Resurrection Our Strength-giving Hope
1. (a) By what means does the world keep people in the way of destruction? (b) How could people avoid fear of death?
IN THIS fight to maintain integrity it is not easy for one to go contrary to the ways and thinking of this old world. It is far from the coward’s course, though the world may use this false accusation toward the Christian to intimidate and force him into parallel with its mad rush toward destruction. For, instead of love and reasoning, this world plays upon fallen man’s weakened emotions. It uses the whip of fear, or pride, or selfishness. Few people of earth can stand against these. By reason of this dictators can hold entire nations in subjection, people being afraid to maintain cherished principles of righteousness by speaking out or taking an open stand. By their silence they tacitly approve, for their own personal safety, the ungodly, totalitarian measures of their governments and bring themselves under community condemnation with the wicked nation. Fear of death for themselves or members of their family is their terror. The Bible describes the Devil, the great prison keeper, as controlling “all those who for fear of death were subject to slavery all through their lives.” (Heb. 2:15, NW) If people had a true knowledge of the resurrection they could be free from such fear. Hence the life-or-death need of this knowledge. Without such understanding and faith the Christian cannot maintain integrity.
2. How did knowledge of the resurrection strengthen Jesus’ integrity?
2 To Jesus, while maintaining his integrity on earth under great pressure from the Devil and his world, the resurrection hope was a sustaining force. While suffering even the death of the torture stake he was greatly strengthened to keep unbroken integrity to his Father because of this faith and hope. It is written of him: “Moreover, even my flesh will dwell in hope: because you will not forsake my soul in Hades.” (Acts 2:26, 27, NW) Jesus knew that God would not forget him, to leave his existence, his “soul,” blotted out in gravedom.
3. What other examples show the necessity of knowledge of and faith in the resurrection?
3 Likewise, Abraham was made strong to pass the test of offering his son Isaac, Job to endure intense suffering and loss of everything but life itself, and the great cloud of faithful witnesses of old to withstand being “tortured because they would not accept release by some ransom, in order that they might attain a better resurrection.” (Heb. 11:35, NW) The apostles were filled with a “living hope” by the fact of Jesus’ resurrection and the guarantee it gave them, lending a force and enthusiasm to their preaching that no amount of persecution could dampen. It enabled them to endure to death to ensure themselves of resurrection.—Phil. 3:10, 11; 1 Pet. 1:3; 3:21.
SOUL, SPIRIT AND MEMORIAL TOMBS
4. Show that resurrection does not consist of a rejoining of the body with an “immaterial soul.”
4 We want to be certain that we shall be worthy of a resurrection, that God will remember us to perform this mighty miracle in our behalf. Understanding of the principles on which it rests will help us. “Resurrection” is translated from the Greek word anástasis, which literally means “a standing up again.” What is it that stands up again to life in the resurrection? It is the man, the personality, the same person that went into death. It is not the body brought back, inserted with an “immaterial soul” that was pigeonholed in heaven or elsewhere. For it is not merely the body that dies, but the person, the soul, which is the living, breathing, sense-possessing human. When a person dies, the soul dies. The Bible, at Numbers 6:6, 7 (NW) says: “[A Nazirite] may not come toward any dead soul. Not even for his father or his mother . . . may he defile himself when they die.” The soul is not something that separates from the body and goes to heaven. Even of Jesus it was said: “You will not forsake my soul in Hades.” (Acts 2:27, NW) Jesus’ soul was not in heaven or “paradise.” It was in Hades, gravedom, and it was from there that God raised it up.
5. What is meant by Ecclesiastes 12:7: “The spirit returneth unto God who gave it”?
5 It is true that the Bible says: “The spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” (Eccl. 12:7) But note that this is the spirit, not the soul. The apostle shows there is a distinction between the two when he speaks of God’s Word as being able to pierce “even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit.” (Heb. 4:12) “Spirit” here means the life principle, life force. Its returning to God means that the know-how and the power to make that person live again resides wholly and exclusively in God’s hands. Just as a complicated machine might break down and require the services of its inventor and designer to repair or rebuild, no one else would have the know-how and ability to repair or rebuild that machine and start it working again.
