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Wesleyan Theology II - Lesson 18

Wesley on Eschatology (Part 1)

Eschatology comes from a Greek word meaning, “last things.” Aristotle describes physical death is when the body is separated from the soul. Spiritual death is when the soul is separated from the sanctifying presence of God. Eternal death is the eternal separation of the soul from God. Some people teach that the term “sleep” in Scripture to describe death, means cessation of consciousness and is not used metaphorically of the dead body. A belief in the unending existence of the soul raises the question of its habitat and activities in the state between death and the resurrection, generally referred to as the intermediate state. It seems then that there is a particular judgment at death that will be consummated later on in a general judgment. Jesus promised that he would come again to earth and it will be personal, visible, physical and literal.

Kenneth J. Collins
Wesleyan Theology II
Lesson 18
Watching Now
Wesley on Eschatology (Part 1)

I. BIBLICAL CONTEXT

II. DEATH

A. Physical death

B. Spiritual death

C. Eternal death

D. Death of the saints

E. Immortality of the soul

F. Soul sleep

III. INTERMEDIATE STATE

IV. PARTICULAR AND GENERAL JUDGMENT

V. SECOND COMING OF CHRIST

A. Parousia

B. The time of the coming of Christ

VI. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS


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  • John Wesley did theology in service to the church in mission. Brunner and Tillich are theologians that lived recently that developed a systematic approach. Wesley refers to his study of theology as practical divinity. He views it as participatory so that the truths of Scripture are actualized in practice and in community, not just an individual intellectual exercise. Wesley emphasized the doctrines of sin and salvation in his study and preaching by addressing how you become a Christian and how you remain a Christian. Wesley is described as being a, “conjunctive” theologian, which means he has a, “both-and” approach  as compared to an, “either-or” approach to theological ideas. He is looking for balance. Free grace is the work of God alone. Wesley describes cooperant grace as, “God works, therefore you can work; God works, therefore you must work.” Grace is the normative context of the moral law of God. Wesley teaches that we relate to God by both free grace and cooperant grace.

  • Repentance before justification. Because of who God is, he wills the salvation of all humanity. Grace is free for all. In his sermon, “Free Grace,” Wesley argues against limited atonement but affirms election and God’s foreknowledge. To Wesley, “Awakening” refers to a person receiving grace so they begin to discern the things of God. This is the transition from the natural state where people where a person is dead to things of God, to being awakened to God and fearing him. Moving from a state of “sleep” to being “awakened” to an awareness of God. Wesley makes a distinction between the, “natural person,” a “person under the law,” and a “person under grace.” Wesley describes conviction the holy spirit and the moral law working together, resulting in convincing grace. Sovereignty is a relational attribute because it’s how he relates to nature. Love is an essential attribute of God. Humans still have freedom as part of the way they are created in the image of God. Wesley teaches that all the elect are born of God but not all who are born of God are elect. Some who are born of God, fall away. If we live a life of Christian discipleship, it will change us.

  • The Holy Spirit begins to give the awakened conscience an inward “check” using the moral law. God uses the word and the Spirit to shed increasing light on the conscience to reveal shafts of the righteousness and justice of God. Repentance means a change of mind or change of direction. Wesley described repentance as the “porch” of religion. Wesley said that the only requirement to be part of a Methodist society was a desire to flee the wrath to come. He would then encourage you to leave off evil, do good and use the means of grace, which he equated with repentance. The three principal aspects of repentance are conviction, poverty of spirit and rejection of self-righteousness and self-justification. Repentance occurs prior to justification. Repentance will result in outward expressions of inward contrition and grace. The general means of grace are prayer, searching the Scripture, communicating, the Lord’s Supper and fasting. Prudential means of grace are practices that foster the love of God. They may differ from one person to another. It requires reason, reflection and honesty.

  • Focus on the insights of John Wesley on practical theology. Wesley teaches that people are justified by faith alone and that conviction of sin and repentance comes before justification. Conviction and repentance are important in the salvation process but not in the same sense or the same degree as faith. Wesley refers to the grace from which salvation comes as being, “free in all,” meaning that it does not depend on human power or merit. A person can be redeemed if he will, but not when he will. Wesley views the process of salvation as the conjunction of cooperant and free grace. The faith that justifies goes beyond believing that God exists and the knowledge of God’s character. It is also more than the faith of a devil. It is more than the faith of the apostles while Jesus was on earth. The nature of faith is a spiritual sense by which we understand spiritual things. Faith requires both, “belief that” and “belief in”

  • Justification is the work God does for us, sanctification is the work God does in us. Justification makes us children of God, and sanctification is the process of becoming saints. Justification is based on the atoning work of Christ and entails the forgiveness of sin and freedom from guilt. Wesley teaches that when you are justified, you are forgiven of past sins. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to believers because of what Jesus did. He applied imputation to justification only, not sanctification because he was concerned about people taking this as a license to sin. Sola Fide is the teaching that faith is not only the necessary condition of justification, but it is also a sufficient condition. Wesley teaches that justification and regeneration occur simultaneously, never one without the other. Wesley held not one but two aspects of his doctrine of salvation in tension: both process and instantaneousness, divine and human cooperation as well as the work of God alone.

