Immortality for the elect alone

I Corinthians 15: 51 We will not all fall asleep,
but we will all be changed,
52 in a moment, in the blink of an eye,
at the last trumpet.
For the trumpet will sound,
and the dead will be raised incorruptible,
and we will be changed.
53 For this corruptible must be clothed
with incorruptibility,
and this mortal must be clothed
with immortality.
54 When this corruptible is clothed
with incorruptibility,
and this mortal is clothed
with immortality,
then the saying that is written will take place:
Death has been swallowed up in victory.

There was dust here on earth before there was a “living soul”. There was God’s breath (spirit) before there was a “living soul”. But there was no pre-existing “soul” before and without the dust and the breath (life). To be a soul, you need a body. To be a living soul, you need life from God. But life from God is not immortality, and that immortality will only be given to those who God justifies.

Immortality is God’s gift for those God loves. II Timothy 1:9 God saved us and called us to  a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

The punishment of the non-elect sinner is not preservation in torture but death. The punishment is loss of life forever. But those who teach that some sinners will sin forever and be tortured forever seem to have such a low view of life that they deny that death is even a punishment.

For God, “death is the last ENEMY”. I Corinthians 15. But for the “death is not enough justice” folks, no period of punishment is ever long enough. While they allow that there may be “degrees of punishment”, they teach that each non-elect sinner will be punished forever, not by being dead forever after death but by still being alive in misery “somewhere” after death. Don’t call it life, they say call it “merely existing.”

Romans 6: 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Revelation 20: 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Matthew 10: 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in gehenna

It is one thing to experience death that lasts forever. It is another thing to experience torture forever but never to die. But the “death is never enough” folks point out that those who die a death that lasts forever do not have to experience dying forever—they claim that the non-elect dying in a moment in history (even perhaps after a period of judgment and punishing) is not enough to satisfy the justice of God.

But since we can all perhaps agree that only the death of Jesus is ever enough to satisfy the justice of God, this means that neither the torture of the non-elect forever or the death forever of the non-elect will satisfy God’s justice. But many folks don’t think the death of Jesus is what actually satisfies the justice of God either. Some Roman Catholics think that the continuing sacrament is the continuing dying of Jesus Christ which is still satisfying the justice of God. Some Protestants think that the vicarious law-keeping of Jesus is what helps to satisfy the justice of God. They explain that, even though the period of time in which Jesus kept the law on earth was finite, that Jesus as a person is infinite and therefore that those years of law-keeping help satisfy God’s justice. And many professing Christians put the accent on the three hours of suffering Christ experienced before His death–again they explain the legal satisfaction by the “infinity” of Christ’s person.

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12 Comments on “Immortality for the elect alone”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    Martin Luther posted his Theses on Sabbath, October 31, 1517 in Wittenberg. In his 1520 published Defence of 41 of his propositions, Luther cited the pope’s immortality declaration, as among “those monstrous opinions to be found in the Roman dunghill of decretals.” The 27th proposition read:
    “However, I permit the Pope establish articles of faith for himself and for his own faithful – such are:
    a) That the bread and wine are transubstantiated in the sacrament;
    c) that the soul is the substantial form of the human body;
    d) that he (the pope) is emperor of the world and king of heaven, and earthly god;
    e) that the soul is immortal;
    and all these endless monstrosities in the Roman dunghill of decretals

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Do you think that all humans will have “eternal life”, and that salvation is only a matter of the “quality” of that “eternal life”? Or do you believe that resurrection to immortality is a gift of God’s grace to God’s elect?

    • Chuck Says:

      Absolutely the latter, Mark. Thanks for asking. Personally, the departure from the traditionalism I was raised with has been the most positive thing (beyond salvation itself) I have ever learned as a Christian.

      And so much good scriptural conditionalist writing has been advanced (since Al Gore invented the internet…), that the big question becomes, why are so many of God’s children, (especially pastors and teachers) still so willfully ignorant? How can they be so satisfied with the lost condition of their friends and loved ones, let alone the sloppy exegesis and weak logic?

  3. markmcculley Says:

    This scholar has the false of SD Adventists, salvation conditioned on the sinner. But he has something to teach us about human nature.

  4. markmcculley Says:

    mortal means not permanent
    but for Christians
    being impermanent is impermanent
    but our present mortality
    is not unimportant
    the age, what is passing away
    we will not forget
    even after that day
    our previous mortality

  5. markmcculley Says:

    packer: The assertion that in the age to come life is the sort of thing that goes on while punishment is the sort of thing that ends begs the question.

    mark: would it change anything if we said that life is the sort of thing that goes on living while death is the sort of thing which stays dead?

    if you stay dead, is that a “sustained event”?

    if you substitute punishment for “perish” or ‘destruction”, does that change anything?

    is ‘eternal redemption” a “sustained event’?

    if redemption is “once for all time”, does that mean that redemption is not “everlasting’?

    why does exclusion rule out destruction?

    has the thing destroyed been excluded?

    or does it have to be destroyed in such a way that it is never destroyed in order to keep on being excluded?

