In “inheritance and resurrection” Jefferson Vann shows that Paul did not teach automatic immortality at death. Instead, he taught life only in Christ at the resurrection at his return.
1 Corinthians 15:47-50 (JDV)
1 Corinthians 15:47 The first man came from the dirty land; the second man came from the sky.
1 Corinthians 15:48 Like the one made from dirt, so also are the ones made from dirt, and like the one made from sky stuff, so also are the ones made of sky stuff.
1 Corinthians 15:49 Just as we now look like the dirty man, we will someday look like the sky-stuff man.
1 Corinthians 15:50 I am saying this, brothers, because flesh and blood is not able to inherit the kingdom from God, nor can the thing that rots inherit that which is indestructible.
inheritance and resurrection
Paul continues to argue that the resurrection is absolutely necessary. His opponents in the Corinthian assemblies have suggested that upon death, human beings automatically inherit immortality and fly away to “heaven” or the other place.
Paul says there is nothing automatic about our gaining immortality. It comes from the one who came from the sky: Jesus. So, it will come only by his raising us from the dead, and fitting us for forever. Flesh and blood (humanity as a whole) cannot automatically become spiritual beings. We are creatures made to die and rot; we cannot automatically become indestructible. That will take a resurrection unto eternal life. That does not take place automatically at death. It needs the life-making touch of the second Adam. It requires the intervention of Christ.
Satan has convinced some that no one has hope because there is no promise of permanent life. He has deceived others into believing that they need not exclusively trust Jesus because everyone is already eternal. Between these two lies is the truth of the Gospel. Life is only in Christ.
This truth (life only in Christ) is repeated over and over in the Bible:
- Jesus is the source of eternal life (John 10:28-30).
- God called us to eternal glory by Christ (1 Peter 5:10).
- Only the one who does God’s will will live forever (1 John 2:17).
- God’s gift of eternal life is his Son (1 John 5:11).
- Only believers in Christ will not perish (John 3:16).
- There is only one everlasting way (Psalm 139:23-24).
- Eternal life is only through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23).
- The one who does not believe will not see life (John 3:36).
- Only the narrow way leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14).
- Eternal life needs to be laid hold of (1 Timothy 6:12).
- Eternal life will only be reaped by those who sow to the Spirit (Galatians 6:8).
- Only saints are preserved forever (Psalm 37:28).
- Only those who repent will live (Ezekiel 18:32).
- Only those who die with Christ will live with Christ (2 Timothy 2:11).
- Those who despise God’s ways will die (Proverbs 19:16).
- Eternal life is a product of Christ’s mercy (Jude 1:20-21).
- Christ is the true God and eternal life (1 John 5:20).
- Everlasting life is the end result of forgiveness (Romans 6:22).
- Eternal life is a result of leaving all to follow Christ (Mark 10:29-30).
- Only those who obey Christ will be permanently saved (Hebrews 5:9).
- Only the one who has the Son has eternal life (1 John 5:12).
LORD, thank you for our future hope — a hope that rests solely on Christ.