The Lostness of Mankind (Part 4)

The Resurrection State of People without Christ

The Bible teaches that all the denizens of earth will be resurrected, irrespective of their moral qualities or their final doom. Jesus declared: A time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear [the Son of Gods] voice and come out those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. John 5:29 The apostle Paul expressed before Felix, the Roman governor, the universal Jewish expectation “that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked” (Acts 24:15).

Even Christians have an incomplete, inadequate understanding of the resurrected body itself and its relation to the soul by which it is forever to be inhabited. A sufficient explanation, therefore, is essential.

Resurrection is from the Latin “re,” meaning again and “surgere,” to rise; thus, “to rise again.” The dictionary defines resurrection as the fresh bringing forth of the selfsame thing that was before. Paul spoke of it this way: “He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit.” (Romans 5:11).

If, then, the body that died does not rise again, as some maintain, we shall have to relinquish the word resurrection and find some other word to explain what does happen. But the church from its beginning has consistently held to the unaltered meaning of resurrection. From the days of the apostles, without a missing link, the unbroken testimony of the church creeds maintain that the human body that died is the body that will be raised.

Note: The Apostles' Creed“

(Previous to A.D. 600) the flesh. and the resurrection of (As it now reads) the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

The Athanasian Creed

(5th century-accepted by the Greek, Roman and English churches) “at whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall render an account of their own works.”

The Scots Confession

(Adopted A.D. 1560 and Part I of the Constitution of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.) “In the general judgment there shall be given to every man and woman resurrection of the flesh. The sea shall give up her dead; the earth, those that are buried within her. Yea, the Eternal, our God, shall stretch out His hand on the dust, and the dead shall arise incorruptible, and in the very substance of the self-same flesh that every man now bears, to receive, according to their works, glory or punishment.”

The Belgic Confession

(A.D. 1561) “For all the dead shall be raised out of the earth, and their souls joined and united with their proper bodies in which they formerly lived. As for those who then shall be living, they shall not die as the others, but be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and from corruptible become incorruptible.“ Confession of the Eastern Church

(A.D. 1643. Greek and Russian Orthodox churches) “There will be a resurrection of human bodies, alike of the righteous and the wicked, from the death that has passed upon them. . . . They shall be altogether the same bodies with which they lived in this world.”

The Heidelberg Catechism

(A.D. 1563. German Reformed church and Part I of the Constitution of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.) “Question: What comfort does the resurrection of the body afford thee? Answer: That not only my soul, after this life, shall be immediately taken up to Christ its Head, but also that this my body, raised by the power of Christ, shall again be united with my soul and made like unto the glorious body of Christ.“ The Westminster Confession

(A.D. 1647. All Presbyterian churches) “At the last day such as are found alive shall not die, but be changed; and all the dead shall be raised up with the self-same bodies and none other, although with different qualities, which shall be united again to their souls forever.”

In the ultimate, however, the proof that all people will be resurrected is not in the dictionary meaning of resurrected or the testimony of the church creeds, but in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The biblical argument is that Christ predicted His own resurrection and actually arose in the manner He said He would. He thus proved both His power to do as He said and His veracity in all His declarations. And He has further promised that He will raise up at the last day all that are in their graves. Not only is Jesus’ own resurrection proof of His power to raise the dead, but it becomes the model of what we may expect when our bodies are resurrected. We therefore examine Jesus' resurrection and, as well, His resurrection body.

On the day of Pentecost the apostle Peter said of Jesus whom the Jews had crucified, “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact” (Acts 2:32). If Christ had been completely changed after His resurrection, the apostles could not have recognized or identified Him. Thus they could not have been witnesses to His resurrection. It was necessary that Christ should be recognized, and that so unmistakably that His previous predictions might be established and Christianity proved true.