  • Wesley teaches that justifying grace is imputed by God and regenerating grace is imparted by God. When Wesley refers to, “divine empowerment,” he means that the Holy Spirit gives believers the power to live in obedience to God. Wesley describes regeneration as the great work which God does in us, in renewing our fallen nature and the beginning of sanctification. Regeneration itself is a result of free grace. Only God can make a soul holy and fill it with the Holy Spirit. He also emphasizes the importance of holy living. “Faith alone, working by love, aimed at holy living.” Wesley linked regeneration with the doctrine of original sin. Since we were born in sin, we must be born again. Wesley describes the new birth as a vast change from darkness to light. Orthodoxy is important, but it’s crucial that regeneration also leads to life transformation.

  • Regeneration is an instantaneous supernatural change that begins the process of sanctification. It is God alone who forgives sin and makes a person holy. The first “liberty” of the gospel is freedom from the guilt of sin. The second “liberty” of the gospel is the deliverance from the power and dominion of sin. The marks of the new birth are faith, hope and love. Wesley defines sin as a willful transgression of a known law of God. Wesley is not saying that one who is regenerated will never sin again, but open, willful sin and rejecting God should be the exception rather than the rule. Obedience of faith refers to the power of someone who is regenerated to obey the commandments of God. The greatest freedom of all is the freedom to love God and love our neighbor.

  • Assurance is an essential part of the conversion experience. Our sins are forgiven and we are children of God. Biblical texts that teach assurance are Romans 8:15-16, Galatians 4:5-8 and 1 John 2:12-14. According to Roman Catholic theology articulated at the council of Trent, assurance is not a normative component of God’s promise of salvation. The Roman Catholic church teaches that assurance is corporate and focuses on apostolic succession and the sacraments. Wesley describes the direct witness of assurance as an inward impression on the soul of believers by the Holy Spirit, who testifies to the spirit of the person that they are a child of God. The realization of the direct witness of the spirit will be different for each individual and will be memorable but may not be dramatic. Wesley considers conscience as a supernatural faculty that God has restored.

  • Indirect witnesses to our new birth are the keeping of the commandments of God and fruit of the Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit are diverse but they are all given by the Holy Spirit. Wesley emphasizes the importance of both direct and indirect witness.

  • Wesley describes salvation and sanctification by writing, “God worketh in you; therefore you can work…God worketh in you, therefore you must work.” In the process of sanctification, we are becoming increasingly holy. The process of sanctification involves changes in degree. The process begins when we are justified. The believer is gradually dying to the carnal nature. The Christian life is a journey of holiness. The goal is holy love. As believers experience the love of God, they will love God and show love to their neighbor. Wesley teaches that when you believe in God, you have a disposition toward God, which is a sure trust and confidence in God which causes changes in your life. Dispositions are more consistent than emotions. Practicing sin makes you less free. Holiness leads to freedom and happiness.

  • Self-denial involves being willing to follow grace, to follow God’s will rather than yours, recognizing that your nature is corrupt and to deny ourselves is to deny our will where it contradicts God’s will. Taking up your cross includes being willing to endure suffering. Wesley teaches that repentance is important in terms of individual sins at salvation and also of the sin nature. Evangelical repentance is repentance of the sin nature. Wesley urged people to minister to both peoples’ bodies and souls.

  • In this lesson, John Wesley's theology on entire sanctification emphasizes the distinction between gradual sanctification as a process and instantaneous entire sanctification, with a focus on the idea that entire sanctification is an utter gift of God received by faith alone, demonstrating a balanced view of cooperative and free grace.
  • In this lesson, Dr. Collins reviews John Wesley's doctrine on entire sanctification. He explains that it is not sinless perfection but a state of love where believers are free from the power and being of sin, emphasizing the need for continual growth in grace.
  • Wesley wanted to reform the church of England, not begin a new denomination. The fundamental nature of the Church is a community of people-centered on Christ. The Greek word in the New Testament that refers to the Church is ekklesia. The Church was born at Pentecost. The relation of the church to Israel and the inclusion of Gentiles in the church were two foundational questions in the early Church. The Church is composed of all believers throughout the world as well as believers meeting in local communities. There is one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father of all. The importance of unity in the Church is stressed in the Gospel of John and in other writings in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit animates individuals and also the body of Christ corporately.

