Author: Ron Graham
Journeys by the Soul
—Twelve of them
Journeys in this world
From nonexistence via physical conception to state of innocence.
This transition is the beginning for every human being. God made you a human being the day your mother conceived you in her womb (Psalms 139:13-16), and he did not make you corrupt or sinful, but innocent.
From Innocence via first sin to state of spiritual death.
People are born innocent, but enter a world where sin is a plague (Psalms 51:5). Although they cannot be forced to sin, almost from birth they are strongly and constantly encouraged to sin.
Innocent people become corrupted by sin and thus become alienated from the life of God, "dead in sins", darkened in understanding, and in danger of the day of wrath (Ephesians 2:4-5, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:4,11, Romans 8:1, 2Corinthians 5:17-18, Acts 2:38, John 3:16).
From spiritual death via conversion to state of spiritual life.
This journey requires a one way “ticket” which God purchased for us. In rebirth through faith, repentance, and baptism, the old self is crucified and "buried with Christ" (Romans 6:4-6). A "new creature" is raised up.
We call this event "conversion". The journey continues as one grows up in Christ toward spiritual maturity.
We may regard this journey as our "walk" along the narrow way toward heaven (Matthew 7:13-14). God provides full guarantee and help through the Holy Spirit (Colossians 1:13,22-23, Ephesians 1:13-14, Acts 2:38).
A person may need to make this journey more than once. If a person falls away, provided the heart has not become too hardened, one can make the journey back to life again by repentance and prayer (Acts 8:22). We usually refer to this re-conversion as “restoration”.
From spiritual life via apostasy to state of spiritual death.
The ticket-seller for this journey is Satan. As we mentioned, some who have made the transition from spiritual death to spiritual life through Christ, later fall away from him. They wither and die. God puts plenty of “Wrong Way Go Back” signs at the beginning of this journey through apostasy, but not everyone heeds his warnings.
Many, having trampled underfoot the Son of God in their apostasy, have repudiated the only sacrifice for their sins. There is no other. God leaves that only way open for them to return of course, but their will and conscience can become too seared and hardened to plead for a ticket back to life (2Peter 2:20-22, Hebrews 10:26-31, Hebrews 6:4-6).
Journeys through death
5 Innocent’s death
From innocence via physical death to state of hadean safety.
This is the journey made by infants (and others who unable to know right from wrong) who die physically before having committed their first sin. Many take this journey. Although it is sad to see them die, we know that they go safely into God’s care.
Jesus said of "these little ones" that "their angels in heaven continually behold the face of My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 18:10). They are not abandoned on their journey through death.
6 Saint’s death
From spiritual life via physical death to state of hadean safety.
Hades is the unseen world of the dead. This journey to Hades is a difficult-yet-happy one. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord" (Revelation 14:13). "There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1)
7 Sinner’s death
From spiritual death via physical death to state of hadean doom.
When a sinner takes the journey to Hades, it is a very miserable one, because it leads to irreversible doom. No return ticket is available. Many people do not prepare for their journey through "the valley of the shadow of death" (Psalms 23:4).
The story of the Rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) is instructive on this point.
Journeys through the Judgment
8 Innocent’s rapture
From innocence via judgment day to state of eternal life.
Many infants will take this journey because their lives on earth will be cut short by Christ's coming before they have committed their first sin. Jesus said of "these little ones" that "their angels in heaven continually behold the face of My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 18:10).
The great multitude of innocent little ones, alive on the terrible day of the end of the world, will not be abandoned by God.
9 Saint’s rapture
From spiritual life via judgment day to state of eternal life.
This journey is made by faithful converts to Christ who are still alive on that day when he returns. These "shall be caught up together with [others] to meet the Lord in the air" (1Thessalonians 4:13-18)
10 Safe one’s resurrection
From hadean safety via judgment day to state of eternal life.
Faithful converts to Christ who die before Christ's second coming do not miss out. They will be raised from the dead first, before anybody is taken into heaven, and will join the great multitude of those who gather before the judgment throne and then go away into everlasting life. What rapture this journey will be! (John 5:28-29, 1Corinthians 15:50-53, 1Thessalonians 4:13-18, Matthew 25:31-46)
11 Sinner’s shame
From spiritual death via judgment day to state of eternal death.
Those who have not obeyed the gospel of Christ, and who are alive on judgment day, will be told by Jesus, "Depart from me you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41,46, 2Thessalonians 1:8-10). There is no more awful journey for the soul than this —a journey to be avoided at all cost.
12 Sinner’s resurrection
From hadean doom via judgment day to state of eternal death.
Those who die without Christ will not escape when he comes at the end of the world. They will be raised from the dead. Hades will give them up, to be judged and sent into everlasting punishment (John 5:28-29, Revelation 20:11-15). There is no more awful journey for the soul than this —a journey to be avoided at all cost.