IMMORTALITY AND EVERLASTING LIFE:
A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE
WHICH PROVIDES NO ROOM FOR SOUL SLEEP OR ANNIHILATION
Dr. Robert A. Morey states from his book, 'DEATH and the Afterlife', Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, Mn, 1984, p. 95-97
"The word 'immortality' is found five times in the KJV. The authors of the KJV translated two different Greek words as immortality. They were correct with one word but mistranslated the other.
The first word is 'athanasia.' This is a combination of two Greek words which literally mean 'no death.' This word means 'never ending existence' or 'the state of being incapable of death.' It is used to describe the resurrection body in 1 Cor 15:43, 53.
The second word is 'aphtharsia. This is also a combination of two Greek words which literally mean 'no corruption.' It means 'the state of being incapable of corruption, decomposition, or degeneration.' It is used to describe God in Rom. 1:23 and the resurrection body in 1 Cor 15:42, 50, 52-54. The KJV mistranslates it as 'immortality' in Tim 1:17 and 1 Tim 1:10.
While 'athanasia' reveals that the resurrected saints will never experience death, but exist for all eternity, 'aphtharsia' reveals that this will not be a mere eternal existence but the fullest life of joy and satisfaction possible, because the resurrected saints cannot experience any degeneration in the functions of body or mind. No corruption will disrupt the bliss of the eternal state.
From our examination of the terms 'immortal' and 'incorruptible,' it is obvious that they describe the attributes of the resurrection body and do not speak of the condition of man's soul after death....
A typical argument is often raised at this point..
Since the Bible does not use the phrase 'immortal soul,' and the word 'immortal' refers only to the resurrection, they argue that the Bible teaches a bodily resurrection but not a conscious afterlife. They thus pit resurrection against a conscious afterlife as if the two were in conflict with each other.
This argument is, first of all, based on the assumption that if a certain theological word or phrase is not found in the Bible, then the concept which that word or phrase represents cannot be found in the Bible. For example...... using the same line of reasoning......
'Since the word '''Trinity''' is not found in the Bible, therefore the doctrine of the Trinity is not Biblical.
What [objectors] fail to see is that theological terminology was developed over the centuries in order to capsulize biblical teaching. Thus the concept of God in three Persons is not based on the term '''Trinity,''' but the term is based on the biblical concept of God in three Persons.
It is on the same basis, therefore, that we are not overly impressed by arguments based on the absence in Scripture of such words as 'Trinity' or 'immortal soul.' All such arguments from silence are obviously invalid.
Second, they falsely assume that the concepts of a conscious afterlife and a bodily resurrection are mutually exclusive. If one is true, the other is false. They thus present us with the dilemma of choosing either the immortality of the soul or the resurrection of the body.
As a matter of fact, Scripture testifies to a conscious afterlife":
Charles H. Dyer states [re: Ex 32:21]:, (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Walvoord & Zuck Editors, Victor Books, USA, 1987, p.1292):
"The descent of Egypt's defeated army and her allies into sheol would be derided by the military men already there. They would observe that she had come down to lie with the uncircumcised [referring to their dead physical bodies], with those killed by the sword. Egypt exulted in her military prowess, but would be humbled in death, taking her place with other defeated nations."
"From within [sheol] the mighty leaders will say of Egypt and her allies, 'They have come down and they lie with the uncircumcised, with those killed by the sword.' "
[Cp 2 Sam 12:23]:
"But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, [i.e., will be with him in an afterlife presence, a common grave not being viable in this context], but he will not return to me."
[Cp Ps 139:1, 8]:
(v. 1) "O LORD, You have searched me and you know me.
(v. 2) You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar?
(v. 3) You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways.
(v. 4) Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O LORD
(v. 5) You hem me in - behind and before;
You have laid Your hand upon me.
(v. 6) Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
(v. 7) Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
[All of the above is referring to one's conscious presence.
