“They that shall be accounted worthy to attain that world and the resurrection...” (Luke 20:35)
Only the members of a “little flock,” are accounted worthy to “attain that world” and the “better” resurrection in advance of the Millennium. The great mass of mankind will come forth unto “resurrection by judgment” during the Millennium in which they must prove themselves worthy of perfection. These alone will be permitted to endure beyond the Millennial Age into the everlasting ages of the future. The obedient only will be permitted to attain resurrection, being lifted fully and completely out of death, a gradual progress. As we have already seen, those who will then walk on the highway of holiness must “go up there on.” It will be an ascending path, and require effort to overcome by those who would retrieve all that was lost – human perfection.
As we scrutinize this feature of the Divine Plan, we see how reasonable and consistent it is, and the advantages it will offer to those for whom it is provided. We can see any other plan would be to a disadvantage to those for whom the Millennial is specially designed.
Take Nero for instance, suppose that he were given an instantaneous resurrection to life and “came forth” from the tomb perfect, mentally, morally and physically. It would not be Nero. That perfect being could not in any sense of the word identify himself with the Nero of the past; nor could those who had been his associates identify him. Neither could we imagine him to “come forth” perfect as respects human organism, and yet imperfect in mind and character. All who have learned even the first principles of the laws of physiology must see at once the absurdity of such a proposition. Those laws most distinctly teach us that character and organism are one; that a perfect organism would surely indicate a perfect character. But if we should, for the moment, assume either of these unreasonable propositions we at once would be met with the objection that a thousand years would be too long a period in which to test the obedience or disobedience of a perfect being. Adam as a perfect being, received a very brief trial, as we can judge from the Scriptures.
Further, if we could imagine the world perfect and on trial, we would be obliged to imagine them also as subjected to the perfect law. Without imperfections they would have no protection, or covering of blemishes, and in the very same position that Adam stood at the beginning. In this view there would be no necessity for Christ’s Mediatorial Kingdom and reign of a thousand years; because the perfect law represents Divine Justice, the same that dealt with Adam in the beginning, and the same that must pass upon mankind in the end, at the close of the Millennium. Before the world could be accepted by God to everlasting favor such views, we see therefore, are entirely at variance with the Divine arrangement.
Let us notice the beauty, harmony, reasonableness, consistency of the Divine Plan of a resurrection by judgments. The world comes forth in practically the same mental, moral and physical condition as they were upon entering the tomb and at once would identify themselves personally and in relationship to others. “As the tree falleth there it shall be” (Eccl. 11:3), and the awakening, or calling forth from the tomb, will be as the termination of a sleep, the very figure which the Lord uses not only in respect to the Body of Christ, but to the world in general, whose future awakening, being a part of his plan. The arousing is spoken of as from a pleasant sleep.
At awakening from sleep one finds himself in practically the same condition as when he laid down, plus a slight invigoration. He speedily recalls the events and circumstances that preceded his sleep, so we believe it will be so with the world in general, when they “hear the voice of the Son of Man and shall come forth.”
We do not mean by this that they will come forth in precisely the same physical condition as at the moment of dying, because this would involve an absurdity. For instance, the one whose lungs were decayed until the last breath was a gasp, we need not expect will come back gasping and without lungs; the one whose head had been severed from the body would not be awakened without a head, and likewise the one who had lost arms or feet or fingers or toes, could not reasonably be expected to “come forth” without these members. In the absence of anything definite in the Scriptures to guide our judgments, we must suppose that the coming forth of the world will be with what would now be considered average health and strength; such, for instance, as the Lord was pleased to grant to those whom he healed at his First Advent. The healed ones were not made perfectly whole; else many of them might have lived for centuries, as did the perfect Adam. Rather, we are to presume that the restorations were to average health and strength, and that so it will be in the awakening time, when the same voice shall call them forth from the sleep of death, that they may hear his words and by obedience “attain unto” life everlasting and its perfections of mind and body, for which he has arranged the times of restitution and the Kingdom disciplines, judgments and blessings.
