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Doctrine of Eternal Life

July 15, 2010

DOCTRINE OF ETERNAL LIFE

A.  Definition of Eternal Life.
1.  Jn 3:36, “He that believes on the Son has eternal life, but he who does not believe on the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
a.  Attitude toward Christ determines whether we have eternal life or not.
b.  The Greek word PISTEUO in the present tense means you have eternal life the moment you believe and continue to have it.
2.  A person has eternal life the moment he believes in the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.
3.  Eternal life is imputed to the human spirit, which is created for you by God the Holy Spirit at regeneration.

B.  Three Categories of Eternal Life.
1.  For the believer who dies in time prior to resurrection, there are three categories of eternal life.
a.  The believer has eternal life while living on the earth, having both earthly and eternal life.  This is the mortality category of eternal life.  This stage of eternal life continues until the Rapture takes place or until we die.
b.  The believer has eternal life after death while living in heaven and waiting for his resurrection body.  This can be classified as having both interim life and eternal life.
c.  The believer has eternal life forever in a resurrection body, which is resurrection life and eternal life.  This is the immortality stage of eternal life.
2.  Those believers in the Rapture generation who do not die physically have two categories of eternal life.
a.  Temporal life plus eternal life.
b.  Resurrection life plus eternal life.
3.  Each category of eternal life reveals a new aspect of God’s perfect integrity and plan.

C.  There is a body for each stage of eternal life.
1.  Temporal life plus eternal life has the body of corruption with the old sin nature.
2.  The interim life plus eternal life has the interim body, which experiences no more pain, tears, sorrow, old sin nature, or sickness.
a.  In this interim body, you are recognizable.  This is the body you occupy while awaiting your resurrection body, 2 Cor 5:8; Rev 21:4.
b.  The interim life and eternal life stage makes no distinction between winners and losers in the Christian life.  It provides sublime happiness for every believer.
c.  This gives the greatest of comfort to loved ones at a funeral.  Losers and winners have it just as good in heaven in an interim body.
3.  Resurrection life plus eternal life has the resurrection body.
4.  Therefore, eternal life exists in two or more categories of life.  The person who does not die experiences two categories of eternal life; the person who does die experiences three categories of eternal life.

D.  Eternal life is attainable only in time.
1.  Eternal life can only be received while a person lives on earth in his temporal life.
2.  You cannot get eternal life once you die as an unbeliever.
3.  Eternal life begins in time, 2 Cor 6:2.  You cannot get eternal life in eternity; you have to get it now.
4.  There is only one entrance into eternal life—faith alone in Christ alone.

E.  Eternal life belongs only to the believer.
1.  The three categories of eternal life do not apply to the unbeliever, who is described in Jn 3:18.
2.  Eternal life belongs only to the believer who is never without a body.  You always have a body with your eternal life.
3.  Eternal life is a technical phrase related to the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.
4.  Eternal life is the life possessed by each member of the Trinity.  With them it had no beginning.  It has a beginning for us, but no end.  There is no such thing as “everlasting life,” which is a mistranslation of the original languages.  We must break into eternal life by faith in Christ.
a.  Eternal life begins the moment we believe in Christ.
b.  Eternal life continues in our mortal bodies as we live the spiritual life of the Church Age.  Eternal life continues at the point of physical death.
c.  We have a life of immortality at the Rapture of the Church.  We have eternal life in an immortal body.
d.  Once you break into eternal life, you have eternal life forever, and you can never lose your eternal life.
5.  1 Tim 6:12, “Fight the good fight of doctrine.  Take an interest in eternal life to which you were called and you made a good witness in the presence of many witnesses.”  When you believe in Jesus Christ in the state of mortality, you are called into the state of immortality, a calling which will take place at the resurrection.  Fighting the good fight of faith is that fantastic witness we have by the execution of our unique spiritual life of the Church Age.
6.  Jude 21, “Guard yourselves by means of love for God, as you wait for the lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ with reference to eternal life.”
7.  1 Jn 5:11-12, “And this is the deposition: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has [eternal] life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have [eternal] life.”
8.  The mortality of the unbeliever is spiritual death, and the immortality of the unbeliever is called the second death, Rev 20:12-14.
9.  He who believes in the Son has eternal life, but he who does not believe shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.
10.  2 Cor 5:6-8, “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in this body we are absent from the Lord; for we walk by faith, not by sight.  We are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home face-to-face with the Lord.”

