DEAD IN FAITH – What Faith Do the Dead Hold? (Lesson 2)

By Kathy L McFarland

Don’t take lightly the Grace of the LORD God in your life! Christians know with surety that when their physical bodies die, their baptized spirits ascend to Heaven (Rom 6:1-11), where they are given a new body; or, unbaptized spirits sleep in their grave for a while until resurrected to live eternally upon the New Earth; or, raptured alive believers ascend with their physical bodies, where they receive white robes in Heaven for a time (Rev 7:9-17). All Christians know that through their belief and acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ, their sins will be forgiven and justified, promising eternal life, regardless of how they assume the next life. So, it is a known ingredient in our thought process; we know we will live eternally, so our death (without sting) does not terrify us.

1 Corinthians 15:35–50

“But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” (1 Corinthians 15:35–50)

One day, folks, there is going to be a big battle between the righteous soldiers of the LORD God, led by Jesus Christ, and the wicked minions of Lucifer, upon the battlefield of Armageddon. Our Christian faith allows us to know this battle is a done deal. We know the end of the story. WE WIN! Our side is victorious.

However, here’s a shocking announcement: the other side thinks they are going to win also. Lucifer is recruiting his soldiers today, preparing for that great and final battle. His wicked forces believe they will annihilate the forces led by Christ when the fog of war draws near.

Revelation 17:14

“These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. (Revelation 17:14)

Would you want to live eternally if Lucifer were victorious? Of course not! Christians hold unshaken faith that their Lord Jesus Christ will be victorious in their battle against the fallen angel Lucifer. We know that in the end, our omnipotent Lord will pummel the enemy and cause his blood to fill the battlefield. And when we have won the battle, we are given a glimpse of the wonderful life we will have upon the New Earth, freed from the grips of the devil and sin.

We know the end of the story! We have the Word of God in our hands, and we can read with clear understanding about the great battle to come. To think that conflict between good and evil would end any other way is unthinkable and impossible because we know the power and might of our Lord.

Revelation 19:11–21

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. 17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; 18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. 19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. 20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.” (Revelation 19:11–21)

Often Christians hold fast their salvation promise in an attitude of focusing on what Christ brings to them. However, there is a much bigger picture that is unfolding, as the forces of good and evil prepare for battle. Our King has prepared us with His Word. He has let us know about the battle beforehand. He has started the basic training of his soldiers by using the military terms necessary to prepare by encouraging us to put on His armor and learn to use it before the battle comes. He has presented the call to order, by illustrating that only one Master can be followed. He gave recruitment instructions to His apostles, and followed up with orders to all Christians to continue the recruitment process throughout the world.

Unfortunately, those Old Testament saints and sinners didn’t have the easily understood battle plan in their hands. They did not have an understanding of the Messiah that would come to prepare them for war. The books in their Bible were not fully written when they lived; and if the major prophets of the Old Testament were alive in some of the times of the more recent people of the LORD God, they talked in depths that were hard to understand. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel, Amos, Micah, Zephaniah, Zechariah, Malachi speak clear prophesy that will happen past the time of the lives of the Old Testament people; some of the Prophets speak of events that happen even past our own time!

Abraham’s generations did not have the information we have today. They did not have the complete Word of God, because the Word of God had not come yet! They did not know the Lord Jesus Christ; for most, the prophecy of His coming was unknown, and those who heard it, misunderstood.

For the most part, they had only the five books of our present-day Bibles. These five books are called the Pentateuch. These books were the writings of Moses, which expressed the laws of the LORD God and His Creation in the books Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy (These are English translated words; the Hebrews name their books from the first word spoken in each).

What did the generations of Abraham faithfully hold that they took confidently to their grave? They had the promise of a Messiah one day coming, and they believed that He would free them from the wicked grasp of their enemies. They knew that when they died, they would sleep in their grave until awakened by the LORD God; as time unfolded, they were hopeful that their line would continue and multiply their generations as the Chosen people of God. They knew that while they suffered oppression and persecution, that one day their Messiah would come and destroy their enemies quickly. That faithful confidence gave them purpose to live and follow after the LORD God’s will and ways.

Hebrews 11:13–16 tell us specifically what they knew!

Hebrews 11:13-16

“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. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:13-16)

Check it out! Even before the Lord Jesus Christ came to reveal the Kingdom of God completely to His followers and give the promise of eternal life, the generations of Abraham knew they were strangers in this world! Their faith was persuaded, embraced and confessed. Through those acts, we know they sought a country, the Kingdom of God, even when they did not have the promise realized in their generation. It is only Christians who had full access to this knowledge!

Revelation 21:1-8

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:1–8)

It is through these three acts of persuading, embracing and confessing that present-day Christians can know that Abraham’s generations had faith in the providence of the LORD God. They knew their LORD God was omnipotent, and would one day restore them into a Kingdom that did not contain their enemies. Thus, it is worthy for us to examine these three concepts of faith, to include them within our own spiritual growth of faith, as His Word is revealed deeply to us.

It is also important to look deeply into the desire of the generations of Abraham to live in a Kingdom where God is not ashamed of them. Even before the Messiah was revealed fully to them, they knew that the LORD God was able to create a place where the wickedness was gone, and where their righteousness could shine. Even back then, they were confident that one day God would make a place for them to honor Him.

Faith must be persuaded, embraced and confessed by all Believers, both Jew and Christian. Without these three aspects of faith expressed, there is no faith. It is fascinating that the generations of Abraham figured this out before the complete revelation of the LORD God’s plans through the Word of God. And it is humbling to realize that present-day Christians have access to the full expression of the Word of God and yet struggle with the aspects of persuasion, embracing, and confessing. Thus, it is time for us to take a lesson from our brothers and sisters of old, and learn the ways of faith, even when the “rest of the book” is unknown.