The threads of existence are taken up just where they were dropped in death. The weaving of experience will proceed and rapidly adapt itself to the changed conditions; and meantime the individual will neither lose his identity, nor be lost to the world and social circles of which he had been a part. Thus past experiences with sin and selfishness will constitute a valuable asset of knowledge, helpful in proper estimations in the future. It will enable the revived one to appreciate the advantages accruing from the reign of righteousness and life as in contrast with the previous reign of sin and death. It will be to his advantage that he must first of all accept Christ the King as his Redeemer and acknowledge his own imperfection and unworthiness. He must lay hold upon the Life-Giver before ever he can start upon the Highway of Holiness. It will be to his advantage, too, that he must take steps himself in the overcoming of his weaknesses, and in the attainment of perfection set before him as the goal.
The lessons of experience gained will be deeply engraved upon his memory, his character, and will prepare him for the final testing at the close of the Millennial Age, when absolute heart-loyalty will be required. Meantime, however, his imperfections will not work to his detriment or hindrance, for in proportion to his weakness or strength of character will be the requirements of the judges; all of whom are being now prepared by their own experiences with sin and weakness to judge sympathetically and truly to be helpful. Such experiences on the part of the judges would not be so essential were not this the Divine Plan of gradual recovery, “resurrection by judgment.”
Also, his view is in full accord with the Divine statement through Daniel the prophet respecting the resurrection: “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting [lasting] life, and some to shame and everlasting [lasting] contempt.” (Dan 12:2) Here we see the same division of the awakened ones that our Lord more particularly explains. One class is awakened to life in its full, complete sense – lasting life; the other class is awakened, but not in life.
When awakened it is still in death, because not approved of God, not vitally connected with the Son. “He that hath the Son hath life; he that hath not the Son shall not see life.” The world in general, then, “come forth” that they may be brought to the knowledge of the fact that life and restitution have been provided by God’s grace through the great atonement sacrifice; that the Life-Giver has taken his great power and glory, as Prophet, Priest and King, and that by coming into him they may gradually, step by step, attain to life.
The prophet’s statement respecting this second class – those they are significant. If they came forth perfect they would not be in a shameful and contemptible condition, for perfection is always admirable. These words, therefore, attest that they come forth imperfect, and our Lord’s added explanation assures us that they come forth in their imperfection that they may, if they will, attain resurrection, perfection, under the trials or judgments to which they will be subjected – rewarding their obedience and chastising and disciplining their disobediences.
We have already used Nero as an illustration; and as he surely will be one of those who will come forth to shame and to lasting contempt, we may as well use him in further illustration. When we remember that the awakening of the sleeping world will not begin until the present generation of the world shall have been brought under the Kingdom power, to a considerable measure of righteousness and intelligence, we will readily perceive that Nero, on coming forth, will find himself in the midst of very different social conditions from those prevailing when he died. He will find vices such as he practiced and cultivated very much discredited, and the virtues, which he shunned and persecuted, he will find installed in power and in general favor. He will be utterly out of accord with all of his surroundings, much more so than others less willful, less profligate, less vicious, and less contemptible. He will find himself well known through the pages of history, and in general contempt because of his abuse of his powers and opportunities; not only as the murderer of his own mother, but also as the persecutor and torturer of the Lord’s faithful ones.
Every good and virtuously disposed person is bound to hold such a character as his in “contempt,” and under such circumstances he will be bound to suffer great “shame.” However, he comes forth unto a resurrection by judgment – for the purpose of being accorded an opportunity of rising up out of his shameful and contemptible condition to the full perfection of human nature; and to what extent he will attain unto life, to what extent he will attain unto resurrection out of death, will depend entirely upon himself. First of all, he must know the Truth; he must see himself in his true colors; he must see in contrast the perfect man as represented in the Ancient Worthies, the “princes” of that time. He must see in operation the laws of righteousness in contrast with his previous knowledge of the operation of the reign of sin and death. If, then, he determinedly maintains an evil influence and hardens his heart and refuses obedience, he must die the Second Death, after having enjoyed and rejected the privileges and opportunities, which the Lord has provided for him and all mankind.
