Friday, February 23, 2018

Many of our readers do not have access to any libraries of much size. You might be interested in what some of the earlier writers believed.

In "The Duration and Nature of Future Punishment" by Henry Constable (1868), we find a little table of early writers and their views on this subject. The death date of each is given.

Barnabas (90), Clement of Rome (100), Hermas (l04), Ignatius,Martyr (107), Polycarp,Martyr (147). Justin,Martyr (164), and Theophius, of Antioch (183); all held to the Scriptural view that the supreme penalty for all who did not have life was eternal death.

Then came a couple of minor writers:
Athenagoras (190) and Tatian (200), who were steeped in the Greek philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. The Greeks got their ideas from Babylon. So these two advanced the idea of the immortality of the soul (Genesis 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:). Their writings were not taken too seriously and they were considered more or less as heretics.

Two more writers, true to the Word, came in about this time. They were Irenaeus, Martyr (202) and Clement Alexandrinus (212).

Then the Greek influence again was felt. Tertullian (235) not only came out with the theory of the immortality of the soul, but he also taught the eternal conscious torment of the lost. This idea came especially from the Greek myths, which they themselves did not believe. They were simply stories to entertain. Hippolytus (240) followed with the same ideas.

This was so revolting to Origen (253) that he invented the idea of universal restoration because he accepted the theory of the immortality of the soul. Something had to be done with the soul. Since man had become as God, (another lie of Satan), and had immortality and could not die, even God not having power to destroy him, there was a question of what to do with man.

Arnobius {303) still held to the teaching of the Scriptures. He was about the last of those who had the truth. Then followed Augustine {430). He fastened both false teachings, the immortality of the soul and the eternal conscious torment of the wicked, on to the church and it has stuck till now. It is so strongly imbedded that no reformation seems to be able to eradicate it.

Now you can begin to see why there is so little said today about resurrection. It is not needed by an immortal soul. Why bother with a body?

The dream of men in past ages was that there might be some way to obtain immortality. Some philosophers dreamed that man had an immortal soul. But they did not know God, nor His Word.

Only One has had immortality so far. That is the Lord Jesus Christ:

1 Timothy 6:16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

That which is immortal cannot die. It is not subject to death. It is man's desire. Can it be obtained by mortal man? Do the Scriptures hold out any hope that man could ever become immortal? Yes.  But this obtaining of immortality is only on God's terms, not by any philosophies or of the heathen or any creeds.  It is only reasonable that one must partake of the divine nature in order to have a resurrection and immortality.  The idea that Achilles should be mortal in his heel shows the foolishness of the heathen mind. True immortality has been brought to light only by the gospel. It is incorruption.

2 Timothy 1:10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

The traditions of men and their religious institutions tell us that immortality is put on at death. But that is contrary to Scripture. There we are told that the dead shall be raised incorruptible. Then is when this mortality puts on immortality and this corruption puts on incorruption, and not some time before.

1 Corinthians 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
1 Corinthians 15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
1 Corinthians 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

So the early writers knew The Truth and taught what Jesus Christ and the apostles taught, shouldn't we?

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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Daniel 9:24
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
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