Christ’s resurrection was at once the testing point and crowning evidence both of His Sonship and His Messiahship. Unless His resurrection had been completely proved, Christianity must have failed. As Paul would later put it, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. . . . You are still in your sins” (I Corinthians 15:14, 17). Recognition, then, is not a trivial matter. Had the disciples and others not recognized the risen Jesus, they could not have testified to His resurrection; ultimately, they would have been forced to deny that He rose from the dead.

Accordingly, we find Christ affording to all His disciples the fullest possible evidence that He was still the same Jesus they had known before His crucifixion. In many ways He proved indubitably that He had undergone no essential change. By His voice, by his hands and feet pierced by the nails, by the spear wound in His side, by His eating food in the presence of His disciples, letting them touch and feel his “flesh and bones,” Jesus convinced them all that He was indeed the same Jesus whom they had known and not an apparition.

All of the external marks and traits of Christ’s resurrection body substantially agreed with the body that was put in the tomb. “Look at my hands and my feet,” Jesus said to His disciples, likely drawing their attention to the nail wounds. “It is I myself. Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have” (Luke 24:39). Jesus’ resurrection body corresponded in minute detail with His preresurrection body.

All of this is in exact accord with what we are directly told in Scripture as to the kind of resurrection body all of us will have. There is every reason to believe, both from revelation and the nature of the case, that for both the just and the unjust the same body that died will come forth in the resurrection. At that time the soul will return to inhabit the same body it was in before death.

About the post-resurrection state of the lost the Bible discloses considerable information. And it is enough to cause us to shudder with horror.

In their resurrection bodies the lost will be judged.
“Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Concerning them, the sentence has already been promulgated: “Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile” (Revelation 22:11).

The lost will be punished in hell.
The English word hell is used to translate three words found in the Greek language of the original New Testament: Hades, the place of the unregenerate dead; Gehenna, the post-resurrection place of their punishment; and Tartarus, the deepest abyss of Hades. Writes Herbert Lockyer:

In the word Gehenna, occurring 12 times in the New Testament, 11 of which are in the first three Gospels, we come across a picture word having an historic origin. It is a shortened term for the Vale of Hinnom—Ge-Hinnom—a valley south of Jerusalem. The story of this place is told in Second Chronicles 28:3.

In earlier days it was a fair garden, but under two kings became a place of idolatry. Little children were placed within a heated metal image, thus being made to pass through the fire as an act of worship. In good King Josiah's time, he abolished this repulsive and cruel form of idolatry and defiled the Vale of Hinnom by making it the great rubbish-heap of Jerusalem. Dead animals, unburied bodies of criminals were consumed therein. Fires continually burned with an intense burning on that immense pile. It was still used that way in our Lord’s day.

N0w this word Gehenna is clearly used by Christ as the name for the place of punishment of wicked men (Matthew 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33). In His use of it He did not mean the Gehenna burning outside the Jerusalem walls, but used it as a symbol of utter ruin. It means consignment to something equivalent to the great rubbish-heap of Gehenna. 6

The lost will suffer in hell in their bodies.
The bodies of the lost that are laid in the ground shall be raised again in order that the same body that sinned on earth shall suffer in the hereafter. It is neither logical nor biblical that the body that sinned should be replaced by another body to suffer in hell for that sin. The body that was the soul's companion in sin on earth should not lie forever in the dust while another body, that took no part in the sinning, should be the soul's companion in torment.

Then, too, since the Savior Himself will forever bear the marks of the conflict through which He passed on the cross, would it not be unreasonable and unjust for the ungodly not to everlastingly bear the stigmata of their abuse of their bodies? Further, since they would have none of Christ and His saving benefits in this life, should they expect to have any of His redemptive benefits for their bodies in the resurrection life to come? If, therefore, the bodies of the righteous will be glorious, then those of the wicked will be repulsive.

