How far have we come?

The Sanctity of Life and the Resurrection - Ninth and Final in a Series

In the first post of this blog series we asked: Is God offended if your body parts are parceled out to others after you die? …In this advanced biomedical age, why should we consider an old fashioned burial essential to Christian thought and practice? The goal was to show a relation between the resurrection and the sanctity of life, and to look at seven reasons from Scripture why a Christian should not share body parts nor be cremated.

Here is a recap of the posts:

Post 2 - The Bible teaches there is integration of body and soul
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. - 1 Thess 5:23
Even though we are subject to death, a man’s body with his spirit and soul are to be viewed as a unit. Whether alive or dead, we await the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)

Post 3 - The unbreakable link between body and soul
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
- Job 19:25-27
Even after a time of apparent dissolution, each individual regains full functionality as mortality is “swallowed up of life.” (2 Cor 5:4) We shall be like him. (1 John 3:2) Made like him, like him we rise, Allelujah! (- Charles Wesley) David marveled about life in the womb, “in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” (Ps 139:16), but think how much greater will be the resurrection from death!

Post 4 - How do you define death?
Thou shalt not kill - Exodus 20:13
Unless you agree with the new definition of death, then you understand that organ transplantation cannot succeed unless the person donating the organs is alive. It is not uncommon for the organ donor to be anesthetized. A Christian must decide whether he agrees with the current scientific definition of death or the old standard, that we die after breathing our last breath.

Post 5 - Altruism in perspective
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. - John 15:13
Does this apply to organ sharing? It is not altruistic to sign your drivers license considering you are agreeing to give away that which you perceive you would no longer need. And does it show Christian love to expect a doctor to end your life, causing him to break the sixth commandment?

Post 6 - You were bought with a price
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. - 1 Cor 6:20
Christ died for the whole man. Believers receive the Holy Spirit as a pledge of the life to come. If the bodies of sanctified Christians are not raised, then the Spirit of God will lose a significant part of what He has taken possession of as his dwelling place. (- John Gill) Will we glorify God if we dishonor our bodies in life or in death?

Post 7 - Respect for the Dead
And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. - Mat 27:59-60
Respect for the dead. The body is the person, too. Also, cremation does not assist us to grieve nor picture to us the expectation of rapture when the trumpet sounds. (Mat 24:31; 1 Cor 15:52)

Post 8 - Taking the reigns
Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he. - Isa 41:4)
This verse helps to relate the concept that God, not man, is in control of all life and the timing of each one’s death. Many Scriptures warn us against taking the reigns from God’s hands.

Scripture, on the whole, supports burial of a body that is not devoid of vital organs. The disobedient are left for vultures to devour; their bones are not collected for burial. (Jer 9:22) Of course, this does not apply to those who die in life’s tragedies. “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” (Ps 50:5)

The doctrine of the resurrection has caused commotion and fired up debates across the centuries.

The uppity Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection mocked the Lord with a hypothetical question about a woman who had been married to seven husbands, all brothers: Whose wife would she be in the resurrection? (Mat 22:28) In this exchange, Jesus explained there would be no marriage in the new life, and he identified his heavenly Father as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that is, the God of the living. (Mat 22:29-32) Those who are appointed to carry on the line of the faithful, who live in God’s covenant that encompasses his law and grace, are assured of resurrection life.

Preaching the doctrine of the resurrection was the cause of Paul’s arrest and imprisonment, leading to his death. His earnest commitment to this doctrine is detailed in 1 Corinthians 15, where we are instructed that we cannot claim to be Christians if we do not believe in the resurrection of Christ and of ourselves. In fact we are still in our sins unless we believe it. (1 Cor 15:17)

As we noted early in this series, for Christians in centuries gone by, the sanctity of life included the dead who would rise from their graves at the resurrection, and respectful burial was recognition of that hope.

Where are we today with this doctrine? Are we advancing in God’s ways or retreating from them?

You were bought with a price

The Sanctity of Life and the Resurrection - Sixth in a Series

Ye were bought with a price: (1 Cor 6:20 KJV) What does this mean in the context of organ sharing?

Some may ask: What does it mean?

