"—Christ Jesus, Who, indeed, abolishes death, yet illuminates life and incorruption through the evangel of which I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher of the nations."—II Tim. 1:10, 11.
"—The King of kings and Lord of lords, Who alone has immortality."—I Tim. 6:16.
If we believe these two passages we will not look for illumination on life and incorruption in the Circumcision scriptures, nor will we believe that messengers have immortality. And this is important.
Those "deemed worthy to happen upon the resurrection from among the dead," (Luke 20:36), cannot be dying any more, not because they are made immortal and incorruptible, but because they are equal to the messengers. These are not immortal, (Christ alone has immortality!), but remain alive because God keeps then so. In like manner the Circumcision who are resurrected for "that eon," (Luke 20:35), will be kept alive. True, they shall never die, and true, they shall, sometime, have immortality. But not for the kingdom. It is through the evangel of Paul, that life and incorruption is illuminated.
Life—even resurrection life—as mentioned in the Circumcision scriptures, is inferior to the life of II Tim. 1:10, 11. To saints of Israel, Christ is the Resurrection and the Life, (John 11:25). Life in that passage is superior to simple resurrection, such as Lazarus had, but, so far as that passage is concerned, it is life for the eon. See verse 26. That they shall live beyond the eon is blessedly true, but that passage does not teach it.
"He shall be saving His people from their sins," (Matt. 1:21), is a promise to Israel. From their sins, mind you! Not from mortality. No one who believes Universal Reconciliation would deny that they will finally be saved from mortality. But this will not be done for them as "His people." They shall have this blessing as humanity. "His people" is a term that relates to Israel, alone, and it is used in a covenant sense. It is in reference to the kingdom. And the kingdom shall be one of eonian righteousness. (Dan. 9:24).
They are to be saved from THEIR sins—not from sin as a fact. The setting up of the kingdom means making a finish of sins, so far as they are concerned. This is confirmed in I John 3:9. They are then begotten of God, and cannot sin, not because death, the soil in which sin grows, is taken out of them, but because God's seed is remaining in them.
Sin is a symptom of the dread disease with which the whole human family is afflicted—mortality. A headache is a symptom of a disordered stomach. An aspirin tablet will relieve the pain, but will not remove the disease. Keep the patient full of aspirin, and the pain will not return. But the disease is still there. Remove the cause, and the tablet is not needed.
Circumcision saints will be full of the seed of God, and this will keep the symptom from being apparent. Therefore they will neither sin nor die. But this does not mean that mortality is gone. Its effect is simply warded off.
Not realizing this, the "religious" world has centered its attention on sin, as if that were what is the matter with humanity. It is not so! Death in the body is what is the matter. When this is removed, no one will need the seed of God to keep him from sinning or dying.
The resurrection life of Circumcision saints will be far superior to life at present. It will be superior to the resurrection "life" of Lazarus. But it will be far inferior to what life shall be when the "life and incorruption" of II Tim. 1:10, 11, is the portion of humanity.
God told Adam that in the day he transgressed, he would begin to die. He told him the transgression would constitute him a dying man. We find Rom. 5:12, that sin entered in to the world through one man, that death came through sin, and that death passed through into all mankind, on which all sinned. In Adam's case death came through sin. In our case, we inherit death (mortality), and practice sin because of it. Salvation from sin only, would mean a recurrence of sin, except for the continual intervention of God. Salvation from mortality means that the soil in which sin grows is abolished. In that case, there is no need for God's intervention to keep us from sinning. When there is no death in us, there will be no sin practiced by us.
The "seed" of God, (I John 3:9), is a figure of speech, and the figure developed is instructive. Literally, I have soil in my garden, and in this soil a noxious weed grows. But I plant the seed of another plant which will smother out the noxious weed, and not allow it to grow at all. Saints of Israel are equal to the messengers, in resurrection. This means they are not immortal. Not being immortal, the noxious seed—sin—would grow in their lives in the kingdom, but for the seed of God, which keeps sin smothered and does not allow it to grow.
Carrying the figure further, if I could secure soil in which the noxious weed could not grow, there would be no need for the seed of the other plant. When we are immortal and incorruptible, God will have no need that His "seed" shall remain in us to hinder the growth of sin. Immortality is a soil in which sin cannot take root.
Mortality, not sin, is what is the matter with the human family. In I Cor. 15:22-28, Paul says that in Adam all are dying, and that in Christ all shall be vivified. He does not say that in Adam all are sinners, and in Christ all shall be saved from sin. Salvation from sin is not nearly all we need. We need vivification—salvation from mortality.
This will be the portion of members of the ecclesia which is the body of Christ, when He comes for us in the air, (I Thess. 4:13-18). We shall not be made equal to the messengers; Christ will transfigure the body of our humiliation, to conform it to His body glorious, (Phil. 3:21). Will the saints of Israel, resurrected for the kingdom, be equal to us? Certainly not! Then they are not immortal, unless there are degrees of immortality!
Going back to I Cor. 15, we find that those who are Christ's will be vivified in His presence. His presence will cover a long period of time. It will be amply sufficient for those who are made equal to the messengers for the kingdom, to be vivified and made to conform to Christ's body glorious, later. Then finally, all are to be vivified in Christ when death is abolished. In other words, what we shall have it the very beginning of the presence of Christ, Circumcision saints shall have in His presence later, (much later!), and finally all mankind shall have it.
The term, "salvation from their sins," is not a Pauline expression. It is found often in the Circumcision scriptures. John, who, by his writings, remains till Christ comes, says "the blood of Jesus, His Son, is cleansing us from every sin," (I John 1:7).
"Christ Jesus, Who, indeed, abolished death," is the Pauline way of putting it. And when death is abolished, the entire human family shall have the blessing of immortality. This is millions of times better than being saved from our sins.