Author: Ron Graham
There are six gates or portals for the soul. When a soul journeys from one state to another, it passes through one of these gateways. Each portal is a very significant event. You have no choice but to go through three of these gates. Two other gates you should choose not to enter. If you foolishly enter by those gates, the sixth gate is your only way of escape.
The first gateway is conception. Of course you had no choice in making your entry into this life when you were conceived in your mother’s womb. But the good Lord granted you grace and looked upon you as an innocent child.
Down through the ages, there have been many theories about some kind of pre-existence of a person’s soul. These theories hold that a person's soul exists in some state before the person’s physical conception and birth. Some theories have ideas about past lives. Some beliefs describe a storehouse of souls kept in waiting. The Bible does not teach any such thing.
There are also theories about when God gives a soul to the child conceived in the womb —whether at conception or some time later. There is a belief, for example, that "the quickening" (a baby's first strong movement in the womb) is the sign that a soul has just entered the baby. It is widely held today that a separate human life begins not when a woman conceives, but later. So from conception there exists, for a time, just one or more cells that still belong to the mother's body. It is believed that she is free at this stage to destroy the cell or "foetal tissue" because it is not yet "a child" or "a babe". These ideas have no support in the Bible.
If we follow the Bible, we will take the safe view that a child with a soul exists when it is "conceived in the womb", (Luke 1:31, Luke 2:21). The Bible calls what is in the womb a child or babe (Genesis 25:22, Luke 1:41). Job speaks of the night "a man child was conceived" (Job 3:3). Note also Psalm 139:13-16.
The second gateway into another spiritual state is one’s first sin. You have a choice not to enter through this gate. If you do, you enter the state of spiritual death.
When Adam and Eve were created, God forbade them to eat of a certain tree. When they disobeyed that command, they of course sinned. That's why God had warned them, "In the day that you eat thereof, you will surely die" (Genesis 1:17). God did not mean they would die physically, because they did not die physically the day they sinned. God was speaking of spiritual death.
Some people say, "but they began to die physically the day they sinned". God said nothing about beginning to die. He said, "In the day you eat... you shall surely die". The result of every first sin is spiritual death. In the day of our first sin, we each were cut off from the life of God and became dead in sin.
Paul said, "I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died" (Romans 7:8-10). Note that Paul was alive until he broke a commandment of God, then he was dead. The first sin is the portal through which we become "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). We pass from innocence into spiritual death.
A third gateway for the soul is conversion. This is the portal by which one who is dead in sin may become reborn and alive again in Christ. It is a gateway of choice. Just as one was foolish to enter into sin and spiritual death, so one would be foolish not to be converted and enter into spiritual life again.
Once we have entered into death in sin, we cannot go back to being innocent. However, we can be forgiven and "justified" through Jesus Christ (Romans 3:23-24) and "made accepted in the Beloved [Son]" (Ephesians 1:6-8).
"But God who is rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses and sins, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:4-5).
There is only one way to do this, only one way to get out of death in sin and be made alive again. That one way is through Jesus. "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).
We must believe in Jesus (John 3:16), repent and be baptized in his name for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38, Romans 6:4). When we do that, we become "dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:11).
A fourth gateway is apostasy or falling away from faith. This is a portal of choice, but a foolish choice indeed, to go back into condemnation and spiritual death.
The “apostate”, having been forgiven and having entered into the state of spiritual life, quits and falls back to the state of condemnation and spiritual death (2Peter 2:20-22, Hebrews 10:26-31).
Physical death is the portal through which we pass from this world into the unseen world of the dead (Hades) to await the judgment day. The body dies, but the soul passes on back into the hands of God (Matthew 10:28).
Many people, most likely the majority of humanity, will not enter this portal, nor enter Hades, because they will be alive when Jesus comes. However they will be included in the judgment.
For those who die in a state of grace and spiritual life, death of the body is only a portal through which the soul passes on its journey toward heaven. Paul teaches that the body will be raised immortal just as a seed planted dies but a beautiful plant rises up (1Corinthians 15:35-58). As the plant is to the seed, so our immortal bodies are to our physical bodies. We lose our physical bodies at death, however our souls do not remain disembodied or "naked" forever. On the judgment day there will be a resurrection in which our souls, if we are Christ's, will be clothed with glorious bodies (2Corinthians 5:1-11).
The sixth gateway, the Judgment, is unavoidable. You have no choice but to go though it into your eternal destiny.
Jesus Christ "will judge the living and the dead at his appearing" (2Timothy 4:1). Jesus himself describes that event in Matthew 25.
In the unseen world of the dead, many await Judgment day in the assurance that they have been counted righteous and worthy of heaven in Christ. This is the blessed state of those who have died in the Lord whether innocent or forgiven (Revelation 14:13, Luke 23:43, Luke 16:19-31). For them, Judgment Day is a portal leading to rapture and joy with God in the everlasting bliss of the innocent and forgiven, made acceptable to God through Jesus (John 3:16, Romans 6:23)
Also in the unseen world of the dead many await the day of Judgment without any hope of heaven because they do not know Christ. This is the doomed state of all unbelieving and disobedient who have died physically without being prepared through faith and obedience to Jesus Christ (1Thessalonians 4:13, Luke 16:26, John 5:28-29).