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First Corinthians 15--Mortality and death

Sep 22, 2017

I need to attempt to clarify a point about the mortality in the age of judgment, which, I believe, was somewhat confusing in my earlier post.

There are two types of death, one which is the penalty for Adam’s sin, and the other which is the penalty for one’s own sin. Since we, with Paul, “die daily,” we are already experiencing the second death, for it is only by dying that we are given life. Paul says in Romans 6:7, “he who died has been justified from sin” (The Emphatic Diaglott). Death pays the penalty for Adam’s sin, but mere death from mortality does not justify anyone from his own sin. It requires a second type of death to justify anyone.

Jesus paid the penalty for Adam’s sin; and when we identify with Him in the likeness of His death, we are not dying on the cross, but we are instead experiencing a second death. By doing so, we attribute our sins to the cross of Christ, so that they are covered in addition to Adam’s sin. The two are linked, but it does require a two-step process to come into the salvation that God has promised to all.

In other words, Christ’s death on the cross was the fulfillment of God’s New Covenant vow to save all mankind. Because of His success, all will indeed be saved. However, the timing of their salvation (in a practical sense) is different with everyone in each generation and in various ages. Some are justified by faith during their life time, while others have no faith until the Great White Throne judgment, when everyone confesses their allegiance to Christ. The cross, however, ensured that all will indeed confess their allegiance to Him at some point in time, for God will not fail to keep His New Covenant oath to be our God and to make us His people.

The Age of Judgment

John says in Revelation 20:14 that at the time of the Great White Throne judgment, “death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.” I stated that this was a reference to the first death (i.e., mortality), and that mortality will end at the Great White Throne. Yet “the second death” continues for the following age of judgment.

What, then, is the condition of those who abide in the “lake of fire” during the age of judgment? Are they mortal? Jesus said that in in this general resurrection, the believers will be raised to “a resurrection of life,” as distinguished from the unrighteous, who will be raised to “a resurrection of judgment.”

If these unrighteous people are not given “life” at that point, how can death (mortality) be cast into the lake of fire? Would they not remain mortal while paying the penalty for their own sin in the lake of fire?

It is apparent that no one will die during that age of judgment. They will have to live during the entire age in order to pay off the debts that accumulated to them during their life time on earth through sin. No man can fully pay his own debt to the law by his own righteous acts, because in the ultimate sense, no good act can pay for an act of sin. Only on a human level can the law be satisfied by restitution payments. The heavenly standard of righteousness, however, cannot so easily be satisfied, for God expects nothing short of perfection. Once a person has committed his first sin, he is no longer righteous and cannot return to a state of righteousness on his own. That is why no man can be justified apart from the cross of Christ.

So if death is cast into the lake of fire, does that mean that those who are being judged as unrighteous ones are given “life” along with the believers? Obviously not, but then how is it that they can live until the Creation Jubilee—which I believe will occur 42,000 years later? Is that not evidence of immortality?

No, it is not. Consider the fact that the patriarchs lived to be hundreds of years old, and yet they were mortal. Their life spans were limited to under a thousand years. At creation, our physical bodies were healthy and perfect. When the cells of their body wore out, their bodies were designed to replace them with new cells indefinitely. They had at least the potential to live indefinitely, unless they fell off a cliff and as long as they were not murdered by someone else.

The point is that at the Great White Throne, all who are resurrected are given some level of life. The believers, after experiencing some “fire”, will be given true immortal life. But the rest will be given a lower level of life that is more comparable to what we see with the patriarchs. Thus, while experiencing the second death, they will not die from mortality, but neither will they be truly immortal in the full sense of the word.

They must live to serve their full sentence under the authority of the immortals. They must live to grow spiritually, learning righteousness by the example of those in authority over them.

But someone may ask, “If they have already bowed their knees to Jesus Christ, and if they have already confessed Him as Lord to the glory of God the Father, why then should they not receive immortality immediately? Did not Jesus pay for their sins at the cross?”

Well, look at our own example. When we confessed Christ by faith, we received life in ourselves, for in identifying with His death, we also came into the likeness of His resurrection. But did any of us become immortal? No, given enough time, everyone in past generations has died, even if they believed that they would never die.

What manner of life, then, was given to us when we first believed? The new life in us was the life of the New Creation Man, also called the “inner man” (Romans 7:22). The old man, who has been sentenced to death since the time of Adam, cannot come into immortality. It will surely die. But believers are given life through a change of identity, where they are no longer their Adamic self which came through their fathers, but are now a new creature, a new self, that has a different Father. We are begotten by the Spirit of God, and so Paul speaks of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). This is your Christ-identity, the anointed one who is part of the body of Christ, and it is this new self that has received the same quality of immortal life as his Father.

At the general resurrection, the unbelievers will be given new bodies, but they will be Adamic bodies, not Christ-bodies. Only the believers will be given Christ-bodies that are inherently immortal, once they have come through the purifying fire that brings them to spiritual maturity. But all of the new believers—billions of them—will have to grow in the same manner that the rest of us have had to grow during our life time on earth. No one gets immortality except by the established order and procedure. That will take time.

The 42,000 Years

How long will this last? In my view, it is based on the law of Jubilee. The Jubilee trumpet was to be blown after seven weeks of years, that is, after 49 years (Leviticus 25:8). At the end of 49 years—actually, ten days into the 50th year on the Day of Atonement—the Jubilee trumpet was to signal the end of all debt and slavery (Leviticus 25:10). The year of Jubilee was the 50th year, which also served as the first year of the next Jubilee cycle.

Hence, the Jubilee cycles, when calculated in multiples of ten, come to 490 years, as in Daniel’s seventy weeks of years. Forty Jubilees is 40 x 49, or 1,960 years, not 2,000 years. A hundred Jubilees is 100 x 49, or 4900 years.

In my view, God’s plan for creation’s restoration called for a Creation Jubilee cycle of 49,000 years. A day is as a thousand years (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8), and furthermore, a day is also a year (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:5, 6). Putting these elements of biblical timing together, we can see that we are now coming to the end of the first six days/years of 1000 years each. The Great White Throne judgment will occur at the end of the first great “week” of man’s history since Adam’s sin.

This leaves another six “weeks” to go. Six creation weeks are 42,000 years. Keep in mind that it is my belief that these weeks are not dated from creation itself but from Adam’s sin. If these are to be dated from creation itself, then we must contemplate how much time passed before Adam’s sin. The Bible does not say, but many like to speculate on such things.

In my view, the underlying purpose of the law of Jubilee is to limit judgment for sin/debt, so that in the end all may return to their lost inheritance. Without sin and without a loss of inheritance, there would be no practical purpose for a law of Jubilee. Hence, a Creation Jubilee cycle was designed to address this problem and should therefore begin with the day that Adam lost his inheritance through sin/debt.

This is part 107 of a series titled "Studies in First Corinthians." To view all parts, click the link below.

Studies in First Corinthians

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Category: Teachings
Blog Author: Dr. Stephen Jones