Will Many Now Living Never Die?
Why do humans die? What basis is there for hoping to live forever?
IN 1912 Alexis Carrel placed a piece of live tissue from the heart of a chicken in a special solution. Thirty-four years later it was still alive, healthy and young. The tissue was finally allowed to die because the experiment had fulfilled its usefulness. A similar experiment was performed with the entire heart of a rat by the Pasteur Institute in Paris. The heart was removed from the rat and kept alive for more than two years. Its tissues showed no signs of degenerating.
Regarding these experiments Boris Sokoloff stated in his book Science and the Purpose of Life: “It is generally accepted that in principle all, or almost all, types of normal cells could live indefinitely if cultivated in the proper medium. . . . Cells of the mammalian organism are potentially immortal . . . These as well as many other experiments demonstrate that the organs of higher organisms can live indefinitely if they receive proper nutritive substances.”
These findings prove that eternal life is not an impossibility for a fleshly organism. This is further indicated by the ability of the human body to renew or replace its cells. Reader’s Digest stated in its issue of June, 1958: “It is estimated that half of all the body’s protein—mainly muscle tissue—is replaced every 80 days. The life span of the skin cell is four to five days. New skin is steadily forming from underneath and pushing to the surface where it dies and is washed away.”
In view of these findings why does the human body die? Why does it not live on indefinitely? That is what puzzles many scientists.
WHY HUMANS TODAY EXPERIENCE DEATH
When man was created, God set no limit on his life span as was done with animals. Man had the prospect of eternal life ahead of him. His body was designed to continue functioning indefinitely. Because of disobedience the first man lost that prospect. A limit was now set to his life span that he could not exceed although his body had the potential of being able to live forever. That limit was a symbolic day of one thousand years. When telling man not to eat of a certain tree God said: “In the day you eat from it you will positively die.” (Gen. 2:17) Adam died within that thousand-year day at the age of 930 years.
Adam could not pass on to his offspring what he no longer had. He could not give them an endless life span. All his descendants have inherited his sin and its companion, death, just as certain diseases may be inherited from one’s parents. “That is why, just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.”—Rom. 5:12.
It is because of this fact that no descendant of Adam has been born perfect. “Who can produce someone clean out of someone unclean? There is not one.” (Job 14:4) Just as the first human pair could not produce perfect, sinless children, neither could any descended from them produce such children. There was absolutely no way that man could free himself from the effects of Adam’s sin and never die. “Not one of them can by any means redeem even a brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.”—Ps. 49:7.
MUST REGAIN WHAT ADAM LOST FOR FREEDOM FROM DEATH
Man can look only to God for release from Adamic sin and death. He alone can open the way for man to regain the perfection and the prospect of an endless life that Adam lost. God did this by providing his only-begotten Son as a ransom sacrifice. The life force of the first spirit creature Jehovah created was transferred to the earth to the womb of a woman, that he might be born as a human. “But when the full limit of the time arrived, God sent forth his Son, who was produced out of a woman and who came to be under law.”—Gal. 4:4.
By being born as a human whose life force did not come from Adam he was perfect. He did not inherit Adam’s sin or the curse of death. He had the right to eternal human life. But he sacrificed this right as the ransom price for freeing obedient humans from Adamic sin and death. “Just as the Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matt. 20:28) Since he purchased the lost human life right by his sacrifice, all who desire to be freed from death must get that freedom through him. “Everyone putting faith in him gets forgiveness of sins through his name.”—Acts 10:43.
WHY MANY LIVING TODAY MAY NEVER DIE
Because Christ opened the way for men to regain the endless life that was the prospect of the first man it is possible for many living today never to die. This is so because we are living at a time when there will be a big change on this earth. We are living in the last days of this world, or system of things. It is due to be destroyed by Jehovah God and replaced with a new and righteous system of things. “For here Jehovah himself comes as fire itself, and his chariots are like a stormwind, in order to pay back his anger with sheer rage and his rebuke with flames of fire. For as fire Jehovah himself will for a fact take up the controversy, yes, with his sword, against all flesh, and the slain of Jehovah will certainly become many.”—Isa. 66:15, 16.
The present generation has been witnessing since 1914 the world events that were foretold long ago as marking the last days of this world or wicked system of things. We are rapidly nearing the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” called Armageddon. (Rev. 16:14, 16) That is when he will execute his adverse judgment upon the world. It will be a thorough cleansing of wickedness from the earth.
Those persons living until Armageddon and who receive God’s approval will, like Noah and his family who survived the flood, be preserved through that time of God’s wrath. “For the upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it. As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it.”—Prov. 2:21, 22.
The opportunity to be among the survivors of Armageddon is now being extended to earth’s inhabitants by the worldwide preaching of the good news of God’s kingdom. It is heralding the rule of God’s kingdom and the coming destruction of this present wicked system of things. The people are separated according to how they react to it. It is a dividing work that was foretold by Jesus when he said: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.”—Matt. 25:31-33.
The persons who respond favorably to the good news of the Kingdom are likened to sheep. They are meek and teachable and show a willingness to follow the Good Shepherd, Christ Jesus. These sheeplike persons form a New World society. It is an active society that zealously proclaims that God’s kingdom is now established in the heavens and will shortly usher in a new world of righteousness.
By maintaining integrity to Jehovah God the members of this New World society will be permitted to live when this old system of things is divinely destroyed. With the earth then under the rule of God’s kingdom, and by virtue of Christ’s ransom sacrifice, a rejuvenating of earth’s inhabitants will begin that will eventually bring them to perfection.
The miraculous cures that Jesus performed when on earth can be considered as examples of what he will do on an earth-wide scale for the Armageddon survivors. Even as they experience spiritual healing now, so they will be healed of physical sicknesses and diseases in God’s new world. “And no resident will say: ‘I am sick.’ The people that are dwelling in the land will be those pardoned for their error.” (Isa. 33:24) They will cease to suffer because of inherited sin from Adam.
Their life spans will be extended to the full length of a symbolic day of one thousand years. As Adam lost his perfection and died within that day, they will gain perfection and be freed from inherited death within such day. This will be during Christ’s thousand-year reign. “For he must rule as king until God has put all enemies under his feet. As the last enemy, death is to be destroyed.”—1 Cor. 15:25, 26.
At the close of the thousand years they will be subjected to a test of their integrity. Those passing it will be given the gift of eternal life. They will continue living on a paradisaic earth, enjoying a peace and a sense of security that only God’s kingdom could bring. Those who fail to pass the test will cease to exist. Because there are multitudes living today who will still be living when the gift of eternal life is given to obedient humans they will never experience death.
But how can a person be of this group? He must heed the good news of God’s kingdom. “Whoever has ears to listen, let him listen.” (Mark 4:23) It means life to pay attention to what God tells us through his written Word and his faithful servants. Associate with the multitudes who are living for Jehovah’s new world and who now form a New World society. Serve Jehovah, his King and the Kingdom alongside these dedicated witnesses of the Most High. Embrace their Scriptural hope and be among the many persons now living who will never die.