Copyright © 1996 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

We understand that to have eternal life is to live, move, and have our being in the Presence of God in spirit, in soul, and in body. We understand also that Christ Himself is eternal life.

The message of Easter is not that Christ’s Spirit was raised from the dead. The physical body of Jesus—His flesh and bones—walked out of the cave of Joseph of Arimathea. Christ arose physically. Christ came in the flesh and was raised from the dead in the flesh. This is the marvelous, incomparable hope of the Christian faith.

Introductory Scriptures

And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (I John 2:17)
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (I Timothy 6:12)
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? (Matthew 6:25)
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)
“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)
“who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life. (Mark 10:30)
For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Galatians 6:8)
But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end [result is], everlasting life. (Romans 6:22)
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection [Greek: out-resurrection] from the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11)


“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
“that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
“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.
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:14-17)

Eternal life is one of the principal topics of the New Testament writings and is synonymous with salvation under the new covenant. Material prosperity in the world is emphasized in the Old Testament but eternal life is the blessing of the New Testament.

Adam and Eve were driven from the garden of Eden so they would not be able to “take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever” (Genesis 3:22). They were denied eternal life because they had not kept the commandment of the Lord.

Now, through Christ, we have received grace whereby we are enabled to keep the commandments of God. As we keep the commandments of God we have the authority to partake of the tree of life, gaining the power to live forever.

Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14)

We understand that to have eternal life is to live, move, and have our being in the Presence of God in spirit, in soul, and in body.

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3)

Knowing the only true God and Christ, as mentioned above, is not referring to knowing about God and Christ but rather to having close fellowship with them.

We understand also that Christ Himself is eternal life.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.
“And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25,26)

We have eternal life now.

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. (I John 5:11,12)

When we receive Christ by faith, we receive eternal life into our inner man. We pass from death to life. At the same time our new born-again life ascends into the heavenlies, being hidden with Christ in God.

and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:6)

Our physical body is dead because of the sin that dwells in it.

And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit [spirit; inner man] is life because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10)

Our mortal body, along with the remainder of the material creation, is dead because of the consequences of sin. It lives by means of food. It lasts a relatively brief time and then, like a flower, withers and dies. It does not have access to eternal life with which it could renew itself. The Divine curse has filled the creation with corruption and death.

In Christ we have eternal life in the spiritual aspect of our personality but death works in the members of our physical body.

However, the promise of redemption is that eternal life will enter our physical body.

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11)

Paul looked forward to the redeeming, the making eternally alive of his physical body.

Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23)

There has crept into Christian thinking the concept that everlasting life is primarily for the spirit of man. We would suggest that John 3:16 is speaking rather of the body of man. It is referring to our body perishing—our body being our contact with the earth. It is our body that perishes, not our spirit.

In addition to its spiritual counterpart, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus was distinctly physical.

“Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”
When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. (Luke 24:39,40)

There are non-Christian philosophies that teach spirit inherently is good and matter inherently is evil and, in some instances, that reality is in the spirit realm and matter is not “real.” It appears this thinking has affected Christianity.

One offshoot of such philosophies is the current teaching that it is not important we obey the moral law of God because we are saved by grace apart from what we do in the flesh and are destined for eternal residence in the spirit realm. How we behave in the material realm is not critically important. The doctrine of the “rapture” appears to be associated with the stress on the spiritual. The saints are carried off to the spirit realm while the sinners inherit the evil earth.

Today’s Christian teaching emphasizes the salvation of our spiritual nature, while the salvation of our physical body is not given anywhere near the emphasis that the Scriptures place on it. In fact, due to the “rapture” teaching we have lost sight of the goal of the Christian redemption—the resurrection of the physical body. The resurrection of the physical body is seldom mentioned while the catching-up or ascension of the believers is announced again and again in current preaching. This is error!

It is the concept of the physical creation being inherently evil and worthless, and the spiritual being inherently good and worthwhile, that has changed the Christian Gospel from its original message of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth to its present message of escape to the spirit paradise.

