A Divine Prerequisite

Don't you just want to slap a preacher when he makes a powerful statement and then goes on to another subject without further explanation?  If that bothers you as much as it does me, then you will understand why I wanted to hurt Bishop Tudor Bismark one Sunday morning in Pittsburg, PA.  He was preaching about resurrection, and in the midst of the message he said, “Death is not a consequenceIt is a prerequisite for resurrection.”  As I scrambled to write that thought down, he repeated it, and I waited for what I knew would be an awesome revelation from an awesome man of God. I waited and I waited, but he never returned to that point again.  (A year later, I listened to that message on CD and found out that he had said a few more things, I had missed them because I was trying to find my pen!)  But at the time, I heard that One senctence and I couldn’t believe that he would throw such a riveting concept out there and not illuminate it?  Needless to say, I was disappointed, but since he is my favorite preacher in all the world, (outside of my Pastor) I forgave him.  But I couldn’t get that thought out of my mind.

The following Monday while I was working I kept thinking about what he had said. The first sentence, "Death is not a consequence," is enough to make you holler.  Those five words, if taken for what they are - a word from the Lord, could change most of our mindsets about the things that die in our lives.  Because the vast majority of us think of death as a consequence.  A consequence is something produced by a cause, it's a result. So when there is a death in our life, whether it's the death of our faith, our dream, a relationship or even a physical death, we look back and say, "I should have done this, that or the other, or if I hadn't done that, things would have come out different.  If I would have worked harder, my dream would have become a reality.  If I would have taken better care of myself, I wouldn't have this disease.  If I had been a better wife or husband my marriage would have lasted.  We see death as a consequence, a result of something we did or didn't do.  So not only are we left sorrowing over the thing that died, we are left with soul-draining, heart-clogging, spirit-quenching Guilt!  But IN God - in the life of a child of God - Death is NOT a consequence.  It's a Prerequisite for resurrection.  A prerequisite is something that is necessary to an end or to the carrying out of a function; a condition that is required in order for something else to happen. For instance, some employers won't hire you unless you have a college degree.  That is their prerequisite.  You must have that before you can work for them. 

As I was thinking about prerequisites, God said, Pre means before.  And then He gave me this analogy.  When a rich man marries a woman who is not so rich, there is usually a prenuptial agreement.  In essence, the man is saying, Before I take you to be my bride, I'm letting you know ahead of time what you can expect if our relationship falls apart, if our marriage is annulled - if our love dies.  You can expect so much money a month, a house, a car or two, and the kids.  We could say then that a prenuptial agreement is established on a "just in case" basis.  The originator of that covenant does not know what the future holds, he simply plans for unpleasant surprises!
But God doesn't make prenuptials, He makes Prerequisites.  And since God spans all time zones, past, present and future, He is NEVER surprised by the things that die in your life.  Therefore, before He formed you in your mother's womb, even before you were created in Him before the foundation of the earth, God “set up” some prerequisites in your life.  Think of a graveyard.  What is the first thing you notice when you visit one?  The headstones that have been set up by family members.  Some are fancy with pictures and touching words, others are small, unadorned markers.  Most of them list the date of birth, but ultimately that marker symbolizes one thing - Death. Before time began, God stepped to the end of time and looked back over your life.  He saw ahead of time, every time you would experience a death in your life and he set up some special markers.  He calls them Prerequisites.  In essence, God is saying, Before I take you to be my bride I want you to know - should your dream fail, should your vision vanish, should every ounce of faith, hope and love you have die, should your body go the way of the grave, this marker/prerequisite symbolizes what you can expect from me - Resurrection!  Because in God, Death is not a consequence, it's a prerequisite for resurrection. 

If we could really grasp that concept we would quit crying over every thing that dies in our lives and start expecting resurrection.  Most of us know the Bible says a seed must fall into the ground and die before it can have life, but we have heard that so many times that it doesn't affect us anymore.  By putting the same principle into different words, Bishop Bismark challenged me to look at consequences and death in another way.  A consequence is usually viewed negatively.  But a consequence is simply a Result of something that took place before.  My niece went to college, studied hard and graduated.  Consequently, she was able to secure a good job.  Consequences are not always negative and neither is death.  We are just programmed to think of them that way.
One year and one day later, I was standing at work and I began to think about Bishop Bismark saying, "Death is not a consequence", and out of the blue God said, Life is a consequence!  The Life you are living today is a consequence of the living you have been doing since you were put on this earth!  When God said that, I let out a little scream and my friend asked me what was wrong.  As I started explaining to her what God was saying, the Lord kept talking in my ear.  He said, Here is proof that death is not a consequence.  Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life.  If death would have been a consequence of the life He lived, He would have lived forever because He did nothing to deserve death.  And since you are IN HIM, death is not a consequence for you either. When something dies in your life it is to bring about resurrection.  Excitedly, I told my friend what the Lord was saying and she said, Well, how does that apply to my life? My marriage died and it wasn't resurrected!  I was stunned that she asked me that question and a little embarrassed because I didn't have an answer.  I immediately said, God, how do I explain that, and He said, When something dies you will always have resurrection and new life, but it might not be life as you knew it.  I said to my friend, haven't you become a better person after your divorce and haven't you become stronger?  She said, Yes, and I said, then there was a resurrection of You.  It's not life as you knew it but it is new life.  After He rose from the dead, Jesus had a glorified body and was on a higher plain of living.  He had life but it was not as it had been before. 

I was excited about what God was saying but something kept bugging me.  Bishop Bismark had talked about Death and Resurrection and that was my focus as well, but I kept hearing in my spirit, Death, Burial and Resurrection.  The step in between wouldn't give me any rest.  I thought, what difference does the burial make anyway?  After all, Jesus was not buried in the ground as a seed, He was buried in a tomb.  Then one night I was thinking about the significance of the burial and God said, Burial changes your form, Resurrection manifests the change. 

It's like the process the butterfly goes through.  During one stage, the caterpillar is buried in a cocoon, but when it is resurrected from that grave, the thing that was buried bears no resemblance to the thing that comes out!  Jesus was wrapped in a cloth and put out of sight, and a change took place.  He was carried into the tomb a dead man, He walked out God!  Burial changed His form, Resurrection manifested the change.  That's why the two who walked with him on the road to Emmaus didn't know him.  That's why the seed we plant in the ground comes up in another form.  And that's why some of us don't realize that God has resurrected the things that have died in our lives.  Many of them have come back in forms that we did nor expect nor recognize.

Let me try to sum up what I'm saying in a few sentences.  Death is not a consequence. Life is a consequence.  Death is a Prerequisite for the Resurrection you're going to need in your Life after the living you have done destroys your faith, dreams, relationships and health.  Because there are some things that only Death can save!  For instance, open heart surgery often requires your heart being stopped or put on a by-pass machine.  Cancer patients who go through chemotherapy have their immune systems "killed" so they can be resurrected.  Have you ever had a relationship go so wrong that no matter how many times someone apologizes or how much you forgive them, the History involved cancels out future happiness?  You can't get past the past.  That relationship needs resurrection but before it can be born again, it must die.  Because there is no resurrection without death!  Even Jesus, who lived a sinless life could not save us by living.  He had to die.  We are saved because of His death.  Which is why I am trying to change your perception about the things that die in your life.  They MUST die in order for resurrection to occur!  Some of them will come back to life just like God first gave them to you - others will be transformed.  But God is saying, they Will Be Resurrected!  Thanks to Divine Prerequisites.

Sherry Wyne
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