Volume. XXXVI, No. 15
Sunday, 10 October 2021

From the Pastor’s Heart: Resurrection and Afterlife (3)

I did not finish the section for Jewish notions of resurrection and afterlife last week.  The following is the last paragraph for the section:


According to other rabbinical testimonies, both are well nigh boundless.  The Talmudic* descriptions of Paradise (as those of the Koran) mix sensual and spiritual delights.  The righteous enjoy the vision of the Shechina** and feast with the patriarchs, and with Moses and David, of the flesh of leviathan, and drink wine from the cup of salvation.  Each inhabitant has a house according to his merit.  Among the punishments of hell the chief place is assigned to fire, which is renewed every week after the Sabbath.  The wicked are boiled like the flesh in the pot, but the bad Israelites are not touched by fire but are otherwise tormented.  The severest punishment is reserved for idolaters, hypocrites, traitors, and apostates.  As to the duration of future punishment, the school of Shammai*** held that it was everlasting; while the school of Hillel inclined to the milder view of a possible redemption after repentance and purification.  Some Rabbis taught that hell will cease, and that the sun will burn up and annihilate the wicked.1115


[*Talmud: It is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism.  There is the Babylonian Talmud and the Jerusalem Talmud.  There are Mishna and Gemara in the Talmud.]

[**Shechina: It means “dwelling” or “settling” and denotes the dwelling or settling of the presence of God.]

[***Shammai and Hillel: They were two prominent Jewish scholars from whose names two schools of thought came.  They had vigorous debates on the rituals, practices, ethics or theology.]


The CHRISTIAN doctrine of the future life differs from the heathen, and to a less extent also from the Jewish, in the following important points:


(a) It gives to the belief in a future state the absolute certainty of divine revelation, sealed by the fact of Christ’s resurrection, and thereby imparts to the present life an immeasurable importance, involving endless issues.


(b) It connects the resurrection of the body with the immortality of the soul, and thus gives concrete completion to the latter, and saves the whole individuality of man from destruction.


(c) It views death as the punishment of sin, and therefore as something terrible, from which nature shrinks.  But its terror has been broken, and its sting extracted by Christ.


(d) It qualifies the idea of a future state by the doctrine of sin and redemption, and thus makes it to the believer a state of absolute holiness and happiness; to the impenitent sinner, a state of absolute misery.  Death and immortality are a blessing to the one, but a terror to the other; the former can hail them with joy; the latter has reason to tremble.


(e) It gives great prominence to the general judgment, after the resurrection, which determines the ultimate fate of all men according to their works done in this earthly life.


But we must distinguish, in this mysterious article, what is of faith, and what is private opinion and speculation.


The return of Christ to judgment with its eternal rewards and punishment is the centre of the eschatological faith of the Church.  The judgment is preceded by the general resurrection, and followed by life everlasting.  This faith is expressed in the ecumenical creeds.


The Apostles’ Creed: “He shall come to judge the quick and the dead,” and “I believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.”


The Nicene Creed: “He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.”  “And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.”


The Athanasian Creed, so called, adds to these simple statements a damnatory clause at the beginning, middle, and end, and makes salvation depend on belief in the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity and the Incarnation, as therein stated.  But that document is of much later origin and cannot be traced beyond the sixth century.


The liturgies which claim apostolic or post-apostolic origin, give devotional expression to the same essential points in the sacrifice of the Lord as shown in the Lord’s Supper.


The Clementine liturgy: “Being mindful, therefore, of His passion and death, and resurrection from the dead, and return into the heavens, and His future second appearing, wherein He is to come with glory and power to judge the quick and the dead, and to recompense to every one according to his works.”


2 Timothy 4:1, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom.”


1 Peter 4:5, “Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.”


His second glorious and awful appearing, when He shall come with glory to judge the quick and the dead, and render to every one according to his works.  His second terrible and dreadful coming, in which He will come to judge righteously the quick and the dead, and to render to each man according to his works.


All that is beyond these revealed and generally received articles must be left free.  The time of the Second Advent, the preceding revelation of Antichrist, the millennium before the general judgment, the nature of the disembodied state between death and resurrection, the mode and degree of future punishment, the proportion of the saved and lost, the fate of the heathen and all who die ignorant of Christianity, the locality of heaven and hell, are open questions in eschatology about which wise and good men in the Church have always differed, and will differ to the end.  The Bible speaks indeed of ascending to heaven and descending to hell, but this is simply the unavoidable popular language, as when it speaks of the rising and setting sun.  We do the same, although we know that in the universe of God there is neither above nor below, and that the sun does not move around the earth.  The supernatural world may be very far from us, beyond the stars and beyond the boundaries of the visible created world (if it has any boundaries), or very near and round about us.  At all events there is an abundance of room for all God’s children. “In my Father’s house are many mansions…. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).  This suffices for faith.


What Philip Schaff says is not exhaustive about resurrection and afterlife.  However, let us remember what Romans 10:9 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”




Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



  • Women of Hope will be meeting in the Sanctuary after Service next Lord’s Day. Sis Ratchanee Abraham will be speaking on “Christian Sufferings.”
  • Daily Manna (adult & junior) for Oct-Dec is available in the Foyer and in the Hall.
  • Tithes & offerings - see Lively Hope for Bank details.



  • Healing: for all who are unwell.
  • Missionaries – that the fund raised from Missions Fair may support the needs of our missionaries.
  • Comfort & peace for friends & family interstate & overseas affected by COVID-19.


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • Missions Fair – Organisers, helpers & Hopefuls attending; funds raised for our missionaries.
  • Current COVID-19 situation in South Australia.
  • Journey mercies – those who have travelled during the holidays.



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