Feb 3rd, 2019
Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 11 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes or so we are going to continue our series of ruffling feathers and challenging preconceived ideas. In the last episode we laid some groundwork concerning the nature of life after death before Christ, and in this episode we get to piece together from scripture some of what Jesus was up to from the point of His death on the cross until He sat down at the right hand of The Father in heaven over a month later.
Last week we talked about Jesus referring to death as sleep with both Daniel in the Old Testament and Paul in the New Testament referring to the dead waking at the return of Christ. Before Christ’s ascension, death held everyone captive in either Paradise or The Pit. This, as we read from Acts 2 included Christ after He died. In that same passage in Acts, we read that God would not abandon His son in Hades and that death had no power over Him so God raised Jesus back to life.
Not before, it would seem, that Jesus took dominion over death and Hades. We read the words of Jesus in Revelations 1:17-18 saying, “Don’t be afraid. I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I was dead, but look — I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.” What was the plan there? Storm the gates of Hades, take the keys / the authority / the power away, and what? In Hosea 13:14 God says, “I will ransom them from the power of Sheol. I will redeem them from death. Death, where are your barbs? Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion is hidden from my eyes.” So the plan was to provide a ransom to prevent people from having to go to Sheol anymore and to redeem them from death.
So we know that Christ died, became a captive of Death, went down to Sheol, took the keys of death and Hades, rose again, met with some people at different times and then ascended into Heaven, right? Well… let’s take a look at Ephesians 4:8-10, “For it says: When he ascended on high, he took the captives captive; he gave gifts to people. But what does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower parts of the earth? The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, to fill all things.” What is this “took the captives captive” part all about. The gifts part we hear about a lot. Christ sent gifts through the Holy Spirit and with them came the offices of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher.
We can find out who these captives are in 1 Peter. Chapter 4:5-6, it reads, “(All) will give an account to the one who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. For this reason the gospel was also preached to those who are now dead, so that, although they might be judged in the flesh according to human standards, they might live in the spirit according to God’s standards.” Wait, did that just get more confusing? “For this reason the gospel was also preached to those who are now dead,” how can the Gospel be preached to the dead? I mean their dead, right? Perhaps Peter meant the living who are spiritually dead because they aren’t Christians. Except, that’s not what he’s talking about. He’s making reference back to something he wrote earlier, 1 Peter 3:18-20, “For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, in which he also went and made proclamation to the spirits in prison who in the past were disobedient, when God patiently waited in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared.”
So let’s walk that back. Jesus died, went down to Sheol/Hades, took the keys of Death and Hades, was resurrected and presumably using the keys he stole split his time meeting with the Disciples and preaching the Gospel to those in the pit who died sometime after Adam but before the flood and then takes those from Hades who believed the Gospel message with Him when He ascended. It’s possible Jesus was up to more doing that time, but this is all the activity the Bible describes during this time.
Now just to close the hole here, we know not everyone in Hades accepted the gospel message, Revelations 20:13 says, “Then the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them; each one was judged according to their works.” Remember we talked last week about Hades being split into two separate places; one, The Pit - Tartarus, the other; Paradise, The Fields of Elysium, or Abraham’s Bosom. So when we see that Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and Jesus preaching the Gospel to those who were in Hades, we’re talking about those who were deposited in this good place, and also people who were deposited in this firey place within Hades. Remember the story that Jesus told about the beggar named Lazarus who could see into The Pit from his side of Hades and actually talk back and forth with someone who was being tortured there. So when Death and Hades give up the dead that are in them Hades we know is that place we talked about last week.
Now that we’ve primered the afterlife pre-Christ and what Christ was up to during that time after death till His ascension from a scriptural standpoint, next week we’ll move on to what the Bible says about the afterlife after Christ, after The Life.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”