Group Number 7

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  Where are the dead?

  When did satan fall?

  What is the meaning of Luke 5:37-38 (new wine in old wineskins)?


  Was Jesus in the tomb three full days and three full nights? Why is it said He rose on the "third day?"

See Questions Page #8

Where are the dead?

The Word of God gives us some information on this subject, but not enough to satisfy the curiosity of men. The purpose of the information is to assure us the dead are not non-existent--that they have not ceased to be. The Word of God sets everything in the context of God's purpose. Things that are relevant to that purpose are delineated. In regards to the dead, we will find they have not ceased to exist, and they are conscience. Their present state reflects their eternal lot--i.e., they are either being tormented or comforted. Scripture will also confirm they are confined to their present location until the time of the resurrection. With these preliminary thoughts in mind, here are some Divine utterances on the subject.

1. "Spirits now in prison" (1 Pet 3:19). In one of the passages that has mystified men for centuries, Peter refers to those who were disobedient in the time of Noah. He states that Jesus, in the Spirit, went and preached to these "spirits." Later in First Peter, he informs us that the "Gospel" was preached to "those who are dead" (1 Pet 4:6). Without extensive elaboration, we are told they are "NOW in prison." The use of the word "prison" does not necessarily connote punishment, but is rather descriptive of a state of confinement or restriction--a place of holding. Those in this place are conscious, because the Gospel was preached to them. We are not told of their response, and it is not wise to speculate on the matter. We are not apprized of the location of this place of holding.

2. "Underneath the altar" (Rev 6:9; 20:4). Here, reference is made to those who were martryed for the name of the Lord Jesus. They did not pass into oblivion, or cease to be. They are depicted as being "under the altar, or in close proximity to the Living God. They are perceptive, and know something of what is occuring upon the earth. They ask "How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" (Rev 6:10). They knew their persecutors remained unpunished for the despicable sin of killing God's witnesses. They were told to "rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, should be completed also" (Rev 6:11), and were given a "white robe," depicting the recognition of the righteous state in which they now exist. With this sparce amount of information, we learn the righterous dead are close to the Lord, commune with Him, and He with them. They are also aware of the activities upon earth to some degree.

3. "Present with the Lord" (2 Cor 5:8). Here Paul describes death as being "absent from the body," indicating the complexity of humanity. There is a part of us--the fundamental part--that leaves the body at death. For the believer, that part (our regenerated spirit) goes to be with the Lord. We are not told to what degree this presence is realized. It cannot be the fulness of it, or what will be experienced in the world to come, but it is decidedly greater and more blessed than our walk with the Lord in this world. Suffice it to say, death will bring us closer to the Lord, inducting a state for believers that is "far better." That condition, Paul says, is "preferrred" over life in this body .

4. "In hell (hades) he lifted up his eyes" (Luke 16:23). Jesus provides us with a glimpse beyond the grave in the sixteenth chapter of the book of Luke. Some have said this is a parable, but this is not true. Jesus used specific names here, even referring to Abraham. He never did this when using Parables. In them, people were alway characterized by anonymity ("a certain man," a "judge," a "widow," etc.), but this account is specific. Here is the solitary glimpse of the present state of the ungodly. The rich man is said to have "lifted up his eyes, being in torment." He "saw Abraham far off," and even spoke with him. He knew about his brothers upon earth, and asked that someone be sent to them to warn them of this place. He also saw Lazarus in Abraham's bosom, and asked that he be sent with his finger dipped in water to cool his burning tongue. Here we learn another aspect of the state of the dead. Abraham said personalities could not cross over from the place of torment to the place of blessing, or vice versa. We are not told of the location of this realm, called in general terms "Hades." We do know it is comprised of two areas--one of torment, and one of comfort and blessing. We also know it is a place where spirits learn of things they did not know when in the world. Abraham spoke from this place of "Moses and the prophets" (Luke 16:29). Neither Moses nor the prophets were in the world when Abraham lived. He learned of them after he died, showing he was conscience and capable of learning understanding.

5. "Abraham's bosom" (Luke 16:22). While the rich man was in torment, Lazarus was being comforted, or consoled. He had experienced hardship in the world, being a "beggar full of sores." But now he was free from all of that--no more torment, only consolation. We are not told of the nature of this comfort, or provided any further details. It is enough to know, the godly, after their death, will be richly repaid, and gloriously comforted for any hardship they endured while in the world.

Once again, we are not provided further details about the location of the dead. Hebrews 12:1-2 suggests the righteous dead are, in some sense presently around us as a "great cloud of witnesses." Hebrews 12:22-23 declares we have come into the fellowship of these "spirits of just man made perfect." So, in some sense, we are even now with them. We must allow this amount of information to satisfy us for now. It is enough to confirm to us that we will continue to exist after we die.

When did satan fall?

Once again, we are not provided a lot of details on this subject. The reason for the lack of details is that it is not pertinent to our salvation. We are, however, told enough to give us an intelligent view of our adversary. The information may appear vague, and some students of Scripture reject the following passages as even referring to Satan. I will show why their assumption is not warranted.

