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Mark McCulley
Judge by the Gospel


They Won't Get the Promise Before We Do

Hebrews 11:
(Of whom the world was not worthy): They wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

Perfection won't happen until we are all resurrected, but the trick is to get yourself killed for Jesus so that your spirit will go straight to heaven? Of course the text doesn't say this.

Even if most Christians think it would be better (for them) to be dead than to be alive, they also think they are not allowed to "get themselves killed" on purpose. Some do think they are allowed to go around talking to their children about how we would all be better off dead! (anybody read Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy?)

When thinking of the "intermediate state", the tradition ignores Hebrews 11:40. Others texts are used to say that dead Christians (OT Christians) have now gone straight to heaven WITHOUT US.

Acts 2:34: David is not ascended to heaven. Even though the "first resurrection" is regeneration, David is still dead now.

John 7:34: "You will search for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come." Of course, if the soul is immortal (something the Bible never says!), then we should modify the text to say: 'your soul or spirit CAN come'.

John 13:33: "little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the JEWS so now I say to YOU, where I am, you cannot come." But if we are present in heaven in consciousness, then what is the force of this statement from Jesus?

If we shall simply go there, why the promise that He shall come here?

II Cor 5: To be absent from the body AND present with---no assumption here that the timing is the same. But if you assume that being in a material body is the problem for the immaterial immortal soul, then I can see how you can make the mistake of thinking that death is a solution to that problem.

If God has given all humans "immortal souls", then in what sense can we speak of an (additional?) gift of "aeonian" life to the elect? Romans 6:23 and John 17:2.

I Cor 15:52: in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet (NOT WHEN WE DIE!), the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."

Even those in the happy situation of being alive at the coming of Jesus, who will not have to die as most Christians have died, even they need to be changed and "vivified"--they don't have immortality until the receive it at that day, until they "put it on". (Except of course in a proleptic sense, as we are glorified already, because of the guarantee of our sovereign God.)

What about the "coming with the saints" texts? Do you take them to mean that our Lord is coming with the "immortal souls" of the saints?

Job 14:14: if a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.

John 5:28-29: the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice and shall come forth... (traditionalists-it's not the "real them" that comes out but only their bodies-the "real them" has been in heaven without us...)

Are nonChristian souls already immortal? Are these souls now being tortured with fire?

Mark McCulley

Copyright © 2000 by Mark McCulley. All rights reserved.