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WHAT HAPPENS AFTER DEATH? PART FOUR

 

       In Part Three of this series, we showed how Apostle Paul taught there would be a resurrection of both the righteous and wicked dead (Acts 24:15). Jesus taught the same thing by His reference to judgement of the people of Sodom, Nineveh and other ancient cities (Matthew 10:15, 11:22, Matthew 12:41). Let's look at several additional Scriptures that teach all humans will face judgement.

Judgement of all humans:

       Hebrews 9:27: Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.

       Romans 14:10-12: For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written: As surely as I live,' says the Lord, `every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'" So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. 

       2 Corinthians 5:10: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

       Since judgement is seen as occurring subsequent to physical death, an afterlife appears to be a given. Staying dead subsequent to physical death is not an option. The question is this. Is this afterlife an eternal life or is it a temporal life?  Is it an eternal life for some but a temporal life for others. Will the judgement determine whether it is an eternal afterlife or a temporal afterlife? 

       When Paul and others speak of judgement, it appears to be a judgement that will apply to all humans who have ever lived. Since it is obvious that every knee does not bow before God in this physical life, statements about appearing before the judgement seat of God where every knee will bow must pertain to life after physical death.  Paul made a statement that indicates that all humans who have ever lived are made alive because of the Christ event.

       1 Corinthians 15:21-22.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

 Made alive in Christ:

       Paul appears to be saying that that all humans experience death as a result of sin that began with Adam and all humans are made alive because of the resurrection of Christ. Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 is in perfect harmony with what he says about all appearing before the judgement seat of Christ. 

       It appears from the Scriptures that our death would be permanent (eternal) if it wasn’t for the Christ event.  Paul is saying that because of what Christ did, all are made alive. Since the all being made alive in Christ is contrasted with all dying in Adam, it would stand to reason that all being made alive in Christ means all humans who have ever lived.

       What does it mean for all to be made alive in Christ?  Are some made alive to forever live in the heavenly realm while others are made alive to die again and remain dead forever?  Worse yet, will some be consigned to suffer eternal conscious punishment as is commonly taught in evangelical Christian churches.   

       Scripture shows the sinless life Christ lived is applied to us humans so we can be reconciled to God.  This is clearly spelled out in the Scriptures as the pathway to eternal life. 

       Romans 5:8-10: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

       2 Corinthians 5:18: All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

       Colossians 1:22:  But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.

        This reconciliation is seen in Scripture as congruent with the eternal death penalty for sin being removed and replaced with eternal life.  This gift of eternal live is seen as occurring independent of anything we do or don't do. It is offered as a free gift of God through the Christ event.

       Yet, Scripture also shows what appear to be conditions that must be met for this free gift to be efficacious. We must express faith in what Christ did in order to receive this gift of eternal life. This faith includes recognition of His lordship over our lives which means we are submissive and obedient to His will and the will of God the Father. In other words, repentance.

       However, the vast majority of humans who have ever lived (multiple billions) have not met these conditions for the granting of eternal life. Yet it is evident they will be resurrected to life to face judgement.  So to what kind of life are these billions resurrected and what kind of judgement do they face?

       Some believe the "unsaved dead" are resurrected to a temporal physical life and given opportunity to be saved?  If this is the case, will some "unsaved dead" fail to respond to the salvation message when resurrected to such a life and be permanently destroyed or worse yet, be consigned to everlasting punishing?

       In Hebrews 9:27 it is written that "man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment." Yet we see people resurrected to physical life in Scripture who assumedly physically died a second time. Such people physically died twice. It is apparent the writer to the Hebrews was simply saying that it is appointed to man to die due to sin.  We all die once in that we all sin and are subject to the penalty for sin which is death. Jesus came to erase that penalty and provide for eternal life through reconciliation with God.  The giant question before us is whether such reconciliation is for all humans who have ever lived or is it limited reconciliation?

       Those who subscribe to Calvinistic theology will argue reconciliation with God is limited to those God arbitrarily predestines to be saved.  It is taught that God in His sovereignty can save whom He pleases and not save whom He pleases. While it is true God is sovereign and can do anything He wants to do, is the Calvinistic approach really reflective of what the Scriptures reveal God wants to do as to the salvation of mankind? 

       Paul wrote to Timothy that "God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4) and that "God,is the Savior of all men" (1 Timothy 4:10). Apostle John wrote to his first century audience that He (Jesus) is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2). John also wrote that "the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world" (John 4:14). 

