1Cor. 15:12 Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14 if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 1Cor. 15:20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
The Greek idea of “the immortality of the soul” is based on the idea that the individual human soul cannot be destroyed and must of necessity survive the death of the body which is “the prison of the soul.” It is at the death of the body that the soul is finally set free. Ultimately, this freedom means that the individual human soul, which is a little spark of the Eternal Flame that is “god,” is free to return its Divine Origins.
The Bible, especially the New Testament, sometimes seems to support the idea of “the immortality of the soul,” at least in part. Certainly, you will remember the words of Jesus to the dying thief in Luke 23:43, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Though the Bible sometimes seems to support the Greek idea of “the immortality of the soul,” the preachers and teachers of the church, including the laity, constantly assume this teaching. After all, everybody knows that “When we die, we go to heaven!” Isn’t that right?
Maybe not. Modern science has sliced and diced and studied millions upon millions of human beings and has found no shred of evidence that something we call the soul survives the death of the body. Modern science teaches that when the human body dies, it is also the end of the human mind and the human spirit or “life force.” In this scenario, after death, the person who did not exist for all the time that he or she regarded as the past, will not exist for all the time that he or she once regarded as the future. In life, we simply traversed the tiny isthmus that separated the two vast oceans of our non-existence.
Fortunately for us, the Bible which sometimes seems to support the idea of “the immortality of the soul,” is always hard and fast on the idea of resurrection.
In the thoroughly Biblical idea of resurrection, the living human being truly dies, as Jesus died on the cross, but God remembers the human being, as God remembered Jesus, and calls him or her back to life, just as God called Jesus back to life. And life is a new kind of life. Resurrection is not the resuscitation of a dead body but a transformation to a whole new order of being. “It is sown a physical body. It is raised a spiritual body.”
In this little essay, I am daring to compare ordinary men and women to Jesus because that is what the New Testament does. According to 1st Corinthians 15:23, Jesus Christ is “the first fruits,” and those who belong to him are the harvest.
All this is a part of God’s plan. First, humankind is altogether in “the first Adam,” for Adam (whether an individual or a race) was a man “of the earth, of clay,” for, in the Hebrew language, that is what “adam” is. Men and women of clay die, and we return to the earth from which we came. If you don’t believe it, find the skeleton of a small animal or bird, and hide it in a corner of your yard, and watch it as it deteriorates. The same thing would happen to our bodies if we did not embalm or cremate them. Indeed, I suppose that cremation just hurries along the process. Second, humankind (at least those who belong to Jesus) are all together in the Last Adam, which is Jesus Christ, for Jesus Christ is a man of the Spirit. He is the human being of heaven, God’s human being, who came to the earth to die “for our sins,” and “rose again,” for our justification and new life. He is the first fruits and we are the harvest! His resurrection is the massive sign that God has not abandoned us in our little world of time and space, but penetrated it, shattered it, and begun its transformation. (To Be Continued)