Sunday, January 09, 2011

Body, Soul & Life Everlasting

The best book on resurrection that I've read is John W. Cooper, Body, Soul & Life Everlasting, Biblical Anthropology and the Monism-Dualism Debate, 1989, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids. 

Sorry, it does not try to deduce principles of the resurrection from fantastic models of physics.... Instead, Cooper goes to both the Old Testament and New and gives a very satisfying explanation of what awaits believers after death, in both the intermediate state before they receive their glorified bodies, and who they will be after judgment day.

Here is Cooper's own summary:

Body, Soul and Life Everlasting makes the case that as Holy Scripture progressively discloses what happens to humans when they die, it teaches not only that each of us will undergo bodily resurrection, but that believers continue to exist 'with the Lord' until the resurrection. The Old Testament notion of ghostly survival in Sheol, eventually augmented with an affirmation of bodily resurrection, is developed by the Holy Spirit into the New Testament's revelation of fellowship with Christ between each believer's death and the general resurrection at Christ's return. Thus the Bible indicates that humans do not cease to exist between death and resurrection, a condition sometimes euphemistically termed 'soul sleep,' or that final resurrection occurs immediately upon death.

Body, Soul goes on to argue that, given this teaching of Scripture, human nature must be so constituted that we - the very individuals who live on earth - can exist at least temporarily while our physical bodies or organisms do not. In other words, there must be enough of a duality in human nature so that God can sustain Moses, Paul, and my mother in fellowship with him even though they are currently without their earthly bodies. At the same time, I follow Scripture, most traditional theology, and almost all current thought in emphasizing the unity of human nature, its essential bodiliness, and resurrection as the final Christian hope. All things considered, therefore, the biblical view of the human constitution is some kind of 'holistic dualism.'
(from John W. Cooper, Body, Soul & Life Everlasting, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1989, pp. xv-xvi)

So, if you have entrusted your life to Jesus Christ, what happens to you when you die? The body is dead, but the soul is not. Your soul goes into the intermediate state, where you wait for the day of judgment and resurrection, when you will receive your new glorified body. While you are in the intermediate state, you are alive. Your soul is conscious of the presence of the Lord and that of other believers, and you are in a state of slowed-down existence.

You are also filled with the joy and hope of the coming resurrection, which comes without the anxious waiting of time as you presently know it. Finally, when you receive your glorified body, you are ushered into the new reality of a new Heaven and Earth. All along the way, you retain your full identity as the person that God made you, in Christ!

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