       Those who subscribe to Arminian theology teach reconciliation with God is limited to those who of their own free will in this life choose Christ.  Arminians teach that God does not pre-determine salvation for anyone.  Under Arminianism, God has provided the pathway to salvation and has given man the freedom to choose or not choose this salvation. Those who don’t choose Christ are either consigned to eternal torment or annihilated, depending on ones point of view. Under both Calvinism and Arminianism, it is only in this physical life that a determination can be made as to what happens in the afterlife.        

        Since it is historically evident that that the vast majority of humans who have lived and died have not met the mandates seen under either Calvinism or Arminianism, the vast majority of the human race faces eternal separation from God either through annihilation,  eternal conscious punishing or some other state of separation from the presence of God.  If it is only in this physical life that humans have opportunity to be reconciled to God, the sacrifice of Christ is limited to a comparatively small group of individuals. Is this what the Scriptures teach?

Moving from death to life:

       Scripture reveals that those who express faith in Christ and submit to his will during this physical life experience an actual passage from death unto life while yet physical.  Jesus said those who believe in Him, even through they die, they will never die. 

       John 11:25-26:  "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die

        At first glance this appears as a contradiction. How can one die and never die at the same time?  It is apparent Jesus is speaking of our physical death in comparison to not staying dead if one lives and believes in Him. It is apparent Jesus is referring to never dying an eternal death. It is dying an eternal death that sin produces. For those who place faith in Jesus, physical death appears to simply be a transition to an eternal existence, an existence that is already resident within a born again believer. 

       Jesus told the Pharisee Nicodemus one must be born again to enter the Kingdom of God. Such rebirth is described as being of the spirit as opposed to being of the flesh. The result of being born of the spirit is described by Jesus as a non-physical state of being.

       John 3:5-6: Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, `You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."    

       Paul speaks of this rebirth in his letter to the Romans. While he doesn't call it a rebirth, he shows that the giving of life to the mortal body involves having the Spirit of God uniting with our human spirit. This is seen as having resident life abiding in us even through our mortal body is dead (will die) because of sin.

       Romans 8:10-11:  But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

       Paul shows in his letter to he Corinthians that resurrection to life is all about moving from being a natural (physical) body to being a spiritual body.  Entering the Kingdom, which is commensurate with entering eternal life, is accomplished through moving from being flesh to being spirit, from having a mortal body to having an immortal body.         

       1 Corinthians 15:42-44:  So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.   If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

       1 Corinthians 15:50: I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

      It is apparent we must be transformed from having a flesh and blood body to having a body of spirit composition in order to enter eternal life in the Kingdom of God.  It is also apparent that this transformation (being born again) can begin while still being a flesh and blood physical Being. We can have the seed of eternal life dwelling within the physical body.  Apostle Peter wrote of being born again of imperishable seed which is congruent with having immortality which is imperishable.

       1 Peter 1:23: For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 

       What about the billions that die not having the seed of eternal life abiding in them?  To repeat, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:22 that all will be made alive in Christ. Since Paul contrasts all being made alive in Christ with all dying in Adam, it would certainly appear that all humans will be made alive in Christ in contrast to all humans dying in Adam.

       In discussing the fate of Israel, Paul wrote that "all Israel will be saved" (Romans 11:26).  Did Paul mean all Israelites who have ever lived?  Isaiah writes that "in the LORD all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous and will exult" (Isaiah 45:25).  Does Isaiah  mean all Israelites who have ever lived?  Paul follows his statement about all Israel being saved by writing that "For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all (Romans 11:32). Here a contrast is made similar to 1st Corinthians 15:22 All men are said to be bound over to disobedience but God will have mercy on all men. It would appear that for God to have mercy on all men equates with the granting of salvation to all men which is to replace death with life for all men.       

       Ephesians 2:1a and 2:4-5: As for you, you were (being) dead in your transgressions and sins...But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were (being) dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. The Greek word rendered "were" is ὄντας (ontas) which means "in a state of being." Young's Literal Translation renders it as "Also you -- being dead in the trespasses and the sins."  Paul is speaking of being in a present state of death but being made alive through the Christ event. This is consistent with Paul saying "the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). It also is consistent with what Peter said about having the seed of immortal life resident within one while still in a physical body.  We see Paul saying the same thing in his letter to the Colossians.

       Colossians 2:11-13: In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature,  not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were (Greek ὄντας (ontas which means being) dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature,  God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins.

