Bible Truth Examiner

Studies

STUDY 1: LIFE AND IMMORTALITY

 

Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.

 

“If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come” (Job 14: 14).

 

MEN have always possessed an undefined hope that death does not end all existence, that

somehow and somewhere life will continue beyond the grave. But as men instinctively realize

their unworthiness of a future of pleasure, their hope turns to fear as they contemplate the

possibility of a future of woe.

 

This undefined hope of a future life and its counterpart, fear, originated when God condemned

the serpent following Adam’s fall into sin and death, declaring that eventually the seed of the

woman should bruise the serpent’s head (Genesis 3: 15). This was understood to mean that at

least some of Adam’s family would eventually triumph over Satan, and the sin and death that he

had enticed them into. God undoubtedly encouraged this hope, though vaguely, through Noah

and Enoch; but not until Abraham was this hope – a salvation from death to be offered to all

mankind in God’s due time – clearly stated (Galatians 3: 8).

 

This became the foundation for the Jewish hope of a resurrection; for since all the families of the

earth were either dead or dying, this promised blessing implied a future life. Centuries later,

when Israel was scattered among the nations at the time of the Babylonian captivity, they carried

portions of God’s promises and hopes with them.

 

Though the world hopes for a future life, these alone do not prove its reality. The Old Testament

promises to the Jews are too vague for one to build a foundation of faith upon, much less the

superstructure of an “authoritative theology.” However, when we investigate the New Testament,

we find clear, positive statements by our Lord and His Apostles on the subject of Everlasting

Life which enables us to replace our vague hopes with positive convictions. Their words not only

provide positive statements that the possibilities of a future life have been provided for all, but

also its philosophy and how it is to be attained and maintained. As we consider this philosophy

we at once are struck by its reasonableness.

 

The New Testament assures us that in and of ourselves we have nothing which would give us

any hope of everlasting life; that the life of our race was forfeited by the disobedience of Father

Adam; that although he was created perfect and was adapted to live forever, his sin not only

brought upon himself the wages of sin – death – but his children were born in a dying condition,

having inherited the dying influences. God and His Law are perfect, and so was Adam before he

sinned; for of God it is written, “His work is perfect” (Deuteronomy 32: 4). God can therefore

only approve that which is perfect, and condemns everything imperfect to destruction. Therefore,

Adam’s race, born in sin and “shapen in iniquity,” has no hope of gaining everlasting life except

upon the conditions held out in the New Testament, called The Gospel – the good tidings. It

proclaims that a way back from the fall to Divine favor and everlasting life has been prearranged

through Christ – for all of Adam’s family who will avail themselves of those generous

conditions.

 

Christ Died for Adam and All His Race

 

The key to this hope of everlasting life is found in the Scriptural statements that (1) “Christ died

for our sins,” and (2) that He was “raised again for our justification” (1 Corinthians 15: 3)

(Romans 4: 25). “The man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom [corresponding price] for

all” (1 Timothy 2: 5, 6).

 

God’s provision for everlasting life will extend to all, though it is based upon certain conditions:

(1) that they strive to avoid sin, and (2) that they live in harmony with God and righteousness.

 

Please note the following Scriptural statements on this subject:

 

1 John 5: 12: “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”

 

Everlasting life will only be given to those who, when they learn of it and the terms upon which

it will be granted, seek for it by living according to the spirit of holiness. Those shall reap

everlasting life as a gift-reward (Romans 6: 23) (Galatians 6: 8).

 

Those who gain everlasting life must become the Lord’s “sheep” and follow His voice and

instructions (John 10: 26-28) (John 17: 2, 3).

 

Everlasting life will not be forced upon any. It must be desired, sought after and laid hold upon

by all who would gain it. At present it is a hope, not a possession (1 Timothy 6: 12, 19); but in

due time it will actually be given to the faithful. God’s promises differ greatly from worldly

philosophies on the subject, which claim that everlasting life is man’s inalienable possession.

Nor are there any grounds for claiming that there is something in man which must live on

forever. Such a philosophy would not only give everlasting existence to those to whom it would

be a blessing, but also to those to whom it would be a curse. How much more reasonable is the

Scriptural teaching which declares that the gift of everlasting life will only be given to those who

believe and obey the Redeemer and Life-giver! All others, to whom it would be an injury, will

never obtain it – everlasting destruction shall be their doom. They will fail to gain everlasting

life, with all of its privileges, joys and blessings – losing all that the faithful will gain

(Psalm 37: 9, 20) (Job 10: 19) (2 Thessalonians 1: 9).

 

Immortality Defined

 

Everlasting life is God’s provision for every one of Adam’s race who will accept it, in due time,

under the terms of the New Covenant; however, everlasting life and immortality are not

synonymous terms. The word “immortal” means more than living everlastingly. Though billions

may ultimately enjoy everlasting life, only a very limited “little flock” will ever be immortal.