It means that Jesus Christ died on a cross, the cruelest of deaths, though he was innocent and sinless, as a way to reconcile man (generic sense) to God.

We are dead, unable to come to life unless we are given, by God’s grace, life in Christ. The spirit that now works in the rebellious, once worked the same way in us—And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:11)

This new life that some have was made possible by a transaction, to use a pecuniary expression. Jesus Christ paid our debts, offering his own life as the price, often called the blood of Jesus, and that purchase was not only for our souls but also for our bodies.

This is explained in Scripture:

But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Cor 6:17-20)

Although this passage references only the sin of fornication, it makes clear that our bodies belong to the Lord. You cannot do as you please with your body: You were bought with a price. Respect that sacrificial expenditure. Show through your example in your body that you are Christ’s and that you value his love for you.

But, you may wonder, why wouldn’t Christ want me to share body parts that could revive the health of my fellow man?

Answers to such questions are for the experts, and those to whom I now refer are the great theologians of past centuries. Even though in other eras the concept of organ transplantation was unknown and would not have been believed, the thinking of some Bible scholars plumbed the deep things of God so fully that their writings answer doubting hearts across the generations on the key issues of the faith.

Following is an excerpt from John Gill’s The Doctrine of the Resurrection, Stated and Defended (Sermon 1). Gill was an English Baptist pastor and scholar of the 18th century.

All those who are chosen in Christ, who are given to him, who are redeemed by him, and are in union with him, are sanctified by the Spirit of God, and that not in their souls only, but in their bodies also; for as the body, as well as the soul, is defiled by sin, it also stands in need of the sanctifying influences of divine grace. Accordingly the Spirit takes up his dwelling in the bodies, as well as in the souls of men; "What! know ye not," says the apostle, "that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you?" 1Co 6:19. He begins and carries on the work of sanctification in the one, as well as in the other, as is needful; and will, at last, completely finish it; for which the apostle prays, saying, "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit, soul and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ," 1Th 5:23. Now, if the bodies of these sanctified ones are not raised, the Spirit of God will not only lose that which he has taken possession of, as his dwelling-place, but also a considerable part of his glory, as a Sanctifier.

If this does not make sense to you, then perhaps the previous posts have not either. But if you are following along as this series builds in reasons not to donate organs, you may find interesting Pastor Gill’s further rationale on why the body is essential to a man’s eternal reward.

Neither the happiness of the righteous will be complete, nor the misery of the wicked be proportionate to their crimes, until the resurrection. The happiness of the saints will not be complete: hence they are "waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of their body," Ro 8:23, when that being redeemed from the grave, and united to the soul, shall, with it, enter into the joy of the Lord. Nor will the misery of the wicked be proportionate to their crimes till then, when they shall be cast, body and soul, into hell; and as the one deserves it, as well as the other, it is proper that so it should be.

This line of reasoning is supported by the meditations of Athenagoras in The Treatise on the Resurrection of the Dead. He was an Greek convert to Christianity and a philosopher who lived during the second half of the second century. Though some of his sentences are four or five times the length of the average sentence in today’s articles (whew!), the combination of the Greek philosopher with the Scripture expositor give an unmatched logical discourse on the necessity of body and soul sharing in resurrection life. This excerpt is off course from the topic of this post, that a Christian, owned by Christ, should not donate organs. However it provides wisdom about the design of the human being that supports the content of this blog series.

For if good deeds are rewarded, the body will clearly be wronged, inasmuch as it has shared with the soul in the toils connected with well-doing, but does not share in the reward of the good deeds, and because, though the soul is often excused for certain faults on the ground of the body's neediness and want, the body itself is deprived of all share in the good deeds done, the toils on behalf of which it helped to bear during life.

Nor, again, if faults are judged, is the soul dealt fairly with, supposing it alone to pay the penalty for the faults it committed through being solicited by the body and drawn away by it to its own appetites and motions, at one time being seized upon and carried off, at another attracted in some very violent manner, and sometimes concurring with it by way of kindness and attention to its preservation.