6. On what basis does God judge whether one who is dead deserves a resurrection or not?
6 Jesus showed what the basis is upon which God makes his determination as to who receives resurrection. He said: “All those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.” (John 5:28, 29, NW) Those who are in God’s memory, who before death had a tendency toward and a love for righteousness and justice, or a legal right under God’s provisions of family merit, are the ones God brings back by a resurrection. We could put it another way: God has a record or transcription of the life pattern, which transcription falls under his judgment as giving that person or personality a right to a resurrection. Not that anyone in himself deserves a resurrection. No, but in God’s mercy and through the provision of the ransom sacrifice of his Son he judges these ones as deserving.
OUR LIFE PATTERN
7. What factors mold our life pattern as dedicated Christians?
7 Now, what is it that will bring any one of us into that happy position? Having had faith in Jehovah God and the blood of his Son Jesus Christ, and having dedicated ourselves to him, we must form a proper life pattern, building on this foundation. Let us consider what factors make us the personality or individual that we are, the life pattern we display. Our life pattern is molded by four things: (1) Our inherited traits. Through the almost unlimited combinations possible in the gene mechanism at time of conception, the child inherits certain mental qualities, traits, propensities and talents, usually reflecting to a noticeable degree some of his parents’ qualities. For this reason the child when born possesses to some degree a life pattern. His brain has certain “circuits” already dimly formed, aside from the natural instinctive survival traits such as the instinct to suck its mother’s milk. God, knowing these combinations in the child, could tell at this point what its tendencies will be, and how strong they are to withstand or comply with later environment. (2) Environment, which includes experiences undergone during lifetime. (3) Our own will or choice as a free moral agent. (4) The influence of God’s holy spirit and his Word and organization.
8, 9. (a) Outline the course that assures the Christian of a resurrection. (b) What is the result of such course?
8 From this we can see that one may have certain leanings from his birth. His early environment and parental training may accentuate or inhibit these. Hence the vital importance of proper environment, training and discipline for the child. Then the time comes when he exercises his own will in choice of a course of good or of evil practices. Can he take a course of good in his own strength altogether? No, for, he being an imperfect offspring of sinner Adam, the rule applies to him: “The inclination of the heart of man is bad from his youth up.” (Gen. 8:21, NW) And the environment of this old world with its propaganda and wickedness is pressing in on him from all sides. So he must turn to God’s Word, the Bible, for guidance. He must have God’s holy spirit or active force directing him. It inspired the Bible. He also needs the help of God’s organization and must walk in harmony and in step with it to continue as the Bible directs. Doing these things, he will react properly toward his environment and take the right course as issues present themselves to him. He will be able to develop any good qualities and talents he has, to use them in God’s service. He will be able to overcome wrong tendencies. His mind will be made over from conformation to the world to conformation to new-world ways.—Rom. 12:2.
9 What will be the result? He will be a new personality, created according to God’s will. (Eph. 4:24) He will display a life pattern in harmony with God’s will and Word. The things he does will fit, coincide with the things written in the Bible. As an inspector in a factory checks the finished products with the original pattern and rejects those not conforming, so God, in observing the life pattern we display, checks to see whether we have followed his righteous pattern. On this rests our individual hope, as dedicated Christians, of a resurrection. God’s Word uses as illustration a potter who selects or rejects vessels of clay according to whether they conform to his desired pattern or not.—Rom. 9:19-24.
“CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT” FALSE
10. Is this “character development”? Explain.
10 This is not “character development.” In so-called “character development” one relies on self-righteousness, building up a “sweet” personality that will make him worthy of life. No, Christians look to God’s righteousness and rely on his spirit as they try to copy Christ’s pattern, maintaining integrity. Even then, in themselves is no merit. They are still imperfect, but by faith and obedience they hope to receive God’s mercy. They try to magnify God’s undeserved kindness and righteousness, not their own. It was over this question that the Jews failed: “For, because of not knowing the righteousness of God but seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.”—Rom. 10:3, NW.
11. (a) What becomes of the willfully wicked? (b) What does this show as to whether there is an “immaterial soul” or an intermediate state of the dead?
