By David Burge
1. Only God is Immortal by Nature. Immortality is a Gift of God to Creatures.
The Bible affirms that God alone has immortality as a present possession ( 1 Tim. 1:17 c.f. 6:16). The “glory of the immortal God” is contrasted with that of “mortal man” (Rom. 1:23). For humanity, immortality is still a prize to be sought after (Rom.2:7). It will be granted only to “those who are considered worthy” (Luke 20:34-36), to the believer in Christ alone, and then only when Jesus returns (1Cor. 15:42-54).
2. A “Soul” is Something We Are! Not Something We Have.
Meanwhile, human beings are creatures of dust (Gen. 2:7 c.f. 3:19,-18:27; Psa. 103:14). We do not have souls, we are”living souls” (Gen. 2: 7), as are the animals (Gen. 1:20, 21, 24, 30, 2: 19).
3. Spirit is the Principle of Life Given to Both Humans and Animals by God.
The Spirit of God inbreathed is what gives life – the outgoing of the spirit returning to God who gave it. is death – for human and animal alike (Gen. 1:30,6:17, 7:15,22; Job 34:14-15; Psa. 104:29-30; Ecc. 3:18-21, 12:7).
4. In Death All of Us Dies! Not Just Part of Us.
People are buried, not bodies. Abraham was buried (Gen. 25:8,10), as were David (1King. 2: 10), Stephen (Acts 8:2), even Jesus (John 19:42). The risen Christ told Mary, “I have not yet returned to the Father” (John 20: 17). The committal of his spirit (Luke 23:46) was not his return to the Father. The spirit apart from the body is not the “real” you! At death the real you returns to the dust (Re-read Gen. 3: 19!).
5. In Death There is No Consiousness.
In the state of death there is no remembering (Psa. 6:5); no praising (Psa. 6:5, 115:17, Iso. 38:18); no thinking (Psa. 146:4,Ecc. 9:4); no hoping (Ecc. 9:4, Iso. 38: 18); only silence (Psa. 115: 17). The dead, good and bad alike, are said to”sleep” (Dan. 12: 1-2, 1 Thes. 4: 13-18). Wicked Jeroboam slept with his fathers (1 King. 14:20), as did evil Ahab (1 King.22:40). Faithful Job expected to “sleep in the dust” (Job 7:21). Jesus’ friend Lazarus fell asleep (John 11 :11) as did the martyr, Stephen (Acts 7:60).
6. The Only Hope of the Dead is Personal Resurrection to Life.
The Bible puts forward no hope other than that of resurrection. Isaiah says, “your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust; wake up and shout for joy.” (Iso. 26: 19). Daniel too makes this point: “many who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake … ” (Dan. 12:2). Paul too, puts forth the resurrection to eternal life as the only hope for the believer (1Cor.15; 1 Thes. 4:13-18).
7- The Resurrection of the Unsaved Will be to Judgement and Destruction.
The wicked will be raised, judged and condemned (Dan. 12:2, John 5:29, Acts 24:15) to die a “second death” (Rev. 2:11, 20: 14). They will “consume away”; they will “be cut off”; they will “perish”; “be burned up” and “be no more”. They “will be ashes under the soles of your feet’ (Mal. 4:1,3). The “undying worm” and “unquenchable fire” consume their corpses (Isa.66:24 c.f. Mark 9:48).
8. The New Order of Creation Will Contain No Remnant of Sin or Wickedness.
Ultimately, heaven and earth will be made new (Isa. 65: 17, 66:22, Rom. 8: 19-21, 2 Pet. 3: 13, Rev. 21-22). “the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord” (Num. 14:21. Iso. 11 :9, Hob. 2:14) and “God will be all in all.” (1 Cor. 15:28). There will be no corner of this universe where sinners exist forever in rebellion against him!
Conditional Immortality takes Scripture at face value: life means life; death means death. This affects how we understand the atonement. sin and its penalty, human nature, death, resurrection, and life in immortality. It puts the hope of the second coming and the Kingdom of God into proper perspective: at centre stage. It makes judgment day, the climax of history. It affirms the reality of “hell” without impugning God’s character. It affirms God’s final victory over sin and evil. “Life only In Christ” gives full honour to Christ as “the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11 :25) .
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(c) Copyright 2009 David Burge. Advent Christian Conference of New Zealand Inc. www.acconz.org.nz