HE WILL NEVER DIE
HE WILL NEVER DIE Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The Lord Jesus told us whoever lives and believes in Him will never die. We understand He is not referring to physical death (which the New Testament often refers to as "sleep"). Somehow, it appears, the concept that the true saint will never die has been buried under the tradition of "going to Heaven."
Perhaps there is more to the idea of continuing to live than that of going to Heaven to reside forever. Perhaps the emphasis is on continuing to live on the earth. Maybe this is the meaning of John 3:16!
HE WILL NEVER DIE
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; And whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25,26—NIV)
There may be no more profound statement in the New Testament than this.
We need to consider the meaning of life. To live is to move about, think, speak, imagine, plan, love, hate, and everything else involved in being a person. Physical death puts an end to all of this—we suppose!
The concept of obtaining eternal residence in Heaven is so deeply entrenched in Christian thinking that the message of the Gospel is not clear to us. Dying and going to Heaven is not associated in our mind with living. We don’t really know what to expect when we die. We talk about mansions and being with Jesus and our loved ones. We expect to be free from dread, fear, worry, pain, sickness. But we do not associate this with living in the customary usage of the term.
We lose a child in a car accident. We hope to see the child in Heaven when we get there. Will he or she be the same age? We do not know. Our beloved son or daughter is somewhere beyond the stars. He or she is dead! Dead! The Lord Jesus can talk about our child being only asleep, but we know our little Sally or Tim is dead. Why can’t we get used to the idea? Our darling is gone!
The talented pianist practices diligently for forty years to perfect the Beethoven sonatas. He has a heart attack and dies. Now no one can enjoy the perfect rendition he is capable of. He is dead! Gone! His days of performing on the piano are no more. The artist is decomposing in the ground. Can we accept it? Bach is no more. Beethoven is no more. Rembrandt van Rijn is a grinning skull and a pile of dust.
Death makes a mockery of our talents and accomplishments. It separates us from those we love most. Oh yes, they are in Heaven, up somewhere with the tinkling bells and the angels. Will they be in white robes floating above the ground? Will they look the same? We understand we can’t really touch them. They will be quite different, we suppose, not really the same.
How would you respond if I told you this is not the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. It is part of the mythology of the Christian religion.
"He who lives and believes in Me will never die." What are you talking about, Jesus?
"Did I ever tell you that to have eternal life is to go to Heaven?"
"What did I say?"
You said whoever believes in You would not perish but have eternal life.
"Where do you get going to Heaven out of this?"
I guess we made it up.
"What I meant was, whoever believes in Me will have eternal life. I said nothing about going to Heaven."
"Do you want to die?"
"Do you want to live?"
"What do you mean by living?"
I mean to continue pretty much as I am, but in a world without sin, sickness, tiredness, dread, violence, and so forth—a world where little children can play in safety; a world where there are no wicked people to destroy everything and keep everyone in misery.
"Would you rather live in Paradise in the spirit world with the angels or on the earth if it were as you described? Would you rather be a spirit or be in a flesh and bone body on a restored earth?"
I would rather live on the earth in a flesh and bone body, if there were no more trouble on the earth, and be able to visit the spirit world when I wanted to.
"Your wish is granted. This is what I meant when I said, ‘Whoever lives and believes in Me will never die."
If there is any truth in the above dialogue, then we of today have altered the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. And the change has not been for the better. We have lost the hope of eternal life—real life among real people.
Because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve, mankind was denied access to the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is the Lord Jesus Christ. When we partake of Him we change from a mortal animal into an immortal creation that can no longer die. This is why it is so necessary we gain eternal life in our inward nature by overcoming worldliness, lust, and self-will. If our inward spiritual nature is not renewed in God, and we then were entrusted with an immortal body, we could no longer be restored to God’s Presence. We would be as Satan and the fallen angels.
Since the time of the Garden of Eden God has been perfecting a plan to restore man to the earth. The long history of the patriarchs, then of Israel, and then of the Christian Church, has been necessary in order for God to construct the kind of Kingdom that will be able to maintain paradisiac conditions on the earth.
