In the eighth Psalm and the fourth verse is this question, "What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?" Of course there are more ways than one in which this question can be referred to man, but the thing about man upon which we wish now to bring it to bear is that of immortality. "What is man?" is he mortal or immortal? We have not far to go for an answer. "Shall mortal man be more just than God?" (Job 4:17). "O Lord, Thou art our God: let not mortal man prevail against Thee" (2 Chr. 14:11, margin). Thus we find in answer to the question, that the Word of God calls man mortal, and everything that the Bible says directly about immortality is consistent with this answer.
Is Man Mortal or Immortal?
Says the Word: "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen" (1 Tim. 1:17). Here it is shown that immortality is an attribute of God, equally with eternity, wisdom, honor, glory, etc. None of these belong to man as he is.
Again, speaking of the appearing of Jesus Christ, the Word says: "In His times He shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, the Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see" (1 Tim. 6:15, 16).
Christ has brought this immortality to light. The purpose and grace of God, says the Word, "is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." 2 Timothy 1:10. What the gospel is, is shown in a few words by 1 Corinthians 15:1-4: "I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, … for I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." Thus, then, in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is summed up the gospel; and "through the gospel" it is said Christ "brought life and immortality to light." Certainly it was not by dying nor being buried that either life or immortality was brought to light, for both these things were familiar to all men; but to rise again from the dead, and bring with Him a multitude of the dead, who also appeared unto many (Matthew 27:52, 53), that was to bring to light something that had never been seen before; that was to bring life and immortality to light indeed. Therefore it is through the resurrection that Christ has brought immortality to light.
Again, the Scripture says that God will render eternal life "to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality." Romans 2:6, 7. Now as immortality is to be sought for, and as God is the only one who has it, and as Christ is the only one who has brought it to light, it follows that immortality must be sought of God, through Christ. Even so says the Scripture: "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." This is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." Romans 6:23; 1 John 5:11, 12.
Having then sought and found that immortality comes only through Christ, we ask, When is it bestowed upon us as our own? "Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.… Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:51-57.
Thus the story which the Word of God tells about immortality is this: Man, being mortal, has it not; God has it. Christ has brought it to light through the Gospel; man is to seek for it of God, through Christ, and will obtain it at the resurrection of the dead; for then it is that this mortal puts on immortality; then it is that death is swallowed up in victory. This comes "at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible," and the living shall be changed. But when is it that the last trump sounds?—It is when the Lord Jesus comes in His glory. "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." 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17.
Immortality is obtained of God, though Christ, at the resurrection of the dead. It is the sound of the last trump that awakes the dead. That trump is sounded at the coming of the Lord. Therefore without the second coming of the Lord Jesus we shall never receive immortality. For this reason we long for His glorious appearing. We watch, we wait for Him, who shall change our "vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body," for "we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." "Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."