|Topical Bible Study||September 1961|
God’s Plan for Man—Lesson VIII
The Hope of Immortality
THOSE who possess immortality live everlastingly, but everlasting life is not necessarily immortality. Had our first parents remained obedient to their Creator and been permitted to continue partaking of the lifegiving trees of Eden, they would have lived forever, but they would not have been immortal.—Gen. 3:22-24
Immortality is indestructibility. It is a quality of the divine nature which was possessed originally only by God, and was conferred upon Jesus at the time of his resurrection.—I Tim. 1:17; 6:16
The Apostle Paul informs us that Jesus brought both life and immortality to light through the Gospel. (II Tim. 1:10) The Gospel is the good tidings of salvation from death through the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ. During the Millennial Age eternal life will be offered to the whole world of mankind in fulfillment of God’s promise to bless all the families of the earth, but those who now accept Christ upon the basis of faith, and dedicate their lives to the Lord, are promised immortality.—Rom. 2:7
This means that these faithful followers of Jesus will, in the resurrection, be highly exalted to be like him. (I John 3:1-3) To be like the resurrected Jesus means to be a partaker of the divine nature.—II Pet. 1:4
To attain to this exalted condition and position implies humility and faithfulness to the Lord in the present life, a faithfulness demonstrated by a willingness to sacrifice life itself in the service of the Lord. And it must be an abiding faithfulness which continues until death.—Rev. 2:10
Man was created mortal. This means that death was a possibility, but not a necessity. Death for humans became a certainty because of sin. (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 5:12) The followers of Jesus being members of the human race are, by nature, mortal. By faith the condemnation of death is lifted from them, and they lay down their justified humanity in sacrifice.—Rom. 5:18; 8:1
The Apostle Paul uses the contrasting words “corruptible” and “incorruptible” to describe the qualities of mortality and immortality, and informs us that it is in the resurrection that Christians, who are now mortal, or corruptible, put on incorruption. For emphasis Paul repeats this thought, using the words mortal and immortality.—I Cor. 15:53,54
Paul refers to the time when death is swallowed up in victory. This is one of the Old Testament promises of God which applies to the Millennial Age, when mankind is restored to perfect life on the earth. (I Cor. 15:54,55; Isa. 25:7,8) But these blessings of everlasting human life cannot flow out to the world of mankind until all the true followers of Jesus during the present age have proved worthy of exaltation to immortality. Then these will live and reign with Christ for the purpose of destroying the great enemy Death.—I Cor. 15:25,26; Rev. 20:6
This lesson uses every text in the Bible in which the words “mortal” and “immortality” are used. Can you answer these questions pertaining to immortality?
Explain the difference between immortality and eternal life.
What is one of the qualities of immortality, and who first possessed it?
Explain the manner in which Jesus brought both life and immortality to light through the Gospel.
When are Jesus’ followers exalted to the divine nature?
How does one qualify to receive immortality?
Do the followers of Jesus die as condemned humans? Explain.
How does the Apostle Paul explain the exaltation of Christians to immortality, and when does this take place?
When will death “be swallowed up in victory”?
“The Divine Plan of the Ages,” page 207, paragraph 1, and page 208.
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANT THOUGHTS
Man was not created immortal, but immortality is promised to the faithful followers of Jesus, and is conferred upon them in the resurrection.