It is God’s intention that man live on the earth, that man be free from sin, that the earth be breathtakingly beautiful and marvelous, that there no longer be sorrow, pain, or death.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:4—NIV)
The above verse is not speaking of Heaven but of the new earth. The earth!
This is the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. It is not the good news that if we believe in Jesus we will go to Heaven when we die. It is the good news that we will be raised from the dead and live once again on the earth.
The Christian salvation is pointed toward the restoration of what was lost in Eden. It is not a plan to change everything and place man in the spirit realm. God is not making all new things. He is making all things new—all the things to which we are accustomed.
Now, what did the Lord Jesus mean when He said we would not die but continue to live in Him? He meant that we would be alive as we know life, although temporarily unable to occupy our flesh and bone body. That will come later.
If we are abiding in Christ (and numerous members of the Christian religion are not abiding in Christ), if we truly are living as part of His Divine Life, then we will never die. When our body sleeps in physical death we still will be alive. This does not mean we will go to Heaven. It means we still will live.
The Lord Jesus meant exactly what He said.
All right, we still are living after we die. Remember, we are not speaking of every church member but of those who are living in Jesus. You can take "the four steps of salvation" and be perfect in your doctrine and still not be living in Jesus. To live in Jesus is to consciously day by day be addressing all the issues of your life to the Lord. You must be aware at all times that you are living by His Life, partaking of Him in every thought, word, and action.
We still are living after our body goes to sleep, but where are we? It doesn’t matter where we are. The point is that we are consciously alive in the Presence of the Lord, just as we were on the earth. Nothing has changed.
Nothing has changed! Can you hear this? Nothing has changed except for the fact that temporarily we are not inhabiting a material body.
"What can I do if I still am alive?"
You can do anything you want to do. God will put into your heart what He wants you to be doing, and His will and yours will be the same. We are to be cultivating this sameness of will today. It is of the greatest importance in the Kingdom that God is working in us to will and to do His good pleasure.
You will be alive and enjoying yourself without the inconvenience of an aging body.
I have no doubt many or most of the dead are on the earth assisting their loved ones and otherwise doing the Lord’s will.
Think very carefully about the following verse:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1—NIV)
Who are the witnesses that compose the cloud?
They are the people mentioned in the preceding chapter, as well as a multitude of lesser known saints.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days. By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, (Hebrews 11:30-32—NIV)
All of the personages mentioned in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews were and are God’s witnesses. We are still learning of God through the account of their lives. Every one of God’s witnesses is eternal. He who does the will of God lives forever.
Where are these witnesses now? They are surrounding us. Are they alive? Of course!
What are they doing? They are learning from us just as we are learning from them from the record in the Scriptures. We all are going to come to maturity together. Every one of God’s true witnesses, from the time of the righteous Abel, is surrounding the saints on earth in order to partake with them of the Virtue of Christ that is bringing us to maturity.
The Body of Christ, the witnesses of God, is one great organism. At any given time most of it is in the spirit realm. But whether the members are in the spirit realm or in a human body on earth makes little difference.
There is, however, one important difference. It is that the revelation of God comes forth from the saints on the earth. Therefore if the saints who are in the spirit realm are to be built up to the perfect man, to the stature of the fullness of Christ, they must surround those of us on earth among whom Christ is working.
The plan of redemption keeps unfolding. Moses and Elijah discussed the atonement with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. They wanted to understand it so they could receive the benefit of it.
No individual can see or enter the Kingdom of God until he or she is born again. But no person could be born again until Jesus was raised from the dead, because He is the Firstborn from the dead.
Therefore in order for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to enter the Kingdom of God they had to be born again. They were born again after the Lord Jesus rose from the dead. They had surrounded Christ and His Apostles and learned from them what it meant to be born again. When the experience became available they received it.
Remember, every aspect of redemption presents a choice. We can accept or reject it. Our faith in God is involved here. It does not matter whether we are on earth or in the spirit realm. We always are and always shall be able to reject that which God places before us. It is a frightening thought for those who would like God to make it impossible for them to sin, who would enjoy being able to lie back and let Christ do it all for them. But it is true nevertheless. We always shall be able to sin and rebel against God.
