What does the Bible teach concerning man at death?
Lesson 8 suggests the answer is Ecc.9:5 “the dead know nothing; they have no further reward” Most
Bible students know Ecclesiastes portrays Solomon’s apostasy, so is questionable
for determining doctrine. It sketches life “under the sun” and reveals
the hopelessness of the soul apart from God. Whether death, labour, wisdom,
instruction, etc., it views things from a natural standpoint “All is vanity”.
However, Ecc,9:5 refers to the body. Consider where Solomon refers to the spirit
[Ecc.11:5] which survives death [Ecc12.7]. Of course I realise you know this
already, [my last letters]. But if I were wrong, you would have told me by now.
The problem with the lessons and little booklets is that they can’t answer questions or explain anything.
The lesson bases its ideas on ‘death’ the OT not the NT. Biblical revelation is progressive, it is essential to note
the gradual unfolding of any doctrine and not to wrest isolated verses out of
context in support of theories. Note 2 Tim.1:10 - "But
it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who
destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel”.
The Gospel [which was before hidden in God's purposes] does not allow OT statements or persons to affect our judgment on this subject. This verse in
Timothy shows that life and immortality were NOT brought to light in the times
before the Gospel came. "Life and immortality" were existent before Christ but not clearly revealed.
2. What hope have we, if at death, we all perish?
Yes what ‘hope’ have Christadelphian’s? A self centred hope. If good enough,
know enough and baptized by Christadelphian’s then, may be “counted worthy” for recreation. There’s a better hope in Jesus. Paul expected to ‘depart the
body’ and ‘be with the Lord’ [which is ‘better’]. Jesus indicates body and soul are distinct principles, for the body may be slain but the soul escape. Also the
soul is immaterial, for the murderers of the body are not able [have power] to
injure it [Mt.10:28]. If death is extinction, why did Paul say, ‘nothing can separate us from God’s love including “death”? For, ‘He
will never forsake' us’ and we ‘will never perish’ yet with extinction both would happen, we are
separated in death till the resurrection. If extinction, how did Pharaoh [who died years before] “he and all his army” watch as others entered Sheol?
[Ezek 32:31]. And Isa.14:9-10. “The grave below is all astir to meet you at your coming; it rouses the spirits of the
departed to greet you-- all those who were leaders in the world; it makes them
rise from their thrones-- all those who were kings over the nations”.
3. The Bible presents the hope of a "resurrection". What does this infer?
That death is not the end that ‘God is love’ and acts with grace and gives new
bodies. This ‘resurrection hope’ isn’t a weak ‘hope’ but certain hope. Because
‘Christ was raised’ ye, “shall be raised” [1 Cor.15:52, 16]. The lesson
disagrees, only “responsible believers will be resurrected to appear…” (pg.5).
But God promises, “…we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ [Rom14:10]. There’s no Scriptural evidence that it will take place “on
earth, at some secluded spot” (p.6) The lesson quotes 2 Thes.2:1 as proof, yet that does not suggest such a notion.
4. Provide a Bible reference that shows the error in the doctrine commonly taught as heaven going?
The lesson only provides Jn.3:13 Ac.2:34. “No one has ever gone into heaven except
the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man.” He who lived in heaven took on
humanity; none had this unique access to God’s presence as He. Elijah was taken up to heaven [2 Kg.2:1,11], not ‘ascend up’ by his power. Enoch also [Gen.5:24].
Acts 2:34 - King David’s body has not been resurrected and ascended to the
throne of heaven, so Psa.110:1 refers to Christ. Christians are “citizens of
heaven” [Eph.2:19] it’s their ‘home’ [Phil3:20LB]. A “house not made with hands,
eternal in the heavens” [2 Cor.5:1] a place for Christians [Jn.14:2]. It’s
called the kingdom of God and of Christ [Eph5:5] Called paradise [2 Cor.12:4]
where people go ‘Today shall thou be with me in paradise’. “…set your hearts on
things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God" [Col.3:1].
5. What does the word immortality mean?
1 Tim.6:1:5-16 comes to mind [which also suggests Christ’s Deity]. He has immortality alone in and of Himself. His immortality is not at the will of
others. With other beings – angels or man, it is derived from Him - angels
cannot die [Lk.20:34-36]. It would be pagan to attribute the souls survival of death to itself; it’s attributed to ‘God alone’.