Immortality is an element, or quality of the Divine nature alone; not of the human, angelic or any

other nature. Christ and His Bride are made “partakers of the divine nature,” and are exceptions

to all other creatures either in heaven or on earth (2 Peter 1: 4).

 

The word “immortal” signifies not mortal – death-proof, indestructible, imperishable, a

condition in which death is an impossibility. Any being whose existence is dependent in any

manner upon another, or upon conditions such as food, light, air, etc. is not immortal. This

quality was an innate or original possession in God alone, as it is written, “The Father hath life in

himself” (John 5: 26) – His existence is neither a derived, nor a sustained one. Our Lord Jesus

was “highly exalted” to the Divine, immortal nature because of His faithfulness. His present and

future condition is “the express image of his [the Father’s] person” (Philippians 2: 9)

(Hebrews 1: 3).

 

Adam Created a Mortal Being

 

The word “mortal” does not mean dying, but dieable – that one possesses life dependent upon

God for its continuance. For example, angels are not immortal. They could be destroyed by God

if they rebel against His wise, just and loving government. Satan was once an angel of light, who

became a rebel, whom the Scriptures declare will be destroyed by God (Hebrews 2: 14). This

proves that Satan is mortal, and therefore the angelic nature is a mortal nature. Man, being a

“little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8: 5), is also mortal, proven by the fact that he has been

dying for over six thousand years.

 

Adam did not become mortal by sinning, for he was created mortal – subject to the death

penalty. Had he been created immortal, nothing could have destroyed him, for he would then

have been death-proof. His life was similar to that of the angels. He had life in full measure,

which he could have retained forever had he remained obedient to God. God’s threat that if he

should disobey he would die was real; but had he been created immortal God’s sentence would

have been an empty threat. Adam’s perfect life was forfeited by disobedience – and he died.

 

God, having created various orders of beings, angelic and human, in His own moral and rational

likeness, declared that He designed a new creation – an order of beings, not only morally and

rationally in His likeness, but in “the express image of his person” and partakers of His own

“divine nature” (2 Peter 1: 4).

 

We ask: who shall God confer this high honor and distinction upon? The Scriptures answer:

Upon His “Firstborn” and “Only-Begotten” Son, who was always obedient, and whom God

determined that “in all things he might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1: 18). But before He

could be so highly exalted, He must be tested and proven “worthy” of so high an honor. The test

was that He, Christ, should lay down His life as a Ransom-price for the life of Adam, and all

who lost life due to his transgression. He was equal to the test, and gained the prize of the

“divine nature.” “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom,

and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing” (Revelation 5: 12).

 

Christ’s Bride Highly Exalted

 

But Divine favor did not stop there, for God had arranged that Christ Jesus should lead a

company of sons of God to “glory and honour and immortality” (Hebrews 2: 10) (Romans 2: 7),

each of whom must be a spiritual copy of the “First-Begotten.” Amazingly, God did not elect to

call cherubim or seraphim to the high honor of being Christ’s Bride and Joint-heir, but some

from among human sinners, redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb. God determined the

number to be exalted (Revelation 7: 4), and predestinated what their characteristics must be in

order to make their calling and election sure to a place in that highly honored company.

 

The Gospel Age has been the time for selecting this elect class, and one of the purposes for the

permission of evil has been to develop these members of Christ’s Body, to furnish them with the

opportunity of sacrificing their little all in service to their Redeemer and of developing in their

hearts His spiritual likeness.

 

As the reward of the Divine nature was not conferred upon the “First-Begotten” until He had

obediently finished His course in death, so it is with the Church. As Christ entered into His glory

at His resurrection, so the Church in her resurrection is changed from the human to the Divine

nature (1 Corinthians 15: 42-44, 49).

 

The remainder of Adam’s race will be offered “restitution” (Acts 3: 19-21) to life, health and

perfection of the human nature – the earthly image of God before his fall into sin and death. By

the close of the Millennial Age all the obedient of mankind will have attained all that was lost in

Adam and redeemed by Christ. Then, armed with complete knowledge and experience, will be

severely tested individually, and only those found in fullest harmony with God and His righteous

arrangements, both outwardly and in the heart, will be permitted to go into the everlasting future

ages of glory. All others will be destroyed in the Second Death (Acts 3: 23).

 

The victors of the Millennial Age will live forever, but will not be immortal. They will still be

dependent upon God’s provision of food, etc. for the sustenance of life (Revelation 21: 4, 6)

(Matthew 5: 6). The gift of eternal life will be extended to all who are willing to accept it upon

the only terms in which it could be a blessing, and the unworthy will be subject to the just

penalty pronounced by the great Judge of all: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6: 23).

 

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