But if, on the contrary, he shall humble himself, acknowledge his sin, and become obedient to the laws of the Kingdom, he will thus at once begin his upward course toward life – his resurrection, or rising up, toward complete recovery from the fall. If he shall thus “go up” on the Highway of Holiness, he will at the same time be purging himself from the “contempt” of his fellows, and correspondingly relieving himself of “shame.” For we cannot doubt that if there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, there will be joy on earth amongst all right-minded people as they from time to time shall see sinners turning from the errors of their ways to obedience to the Lord; and the laudable contempt of the former for sin and its meanness must gradually give place to sympathetic appreciation of the efforts being put forth in the direction of righteousness.
So that should Nero ever become fully obedient to the Lord, and attain unto life everlasting in the “resurrection by judgment,” he will be highly respected and his past will be fully forgotten; just as now, when thinking of the Apostle Paul, we remember his noble self-sacrifices and faithfulness to the Lord, disassociating him from Saul, the persecutor whom he denominated “the chief of sinners,”
PUNISHMENT FOR SINS OF THIS LIFE
Will there not be punishments for the sins of the present time? We answer that justice is sure to mete out a punishment for every sin. Adam’s sin, as we all recognize, has been punished for six thousand years, and under that punishment the whole creation has groaned and travailed and sunk down into death. That sin and all additional sins influenced by the weaknesses and depravities resulting from Adam’s sin, are all included in the atonement accomplished by the great sacrifice for sins. The sins needing additional punishment would be such as do not directly result from the Adamic fall and depravity – such as have been to some extent willful. Such willful sins must all be punished; but we are evidently not at the present time competent to judge what would be a right or reasonable penalty for such sins – wholly or partially willful.
Doubtless this was one reason why the Lord instructed us to “judge nothing before the time.” Eventually the judgment will be in our hands, as it is written, “Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?” (1 Cor. 6:2) Our Lord Jesus being the chief of these judges. The Lord’s declaration is that he who knew his Master’s will and did it not shall be beaten with many stripes, while he who knew not and did things worthy of stripes shall be beaten with few stripes (Luke 12:47,48).This indicates to us that the guilt of willful sin is to be measured largely by our knowledge of the Lord and of his will. Hence the Church, and those who have during this Gospel Age come under the light and influence of the Church, will be held responsible in a larger degree than others.
Nero, although not of the Church, not begotten of the Spirit, and therefore, less responsible proportionately than the Church, had, nevertheless, considerable contact with the children of the light; and hence, we may presume, had a large measure of responsibility in connection with his crimes.
“SOME MEN’S SINS GO BEFORE TO JUDGMENT”
In considering the punishments of willful sins on account of light enjoyed, we are not to forget the Apostle’s statement that “Some men’s sins go before to judgment, and some they follow after.” (1Tim 5:24) We know not to what extent Nero’s sins have already received some measure of punishment; we know not to what extent he suffered mentally or physically; we know not, therefore, to what extent punishment for his sins will come after and overtake him during the judgment age. For argument’s sake let us suppose that he received no special punishments in the past, and that stripes for his sins will all follow after, and let us inquire what will be the nature of the record against him, and how will the stripes, or punishments, be inflicted upon him?
We are not competent to answer these questions without reservations or provisos, but we all recognize a general principle already in operation in every man, recording the results of his own violations of knowledge and conscience. We see that in proportion as truth, light, knowledge and conscience may be violated, in that same proportion character is undermined; and to whatever extent this proceeds, restitution will be the more difficult for him.
We can reasonably judge that Nero must have undermined his character and conscience to a very large extent indeed. If, then, in the awakening he shall “come forth” as he died, merely to an opportunity for development, we can readily see that every downward step which he took in the past, every violation of conscience, every known opposition to righteousness, worked an injury to his character which, if ever overcome, will require proportionate effort to retrace his steps and to build again that portion of the character he wantonly destroyed.
