Humans have sensed for centuries that there is more to life than the brief physical existence between birth and death – and this is true. Life continues in the spirit world with a spirit body after the physical body had been left behind in death. There is, however, a difference between the condition of a human soul in the spirit world just continuing its life and a state where the extinction of this life is an utter impossibility – even by God who, in the beginning of man’s existence, created that soul. True immortality is the state of the soul which knows that because of the divine essence and qualities of itself, it can never cease to live.
What applies on earth to created things having a beginning and an end – being dissolved into its elements – can also be true in the spirit world. Death is the process through which change from humanly visible to invisible occurs – the physical becomes spirit. This, however, of and by itself doesn’t guarantee everlasting existence. It is because the soul in the physical body is the same when it enters the spirit world. It had a beginning and is not self-existing or independent and thus must rely on God’s will and sustenance by the Spirit of God for its existence. It is therefore possible that after some time, it will have served its purpose and by God’s decree could be dissolved into the elements of which it was created. While this has never happened, it is not unfeasible.
Myriads of souls in the spirit world are in the same condition of perfection that the first humans were before their Fall. They have hope and belief that their life will not end, but no absolute assurance – knowing that they are dependent on God’s will for their existence. Having reached a state of perfection that is possible without the Divine Love, their progress in soul development at this level has ended, but they are still very happy. There is always something new and unknown available to them. To many of these spirits, immortality is as much a subject of speculation as it is to mortals on earth.
Whatever God has called into existence, He can also declare shall exist no longer after it has accomplished its purpose. This includes the physical body, and even the spirit body and the human soul. Immortality can only be acquired from that which is immortal – it is not inherent in any created thing. Only God is immortal (1 Tim. 6:15-16), which means that His nature and qualities are immortal. The most important quality is Love – without it, God could not be God. In whatever the Divine Love enters, this being receives immortality – and it cannot receive immortality any other way. Whatever receives immortality can never die or cease to exist.
The first humans were given at the beginning the opportunity to receive the divine essence of the Father’s Love which would have made them immortal. After their disobedience, this gift was no longer available to them. They “died” in the sense that the way to immortality was now closed. (The “tree of life” in the book of Genesis (Gen. 2:9, 3:22-24) from which humanity was barred can be seen as a metaphor for immortality.) This applied to all humans born until the time of Jesus’ coming to the earth – including all the righteous persons mentioned in the Old Testament. When they died, these special people, as a result of the high development of their natural love, reached in the spirit world high spheres of supreme happiness, but not the actual kingdom of God – to which they could only start progressing after Jesus’ coming.
During his time on earth, Jesus announced that the way to salvation, immortality, and inheriting the kingdom of God was again open to humanity. It involved the opportunity to seek unison with the Father that would make a person’s nature divine through receiving the Divine Love in the soul. This opportunity didn’t come through Jesus’ sacrifice or death, but rather through his life. Jesus’ death was the result of the beliefs and actions of the Jews who couldn’t tolerate his teaching. It didn’t appease “God’s wrath”, for God is a God of Love, not of wrath, wishing to share His Love and nature with humans. Jesus was the first human to possess the Divine Love, exemplify it, and proclaim it, so others too would know how to acquire it.
Death – the forfeiture of immortality – came through Adam in the sense that after his Fall, he and his descendants were no longer able to partake of the Father’s Divinity, become at one with God, and gain immortality. Jesus brought the gift of eternal life back again. At that time this opportunity became available not only to humans, but also to all the spirits who lived and died without its availability. Jesus was the messenger announcing to both humans and spirits that the way was again open to life and immortality.
Humans were made a little lower than the angels in that they have only been give the potential of becoming divine angels. By contrast, the angels have already fulfilled that potential by developing their soul through the Divine Love, having it transformed into the very essence and nature of God and thus become immortal.
For a PDF with similar information, go to On Immortality.