Salvation Series 5: When?
It is a fact that indeed “we are saved by faith“. As Heb. 11:6 states, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is…”
And, there is no other way; Jesus is the only “way, the truth and the life“(John 14:6). The “faith of Jesus” as in Rom. 3:21-22, (not his works of the Law, Gal. 2:16) started it all and then for us to follow his lead, i.e., “from faith to faith” (Rom. 1:17). Without faith “began” and initiated by Jesus(Heb. 12:2), our faith would not matter an iota. And this is by the grace of God that this formula for salvation was established, even before the foundation of the worlds ( see John 3:16, Rev. 13:8 and I Pet. 1:20). However, a common folly is to stretch the phrase “we are saved by faith” to mean “right then and there”; immediately and not future. When do we really “get saved”? Does going to “heaven or hell” follow right away after death? The verses used to support this position are:
A. Thief on the cross:
Luke 23:42-43 “And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
The prevailing error in interpretation of this verse can be explained away by acknowledging that at death, the “psyche” or “spirit” of man, the “breath of life” goes back to the Creator. Not, the psyche and the body; the spirit-component only and not together with the matter-component of man. Jesus’ dead body, the matter-component, and that of the thief, did not go to “paradise” but were buried in the grave(hades) the same day of crucifixion and before sunset preceding the high-day Sabbath. It was their “psyche/spirit of man” that went to “paradise”, back to the Father where they belong. Simply put, the two components of man are accounted for, the body and the psyche(spirit, breath of life). But, only one component, the spirit/psyche, went to “paradise”, a place where the Father is. There went Jesus’ spirit and that of the thief’s , as in “today you shall be with me in paradise”. Strictly speaking, both were still dead at that time, with their dead bodies in the grave except that Jesus was resurrected 3 days and 3 nights after burial, stayed alive and forever. Jesus’ psyche/spirit went back from the Father to his “uncorrupted flesh body” (Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:31) in the grave, and his flesh-body then changed into a “glorious body“, one that can be seen as flesh but changeable to spirit-composed body “in a twinkling of an eye”. Remember that Jesus’ resurrected body was visible as flesh to the women who went to his grave to bring spices (compare Jn. 20:14-17; Mk. 16 and Luke 24). Also, angels who are spirit-composed can be visible as flesh and invisible as well(see Gen. 18). This is the same mechanism for the resurrection of the “dead in Christ” at “first resurrection” where the “psyche/spirit” of the dead that was with the Father returns to visible re-composed flesh visible but “glorious body” which is changeable to spirit-composed in a “twinkling of an eye”. On the other hand, those who are alive at the return of Jesus on earth and first resurrection , with the spirit of man in them still, will be changed to a glorious body in a “twinkling of an eye” (ICor 15:52).
B. Parable of Lazarus and Rich Man:Luke 16:19-31
The assumption in this parable is that Lazarus immediately went to “heaven” and that the Rich man went to Gehenna fire. Did they immediately go to their eventual destination after death? Let us be reminded of John 3:13: “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven”(maybe translated as having been in heaven). Joseph’s bones were still in the grave and had to be exhumed to be taken back from Egypt to the “land of promise”, as in,
Gen. 50:25-26″And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.” The children of Israel fulfilled that request (Exodus 13:19; Joshua 24:32).
Even Abraham did not go to heaven after death, as in Heb. 11:13 “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. ” Clearly, no one who ever died went to “heaven”, except Jesus. Also, please consider the following verses:
“For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing” (Eccl.9:5).
“… for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (Eccl.9:10).
“His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish”(Psalm 146:4)
The preceding 3 verses attest to the fact that the dead “know nothing”, “his thoughts perish” and that “there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave”, referring to the matter-component of man. The “psyche, spirit of man or the breath of life” has all the identity, memories and composite of that particular person, although non-functional without a body to work with. It cannot see, hear, speak, do anything without a body, whether matter or spirit-composed. As James 2:26 further proves, “… the body without the spirit is dead….”