  • It’s not possible to for people to be holy without the Holy Spirit. The Church should live in an attitude of humility and be open to repentance and reform when there is sin and evil discovered. There institutional church should have disciplinary mechanisms to deal with sin and evil. Ecclesiastical synonyms for catholic are universal, global, ecumenical and extensive. The apostolic testimony is passed down through the centuries. Apostolic succession divides the Church because of the view of the sacraments, especially the Lord’s Supper. The creeds in the reformation era articulated Protestant theology. The church is where the pure Word of God is preached and the sacraments are duly administered. Methodism is a reforming movement with the theme of real Christianity vs. people who lived by displaying the form of Christianity but lacked the power. Methodist bands and select societies were modeled after Moravian small groups. The soul and the body make a man, the spirit and discipline make a Christian. The general rules of the United Societies were agree to avoid evil, do good to your neighbor and employ the means of grace. The goal was to foster a spirit of repentance. They emphasized Scriptural Christianity. Wesley’s purpose was that Methodism become a reforming order within the church, not a separate denomination.

  • Worship is a response to God because God has already acted. Gathering together is important for the faith community to fellowship together. The minister welcomes everyone to invite them to worship God. In worship, we encounter the Word of God as it is read and declared, by response in prayer and in the creeds and confessions. In communion, we are responding to the gift that God has given us. When we go out from a worship service, we are salt and light to the world. Worship is essentially responding in acknowledgment of what God has done. A sacrament is an outward expression of an inward grace that is received by faith. Luther described a sacrament as containing the three elements of a sign, signification, and promise. For baptism, the sign is the water, the signification is dying and rising with Christ and the promise is forgiveness of sin and renewal of your nature. Wesley considered baptism to be associated but distinct from the new birth. Baptism is an outward sign of the inward work of the new birth.

  • Wesley’s view of baptism is both sacramental and “evangelical.” Wesley considers the Lord’s Supper as a means of grace because it is, “food for the journey. In the early church, believers were required to be baptized before they could receive the Lord’s Supper. The sign is the bread and wine, the signification is the body and blood of Jesus and the promise is the forgiveness of sins and renewal of our nature. Luther describe’s the Lord’s Supper as a testament. Wesley says that there is a spiritual presence of Jesus in the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is not a sacrifice, but it does bring the meanings of the death of Jesus into the community of faith in a tangible way. Wesley thought that each person should receive the Lord’s Supper as often as possible.

  • Eschatology comes from a Greek word meaning, “last things.” Aristotle describes physical death is when the body is separated from the soul. Spiritual death is when the soul is separated from the sanctifying presence of God. Eternal death is the eternal separation of the soul from God. Some people teach that the term “sleep” in Scripture to describe death, means cessation of consciousness and is not used metaphorically of the dead body. A belief in the unending existence of the soul raises the question of its habitat and activities in the state between death and the resurrection, generally referred to as the intermediate state. It seems then that there is a particular judgment at death that will be consummated later on in a general judgment. Jesus promised that he would come again to earth and it will be personal, visible, physical and literal.

  • The second coming of Christ will take some people by surprise, but the faithful will be prepared. It will be visible and obvious to everyone. Believers will be raised from the dead to be with Christ. Postmillennialism teaches that things keep getting better and the second coming of Christ will come after the millennium. Premillennialism teaches that things get worse and Christ comes before the millennium. Amillennialism sees the thousand-year reign as a symbol and not a reality. There will be a final judgment that will display the attributes of God, where Jesus will be seen as the king of kings. The final judgment will bring justice and reveal the character of each person. Heaven is where the glory of God is expressed. There will be a new heaven and a new earth.

Holy Love is an overarching theme of John Wesley's preaching and theology. Join Dr. Kenneth Collins as he explores topics ranging from grace, repentance, justification, regeneration, assurance, sanctification, the church and sacraments, and eschatology, by using Scripture, historical context, and the writings and the sermons of John Wesley. 