11 According to the illustration of the potter, the willfully wicked and those dying under family or community condemnation will be rejected. They are “forgotten” by God, blotted out from his memory. (Prov. 10:7; 11:7; Obad. 16) Those whom God remembers he considers alive; those who are wicked he forgets as permanently dead. (Luke 20:38; Rom. 4:17; Isa. 26:14) All this shows, incidentally, that there is no separated “immaterial soul” nor is there an intermediate conscious state of the dead. No, only the record God has, which if unworthy is blotted out, forgotten, as though it had not been.
NO RESURRECTION OF THE BODY
12. What does Paul show as to bodies of resurrected ones?
12 Since there is no “immaterial soul” existing apart from the body, resurrection is not the ‘joining again of soul and body.’ However, spiritual or earthly, the individual must have a body or organism, for all persons, heavenly or earthly, possess bodies. The Bible says: “If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one.” But is the body reassembled? or is it a replica of the former body, made exactly as it was when the person died? No. The Scriptures answer: “Nevertheless, some one will say: ‘How are the dead to be raised up? Yes, with what kind of body are they coming?’ You unreasonable person! What you sow is not made alive unless first it dies; and as for what you sow, you sow, not the body that will develop, but a bare grain, it may be, of wheat or any one of the rest; but God gives it a body just as it has pleased him, and to each of the seeds its own body.”—1 Cor. 15:44, 35-38, NW.
13, 14. What kind of bodies are Christ’s joint heirs given in the resurrection?
13 As Paul says, not all those resurrected are given the same kind of bodies. He illustrates that there are now different bodies—spirit bodies belonging to angels in heaven, and fleshly bodies of those on earth: “And there are heavenly bodies, and earthly bodies; but the glory of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and that of the earthly bodies is a different kind.” (1 Cor. 15:40, NW) Then he shows that the joint heirs with Christ, receiving a heavenly resurrection, are given bodies of quality far superior to those of flesh. He explains: “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised up in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised up in glory. . . . It is sown a physical body, it is raised up a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one. It is even so written: ‘The first man Adam became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. . . . As the one made of dust is, so those made of dust are also; and as the heavenly one is, so those who are heavenly are also. And just as we have borne the image of the one made of dust, we shall bear also the image of the heavenly one. However, this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom, neither does corruption inherit incorruption.”—1 Cor. 15:42-50, NW.
14 The 144,000 members of the “bride” give up earthly life in death and are resurrected perfect, divine, immortal, incorruptible. (1 Pet. 1:4; 2 Pet. 1:4) Their bodies are glorious, bright, resplendent, in fact, so bright that no human could look upon them and live. Being higher than the angels, they are above and beyond any power or influence that even the angels could bring to bear to harm or hinder them. Only upon the Almighty Jehovah himself are they dependent. He is always far above them, as their God.
15. (a) Show that it is not the identical body that is resurrected. (b) In earthly resurrection is the body an exact duplicate of the one possessed at death?
15 Those whom Jehovah pleases to raise to an earthly resurrection, what body does he give them? It could not be the same body, of exactly the same atoms. If a man dies and is buried, by process of decay his body is reconverted into organic chemicals that are absorbed by, say, an apple tree. Persons eat the apples of that tree. The elements, the atoms of that original person, now are in many persons. In the resurrection it is obvious that the same atoms cannot be in the original person and all the others at the same time. Neither could it be a body constructed to be the exact duplicate of the body at the moment of death. If a person has had his body mutilated before death, will he return the same way? No. Say a person dies from having the blood drained from his body. Will he return without blood? You will answer, No, for he could not live without blood, which the Bible says is the life (or soul) of the person. (Gen. 9:4) By the same reasoning, if he died with a pierced heart, he will not be resurrected in that condition.
