A warning for teachers...

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[In Adam's] body there was no defect, wherefore he was wholly free from death. ...Death, therefore, is now a terror to us; first, because there is a kind of annihilation, as it respects the body; then, because the soul feels the curse of God. We must also see what is the cause of death, namely alienation from God. Thence it follows, that under the name of death is comprehended all those miseries in which Adam involved himself by his defection; for as soon as he revolted from God, the fountain of life, he was cast down from his former state, in order that he might perceive the life of man without God to be wretched and lost, and therefore differing nothing from death. Hence the condition of man after his sin is not improperly called both the privation of life, and death. - Calvin on Genesis 2:16, 17

Death is a terror. Whether physical or spiritual, death is evil.

It is almost incomprehensible that a post making the case that death is evil would need to be written, but as long as there are teachers who claim that God would have used death prior to the Fall as population control, and as long as there are blog comments such as “There was death and decay in creation and in the garden of Eden prior to the fall. The biblical and scientific evidences are sufficient to know there is an appointed day for all things to die,” then an answer needs to be given.

Is physical death a normal part of God’s good creation from the beginning?

No way!

1.  Physical death is explicitly part of the Fall. God cursed Adam by making him sweat “till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust and to dust you shall return.” The curse is not only spiritual death—it is physical.

2.  Romans 5:12-14 “ Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned...” Physical death is the result of sin. The Apostle Paul proves Romans 5:12 by pointing to the indisputable fact that all men, from Adam to Moses, died. They are in the ground.

3.  God’s blessing of Enoch shows that physical death is a curse. Hebrews 11:5 says, “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.” The fact that Enoch did not die physically was proof that he was pleasing to God. What would the death of a sinless Adam have shown?

4. Jesus never treats physical death as a God-given part of life. Why did He weep over Lazarus?  After all, He knew that Lazarus would rise again on the last day. Jesus wept because death is not "just a normal part of life." Jesus mourned Lazarus's physical death because Jesus loved Lazarus.

5. Why did Jesus and the apostles miraculously raise the dead physically, even though they would die again? Resurrection of the physical body is a sign of the coming of Kingdom of God.

6.  Death is the last enemy. It is true that God can take even an evil thing like death and bring greater glory for Himself and blessing for us (1 Corinthians 15), but that doesn’t make death good. Death is the penalty for Adam’s sin. If death entered the world without sin, then God is the author of death. May it never be!

So how can someone get to the point of teaching that death is good? The answer is found in James 3:

Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.

See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

This warning should sober those who desire to be called teachers! Every teacher must have as a first thought in his teaching that we all stumble in many ways and that our tongues move according to the inclination of our desires. Our false teaching about death might arise from our desire to show we are good scientists, our desire to show our smarts through the invention of a speculative interpretation of Scripture, or our desire to redefine God’s curse, but it is all the same. We stumble because we speak our own inclinations.

Teachers must be ruled by humility.

Teachers must know that their tongues easily defile, destroying whole bodies with only a few words. An intriguing speculation can destroy the faith of many. Should we parse the differences between “physical” and “spiritual” death into a non-biblical doctrine? Worse, has anyone considered what this false doctrine does to the souls of the flock? A teacher must be more than smart. Teachers need to be disciplined. 

In other words, teachers must seek out accountability to the church's pastors and elders, both for their own protection, but also for the protection of the larger Body of Christ. May God bless us with the gift of teachers who maintain their God-given, humble place in the church, and may He protect us from those who love speculation and every new idea.