Wesleyan Theology II
Dr. Ken Collins
th511-18
Wesley on Eschatology (Part 1)
Lesson Transcript

 

Yes. So we are broaching a new topic, the topic of Last Things and the Triumph of Holy Love. When we think of eschatology in terms of the word itself, it finds its origin in the Greek word eschatology as SCOTUS, which is often translated last or last in a series or simply last things. But now how will the flow of the lecture be? Well, in this lecture focused on the doctrine of last things, we will include such topics as death. They intermediate state the return of Christ. The resurrection of the just the millennium, the general resurrection of the dead, the final or last judgment, the end of history, and then the end of the age, and finally the new creation. So you can see there are a number of elements that make up the doctrine of the last things. So let's begin with a discussion of death. And when we think of death, we have to understand it basically in a threefold way. There is physical death, spiritual death, and then there is eternal death. And so in terms of the first, that is physical death. Physical death occurs when the soul, what Aristotle referred to as the animal, separates from the body. And so in an Aristotelian way, when we think of the soul, when we think of animate life, we think of the animal infusing into penetrating the body while we are alive. And a body without a soul. A body without an animal is a corpse. And so though a soul cannot be empirically or scientifically discerned, it is no less real. It is real as spirit is real. And remember, of course, God is spirit. Okay. And so I think the language of embodied souls, none other than Jesus Christ, talked about body and soul.

 

He talked about fear, not those who can simply kill the body and do no more, but rather fear the one who can cast both body and soul in hell. So on the authority of Jesus Christ, very good grounds indeed. We have a proper distinction here between body and soul. I know some of us today in the 21st century, have been pushed off this language of soul that need not be. We are free to use this language. It's a part of revelation as we receive it. It also has great explanatory power in terms of the kinds of beings we know ourselves to be and the various dimensions in which we participate. Okay. Well, physical death is one thing. Now, the separation of the body from the soul. But then there is spiritual death, which is something else to be considered. And this occurs when the soul is separated from the sanctifying presence of God. Such a death can occur in this life. If that is the case, then the way forward can only be through repentance and a new birth. Moreover, such a death, a spiritual death, can occur in the world to come. In which case there is no longer any opportunity for repentance and renewal. Okay. And so we can speak of spiritual death in this world. If there is spiritual death in the next world, there is not an opportunity for repentance. And then lastly, we speak of eternal death. Eternal death is the eternal separation of the soul from God in which there is absolutely no hope of ever being in the goodness and enjoying the love of the divine presence. All of that is gone. It is a radical alienation, separation from God, which is unending, and that's why it's called eternal death.

 

Now we can speak of the death of both believers and unbelievers. There is a difference between the death of unbelievers and believers, as you might imagine. And we see this very clearly in terms of Wesley's own journey and that of the several Methodists who followed him. As a matter of fact, there is much that has been written on this topic. There's one title that comes to mind. They died well, meaning that the Methodists. They died well, meaning that they died in measures of assurance that they were the sons and daughters of the living God. And so a Christian, when a Christian dies, being assured of the kind of promise that is declared in Romans eight one, two, two, for example, there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus, the Law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. And so John Wesley talked about and wrote about being free from this kind of fear of death. The believer should be free of this kind of fear. In other words, fear that has torment. Fear that fears the condemnation of God. The believer should be set free from that kind of slavish for fear because they know. They know that they are the sons and daughters of God and that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, Jesus, our Lord. And so those who live in Christian graces have no fear to die in this sense. Believers as Christians, as Chrysostom wrote in the early church, believers do not fear death. What they fear is sin. They fear sin. Now the death of the saints is precious in God's sight. That's what Scripture says. And according to Luke Wiseman quote, it was the boast of the westerlies that our people die.

 

Well, a fact which they believed of great evidential value. A physician who had rendered medical assistance to several Methodists made the claim to Charles Westley that most people die for the fear of dying. But he added, I never met with such people as yours, meaning the Methodists. They are none of them afraid of death, but are calm and patient and resigned to the last. And we have examples of this, of course, in the death of Samuel Wesley, the father of John Wesley. While he's dying, his last words are the inward witness, My son. The inward witness. This is the strongest proof of Christianity. And then we have the dying words of John Wesley himself, when, among other things, he said, I'll praise my maker while I breath. I'll praise our praise. And so we see how those who trust in Jesus Christ die. Christians live in a way that glorifies God. But. They also die in a way that glorifies God. Indeed, one of the great books that John Wesley read, which was so influential in terms of his own formation, was by Jeremy Taylor, that 17th century Caroline Devine, who had a book entitled Holy Living, Holy Living the Exercises of Holy Living and Holy Dying. So there is a thing about living life as a Christian one lives as a Christian. There is such a thing as dying, as a Christian, dying as a Christian. In other words, are dying. And our dying process itself are testaments to the goodness and mercy and grace of God shown to us in Jesus Christ. Now, there are other ways of dying, to be sure. And Wesley recorded some of these in his writings. And so there was the instance of Richard Vallely, who was convicted of the crime of highway robbery, and he was condemned to die by hanging.

