DID JESUS TEACH IMMORTALITY ON EARTH IN JOHN 11:25-26? DID APOSTLE PAUL TEACH BELEIEVERS WON’T EVER DIE UNLESS THEY CHOOSE TO?
Duke Jeyaraj examines the claims of a Chennai cult pastor and Madurai cult pastor that the Bible teaches that believers need not die if they choose not to
Jesus said, I myself am the resurrection and the life,” Jesus told her. “The man who believes in me will live even though he dies, and anyone who is alive and believes in me will never die at all. Can you believe that?” (John 11:25,26).
Does this verse teach ‘immortality on earth’ as a Chennai cult Pastor and Madurai cult Pastor emphatically teach? Does this mean that believers will never need to physical death?
These verses – John 11:25,26 – does not teach that man will have immortality on this eternity. These verses do not teach that believers will not experience physical death. Why do I say that? Because I have read I Timothy 6:16 which says, “He (God) alone is immortal and dwells in immortal light…” This, Apostle Paul, writes after Jesus spoke the words he spoke in John 11:25-26. We must interpret the words of Jesus the way the Apostle interpret it – not according to our whims and fancies. We cannot interpret Jesus’ words according to way some cult pastors interpret it. We must follow Christ, as Apostle Paul followed Christ. We must interpret Christ as Apostle Paul interpreted Christ! Also, don’t forget, that Apostle Paul included ‘death’ in the list of the things that cannot separate a believer who abides in Christ, from Christ (Romans 8:38). If he believed in immortality/physical death cancellation, he would not have included death! If he believed that death is not for a believer, Paul would not have acknowledged that a ‘sentence of death’ hung over him and the other apostles doing God’s Work (I Cor. 4:9).
So, what did Jesus mean when he said, “anyone who is alive and believes in me will never die” (John 11:26)? We must ask the question, “What did Jesus mean by the word ‘die’ here?” This question brings us to the different meanings of the word ‘death’ in the Bible. A careful study of the word ‘death’ in the Bible tells us that there are three kinds of death.
First, there is spiritual death. In fact, the first reference in the Bible about death, concerns spiritual death. God told the first couple: “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Did Adam and Eve experience physical death instantly when they ate the forbidden fruit? No. But they died spiritually speaking. For Jesus, this concept of death was foremost in his mind. In Luke 15:32, the Loving, Waiting Father says the prodigal, lost son was “dead” but now “alive” after he repented and returned! Was the prodigal younger son “dead” – physically or literally? No. He was very much alive! He squandered his father’s wealth in ‘reckless LIVING’ (Lk 15:13). He was the “LIFE” of the party (to use today’s youth’s language) when he partied hard living in open sin, yet he was DEAD (according to his dad, according to Jesus who narrated this parable). Only after his repentance and return to God, did he find LIFE! Otherwise he was DEAD. Luke 15:32 is clear. Apostle Paul also taught the same thing. Those living in sin are “dead in sin” he wrote concerning the Ephesian believers before they found Jesus (Eph. 2:1).
The second kind of death the Bible talks about is physical death. When the Bible says in Genesis 5:5, “Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died”, it is talking about physical death. Physical death is called the ‘way of all the earth’ (Josh 23:14, Joshua’s words; I Kings 2:2, David’s words). Joshua heard Moses his mentor asking those he lead to “choose life and not death” (Deut. 30:19, 29:2). Yet he knew while he found spiritual life through Yahweh, he did have to die physically! The Madurai pastor quotes ‘choose life’ (from the Old Testament) at the end of an immortality-promoting sermon! Why not also quote Josh 23:14 and I Kings 2:2 and other Old Testament passages that clearly say that death is for all – including Yahweh followers and believers in the Messiah (Jesus) to come! In the light of the full message of the Bible, choose ‘life’ did not mean Physical Death’s end (Joshua, who heard it did not see it that way)!
The third kind of death is eternal death. For Apostle John – the author of John 11:25-26 (the fave verse of no-physical-death-for-believers-bluffers) – this was the meaning of death. He called it ‘second death’ or ultimate death. Hell punishment was ‘second death’ for John (Rev. 21:8). If you have not read Revelation 21:8 which the author of Gospel of John also wrote here it is:”But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
When Jesus died on the Cross, He endured ‘second death’ punishment for us. We should have gone to hell which the Bible calls as ‘second death’ (Rev. 21:8). But Jesus endured hell – which is ultimate death – for us. As he hung on the Cross, he cried out, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me!” Jesus experienced the hell of separation from his father! As he hung on the Cross, he cried out, “I thirst!” Those were the words that Rich Man spoke after he died (physical death) to endure second/eternal death (punishment in hell) (Luke 16). Jesus spoke those very words while he hung on the Cross! We can see it this way: Jesus endured ultimate death – which the Bible calls ‘second death’ in Revelation 21:8 – so that we will not have to go to hell! In Romans 5:8-9 and I Thessalonians 1:10 Apostle Paul also explains how Jesus’ death on the Cross saved believers who would abide in him from ‘second death’ – hell punishment (or the coming wrath). So the message of John 11:25-26 is simple: Jesus died to save us from hell-punishment; if we live in Christ, we will never go to hell. I tell youth this: If you come to Jesus now, he will save you from your living hell (the disappointment you have as you found out that you never found in sin, what you entered sin to find) and literal hell (burning Sulfur furnace punishment).
So, Jesus was not teaching physical death cancellation in John 11:25-26 (as what he said would contradict what he spoke through the Holy Spirit through Apostle Paul that only God can be ‘immortal’, I Tim. 6:16). The meaning of John 11:25-26 is this: “those who keep believing in Jesus will be resurrected by spiritual death and be kept from eternal death – hell punishment!” Let not the cult-pastors-brigade confuse you by making you believe that these verses – John 11:25-26 means something else!
