The essential definition of immortal is changeless.
“I am the LORD, I change not.” (Malachi 3:6)
The biblical definition of the opposite condition of mortal is not just dies, but changes. We implicitly know this from the processes of sickness, injury, and aging, and the Bible explicitly states this.
“We shall all be changed…For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (I Corinthians 15:51-52).
Death is not a trap, it’s a release. It’s not a coffin lid slamming shut, it’s a door opening to another plane of existence.
If only the Adversary had known!
“…we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (I Corinthians 2:7-8)
What a crazy idea! Through death immortality comes to humanity!
The regeneration from death to new life is glaringly apparent in our day-to-day existence. We see this in
- the addition of brand new cells in the growth process of children’s bodies,
- the development of new muscle tissue and physical skills of athletes,
- the daily replacement and regeneration of worn-out cells and damaged tissues of adult bodies.
The ability to change makes mortality, at first glance so weak, actually incredibly powerful because of the unlimited potential it unleashes in human beings. Every human being has the potential for becoming anything on the spectrum of monster to saint. Throughout our entire life in this time-space, each individual defines – and can continually redefine – who he or she is until the end of this life. This is entertainingly portrayed in the Netflix series Inventing Anna.
And, soberly, in the first woman Eve.
“now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever… the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken…and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:22-24)
Typically this verse has been interpreted as God’s punishment on the Adams, but in fact God was acting in humanity’s best interests when he prevented them from maintaining their current corrupt condition permanently, and provided the opportunity to change, only possible for mortals through death.
And like physical transformation of the body, spiritual transformation into the likeness of the Singularity doesn’t happen instantly at resurrection. It beings as a process in this life.
Anyone who has experienced spiritual victory over others’ and one’s own sinful oppression understands this.
“O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth…For thou hast been
- a strength to the poor,
- a strength to the needy in his distress,
- a refuge from the storm,
- a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall…
And he will…
- swallow up death in victory…
- wipe away tears from off all faces;
- take away from off all the earth [the rebuke of his people]:
And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (Isaiah 25:1-9)
Our mistake is in thinking of God’s gift of eternal life as a greater quantity that we experience in the resurrection of the body, but that is not what it is. Eternity can’t be measured.
Eternal existence, i.e. immortality, is a different quality. It is a spiritual state of being. That spiritual quality begins during, depends upon merging identity with the One Who Always Was, and continues beyond, the quantity of time the believer lives out his or her physical life. That spiritual quality is the new birth – the transformation of a human’s disconnected spirit when the believer accepts God’s offer to be reconnected to his Spirit.
“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a human [unique identity of the soul] be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.“ (John 3:3-6)
“He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” (John 7:38-39)
“And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come [they are thinking in political terms] he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation [matching currents events with scriptural prophecy assuming God is locked into a time-line]: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! [the red heifer! the rebuilding of the temple! or any apparent fulfillment] for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you [soul and spirit]. (Luke 17:20-21)
The biblical teaching that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God“ may be understood to refer to the resurrection of the body at the Second Coming, which I agree it does. But when we take into account Jesus’ teaching that “the kingdom of God is within you” in the here and now, we have to conclude that there is another aspect to resurrection.
“…put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof…For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink [think the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist or any religious practice or prohibition]; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God…” (Romans 14:17-18)
“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be [what else can that mean but “not a citizen in the kingdom of God?”] So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.“ (Romans 8:7-9)
With this background, we understand that the famous teaching on resurrection is not confined to the physical body in the future but is applicable to our new spiritual life in the now. Pay attention to the sequence of events as laid out by the tenses.
- Then cometh the end, [after the beginning and the middle]
- when he shall have [during the middle] delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have [still during the middle] put down all rule and all authority and power.
- For he must reign [present],
- till [during the middle] he hath put all enemies under his feet.
- The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. [Who are the other previous enemies? Sin in all its guises.]…
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
- The sting of death is sin [present]; and
- the strength of sin is the law [present].
- But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord [in the now.] ( I Corinthians 15:24-26, 55-58)
“For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for
- the end of those things is death.
- But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit [what is produced, your actions and their consequences] unto holiness, and the end [with resurrected body] everlasting life.
For the wages of sin is death [think separation from society with HIV and finally end of life with AIDS]; but the gift of God is eternal life [a quality of life in the here and now as well as after physical death] through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:20-23)
Salvation is most definitely a free gift of God that empowers those who accept it to escape all the effects of sin, not just eternity separated from God in hell. Biblical salvation from sin’s rule and authority and power and enmity begins in this life, manifested in freedom from bondage to sin, AKA addictions not just to drugs but all uncontrollable personally destructive attitudes and behaviors. Resurrection to new life begins now in the reconnection of the Spirit of God to the soul and body and victory over sin’s effects of
- disconnection from God’s Spirit without access to transcendent life and power
- destruction of the body through uncontrollable behaviors like gluttony
- destruction of essential relationships most apparent in effects like broken families, homelessness, unjust societies and war.
Someone who has truly embraced the free gift of salvation, i.e. is connected to God’s Spirit, will show it in their conversion from sinfulness / disconnectedness to righteousness / healthy relationships with God and his children.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ…” (II Corinthians 5:17-180
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law [of sin and death Ro 8:2] Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit [produce / products] of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are The Chosen One’s / Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Galatians 5:16-24)
“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (James 4:4)
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death…Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:2-3, 9-14)
These passages make it clear that just as death is a consequence of sin, so eternal life is a consequence of righteousness.
Righteous has always been defined, in God’s eyes, as restoring a right relationship with God. It starts by believing God but proceeds beyond that to acting in accordance with what pleases God. It’s like a marriage relationship. You can go through the ceremony and say the words “I do”, but unless you actually “do” and consummate the marriage you are not in a marriage relationship and it can be annulled.
- “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous…
- By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death…for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe 1) that he is, and 2) that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
- By faith Noah…prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
- By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out…
- By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” (Hebrews 11:4-19)
What all these men had in common was that their righteous standing with God was not based on acting according to a list of required and proscribed behaviors, a list of legalistic do’s and don’ts. Oh, but their actions still counted – they acted on faith in God’s word.
Compare to people who believe in Jesus, but refuse to act on his authoritative word. How can we not recognize that this is Satanic?
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin…If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham…Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it…Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him.” (John 8:31-59)
“Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works [can’t be done]…I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
- Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
- And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” (James 2:18-24)