'I await the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come. Amen.'
- The Nicene Creed, proclaimed at the first Ecumenical Council, 325AD
'If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.'
- 1 Cor 15
We, as Christians, do not simply believe in the immortality of the soul and the ultimate salvation on a solely spiritual level. Following the Holy Scriptures, we believe in the holiness of the body (1 Cor 6:19-20) and of all God's creation. The human body is a direct creation of God according to the Bible, and is in cooperation with the human soul. Without the body, the soul cannot fulfil the mission that our Almighty God and Father Has planned for us. The holiness, worth and importance of the body is evident through Jesus Christ's physical resurrection from the dead.
For this reason, our faith in resurrection and eternal life is not some abstract idea, with the need to look to another world for salvation and hope. This faith is a lived experience on earth - in this world loved, renewed, resurrected and glorified by God. A world which is filled with His divine presence.
We live our earthly life as a foretaste of this eternal and joyful Kingdom yet to come. Everlasting life does not in any way mean that this life has no meaning or worth. On the contrary - eternal life for a Christian, begins with this life here on earth. Our eternal, living God is the very substance, source, cause and giver of all life. Our human conscience very often points to the truth of our eternal purpose, and the hope of things to come.
Of course the strongest affirmation of everlasting life is drawn from our faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. His preaching throughout the Scriptures is centred around the presupposition of the living God granting us eternal life. We read the young man asking Christ 'what shall I do to inherit eternal life?' (Lk 10:25), highlighting the importance of our belief in God's everlasting life, as well as our struggle and desire to inherit it. Christ gives us the answer to how we inherit it: 'I give unto them eternal life' (John 10:28) He proclaims. The Apostle Paul emphasises to the Corinthians that they have everlasting potential, just as we all do, as images of our Creator (Gen 1:27) : 'this mortal must put on immortality.' (1 Cor 15:53)
The human soul is immortal. By virtue of Jesus Christ, through our faith and obedience to Him, our soul is enlisted in His eternal Kingdom. The nature of the soul, as pure spirit, is to live forever. It is therefore our aim in this life, with God's grace, to build a loving relationship, a communion with our Lord so we are prepared to greet 'the King of Glory' (Ps 24:8), 'our Father in Heaven' (Matthew 6:9-13) 'Who is Love.' (1 John 4:8)
'Death is a great mystery... It is the birth of the human person from transient life into eternity.'
- St Ignaty Brianchaninov
Christianity does not consider death as an end. Death is the beginning of a new life, for which earthly life is merely a preparation.
The very mystery of life and of man is explained through the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. His glorious defeat of evil and death demonstrates that man is indeed an eternal being, bound to God. It is for this reason that Jesus, the Son of God came to this world; granting us a place in His Heavenly Kingdom. We should therefore live our lives knowing that by following the path of the Lord; a path of repentance, humility, and struggle, we will live eternally with Him among all His saints and righteous servants, for 'whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.' (John 11:26)
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a great voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God himself will be with them; He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:1-5)
- Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, The Mystery of Faith (New York: SVS, 2011)
- Sergius Bulgakov, The Orthodox Church (New York, SVS, 1988)