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.
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