God’s witnesses want everything God has for us, every bit of Divine wisdom and Virtue that will bring us to the promised maturity. Therefore they surround us that they might increase in the plan of redemption. They without us cannot be made perfect.
The knowledge of the Divine redemption was lost at the end of the first century of the Christian Era. Men, not having the Spirit of revelation of the Apostles, began to apply human reasoning to the study of theology.
But over the course of the two thousand years of the Christian Age the true knowledge of the Lord, that which can come only through the Spirit of revelation, has been increasing. That which was given so freely to the Apostles had to be gained by saints who gave themselves in obedience to the Lord.
Today we have been brought as far as the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Pentecost. It may be true that the witnesses who are surrounding us have also partaken of the fulfillment of Pentecost.
Three feasts lie ahead of us—spiritual experiences that will bring the Body of the Christ to the maturity necessary for its return with the Lord Jesus.
The three feasts are as follows:
The Blowing of Trumpets, signifying that Christ is standing before the members of His Body and declaring war on the aspects of our personality that are hostile to God’s Person and way.
We might think, "How could such a confrontation take place in the spirit realm among the deceased witnesses?"
Why not? Peter says that God judges the living and the dead—the dead as though they still were alive in the flesh.
For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. (I Peter 4:6—NIV)
The next convocation is the Day of Atonement. The fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement occurs as every aspect of our personality is reconciled to God. The Blowing of Trumpets announces the Day of Atonement, we might say.
If we are to come to maturity as a member of the Body of Christ, all worldliness must be driven from our personality.
Why not? Where did the love of the world come from if not from Satan and his followers? It indeed may be possible to be in the spirit realm and still have a desire to find our survival and security in the world spirit.
We need to understand that physical death does not change what we are. The only difference in living in the spirit realm and living in a mortal body on the earth is that while in the spirit realm we do not have a physical body.
It gives us insight into what may be true in the ages to come when we consider that Enoch, Elijah, and the Lord Jesus still have physical bodies even though they are in the spirit realm. And why shouldn’t they? The things of the heavens are more similar to what we have experienced than they are different.
But what we are as a person, that is, our life, our manner of living, continues if we are living and believing in the Lord Jesus. Beethoven continues to compose. Rembrandt continues to paint, if he is living and believing in Jesus. This is what the Lord stated.
If the whole Body of Christ is to come to perfection together in preparation for its descent with the Lord to establish the Kingdom of God, the rule of God, on the earth, then those members who are deceased are going to have to surround us in order that they might learn what God is requiring of us in the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement, the Day of Reconciliation to God.
The love of the world must be driven from us.
The lusts and passions of our body must be driven from us.
But won’t the passions of our body cease to be a factor once we die?
Why should they? The sins of the flesh, such as immorality, lying, murder, drunkenness, are spiritual forces that dwell in us. We who are experienced believers understand very well the influence of Satan on our personality.
There are demons of lust, demons of alcohol and nicotine, demons of jealousy and envy, demons of gossip and slander, demons of murder, demons of child molestation. These forces exist in the spirit realm and seek to find entrance into human flesh so they can express the fires that burn in them. When we succumb to the spirit that is seeking to express itself through us the spirit is gratified but we in the flesh suffer the anguish and sometimes sickness and death that result from the unlawful behavior.
These spiritual passions reside in our flesh but they are not buried with our flesh. They do not decompose in the ground with our body. They must be dealt with at some point. There is no passage of the Scriptures of which I am aware that suggests physical death sets us free from the sins of the flesh.
There is the following:
Because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. (Romans 6:7)
But I think this means, in context, that we are to count that our adamic, sinful nature has been crucified with Christ, and therefore for us to continue to behave according to our sinful nature is not in accordance with the profession of faith we have made. Also, having been crucified with Christ, we are free from the Law of Moses; and the power of sin is the Law.
I do not believe physical death sets us free from the compulsions of sin. Otherwise death, the last enemy, would be our redeemer. It is obvious that the demon population, though without bodies, are filled with every kind of lust imaginable. Therefore entrance into the world of spirits does not necessarily free us from the compulsion to sin.