It is not for us to say that this, and this alone will be the punishment for the sins of the present time; but that this should be the case seems reasonable to us. We are satisfied, in any event, to rest the matter here, confident that the decisions of the glorified Church will have the full endorsement of all who have the Lord’s Spirit. We cannot suppose that our Lord will take pleasure in rendering evil for evil, or in causing needless pain even to the most villainous, but that the decision of the great Supreme Court already rendered will stand, viz.: “The wages of sin is death” – the Second Death. (Rom. 6:23)
THUS IS THE [CHIEF] RESURRECTION OF THE [SPECIAL] DEAD
(1 Cor 15:42)
The resurrection of the Church is designated the First Resurrection, not in the sense of priority (though it will have priority), but in the sense of being chief, best, superior. We have already seen that there are different orders in the resurrection, three of which are unto life, unto perfection, though on different planes of being; the Church occupying the first place, the “great company” and the Ancient Worthies following in order; and that subsequently, or last, will be the general resurrection of the world, open to the whole world of mankind, so many as will accept the Divine provisions and arrangements, the resurrection by judgment to be completed only with the close of the Millennial Age. In this sense of the word it will indeed be a fact that “the rest of the dead” will live not “until the thousand years are finished” – they will not have life in its full, proper, complete sense; they will not be raised up completely out of death until then. Thus viewed, the spurious clause of Rev. 20:5 is found to be in full accord with the general tenor of Scripture. All these resurrections subsequent to the first, or chief one, will undoubtedly be under the power and control of the glorified Church, whose glorious Head has, to this end, received all power and authority from the Father.
Having considered the resurrection work of the Church for others, let us now consider what the Scriptures have to show particularly respecting the First Resurrection. With what bodies will the New Creation come forth? What will be some of their qualities and powers?
The Apostle declares, “As is the earthly so are they also that are earthly; and as is the heavenly so are they also that are heavenly.” (1Cor 15:48.) We understand these words to signify that the world in general, who will experience restitution to human perfection, will be like the earthly one – like the first Adam, before he sinned, and like the perfect “man Christ Jesus” was before his begetting to newness of nature. We rejoice with the world in this grand prospect of again becoming full and complete earthly images of the Divine Creator. But we rejoice still more in the precious promises made to the Gospel Church, “the called ones” according to the Divine purpose, who are to have the image of the heavenly One – the image of the Creator, in a still higher and more particular sense; to be not fleshly images, but spirit images. “We shall be like him [the glorified “changed” Jesus], for we shall see him as he is.” He is a spirit being, “the express image of the Father’s person,” “far above angels, principalities and powers, and every name that is named,” and hence, far above perfect manhood. If we shall be like him and share his glory and his nature, it means that we too shall be images of the Father’s person, “whom no man hath seen nor can see, dwelling in light which no man can approach unto”; but to whom we can approach and whom we can see as he is, because we have been “changed.” (1 John 3:2; 6:16; 1 Tim 1:17; Ex 33:20)
Lest any should misunderstand him, the Apostle guards the above language by adding, “As we [the Church] have borne the image of the earthly [one], we shall also bear the image of the heavenly [One].” It is not the Apostle’s thought that all shall bear the image of the heavenly One, in this sense, ever. Such was not the design of our Creator. When he made man he designed to have a fleshly, human earthly being, in his own likeness [mentally, morally], to be the Lord and ruler of the earth, as the representative of his heavenly Creator. (Gen 1:26-28; Ps 8:4-7) The selection of the New Creation, as we have seen, is wholly separate and apart from the earthly creation. They are chosen out of the world, and constitute but a “little flock” in all, called to be the Lord’s Kingdom class, to bless the world during the thousand years of the Millennial Age, subsequently, we may be sure, occupying some very high and responsible position, and doing some very important work, in the carrying out of further Divine purposes, perhaps in connection with other worlds and other creations.