Taking all these into consideration, the narrative about Lazarus and the rich man had to occur when they were resurrected. It has to be post-resurrection with a physical body because the rich man has eyes to “see Abraham afar off” and cry, sensation to feel torment, tongue to speak as they were communicating to each other. Also, since the first resurrection involves the “firstfruits” of the Holy Spirit who are “glorious spirit-composed bodies”, then this resurrection of Lazarus and the rich man presumably has to be at the second resurrection with “flesh-composed bodies”. The resurrected Lazarus “in the bosom of Abraham”, while the resurrected rich man experiencing the “torment of fire”. This event is described in John 5:28-29, Christ said: “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation [judgment].” Those “resurrected flesh” (come forth) who believed in Christ will receive the promise of the in-dwelling of the Spirit to experience the “bringing forth of fruits” and who “have done good” will have eternal life with immortal and spirit-composed bodies. Those who did not have faith and instead rejected Him, inspite of this availability of the Holy Spirit to them, will be thrown in the Gehenna fire/lake of fire and suffer the eternal death, killing the “body/soma” and the “spirit/psyche” forever.
C. Slain souls under the altar
Rev. 6:9-11″And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”
These verses are interpreted to presumably mean that even when they are dead, they are still alive and can “speak”. Notice that they were to “rest” in “sleep/death”(1 Corinthians 15:51-52) until there brethren were also slain. They are in a state of having been “slain” and will stay slain and dead-asleep “yet for a little season until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” Notice that they were slain, dead/asleep. This word translated “soul” has to refer to the “psyche,spirit of man, breath of life”, as the Greek origin is, that left the body at death. While they have memories and composite of the person, it does not have a body that can “speak” as resurrection with a body for them has not yet occurred. Without a tongue in a body to speak, it just is incapable of actually speaking. This interpretation can be the correct rendering of this narrative, as in In Heb. 11:4 “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh“. Notice, “being dead yet speak”, by it, meaning “in faith” although not actually speaking. Similarly, “they cried with a loud voice” in Rev 6:9 can mean the same way, as though the dead can “speak”, an allegory.
From the preceding Salvation Series 4 How?, one can see that salvation is a process and it does not come to fruition until the process completes itself. Faith is the basic ingredient towards fulfillment of salvation. It is required to go through this process. First and foremost is the “faith of Jesus”, without which “our faith”, although required, becomes inconsequential. As man-Jesus’ faith got him the gift of the Holy Spirit from the Father coming out of the water at Jordan river, so was this HS, after Jesus’resurrection, sent to us, through Jesus, by the Father to receive because of having “our faith“. No one gets this gift of Holy Spirit without us having faith in God. This is why we are “saved by faith”.
But, when do we actually get “saved”. Salvation Series 1:What?, expounds on the the subject of “what” salvation really means, what are we being “saved” from. It explains and gives an inkling of when. It is when we, the followers of Christ, have “glorious bodies”, are “spirit-composed” at the first or as an aftermath of the second resurrection, i.e., being “born again“. As such, all of us can then say “death, where is thy sting?” (I Cor. 15:55). Yes, death will have no power on us, being immortal at that time, and we will have eternal life, being “one” with Christ and the Father.
The answer as to when we finally get saved is at the time we receive “immortality“, having been changed from mortal to “glorious bodies”/spirit-bodies(1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Strictly speaking , a resurrected flesh-body and spirit of man “clothe” with a new “spirit-composed home”. Our “soma” and “psyche” will no longer be “naked“; it will be “covered“. But, not just having “spirit-bodies” and immortality like angelic beings. Additionally, because of the power of the Spirit of God in us, we have developed “wisdom” to decide between “good and evil“, unlike the angels with the third of them gone awry. Angelic species has already been created and not anymore again. We will then be the “new creation“, planned from the foundation of this world, different from and higher than angels. The “world to come” will “not be subjected again to angels”(Heb. 2:5), but to the newly created “sons of God” with Jesus as Son of God. As the Spirit of God in Jesus made him “one” with the Father, with the same Spirit of God so shall we be “one” with the Son and Father. This is the “gospel of the kingdom of God” traced even in the narrative intimated at the garden of Eden. Adam & Eve did not “eat the fruit of the tree of life” available to them but chose instead the “fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil”. They wanted to be “like him” (the Creator YHVH) through their own efforts, as in taking the forbidden fruit, and ended instead to die. While their choice to become “like him” was correct, the mechanism to achieve that goal was wrong. They cannot be “like YHVH” by themselves. It was through another man, Jesus the YHVH incarnate, that this will be achieved. As Adam and Eve died, so did Jesus, the only chosen man, the Passover, choose to die. Salvation Series 4 How?, explains this concept in detail.
Original post: October 4, 2015
Revised and posted:February 20, 2017