How can it possibly be other than unjust for the soul to be judged by itself in respect of things towards which in its own nature it feels no appetite, no motion, no impulse, such as licentiousness, violence, covetousness, injustice, and the unjust acts arising out of these? For if the majority of such evils come from men's not having the mastery of the passions which solicit them, and they are solicited by the neediness and want of the body, and the care and attention required by it (for these are the motives for every acquisition of property, and especially for the using of it, and moreover for marriage and all the actions of life, in which things, and in connection with which, is seen what is faulty and what is not so), how can it be just for the soul alone to be judged in respect of those things which the body is the first to be sensible of, and in which it draws the soul away to sympathy and participation in actions with a view to things which it wants; and that the appetites and pleasures, and moreover the fears and sorrows, in which whatever exceeds the proper bounds is amenable to judgment, should be set in motion by the body, and yet that the sins arising from these, and the punishments for the sins committed, should fall upon the soul alone, which neither needs anything of this sort, nor desires nor fears or suffers of itself any such thing as man is wont to suffer?

But even if we hold that these affections do not pertain to the body alone, but to man, in saying which we should speak correctly, because the life of man is one, though composed of the two, yet surely we shall not assert that these things belong to the soul, if we only look simply at its peculiar nature. For if it is absolutely without need of food, it can never desire those things which it does not in the least require for its subsistence; nor can it feel any impulse towards any of those things which it is not at all fitted to use; nor, again, can it be grieved at the want of money or other property, since these are not suited to it. And if, too, it is superior to corruption, it fears nothing whatever as destructive of itself: it has no dread of famine, or disease, or mutilation, or blemish, or fire, or sword, since it cannot suffer from any of these any hurt or pain, because neither bodies nor bodily powers touch it at all. But if it is absurd to attach the passions to the soul as belonging specially to it, it is in the highest degree unjust and unworthy of the judgment of God to lay upon the soul alone the sins which spring from them, and the consequent punishments…

…But the most irrational thing of all is this: to impose properly sanctioned laws on men, and then to assign to their souls alone the recompense of their lawful or unlawful deeds. For if he who receives the laws would also justly receive the recompense of the transgression of the laws, and if it was man that received the laws, and not the soul by itself, man must also bear the recompense for the sins committed, and not the soul by itself, since God has not enjoined on souls to abstain from things which have no relation to them, such as adultery, murder, theft, rapine, dishonour to parents, and every desire in general that tends to the injury and loss of our neighbours. (ref)

The body and soul are one man. That realization may serve to frighten the rebellious as much as comfort the faithful if each would consider what will happen to him after death. The greatest comfort of the faithful is that we were bought with a price. For the most part, the rebellious refuse to feel fear in respect to the afterlife. They only fear the consequences that affect them here and now.

Another Englishman, a writer and Puritan preacher of the 17th century, John Bunyan, assures us: Christ will not lose the purchase of his blood. Those who belong to Christ must rise or else there is great disappointment of God’s will and power; Christ would be disappointed not to see his fruit; the saints would be disappointed, and God’s grace in our souls will be disappointed. His book, The Resurrection of the Dead and Eternal Judgment, is online.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
/ ( mm / dd )

View previous campaigns.

Angel fish bild.JPG
Public Domain, Link

...and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind ... the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind ...the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. -Genesis 1

Search

A SistersSite eBook

Flesh and Bone and The Protestant Conscience is an e-book on Amazon.com. It is 99¢ and in the Amazon lending library as well. The book description follows.

Would you let your conscience be your guide?

Does God care if the skin and bone of the dead are passed along to the living for medical uses? Is organ donation OK with God? Should you sign a Living Will?

Did you know that dead organ donors are often anesthetized before their organs are removed? Do you know the current definition of death? The conscience cannot function without facts.

As we ponder the ethics of in vitro fertilization, stem cell research and man-made chimeras, our thoughts trail off. How then should we live? (Ez 33:10)

How should a Christian think about euthanasia by starvation when doctors and the state attorney general all agree it is time to withhold feeding from a brain injured patient? Some things are family matters, but someday it may be our family.

Here is a small book to help you think about whether you want to sign your driver's license, donate a kidney, cremate your loved one, and many other practical questions that may arise in the course of your healthcare decisions or watch over others.

It offers a special focus on the doctrine of the Resurrection that is related to such decisions. Sunday School classes and Bible Study groups could use this book to facilitate discussion about the issues covered.