 

And so the following is shared in a letter to John Wesley by the father of the condemned. And this is what the father wrote at the place of execution after he had spent some time in prayer. He rose up, took a cheerful leave of his friends, and said, Glory be to God for free, Grace. His last words were, Lord Jesus, receive my soul. And so here was this condemned malefactor who had been introduced to the Gospel shortly before his demise. And notice he's singing in the wonders of free grace. Free grace. Realizing that redemption, the offer of salvation is a gift and therefore can be received now by people like a condemned criminal who have very little time, very little time left. And so that was actually something new for Wesley, because he had been schooled on reading Jeremy Taylor's writings. And if you look at Jeremy Taylor in terms of repentance and deathbed repentance and that sort of issue, Jeremy Taylor didn't believe in it. He thought that, you know, you read the repentance and the rounds of repentance were so belabored that you simply ran out of time. And so I think it's rather interesting that shortly after Wesley comes to his understanding of what saving faith is from his conversations with Peter Burleigh, that he offers the glad tidings of salvation that is by grace through faith to a condemned criminal Mr. Clifford, who is about to be executed. And that is theologically significant because perhaps the earlier Wesley would have thought that this person simply did not have time for the rounds of repentance and worked suitable for repentance to be done. But no, because he understood quite clearly now that the forgiveness of sins as well as the new birth, is a sheer, utter gift.

 

Then a condemned criminal who has so little time can be redeemed today, can be redeemed today. And so shortly before John Wesley died, before he himself died, he uttered the following words, which come from Isaac. What's. I'll praise my maker while I breath. And when my voice is lost in death, praise shall employ my nobler powers. My days of praise shall never be passed. While life and thought and being last. Or immortality endures. Okay. And so you get something of the serenity. I think that's a good word here. The serenity, the peace, the assurance in which Westley is dying. And so there is a distinction. Yes, there is a distinction. Christians die well. And one of the graces of the gospel is that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, our Lord. A precious gift. A precious gift, indeed. Now, when we think about death and when we think about the body and soul and the soul being separated from the body, you know, the question then becomes, what is the basic paradigm that Scripture is working with? Is it a matter of immortality of the soul? Absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, or is it a matter of death and then a future resurrection, a resurrection from the dead when the soul is reunited with the body. And this is a question that several within the history of the church have struggled with. This question of the immortality, the soul, resurrection of the dead. This sort of issue now, if we consider evidence for this idea of the immortality, the soul, we can look at some biblical materials that seem to affirm affirm this. For example, in Genesis chapter five, verse 24, it states, Enoch walked faithfully with God.

 

Then he was no more and God took him away. Or we can look at Second Kings chapter two, verse 11 as they were walking along and walking together. Suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Or we can look to some New Testament materials, the Gospel of Matthew in particular. And I just actually quoted this a little earlier. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell. And so what seems to be suggested by Jesus in this context is that the body dies. But that doesn't mean necessarily that the soul dies. And so this passage has been used by some who will argue for an immortality of the soul. In other words, that when the body dies, the soul continues on. Or we could consider the importance of Matthew chapter 16, verse 26. What good would it be for someone to gain the whole world? I mean, think about that and what's entailed to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul. Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? And so in that first we get a rich sense of how precious, how precious even just one soul is in the sight of God. And then, of course, the the very well known John 316 for God's so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Okay. And so some of these verses have been used by Christian theologians to articulate a doctrine of the immortality, the soul. But then beyond the gospels, we can look to the writings of Paul Philippians, for example, Philippians chapter one versus 22 through 24, where Paul writes, quote, If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.

 

Yet what shall I choose? I do not know. I am torn between the two. I desire to depart and be with Christ. Which is better by far. But it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. And so here is Paul writing about, you know, dying. Departing, but being with Christ. So absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. To depart is to be with Christ. And this, to some would suggest, is arguing for an immortality of the soul. And then we have second Corinthians chapter five, verses six through nine. Therefore, we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord, For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home, in the body or away from it. Again, here Paul seems to be suggesting that being away from the body is not the utter sensation of existence, but a being home with the Lord. Okay. Now, Agustin, if we start to look at church tradition beyond Scripture, we see that Augustine, the Latin Church father, wrote an important treatise entitled of the Immortality of the Soul. And so we see that this great Latin church father articulated a doctrine of the immortality of the soul. And then there is the work of Lactantius, who in one of his works, had a chapter on the immortality of the soul. And so we see some of the early church fathers articulating a doctrine which moves in this direction. Now, there are some Christian traditions that affirm what is called the doctrine of soul sleep.