Therefore, it may be true that the witnesses who are surrounding us must confess these sins, renouncing and resisting them, just as we do. Such confession and resistance is an act of judgment against Satan, and the dead as well as the living always must choose to follow Jesus at every point along the path to the fullness of redemption.
The saint who dies but who has been subject to murderous rages must confess and renounce this bondage at some point. This sinful spirit may have access to his personality until he does.
In addition to the love of the world and the passions of the flesh there is the problem of self-will to deal with. Self-will is the ultimate source of all sin. Self-will originated with Satan when he was one of the two cherubim that guarded the Throne of God. Can you see from this that entering the spirit realm does not of itself free us from self-will? Self-will and all other sin began in the spirit realm. Self-will is a spiritual compulsion, not a physical force, even though it is an integral part of our personality.
Self-will is a monster. It is part of us until bearing our cross after the Lord Jesus kills the tendency in us to follow our own plans instead of waiting patiently on the Lord.
It seems to me that self-will and disobedience are best addressed during our lifetime on the earth. Even our faithful Lord Jesus learned obedience to the Father while on the earth, and He learned it through suffering. Yet Jesus in the form of the Word has been with God from the countless ages of eternity. Why wasn’t He perfected in obedience to the Father before He came to the earth?
Perhaps the witnesses who are surrounding us learned obedience while they were on the earth. Think about the following:
Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so only together with us would they be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:35-40—NIV)
Notice in the above that these witnesses were not seeking to go to Heaven but to have a better resurrection. Notice also that we have something better so they cannot be made perfect apart from us. This is why they are surrounding us. They want to partake of that "better thing" and thus have a better resurrection.
We are being given the understanding today that God wants all worldliness, sin, and self-will driven from us that we may be reconciled completely to Him; that we may rest in untroubled union with the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Such understanding has not always been as widespread as it is today. The witnesses standing around us are learning of this and participating with us, I believe. In this manner the entire Body is growing up in the Head in preparation for its appearing with Him.
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:15,16—NIV)
One time when I was student in Bible school I had a problem forgiving one of the local church leaders because of something he had done. So I went to prayer, beseeching the Lord to enable me to forgive.
The moment I did this my spiritual eyes were opened briefly and I could see that I was surrounded by many people who were ringed about me in some kind of amphitheatre.
Immediately the word came: "You have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God."
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, To the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, (Hebrews 12:22,23—NIV)
Look at the tense of the verb: "You have come."
Not you will come but you have come.
He who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do we really believe this? Do we really believe we will be a conscious person with knowledge and memory and that we will be surrounding those who are alive on the earth, waiting for that Day when we will be with them once again—not as a disembodied spirit but as a person?
"A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see me have."
Jesus cooked fish and ate the honeycomb. He was alive on the earth when He did this. Yet previously He had died on the cross. Jesus had forty glorious days to spend enjoying the earth before He ascended to Heaven. Even after ascending to Heaven He declared that He is with us wherever we assemble in His name.
Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, "Do you have anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, And he took it and ate it in their presence. (Luke 24:39-43—NIV)
Now why do you suppose the Lord went to such lengths to show that He was still a person, still "living" in the conventional sense of the word?
"Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself!" Why His hands and feet? Because of the wounds in them.
So the risen Christ was identified, not by His spiritual nature but by His physical body. To be yourself in the fullest sense you have to have regained your body.
"Touch me and see." Part of life as we know it is to be able to speak to people and have them speak to us. To touch people and have them touch us. Notice that Christ is not emphasizing that He had come back from the dead spiritually but physically.
"When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet." This action is typical of life as we are used to living it. "Whoever lives and believes in me will never die."
"Do you have anything here to eat?" Could you picture yourself asking this question after you died? If not, why not? Do we have a false idea of life after death?
"They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence."
Can you imagine a person who had been dead coming back to life and eating broiled fish? This is what the Lord meant when He said, "He who lives and believes in me will never die." He was not referring to a mystical existence in a mythological mansion in the spirit realm. He was speaking of standing on the earth on the seashore, eating broiled fish, with a huge pile of fish nearby. This is what it means to live. This is what we will experience in the future if we keep on believing in Jesus.