1. Lucifer's fall - Isaiah 14:12-14. Scripture indicates that Satan was not always evil. The word "Lucifer" means "Star of the morning," and depicts a lofty state. The fourteenth chapter of Isaiah speaks of Lucifer's fall. The direct reference of the passage is to the fall of Babylon. "Lucifer," or "son of the morning," is mentioned because Babylon had satanic attributes. Thus God refers to the fall of the wicked one. His fall is attributed to his desire to "exalt"his throne "above the stars of God." he said, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High" (Isa 14:13-14). We are not told WHEN this occurred. That is of no value to us. It is enough to know that when our adversary sought to displace God, he himself was thrust out from the presence of the Lord. Pride was the cause of his downfall, and he now seeks to fill men with that same diabolical desire.

2. Perfect, then fallen Ezekiel 28:12-17. A most arresting picture of Satan's fall is described in the book of Ezekiel. Again, on the surface, the text does not appear to be talking about Satan. It is addressed to "The king of Tyre." However, this wicked king has taken upon himself the traits of the devil, and thus was addressed as though he were the devil himself. No one should balk at this, for Jesus once spoke to Simon Peter as though he were the devil, saying, "Get behind me Satan . . . " (Matt 16:23). The Ezekiel text confirms Satan was created upright and perfect, that he was unusually wise, that he was in Eden, and was perfect in his ways from the day he was created (verses 13-15). None of that was true of the king of Tyre--but it was true of Satan. However, Satan's heart was "lifted up because of his beauty," and he became corrupt (verse 17). For this reason, he fell, being cast out of heaven.

The falling of Satan is seen from another perspective in the Gospels. The above texts speak of the corrupting of Satan's nature, which led to his expulsion from the presence of the Lord. There is, however, another sense in which Satan has fallen--in the loss of his dominating influence among men. Although cast out of heaven, he still reported back to God, so to speak. This is seen in the first and second chapters of Job, where Satan is seen appearing before the Lord, giving an account of his activities (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7). Here is seen as an accuser, bringing charges against the people of God before the throne of God. The following texts unveil how he has been toppled from that accusing role.

3. Jesus beholds Satan fall from heaven - Luke 10:18. When Jesus sent out the seventy, He gave them power over Satan's domain. Their particular mandate was, "heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you" (Luke 10:9). When the seventy returned, they reported phenomenal success. "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name" (Luke 10:17). The Lord replied, referring to the overthrow of Satan. "I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you" (Luke 10:18-19). In this case, the hold of Satan over men was being broken--not because men were so powerful, but because he had been deposed by the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was binding the strong man (Matt 12:29-30). He could not hold men when Jesus released them.

4. Depicted as being overthrown by angels - Rev 12:7-10. The overthrow of Satan is also associated with the coming of salvation through the atoning death of Christ. This is seen in the apocalyptic (symbolic) language of the book of The Revelation. There most precise language is used to show the effectiveness of Christ's death, and the availability of salvation to all men. "And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. And the dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him" (Rev 12:7-9). We are not left to conjecture about the meaning of this overthrow. It is not the same as the one mentioned in Isaiah and Ezekiel. Nor, indeed, is it the same as that of Luke 10, where his power was effectively offset by the seventy. Here is a description of salvation, and the complete removal of Satan as an accuser of the brethren before God. That is another way of saying sin had been effectively removed. There was no longer any basis for accusing the brethren, therefore the accuser was removed. The heavenly response to this removal confirms this to be the case. "And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death" (Rev 12:10-11).

God be praised! Satan has been overthrown in every respect! He has been cast out from the presence of the Lord as no longer accepted. He has fallen in the matter of his dominion over men. He has also been thrown down as an accuser, unable to raise an accusation against the people of the Lord. That is, the redeemed can overcome the devil--in their death, as well as in their life.

What is the meaning of Luke 5:37-38 (new wine in old wineskins)?

"No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins."

The comparison is made between the Old and New covenants. The Old Covenant was primarily one of form or procedure. Hebrews 9:10 reminds us that, at its pinnacle, it "stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation." The law did not impart spiritual life (Gal 3:21), and was not an economy of faith (Gal 3:12). It brought the knowledge of sin (Rom 3:20), but provided no power to overcome it. Because of its convicting power, it brought us to Christ (Gal 3:24), but could not put us into Him.

The New Covenant, on the other hand, involves being alive to God (Rom 6:11), fellowship with Christ (1 Cor 1:9), and eternal life (1 John 5:13). Jesus came that we might have life, and have it "more abundantly" (John 10:10). There is a reciprocity to God within the New Covenant that was not offered under the Law. In Christ, there is a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). We emerge from the waters of baptism to walk in "newness of life"--something never experienced under the First Covenant.

Jesus is saying you cannot take the spiritual life experienced in the New Covenant and adapt it to the Old Covenant manner. You cannot proceduralize life, or confine it to a mere routine. It cannot be seasonal, as were the feasts under the Law (Ex 23:14-17). While form is involved in the New Covenant, spiritual life cannot be confined to it. Life in Christ cannot be held within the boundaries of a code or set of procedures. Believers are told, God "is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us" (Eph 3:20). The Apostle prays that God will open the eyes of believer's hearts to see "the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe" (Eph 1:19). That kind of life cannot be put into the old wineskins of Law. Neither can it be superimposed upon a proceduralized religion.

