So what are we saved from?
So what happens to those who don’t receive immortality/eternal life? Do they live forever, in perpetual, conscious torment? Or is there a second possibility? From the preceding readings, we would expect the damned to remain mortal — that is, not to last forever. Continue reading
Now, if all this is true, then the church’s foremost task is to be the Kingdom.
That’s not quite how Hauerwas likes to say it. He says the church’s task is to be the church — which says the same thing but doesn’t bring the OT and Gospel teachings about the Kingdom in quite as directly. So I prefer “Kingdom.” It forces us to ask: “What is the Kingdom?”
In short, the church must be a place where the Sermon on the Mount is lived every day. And Rom 12. And 1 Cor 13 — which is not about marriage but living together in church. Which is harder than being married, I think. I mean, there are so many more people … Continue reading
In short, the Bible doesn’t say much about where we go when we die. It says quite a lot about where we wind up at the end of this age.
There will be a resurrection of the saved — sometimes called “the general resurrection” — and heaven will come down, merge with the earth, and God will live among his people. Rev 21-22 will all come true, just as prophesied in Isa 65-66.
(1 Cor 15:51–53 ESV) 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
We will exist in resurrected bodies. That is, the resurrection is clearly taught as a bodily resurrection. Our bodies will be transformed to be like the body Jesus had after his resurrection. Indeed, his resurrection is a preview of the general resurrection. Continue reading
The NT plainly teaches that humans/souls are mortal by nature but may become immortal by the will of God.
(Rom 2:7 ESV) to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;
(1Co 15:54 ESV) When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
In fact, to receive eternal life is to receive the gift of immortality. The damned, therefore, remain mortal. Continue reading
Let’s talk “spirit” and “soul” first.
Now “spirit” can refer to the Holy Spirit, an attitude (“a spirit of anger”), and in either Greek or Hebrew, the wind and the breath.
It’s easy to see how both languages might use the same word for wind and breath. In fact, in English, we do the same thing when we say, “I’m winded” or “I got my second wind.” “Wind” means breath in that context.
But in the Bible, when used of a human, “spirit” means something like “spark of life” in Hebrew and biblical Greek. To die is to “give up the spirit,” not meaning that our soul floats up heaven, but life leaves the body. Continue reading
The nature of humans
First, we need to understand that humans do not possess a soul that is innately immortal. I know your mom and dad and favorite Sunday school teacher taught you that, but they are mistaken. That particular teaching comes from Plato — a Greek philosopher from about 400 years before Jesus. It’s not found in the Bible.
The early church did not teach that idea until well after the apostolic period, but over time, the Platonic school of thought was incorporated into the doctrine of the church.
In fact, there’s this famous painting by Raphael in the Vatican called the School of Philosophy, that reveres the secular Greek philosophers as sources of great truth — whereas Paul wrote,
(1Co 1:20 NIV) Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
Now, the Bible plainly describes the next age as being the merger of heaven and earth, with God living with man.
“The meek shall inherit the earth.” Why would the meek want to inherit something that will be burned to a crisp? Rather, the biblical teaching is that our inheritance, our Promised Land, will be the renewed, restored, transformed earth.
The “new heavens and new earth” spoken of by Isaiah and by John in the Revelation are the heavens and earth of Gen 1 restored, with the corruption of sin and brokenness purged by fire — and improved so that it will last forever.
Hence, in the next age, we will not fly off to heaven to leave the world behind. Rather, God will come to us, to walk among us, in a renewed world in which heaven (God’s realm) and earth (man’s realm) are brought together.
Earth becomes what we call “heaven.” Continue reading
The Lord’s Prayer will not be fully answered until Jesus returns, at which time heaven and earth will merge and God’s will will be done on earth as in heaven.
(Rev 21:1-5 ESV) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new (kainos).” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Notice that “new” in v. 5 is kainos rather than neos, meaning renewed, restored, or refreshed rather than brand new or made from scratch.
Following Isaiah’s prophecies of a new (or renewed) heaven and earth, John’s Revelation reveals God bringing heaven to earth so that God may live with man. Continue reading
So Jesus cures the curses — all of them — through the cross. We who enter into Jesus through faith in/faithfulness to/trust in Jesus participate in redemption from the curses.
And there is this shift. Before the cross, the curses were against everyone and everything (Gen 3) or against the nation of Israel (Deu 27-28). These were national or group curses.
However, the hanging on a tree curse was highly individualized — and so Jesus suffered an individual curse for all people and the nation of Israel. Continue reading
Well, the old hymn says “double cure” — and some Church of Christ publishers have taken even that out, surmising that the phrase refers to, well, I don’t really know.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.
Anyway, it occurs to me that Jesus, in his death, took on three distinct curses. Continue reading