for a born-again experience, that is, being resurrected from the death state.

No One Today Is Perishing

Contrary to what many religious organizations teach, no one today is perishing. Why? Because they have not been resurrected from the dead yet. The great resurrection of all of mankind is yet future.

Yet, when one is resurrected from the dead, what stands in front of them is the prospect of either seeing and entering into God’s everlasting kingdom with the gift of everlasting life or the prospect of entering into The Lake of Fire which is The Second Death.

The Second Death is simply a state of “being no more” or “no longer existing’ as a dead or living soul. ANYTHING thrown into The Lake of Fire ceases to exist. That is why we see Death and Hell being thrown into it. Why? Because one day those things will cease to exist. (See my article What Is Hell? What Is The Lake of Fire? Are They The Same Thing? for a more detailed explanation)

So hell is not eternal as many teach. It will one day cease to exist.

Now, if we come full circle to what Jesus said at John 3:16, we can now understand that he was sent and inserted into the world in which mankind dwells so that none of us would perish or cease to exist. That we would be resurrected.

Where Will This Resurrection (Born-Again) Experience Take Place?

Ask yourself, “Where was Jesus resurrected when he died?” All those Jesus resurrected, where were they? On earth!

At this point, some may ask, “How can one after being resurrected prevent from entering into The Lake of Fire which is The Second Death?”

The answer to this question is simple, yet mind-boggling. All of resurrected mankind will go through a period of restoration. This will take many hundreds of years. Christ will be the one directing the restoration work of mankind back to his creator. At the end of that restoration, all of mankind – whose numbers will be too vast to number – will be perfect.  That all fo mankind will be restored to perfection by Christ, Christ himself will no longer be needed as an intermediary between God and man. We will be as Adam was. Adam was perfect and had no intermediary. He stood before God directly and answered to God directly. Adam had no “Christ” to plead his case for him in the event he committed sin.

This is how all of mankind will be in future days. (Today, all of mankind is imperfect and we “know not what we do.”)

Therefore, being perfect in the future days and knowing what we do, any willing disobedience and rebellion to towards God will lead to being cast into The Lake of Fire which is The Second Death and ceasing to exist. There are no more sacrifices for sin. No hope of another resurrection from the dead.

No one living today or in the past has committed the sin that “cannot be forgiven.” Why? Because we are not perfect … yet.

The “unforgivable sin” is a sin committed knowingly and willingly with perfect mind, body, and spirit and in rebellion and defiance to the Creator.

Sadly, Satan will deceive and prepare that future and restored making of the future to rebel against God and the coming down to the earth of God’s kingdom.

So, the meaning of dying and perishing mean to different and distinct things.

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R. Jerome Harris

A Disciple of Christ in the strictest sense. I belong to no religious organization. I view Christ as my only Head, Master, Teacher, Owner, and Lord. (John 8:31-32, 1Cor 11:3) His God is my God and I champion his teachings above anything issuing out of ANY religious organization.

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