This is a question I encountered frequently after the death of my father. Family members and friends wanted to know whether my dad had become a disembodied soul or whether he had received his resurrection body the moment he died. Dr. Norman L. Geisler, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary, points out that those teaching that believers receive their resurrection bodies at the moment of death often do so as a result of misunderstanding or misinterpreting 2 Corinthians 5:1-10.
First and foremost, as noted by Dr. Geisler, the passage under consideration, as well as the rest of Scripture, clearly refers to the moment of death as one of disembodiment, not of re-embodiment. (v. 2) In the immediate context, Paul refers to death as being "naked" (v. 3) or "away from the body" (v. 8). Why would he dread being "naked" if he were going to receive another body at the moment of death? Says Geisler, "Speaking of death as disembodiment ('absent from the body') and as an undesirable experience makes little sense if that is the moment of one's ultimate triumph with a resurrection body (see 2 Corinthians 5:1, 4; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 NKJV)." In fact, Paul makes it crystal-clear in verse 8 that being "at home with the Lord" is tantamount to being "away from the body."
Further, if believers received their resurrected bodies at the moment of death, they obviously could not receive them at the Second Coming of Christ, as Scripture teaches (John 5:28-29; 1 Thess. 4:16). And finally, there is a direct correspondence between the body when it dies and the body when it rises. Thus, our resurrection bodies are not second bodies but our present bodies transformed.
One day, when Christ returns, the very body of my father that I watched being lowered into the ground, will be raised from its grave. It was sown a perishable body, it will be raised imperishable; it was sown in dishonor, it will be raised in glory; it was sown in weakness, it will be raised in power; it was sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:42-44). On that day, Dad’s body will no longer be dominated by natural proclivities; instead, he will have a supernatural, spiritual body dominated by the Holy Spirit and set free from slavery to sin — "an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands" (2 Cor. 5:1). Apart from that hope, there is no hope. "If the dead are not raised," says Paul, "let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die" (1 Cor. 15:32).
You know that the stands we take on the Bible Answer Man broadcast, in the Christian Research Journal, and through the ministry of CRI are not motivated by popularity or political correctness but by the certain knowledge that ideas have consequences. This, of course, is precisely why we continue to emphasize those three poignant words …because Truth matters.
In 1831 a 19th century dogma with profound consequences was being birthed in the British Isles. That year John Nelson Darby left the Church of England and joined a separatist millenarian group. Darby contended that God had two distinct people with two distinct plans and two distinct destinies. Only one of those peoples — Jews — would suffer tribulation. The other — the church — would be removed from the world prior to the second coming of Christ. Darby’s speculative spin on Scripture leads inexorably toward a nightmarish ending. And most frightening of all, very few realize that the modern version of this belief reaches its logical conclusion in a nightmare that would dwarf the Holocaust.
Truths like this must be shared — but we can’t do it without your help. Every month we rely on God’s provision through friends like you to produce more broadcasts, books, and other resources that fearlessly confront ideas that have led millions astray.
And when you partner with us again today with a gift of $25, $50, $100 or any amount God calls you to give, we want to thank you with a copy of Hank Hanegraaff’s fast-paced novel Fuse of Armageddon. Give $100 or more, and he’ll personalize your copy!
In Darby’s day, his followers were content to wait for their version of the end times to become reality. Today, some modern proponents are taking the next logical step — advocating active participation to ensure the horrors of Armageddon become a self-fulfilling reality. In Fuse of Armageddon (co-authored with Sigmund Brouwer) Hank uses the power of story to communicate how this is destined to play out in the days and years ahead. Hank has “put flesh on the bones” of the logical truth propositions put forth in his non-fiction work The Apocalypse Code.
Our prayer in offering the book as our “thank you” for your support today is that it will help you, or someone you love, to biblically re-evaluate this popular end-times idea. It will give you an insight into what is happening today in the Middle East, and help you ask yourself if what we’ve been told is the only godly response may not be in God’s will at all.
No matter how popular an idea is in the churches around us, it must still be measured against God’s infallible repository of redemptive revelation, the Bible. Your continuing ministry partnership is not only deeply appreciated, but vital to equip more Christians with the tools of discernment, and to speak the Truth in love to the non-believing world.
Together, we are making a difference! So please, send your gift of ministry support today, and when you do, don’t forget to request your copy of Fuse of Armageddon. Remember, for your gift of $100 or more Hank will personalize your copy. Thank you for helping to produce more life-changing broadcasts, books, and other resources!