Some people question whether the redeemed will have conditional immortality. Please consider two passages from the Bible:
1. Paul wrote: “For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ”1
2. Jesus also said, “And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”2
Do the words of Paul and Jesus produce an internal conflict? How do immortality and blasphemy against (insulting) the Holy Spirit (which is a matter of choice) “in the age to come” fit together? Will the saints receive “self-existing” immortality or “conditional” immortality? These are good questions and they deserve good answers.
The Bible teaches God’s children are given immortality for as long as they are willing to obey the Holy Spirit and abide by God’s rules.3 God gave Lucifer and one-third of heaven’s angels immortality, but they lost it because of rebellion against the Holy Spirit and God’s laws. God gave Adam and Eve eternal life, but they lost it because of wrongdoing. The words of Jesus in Matthew 12:31-32 leave no wiggle room regarding the unpardonable sin “in the age to come.” Blaspheming the Holy Spirit is possible in this age and in the age to come because God’s children are gifted with “free will” and “the power of choice.” The presence of sin in the universe proves that God will not overrule a person’s “free will” and “the power of choice.”
The Curse of Sin
The curse of sin is a “force, a compelling disorder” that affects and mutates everything God has established on Earth – down to the cellular level. The curse of sin brings illness, pain, sorrow, death, deformity, a sinful nature, and many other negative consequences. Everyone, the innocent and the guilty, suffers because the curse of sin imposes the “order of death and deformity” on each living thing – even the animals and plants are affected!
When Paul wrote the last enemy to be destroyed is death,4 he used personification to describe the curse of sin. He means the last enemy to be destroyed is the wretched disorder we live in. John also used personification to describe the curse of sin. He wrote, “Then death and Hades [the grave] were thrown into the lake of fire.”5 In another passage, John did not use personification. He plainly says, “No longer will there be any curse [of sin].”6 John also wrote about the elimination of “the old order” (the curse of sin) which imposes death, crying, sorrow, and pain. “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”7
These passages show Bible writers used personification and literal phrases to describe a condition that is not visible, tangible, or animate because “the curse of sin” is a force, a compelling disorder affecting each living thing, even the unborn.
The Sudden Death Law
The “sudden death” law8 God gave to Adam9 explains several elements which are not obvious at first. For example, Jesus became the “Lamb of God” and the “Son of God” on the day Adam and Eve sinned.10 Jesus was given these titles because He became the Father’s sacrifice as well as man’s intercessor that same day.
The “sudden death” law required Adam and Eve to be immediately executed, but they were not slain because Jesus volunteered to intercede on their behalf. He surrendered Himself to the Father’s will to save mankind. Therefore, the Father stayed the demand of the law until “higher purposes” could be accomplished: purposes such as the knowledge of good and evil, the Plan of Salvation, and the redemption of repentant sinners on Earth.
The “sudden death” law is an eternal law designed to protect the universe from evil. After God’s purposes for staying the demands of the law are completed, should anyone having a sinless nature choose to sin, which will be an act of defiance and blasphemy towards Holy Spirit, he will be put to death that same day.
In the unlikely event that a person would blaspheme the Holy Spirit in the age to come, he will be immediately annihilated because he is a defiant sinner. The curse of sin, that is, the force/disorder that hurts the innocent, will not develop further because the virus of sin will be destroyed the day it occurs. This is the grand purpose for the “sudden death” law.
The “sudden death” law will forever protect the universe from sinners/predators. Sin always makes a predator out of a sinner. Think of the heartache and misery the universe could have avoided if the devil had been annihilated the day he sinned! However, even though the Father foreknew the choices which the angels would make, an infinitely wise God spared the rebellious angels for a while because the knowledge of good and evil was unknown. Now that the universe has witnessed and experienced 6,000 of years of the curse of sin on Earth, there is no purpose or reason to stay the death penalty after the wicked are destroyed.
Because God is love and changeless, all of His future children, even those on future planets, will be given a sinless nature, “free will,” and “the power of choice.” Sin will always be possible, but going forward, highly unlikely because of the knowledge of good and evil.
Clearly, sin happened within Lucifer. How does an angel living in a perfect place, having the best position possible, an innocent mind, and a sinless nature choose willingly to sin? His experience proves sin can happen within perfection. This is the power and nature of “free will” and “power of choice.”
Two Types of Immortality
The Bible does not use the terms “conditional immortality” or “self-existing immortality,” but it teaches both concepts. For example, we find in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, that God’s covenant with the descendants of Abraham was conditional while His covenant with Abraham in Genesis 17 was unconditional. Even though the terms conditional and unconditional are not mentioned when discussing these covenants, we clearly see God’s use for both. The same applies for immortality.
When Paul declared that God “alone” has immortality,11 he spoke about a feature that is unique to deity. Deity is self-existing. This is the sentiment Jesus declared when He spoke to Moses saying, “I Am, That I Am.”12 Self-existence is the meaning of the following phrases Jesus used: “I am the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” Only deity, according to Paul, is immortal in a self-existing way. Everything else “borrows” life from our Creator. “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory . . . sustaining all things by his powerful word.”13 No created being has life within himself. “For in him we live and move and have our being.”14
It is clear from Scripture, angels and mankind cannot keep themselves alive.15 We know the angels were granted conditional immortality because the evil angels will be destroyed at the end of the 1,000 years. Beings that have self-existing immortality cannot be destroyed. The holy angels have to eat from the Tree of Life to stay alive.
When Paul wrote, “this mortal shall have put on immortality,”16 he did not specify self-existing or conditional immortality, but a simple deduction is possible. The saints cannot be given an attribute reserved for deity. No one will ever exist outside of our Creator’s sustaining power. At death, the life sustaining power returns to God who “loaned” it. The Bible says of Adam, “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”17 And, the Bible says of mankind at death, “And the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit [breath] returns to God who gave it.”18
Each living thing, great or small, depends upon the Creator for life (this is conditional immortality). The Tree of Life is front and center in John’s view of the Holy City because the meek (the saints) will inherit the Earth.19 “On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree [the shade provided by the leaves] are for the healing of the nations [the reunification of mankind, long separated by cultures, languages, and religions].”20
The Tree of Life in the Earth made new will be a necessity and will be for all future planets. All of God’s children will have to eat its delicious fruit to receive everlasting life. Therefore, our Creator will make eternal life available for everyone! None of God’s children can have self-existing immortality, an attribute belonging to deity!
Click on the numbers by the reference to go back to where you were reading.
1. 1 Corinthians 15:53-54
2. Matthew 12:31-32, italics mine
3. Romans 8:14; Revelation 21:7-8
4. 1 Corinthians 15:26
5. Revelation 20:14, insertion mine
6. Revelation 22:3, insertion mine
7. Revelation 21:4, italics mine
8. Described in Chapter 4 of this book
9. Genesis 2:17
10. Psalm 2:7-12; Revelation 13:8
11. 1 Timothy 6:16
12. Exodus 3:14, KJV
13. Hebrews 1:3
14. Acts 17:28
15. Psalm 22:29; Revelation 20:10
16. 1 Corinthians 15:54, KJV
17. Genesis 2:7, italics mine
18. Ecclesiastes 12:7, insertion mine
19. Matthew 5:5
20. Revelation 22:2, insertions mine