Notice that this passage is all about God's omniscience relative to knowing everything about an individual - focusing especially on all aspects of that individual's conscious existence no matter what he is doing or thinking and where he is. And the next verse takes that conscious and active presence up to the heavens and down into the depths of sheol]:
(v. 8) If I go up to the heavens [referring to one's presence in the heavens], You [God, (v. 1) the Holy Spirit, (v. 7)] are there; if I [referring to one's conscious presence to be consistent with the context] make my bed in [sheol] You are there [referring to one's conscious presence in sheol otherwise the verse deteriorates into nonsense if one is not conscious or non-existent]"
[Cp Phil 1:23]:
"[The Apostle Paul states] I am torn between the two ['to live is Christ, to die is gain', (v. 21)]: I desire to depart [i.e., die, (v. 21)] and be with Christ [Who at that moment and this is in heaven, which indicates that Paul would be conscious with the Lord in heaven] which is better by far;
(v. 24) but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body [further indicating that the only other alternative offered: not to be in the body, i.e., be physically dead, results in a conscious existence and presence with Jesus Christ in heaven where He now resides, (Cp 2 Cor 5:8-9)]."
[Cp Rev 6:9-11]:
(v. 9) "When He [Jesus Christ, (v. 7) opened the fifth seal, I [John, (v. 1)] saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.
(v. 10) They called out [notice that those who were slain were in heaven and called out] in a loud voice, 'How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?' "
And finally compare the account of Lazarus and the rich man in hades:
(v. 19) "[Jesus said, (v. 15)] Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day.
(v. 20) And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores,
(v. 21) and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.
(v. 22) Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom [Hebrew: paradise compartment in Hades]; and the rich man also died and was buried.
(v. 23) And in Hades he lifted up his eyes,
[Notice that our Lord is indicating here in this account that there is a fully functioning consciousness after death, a bliss for those who are declared righteous and torment for those who are not. And the rest of the passages confirms this]:
being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom.
(v. 24) And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.'
(v. 25) But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.
(v. 26) And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.'
[Morey cont., op. cit.]:
[Objectors to a conscious afterlife] correctly point out that man was a physical whole at his creation. Man was not created to be an angel or to exist as a spiritual entity. Thus the resurrection of the body is necessary in order to reconstitute man to live once again as he originally did in the paradise of God. Creation explains the need for resurrection. It cannot explain man's existence as a disembodied spirit in a conscious afterlife. Therefore, they conclude the concept of an afterlife is unnecessary and inexplicable when examined from the viewpoint of creation.
The fatal flaw in their argument is their failure to see that while the creation explains the resurrection, the fall of man explains death and the afterlife."
[Furthermore, the creation account of man teaching that man is comprised of body, soul and spirit does not stipulate whether man could not exist separately from the body at certain times. So to demand that he cannot on the basis of the creation account alone is to maintain a point of view based on evidence which neither supports nor rejects that point of view and having no support either way - i.e., is an argument from silence, which is inadequate]
[Morey, cont. Op. Cit.]:
"At creation, man was made a living being. He was not created to die but to live. It seems that if Adam and Eve would have resisted the temptation of Satan and continued in their relationship with God, they would have been glorified - i.e., their bodies would have been transformed from mortal to immortal, from corruptible to incorruptible without experiencing death.
This is why the Apostle Paul points out in 1 Cor 15:49-57, Phil 3:20, 21 and 1 Thes 4:15-17 that those living at Christ's return [the Rapture] will be changed from mortal to immortal without dying.
The radical nature of the fall is something [which is] consistently overlooked. At the fall, man was separated from God, the world, others, and finally, from his own body. The terribly tragic effects of sin ultimately result in the ripping of man's mind or soul out of his body and his unnatural continuance as a disembodied spirit in a conscious afterlife.
If the [arguments against a conscious afterlife were] valid, they would have to deny the concept and reality of death as well as a conscious afterlife, because neither of them is explicable on the grounds of the creation alone. It is only the radical fall into sin that explains death and the afterlife.
We must declare that all arguments drawn from the creation and the resurrection are invalid, because death and the afterlife are explicable only on the basis of the radical fall of man into sin.