F.  Resurrection power is given to the Church.
1.  There are two general resurrections.
a.  The first resurrection is for believers only and is a part of eternal life.  In that resurrection all of us receive a body of immortality.  Dan 12:2; Jn 5:24-29; 1 Cor 15:20-23; Rev 20:6, 13.
b.  The second resurrection is for unbelievers only at the end of time.  The unbeliever is resurrected still in spiritual death, and they go from spiritual death to the second death, which is life forever in the lake of fire.
2.  There are two ways of returning from the dead.
a.  Resuscitation, in which a person returns from the dead in a body of corruption, and subsequently dies again, like Lazarus.
b.  Resurrection, in which a person returns from the dead in a body of incorruption, which is called a body of immortality with eternal life.
3.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ.
a.  Jesus Christ dismissed His spirit into the custodianship of God the Father.  Eph 1:20; Col 2:12; 1 Thes 1:10; 1 Pet 1:21.  Lk 23:46.
b.  Our Lord’s soul was taken by the Holy Spirit into Paradise to proclaim His victory to the Old Testament believers and the fallen angels imprisoned in another compartment of Hades called Tartarus.  Ps 16:10; Lk 23:43; Acts 2:27.
c.  Our Lord’s body went into the grave, Lk 23:53.
d.  In resurrection, the omnipotence of God the Father returned the Lord’s spirit to His body in the grave, and God the Holy Spirit restored His soul to the body in the tomb.  Our Lord then walked through the stone door.
e.  There is a possibility that Jesus Christ could have created His own resurrection body, and two verses possibly indicate that this is what happened, Jn 2:18-22; Jn 10:14-18.  Just as He creates our resurrection bodies, so He may have created His own resurrection body.  1 Jn 3:2.
4.  The power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is now available to every Church Age believer, and that has never occurred before in human history.
a.  This power is not available to us when we are out of fellowship.  The unique spiritual life of the Church Age is based upon this resurrection power.  The power of our Lord’s resurrection is now available in the spiritual life of every Church Age believer as a royal priest.
b.  There is an equally phenomenal discipline for rejecting this power.  We have an equal and opposite punishment for being out of fellowship.  We have the greatest power available to us when in fellowship and an equally powerful punishment for being out of fellowship.  We have the option of executing the spiritual life under the greatest power ever given to mankind or the option of the greatest punishment from God if we do not wish to have the power of the filling of the Spirit.  We receive the greatest power and receive the greatest punishment for rejecting it.
c.  Eph 1:19-20, “and what is the surpassing greatness of His power to us for our benefit who have believed for the working of His supreme power, which He put into operation by means of Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand in heavenly places.”
d.  Only those who advance in the spiritual life will have this power of the Spirit.  We are commanded in Eph 5:18 to keep on being filled with this power.
e.  Phil 3:10, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection…”  Paul understood the importance of the spiritual life more than anyone else.
5.  The omnipotence of God the Father is part of our spiritual life.  It is related to our portfolio of invisible assets and using the power of God the Father for the execution of the spiritual life.
6.  The omnipotence of God the Son is related to the preservation and perpetuation of human history, so that neither the earth or the universe, nor the people on the earth can be destroyed until the end of human history after one thousand years of perfect environment.
7.  The omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit is the power for learning the spiritual life and then living the spiritual life.
8.  The power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is available to every Church Age believer for the execution of the unique spiritual life of human history.  This power is also involved in the resurrection of the Church.
a.  1 Cor 6:14, “Now God [the Father and Holy Spirit] not only resurrected our Lord, but He will resurrect us through His power.”
b.  1 Thes 4:13-18, “But we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God [the Father] will bring with Him those [in interim body] who have fallen asleep in Jesus.  For this we communicate to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel [Gabriel] and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
(1)  Those who go from mortality to immortality do not precede those who go from the interim body to immortality.  Those in interim body receive their resurrection bodies first.  They are resurrected by a trumpet command.  They receive their resurrection bodies in heaven and then follow the Lord from heaven to the earth.
(2)  Then those who are alive and remain on the earth will receive their resurrection bodies and meet the Lord in the atmosphere.  These believers go from a body of mortality to a body of immortality.
c.  1 Cor 15:50-57, “Now this I confirm, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.  Behold, I communicate to you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the winking of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on the incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  Now when this corruption has put on the imperishable, and this mortal has put on immortality, then the doctrine that stands written will occur, “Death has been swallowed up as a result of victory.” ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(1)  Biological life cannot go to heaven.  Therefore, the importance of physical death as a prerequisite for resurrection.  We must have a body compatible with our eternal life.  Mortality cannot get to heaven.  The mortal body is designed only for the earth.
(2)  Corruption is the human body or biological life, which is destroyed by death.  Incorruption is the eternal state of the believer in resurrection body.
(3)  Death is swallowed up as a result of victory, not “in victory.”
(4)  While death is God’s victory, He gives that victory to every Church Age believer by choosing the time, the place, and the manner of our death.
(5)  The grace policy of God extends to the dying of every believer.
(6)  While the Church Age believer uses his own volition to accept or reject Bible doctrine to become a winner or a loser in his spiritual life, when it comes to dying it is the Lord’s decision.  Hence, the dying of the Church Age believer is a matter of the love, the wisdom, the justice, the fairness, and the grace decision of God.
(7)  The ultimate in living is occupation with Christ, the fullness of blessing from God (Eph 3:19).  The ultimate in dying is the point of doctrine that death is God’s victory because it is God’s decision.
(8)  “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”  There are no exceptions.  Rom 14:8, “If we live, and we do, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord.  Therefore, whether we live or whether we die, we belong to the Lord.”
(9)  The believer cannot be removed from this life apart from the sovereignty of God.  Until God makes that decision, nothing can remove the believer from this life.  However, once God makes that decision, nothing can keep you on earth.  The death of the believer is God’s decision and since God is perfect that decision is God’s wisdom, love, integrity, and victory.
(10)  In all matters of life and death, timing is important.  God is perfect, therefore, His time regarding our dying is perfect.  His decision regarding the time, manner, and place of our death should never be questioned.  Bitterness over the death of a loved one is blasphemy because it is maligning the love, wisdom, and sovereignty of God.
(11)  Only believers living the spiritual life of the Church Age derive comfort from the doctrine of eternal life regarding the death of a loved one.  The carnal believer receives no comfort.
d.  1 Pet 1:3-5, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who on the basis of great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is incorruptible and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you who are guarded by the power of God through faith resulting in salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
e.  1 Jn 3:2, “Beloved, we are now the children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known in detail.  But we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.”