PMW 2023-007 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
I have long attempted to maintain three fundamental practices in my life: (1) Never engage in a ground war in Asia. (2) Never attempt to go to Chick Fil-A at lunch time (the place is so crowded nobody goes there any more). (3) Never engage in theological debate on Facebook, for you will experientially learn the meaning of “eternity” with unending threads. Yet, I have stumbled and have been tempted above that which I am able. I allowed myself to be drawn into the FB equivalent of eternal life. Woe is me.
One problem (among many!) that one must endure on Facebook is tracing out arguments in long threads of random thoughts by various people at diverse times, then later trying to remember where you saw them. Ugh. So, instead of hunting and finding the thread that dealt with my (Reformed) observation that man is a body-soul complex, I will quickly offer the following in response to those who do not like the idea of a physical resurrection — wherever that thread may now exist. Though, were I of sound mind and body I would simply refer my challengers to any Reformed Systematic Theology.
House Divided: The Break-up of Dispensational Theology
By Greg Bahnsen and Ken Gentry
This book presents and defends Christian Reconstruction theology, particularly theonomic ethics and postmillennial eschatology. It does to by responding to dispensationalism’s social and exegetical theology.
For more educational materials: www. KennethGentry.com
God created man as a body-soul being, i.e., as a physical and spiritual unity (Gen. 2:7). This is the major reason God redeems us by sending his Son in a physical body to die for us (Heb. 2:14–15; 10:5). And this is one reason that the unbeliever is to be judged in soul AND body under the wrath of God in the fullness of his (the unbeliever’s) being (Matt. 10:28). Man exists in his full integrity as God designed him only when body and soul (the physical and spiritual aspects of his being) are united.
Nevertheless, man can and does exist while body and soul are separated. Though the center of man’s being is his soul-spirit, he continues to exist in his spirit after death, when body and soul are separated. Spirits do exist without bodies, which is why Jesus encouraged his disciples after his physical resurrection by saying: “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39). After all, for the Christian “to be ABSENT from the body” is “to be at home with the Lord” in heaven (2 Cor. 5:8). That state of being is rightly called an “intermediate” state, for it is “between” two states of existence. It is temporary and not in keeping with the fullness of God’s creation design and purpose. It is, however, preferable to life in this sinful world (Phil. 1:23; cp. 2 Cor. 5:8).
At death we endure the separation of our soul from our body. During this intermediate time we are waiting for the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:19–23), which will be raised (2 Cor. 4:14) in the future when the whole creation is finally and forever no longer “subjected to futility” in “its slavery to corruption” while it “groans and suffers” (Rom. 8:20–22). This has not happened yet. But it will happen at the end of history (1 Cor. 15:23–26) when our bodies will be transformed from corruptible to incorruptible after we have waited for his return (1 Cor. 15:51–54; Phil. 3:20–21).
Blessed Is He Who Reads: A Primer on the Book of Revelation
By Larry E. Ball
A basic survey of Revelation from an orthodox, evangelical, and Reformed preterist perspective. Ball understands John to be focusing on the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70. Insightful. Easy to read.
For more Christian studies see: www.KennethGentry.com
Thanks for your insights here. Are there more on the way? I wouldn’t presume to debate but would be interested in your thoughts on a couple of ideas that don’t seem to harmonize well with your presentation. I come at this question partly based on the work of Edward Fudge. Though the emphasis of his scholarship was the fate of the wicked, that topic touches on this area, and has nudged me towards the notion of soul-sleep. I have a couple of questions that of course spawn other questions, but I hope to keep this short.
First, 1 Ti. 6:15b-16a “God… who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light…” Does man have an immortal soul if God alone is immortal? Have we imported this idea from Greek philosophy? Can we be mortal and have any portion of our nature which is permanent? If we have a soul-spirit, do we, or can we know the nature of it? Is it merely something called a life force which keeps the brain waves and heart beats going? Or does it carry with it at our death our intellect, memories, and personality? In either case, God preserves these until the judgment. Christians get this spirit inserted back into our new bodies at the resurrection and are then granted immortality. The wicked are raised to eternal punishment; not eternally punished, but that’s a side issue.