Indeed, the profligate, the drunkards, the debauchees will bear a natural penalty in their bodies no less than a moral penalty in their souls. Those tongues that in this life were employed in mocking religion, in cursing and swearing, in lying, backbiting and boasting will long for water to assuage the eternal flames (Luke 16:24). The same feet that stood in the way of sinners and carried them in their ungodly activities shall stand in the burning lake (Mark 9:45). And the same covetous and lascivious eyes shall smart from the smoke of the pit. The ears which refused to hear sermons or seasonable exhortations, admonitions and reproofs will hear the abundant weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth (Luke 16:27-31; Matthew 24:30). They will suffer in their bodies— not ethereal, gaseous bodies, but solid bodies of flesh and bone.

The lost will continue to sin in their resurrection bodies.
When Satan was cast out of heaven, he manifested his intense hatred of God and eventually his vehement malice toward mankind by seducing our first parents and destroying the world. Peter informs us that since that time, “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8). John declares that the same malignant being—leads the whole world astray (Revelation 12:9). What a dreadful picture the Bible paints of this evil, hungry being, roaring with rage, going about to devour rational, immortal people throughout the earth.

It is plain that the evil desires of Satan are not diminished by his banishment and sufferings. On this account it is reasonable to believe that all other evil beings will sustain in the next world the same character, the same desires and the same practices that caused their banishment.

That the lost will continue their sin in the next world is attested to in Revelation 22:15: “Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters,a nd everyone who loves and practices falsehood." These sinful drives of the lost will be exceedingly powerful and and unrestrained.”

The lost have no options; their state and condition as sinners is fixed
For them there will be no altenative. No sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God" (Hebrews 10:26–27). God has already offered His ultimate Atonement; what further provision could He possibly make?

The lost will suffer forever
Jesus Himself describes hell (Gehenna) as a place “where the fire never goes out” (Mark 9:43).

In several places (for example, Daniel 12:2, Matthew 3:12; 13:36–43) the Bible sets forth the happiness of the righteous and the sufferings of the wicked in what may be called a parallel manner. No intimation is given that the duration of one will not be equal with that of the other. The words eternal, everlasting, forever as employed in the New Testament refuse to be despoiled of their content by linguistic analysis. As used by the Savior and the apostles, they are to be taken at face value. Thus they convey an intelligible and reliable, however awful, truth concerning the duration of the impenitents' punishment. If heaven is unending, so is hell, for the words are applied to both in the same manner and without any hint of a distinction in their use.

The doom of the lost is inescapable.
To the rich man in hell Abraham said, “Between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us” (Luke 16:26). Mercy will not be extended, paroles will not be issued. Over the entrance of hell stands the inscription, “Abandon Hope All You Who Enter Here.”

Those who die outside of Christ will suffer irremedial loss They will have lost forever the grace of God—His unmerited favor and proffered mercy. They will be irretrievably gone and that forever.

The unsaved will never hear another gospel message. Church, the prayers of Christians, the stirring hymns will be past. Godly parents, children, husband or wife will be missed, their company and faces never to be enjoyed again. The lost might have had a haven of rest; they exchanged it for an everlasting lake of fire and an abode of woe. They might have had glorified bodies; in their place are unredeemed bodies full of sin, corruption, disease and filth. They might have mingled with the saints in the celestial Jerusalem; instead they mingle with beings filled with every imaginable evil. They had opportunity to be children of the heavenly King; they are now vessels of wrath fit only for eternal torments.

It must not be overlooked that this irremedial loss is the unsaved's own deliberate and continued choice personally and freely made. It is, in fact, not so much an infliction of punishment as a withholding of that which could not be received, or if received would be a compulsory bestowal—an act of tyranny. The situation of the lost will be truly of a piece with all their previous conduct and chosen pursuits. Their condition in the future state has all along been in their own hands, freely determined by themselves. The question, therefore, is not what God imposes on them in the next life but what they—by disposition, character and nature —take into it. They carry themselves into it; they can take nothing else with them there. The penalty is inherent in the pride, envy, selfishness and all evil passion which continue in the surviving, rejoined soul and body. Their enormous losses in hell are but God's ratification of their decisive choices in this life.

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