Today In Prophecy

The Search for Immortality
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"Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment" (John 5:28-29 NAS).

In 2010, scientists for the first time assembled a full genetic code from laboratory chemicals and used it to create a living organism. Subsequently, some scientists, futurists, and philosophers feel that human "immortality" might be achievable soon, while others believe that it would require further breakthroughs and much more time. Aubrey de Grey, a researcher who specializes in biomedical rejuvenation strategies to reverse human aging (called SENS), believes that current research is sufficient to reach biological "immortality" by 2040.

Researchers at England’s University of Nottingham published a discovery in the February 2012 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences discussing a species of flatworm that is claimed to be nearly immortal. They believe their research can develop alleviation of aging and age-related characteristics in human cells.

Dmitry Itskov, a 31-year-old Russian mogul, has assembled a team of renowned Russian scientists to attempt to create fully functional holographic human avatars (artificial bodies) that will house artificial brains containing a person’s complete consciousness. Itskov is funding his project through voluntary contributions from some of the world’s richest people.

Dr. Leonid Gavrilov, an expert in longevity studies, and author of "The Biology of Life Span", is skeptical of all immortality projects. His team of impartial scientists are evaluating both the scientific merit and media reports to determine the credibility of life-extension through artificial efforts.

The Immortality Project

In the past few decades, millions of people have claimed near-death experiences that gave them insights into a glorious afterlife. These have become popular fodder for talk shows, tabloids and even national magazines.

The John Templeton Foundation recently awarded a $5 million grant to University of California philosophy professor Martin Fischer for what has been dubbed "The Immortality Project." Fischer’s multi-cultural team of scientists, philosophers and theologians will rigorously examine near-death reports to determine how belief in an afterlife influences behavior. Findings will be published in a book "Immortality and the Meaning of Death." The researchers will explore why there are differences in reported visions of near-death experiences and how they are influenced by culture.

Life After Death

Every complex and extensive effort to find immortality or to determine the afterlife cannot match the simple truth found in the Bible, "If a man die, shall he live again?" (Job 14:14). Job states a fundamental truth of the Bible when he answers his own rhetorical question: "All the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire unto the work of thine hands" (verses 14, 15). Death is not a gateway to a new life, but a  great curse. It is only through the promises of God that eternal life can be attained here on earth.

In the theme text of this article, Jesus said that all will be raised from death to a life of judgment and blessing. The Apostle Paul said that without the resurrection even "they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished" (1 Corinthians 15:18). The restoration of life through a resurrection process is the only answer to the perplexing question which man tries in vain to answer. Without a resurrection, everyone who dies would simply cease to exist forever.

However, God has specifically promised to restore the dead to life. In perhaps the most significant miracle of his ministry, Jesus referred to this awakening, saying those who have died are "asleep." After learning from Martha and Mary of the death of his close friend Lazarus, Jesus told his disciples, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth." To eradicate the subsequent confusion over his statement, Jesus followed up with the statement by saying, "Lazarus is dead" (John 11:11-14). Jesus likened death to sleep, during which consciousness ceases.

Free Will, With Consequences

God created Adam with the freedom to do as he would, but God warned Adam of the consequences of disobedience: "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:16, 17). The penalty for Adam’s disobedience was death. Adam’s disobedience not only brought his own death, but death to all of his descendants. Despite efforts to extend human life, none can escape death. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22).

God permitted not only death, but also the dying process, for a reason. Through this experience of dying, man is learning the awful consequences of sin, and of living life without a Heavenly Father. The experience is not to last forever. Jesus surrendered his own human life as a substitute for Adam to redeem Adam and his posterity (John 6:51). Despite Jesus’ sacrifice, members of the human race continue to experience the dying process and the sleep of death. However, there will be a time in the not too distant future when every person who has died will be awakened from their sleep of death on this very earth.

The organization of earth, however, will be quite different than the social order we know today. "Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13). The apostle was not referring to a new physical earth, simply to a new social order. Our world will be headed by a just and righteous government led by Christ himself. Obedience will be rewarded and the effects of sin and death will be eradicated.

Knowledge of God to Fill Earth

The prophet Habakkuk, describing the blessings of man’s resurrection from still another perspective, says that during the thousand years of Christ’s reign the knowledge of the glory of the LORD shall fill the earth (Habakkuk 2:14). No longer will people search for meaning in life and death. God will "turn to the people a pure language [or message]," and they will "call upon the name of the LORD to serve him with one consent" (Zephaniah. 3:9). The Bible refers to this time as morning because it ushers in a time of great enlightenment, joy and blessing for all the families of the earth. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Psalms 30:5).

Those who study God’s word diligently understand that man was created with the intent of giving him eternal life. No longer will men seek ways to achieve eternal life. It will be a gift from God. It is difficult to imagine a world in which there is no death because the current world order is one of trouble, pain and inequity. However, God has promised that these conditions will be eliminated in the resurrection (Revelation 21:4).

Man does not really understand what makes us live, and what gives us strength to move, but God does, and he is abundantly able to give life everlasting to all who will obey the laws of Christ’s kingdom. And this is what he has promised to do. It is for this purpose that Christ returns and establishes his earthly kingdom. Let us be glad and rejoice in those promises of God which tell us of a life without end!