 

And so the notion that the soul sleeps between death and resurrection, in other words, that there is no consciousness, that there is soul sleep between. Death and resurrection. This theory was held by some anabaptists and is the teaching of modern day Seventh Day Adventists. And it rests upon the assumption that the use of the term sleep in Scripture to describe death means a cessation of consciousness and is not used metaphorically of the dead body. The evidence, the evidence that the metaphorical use is what Scripture intends, according to W.E. Vine, is summarized in in the New Testament is summarized. In the New Testament. So it would be argued Now someone who has argued along these lines as well, at least to present this doctrine before the Christian community would be Alan Carnes, who, you know, noted, especially as the historian he is that this teaching of soul sleep was found indeed in the Anabaptist, in the Anabaptist community. And, you know, if you think of the doctrine of Soul sleep, it's actually quite interesting. I'm not saying that I affirm the doctrine of soul sleep because I don't. But it's if you think it through what's being suggested here, it's actually quite interesting. Look at it this way. Here is Christ in Glory. Okay, so we put Christ at the center and here we have human history. Human history in the form of a circle, if you will. And here is the movement of time. Okay, Here is the apostle Paul in the first century. Here's Augustine in the early fifth century. Here's Luther in the 16th year, Wesley. Okay. Now, all of these folk have died. They have all died. Now, according to this doctrine of soul sleep, they have. They have no consciousness. They have ceased to have consciousness.

 

Well, what will happen? Well, at the resurrection from the dead, they will be quickened. They will be awakened. They will hear the voice of Christ and they will come out of their graves. But notice what that would entail. It's actually if this person dies over here and ceases to have conscious, the next thing they realize is the coming of Christ. And the next thing this person realizes is the coming of Christ. The next thing this person realizes. Everyone realizes all the dead realize the coming of Christ at the same time, because they're in so sleep, they are awakened suddenly all together. Anyone who had believed that existed, you know, anyone who believed in Jesus Christ and existed and died in the faith, they will know Christ at the same time they will be called and quickened and hear the voice of Christ at the same time. So that's what's implied in Souls Sleep, the Doctrine of soul sleep. And as I said, I'm not offering this. I actually don't affirm it myself. But I think it's interesting when you think it through what is being suggested here. Now, of course, this question of of immortality, the soul, I think, is an important one. And then the question of the resurrection of the dead is also an important one. Scripture, obviously, in many places, affirms the resurrection, not only the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but also the coming resurrection of those who believed in Jesus Christ, the resurrection of the faithful. And Oscar Coleman, the great biblical scholar, you know, started a conversation about this, about the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the dead. And as a result of the conversation he started, many theologians, many contemporary theologians began to move more and more in the direction of the paradigm, of the resurrection of the body.

 

That what the New Testament is really arguing is not the quote unquote, Greek idea of the immortality of the soul, but rather what it's offering is the Christian idea of the resurrection of the body. Nevertheless, where we are today in the 21st century, there are Christian theologians who affirm both frameworks. Immortality of the soul and then the resurrection of the dead as well. And so if you have a soul that is not dead after its separation from the body and yet has not been resurrected by being re re re attached to the body, there is what is called an intermediate state, an intermediate state. And so a belief in the unending existence of the soul raises the question, raises the question of its habitat and and its activities in this state between death on the one hand and resurrection on the other. And so if absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, if at. If the soul continues on, if the soul is immortal, that is going to raise the question of the intermediate state. The intermediate state. And so some theologians will lift up a number of key passages that they think describe very carefully what we're calling here, the intermediate state. So in second Corinthians chapter five, verses one through eight, let me read let me just read this section because it's a very important section for we know. That if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built with human hands. Meanwhile, we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling. Because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened because we do not wish to be unclothed, but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

 

And then Paul continues. Now, the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore, we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord, For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. And so this biblical passage, as you might have imagined, has been referred to often to point to the reality of and what we're calling an intermediate state. And the term the intermediate state used to describe the state of the soul between physical death and resurrection is, first of all, it is a dis embodied state. We see that very clearly from what I just read to you in the Second Corinthians passage. It is a dis embodied state. Second, it is a temporary state. It is not lasting. It is not eternal. There will be a subsequent change. We see that very clearly in First Corinthians chapter 15, verse 52. And then for the unsaved, it is a state of suffering. We see that in Luke chapter 16, verse 23. But for the saved, it is a state of blessedness in the conscious enjoyment of being with Christ. Paul writes about that in Philippians chapter one, verse 23, and also Second Corinthians, which we just read. Chapter five, verse verse eight. Now, the intermediate, the intermediate state is not a probationary state. It. And then lastly here, what I would like to mention. And here I'm drawing from the insights of Alan Collins. He argues that the intermediary state, it is terminated, it ends by the resurrection of the body.

