By C. R. Holland
In the beginning God made man a dual being. This being is called the inward man and the outward man (2 Cor. 4:16). The body is not the inward (spiritual) man, for that man can exist apart from the body (outward man) (2 Cor. 12:2-3). The -body is an essential part of the dual man. Therefore the redeemed spiritual man will have a redeemed spiritual body. In the resurrection, our bodies (that is, the bodies of obedient believers) will be resurrected glorified bodies.
“As we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (I Cor. 15:49). “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption, to wit the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23). The adoption and redemption here mentioned is conditional. The salvation of the body is what is hoped for in verse 24. The body of the believer will be resurrected to a spiritual life. “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies in His Spirit that dwells in you” (Rom. 8: 11). The resurrection of the body is not conditional, but the adopted and redeemed body is conditional. If the Spirit of Christ (Holy Spirit) is dwelling in us at the time we depart from this body, we have full assurance of a quickened and redeemed body resurrected to life (John 5:29; Rom. 8:23).
Death is the separation of the soul (the spiritual part of man) from the body (the fleshly part). Spiritual death is the separation of man from God. Adam died on the day he disobeyed God (Gen. 2:17). Through Adam’s sin, all mankind lost the right to put forth his hand and take of the tree of life to live forever. Therefore1 Adam lost both spiritual and physical life, the body ceasing to function and turning to dust. However, all that believe and obey Christ gain back what they lost in Adam.
Death is opposite of life, but it never de-notes non-existence. As spiritual life is conscious existence in relationship with God, so spiritual death is conscious existence in separation from God. Thus, when the spirit (or inner man) comes into relationship with God that is life from the dead; the spirit is redeemed, resurrected to life. It then passes from death unto life (John 5:24). The body also is redeemed and resurrected to life (John 5:29; Rom. 8:23). “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body” (I Cor. 15:44). What is said here applies only to Christians. Paul is writing to brethren (15: 1). John 5: 28-29 applies both to those resurrected to life and to those resurrected to damnation.
The life that Adam lost was eternal (Gen. 3:22). The life we gain back in Christ is eternal. We come into possession of eternal life of the spirit when we are raised to walk a new life, if we live, as God would have us to; this life will never end, hence eternal. Therefore, to contend that we are still to hope for eternal life that applies to the inward man, saying we do not have (possess) it, is a serious charge against God’s word. We say the Bible is God’s word, and that it means what it says; and I, for one, believe that is true. Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word and believeth on Him that sent me, hath eternal life and cometh not unto judgment’ but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:25 R.V.)When does one pass out of death into life? We are buried and raised to walk this new life (Rom. 6:4). I cannot understand how a good gospel preacher can, in a debate, be pressured into such a position as to plainly deny John 5:24 and I John 5:10-13, and the only way he tries to explain these passages is by trying to array other passages against them. To me, they either mean what they say, or we have no way of knowing what they mean. I have fourteen different translations and they all use the terms, “hath,” “has,” or possess eternal life. In the Expository Dictionary Of New Testament Words by W. E. Vine, page 336, it is explained thusly: “Eternal life is the present actual possession of the believer because of his relationship with Christ, John 5:24, I John 3:14, and that it will one day extend its domain to the sphere of the body is assured by the resurrection of Christ.”
A gospel preacher, one who teaches we do not possess eternal life now, suggested that I acquire a “Translation in the Language of the People” by Charles B. Williams. “This is a good translation,” said he, and I agree with him. However, how he can say that this is a “good translation” and not agree with what it teaches is a little hard for me to understand. Listen to this “good translation” in regard to eternal life: “Whoever believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his own heart. Whoever does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he hath not believed the testimony that God hath borne to His Son. And this testimony is that God has given us eternal life, and this life is given through union with His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son does not have life. I have written this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may know that you already have eternal life” (I John S: 10-13). Again, the same translation on John 5:24–“I most solemnly say to you, whoever listens to me and believes Him who has sent me possesses eternal life.” Now, do these words of Jesus and John sound like eternal life is only in promise (yet future) as it applies to the spiritual man? To deny having the life is to deny union with the Son. “Whoever does not have the Son does not have life” (latter part of v. 13).
What kind of life were we given when we were born (generated)? And what kind of life did we lose when we degenerated? Since God is the Father of our spirits, we are his offspring (Heb. 12:9; Acts 17:29). In the use of the word “Father,” he conveys the idea of origin. But like produces like. Adam begot a son in his own likeness (Gen. 5:3). “That which is born of flesh,” says Christ “is flesh, and that which is born of Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). When a child is born into this world, it is born of flesh (generated of flesh) and born of Spirit (generated of Spirit). If this child dies (fleshly) before it degenerates (death of the Spirit), that life from the time it was born (generated) never ends, hence it is eternal life. But, if one reaches the age of accountability, the condition of spiritual life changes. Sin breaks the connections between the generator (God) and the- one who has been generated. Degeneration is the result (Isa. 59:2). This one is spiritually dead, and the death will last throughout eternity if not regenerated (born again). But, a way has been provided to make connection with the Generator of life again. This time it is not by flesh and Spirit, but water and Spirit (John 3:5).
One can have life and at the same time be dead spiritually (I Tim. 5:6). All that go down into Hades, the region of departed spirits of the lost, have this same sort of life. Spiritual life is far more than just existing. Godliness makes the difference in the two lives, it must be a life of complete devotion to God, for the life He gives He maintains (John 6:35, 63). Therefore, godliness involves a promise to uphold, support, and supply “the life that now is.” “Train yourself for godliness, because while physical training is to some benefit, godliness is beneficial all around, it holds promise for this present and for the future life” (I Tim. 4-8–Berkley Version). In this verse, we have two separate and distinct lives: one, the life of the Spirit which “now is” (Rom. 6:4). The other, the life of the body “which is to come” (John 5:24; Rom. 8:23; I Cor. 15:44). But if Christ lives in you, although your bodies must die because of sin, your spirits are now enjoying life because of right standing with God (Rom. 8:9–Charles B. Williams transation). “That which is born of flesh is flesh.” Therefore, the fleshly man is like his father. He is no part of the spiritual man, for the Father of our spirit is a different father. The spiritual man has no power to choose between good and bad, until he is accountable; then is able to evaluate things that pertain to life and godliness. He must then make his choice: God or the flesh, to walk after the Spirit or after the flesh. One is death; the other is life. “For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6).
Some insist that John Calvin was correct when he said of Rom. 8: 11–“The quickening of the mortal body here cannot refer to the resurrection of the saints, but must mean a giving of life to the mortal bodies while here upon the earth, through the Spirit.” Reason would not possibly admit the explanation that this quickening occurs now, for these bodies are not yet dead, but are only subject to death. Therefore, quickening is a future experience. Hence, the resurrection of these mortal bodies, and the quickening of them by the Spirit, is that which is expressed in this text. When God saves and redeems men spiritually in this world from his past sins, he is then resurrected to spiritual life (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12). This is a spiritual resurrection of the spirit to life. The body is physical and only subject to physical death. At the resurrection of the body, it will be given life, born of the Spirit designed from heaven (2 Cor. 5:1-2). “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his spirit that dwelleth in you.” Notice Christ’s body was made alive after physical death. The Holy Spirit dwelling in the body is a Divine pledge of the redemption of our bodies at the resurrection (Rom. 8-23; Eph. 1:14; Phil. 3:21).
Truth Magazine VI 2, pp. 20-22