The truth is, neither spirit nor matter is inherently good or evil. When God created the material universe He declared it to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31). God does not create evil. The material world that God has created is very good indeed. However the material realm is not militantly righteous and can easily be seduced into sin and rebellion against God.

Sin did not originate in the material world but in the world of spirits. Spiritual evil entered the physical creation and corrupted it. Therefore the concept that matter is evil and spirit is good should be expelled from Christian thinking.

The Gospel of the Kingdom of God is not that those who believe in Christ will go to the spirit realm; it is, rather, that the Life of Christ has come from Heaven so all of the sin, corruption, and death may be driven from the material creation.

Christ came to save the physical world.

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:17)

Let us think about eternal life—that which proceeds from partaking of the tree of life. Perhaps the “tree of life” is a symbolic portrayal of Christ Himself. We gain eternal life by eating the flesh of Christ and drinking His blood. There is no other source of eternal life (John 6:54,58).

The expression eternal life does not refer to endless existence in the spirit realm. All spirits have endless existence. Adam and Eve were denied access to the tree of life, yet we know they exist in the realm of spirits to the present moment. They are not dead in the sense of being nonexistent. They, like all other deceased persons, are awaiting the Day of Judgment.

The demons have endless spiritual existence, but no demon possesses eternal life.

The Lord Jesus stated that if we would eat of His body and drink His blood, we would live forever.

“This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:58)

The “fathers” ate manna and are dead physically. It follows that they who eat of Christ will live forever physically.

Adam and Eve died a double death when they sinned. They were alienated from the Presence of God, and corruption and death entered their physical bodies. After many centuries their bodies withered and died. If they had eaten of the tree of life they would be alive today in their physical bodies whether or not they had become reconciled to God.

In His love, God would not permit Adam and Eve to gain immortal life in their bodies. They now knew good and evil and were alienated from God. They had no sin offering to make an atonement for their sin, and they did not have the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit in them to enable them to choose the good and reject the evil.

The Lord God did not wish to doom Adam and Eve as immortal sinners, as is true of Satan and the angels who followed him. God knew that at a later date He would create Christ in human beings so they always would be able to choose the good and reject the evil. Therefore God caused Adam and Eve to lose their bodies. Their bodies returned to the dust in the hope that one day they can receive back their bodies and be brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Romans 8:20,21).

Perhaps Adam and Eve through Christ will be forgiven and gain access to the tree of life. If they do they will receive eternal life into their personalities. The Divine Life of God will touch their spirits. Then their bodies will be raised from the dead and made alive forever.

The promise is that through Christ we will receive everlasting life, meaning that our bodies will be redeemed and we will be enabled to live once again on the earth.

The message of Easter is not that Christ’s Spirit was raised from the dead. The physical body of Jesus—His flesh and bones—walked out of the cave of Joseph of Arimathea. Christ arose physically. Christ came in the flesh and was raised from the dead in the flesh. This is the marvelous, incomparable hope of the Christian faith.

But is it true that the death of Adam was physical?—that the hope of the Christian Gospel is the redeeming of the material creation?

Notice carefully the following passage:

For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. (I Corinthians 15:21-23)

And then:

The last enemy that will be destroyed is [physical] death. (I Corinthians 15:26)

It is obvious that the above passage (I Corinthians 5:21-23) is referring to physical death. We who belong to Christ shall be made alive at His coming; not made alive spiritually, for that already has taken place. We shall be made alive physically. The expression “in Adam all die” means that all die physically.

Now, let us consider the true scriptural orientation to John 3:16, to the promise that whoever believes in Christ will not perish but have everlasting life. Is the verse directed toward our living in Heaven in the spirit realm or is it oriented toward living forever on the earth in the material realm?

The eternal spiritual life that Christ is, is in our spirit now if we are abiding in Him. Our hope is that one day eternal life will enter our mortal body and raise it from the dead. This is the Christian Gospel, the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven.

The redeeming of our mortal body is not a secondary issue of the Christian redemption, it is a central issue—perhaps the central issue.