 

In other words, when the soul is reunited once more with the body, a glorified body, it is resurrected. Now, there has been this question among Protestants and Catholics concerning the intermediate state. The intermediate state. Roman Catholics maintaining that there are two judgments, that there is a particular judgment that occurs immediately after death and that there is a general judgment later on. And so we're going to look at that. We're going to look at that briefly. We're going to look at that briefly in terms of different theologies and how they view respective materials. It is affirmed that judgment is not pronounced until the last day. I think we could all agree with that. And I think even Roman Catholics would agree with that. That judgment is not pronounced until the last day. But this is denied a particular judgment passing on each individual upon his or her death. So argues McClintock, and strong. In other words, here they're criticizing the Roman Roman Catholic view with a particular judgment and saying that it's detracting from the judgment that's taking place at the last day. However, I actually think that this judgment is misdirected because now follow my reasoning here. I'm actually going to defend the Roman Catholic doctrine of particular judgment that if it is the case that there is an intermediate state, that the soul is immortal, and that when we die, when the body is separate from the soul, such the case is absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. If we are present with the Lord, we cannot but know that we are redeemed. You understand that? So? So that the general judgment everyone agree, has not come yet. The resurrection of the dead hasn't taken place yet. The resurrection of the just and unjust has not happened yet.

 

But that soul in the intermediate state cannot. But no. It's eternal future because if anything, their presence of Christ, they know they shall ever be so. And if they are apart from Christ, they know they shall ever be so. So I'm actually defending the Roman Catholic doctrine here, and I think my Protestant brothers and sisters have been a little too quick here. But if you think it through, there's a kind of logic to what Rome has actually argued here. If we take a look at Acts chapter one verses 24 through 25, let me recite this. Then they prayed, Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this Apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs. And so there's this reference here of Judas going where he belongs. Okay. And the issue would be he cannot but know what the consequence of that is, given the place where he is going. And then, of course, there is this parable that is told in Luke and I'll recite it Luke chapter 16 versus 22 through 23. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. Some translations say to his bosom. The rich man also died and was buried in Hades, where he was in torment. He looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. And so here we see once again, perhaps, Scripture that points in the direction of the intermediate, intermediate state, and maybe even suggestive of something more. And then, of course, there is Jesus on the cross. He is having conversation with a criminal. And Jesus answered this criminal, this condemned man. Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.

 

And so, you know, Jesus is talking about paradise. How are we to understand that it seems that there is ongoing consciousness after death? Jesus promises this man today you'll be with me in paradise. And so there are some important things to be looked at. And then lastly here, the last verse. I'd like to lift up Second Corinthians chapter five, verse eight. We are confident, I say. So Paul writes, and willingly and willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. And so I think in light of this evidence, given the immortality of the soul that is affirmed both in Scripture and in tradition, the soul that has just been separated from the body through death cannot but know what its ultimate fate will be. It is either in the presence of Christ or not. This truth cannot be fudged. It seems, then, that as the Roman Catholics have argued, there is a particular judgment at death that will be consummated in a later general judgment. And I that is my working and reading with these materials now. Even during the time of Christ, people were raising the question of, you know, where is his coming? When will Christ come as he was promised? And so quoting this scripture, they will say, Where is this coming? He promised. Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation. Or we see in terms of the coming of Christ. Matthew Chapter 24, verses 37 through 39 as it was in the days of Noah. So it will be in the coming of the Son of Man four In the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day when Noah entered the ark and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came upon them and took them all away.

 

This is how it will be at the coming of this son of man. And so a part of eschatology, a part of the doctrine of the last things is not only to consider death both physical and spiritual and eternal, but also the second coming of Christ, the coming of Christ, which constitutes the blessed hope as referred to in Titus 213, the blessed hope of the people of God. It is based on the promise of the Lord Jesus Christ. I will come again. And so the angelic word to the disciples on the Mount of Olives after the ascension of Christ was this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven. Shall come in like manner. As you have seen him go into heaven. And so there is the promise so clearly in revelation that Christ will come again. And so it's clear that the return of Christ will be personal. It will be visible. It will be literal and physical. His feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, according to Zachariah, 14 four. And every eyes shall see him, according to Revelation chapter one, verse seven. It is called his Glorious appearing in Titus 213. Four. He will come in all the glory of his father and will be attended by the angelic hosts, as well as by his glorified saints. So our Kerns points out for us. Now, the second coming of Christ will also have special significance for Israel. It will be. It will consummate the hope of the saints when the dead shall be raised incorruptible and the living those who are alive at the time, they shall be instantly, as Paul teaches us, instantly transformed and changed. They will be glorified. And so Christ will be admired by all his saints and will proceed to reward his sermons.