But the Apostle guards the matter still further, saying in explanation of the foregoing (1 Cor.15:50), “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.” Thus he distinguishes between our present condition in the flesh and our future condition as spirit beings; most positively declaring that so long as we are in the flesh we cannot constitute the Lord’s Kingdom in any actual sense, because that Kingdom is to be a spiritual one, composed of spirit beings. Our Lord himself, the Head, the chief, the leader, the example to his Church, is the glorious spirit being, a glimpse of whom was granted to the Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 15:8), and a vision of whom was granted to the Apostle John in Apocalyptic vision. “We shall be like him,” not flesh and blood, like the remainder of the race from which we were selected, and whose restitution, or resurrection by judgments, will bring them back to the perfection of the flesh-and-blood conditions, as the same restitution times will bring the earth to the condition represented by the Garden of Eden in the beginning.
But the Apostle recognized the fact that it would be difficult for us fully to grasp the thought of so thorough a change of the Church from fleshly, earthly conditions to heavenly, spirit conditions. He perceived that our difficulty would be less in respect to those who have fallen asleep in death than in respect to those alive and remaining unto the presence of the Lord. It is much easier for us to grasp the thought that the sleeping ones will be resurrected in new spiritual bodies, such as the Lord has promised to provide, than to grasp the thought of how those of the saints living at the time of the Lord’s second presence, will be accepted of him into his spirit Kingdom. The Lord, through the Apostle, makes this very clear to us, saying, “There is a mystery connected with this matter, which I will explain: we shall not all sleep, though we must all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump [the seventh trumpet].” (1 Cor 15:51,52)
While the Lord, through the Apostle, did clear away a mystery to some extent by these words, nevertheless a considerable measure of mystery has since beclouded even this plain explanation; for many of the Lord’s dear people have confounded the word “sleep” with the word “die” and have supposed the explanation to be that the Saints remaining over until the presence of the Lord would be changed without dying, which is not at all the thing stated. Take the case of the apostles, for instance; they died, and from the moment of death they were reckoned as being “asleep” until the moment of the resurrection. The dying was a momentary act, while the sleep, or unconsciousness, continued for centuries.
This thought of the word “sleep” must be attached to the Apostle’s words, in order that they may be understood, viz.: It will not be necessary that the Lord’s people who remain over until his second presence shalt sleep in unconscious death even for a moment. They will die, however, as is declared by the Lord, through the prophet, speaking of the Church: “I have said, Ye are gods, all of you sons of the Most High; yet ye shall all die like a man, and fall like one of the princes.” (Psa. 82:6,7) The world in general dies like Prince Adam, as his children, sharers of his sentence; but the faithful in Christ Jesus die with him, with Prince Jesus. (Isa. 9:6; Acts 3:15; 5:31) Justified through his sacrifice, they become dead with him, as joint-sacrificers. They “fall” under death sacrificially like the second Prince. “If we be dead with him we shall also live with him.” But, as the Apostle points out to us, the death of these will mean no sleep of unconsciousness; the very moment of dying will be the very moment of “change,” or clothing upon with the house from heaven, the spiritual body.
The “change” to come to those of the Church remaining until the presence of the Lord is thus set forth as being in every sense of the word a part of the First Resurrection. In no particular does it differ from the death experience that must be common to all the members of the one body.
The only point of difference between other members of the body and these will be that which the Apostle specifies, viz., they shall not “sleep.” These last members of the body will not need to sleep – not need to wait for the Kingdom to come; for it will then be set up. They will pass immediately from the activities of the service on this side the veil in the flesh to the activities of service on the other side the veil, as perfected New Creatures, members of the Christ.
“IT DOTH NOT YET APPEAR WHAT WE SHALL BE.”
