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What the Bible says about Hope of the Resurrection
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Ecclesiastes 3:11

God has endowed us with the sense of the future and with a curiosity about what goes on beyond the grave: Is there life beyond the grave? Do we have immortality? Is this life all there is? He has made man with the capacity to think about these matters. Unfortunately, as Solomon says, nobody can figure out what He is doing. Without vision, people perish (Proverbs 29:18); without revelation, people cast off restraint—they go off the path.

"They do not know what He is doing from the beginning" does not refer to what He is doing in His creative acts but the purpose of life. His purpose has been revealed to us that we might have the same hope that God has for us: to share all eternity with Him and live as He does. If we have caught the vision and understand what the resurrection is—the doorway through which we step to continue in all of its fulness the kind of life that God has already introduced to us and we have begun to put into practice—we realize that we will be able to continue as His companions, His children for all eternity. This is what the resurrection represents!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Resurrection From the Dead

1 Corinthians 15:1-8

As he opens this chapter, Paul's clear purpose is to show that the hope God has placed before us is not based on men's guesses or possibilities, but on the testimony of many eyewitnesses then yet living when he wrote this in the AD 50s. Paul adds that he did not make up the gospel, but it was what he received from Christ, and what he received was exactly the same as what he had later been told by the apostles when he met with them in Jerusalem. Paul is presenting the resurrection of Christ as a historical fact.

We also have available to us the witness of the apostles' lives following the resurrection. Now, people just do not do the things the apostles did without believing what they saw with their own eyes with all their heart. Thus, in the first eight verses Paul reinforces what Peter says in II Peter 1:16-21, that there is plenty of strong evidence of the proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is not a figment of these men's imaginations. It really did occur, and God did not provide a mere two or three witnesses, but hundreds of them to the fact of the resurrection of the dead.

Paul establishes that our hope is resurrection into the Kingdom of God. However, we must take this hope one step farther if we want to make it a motivating force. The resurrection is, in one sense, merely a promised event given at a point in time. It does not occur merely because we believe it, or even because it has been promised. It occurs because of Who promised it. It occurs because there is a powerful Being of utmost integrity, who cannot lie and who will make it occur. This is where our hope must be, not in what He has promised, but rather Who has promised it. Is our faith in God? So must our hope be in God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Perseverance and Hope

Ephesians 4:4

Paul clearly links our hope with our calling, which is God's summons into His presence so that we may have a relationship with Him. In the context of the first paragraph of Ephesians 4, the implication is that this hope is a factor that unites us into one body. Our calling is an end to pessimism, negativity, and despair and the beginning of a confident, bright, and optimistic life filled with endless possibilities because this unique hope gives positive expectancy to life here and now and beyond the grave as well.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Three): Hope

2 Timothy 1:8-9

II Timothy 1:8-9 and Titus 3:5 together reveal that our hope for salvation and completion as a son of God in Christ's image, prepared for the resurrection to eternal life, all comes down to one thing - God. Was it not God who saved Israel from their slavery? Was it not God who provided for them the whole way through the wilderness, then gave them their inheritance regardless of any promise? Would they have had any hope without Him in the picture, first giving the promise and then fulfilling what He said He would do?

Could they have delivered themselves? Could they have provided for themselves? Could they have taken over the Promised Land? Their hope had to be in God, that He would follow through. The promise did not save them. It was the God who made the promise.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Perseverance and Hope

Hebrews 6:18-19

Here hope is seen as being external. Even though we carry the thought, the understanding, the knowledge of it in our own minds, and it appears to be internal, it is actually external to those who have it. Our hope is something that we flee to for refuge, and this hope has entered behind the veil for us.

This kind of hope, which is used more frequently in the Bible than internal hope, is seen as what stirs us and produces the hope within. This kind of hope is what the Christian's hope—the object, the concept, the idea, the fact—is in. For instance, our hope can be in God or in Jesus or in salvation, as Scripture may say. It can be in God's promises, His Word, eternal life, His steadfast love, His grace, the resurrection from the dead, and sharing the glory of God. Our internal hope is motivated by these aspects of the external hope.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Trumpets Is a Day of Hope

Revelation 20:10

This verse ostensibly describes the Lake of Fire as a place where God torments people forever. This assumption raises three questions:

1. If the Beast and False Prophet are mortal men, why are they still alive after the Millennium when Satan is cast into the Lake of Fire?

2. If they are mortals, how can they “be tormented day and night forever and ever” in an inferno that would soon consume them?

3. What kind of God would devise such a “cruel and unusual” punishment?

Before answering these questions, we must briefly consider whether human beings have an immortal soul. For several biblical reasons, our understanding of the Scriptures compels us to maintain that they do not:

1. Job recognizes that man has a spirit (Job 32:8), which the apostle Paul shows in I Corinthians 2:11 endows humanity with intellect. This spirit in man comes from God (Zechariah 12:1) and returns to Him upon death (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Acts 7:59). It records an individual's life, character, and personality, which God stores until the resurrection of the dead. However, the Bible never describes this spirit as immortal or eternal; in fact, I Corinthians 2:6-16 explains that man needs yet another Spirit, God's, to be complete and to discern godly things. According to Ecclesiastes 3:21, animals also have a spirit, “which goes down to the earth,” suggesting that it ceases to exist at the animal's death.

2. The Bible flatly asserts that all people die: “[I]t is appointed for men to die once” (Hebrews 9:27). Ezekiel says distinctly that souls die: “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20; see Romans 6:23). Jesus warns in Matthew 10:28 that God can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna, a type of the Lake of Fire.

3. In death, life and consciousness are gone. “The dead know nothing,” says Solomon in Ecclesiastes 9:5, and he later adds, “[T]here is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (verse 10). In Psalm 146:4, the psalmist writes about men's death, “His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish” (see Genesis 3:19).

4. Scripture also confutes the idea that people go to heaven or hell after death. Peter says to the crowd on the day of Pentecost, “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. . . . For David did not ascend into the heavens” (Acts 2:29, 34). Our Savior confirms this in John 3:13: “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.” The biblical usage of Sheol and Hades simply means “the pit” or “the grave.”

5. Men cannot have immortality unless God gives it to them. Paul writes, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23; emphasis ours throughout). In I Corinthians 15:53 he tells the saints, “This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality”; that is, immortality is not inherent in us. At the first resurrection, God will give “eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality” (Romans 2:7). If we already had immortality, why should we seek it?

6. Only God has immortality. He is, Paul writes to Timothy, “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality” (I Timothy 6:15-16). John says of the Word, “In Him was life” (John 1:4), meaning as Creator of all things (verse 3), He had life inherent. Jesus affirms this in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” In other words, humans must go through Him to receive eternal life.

With such overwhelming proof, the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, believed by so many, proves false. Man is not immortal, nor does he possess any “spark of God” unless God has given it to him through the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11). A Christian's hope of life after death rests in the resurrection of the dead (I Corinthians 15:12-23). Conversely, the wicked only await eternal death as recompense for their evil lives.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Eternal Torment?


 




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