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5. Resurrection: our only hope! (revised)

Added: Friday, May 8th 2009 at 5:33am by richardericgunby

Resurrection:  our only hope!



Richard Eric Gunby



The Bible is remarkably consistent in its presentation of Scriptural hope for the true believer.  Our hope focuses upon Jesus, the Christ.  Under the heading of the actual practical event in which salvation will occur (final and full gift of salvation as delivered to the redeemed), our hope is suppose to focus upon the resurrection and transformation event.  Salvation past is, specifically, the work of Jesus upon the cross:  redemption accomplished and applied.  He died for the elect of God.  Election by God was after the counsel of His own will, and before the foundation of this world.  Salvation present is God regenerating sinners and gifting them with faith, and keeping them.  Salvation future is the promised resurrection and transformation event.


Resurrection is our hope.  Nowhere does the Bible ever posit soul ascension as the hope of true believers, or even as an additional hope to also believe in, as if it were supposed to be believed in, maybe in addition to resurrection.  Soul ascension is neither taught, referenced, nor exemplified in the Bible.  It simply is not in there.  It does not appear within the pages of Holy Writ.  It is a false teaching, and therefore ultimately a false and empty means of comfort, to the bereaved.  Only Biblical truth and Biblical hope can be of real comfort and peace to true believers.  That is precisely why we urgently need to expose and eradicate the false doctrine of soul ascension from our doctrinal systems, our deeply held beliefs.  People need real comfort, and real hope to focus their hearts, minds, souls, and spirits, upon.  In the end, perpetuating falsehoods serves no good.


Resurrection is the Biblical hope.  Jesus, Peter, Paul, and the rest of the apostles, disciples, and NT authors understood the centrality of resurrection:  His first; and ours still to come!  This is the unerring witness of the Scriptures.  Please read the account of Jesus, Martha, andLazarus from John Chapter 11.  (It is reproduced in the ESV at the end of this posting).  Now that you have read it, I would urge you to entertain these questions and answers:


1.     Does Jesus ever mention or allude to Lazarus’ soul ascending?  No.

2.     Does Jesus comfort Martha by talk of Lazarus’ soul ascending?  No.

3.     Does Jesus encourage Martha with talk of the soul being immortal?  No.

4.     Does Jesus tell Martha, “Take heart, Lazarus is not really dead!”  No.

5.     Does Jesus say, “Lazarus –the real inner person self, is in heaven.”  No.

6.     Does Jesus tell her, “Life doesn’t end; we all go on living elsewhere.”  No.

7.     Does Jesus say, “I have overcome soul separation, I will reunite Lazarus (i.e., his soul) with his body.”  No.

8.     Does Jesus say, “Martha:  you simply must believe he’s in heaven!”  No.

9.     Does Jesus tell her, “His soul is in a better place!”  No.


Might I suggest that if soul ascension is a Biblical teaching, Jesus kind of missed the boat here, didn’t he?   J


Soul ascension is a man-made doctrine with no Biblical warrant.   It is based upon a faulty view or understanding of man, of the nature of man.  It assumes an objectively pre-made “soul” that is separable at death from the body and immortal, all of which are false teachings.


We have seen what this passage of Scripture does not say or teach.  We have learned what this passage teaches in the negative:   there is no hope, focus, or teaching of soul ascension in the Bible.


 On the positive side, what does the Bible teach us in this story of Jesus, Martha, and Lazarus?  More specifically, what are we to learn from this same Scripture about man’s future, his true eschatology (man’s destiny or future).  We should learn, in the very least:


1.     That death is real and complete.  Where was Lazarus?  He was in his grave, dead.  He was sleeping the sleep of death.  We learn by this clear example that body death is “body-person-death” precisely because we are body-persons.  The body dies, we die.  We die, and the body is dead.  The person is not separable from the body.  No person exists apart from a living body.  Personhood and image are vitally linked, flip sides of the same coin, if you will.  Personhood and image are projections of the living body.  If the body dies and thus stops projecting, then personhood and image cease to be, cease to exist:  they disappear.

2.     The dead are not in conscious existence elsewhere.  They are in their graves.  They “sleep” the sleep of death.

3.     Jesus, and the people that He taught, are presented as being solidly resurrection focused.  What is the subject of this passage?  Resurrection!  What is presented as the hope Martha believes in?  Resurrection!  What is taught as the means towards living again?  Resurrection!  Does Jesus change or redirect this hope to soul ascension?  No.  But for teaching purposes (that they might believe), he does make this example an immediate one.  This example of what?  Resurrection!  Clearly, this Scripture is resurrection oriented.

4.     The future resurrection/transformation event is “on the last day.”

5.     The resurrection of true believers will occur corporately, as in of all the redeemed at the same juncture. 

6.     Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life.Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”



What did Jesus mean in the above quote?   First, He emphasizes resurrection by identifying himself with that very title:  “I am the resurrection and life.”  Second, notice that He inseparably associates resurrection and life.  Third, He meant to drive home the truth that the proper understanding of the order of things is life, death, and life again.  He is flatly declaring that there is a break in the continuum.   That break is death:  real and whole death, as in death of the whole person:  body-person death!  The Bible nowhere teaches that life continues on unbroken.  Rather, the Bible teaches restoration via resurrection.  Man is restored to life by means of resurrection.  In the Bible, the only way for man to live again is by re-creation viaresurrection.  Man does not live on by some supposed inner life continuing on unabated via some supposed soul ascension, and then later on some soul descending back down to earth in order to undergo re-ensoulment back into the body.  That is not what the Bible teaches.  That is pagan nonsense, and garbage.


What did Jesus mean when He said, “And everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”  You have to get what Jesus meant; this teaching is to be understood as sequential in meaning.  Quite simply, at this specific point, Jesus issaying that every true believer, every saved person, every one of the redeemed, shall not die again, as in dying after the resurrection.  He has already affirmed that we (the true believers) do die the first death –even as everyone does.  He upholds this truth by saying “Whoever believes in me, though he die.”  So, we do die.  Okay, now, remember please, the resurrection will be of everyone who has ever lived.  And all of us will face or undergo judgment.  And there will be two groups as the final result:  the first group is thosewho will live eternally with Jesus.  These are the ones that will undergo the “resurrection unto life.”   The second group is those who will die again, as in the second death.  These are the ones that will undergo the “resurrection unto condemnation” (said condemnation which results in a just “sentence” of second death, Revelation).



The Bible is a shinning beacon of hope for true believers, the hope of the resurrection/transformation event:  the hope of the promise of God coming to fulfillment.  I believe in resurrection:  His first; ours still to come!


Richard Eric Gunby,  May 22, 2009


 John 11 (English Standard Version) [Emphasis mine]

The Death of Lazarus

 1Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3So thesisters sent to him, saying, "Lord, he whom you love is ill." 4But when Jesus heard it he said, "This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it."

 5Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7Then after this he said to thedisciples, "Let us go to Judea again." 8The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?" 9Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." 11After saying these things, he said to them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him." 12The disciplessaid to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover." 13Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14Then Jesus told them plainly, "Lazarus has died, 15and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."

I Am the Resurrection and the Life

 17Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console themconcerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you." 23Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in theresurrection on the last day." 25Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" 27She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world." 28When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." 29And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply movedin his spirit and greatly troubled. 34And he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." 35 Jesus wept. 36So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" 37But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?"

Jesus Raises Lazarus

 38Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days." 40

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