"Spiritualism and the Dead"
"Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions. While the former lays the foundation of spiritualism, the latter creates a bond of sympathy with Rome. The Protestants of the United States will be foremost in stretching their hands across the gulf to grasp the hand of spiritualism; they will reach over the abyss to clasp hands with the Roman power; and under the influence of this threefold union, this country will follow in the steps of Rome in trampling on the rights of conscience." (The Great Controversy p. 588).
God is so merciful to warn us of the dangers which lie ahead. This lesson deals with the subject of immortality. Again, this is a subject that has been perverted by the devil and controverted by many of the churches of our land. As always, please stop right now and ask God for His Holy Spirit to guide your study.
Before we begin, let's define the word immortality. It's prefix tells us that it is the opposite of the root word mortal. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines mortal, simply as: "subject to death." To be mortal, is to be subject to death. To be immortal is to be exempt or free from death.
1. Is man subject to death? Hebrews 9:27
2. If man is mortal, subject to death, then who is immortal? 1 Timothy 6:16
The Bible is very clear on this important subject. God is the only being that naturally possesses immortality. If God "only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto," we must come to the conclusion that angels nor good men possess immortality. I know that this will go against the thinking and teaching that we are accustomed to, but based on 1 Timothy 6:15-16, it has to be true.
3. What does the Bible also tell us about this immortal life that only God the Father naturally has? John 5:26
So the Bible teaches that the Father had this life in Himself, and He gave this life to Jesus so that He has the same kind of immortal life as the Father!
4. What does the Bible promise us concerning this same life? John 10:10
The thing we call immortality is not ours naturally! The Father only has natural immortality, but He has made a way so that we can live forever!
5. When does He make this life available to His faithful followers? 1 Corinthians 15:51-53
Notice that the verse doesn't say that we will actually become immortal. It says that we will "put on" immortality something like putting on a garment. There is no place in all the Bible where it tells us that man is immortal. If it did, we would have a contradiction. God is immortal, and mortal man is dependent upon God to sustain his life, now and eternally.
6. When God first created man in the garden of Eden, were Adam and Eve subject to death? Genesis 2:17
God intended for Adam and Eve to live forever, but even in their perfect state before sin entered the picture, they were indeed subject to death. If obedient, they would live eternally. If they disobeyed, however, they must die.
7. What was it that God used to give Adam and Eve eternal life? Genesis 3:22
God placed cherubims and the flaming sword there to insure that there would be no such thing as an immortal sinner. In the garden of Eden, it was by eating the fruit of the tree of life that man would put on" immortality.
8. Will the tree of life exist in heaven? Revelation 22:2
9. How will man "put on" immortality in the heavenly New Jerusalem? Revelation 22:14
There's no doubt about it! The way that we are going to "put on" immortality is to once again have right to the tree of life. Again, we can notice
that man is not made immortal, but through his connection with God, and obedience to His commandments, man is allowed to eat of the tree of life, which in turn gives eternal life.
At the second coming of Jesus, the first resurrection takes place. Those who are raised from the dead will come forth with their glorified bodies. Then those who are alive will be changed in a moment and receive their glorified bodies.
At that point, will we be immortal? While the Bible does use the word immortality to describe us here, we must remember it is because we will "put on" immortality. We never become immortal of ourselves. This may seem like a mere technicality, but it is important that we understand that aside from our connection with God and obedience to His commandments, there can be no partaking of the tree of life, and therefore no immortality.
10. What was the very first recorded lie? Genesis 3:4
Why is the subject about the natural immortality of man so important? The very first lie that was told here on this Earth concerned this important subject. Satan himself used this lie to deceive Eve into breaking the commandment of God. He has used this lie over and over, and ultimately we have just read that it will be one of the two great errors that he will use here in these last days to deceive many.
There is so much teaching and preaching on this subject. At almost every funeral service that is preached, the lie is repeated over and over again. But if you stop to think about it, the Christian world is really confused about just what death is!
11. What are the wages of sin? Romans 6:23
Note: The wages of sin are not life in hell. Death is the opposite of life.
12. What will happen to the soul that sins? Ezekiel 18:20
13. How was man created in the first place? Genesis 2:7
First God made a body for man; then He put the breath of life into it. "The body without the spirit (breath, see margin) is dead." (James 2:26). Job helps us identify this spirit in Job 27:3: ";All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils;"
14. What happens to this spirit when a person dies? Ecclesiastes 12:7
The spirit of every man who dies, returns unto God whether he is good or evil. In other words, the body turns back to dust and the spirit, or breath of life, returns to God. But this spirit is not conscious! It is merely the life force that God gives to us to begin with.