At first Adam was warned by God that disobedience would lead to physical and spiritual death:
[Gen 2:16-17 NIV]:
(v. 16) "And the LORD God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;
(v. 17) but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on that day you will surely [die dying]
[on that day..." (literal Hebrew translation) you will surely [die dying]'"
"You will die dying" = A funny sounding phrase in English, but nevertheless, it says that there will be an immediate death (SPIRITUAL) - "you will die..."; and then another eventual death (PHYSICAL)
"...you will die dying..."
"...you will die" [spiritually immediately while you are] "dying" [physically]
Adam did not immediately die physically but began to gradually die. He lived to be 930 years old (Gen 5:5). Adam's immediate spiritual death ...i.e. spiritual separation from God...is evident in Scripture when he and Eve attempted to hide from God Who they used to understand as omniscient, i.e., all knowing - from Whom no one can hide:
"Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day...[God appearing to them as usual in a form such that they could more intimately communicate with Him]...and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden."
So, "on that [very] day," (Gen 2:17), Adam and Eve died spiritually as evidenced by their trying to hide from an omniscient God...thus showing an ignorance and an alienation, (separation), from Him whereas before they were in an intimate relationship with Him.
And "on that day" Adam, as the federal head and representative of the human race, insured that all of humanity would be born spiritually dead and that all new born babies would inherit a sin nature and spiritual death through his seed as it passed on from generation to generation.
[Morris, cont., p.113]
"...Because Adam had the sentence of death imposed as an actual operational feature of his biological life, his descendants also have inherited a life principle which involves a built-in death principle. The moment a child is conceived he begins to die, and eventually the death principle wins out over the life principle and he does die."
[Compare Ro 5:12-19]:
(v. 12) "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned "
[Morris, cont., p. 113]
"As the tendency toward death is inherited by all men, so also is the tendency toward sin. No descendant of Adam has ever lived to an age of conscious awareness of right and wrong without actually choosing wrong. He has become a deliberate sinner because he has inherited a sinful nature, which leads him to sin in practice. Thus, 'death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.'
[Ro 5:12] Each person continues under the divine judgment of death, not only because of Adam's sin, but because of his own deliberate sin."
(v. 13) for until the Law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
(v. 14) Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of Adam's offense, who is a type of Him who was to come.
(v. 15) But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.
(v. 16) And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification.
(v. 17) For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
(v. 18) So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men; even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.
(v. 19) For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous."
The New Testament verifies the doctrine of spiritual death, especially in Paul's letter to the believers in Ephesus:
"And you He made alive when you were dead in your trespasses and sins."
["And you" who must be physically alive in order for you to hear this message, "He", Jesus Christ, "made" spiritually "alive when you were" spiritually "dead", (obviously not physically dead) "in your trespasses and sins."] So spiritual death became a reality, as testified to in Genesis 3:8 and Ro 5:12-19 and within the physical lifetime of an individual who would obviously not be in soul sleep.
And so mankind and nature were sadly changed. Man's offspring would now reflect this change so that no longer could God treat man as He did before:
(v. 22a) "And the Lord God said, 'The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil."
[Man has experienced evil thereby contaminating his nature and in this sense knows of evil. God Who is sovereign and omniscient knows of evil without experiencing it and without contaminating His nature. Note that the singularity of God in this passage is expressed - that there is only one God - as expressed in the singular form of the verb "said" in the verse above. And notice the plurality of the Godhead in this verse - that there is more than one Personality that makes up Who God is - as indicated by the word "Us" and by the Hebrew word "Elohim" = "God, plural].
(v. 22b) "He [man] must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever [in such a depraved rebellious condition as he is now in]. (v. 23) So the Lord God banished him from the garden to work the ground from which he had been taken."