       In his letter to Titus, Paul speaks of experiencing a rebirth by means of the Holy Spirit as a consequence of the love of God expressed through Jesus.

       Titus 3:4-5:But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,  he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,

       Paul wrote the Romans that "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in  Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).   Paul wrote to Timothy that Jesus "has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2nd Timothy 1:10).

        Did Jesus destroy death only for some or did He do so for all?  If all humans who have ever lived are made alive in Christ, then the so-called unsaved dead are also made alive. I ask again, is the making alive of the so-called unsaved dead a temporal making alive or is it an eternal making alive?

       Since Scripture reveals that Jesus has destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light, it would seem to follow that to be made alive in Christ is to be made alive forever (eternal life). In Revelation 1:18 Jesus is quoted as saying, "I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! Paul wrote "since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him" (Romans 6:10).

       Jesus has been made alive forever and ever (eternal life). He cannot die again. The question before us is simply this: Does all being made alive in Christ mean to be made alive forever just as Christ has been made alive forever or does it mean to be made alive but not necessarily forever? 

       The Scriptures equate the receiving of eternal life with being saved from eternal death Will all humans be saved from dying eternally?  If that should be the case, there ultimately will be no such thing as unsaved dead.  All humans will at some point be saved from the wages of sin that Scripture teaches produces death.  All humans will move from being mortal to being immortal. All humans will live forever.   

Universal Salvation:

       The belief that all humans who have ever lived and will ever live are reconciled to God through the Christ event and granted immortality (eternal life) with God in the heavenly realm is usually referred to as universal salvation.  This view is also referred to as universal reconciliation or the doctrine of comprehensive grace.  Those taking this view do not see salvation limited to only those who come to understand and accept the Gospel message while physically alive. It is believed the sacrifice of Christ is applied to all humans and therefore all humans are reconciled to God.    

       Some Universalists believe there is a place of temporary remedial punishment in the afterlife for wicked behavior while a resident of planet earth.  It is believed those who experience this punishment will ultimately join God in the heavenly realm.

       The problem with this perspective is that there is no Scriptural teaching that after physical death the unsaved go to a place of remedial punishment.  All that we see in Scripture is that all humans are granted life after physical death (made alive in Christ: 1 Corinthians 15:22) and all humans will be judged (Romans 14:10-12, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Hebrews 9:27,) and God will have mercy on all humans (Romans 11:32).

       Paul said “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).  Some believe the "we all" Paul is addressing are only those who are considered the redeemed and all that is being said here is that the saved will appear before Christ to be judged to determine the level of reward or lack of reward for their behavior while human? 

      Since the saved dead are granted immortality by virtue of being saved, it would appear that judgement is not to determine life or death but the level of reward in the afterlife. However, Jesus said those who have expressed faith in Him have crossed over from death to life and will not be judged.

       John 5:24:  I tell you the truth; whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.

       The Greek word translated “condemnation” in John 5:24 is krisis. This word appears 48 times in the NT and is most often translated judgement.  The basic meaning of this word is to render a decision. Christ said that if we believe in Him and keep His word we will not be judged.  It should be apparent that Jesus is here saying we will not face a decision as to the granting of eternal life.  That decision will have already been made based on our positive response to the Gospel message. If this is the case, what purpose is served in the saved standing before God’s judgement seat?  The answer to this question may be found in what Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church.

       I Corinthians 3:9-15:  “For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work.   If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” 

        Paul is talking about building upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. The implication is that we build upon this foundation by how we conduct ourselves as Christians.  We all do this with various levels of success and failure.  Our success and failure does not determine our salvation. Salvation is guaranteed through faith in Christ.  There apparently is, however, reward associated with salvation.  Such reward will vary according to our works.  This is made evident in a number of Scriptures.  Here are just a few.

       Matthew 5:11-12: Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

       Matthew 16:27: For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.

       Luke 6:35: But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

       While salvation is clearly seen in Scripture as an unmerited gift from God and not based on anything we do or don’t do, there appears to be reward connected with what we do and judgement appears to be for the purpose of determining level of reward.

       Jesus said God is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. While this statement appears to pertain to the physical realm, does it extend to life beyond physical death?   It appears all humans are to be made alive in Christ and appear before God and be judged.  If those saved in this life are going to be judged as to rewards for how they conducted themselves while physical, what kind of judgement are the so-called unsaved facing?  Is judgement of the unsaved dead a judgement to determine whether they remain alive or is remaining alive a given and their judgement pertains to level of reward as well?      