  6. God gives life, all three kinds of LIFE.. God alone joins the elect to Christ’s death. God alone changes their hearts and effectually calls to believe the gospel. God alone will raise the elect from death to immortality.

    When the Arminian suggests that faith precedes regeneration from texts like John 3:16, 36; 6:51, 53-54, 57; 11:25 20:31, he gets it wrong by equating regeneration with eternal life.

    But “eternal life” is not the present reality which we call the new birth but instead an eschatological reality–those who are now justified are legally entitled already to the life of the age to come.”
    Many Bible texts make no sense if regeneration is equated with eternal life. (Mark 10:17, 29-30; Romans 2:6-7, 23; Galatians 6:8; 1 Timothy 6:19; Titus 1:2; 3:7; James 1:12; Revelation 2:10).For example, Jesus, responding to the rich young ruler states, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers…for my sake and the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time…and in the age to come regeneration (eternal life)” (Mark 10:29-30) But the new birth is NOT in the age to come!

  7. markmcculley Says:

    Revelation 20: 13 Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all (the non-elect) were judged according to their works. 14 Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. . ………….. the elect will all have been justified by then, and will not enter into the judgment, John 5:24

    Hades is thrown into the lake of fire

    The lake of fire is the second death
    The lake of fire is Gehenna

    therefore, Hades is thrown into Gehenna

    Hades and Gehenna are not the same place

    Gehenna is not a new name for Hades

  8. markmcculley Says:

    Tripp is a “Reformed psychologist” who gets featured at Reformed conferences He pushes the idea of sinners living forever in hell, but in the process of defending that notion he says time and again, it was not ever meant to be this way. So “hell” to him is plan b.

    He definitely agrees with what Satan told Adam and Eve—you will never die, you will live somewhere forever. He even endorses the dualism of Ben Franklin—here lies the body, like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out…..And he quotes C S Lewis as if it’s apostolic—we will live forever, because inside we want to live forever.

    Who the we is of course a little fuzzy. Maybe all of us are Christians, or maybe it’s only all of us who are reading his books or paying to hear him in a conference, but in any case we all need to be thankful that we won’t be tortured forever by the God who never wanted to do that. It was never God’s “intention”, the writer keeps telling us. It was not on purpose, it was plan b. And even now, God wishes that it would not happen, but since we have free will, it might…..

    I suppose this theodicy is “intended” to reassure us. God never gave the law to increase sin, but we have free will. God never ordained Adam to sin, but Adam had free will. But in any case, Satan was right–being in the image of God means that we will ‘spend eternity” somewhere, and never die. That part of the plan can’t be changed by us.

    God did not put Adam on probation as a means to giving Christ the glory for the redemption of the elect. But it did turn out that way, and Christ will get glory anyway, provided that you exercise your free will to accept the fact that he died for you. I mean he died for you even if you don’t accept that he did, but if you don’t, then you will live forever in torment.

    Those who are ‘spiritually dead” make bad choices. So that explains how Adam made a bad choice and as a result of that bad choice, Adam became ‘spiritually dead”. And so now what LOOKS LIKE us living is really us being ‘spiritually dead.”. And what LOOKS LIKE “physical death” is really about being alive either in heaven or being tortured in hell. But God never intended any of this, it’s all on us. We placed our own feet on the slippery slope.

    Because when the Bible says that the wages of sin is death or that the soul that sins shall die, that’s not “intended” to be taken literally. Death is not death but torture. Death is not death but a separation. This age will end, but the next age will never end, and in the next age God will not ever really bring anybody to an end, but those who use their free will wrong in this age will be kept existing forever in order to partially satisfy what is so infinite that it never can ever get any closer to being satisfied..

    Death is not literally death, but for some folks (not us) it will have a dark side. God never had any designs on there being vessels of destruction, but it happened anyway, because what we do matters and what we decide has consequences. The fire that tortures forever was not meant for any human but only for Satan and Satan’s angels (Matthew 25:41). But nobody ever perishes or gets destroyed in that fire, because as Satan well knows—you shall never die. The final torture will never be final.

  9. markmcculley Says:

    is death not really death but separation from God–“going to the other place”
    passing away

    passing from one place but still living in the bad place?

    Adam did not die but was sent into exile east of Eden

    but the New Testament assumes that exile (diaspora) is a good thing. because it means that Christians are not trying to take over or influence any nation-state

    does death mean “cease to exist”?

    does resurrection mean “recreated”?

    does death mean “living somewhere else but not in the presence of God”?

    Milton–Satan, at least I have a place of my own away from God

    Job 34: 14
    If withdrew the spirit and breath He gave,
    15 every living thing would PERISH together
    and mankind would return to the dust.

    but since we have “immortal souls”, perish does not men destruction but instead we think it means going to a place where there is no presence of the Holy Spirit in us, and where God will punish and torture forever without ever being satisfied by it

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