Is Jesus’ promise concerning eternal life spiritual or physical?
Jesus stated that the scriptures cannot be broken (Jn 10:35). Today all believers must base their faith on the Bible. We should not follow the example of the believers in Calvin’s time who surrendered their faith in the Bible when they were pressured by the ruling ecclesiastical authorities of the day. We must overcome just like Stephen the martyr (Acts 7:51-60). Jesus never spoke a single lie, he spoke only the truth (Jn 8:45-55). Just as Jesus did, true believers must hold fast to the word of truth regardless of any persecution we might receive. Like Jesus, we must always speak the truth regardless of our circumstances.
Just like the false pastors of the first coming and what Calvin did, some of today’s pastors abuse their authority in an attempt to force people to bend to their will. These leaders threaten to kill the spirits of anyone who resists; they abuse their people both mentally and physically. There have even been cases of murder.
Let us consider what happened recently in Ulsan, South Korea. A woman from Ulsan was murdered by her husband because she refused to follow his orders to abandon her faith during a session of forced conversion education. Religious education should never involve any compulsion, oppression, or threats. No one can force anyone to follow any specific doctrines. Isn’t it better to help people to see and believe the truth as they are enlightened by the words of promise? True faith does not include forced or oppressive indoctrination.
Now let us consider eternal life. Although Jesus promised heaven and eternal life in the NT, the Jewish priests and elders at the time of the first coming refused to believe and attacked Jesus instead. They considered Jesus’ claims about eternal life to be nonsense. They argued over eternal life and responded to Jesus by saying, “Both Abraham and the prophets died, and yet you say, ‘If anyone obeys my teaching, he will never experience death.’ You aren’t greater than our father Abraham who died, are you?” (Jn 8).
Clearly, the issue of eternal life was a point of controversy between Jesus and the Jews. Whose teachings were correct? If Jesus had denied eternal life, he would have been a liar. The fact that confirmed the existence of eternal life meant he was keeping God’s word and was speaking on behalf of God (Jn 5:19-20; Jn 12:49-50; Jn 17:7-8). Just as Jesus spoke on behalf of God (1 Jn 2:1), we, too, must speak on behalf of Jesus. If a person speaks according to the Bible, that person speaks on behalf of God and Jesus. Refusing to believe in any words that are spoken on behalf of God and Jesus is refusing to listen to God’s and Jesus’ words. This is just like what the Jews did when they refused to listen to Jesus; they refused to listen to God (Jn 12:44). If anyone wants to deny another person’s testimony, they should do so through the scriptures.
When considering what Jesus said about eternal life, would Adam and Eve have returned to dust if they had not eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that brought them death (Gen 3:19)? Did God intend for his people, who were created in his image, to become sick, suffer, and eventually die? No. Death is result of sin (James 1:15), and it is because of sin that God, who is life, could no longer be with his people. God left his people and this limited their lifespan (Gen 6:1-3).
God was able to come to Jesus because he had no sin (Lk 3:22). Jesus then bore the cross to solve the problem of sin for the rest of us (Jn 1:29; 1 Pet 2:24). Afterwards, the spirit of God, who had once left people, came back to Jesus’ disciples because their sins had been atoned (Acts 2:1-4).
Jesus, who had raised Lazarus from the dead, resurrected from the dead himself and appeared before his disciples. Jesus made it known to them that he was flesh and not spirit when he told them to touch the nail marks in his hands (Lk 24:36-43; Jn 20:26-27). Do you believe in these words? Adam lived almost 1,000 years after he had sinned. Rev 20 states that those who take part in the first resurrection become God’s priests and reign as kings for 1,000 years. Do you believe in these words?