      Salvation is seen in Scripture as an unmerited gift of God and does not depend on what we do or don't do in this human life. Yet as already discussed, the granting of this free gift appears to be conditioned on our expression of belief in the sacrifice of Christ and repentance which is to turn from sin and behave righteously.  This is something the great majority of humans (past, present and future) have not done.  Yet, to deny salvation to anyone appears to be contrary to what we read in Scripture about the Christ event being efficacious for all.  Let’s review what Paul wrote to the Roman Church.

       Romans 5:12-21: Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned-- for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law.   Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.

       For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

       Paul says because sin entered the world through the actions of Adam, death came to all men because all men have sinned.  This one trespass, and the subsequent sinning of all humanity, brought condemnation to all men.  The sinless life of Christ and His righteous act of sacrifice results in justification that brings life for all men.  Paul goes on to say that the law (codified law) was added so sin would increase making grace that much more apparent.

      To reiterate what we already discussed, when Paul speaks of "all men" He certainly appears to mean "all men."  We know that all men have sinned, beginning with Adam.  So here “all men” means all men.  Since Paul is paralleling the “all men” who have sinned because of what began with Adam with the bringing of life to "all men" because of what Christ did, it certainly appears “life for all men” means life for all men.

       Some feel Paul’s use of “many” limits the number of individuals being considered.  The word “many,” however, is used within the context of all sinning in Adam and all being made alive in Christ.  Paul saying many were made sinners through the disobedience that began with Adam and many will be made righteous through Christ does not reduce the “all men” to less than all men. The context is all men. The actions of both Adam and Jesus stand in relationship to all men, not just many (some) men.  

       Death is seen as being inevitable for all men because all men have sinned beginning with Adam. Life is seen as inevitable for all men because all men are made righteous (sinless) because of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus is seen as the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Paul wrote that "just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men" (Romans 5:18).  Paul told the Corinthians that "God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them" (2 Corinthians 5:19). Apostle John wrote that He (Jesus) is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2). John also wrote that "the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world" (John 4:14). 

       As already pointed out, Paul wrote the law was added to make sin even more evident so the grace of God could be made more evident. It is apparent God foreknew man would sin and earn the wages of sin which God established as eternal death. Having foreseen mans sinning ways, God, from the time of creation, established that He would provide a way for his human creation to be rescued from the penalty of eternal death through the man Jesus. Revelation 13:8 indicates Jesus was slain from the time of creation which is to say that God planned redemption from the death penalty from the beginning.         

       All humans are born into a sin culture that began with Adam and Eve sinning in the Garden.  All humans have sinned to one extent or another. Human nature is a constellation of God created passions and desires that when expressed contrary to the will of God becomes a sin nature which can't submit to God. Paul makes this clear in his letter to the Romans.

       Romans 8:7: The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be (KJV). 

       God gives us the power to choose between good and evil. Choosing good is often difficult because all humans have been born into the sin culture that began with Adam and Eve and have been conditioned by that culture to one extent or another. Under the New Covenant, God gives us the power of His Spirit to help us make righteous choices.  Even at that, we still are influenced by evil and fall prey to temptation to behave contrary to God's will.  Paul makes this evident in revealing his own struggles. 

       Romans 7:14-25: We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!   So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

        All that has happened to man since creation appears to be for the purpose of demonstrating to man the negative consequences of behaving contrary to God’s behavioral laws.  The human experience appears to be for the sole purpose of learning how disobedience to God’s law ultimately brings negative consequences. Some come to understand the beauty and perfection of God’s behavioral standards during this physical life and to the extent they are able to implement those standards, they experience positive results.  Many, if not most, of the human race do not come to this understanding or do so only in part and therefore experience the many negative consequences associated with unrighteous behavior.    

Resurrection revisited:

       In view of all the Scriptural passages we have covered so far in this series, it appears evident that all humans are resurrected. Staying dead after physically/biologically dying doesn't appear to be an option.  Resurrection is being returned to life after having been dead (cessation of life). To be resurrected is to have life restored. We all physically die. That death is an eternal death. Jesus taught we pass from death unto life when we express faith in Him and abide in His word.  This passing from death to life can occur while we are still physically alive in that we can have eternal life abiding in us.        

