These are the words of the
Apostle Paul. They are from Acts 24: 15,
but he speaks of the resurrection in a number of places. In fact he definitely
stresses the importance of the resurrection. In 1Cor.15:12 he has this to say.
KJV"12Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead,
how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead.13But
if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14And
if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also
vain.15Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have
testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that
the dead rise not. 16For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ
raised: 17And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are
yet in your sins. 818Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are
perished.19If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of
all men most miserable." Paul definitely claims that the hope
in the resurrection is the basis for a hope in a future life. In the time he
was living the idea was prevalent that there was a part of man that is
immortal. Plato who was credited as being a wise man and who lived some four
hundred years before Paul believed it. It is thought that the Egyptians several
thousand years before that believed it.Anyway it is a definite fact that the idea of man having a part of
himself that did not die did not originate with the Christian religion.The Christian church adopted that notion from
popular culture and my intention is to present the idea that it did not come
from the Bible.Many down through time
believed it. That didn’t make it so. The thought then and, still seems to be, that
any hope for a life after death depends on not dying in the first place.
Remember what the serpent told Eve? “You won’t die”.Paul was countering that idea by stressing
that dead people could be raised from the dead. If they weren’t dead how could they
be raised from it? Paul obviously did not believe that man had a part, call it
what you may, that did not die. His argument made no hint that it was just the
body that he was talking about.
The hope held out was for
eternal life and I believe that one of the most important and unique features
of our faith is the belief that everyone will have an opportunity for eternal
life. This is not limited to this life but involves future probation. This is
called a second chance by those that disagree with us. Since there is no
scripture that says these things in so many words, I will try to present the
reasoning and the scriptures for this conclusion.
An understanding of what
Jesus did is a necessary part of this. I have some pages going into that and
our understanding of all of these things is different from that of orthodox
Christianity. And yet all Christian people understand about Adam and Eve and
the Garden of Eden. I think all accept the fact that Adam and Eve were promised
life as long as they didn’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Now if death is a gateway to a better life it seems strange that God didn’t
mention it to them. If they had not sinned and would have lived forever,
wouldn’t they have missed out on this better life that people seem to be
expecting? Since they did sin, did they go to this better place or to the place
of punishment? Didn’t God tell them that the punishment was death? I think that
all would accept the concept that death was the result of sin. It was plainly
presented so in the Garden of Eden. In the 5th chapter of Romans
Apostle Paul clearly states it such.
If a part of man is
immortal doesn’t it seem that the Bible should so state it somewhere.
Contrary to that the Bible clearly states that only God has immortality.
1Tim6:16. Rom.2:7 says that immortality is something to be sought for.
1Cor.15:53 Says that this mortal must put it on. It doesn’t sound as though it
is something one is born with.
Why should it seem strange
to believe that death is what it appears to be and when Paul says in the
fifteen chapter of 1Cor. that our faith is worthless if there is no
resurrection of the dead, doesn’t it seem that the issue is life or death?
Where does Heaven and Hell fit into this? A quick answer to what Hell is, is the
grave. I’m not here going into all the reasons for believing this. But all go
to the Bible Hell. Even Jesus did. Psalms16:10. Heaven is a definite
destination for some. Not all. Luke 12:34,
Jesus says God will give the Kingdom to a "little flock". Matt16:24,
"take up your cross and follow me". John 6:44,"no
one comes to me unless the Father draws him". When Jesus was asked in
Matt13:10, why he spoke to the people in Parables he said that it was not for
them to know about the kingdom of heaven. Will they be having a second chance
if future probation is allowed?
Are we to believe that only
a small number are to spend eternity with Jesus and the rest will be kept alive
in an unhappy condition for no apparent reason? Acts 15:14-17,
doesn’t say that. Here we are told that after God takes out of the world a
certain group, "a people for his name", that he will then set up his
kingdom that the "residue of men" might seek after the Lord. Here it
is in KJV"14Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit
the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. 15And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is
this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is
fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:17That
the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom
my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things."
This is one of the places
that comes the closest to saying in so many words what we believe. That all
will have an opportunity to gain everlasting life. This doesn’t happen until
Christ’s second advent. Another place is Acts 3:19-21,
"the times of restitution" are mentioned here. Restitution would seem
to refer to restoring something that was lost. What was lost? Life in the
Garden of Eden. It seems so plain. Is this a second chance? Very few people
compared to the billions that have lived have made a commitment to lay down
their lives to follow Jesus. 1Cor6:1, says that the saints will judge the
world. This is the purpose of the Millennial Age. Isaiah 26:9
says that when God’s judgments are in the world the world will learn
righteousness. Jesus said in John 5:28
& 29 that all that are in their graves will hear his voice and come forth.
Some that have done good to the resurrection to life (the followers of Jesus)
those that have not done good to the resurrection to judgment. All those that
in this life have not laid down their lives for Jesus, those that were not
called by God, those that weren’t part of the "little flock". Is this
a second chance?
says "He is the light that lighteth every man". This must be future
because more people have lived on the earth that have never heard of Jesus than
those that have heard of him.
Acts3:23 Peter here quotes
Moses (Deut.18:15) as telling his listeners that God would raise a prophet
(Jesus) that they should listen to. These people will have to be resurrected
for this to happen.
I haven’t mentioned the
Ransom and it is the key to all of this. Adam sinned, death was the result. We
all die because of that. Jesus gave his life to take the place of Adam and in
so doing made it possible for all to be resurrected. 1Cor.15:22;Rom.5:12;1Tim.2:6
Having said all this, then
why are we allowed to live a few years here on Earth?What is the meaning of it all?First of course is that God is selecting a
special group to be in Christ’s Church.But most of mankind will not be part of that.For them this life is a schoolroom to teach
each one the difference between good and evil.You remember that Adam and Eve ate from the tree of “the knowledge of good
and evil”. Mankind have been eating from
that tree ever since.God had told them
not to do it and because they disobeyed they died.But in the process they had an opportunity to
learn things they could never have learned any other way.Death was even used for a useful
purpose.Had all been allowed to live,
evil would have prospered even more than it did.Each generation had a better chance to learn
than if all past generations were present. Also the population would have
gotten out of hand.God’s plan was
figured out from the beginning.You
remember in Genesis 3:15 He said “the seed
of the woman will bruise the serpent’s head”? Jesus and what he did was part of
the plan from the beginning. For each
person from an Egyptian Pharaoh to the present time, each one’s time in the
grave will seem like an instant. And there will be a “resurrection of the
dead”.In John Jesus says, “Marvel
not at this: for the hour is coming, in the whichall that are in the graves shall hear
shall come forth;
This is just scratching the
surface of this subject. I wish that all could understand it. They will of
course. Heb.8:11 says so, this will happen in the promised Millenial Age "And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and
every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the
least to the greatest."