Soul Sleep vs. Soul Ascension By Douglas Berner


Immortality vs. Eternal Life



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Immortality vs. Eternal Life
The real issue regarding death is not about the immortality of the soul, but the difference between eternal life and immortality. There is physical death and spiritual death. They are not the same. Physical death applies to the body only, while spiritual death is a condition of being separated from God. Are Christians ever subject to being separated from God? I do not believe that is the case. Believers are not subject to spiritual death.
When do believers obtain eternal life?
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).
“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:10-13).
Christians have eternal life immediately from the moment that they believe in the name of Jesus and accept Him as their personal savior by faith as a gift from God. They are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ and have eternal life from that moment on. Eternal life applies to the spirit or soul of the individual, not his physical body. Is a believer immortal at the point in time of salvation? No. Eternal life is not immortality. The believer must await the resurrection of the dead and the catching up (harpazo – rapture) of the living believers at the time that Christ returns for His body of believers. At that time the believer’s body is changed or glorified into the immortal spiritual body.
“But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:” (2 Timothy 1:10).
The apostle Paul distinguishes between life (eternal life) and immortality. They are not the same thing. The abolishment of death, through faith in Jesus Christ, produces two separate and distinguishable results: eternal life and immortality. The immediate result is eternal life, while the eventual result is immortality.
What did the apostle Paul think about his future death?
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you” (Philippians 1:21-24).
Paul distinguishes between life and death and pointedly states that for him (or any believer) to die is gain. How can Paul be looking forward to a gain at physical death if all that will happen to him after he dies is “soul sleep” until Christ returns for His believers? How could there be any emotional conflict for Paul between life and death if that was his understanding? But that was not Paul’s understanding, as he made perfectly clear when he stated that he had a desire to depart and be with Christ. In other places, Paul mentioned his desire to be alive and present at the time of the “harpazo” or catching up of all of Christ’s believers. But that is not what he is talking about in this passage. Paul is distinguishing between living in Christ and dying in Christ while the remaining believers are still living their lives in this world. That is why he realizes to “abide in the flesh” is more important. But Paul’s expectation upon death was that he would not remain unconscious in a grave, but immediately depart to be with Christ.

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