The world is dead spiritually and physically because of sin. Christ has come to save the world by giving it access to the tree of life. The Scriptures are not directed toward establishing mankind in Heaven, they are concerned with redeeming man’s original and eventual home, which is the earth.

The true home of the saints, our native land, is wherever Christ is. The reason our native land is in Heaven today is that Jesus is there. When the Lord Jesus returns to the earth, which is His inheritance from the Father and therefore our inheritance, our home will be in the earth.

Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession. (Psalms 2:8)

But in order to inherit the earth we must possess—as Jesus does—a material body.

The resurrection from the dead does not bring us to Heaven. Physical death does bring us to Heaven if our spirit is acceptable to God. The purpose of the resurrection from the dead is to enable us once more to live on the earth.

The purpose of any redemption is to return to the original or rightful owner that which had been taken from him by cunning, or forfeiture, or force. The earth and our bodies have been taken from us by cunning. The Lord Jesus has come from Heaven, not to give us a new home in Heaven (which would be to confirm Satan’s success in robbing us of our material inheritance) but to redeem us to God and to redeem the creation to us.

But, one will object, did not Jesus state He has gone to prepare a place for us in Heaven?

No, He did not. He said He has gone to prepare a place for us in the Father’s house.

The Father’s house is Christ—Head and Body, the eternal Tabernacle of God, the Wife of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem. When the new Jerusalem has been perfected it will be established forever on the new earth. The new Jerusalem is the kingdom coming from Heaven, the kingdom that will govern the nations of the saved forever.

When Paul says, “by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead,” he is teaching that the death that came upon Adam and Eve, the penalty for disobedience, was physical death.

The subject of the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians is the resurrection of our material body from the dead. When Paul states, in First Corinthians 15:21, that by man (Christ) came also the resurrection of the dead, he is referring to the bodily resurrection of Christ and the saints—for that is the topic under discussion in the chapter.

Paul taught that bodily death came by Adam’s sin, and bodily resurrection came through Christ’s righteousness.

In the Scriptures God talks plainly about the body of man, and that is where our interests are also although one might not think so from our theological discussions.

Notice that God spoke plainly and directly concerning Adam’s body, not about what we might refer to as his “Divine, immortal spirit”:

In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19)

The curse did not fall primarily on the spirits of Adam and Eve but on their bodies. “In sorrow you shall bring forth children”; “your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you”; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life”; in the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return to the ground; for out of it were you taken;“—all refers to their bodies.

When God said you He seemed to ignore the fact that they were spiritual as well as physical creatures. “You are dust,” God declared. “You were taken from the ground and you shall return to the ground.”

So “by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead” is speaking primarily of the redemption of our mortal bodies, not of our spirits. It is the insidious influence of other philosophies, perhaps primarily Gnosticism, that has caused Christian thinking to stress the spiritual at the expense of the material.

Adam and Eve perished. Their bodies decayed and returned to the dust. The bodies of all the patriarchs and prophets, as well as of the wicked, have returned to the dust.

But the dust of the righteous is as “the dew of herbs,” for Christ has come so we may not perish but have everlasting life. This is the Christian Gospel, the Good News of the entrance of the Kingdom of Heaven, of salvation, of eternal life, into the dead material creation.

Your dead shall live; together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; for your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. (Isaiah 26:19)

Notice in the preceding verse the accent on the raising of the body. The definition of resurrection is “the reviving of the body.”

and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; (Matthew 27:52)

“… many bodies… were raised”!

Paul is declaring that since by Adam came the death of the body, by Christ came the reviving of the body. By Christ came the reversal of the physical death that came upon Adam and Eve.

The fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians has to do with clothing our physical body with immortality, with putting incorruption on our corrupt body, with changing, making new, the body that was born from our mother.

The material creation will be redeemed and glorified by clothing it with eternal life, with the Life of God—the same Life that raised Christ from the dead. Our physical body will come forth from the grave, as was true of the Body of Christ.