15. Do good people go to heaven when they die? John 5:28-29
No! The Bible plainly tells us that the dead go to their graves and await the resurrection. Acts 2:29-34 tells us that even the Patriarch David has not gone to heaven, but he is dead and buried and his grave is with us to this day.
16. How much do the dead know about what we are doing? Ecclesiastes 9:5-6
17. What did Jesus call death and how did He describe it? John 11:11-14
When you sleep at night, you have no knowledge of what is going on. If your sleep is uninterrupted, you will awake in the morning and your mind knows not but that it has only been a few moments since you fell asleep.
18. What happens to the righteous dead at the second coming of Christ? 1 Thessalonians 4:16
We read earlier that the dead are raised with their glorified bodies and then the righteous living are changed and receive their glorified bodies. There would be no purpose in any of this, if men were rewarded at death. If they were already in heaven, why would they need to be raised from the dead and given glorified bodies?
Why did the devil lie to Eve about death? Could it be that this subject is more important than many think? The lie about the natural immortality of the soul is one of the corner stones of the devil's kingdom. He has worked great miracles down through the ages by people who claim to receive their power from the dead. (See Exodus 7:11; 1 Samuel 28; Daniel 2:2 and Acts 16:16-18). In these last days Satan is working miracles to deceive many. There are many who think that they have received personal instruction from Mary, the Apostles or some beloved relative who is dead.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 tells us for certain that Satan himself will appear as an angel of light. His demons will appear also as "ministers of righteousness" and "apostles of Christ." What a dangerous deception!
"The popular ministry cannot successfully resist spiritualism. They have nothing wherewith to shield their flocks from its baleful influence. Much of the sad result of spiritualism will rest upon ministers of this age; for they have trampled the truth under their feet, and in its stead have preferred fables. The sermon which Satan preached to Eve upon the immortality of the soul-- "Ye shall not surely die"-- they have reiterated from the pulpit; and the people receive it as pure Bible truth. It is the foundation of spiritualism. The word of God nowhere teaches that the soul of man is immortal."
(Testimonies for the Church v.1 p.344).
Does the word "hell" in the Bible always refer to a place of burning or punishment?
Out of 55 times the word hell is used, 42 of them refer strictly to the grave. Once the word is used to mean a dark abyss. The remaining 12 usages are found in the New Testament, the Greek word gehenna. All of the Old Testament uses of the word hell speak plainly of the grave or tomb. Did hell change from the Old Testament to the New Testament? Of course not, this wouldn't make any sense. -- The illustration that is drawn from the word gehenna, is that of an ever burning fire in the valley of Jerus just outside of Jerusalem. This fire existed for the purpose of refuse disposal. It served the same purpose as the large incinerators that we have today in big cities. That which we reject, for whatever reason, we would take to the fire and do away with it. There in the valley of Jerus, they would put their trash into the fires of Gehenna to get rid of it. Jesus used this illustration, not to say that we would burn forever, but to represent the fires of hell which would one day rid the universe of sin and sinners.
Doesn't the Bible speak of the wicked as being tormented "forever?"
The word "forever" as used in the Bible means simply a period of time, limited or unlimited. It is used 56 times in Scripture to describe things that have already ended. It is like the word "tall," which means something different when describing men, trees, or mountains. In Jonah 2:6, "forever" means "3 days and nights." (See also Jonah 1:17). In Deuteronomy 23:3 it means "ten generations." In the case of man, it means "as long as he lives" or "until death." (See 1 Samuel 1:22, 28; Exodus 21:6; and Psalm 48:14). Taking this into consideration, we can understand that the wicked will
burn in the fire as long as they live, or until death. The teaching of eternal torment has done more to drive people to atheism and insanity than any other invention of the devil. It is slander upon the loving character of a tender, gracious heavenly Father and has done untold harm to the Christian cause.
Death is the opposite of life; right? Surely everyone will agree with this. But listen, we have come to the place where we believe that if you are saved you have eternal life in heaven, but if you are lost, you will have eternal life in hell. Think about it: Most of us have been taught to believe that the lost will live forever in hell.