There is another reason why I believe that Jesus did not teach physical death cancellation for the believer in John 11:25-26. If there was to be no death for his followers why did he allow John the Baptist to die (Matt. 14)? If there was to be no death for believers why did Jesus allow James the apostle to die (Acts 12)? If there is no death for New Covenant believers why did Apostle Paul commend Ephaphroditus one of his ministry team members for risking his life for the Lord and almost dying (Phil. 2)? If death was cancelled for believers believers cannot be ever at ‘risk’ of dying – isn’t it? But Ephaphroditus faced this real risk according to Paul. So, Apostle Paul never believed what these cult pastors are saying that he believed! He never believed in immortality on earth!
These cult pastors twist Scriptures to teach that Hebrews 9:23-28 and 2 Cor. 5:15 to bring this false teaching: “When Jesus died, we all died and when Jesus rose we all rose. So, since Jesus died once for all and will not die again, we too will have to die!” The Madurai cult pastor argues: “Since we were buried with Christ when we got water baptized (see Romans 6:3) we will not have to die again!” Really?
So, John 11:25-26 must be interpreted with the light of the rest of the Bible. If Jesus meant physical death cancellation for the believer in John 11:25-26, he would not called his disciples to be martyrdom ready using the ‘grain of wheat’ imagery in John 12:24. But he did! You see – cancelling physical death, here and now, was never part of Jesus’ plan for us!
These cult pastors also claim that Apostle Paul kept beating death (in the sea amidst storms, in the island of Malta – they quote these examples). But he ultimately died because he chose to die. God took Apostle Paul because Apostle Paul gave permission to God to take him away when he wrote, “I finished the race” (2 Tim 4) – this is their bizarre claim. Apostle Paul – hear me good – never for a second thought that he would be immortal as he wrote that ONLY GOD can be immortal (I Tim. 6:16). The Chennai cult pastor says Paul, like Jesus had the right to lay down his life on his own accord (John 10:18). What blasphemy! This is an attempt to make Paul, a mere human as God, by this cult pastor! Only God has the power over the duration of one’s life. King Hezekiah understood that correctly. That’s why he pleaded with God to extend his life weeping bitterly. We see the same truth in the New Testament when in Acts we read that Jesus is the ‘author of life’ (Acts 3:15).
Yes, Jesus will stop physical human death one day. That is after his Second Coming! Revelation 21:4 talks about a time when there will be no more death in this world! Notice this happens only after Jesus’ return to the earth riding a white horse which is recorded in Revelation 19! So, do not get confused and get carried by what these cult false pastors teach.
The Chennai cult pastor asserts that Jesus will not come back until a generation in church rises to beat death. He quotes Psalm 110:1/alluded to in I Cor. 15:25 to ‘prove’ this: He says after reading this verse, “Jesus is sitting right now at the right hand of the father. His body and legs are the church. And the church should make all enemies the footstool! And death is the last enemy to be defeated (I Cor. 15:26)! So, when a generation rises in the church that beats death by believing in immortality, and then Jesus will come back. Till then he will only sit at the right hand of the father!” This interpretation is wrong. Why? It violates the principle in the Bible that Jesus will return without giving any warning to anyone. Four Scriptures teach that Jesus will return like a thief in the night (Matt. 24:43; I Thess. 5:2,4; Rev. 16:15). The meaning is plain as day: Jesus will return when no one expects him! Only a fool will say, “Jesus can never come until this happens!” The truth of the Bible is this: “Jesus can come anytime!” If Jesus will not come till a generation beats death (as this Chennai pastor asserts), that again gives youth time to live in sin without the fear of being “left behind” during his coming! So, this teaching put forth by these cult pastors lead to slackening of holiness! That’s why these doctrinal deviations are taking people to hell! That’s why these doctrines put forth by this immortality company of pastors are “doctrines of demons” whose final destiny is hell.
And if you carefully read Psalm 110:1/I Cor. 15:25 (also quoted in Matt. 22:22 and Heb. 2:8) that verse says that Jesus must reign until “He” has put everything “under his feet” (re-read I Cor. 15:25)! But this Chennai cult pastor is talking about believers – not ‘He’ meaning Jesus – working to put everything “under his feet!” So, it Jesus who will defeat the final enemy called Death. Believers will not do it! It is Jesus who will do it! That’s why Paul writes, “to those who….Seek immortality” (Rom. 2;5) following repentance (Rom. 2:5), Jesus will give eternal life (Rom. 2:7). We must get that clear – immortal life for believers is only in future eternity (‘will give’).
These cult pastors have an agenda. Their main target is the younger generation. If youth are told, ‘no more death’, then that would give youth (or anyone else who will believe this rubbish) the license to sin. Because after death there is no chance for salvation as the Bible teaches (Hebrews 9:27). After death, there is going to be only judgement! And if we are found to be living in secret sin and not abiding in Christ then hell is where we will go! So, by removing death from the equation by twisting and raping certain Bible verses, they want to remove the fear of God from the youth and give them license to sin with freedom! Let us not welcome such teaching and share in their wicked work (2 John 10,11) and land in hell with them!
I say this because both the Chennai cult pastor and the Madurai cult pastor readily admit that they may die anytime but they say that they will still preach immortality “as it is in the Word of God”! As we have seen here above – it is not in the Word of God! So, what is the real reason why they preach this poison? The real reason they preach immortality is to comfort young people in their sin. I implore them to repent and start preaching like Jesus: “Tonight your life will be demanded from you….” (Luke 12:20)/”Mrs Lot did not have lots of time to repent….so remember Lot’s wife….(Luke 17:32)!”
(Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. This is a reader supported Indian ministry. Find out more at www.dukev.org or via WhatsApp at +91-8886040605).