Respecting the powers and qualities of the New Creatures perfected, the Apostle tells us that they will not all have the same degree of glory, though they will all have the same kind of glory, it will all be celestial, or heavenly beings. There will be one glory common to all these celestial beings, and another glory common to the human, or terrestrial, beings. Each in its perfection will be glorious, but the glories of the celestial ones will be superior – transcendent. The Scriptures tell us that the Church as a whole shall “shine forth as the sun.” (Matt 13:43) This description by our Lord himself of the future glory is applied to all who are of the “wheat” class; yet in the light of the Apostle’s explanation (1 Cor. 15:41) we perceive that individually there will be differences in the positions and honors of the Church. All will be perfect, all will be supremely happy, but, as the Father is above all, and as he has exalted the Son to be next to himself, and as this indicates differences of glory, majesty and authority, so amongst the followers of the Lord, all of whom are acceptable, there will be differences of station, “as star differeth from star” in magnitude and brilliancy. (l Cor 15:41)
Our Lord, in two of his parables, intimates the same difference among his glorified followers. He who had been faithful with five talents was to have special commendation at the Lord’s return; while the other faithful ones who had a lesser number of talents, would be dealt with proportionately. He who had been faithful in the use of his pound, so as to gain ten pounds, was to receive ruler ship over ten cities; and he who was faithful over his pound to the gaining of five pounds would have proportionately increased talents, blessings, opportunities and authority (Matt 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27).
Nor need we wonder at this, for looking back we see that while the Lord chose twelve apostles and loved them all, there were three of them whom he specially loved, and who were on various occasions nearer to him and in still more confidential relationship than the others. We may be sure, too, that when the “Book of Life” is opened, and when positions closest to the Master in the throne are to be apportioned, those on the right hand and those on the left hand (nearest to his person), will be recognized by all as worthy of the honor and distinction accorded them (Matt 10:41). It would not surprise us at all to find the Apostle Paul next to the Master, with possibly John on his other hand. The thought is not that of location, or position, on a bench, throne, but closeness of relationship in power and majesty of the Kingdom. We may be sure that all who will constitute the “little flock” will be so filled with the Lord’s Spirit as in honor to prefer one another; and we may know certainly that there will be no jealousies, but that the Divine judgment respecting worthiness will be fully approved by all the New Creation. This is so in the present time, and much more may we expect it in the future. In the present time we read that “God has set the various members in the body as it hath pleased him,” and all who are in accord with the Lord are continually seeking, not to change the Divine arrangement, but to recognize it and to cooperate therewith. So also it will surely be in the future.
Describing the differences between present conditions and those of the future, the Apostle says, “It is sown in corruption: It is raised in incorruption.” “It,” is the New Creature, whose existence began at the time of consecration and begetting of the Spirit. The New Creature that has been developing and seeking to control the flesh and to make it its servant, in accord with the Divine will – the New Creature that is said to have lived in the flesh, as in a tabernacle, while waiting for the new body. “It” was sown in corruption, in a corruptible body; “It” went down into death; and yet “It” is not represented as being dead, but as merely sleeping, while its earthly tabernacle was dissolved. It is the same “It,” the New Creature, that is to be clothed upon with the heavenly house, the spiritual body, in the First Resurrection.
This spiritual body in which “It” is raised, the Apostle declares, will be an incorruptible one – one that cannot corrupt, which cannot die. The word here rendered incorruption is aphtharsia, and signifies that which is decay-proof, that which cannot corrupt, rot or fade away. It is the same word rendered “incorruption” in 1 Cor. 15:50,53 and 54, of this chapter; but the same word is wrongly translated “immortality” in Rom. 2:7, and again in 2 Tim 1:l0.
The declaration, that our spiritual bodies shall be incorruptible, immortal, is a most momentous one, because we are distinctly informed that this quality of immortality belongs inherently to Yahweh alone; while it is declared of our Lord Jesus that, because of his faithfulness, his high exaltation consisted in part in his being granted life in himself, as the Father hath life in himself. The thought there is the same – that the glorious Head of the Church experienced just such a “change” to immortality, to incorruption, to participation in the Divine Nature. It does not amaze us that the plan of God should be thus liberal toward our dear Redeemer; but it surely does astonish us that this quality of the Divine Nature, given to none other than our Master, should be promised to the members of his Body, who walk in his footsteps, and are seeking for glory, honor and immortality (2 Pet. 1:4; Rom. 2:7).