ETERNAL FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD WHICH BEGINS AT FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE
Dr. Robert A. Morey states from his book, 'DEATH and the Afterlife', Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, Mn, 1984, p. 97-
Another frequent error is the assumption that the phrase 'everlasting life' refers to 'unending existence after the resurrection.' Thus everlasting life is viewed as a quantitative term referring to an eternal or unending existence.
First, the phrase everlasting life, as found in extra-biblical Greek literature, means an endless quality of life which the righteous enjoy now as well as in an afterlife. It refers to the fullness of life, such as joy and peace [which is as a result of having an eternal relationship with God].
Second, the phrase 'everlasting life' in the rabbinic literature refers to an endless quality of life which the righteous receive now as well as in the hereafter. Thus the Hebraic sense... referred to 'the life of the age to come or the resurrection life' which was the present possession of the righteous.
Third, at the moment of regeneration (new birth), the saints receive 'everlasting life' as a present possession (John 3:15, 16, 36; 5:24; 6:47, 54; 10:28; 1 John 5:13, 14, etc.). This must be understood as referring not to an eternal duration or quantity of life but to experiencing an endless and abundant quality of life, i.e., a life of satisfaction and joy. True believers can taste the kind of life that will be theirs after the resurrection.....
(v. 16) "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."
[1 John 5:9-13]:
(v. 9) "We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which He has given about His son.
(v. 10) Anyone Who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made Him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about His Son.
(v. 11) And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
(v. 12) He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the son of God does not have life."
[Notice that believing in the Son puts one in possession of the Son, i.e., having eternal life at the moment of believing]
Fourth... In the New Testament, Jesus and the apostles described... unbelievers... while they were still existing in this world... as 'dead' and believers as receiving 'life' at the moment of regeneration (Luke 9:60; John 5:24; Eph 2:1-5; 1 Tim 5:6; 1 John 5:12).
[Cp Eph 2:1]:
(v. 1) "As for you, you [speaking to alive individuals] were dead in your transgressions and sins, [before becoming regenerated]...
(v. 4) But because of His great love for us, God, Who is rich in mercy,
(v. 5) made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions..."
It is obvious that 'life' does not refer to 'existence' any more than 'death' refers to 'nonexistence.' The wicked are 'dead' while they yet exist in this world.
The saints do not begin to exist when they are regenerated. Thus the 'life' which a believer receives at regeneration must be understood as being a quality of life, not just an extension of existence. Indeed, Jesus came to give us 'abundant life' (John 10:10). The 'life' which we receive at regeneration is not to be a temporary experience. The life which we receive is described as being 'eternal.'
[Compare 1 Jn 5:11-12]:
(v. 11) "And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His son.
(v. 12) He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life."
A true believer in vital relationship with Christ can never lose or be robbed of his living relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul speaks of the relationship between Christ and the believer as being incapable of being severed even by death itself.
(v. 38) "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
(v. 39) nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
This biblical promise makes soul sleep or annihilationism impossible. The life which a believer receives at the moment of regeneration is to be viewed as lasting forever. If a believer is in a living relationship to Christ, not even death can sever his communion with the living God.
Fifth, believers are said to enter into the full enjoyment of everlasting life at the resurrection (Matt. 25:46; Mark 10:30; John 6:40, etc.)
A proper interpretation [from the Bible] of the phrase 'everlasting life' completely undercuts one of the main arguments of the conditional immortalists......[which generally goes like this:
Premise 1: Everlasting life means endless existence after the resurrection.
Premise 2: Only those who believe in Jesus receive everlasting life.
Conclusion: Only believers will exist forever. The wicked will pass into nonexistence.
The mistake is made in the first premise. [Objectors to the biblical everlasting life] interpret 'everlasting life' in a quantitative sense as referring to unending physical existence after the resurrection, but everlasting life [as referred to in the Bible] is actually an endless quality of life which is received at regeneration [yet while the individual is still physically alive]...........
[And] the phrase 'everlasting life' in the second premise does not have the same meaning that it bears in the first premise.
While believers experience everlasting life now as a present possession, they look forward to the resurrection when they will at last be immortal and incorruptible in body as well as in soul."