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Monday, March 16, 2015

'Who Wants To Live Forever?'

When most people think of resurrection, the concept is of physical, material, tangible bodies rising from graves! The Rapture Doctrine, especially among Evangelical Christians, is largely responsible for the spread of this false & dangerous doctrine. Israel, She who was most directly affected by the Resurrection, on the other hand, was not taught to expect such a resurrection! To be fair, there were many in Israel, under that first covenant, that were expecting a physical resurrection, as witnessed numerous times throughout their history, but these were the same ones, Pharisees, that rejected Jesus as Messiah because He heralded, in fact embodied the Kingdom of Righteousness & Peace rather than the political kingdom of violence & intrigue for which they longed!

Jesus promised, in what is doubtless the most famous passage of Scripture, John 3:16, 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life': most Christians would probably look at this promise as one of those 'already, not yet' promises! There is no doubt, one might say, that we have this 'everlasting life' in a spiritual sense, as we have the Holy Spirit as a Guarantee of the Presence of God, but we do not yet have it in the fullest sense, for as the apostle Paul wrote, 'flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God' ( I Corinthians 15:50 ). By this logic though, these would seem to be saying that these physical bodies will not inhabit the Kingdom of Heaven, so it would seem that we must shed them ( die ) before we can enter the Kingdom of Heaven!

Really, when you think about it, who would want to live forever in this corruptible body? Actually, is it our bodies that cause us to do bad ( evil ) things, or is it, as Jesus taught ( Matthew 5:21-30 ), a matter of the heart? Most Christians would have to agree that it is the choices we make that determine whether our actions or good or evil, wrong or right, but many still blame it on our corruptible flesh, which, they say, will remain in this fallen state till Jesus returns!

The corporate nature of the Body of Christ guarantees that it will live forever! Will individual human bodies, with the amazing biology, last forever? There will always be individual human & biological bodies inhabiting earth, but the best science, even history itself, tells us that our biology was not made to last forever! Not to discount what Scripture has to say about it ( 'The days of our lives [ are ] seventy years; and if by reason of strength [ they are ] eighty years, yet their boast [ is ] only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away' Psalm 90:10 ), but it has been proven that it's possible for people, under certain conditions, to live well beyond this barrier! Scripture tells us of some very old people, at least, if you read it from a literalistically wooden perspective. Adam, according to our western understanding, lived 930 years before God fulfilled His promise that , 'in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die'. A descendant of his, Methuselah, purportedly lived 969 years before he died! All this after the Fall recorded in Genesis 3!

David, king of Israel prophesied of the Christ when he wrote, 'For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption
' ( Psalm 16:10 ) While most Christians read this, 'You will not allow My Body to be corrupted ( decay )', which is not a bad interpretation, depending on the point of view, the truest sense, apart from going into a treatise on the nature of the Body of Christ, is that God, His Father would not allow HIM to be corrupted by His physical bodies death & burial in the grave! We might hear objections here as well, such as the example of Lazarus. He was in the tomb four days & should have begun to stink, but he did not. Therefore, God is able to keep the human biology from decaying even after it shuts down ( dies )!

If our individual biological bodies are indeed to be raised incorruptible, never to die again, with what form will they come, will we be forever 120, if our biology died at that ripe old age, will we be forever 20, or even younger forever, if, God forbid, our clocks were broken before the time? Will we age gracefully till we reach a certain, golden age, then just stop aging forever? Many haunting questions could be raised when it comes to the question of a future bodily resurrection, some almost ridiculous!

The Resurrection of Israel, as embodied in Jesus the Christ, as witnessed most famously & readily by Ezekiel 37, was most certainly of a corporate nature, though to be fair, it was made up of individual, biological bodies! As a whole though, the story told in Ezekiel 37 is a metaphorical one, witnessing to the spiritual nature of the Resurrection! Jesus Himself, if one remembers, told Martha, the sister of Lazarus, in John 11:26, 'I am the Resurrection and the Life'! It was through Him that the dead ( corporate ) body of Israel would rise again!

Charles Haddon Shank

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