I don’t know about you, but having been raised on the East coast I much prefer the idea of standing by the ocean and eating broiled fish or crabmeat or clam chowder or lobster to the thought of floating around in the spirit realm doing nothing of significance.
The bodily resurrection from the dead will complete our return to normal life. If our destiny were eternal residence in Heaven there would be no need for the resurrection from the dead. The purpose for the resurrection of our flesh and bone body is that we might continue a normal life on the earth.
The resurrection from the dead is so important the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians is devoted to it.
The resurrection from the dead is the blessed hope of the Christian Gospel, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. This major doctrine is being ignored in favor of an unscriptural "rapture" of the believers to Heaven. We of today believe there will be a bodily resurrection of the believers, but we are very confused about it. We do not understand even the difference between the resurrection of our flesh and bone, and the body from Heaven that is being fashioned from our behavior.
The doctrine of the resurrection has been destroyed. We do not really believe in it anymore and the thought of it does not influence our behavior. This is unfortunate because our behavior today is determining what kind of resurrection we shall have. The Christian churches need to preach this truth because American Christians are going to reap corruption in the Day of Resurrection. Many of them are living in the flesh, not realizing they are affecting what they will experience in the Day of Christ.
The Apostle Paul had no confidence in the value of our living forever in the spirit realm. He believed that if we are not to be resurrected we have missed the whole Gospel plan of salvation.
For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. (I Corinthians 15:16-19—NIV)
The context of the above passage reveals that when Paul said "if only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men" he did not mean we also have hope in Christ in Heaven. He meant that if we had no hope of being restored to life in the resurrection we are to be pitied.
The current Christian mythology of eternal residence in a mansion in Heaven was not known to the Apostle Paul. Paul groaned for the immortalizing of his physical body that he might continue life on the earth. This is the central hope of the Gospel of the Kingdom—the resumption of life on the earth in an immortal, sin-free body.
We mentioned previously that the witnesses surrounding us are interested in the revelation of the meaning of the last three feasts of the Jews.
The Blowing of Trumpets announces the coming of the war of God against His enemies in His people. We are moving today into an awareness that spiritual warfare is beginning to take place.
The Day of Atonement speaks of our being reconciled to God in our spirit, our soul, and finally in our body when every other enemy has been brought into subjection to the Lord Jesus. We can rest assured we shall never be resurrected into a body filled with an abundance of the Life of God until the enemies in our inward nature have been completely subdued. We are given to eat of the Tree of Life only as we overcome the enemies of God. The last enemy to be destroyed is physical death; the other enemies have to be overcome first.
The last and greatest of the Jewish convocations is the feast of Tabernacles. The feast of Tabernacles is fulfilled in us as Christ is formed in us and then the Father and the Son come to inhabit forever that which has been formed in us. We are to be filled with all the fullness of God.
All of this finally shall be housed in our resurrected flesh and bones. Then our resurrected flesh and bones shall be covered within and without with the resurrection Life of God. This is the climax of redemption, the perfection promised to all the witnesses of God. They are learning of this today as the revelation is given to the saints on the earth.
We have learned from the witnesses of the past. Now they are learning from us. The whole Body of Christ is growing up in the Head, coming to maturity together—maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Once this entire cloud of witnesses, including those on the earth, have been brought to maturity, the Lord Jesus will call them all up to meet Him in the clouds. Then the whole host, led by the Commander in Chief, will descend on the white war stallions and deliver Jerusalem from Antichrist and the False Prophet.
This is the coming of the Lord, as portrayed in the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians.
We believe Jesus died and rose again and so we believe God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (I Thessalonians 4:14—NIV)
"God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him."
And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:31—NIV)
When the Lord returns He will bring His elect from the four winds. Wherever His witnesses are living and working, from there they shall be gathered together to the Lord.
We are speaking now of all the witnesses of God, from the time of Abel to the present.