Reviving the physical body, standing it on its feet in the Presence and blessing of God, as we have said, is a central issue of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. The Gospel is the Good News that physical death has been abolished. Through the Lord Jesus dead mankind can gain immortality. There will be no more physical death (Revelation 21:4).

but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, (II Timothy 1:10)

Paul taught that the body we have now is not the body we shall have in the resurrection. Does this mean we shall have a different body?

If we are to be given a different body, the Body of Christ, born of Mary, would still be in the cave of Joseph of Arimathea. There would be no resurrection from the dead.

Notice what Paul said:

And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. (I Corinthians 15:37)

Paul was responding to those who were asking foolish questions about the state of their bodies in the resurrection, just as the Sadducees did. These inquirers were not considering the tremendous changes that must take place when Divine Life is infused into their flesh and bones.

“A man does not sow stalks of wheat,” Paul argued, “but seed.” So it is true that the body we have now is seed. The body that we shall have in the Kingdom of Heaven will proceed from our present body as the stalk of wheat comes from the planted seed.

The destiny of a person, whether the Kingdom of God or the Lake of Fire, has to do with his body. We shall receive the things done in our body. Because all of us behave differently while we are in our mortal bodies, our resurrected bodies will be diverse in glory (as “one star differs from another star in glory”).

Every human being who has lived on the earth will return to his body and will stand before God in his body. All who are in the graves will hear Christ’s voice and will come forth. Every person will receive the things done in his body (John 5:28,29).

If he has served God with all his heart, having turned many to righteousness, he will shine as a star. He will be like Jesus, being able to see Jesus as He is. Such extreme privileges and glory are impossible to comprehend.

We are speaking here of those who attain the highest thrones of the universe, being gigantic manifestations of glory far beyond our mind’s ability to consider or imagine. These conquering personalities, being filled with God and Christ, still will be in the bodies born of their mother. But because they have sown their bodies to the death of the cross their bodies will be raised in such a state of Divine Fire that it will not be possible to behold them except as they shield their extraordinary radiance from unprepared eyes.

These are the victorious saints, the pillars of the Temple of God.

After this rank has been seated, others will be judged with exceeding care. Each of the elect will be rewarded in his body with the consequences of his behavior while in his mortal body. He will be judged as to the extent he has presented his body a living sacrifice to God.

The good and faithful servants will enter the joy of their Lord. Those who knew the Lord’s will but did not do it will be punished. The lazy servants will be cast into outer darkness. The faithful will be given the fruits of their faithfulness. The unfaithful will be given the fruits of their unfaithfulness.

Of all the truths of God that must be brought to the attention of the churches in the closing days of the twentieth century, the most important is that of the relationship between our behavior as believers and the rewards or punishments we shall receive in the Day of Christ.

There is no greater deception operating among fundamentalists than the concept that because we have spoken our assent to the facts of the atonement we shall be received joyfully into the Presence of the Lord Jesus. This is error and it has destroyed the moral and spiritual testimony of the churches.

Perhaps it will require the entire thousand-year Kingdom Age to accomplish the judgment of the elect—placing each who has been found worthy into his role in the new Jerusalem. Apparently the new Jerusalem will be brought to perfection during the thousand-year Kingdom Age, for the city does not appear in its finished form until the thousand years have been completed.

We believe that the Lord Jesus will utilize His most devout saints, His firstfruits, to judge the remainder of the elect, as He mentioned to the faithful disciples who had left all to follow Him (Matthew 19:28). Perhaps this is the manner in which the whole Wife of the Lamb will arrive at the fullness of holiness and obedience.

Finally, every other person on the earth will be raised in his body and will be judged according to his works. The wicked will be cast into the Lake of Fire. The righteous will be brought forward to eternal life on the new earth, becoming the nations of saved peoples of the earth (Revelation 21:24,26; Isaiah 60:11).

Each human being will be rewarded according to the manner in which he has behaved in his body. We shall receive what we have sown.

For we [Christians and everyone else] must all appear [be revealed, manifest] before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)

The lost will be punished in their bodies. They will be cast into Hell in their bodies.

