questions and answers about immortality
In this session, I will ask four questions about immortality, and look to the Bible to answer those questions.
First, who does the Bible claim is the only being who currently has immortality? In the last session in this study, we looked at 1 Timothy 6:16, which says that God “alone has immortality, (and) dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see.” (ESV). It seems to me if Paul believed that all the sentient beings in the universe are immortal, he would not have said that. If all angels, demons and human beings are created with an immortal essence, then God cannot be exclusively immortal. We are forced to either accept what Paul said, or reject it and accept that traditionalist doctrine. The Bible teaches God’s exclusive immortality.
Second question: who revealed the hope of immortality to the world? Was it Greek philosophers or Jesus? Basic to the doctrine of innate immortality is the assumption that Plato and other Greek philosophers discovered innate immortality, and that by the time the New Testament was written, all its authors had accepted it as fact. But what does the Bible actual tell us about who revealed the truth about immortality? To answer that question, we can come again to the Bible. It says in 2 Timothy 1:10 that God’s purpose and grace “now has been manifested through the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” It was not the Greek philosophers, but Jesus, who revealed the truth about human immortality in the gospel. If he revealed the truth, it was in response to non-truth that had been taught by the pagans. The gospel of resurrection life to those who believe in Christ set the record straight.
Third question: is Immortality an innate attribute of all, or a gift to be given to the saved? Here again, the Bible gives us an answer, and that answer contradicts the human tradition of innate immortality. Romans 2:7 says “to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, (God) will give eternal life.” It does not say that everybody already has it. It does not say that we were born with it. It says that we must seek it, and that God will give it. If you have to seek something, you don’t already have it. If it is a gift that God will give, then it is not now an innate possession.
Fourth question: when do believers become immortal? Is it at death, or at the resurrection? These scriptures answer that question: 1 Corinthians 15:52-54 KJV says “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” 1 Corinthians 15:42 ESV says “So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.” According to these scriptures, we get the gift that God promised us – not at death – but at our resurrection. The resurrection happens when Jesus returns. The long-standing human tradition that believers go to be with the Lord in heaven as immortal beings when they die is not biblical truth.
If you have any questions about this teaching, you can ask me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Join me for this entire series as we search the scriptures to learn about the gift of life.
(listen to the audio file at Afterlife)