Second, can we count on Ecclesiastes 12:7 to give us a clear picture of the intermediate state when it says “…the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”? Do the spirits of all men, good and evil, return to God at death? Are the wicked not to remain separated from him from the moment they die? Is it asking too much of this verse to say that it clearly specifies everything in the intermediate state? If not, the verse is of course true and the spirits of all return to Him and are then kept until the final day. At which time “the perishable [will be] clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.'”
As someone, maybe Fudge, said, God has spoken to us regarding the future with his hand over his mouth and the details are only as clear as he needs and we need them to be, however unsatisfying that might be. I suppose that making “every effort to confirm your calling and election” may one day get us to the answers we want.
God alone is immortal in himself. Man is immortal by God’s action. And he was to remain in his unfallen stated if he had passed his probation and been allowed to partake of the tree of life. The general statement of Ecclesiastes 12:7 does not deal with all the issues that can flow from it. It is stating the general truth that God gives and God takes away left.
Yes, we are perishable now in the fallen age in which we live. But by God’s grace our perishable BODIES will be raised anew in a final, imperishable state.
…….which is because God left it fairly implicit, like a parable, specifically so some WOULD NOT UNDERSTAND IT. We will know soon enough who does and who somewhat, and who does not at all. See you then.
Does the passage in 2 Cor 5 speak of the intermediate state and that we will be given a “heavenly dwelling” (vs 2 ESV) during that time or is Paul jumping ahead to the resurrected state of the believer (after our earthly tent is destroyed, i.e., at our death)? It seems incongruous with the immediate context and flow of the passage to skip ahead far into the future to the end of this age and refer to the resurrected body. After opening the passage with the statement about the destruction of the earthly tent in verse 1, he follows with “we have a building from God.”
Noble Berean II:
Perhaps this will help clear up the matter for you. This is taken from Geerhardus Vos, “Eschatology of the New Testament” in Gaffin “Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation” (pp. 46-47):
“Our understanding of the main drift of the passage, put into paraphrase, is as follows: we feel assured of the eternal weight of glory (4:17), because we know that we shall receive, after our earthly tent-body shall have been dissolved (aor. subj.), a new body, a supernatural house for our spirit, to be possessed eternally in the heavens. A sure proof of this lies in the heightened form which our desire for this future state assumes. For it is not mere desire to obtain a new body, but specifically to obtain it as soon as possible, without an intervening period of nakedness, i.e., of a disembodied state of the spirit. Such would be possible, if it were given us to survive till the parousia, in which case we would be ‘clothed upon’ with our habitation from heaven (=supernatural body), the old body not having to be put off first before the new can be put on, but the new body being superimposed upon the old, so that no ‘unclothing’ would have to take place first, what is mortal simply being swallowed up of life (5:2, 4)…. The passage expresses indeed the hope of an instantaneous endowment with the spiritual body immediately after this life, but only on the supposition that the end of this life will be at the parousia, not for the case that death should intervene before, which latter possibility is distinctly left open. In Romans 8:19 what will happen at the end to believers is called a ‘revealing of the sons of God,’ not because their new body existed previously, but because their status as sons of God existed before, and this status will be revealed through the bestowal upon them of the glorious body. Colossians 3:3, 4 speaks of a ‘life … hid with Christ in God,’ and of the ‘manifestation’ of believers with Christ in glory at the parousia, but ‘life’ does not imply bodily existence, and while the ‘manifestation’ at the parousia presupposes the body, it does not imply that this body must have been acquired long before, as is the case with Christ’s body.”
Thus, Paul longs for the supernatural transformation of his body that will occur at the resurrection. But he recognizes that this will not be immediate upon death, unless we should live until the return of Christ (which some will do who will be alive later on at the end of history). But, he notes, we can take comfort in knowing that we will have a supernatural, eternal, resurrected body in God’s good timing.