“And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (Matthew 5:30)
“And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” (Isaiah 66:24)

“To all flesh.” Since the above verse is speaking of the ages to come, it is interesting that the Lord refers to the people of the new world as “all flesh.” Perhaps the new heaven and earth reign of Christ will not be as purely spiritual as we have thought.

The first Adam was made a living soul. The last Adam was made a life-giving Spirit. The body we have now is suitable as a vehicle for our soul. But as we are being created a life-giving spirit (in the image of the life-giving Spirit—Jesus), the old “wineskin” is cracking.

We groan for the redemption of our mortal body, the redeeming of it with eternal life. God will so transform our body it will reflect in its every member the resurrection life being created in us now.

The precious stones that adorn the foundations of the wall of the new Jerusalem are being formed in us by means of great heat and pressure. Our new body will be compatible with the glory that today is being created in our inner nature.

We do not desire to be naked, that is, to lose our mortal body. Rather we are groaning that our house from Heaven, which is being formed in the Presence of God as our earthly body is being sown to the death of the cross, would clothe our mortal frame. Then we shall be free to serve God in righteousness, peace, and joy forever.

But we must attain to the resurrection to life and glory. We must experience the power of Christ’s resurrection now. As we are being changed into His death, a house from Heaven, an eternal weight of glory, is being created for us at the right hand of God. It is being created as a direct result of our sufferings and death in Christ (II Corinthians 4:17).

If the resurrection of glory is being created in our inner man now, then when the Lord comes we will receive the fullness of life. Our house from Heaven will clothe our present body. Our house from Heaven will contain in itself the spiritual consequences and counterparts of presenting our body each day a living sacrifice to God. Our body from Heaven will reveal in itself the new man that has been formed directly from our faithful, patient continuance in service to Christ amid numerous tribulations and perplexities.

It is not that we merely stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ; it is, rather, that we are made manifest—revealed—at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Those who continue to walk in the flesh after receiving Christ, will reap corruption. When they are raised from the dead they will receive in their bodies the consequences of their neglect of cross-carrying obedience to the Lord Jesus. They will be found naked in the Day of Christ. They had been taught it was sufficient to accept and state the facts of the Christian redemption without entering the actual redemptive life in Jesus. Now they, along with their teachers who misled them, will discover they are reaping precisely what they have sown before the Lord.

We do not “get what we say,” as the current slogan has it. Rather, we get what we sow. This is what the Scriptures teach.

Here is the perfect righteousness of the Lord God of Heaven. Those who lay aside the world, losing their lives for the Gospel’s sake, will receive back a hundredfold in glorious rewards. But those who choose to save their lives in the world will be ashamed in the Day of the Lord.

Let us look again at Paul’s teaching, as found in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of First Corinthians.

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ will all be made alive.” (I Corinthians 15:22)

But when are we “made alive” in Christ? When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior? This is correct as far as our inner spiritual life is concerned, but it is not what the Scripture teaches here. Look at the next verse:

But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. (I Corinthians 15:23)

When was Christ “made alive”? Christ always has been alive spiritually, so the expression must be referring to the point at which He walked out from the cave of Joseph of Arimathea.

When will the Christian be “made alive”? When his body arises and stands beside its grave. This will take place at the coming of the Lord from Heaven. We shall be made alive when the Lord comes. This is the teaching of I Corinthians 15:23. It is not true that the New Testament teaches only the entrance of Divine Life into our inner spiritual nature. Rather, the New Testament emphasizes also the coming of the Kingdom of God, that is, the entrance of the Life of Christ into our mortal body.

Let us look at another example:

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This [living again] is the first resurrection. (Revelation 20:4,5)

“They lived and reigned with Christ.” “This is the first resurrection.” “Did not live again until the thousand years were finished.”

A careful consideration of the preceding two verses reveals that the expressions “they lived” and “did not live again” refer to reviving the physical body.

Conversely, notice that the wicked are punished in their bodies:

Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone [burning sulfur]. (Revelation 19:20)

“… were cast alive.”