16. What kind of bodies will those receiving an earthly resurrection be given?
16 While alive, the greater part of a human body changes over a period of years, worn tissues being replaced, though the general appearance and characteristics of the person remain. So why should one return in the resurrection with identically the same body or one marked with disfiguring mutilations? Through the miraculous power granted him by Jehovah, Christ can construct for the resurrected ones bodies that are reasonably sound. Lazarus’ body was in a state of decomposition. When Jesus raised him, the miracle replaced and rebuilt broken-down, decayed tissues. He came forth a healthy man. So in the resurrection.—John 11:38-44.
17. Will those resurrected to earth be given perfect bodies at their resurrection?
17 Jehovah will therefore give them suitable bodies. Are they perfect fleshly bodies? No. They are reasonably sound and healthy bodies, but until they receive the training and instruction from Christ during his thousand-year reign and learn proper living and their bodies and minds are fully in tune with God, not only in will, but in every thought and movement, they are not yet perfect. So, continuing in the path of obedience, they will have the curative powers of Christ’s ransom applied to them, removing the death process until every trace of imperfection is gone and they stand with sparkling, invigorating life force filling every cell and tissue of their bodies.
18. Why is resurrection such a stupendous miracle?
18 Meditate for a moment on what a wondrous, miraculous display of power and wisdom Jehovah shows in the resurrection. He does not merely compound certain qualities to bring to birth a personality, but reproduces exactly every one of the million traits and characteristics of the individual, not only those inherited, but all those the result of countless influences playing on the individual during lifetime—the things he has read, studied, seen, done, experienced—the composite personality resulting from a lifetime. Jehovah reconstructs all this with unerring accuracy in smallest detail, in a body suitable for the place where God purposes him to live. An illustration is the case of Jesus, as previously noted in the foregoing article, “The Miracle of Resurrection” (¶ 13).
A PSEUDOSCIENTIFIC COUNTERFEIT
19. What counterfeit is proposed by a so-called “scientific” theory?
19 A foolish argument was recently presented in a popular magazine, that science has discovered the secret of resurrection. Here is the hope held out:
“To duplicate the individual in his original image, all one would need would be just one cell of scar tissue, a microscopic bit taken from a slight wound that had just begun to heal. This phoenix seed would be planted in a phoenix bed, or phoenix garden, in which the ‘soil’ would be impregnated with the proper chemicals and otherwise provided with the tools needed by the master sculptor [the rebuilding power of the scar tissue] to fashion living beings out of the elemental clay of regenerative scar tissue.
“The first essential step to physical immortality turns out to be a very simple thing. All that is required is a small superficial cut no more than skin-deep, to stimulate the process of healing. As soon as scar tissue begins to form, a small bit of it is removed for preservation, either by tissue culture or by deep-freezing. It is this small bit that constitutes the phoenix seed, out of which an exact replica of the individual from which it came can be created in the future.
“These seeds could be kept indefinitely in a state of perfect preservation, the spark of life in a state of suspended animation, yet ever ready to spring into life.
“In fact, instead of re-creating only one Einstein or Churchill, we could bring into being several of them, in the manner of identical twins.” (Look, March 24, 1953) Modestly, the writer adds: “What are the proper conditions [for growing such a body]? We do not know and we are still far from knowing.” Yes, though held out as science, it is only theory without any real supporting evidence.
20. Describe a law of God governing natural things that makes such impossible.
20 True biological research has shown that in the very earliest embryonic stages all cells of the embryo are alike. But a little later, genetic forces which men do not understand cause these cells to become highly specialized so some will build only muscle fibers, some only light-sensitive eye parts, some only skin, etc. One scientist explains: “In embryology we see footloose young cells with tremendously wide potentialities becoming bound into a pattern through which they are strait-jacketed into the highly specialized forms and functions of elongated muscle fibers or light-sensitive cells or hydrochloric acid factories in the stomach.” Any one of these, if grown separately, would not bring forth a whole new body. The same scientist says: “The young human being, for example, is in possession of a detailed directory of its future development by the end of the first month.” (Scientific American, February, 1950) And while it is true that the blood, together with body tissues, heals wounds, whoever saw the human body grow a new arm or leg after amputation? or a new kidney, liver, or an eye?