Shinchonji Church of Jesus has spoken the recorded words of Jesus on his behalf. We have never spoken of physical eternal life without firmly basing our words on the Bible. We have only spoken according to what is written in the Bible. Just like Jesus’ disciples (Jn 11:25-27), Shinchonji believes in the words of Jesus. The people who persecute us, however, claim that Shinchonji’s idea that the flesh can live forever is not based on the Bible. This is simply another scheme to persecute Shinchonji by telling lies just like the Jews did at the time of the first coming. Is this not the same as the situation regarding the Apostles’ Creed? The apostles never wrote the Apostles’ Creed. Others created it on their own and forced all Christians to confess it.
What are these things that Shinchonji Church of Jesus claims about eternal life that are mentioned in the Bible? According to the scriptures, God is the only one who can give or take away life (Job 1:21). Even though God, who is life, left Adam, Adam was able to live nearly 1,000 years. Soon after that, however, the human lifespan was decreased to approximately 70 years with the accumulation of original sins, hereditary sins, and personal sins (Ps 90:10). Thus, as sin accumulated, our lifespan dropped. If our sins are atoned and God is able to return to his people once more, people will be able to live longer. Jesus talked about eternal life because he was able to solve the problem of sin and make it possible for people to reunite with God, who is life. Let us learn more about how the scriptures testify about eternal life.
The Bible’s teachings regarding eternal life
• Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies, and the one who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She replied, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who comes into the world.” (Jn 11:25-27)
• For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is your life because of righteousness. Moreover if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you. (Rom 8:5-11)
• In a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. Now when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will happen, “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (1 Cor 15:52-54)
• And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among human beings. He will live among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more – or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.” (Rev 21:3-4)
God fulfilled what he prophesied to Abraham through Moses (Gen 15:13-14; Exo 12). At that time, all the Egyptians hated Moses and went against him, despite the fact that God was with him. God fulfilled the prophecies he had made through the OT prophets when he came and worked through Jesus (Jn 19:30). Similarly, at that time, all the Physical Israelites tried to get rid of Jesus despite the fact that God was with him. Jesus, who made a covenant (prophesied) roughly 2,000 years ago, has come to Shinchonji today and is fulfilling his prophecies (Rev 21:1-6). Currently, the Spiritual Israelites are fighting against and trying to destroy Shinchonji. In every generation, the people of the previous generation always persecute the place that works to create a new generation – the place where God dwells.
Gal 4:29 says that those born of the flesh persecute those born of the holy spirit. Anyone who believes in God and his word must use the Bible to recognize the place where God dwells. Is he with the persecutors or with those who are persecuted?As they were waiting for the Messiah (their savior), the Physical Israelites fasted and prayed three times a day. They were so zealous for God, but in spite of their zeal, they refused to believe in the true Messiah when he came. Instead, they persecuted and even killed him.
Today, too, Jesus, who gave us so many prophecies in the NT, comes as a spirit (just as God did in the first coming) and fulfills his prophecies. People, however, do not realize this and persecute us instead. How is this different from the times of Noah, Lot, and the time of Jesus’ first coming? Christians who believe in the words of promise, however, will not hesitate to come to Shinchonji, verify whether Jesus’ words have been fulfilled, believe in their fulfillment, and, in doing so, receive salvation.
Shinchonji believes in the words recorded in the Bible and we speak those words on behalf of God and Jesus. Those who oppose the word do so because they do not believe in the Bible. Shinchonji has never mentioned physical eternal life without basing our claims on the Bible. On the contrary, we simply give people biblical references like the ones listed above and tell them to believe what the Bible tells them. Just as people persecuted Jesus at the time of the first coming because he talked about eternal life, people are persecuting us because we talk about eternal life. These people should stop this persecution. Without physical and spiritual eternal life, there is no reason to live a life of faith. Just like Jesus’ disciples, we believe in heaven and eternal life because Jesus spoke of them (Jn 11:25-27). We also believe that the prophecies will be fulfilled according to the Bible.
We would like to ask a biblical question to those who persecute Shinchonji: What was God’s objective in recording the Bible? We would like to hear their response to this question. Shouldn’t everyone living a life of faith without knowing the answer to this question try to learn? Isn’t this one of our duties as a believer? Shinchonji is trying to reveal God’s will to all believers.