“These two were cast alive” does not mean that the Beast and the False Prophet were spiritually alive in the Presence of God. It indicates they were cast into the Lake of Fire while in their physical bodies.

Here is a mystery. How can one be cast physically into a spiritual fire?

The Lord Jesus ascended into Heaven in a physical body—a body of flesh and bones (Luke 24:39).

We see, then, that the spiritual and material realms coexist. They are not mutually exclusive. They coexisted in the garden of Eden, for we find that spiritual trees grew from material soil. When Adam and Eve sinned the spirit realm withdrew, leaving the material realm dead. “The body without the spirit is dead.”

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:26)

The material realm remains spiritually dead to this day along with our physical bodies. But the Lord Jesus has purchased the creation with His own blood and one day He will redeem it. He will regenerate the creation by restoring spiritual life to it. We saints will be the firstfruits of this redemption when our bodies are made alive by the entrance of glorious eternal life into them.

Christ will redeem the purchased possession. The thousand-year Kingdom Age is the fulfillment of the Year of Jubilee and also of the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 25:9). Then will the material creation be released from death by the exercise of the power that resides in the body of the almighty Christ (Philippians 3:21).

Each individual who has ever lived will be restored to his body and then assigned to eternal life or else to eternal punishment.

“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice
“and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. (John 5:28,29)
“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (Matthew 25:34)
“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: (Matthew 25:41)

It is not the spirits of people that are “in the graves,” it is their bodies that sleep in the ground. It is the dead bodies that will hear the voice of Christ and come forth.

The Scriptures make it plain that the body and its behavior are the focal point of Christian service, of judgment, and of rewards and punishment.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)
For we [Christians and everyone else] must all appear [be revealed, manifest] before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)

It can be seen, therefore, that the spiritual and material realms will coexist in the Kingdom of God. Our bodies will be raised and then will be invested with a degree of life that corresponds to the manner in which we have conducted ourselves as a Christian. Our reward can range from the crown of life all the way down to nakedness in the Day of Christ or to tormenting burnings—all in the body.

The Kingdom of God is the making alive of the material realm by filling it with spirits that are righteous, holy, and obedient to God.

The current errors (the overemphasis on grace, the pre-tribulation evacuation of the believers to Heaven, the concept that the spirit paradise in the heavens is the eternal home of the saints, the teaching that the Lord Jesus will return to “steal His waiting Bride and carry her to Heaven”) have arisen in whole or in part from our applications of the concept that matter is evil and spirit is good.

The concept appears to be that the devil and the wicked may inherit the earth if they so desire. It does not matter what takes place in the material realm as long as the believers are in the spirit realm. This is not the position of the Scriptures. The Scriptures do not offer the material creation to the wicked.

We need to begin to emphasize the need for the saints to conquer the accuser, to develop spiritual strength, to cast down Satan from the heavenlies, to install the Kingdom of God on the earth, to crown the greater Son of David in Jerusalem.

If it is true that a major objective of our salvation is to gain eternal life in our body, then we should find many passages of the New Testament that point toward a hope of redemption in the future—not a hope of our going to Heaven but a hope of redemption coming to us from Heaven.

This hope is precisely what we do find. The New Testament text points toward the coming from Heaven of our redemption, our salvation, our eternal life; and the redemption of all that is worthy in the material creation.

because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Romans 8:21)
Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23)
“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” (Luke 21:28)

Notice that our redemption is drawing near, as something coming to us from Heaven. It is eternal life that is coming to our physical bodies.

who is the guarantee [pledge] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession [physical body], to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:14)

The Lord Jesus has purchased with His blood the entire material creation, including our mortal bodies. One day He will come to take to Himself that which He has purchased. He has given to us a portion of the Holy Spirit as a pledge, a guarantee, that He will return from Heaven and claim that which He has purchased.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)
And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. (Romans 13:11)

Notice that the Apostles of the Lamb preached salvation as something coming in the future. They were referring to the resurrection of our physical bodies from the dead.

so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. (Hebrews 9:28)

There is a past, present, and future aspect of salvation, of eternal life. The future aspect will take place when eternal life enters our body and we are a whole person once again, able to live on the earth.