This is the point Paul made to the Colossians. "Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations; 'Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,' which all concern things which perish with the using; according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (2:20-23). A routine--even a God-ordained one like the Tabernacle service--could never take away the love or appetite for sin. Life in Christ can.

The New Covenant is a better one, established upon better promises (Heb 8:6). It cannot be poured into the form of the Old Covenant without destroying that covenant, and losing its own vitality as well.

The remedy is stated in the next verse, Luke 5:38. "But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved." Our new life becomes effectual by a New Covenant walk -- a walk that includes knowing God, walking by faith, and walking in the Spirit. The way to preserve our life in Christ is to avail ourselves of the glorious privileges of the New Covenant--i.e., Having His law written upon our hearts and minds, knowing the Lord, and experiencing complete exoneration from guilt (Heb 8:10-12). IN OTHER WORDS, WE OURSELVES BECOME THE NEW WINESKINS. The "newness of life" is preserved, so to speak, within us, and we are also preserfved, or sanctified, by that life. To put it in words of Scripture, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom 8:2).


"The circumcision of Christ" is a rarely addressed by our brethren, but is a great source of strength for us. The very word "circumcision," as used in this text, would have no significance at all were it not for its introduction in Abraham, and codification under the Law. In Christ, circumcision involves more than the remission of individual transgressions. It is "the removal of the body of the flesh" (Col 2:11, NASB). The NIV says, "circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature." This is the reality to which Romans 6:6 refers (also commenting on the effects of baptism). "knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin."

The removal of "the body of sin," or the "body of the flesh," or the "sinful nature," declares our liberty from enslavement to sin. In our justification, the essential person is a "new creation in Christ Jesus." Although we find "another law in our members, warring against the law of our minds," that wayward principle is really "not I" (Rom 7:16,17,23). The reason it is not, is owing to "the circumcision of Christ," which cut away from us the whole mass of sin, making it distinct from us. Because of this, we can say "NO" to worldly lusts and ungodliness (Tit 2:11-12). This is why "sin shall not have dominion over" the person who lives by faith (Rom 6:14). The person in Christ is a dichotomy. He is a new creation in Christ Jesus, yet carries with him the "old man" which is "corrupt according to deceitful lusts." Because that part of us has been legally and effectively cut off by the circumcision of Christ, and is really separate from us, we can "put off the old man" (Eph 4:22-23). Were it not the "the circumcision of Christ," this could not be done.

If this "circumcision" did not occur, there has been no genuine baptism at all. The power of baptism is what is accomplished by God and Christ in it. In the case of "the circumcision of Christ," the Holy Spirit declares it takes place IN our baptism. That is what enabled us to be "raised up with Him through faith" following our burial with Him into death.

Was Jesus in the tomb three full days and three full nights? Why is it said He rose on the "third day?"

The question you raise is a common one among doubters and critics of Scripture. I realize this is not the case with you. Several difficulties surround the texts in question. Most of them are owing to the Western way of reckoning time. "Day"=24 hours in our culture. It equals evening and morning in the Scripture. The Jews had no word for "day" as a 24 hour period.

A good example of this is found in the book of Esther. The value of the passage is that is almost an exact parallel to the phraseology found in Matthew. It also shows the manner of reasoning in the Eastern culture. When preparing to go into the king, Esther said, "Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish." Note the phrase "for three days, night or day." When the time came for Esther to go in to the king, the account reads this way. "Now it came about on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king's palace in front of the king's rooms . . . " The same expressions are used by our Lord. "for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth . . . and be raised up on the third day" (Matt 12:40; 16:21; 20:19; Luke 24:7, NASB).

The same type of language is used in reference to the Noahic flood. It rained for forty days and forty nights (Gen 7:4,12). This is not to be construed as synonymous with forty full days and forty full nights, any more than "I slept all night" means "I slept for 12 hours," or "eight hours." In all cultures, so far as I know, a part of a day still counts for a day, and a part of a night still counts for a night. The Lord knew how to express things in terms of "hours," i.e., "twelve hours" (John 11:9), "three hours" (Acts 5:7), "two hours" (Acts 19:34), "sixth hour" (Matt 20:5), "eleventh hour" (Matt 20:6), "ninth hour" (Mark 15:34), "tenth hour" (John 1:39). Had God means "72 hours," that is what He would have said.

Several times in Scripture, some occurring after a specified number of days is said to have occurred on the last day of that specified period. 1 Kings 20:29 reads, "So they camped one over against the other seven days. And it came about that on THE SEVENTH DAY, the battle was joined, and the sons of Israel killed of the Arameans 100,000 foot soldiers in one day." Other examples of this type of expression are found in Exodus 13:6; Lev 23:8; Judges 14:17.

Suffice it to say, "three days and three nights" in the heart of the earth, and rising on"the third day" does not contradict God's way of stating things. The only difficulty comes when atempting to superimpose our culture on the Word of God. This is neither right nor honest, as ought to be apparent to any thinking person.

See Questions Page #8

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