 

Now, in this context, we hear sometimes the word Paris. C Paris. C This is a Greek word which is used to refer to the second coming of Jesus Christ at the end of history. And literally the term, according to Stanley Greene's The late Stanley Grands. It means simply presence. And so when we talk about Paris C, we mean the presence of Christ. Hence it designates Christ's return at the point at which he will be fully present to the world or his presence will be fully revealed. You know, we use the word apocalypse. What does apocalypse mean? It means revelation. What does parasitism mean? It means presence. Some join together. His presence will be fully revealed. There is a sense where Christ is present to the world now. But by grace, through faith, we see. Through. We see the invisible world with the eye of faith. But there will come a point when Christ is revealed, when Christ's beauty and glory is utterly manifested, utterly manifested. And this is what is often meant by parasite. And. An apocalypse in this particular context. And so this coming or presence of Christ is also called his epiphany or his appearance. Take a look at the second Thessalonians Chapter two, verse eight. First Timothy, Chapter six, verse 14. Or sometimes it's referred to his thin process or his manifestation, quote, For you died and your life is now hidden with Christ. When Christ, who is your life appears, then you will also appear with Him in glory. This coming will constitute a final apocalypse. This or unveiling, unveiling. Removing all that now obstructs our temporal beholding of Christ. And so we get this sense that that Christ is present now, that Christ is is in a spiritual dimension, if you will.

 

And we cannot see that directly. But they'll come a point when Christ comes again, when His glory will be manifested for all to see, for all to see. There will be this unveiling, there will be this apocalypse, there will be this presence. And so the the last day will finally disclose the meaning of all of history. And that meaning will be seen to culminate in Jesus Christ, who is the alpha and the omega of history. Now, when will be the time of his coming? Again, some raise the question. Even the first century, where is this coming promise? And when Jesus was on the Mount of Olives, his own disciples asked him privately, Tell us. Tell us when these great things will be. When will this happen? What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age? And so Jesus responded to them in an account which is listed in Matthew chapter 24, verses three through 25. And actually, I'm going to read a good deal of of this gospel material because it's so important in terms of questions pertaining to the second coming of Christ. And this is how Jesus responded to his disciples. Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name claiming I am the Messiah and will deceive many, for you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. But see to it you are not alarmed. Such things must happen. But the end is still to come. Nation will rise up against nation and kingdom. Against kingdom there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginnings of the birth pangs. Then you'll be handed over to be persecuted and put to death. And you will be hated by all nations because of me.

 

At that time, many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate one another. And many false prophets will appear and deceive many people because of the increase of wickedness. The love of most will grow cold. But the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come. So when you see standing in the holy place, the abomination that makes desolation spoken of through the Prophet Daniel, let the reader understand. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers. Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or the Sabbath, for then there will be great distress unequaled from the beginning of the world until now and never be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be shortened. At that time, if anyone says to you, Look, here is the Messiah or There He is. Do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive if possible. Even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time. Okay, let's stop there and take some questions or comments that you might have. It's easy to get wrapped up in the immediate concerns that we have with the daily. Tasks and responsibilities that we have, and to forget that the people that were around have eternal souls.

 

And to think of it in terms of the essay that C.S. Lewis wrote called The Weight of Glory, that we are contributing by how we treat each other into creating something that's going to be unimaginably glorious or horribly hideous. And to sort of to think of that and put that into perspective, I think helps me to to think about how I'm treating other people and and how I'm becoming involved in the lives of people around me and my sphere of influence. Yes, that's very helpful. And I see you as in your comment as extending the conversation we've been having, because when we were discussing anthropology, for example, a proper review of a human being, you know, we we had focused on precisely how human beings were created, you know, in the image and likeness of God. And so in a sense, we were looking at first things. But now what I hear in your comment, which I find very helpful, is now you're looking at last things because you're looking at, you know, the precious soul, this immortal soul that not even death, according to Jesus, kills it, but that it continues on. And how wonderful that is and how glorious that is. And so we should take that knowledge and bring it into the present and have it affect how we treat each other and hopefully with with respect and the dignity that befits those who are created in the image and likeness of God and who are immortal souls. Yeah. Yeah. No, that's a that's a good word.