The verse that precedes Hebrews 9:28 (above) speaks of “judgment.”

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, (Hebrews 9:27)

These two verses are in parallel. “Men to die once” is in parallel with “Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.”

“After this the judgment” is in parallel with “shall he appear the second time without sin to salvation.”

We shall be judged when the Lord comes. If we truly have died with Him on the cross we will be raised to eternal life in our body. We will receive the crown of life.

If we have not lived the crucified life but have chosen to continue in the flesh we will reap corruption and ruin. For Christ never again will appear as a sin-bearer. Grace and mercy operate now, in the world. But when Christ appears He will give to every man exactly as his work has been.

There are two principles of Scripture interpretation that are not always understood by the believers: (1) the principle of “obeying the vision”; and (2) the principle of “the assumption of the scriptural standard of discipleship.” Confusion of interpretation and behavior results when these two principles are ignored.

The first principle is that of “obeying the vision.” It is God’s practice to declare a thing to be so when it has not happened as yet in the material world. We then are to live as though it is a fact. This is where faith enters in. Faith is not our declaring something to be true and then acting as though it is true; faith is learning what God has said and then acting as though that is true.

But there is a pitfall here. Our obedience to the vision must be worked out in the Presence of the Lord, in the knowledge of what He is doing in our life at any given time.

The soul of man attempts to imitate faith by seizing a passage of Scripture and declaring it to be true in one’s life without going to the Lord to find how to obey the vision. Blind presumption concerning verses of Scripture often is referred to as “faith,” but it is in fact a delusion that appeals to and cultivates the self-centeredness of the believer.

The Lord may tell one individual to step out in faith, to arise from his bed of affliction. He may make real to that person the fact that we already have been healed by the lashes of Christ. When the individual obeys the Lord, complete healing takes place.

Some believers may hear of this miracle and tell another sick Christian that he already has been healed “because the Word says so.” They then conclude that any Christian who continues to be ill is guilty of unbelief in the Word of God.

(What the Lord says to one individual He may not say to another.)

This conclusion is not faith, it is presumption. It arises from the love of man for himself coupled with an ignorance of how to obey the Divine vision.

Faith is not a blind statement of the promises of Scripture, declaring that one is healed without having worked out the Divine vision in the Presence of the Lord, in the knowledge of what God is doing in one’s life. Such presumption attempts to utilize the things of Christ apart from Christ. It is a self-centered attempt to seize Divine power apart from the Presence of the Lord.

A good illustration of the Lord and man working together to fulfill the vision is presented as follows:

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.
And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. (James 5:17,18)
And it came to pass after many days that the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the earth.” (I Kings 18:1)

The rains stopped and started according to the prayers of Elijah. But Elijah did not move until God had confirmed the word.

So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, (I Kings 18:42)

Notice that every step in fulfilling the vision had to be accompanied by prayer.

Another facet of our ignorance of how to “obey the vision” is the wresting of the Scriptures that teach we are dead to the world and risen with Christ. These Scriptures are interpreted to mean that how we behave in the world is not really important because we are dead and our life is hidden with Christ in God. It is a kind of spiritual removal from reality.

When Christ states we have passed from death to life, or Paul teaches that our life is hidden with Christ in God, we are to take our stand on these truths. But then we have to work out the vision in the Presence of the Lord until it actually is true that we have passed from death to life; that we have died to sin and to the world; that our life and affections are hidden with Christ at the right hand of the Father.

Because of the widespread ignorance of the principle of “obeying the vision” we have believers claiming to have passed from death to life because they have believed in certain theological facts. However, they continue to gossip, to speak spitefully and maliciously, to seek revenge, proving beyond doubt that the Life of God is not in them. If we indeed have passed from death to life our personality will reveal this fact.

We have a generation of Christians who, if God does not intervene and lead them to make radical changes in their beliefs and practices, will be raised in the Day of Christ to discover that their Christianity has been a house of cards. They are not prepared for the realities of the spirit realm or of the Kingdom of God.