21. How does the “hope” held out by such theory fall short of the resurrection hope?
21 If the readers of the above article in Look are seeking the truth they will want to compare its “hope” with the Bible hope of resurrection. According to the article the “regrown” one would possess only those characteristics that his genes originally gave him. All his life experience and memory would be lost. He would not identify himself as having lived before, but would be as a newborn baby. He would have to grow old and die numberless times, only to start all over again from “nothing.” Some slip or carelessness on the part of others taking care of his “phoenix garden” could prevent his being “reborn.” Also there is no hope held forth at all for those already dead. Indeed a false, shabby, undesirable and utterly inadequate counterfeit to replace God’s true promises!
22. Can men in any instance perform a resurrection?
22 The stupendous miracle of resurrection is Jehovah’s exclusively. He alone has this power originally, and has entrusted his Son with it: “For just as the Father has in himself the gift of life, so he has granted to the Son to have also in himself the gift of life.” (John 5:26, NW) Men may resuscitate persons by artificial respiration or by drugs or electricity after heart and breathing stop. But it is admitted that after cells deteriorate, especially brain cells, which in only a few minutes of oxygen starvation degenerate beyond repair, the person is dead. He is beyond human help. Only by God’s power of resurrection can he come to life. Nor will God have to do it by a slow growing-process, but instantaneously, by his limitless power. Jesus when on earth did not cause withered hands or blind eyes to grow whole slowly, but restored them instantly, miraculously.—Mark 3:1-5; 10:51, 52.
RESURRECTION HOPE AN INCENTIVE TO SERVICE OF GOD
23. How does the resurrection hope provide a helmet for our integrity whether we are members of the anointed or of the other sheep?
23 Thus the Christian has a surpassing hope, so far above anything dreamed of by men. That is why Paul says: ‘Let us have on as a helmet the hope of salvation.’ (1 Thess. 5:8, NW) One of the strong features of that hope is the resurrection. It keeps us from getting our “head” broken by enemy assaults that would otherwise crack our integrity to God. Even the blow of death cannot do that, for we know that if we belong to the heavenly 144,000 we shall be resurrected to immortal glory “in the twinkling of an eye.” (1 Cor. 15:52) If we are of the other sheep it will be just like going to sleep one second and awaking the next. It will not be to us a long, miserable wait. For death is complete absence of life and consciousness—nothingness. On awaking in the new world one’s first thought would probably be a completion of the thought with which he died. Enoch, who will awake with his vision of the new world still in mind, is an example. (Heb. 11:5) While all of Jehovah’s witnesses desire to live and preach as long as Jehovah wills, they do not fear death.
24. How should Christians look upon death in view of this hope?
24 At the death of their loved ones Christians are not like others. They do not sorrow overmuch. While recognizing death as an enemy, they do not go beyond natural love and affection and permit sadness to affect their integrity-keeping course in Jehovah’s service. Rather, they continue more firmly, knowing that faithful service will assure them of a place in the new world, so they will be able to see their loved ones again in the resurrection.
25. Why should the resurrection hope stir us to greater activity now?
25 What a loving, thoughtful God we serve! His resurrection promise should stir us to greater activity now. The time is steadily drawing closer when it will be a reality, not only to members of the 144,000, resurrected since 1918, but to those who will live on earth. Think of the joy Christ and his heavenly joint heirs will have as their hands lovingly administer the merit of Christ’s ransom sacrifice during Christ’s great kingdom sabbath to lift billions of earth’s dead out of the pit of death. (Luke 14:5; John 5:26; 6:53) Think of the joy of Jehovah’s other sheep in the paradise earth when the notification comes from Jehovah, telling his organization to prepare to receive the resurrected dead. Then they will have superabounding joy arranging for feeding, housing, educating and training the resurrected multitudes to fill their places in the New World society. What a grand convention that will be! Wonderful, heart-cheering to look to the time when Sheol-Haʹdes, “gravedom,” is destroyed by the resurrection and when, finally, perfected human society stands before God at the thousand years’ end and, passing the test, hears God’s expressed approval, justifying them as worthy of permanent life on this beautified globe. The resurrection miracle, multiplied a billionfold, will have brilliantly accomplished God’s purposes in victory over death, never needing repetition in the endless ages to come.