A Chennai pastor quotes Hebrews 9:27–28 to teach that there will be no death—yes, physical actual death—for believers. He teaches believers can be immortal. This is a false teaching. He implies that Hebrews 9:27–28 is basically meaning this: “Jesus died a physical death and so we will not need to die here and now! We can be immortal!” One basic principle of Bible interpretation is this: the same Bible author—who is inspired by the Holy Spirit—will not contradict himself. The writer to the Hebrews did not teach immortality on earth from Hebrews 9:27–28. I know this for sure. Two chapters down the line—in Hebrews 11—he talks about many believers who died despite having faith in Jesus. Read that section in Hebrews and this truth is plain as day (I have inserted short notes from my end in brackets):
“Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword (that is, they had earthly deaths). They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. 39 These were all commended for their faith (it is not that they did not have faith—they had faith), yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect (Yes, when we die and go to the other side of eternity there will be no physical death). (Heb 11:36–40).
While this cultic Chennai pastor is using the book of Hebrews to teach “You will not die if you are a believer in Jesus!”, the writer to the Hebrews himself did not believe this ‘grave error about the grave’! Scroll down a little bit more. Come to the chapter 12 of the book of Hebrews. Read Hebrews 12:4. It goes this way: “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood”. Here, the writer to the Hebrews is telling the believers he is addressing this: “You must not go with the flow. You must fight sin. When you fight sin, people might beat you up. You might bleed. You might lose your life. But you need to be faithful till death for Jesus! I do not see that in many of you. You are compromising. You are denying Jesus. You are playing with sin. Don’t! If your fight against sin leads to your persecution which in turn leads to your death—that’s fine!” So, there you have it again—even the writer to the Hebrews does not believe in this erroneous doctrine of “No possibility of physical death for the believer before Jesus returns!”
Paul wrote to the Corinthian church this: “Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign— and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you!” (1 Cor 4:8). This statement of Paul was indicative of Paul’s concern that the Corinthian church believers had got ‘carried-away’ and landed-up in an “over-realized eschatology”. This basically meant that believers felt the blessings that could be had only after they reached heaven, they already had, here and now, or felt that they must have them here and now. For example, since the Corinthians believed this, they said, “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman” (1 Cor 7:1). They felt that, as they spoke in the tongues of angels, they were like angels in heaven, who do not have sex, perhaps! Gordon Fee, noted New Testament Scholar, explains this further: “Corinthians seem to have considered themselves to be already like angels, thus truly spiritual, needing neither sex in the present (1 Cor 7:1–7) or a body in the future (I Cor 15:1–58)”. But Paul believed there were some things that would only happen on the Final Day. That’s why he wrote this to them: “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes” (1 Cor 4:5). Basically, Paul was telling them: “Don’t get over-board!” Because when we go over-board, we fall into error. And when we fall into error in doctrines that affect salvation, we land up in hell. It is that dangerous!
Another example of an over-realised eschatology is the wrong teaching that we will be immortal here and now. The same Chennai-based cult pastor also quotes from 1 Corinthians 15:26, which says “the last enemy to be defeated is death”, and teaches that until a generation of believers beats death here and now—that is, becomes immortal now, and does not die at all while we are still on earth—only then Jesus will come back to the earth! Till that happens, Jesus would NEVER come back, he says! What a heresy! The plain teaching of the Bible is this: “Man is destined to die once and after that face judgement” (Heb 9:27). In the same chapter quoted by this Chennai pastor—1 Corinthians 15—we have evidence to know that death will be finally defeated only when Jesus comes back the second time, and not before that. In I Corinthians 15:52 he writes that the transformation of our body into immortal, imperishable bodies will happen when the “trumpet” will sound. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 Paul clearly writes that when the trumpet sounds Jesus will return again the second time to this earth. So, we believers will become immortal only after the second coming of Jesus! Let us not fool ourselves!
I am a youth evangelist. I call youth to give their lives here and now. I tell them, “Do not postpone your commitment to Christ!” The primary motivation not to postpone one’s commitment to Christ is the love of God. I ask the Google Generation often, “When Jesus gives joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8) when you come to him (which sin and its pleasures can’t give) (Hebrews 11:25), why waste even a nano-second living for Satan and in sin?”
But there is also another biblical reason, why we must come to Jesus here and now. We can’t sweep this reason under the carpet because it does sound like music to the ears! The real possibility of sudden death for anyone of us reading this is a reason why we must repent and come to Jesus now. The Bible teaches about the brevity of life through examples and edicts, time and again. We have the examples of Ahab (I Kings 22) and Absalom (1 Sam 18). Jesus himself gave an edict about possible sudden death when he preached, “Tonight your life will be taken from you….” (Luke 12:20). James preached about how short life can be post the death and resurrection of Jesus when he compared physical life to a quickly vanishing vapor (James 4:14). I said, ‘post the death and resurrection of Jesus’ because this “New Covenant” gang of cultic preachers try to undermine various Bible passages saying they were written before Jesus died and rose again and inaugurated the new covenant.
Coming back to my premise—the possibility of sudden death is a common Bible theme which we ignore to our peril. Jesus also preached, “Remember Lot’s wife!” (Luke 17:32). Basically, Jesus was saying this: “Remember Mrs Lot did not have lots of time to repent—so repent now. Come to me now! Tomorrow may be too late! After you die it will be too late!” I believe this gang of preachers—including this Chennai pastor, a prominent worship leader, certain preachers from Kerala—do not like this kind of preaching. They want to tone it down a bit. They want to make Bible truth more palatable to their hearers—their generation. So, they want to teach things like, “You will not die!” But they are speaking lies to woo youth.
Don’t believe those lies! They will take you to hell along with these preachers (if they do not repent). For the Bible is very clear: when salvation-slowing or salvation-altering false teaching by “destructive heresies” is given by “false prophets” and “false teachers” they are bringing “swift destruction” upon themselves and their followers (2 Peter 2:1).