They have been taught the vision of the Scriptures, the vision of the new creation, of the royal priesthood, of the new Jerusalem. But they have not been taught how to obey the Divine vision, how to work it out in the Presence of the Lord. They are expecting to be ushered into a dreamland, a world of fantasy in the spirit realm.

Although they are not living a life of victory, the deceived believers assume they will be mighty kings and lords who will rule the nations of the earth with a rod of iron. They will be like Jesus and will be able to see Him as He is. Meanwhile they are living in the flesh in the present world system. Their common sense should tell them better than this!

The second principle of scriptural interpretation is “the assumption of the scriptural standard of discipleship.”

Whenever Paul refers to the things that will happen to “us” he means to those who have set aside their own lives and are following the Master in unqualified obedience. They have sternly renounced the world and their own ambitions and are patiently carrying their cross and following Christ.

When Paul teaches we shall rise to meet Christ in the air and then be ever with the Lord, or employs the phrase “in Christ,” or states that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, he is speaking of those who are adhering to the scriptural standard of discipleship.

Preaching today leaves the impression that all who make a profession of faith in Christ are included in Paul’s promises. The standard of discipleship in the wealthy nations of our day is so far below what God has in mind that only a relatively few believers, it appears, are qualified to receive the promises set forth by the Apostle Paul.

The teaching that the fleshly churches of today will be caught up to meet the Commander in Chief when He comes is neither scriptural nor sensible. It is the army that will be called up, and the army of Christ is made up of disciplined warriors from every century. The lukewarm believers of today would be out of place in the Lord’s army. They would be of no use in the Battle of Armageddon, having neither the experience nor the faith nor the courage to stand in spiritual combat. Those who ride with the Lord in that day are not just called, but “called, and chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:14).

The churches of today are like people who are happily riding along in their automobile on a magnificent highway, covering ground rapidly, making excellent progress. Someone with a map tells them they are going in the wrong direction. Their response is, “This is such a beautiful highway and we are enjoying the ride so much there is no point in turning around and going in another direction.”

They are not good and faithful servants, and the Lord Jesus will not address them as good and faithful servants when they meet Him.

Salvation, that is, the making alive of our mortal bodies, will “be revealed in the last time.” The resurrection is in us now if we are pressing forward to victory; if we are attaining to the resurrection (Philippians 3:11). The inner resurrection will be revealed in our mortal body when the Lord comes.

who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5)

Christians who walk in the appetites of their flesh and soul in the present hour will experience corruption in the day of resurrection. By living in the flesh they are slaying their own resurrection unto eternal life (Romans 8:11-13).

The Christian redemption is destined to liberate the material realm, including our mortal bodies. The Divine redemption is coming from Heaven and it will be installed with great violence on the earth. It is a real kingdom, consisting of both the spiritual and physical realms.

Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. (Revelation 12:10)

The power of God is working throughout the world. Soon it will be time for the Kingdom of God to come to the earth. The coming of the Kingdom will include the overthrow of the last enemy—physical death.

The knowledgeable Christian is not looking toward a flight to Heaven but toward assisting in the great travail that will result in bringing the spiritual Life of God into the earth, beginning with the bodies of the saints. This transformation is the promised redemption that is to come from Heaven, the advent of the Kingdom of God, the arrival of that to which we have been sealed.

It may be noticed also, in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation, that the Kingdom and salvation are associated with overcoming the accuser by the “brothers.” This Scripture means that our diligence in living a victorious life in Christ will result finally in the casting down of Satan and his wicked lords from their thrones in the heaven. This marks the end of sin and death. The filling of the creation with the eternal Life of God will follow.

but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, (II Timothy 1:10)
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; (I Peter 1:13)

We have eternal life now, in our inner man. If we serve God faithfully we will receive the crown of life when the Lord Jesus appears. The eternal life in our spiritual nature today will extend into our physical body. Then we will be immortal. Then our redemption will be complete.

(“Eternal Life”, 3159-1)

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