“It is sown in dishonor; It is raised in glory.” Here again the New Creature is referred to by the word “It.” During the present life the world knoweth us not; it realizes not that we are begotten of the Father, to be his children on the spiritual plane, and that we are only temporarily sojourning in the flesh, for the purposes of our trial, for the testing of our faithfulness to our covenant of sacrifice. “Now are we the sons of God.” But, unrecognized, we are disesteemed by the world; and because of our consecration to the Lord we may not occupy even as honorable positions amongst men as we might have the natural talents to occupy were they devoted to worldly pursuits.
In any event, both individually and collectively the Church in the flesh is now, as the Apostle here declares, “in dishonor,” in disesteem; and, as he elsewhere declares, our body is at present a body of humiliation (misrepresented in our common translation as “a vile body”) (Phil 3:21). But what shall be the condition by and by? Will the dishonor all be past? Will the Church (Head and “body”) be such as both angels and men will appreciate and honor? Will the New Creation thus be “in glory”? Oh yes! This is the assurance.
The New Creature is still referred to, the weakness mentioned being that of the present mortal bodies, their imperfections, which all New Creatures deplore, and which God graciously counts as not being the weaknesses of the New Creature, whose purposes, or intentions toward the Lord are pure, perfect, loyal and strong. That these weaknesses will not attach to the new resurrection bodies of the “elect” is most specifically stated.
“It is raised in power,” the power of perfection, the power of the new nature, the power of God.
“It is sown a natural body; It is raised a spiritual body.” The same It, is the same New Creature. It is a natural body now; the only tangible thing is the flesh. Only by the grace of God are we permitted to reckon the new mind a New Creature, and to wait the time when this new mind will be granted a spirit body, suitable to it. The spirit body will then be It, in the same sense that the natural body is now It. What a glorious prospect this is! Truly, it is incomprehensible to us who have no experiences except such as are common to the natural man, except as our minds have grasped by faith the promises and revelations of the Lord, and have entered into the spirit of “things not seen as yet.”
But if the very thought of the coming glories has lifted us up above the world, its cares, its trials, its follies and its pleasures, how much more will the realities mean to us when we shall be perfect and like our Lord and share his glory! No wonder our Lord said to Nicodemus: “If I have told you of earthly things, and ye believe not, how can ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things?” (John 3:12)
No wonder it declares that we must first be begotten of the Holy Spirit before we can even begin to comprehend heavenly things. Unquestionably therefore, our ability to run the race set before us in the Gospel, our striving to overcome the spirit of the world and the besetments of the Adversary, will be in proportion as we shall be obedient to the Divine counsel, and love not the world, and lay aside every weight and the easily besetting sin, forgetting not the assembling of ourselves together, and searching the Scriptures daily, and in every sense of the word making use of the privileges and mercies and blessings conferred upon us as children of God. If we do these things we shall never fail, but so an entrance shall be ministered unto us, abundantly, into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (John 3:2,3; Rom. 8:17; John 3:12; 1 Cor. 2:14; 1John 2:15; Eph. 6:10-18; Heb. 12:1,2; 10:2; John 5:29; Acts 17:11; 2 Peter 1:4-11)
From Pastor Russell, Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 6, Pages 712-729.
It was written for The Little Flock but is profitable for Youthful Worthies.
We have already drawn attention to the fact that the clause, “The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished,” is without any support from ancient MSS. of earlier date than the fifth century; nevertheless it is in full accord with what we are here presenting, for the term “lived not” should be understood to refer not to awakening but to full restitution to life in the perfect degree. See footnote, Vol. I., p. 288.