January 18, 2004
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth
not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15
Spiritualism, Part IV
by Jack Northart
When it comes to reading God’s Word and dealing with the subject of life after death, we should look into our minds to see if we are reading exactly what is stated in God’s Word or, if we are adding words between the lines. This is a major source for our lack of understanding God’s Word. Secondly, we must carefully read the entire context of a section of Scripture. Verses cannot be extracted from their contexts and still project the intended truth. In the third place in studying unclear or apparently contradictory Scriptures, look for other Scriptures on the given topic. When verses are clear and agree with one another, we must adhere to the clear passages and look for the translation errors in the apparently contradictory verse or verses. And finally, when a passage of the Word of God is not clear or is contradictory with other Scriptures, a student of the Word should look at older, more nearly original texts, such as Estrangelo Aramaic, Hebrew, or Greek to see if the translation is as clear in English as it was in the earlier texts. This is important to bear in mind when studying this subject of spiritualism and life after death.
II Corinthians 5:8
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
Since the clear verses that we have read in previous issues on the subject of what happens when one dies are quite clear, this verse appears to be a bit “thorny” on this subject. It has been misconstrued to mean that when one dies, he is immediately received unto Christ. But that is in contradiction to the distinct, clear verses on what will happen to the dead in Christ when he returns to gather us together. There must be something deeper than just what people have misinterpreted this to mean. Let’s look at the context of this verse.
II Corinthians 4:14
Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.
What is the context of this verse? It is the return of Christ. He is stating that God raised Jesus from the dead, and He will also raise us up from among the dead and “…present us with you.” Let’s continue to look at the context.
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal [temporary]; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
We are not to look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. Death is something that we see around us, but the return of Christ is yet to be seen and is what we are to look for. Why would we want to do that? The context explains what will happen at that time.
II Corinthians 5:1,2
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
Our new bodies that we will get at the moment of Christ’s return, will be unlimited in scope and activity. Philippians describes what this new body will be like.
Philippians 3: 20,21
For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Our new bodies will be fashioned like unto his glorious body. We will have the same type of body that Jesus had after God raised him from the dead. Very cool! This will be the Rolls Royce of bodies! Christ Jesus could do many amazing things with this new body and so will we. That is why we look for the Savior, because when he comes back we will have this new, wonderful body fashioned like unto his glorious body. As Paul stated in II Corinthians 5:2 “For in this [current mortal body] we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.” This body that we have now can get a cold. It can get hurt and bleed. It can become overweight and lose its hair. It can get a headache. It can die. This current body is imperfect, mortal and if we die, it will be corruptible. But the new body will not have these problems or shortcomings because our new body will come from the Lord at the time of the return of Christ.
The statement that Paul makes in II Corinthians 5:2 about earnestly groaning to be clothed upon with our new house, our new body, begins to make sense when we get to verse 8.
II Corinthians 5:8
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body [our present physical body], and to be present with the Lord.
The context of this verse is not talking about dying and being present with the Lord, but rather being absent from this mortal, temporal body and present with the Lord, which will happen when Christ returns. If we are alive when Christ comes back, then we will be changed to have an immortal body. If we die before he returns, then we would get an incorruptible body.
I Corinthians 15:51-54
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
When he returns, those living with mortal bodies become immortal, and those who have died and have corrupted, are changed into incorruptible bodies. Death for both categories is swallowed up in victory.
II Thessalonians 4:13-18
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep [have died], that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede in order] them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
This strong hope of Christ’s return that Paul had, knowing that not until he was clothed upon with the new body of glory could he be with Christ, permeates the entire section of II Corinthians 4:8-5:8. There is never any thought of attaining the state of being with Christ apart from Christ’s return. Believers will only be present with the lord when they are “clothed with” their new spiritual bodies. If we are already present with the lord immediately after death and prior to Christ’s return, why in the world would we need to come back and pick up the old body? Who needs it? The reason that our body has to be changed is because we will be asleep, corrupting, waiting for his coming.
I Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
The reason our labor is not in vain is because Christ did rise from the dead, he will return, and we shall be released from the jaws of death to enjoy life everlasting. We are now joyfully anticipating his return. Maybe it could be today!
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