“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thess. 4:14-18.
Here we see that those who come up in the first resurrection shall not only live again, but shall die no more.
Now to find our answer to the question, What shall man be like if he lives again? We shall first turn to the book of Genesis:
Gen. 2:7 – “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
In this scripture we are told that God formed man out of the dust of the ground. Then the breath of life was breathed into his nostrils, and thus he became a living soul, that the breath and the body together are what make the soul. The process of development is the same as is the process of ice making – low temperature and water make ice just as the body and the breath make the soul. Hence when the breath leaves the body, man no longer is a living soul – no, no more than the ice is ice after it goes back to water. Man obviously has no existing soul after the breath leaves his body, for the body and the breath together make the soul.
“I know” says the wise man, “that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.” Eccl. 3:14.
Eccl. 9:5, 6 – “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.”
Eccl. 3:18-21 – “I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts. For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?”
Inspiration you see, first tells us how man was created and what he is like, then It asks point-blank: “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” – The only answer that can be given is that no one knows but God. And since He has told us that the body and soul together, not apart, make the soul, then it is plain that a dead man has no soul, that the body returns to dust, and the breath returns to breath, to wind. Moreover, whatever befalls the beast the same befalls the man. They both have one breath, declares Inspiration, and the one has no preeminence above the other.
This is what God says about the soul, and we should believe Him rather than fool ourselves with uninspired theories of men who presumptuously say that the soul never dies, although God says, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ezek. 18:4. Hence, when man dies, his soul vanishes as does ice when the temperature rises above freezing.
Next to find what man will look like when he is made to live again a sinless life, we should see what man looked like before he sinned:
Gen. 3:6-8 – “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.”
Immediately after Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit, a surprising change took place. They at once perceived that the light of life and beauty with which they had been clothed vanished away, and they saw themselves naked, ugly, and shameful to the eye. Consequently they tried to cover themselves with leaves and to hide away among the trees. The leaf-covering, though, was not adequate, and therefore the Lord made them “coats of skins.”
What shall man be like if he lives again? – Certainly not less than he was in the beginning for all that was lost is to be restored. Neither is he to be improved upon, for everything the Lord made, He Himself pronounced “very good.” Gen. 1:31. And so if a man lives again, he shall be exactly what Adam was before he sinned.
Now for the answer to the question, “How shall he live again?” we shall turn to Ezekiel–
Ezekiel 37:1-10 – “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And He said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, Thou knowest. Again He said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said He unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.”
Here we learn that the process of resurrection is the same as the process of creation: first the frame of the man, then the organism, the flesh, the skin, and last the breath, and again he becomes a living soul. Man’s soul or spirit, you see, is not called down from heaven, or up from hell. In fact, not a soul at all, but wind from the four corners of the earth fills his lungs at the command of God, and thus he again becomes a living soul. Then, too, the material of which man was composed originally, of the same shall he be made again, for bone to bone come together. When he is thus re-created or resurrected, though, he must retain the knowledge and memory which he had at his death, otherwise the man that is raised would not be the man that died, and if such be not his case, then the experience gained in this life would be lost.
The next point of interest would be to note why there are two resurrections, a thousand years apart (Rev. 20:5, 6). Let us turn to Romans:
Rom. 8:10, 11 – “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
Those who die with the Spirit of Christ in them, are the ones who come up in the resurrection of the just. But those in whom the Spirit of Christ does not dwell are to come up in the resurrection of the unjust, a thousand years after the resurrection of the just.
Rev. 20:6 – “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”
If these verses mean what they say concerning the righteous, then concerning the wicked they actually say:
“Cursed and unholy is he that hath no part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath power; they shall not be priests of God and of Christ, and shall not reign with Him during the thousand years.”
If we accept God’s Word as Inspiration gives It to us, and if we are doers of His Word, we shall live again, and be the perfect image of God as were Adam and Eve. We shall indeed return to the Garden of Eden. The garden, too, shall again flourish as before, and the tree of life shall bear its fruit every month. And so, you see, man shall thus live again, and thus live forever.
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And He said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son.” Rev. 21:4-7.
“But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” 1 Cor. 13:10-13.