       The Scriptures indicate God created us humans with the power to choose between good and evil, righteousness and unrighteousness. From Genesis to Revelation we see consistent admonition and instruction to choose righteousness.  When God gave Israel the Law, He told them to choose life as opposed to death by obeying the Law (Deuteronomy 30).  While God has allowed evil to proliferate and even fallen angels to influence human behavior, He desires we make righteous choices in the face of temptation and avoid the consequences of evil behavior.  God has not predisposed us to sin by creating us with a sinful nature.  We are not born sinners.  We become sinners by making sinful choices. For a discussion of the doctrine of original sin, and the sin nature, go to "The Doctrine of Original Sin" or to Chapter 9 and 10 of my series entitled "The God Of Jesus,"    

       The judgement passages in Scripture indicate everyone will be resurrected and judged as to their conduct while they were physical and be rewarded or not rewarded commensurate with what they did while in the flesh. Paul makes it very plain that as we all die in Adam we will all be made alive in Christ.  Since eternal death is what we all experience in Adam, it would appear eternal life is what we all experience in Christ. 

       Paul clearly says that sin brought death to all because all have sinned and the grace of God brings life to all. As pointed out in parts one and two of this series, the punishment and destruction directed toward man as seen throughout Scripture is temporal in nature and has nothing to do with the afterlife. There is no sound evidence to suggest that upon physical death, so-called unsaved go to a place of remedial punishment with the potential for being punished forever or annihilated for failure to make the right choices.

       The whole concept of eternal conscious torment is rather ludicrous. Compared to eternity, our physical sojourn on this earth is less than a drop in a bucket. To postulate  humans are to be punished for eternity (trillions upon trillions of years) for sins committed during this infinitesimally short physical life span is to postulate extreme injustice. This would be the most extreme example of the punishment not fitting the crime. This would virtually negate the perspective of a loving and just God. The idea of eternal conscious punishment is extremely problematic as this would necessitate God granting immortality to the unsaved dead for the sole purpose of consigning them to eternal torment. 

       Some believe the wicked will be made alive in Christ to be judged and then annihilated.  This position is also problematic in that it is tantamount to saying the wicked will ultimately be made dead in Christ. The whole force of the Gospel message is that Christ has defeated death and brought immortality to light and in Christ life reigns and not death. Humans being annihilated after resurrection to life would necessitate a resurrection to temporal life.  All indications are that resurrection to life is resurrection to eternal life.  

       As already discussed, God created man with the powerful attribute of choice and instructed man to choose righteously.  Beginning with Adam, human choices have often been skewed toward unrighteous behavior. When such human behavior becomes sinful beyond what He wants to allow, God has stepped in to bring punishment upon us humans, individually or collectively.  The Noachian flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the judgements upon Israel and other nations and the many examples of individual judgements recorded in Scripture give attestation to this perspective. Most punishment, however, is simply the result of our own human misbehavior.  It is simple cause and effect.  God isn’t directly judging us when we experience negative consequences of our or someone else’s sinful behavior. God only directly intervenes when necessary to insure His overall will is carried out.     

       Under this view, experiencing punishment for sin is totally limited to this physical life. Punishment is the negative consequences we all experience due to behavior contrary to righteousness.  Such negative consequences sometimes result from our own sin, sometimes result from the sin of others and often result from the accumulated sin of centuries of behavior that is contrary to righteousness.  We create our own “hell” by how we behave. Sometimes God directly brings punishment for sin as seen demonstrated in the Scriptures. The gospel message is all about righteous living.  Jesus began His ministry by preaching the gospel (good news) of the Kingdom.

       Throughout His ministry Jesus taught the Kingdom was all about righteous living.  This is what the Sermon on the Mount is all about.  Paul taught the Kingdom is "righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17).  Kingdom living is the focus.  Such living is seen as possible in this life and the only way of living in the life to come. Living contrary to the tenets of the Kingdom is what has brought all the negative consequences man has experienced.  

       In view of what we have discussed to this point, salvation appears as a given for all humans who have ever lived and will live. This being the case, conditions such as belief in Christ and repentance for sin would appear to be conditions that will be met for the many after physical/biological death.  Since Scripture reveals that all humans will be judged, It would appear that such judgement is for the purpose of determining reward/penalty for how we conducted ourselves while human and this judgement will apply to all humans irrespective of whether they are "saved" while physical or come to salvation after physical death.            

       In part five of this series, we will examine objections to the proposition that all will be saved and granted immortality.

PART FIVE