This vast multitude of saints will return with the Lord and then descend from His position in the air to reclaim their bodies from the ground or from wherever they were interred.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (I Thessalonians 4:16—NIV)
The dead in Christ will rise. This is the first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection to the fullness of the Life of Christ. This resurrection must be attained, as Paul tells us.
You can imagine the consternation of Antichrist and the wicked of the earth as they behold these millions of shining warriors. Then the living witnesses, relatively a handful compared with those who have come with the Lord, will be changed while on their feet, also becoming shining warriors.
It is preached today that the purpose of the catching up of the believer is to deliver them from the danger of Antichrist and the great tribulation. Did you know there is not one verse in the entire Bible that teaches the purpose of the catching up of the Christian believers is to deliver them from danger? We ought not to be preaching and teaching that for which there is no Bible basis whatever.
Not only is the idea of escaping by "rapture" unscriptural, just consider how totally unrealistic the thought is when we consider what has taken place before the catching up.
The dead who have returned with Christ, the great cloud of witnesses, will rise first. This does not mean they will be caught up into the air. It means they will stand on their feet in resurrection life. The Greek term translated "rise" refers to their resurrection from the dead.
Can you imagine the terror of Antichrist and the armies of the wicked when they see this great host?
Let me ask you, who will be in danger at this point—the saints or Antichrist?
You can see how inappropriate the teaching is that claims resurrected saints or the living believers who have been changed into immortality must be carried up to Heaven to escape Antichrist and the great tribulation.
The present-day teaching of the "pre-tribulation rapture" of the believers into Heaven is a delusion. There is no scriptural or logical basis for this doctrine. It should be abandoned because it is leaving Christians with the idea that at any moment now they will be caught up to Heaven, and so there is no reason they should really become concerned about preparing themselves to stand in the age of moral horrors we are entering.
Now it is time for us Christians to discard the Christian traditions that have no scriptural support. The original Gospel, preached by John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the Apostles of the Lamb, is the Gospel of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, not the flight of the Church to Heaven.
After the doctrine of the blood atonement, the central doctrine of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is the bodily resurrection from the dead.
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. (John 3:16—NIV)
"Shall not perish." What does the Lord mean by "shall not perish"?
How is the term used elsewhere in the New Testament?
Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." (Luke 13:4,5—NIV)
Only one Greek word is used in the four Gospels for perish, and it often refers to physical death, as in the verse above. I would suggest John 3:16 means if we believe in Jesus Christ our body will be brought into a state of immortality by being raised from the dead.
We Christians have departed in our thinking from the good news the Lord Jesus came to bring. He came to us who are in bondage to the fear of physical death. He pointed out that if we will keep our faith steadfast in Him we can forget about dying. All that is meaningful to us in the way of living will be preserved forever.
Of course we will be separated from our physical body for a season. But life goes on as always. We keep on learning and growing in Christ. He declared us righteous when we received Him as our Savior. Now we shall be made perfect in Mount Zion, being prepared to return with Him and govern the nations of the earth.
The sons of God will be revealed along with the Lord Jesus. They will have the incomparable joy of lifting the curse from the earth and of serving as trees of life so the human beings on the earth can be changed from their flesh and blood animal existence into the liberty of the glory of children of God.
The sons of God will be alive as they never have been before. They will have access to the spirit realm, but they were created on the earth and the earth is their home.
Let us begin to think about living forever as people, not as disembodied spirits. Let us remember that all who leave relatives or properties or anything else for Jesus’ sake will be given back with interest, in the present world, all they have forsaken. In the world to come they will have eternal life, that is, they will not just be alive on the earth but they will govern by the power of endless, incorruptible resurrection life.
The Lord Jesus came that we might have life, and not just life but an abundance of life, a crown of life. We are in the pursuit of such life, if we are a diligent disciple of the Lord.
If in this world we live according to our fleshly desires we shall reap corruption in the Day of Resurrection. If we choose instead to live in the discipline of the Holy Spirit we shall reap eternal life—not eternal existence in the spirit realm but real human life, although greatly expanded in quality and quantity, on a perfect earth.
Christian, set your heart on continuing to live forever. For if you live and believe in the Lord Jesus you never shall die!