Mt.16:26 NIV is interesting, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet
forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” This is not
talking about forfeiting ones LIFE for the world. [Scholar of NT Greek - R.Earle,
‘Word Meanings in the NT’ p.17]. Says, “psyche’ here refers to the immortal
soul. Translated ‘life’ in verse 25 and ‘soul’ in verse 26”. Yes the words ‘immortal
soul’ are not found in the Bible. Nor is ‘mortal soul’ or ‘mortal spirit.’
The actual phrase may be absent but the truth conveyed repeatedly. Man is “body
soul and spirit” [Lk.1:46-47 Heb.4:12].
6. Before a person is granted immortality, what event will they be required to face?
The body dies [or be transformed] before the resurrection. Lesson 8 confuses eternal
life, with immortality (p.6). The Scriptures carefully distinguish between them. They are two different things. The word "
immortal" [like its opposite, "mortal"] is applied in Scripture to the body. I am at present occupying a mortal
body and don’t have yet immortality. At Christ’s Coming I shall be clothed with
incorruption and shall put on immortality; for then I shall get a body
like Christ's resurrection body of glory [I Cor.15:51-55 2 Cor.5:1-4 Phil.3:21].
But on the other hand I have eternal life NOW. The Holy Spirit indwells believers now, occupying their mortal bodies "The
Spirit is life" [Rom.8.10]. "His Spirit that
dwelleth in you". Here we find the Spirit of Life indwelling the "mortal bodies" of believers. If then, you have not eternal
life, it is because you do not belong to Christ, for "if any man
have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” [Rom.8:9].
7. Those granted immortality will in the future assist Jesus Christ in what type of work?
As Kings and Priests they will reign with Him. Rev.5:9-13 20:4.
8. Responsibility is based upon what characteristics?
The lesson says “knowledge” is the “basis for responsibility toward God” (p.5). The
Bible contradicts this and teaches eternal life is a free gift [Eph.2:8-10 Jn.3:16 3:36 4:14 5:24 Rom.6:23 1 Jn.5:11,13 5:20 Jud.21] salvation is not of
ourselves, not how much we know, but Who we know. Christ paid for all my
sin on the cross with His blood, He took my place, God forgave all my sin, so salvation comes by grace not works. It’s not a ‘do and don’t list’ [given by a
religious sect] that saves, but the Saviour. If men waited till they understood completely and correctly everything no one could be saved. “Behold
now is the day of salvation” [2 Cor.6:2]. And salvation would be by works and
human effort. Jesus said, “I am the way the truth, the life” Truth is a Person
not a system of doctrines. Those who have Christ as their Saviour have the truth.
9. What major event will occur before the resurrection?
Christ’s return. [Interesting Moses and Elijah appeared on the Transfiguration Mt. they
watched developments on earth and were able to discuss them with Jesus before His crucifixion.]
10. Will all the dead be resurrected?
The lesson says ‘no’. “Many pass into oblivion” (p.6). The Bible says, “…there will
be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked” [Acts 24:15] John
mentions them “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne,
and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The
dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books” [Rev
20:12]. John didn’t believe the wicked escape or death is non-existence. He saw them stand before God. Although "dead"
they are nevertheless standing in judgment. They had refused God's gift of eternal life [Jn.5:40]. Also note Rev 20:10 “And the devil,
who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast
and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever”. The false prophet and beast were cast in a thousand years
before. “For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.” [Lk.20:28 Mt.22:32 Mk.12:27].
Lesson 8 regards ‘death’ as nonexistence. The word has various use, “Dead in sins….dead
because of our sins” [Eph.2:1-4] and “died with Christ” [Col.2:20]. Is
non-existence implied in these verses? No! None die to disappear from God. Non-existence for one second is impossible. There are
only two spheres – time and eternity. Leave time - enter eternity. Time has no power over God. Outside time God views past, present and future as one so
people don’t disappear into nothing. According to the Bible the immaterial, invisible part of man [Mtt.10.28 Acts 2.27 – 1
Kg.17.21] returns to God. Our mortal body returns to dust, but “the spirit returns to God”. If spirit is just air how can
it return? There’s nothing to return. Bible characters refer to their spirit returning to God at death [Lk.23:46 Ac.7:59]. And speak of their spirit as part
of them [1 Cor.14:14 Rom.1:9 Lk.1:47 Mt.12:18].
Man is incomplete without a body. The resurrection is the uniting of body and soul to a whole person. There are verses
that refer to man in relation to the body [ie Mt 27:52] “The
bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life”. [It’s the body which sleeps – never
the soul. Sleep is simply a euphemism for cessation of life not for a dead persons state. Jn.11:11ff]. While other verses refer to man’s spiritual part
[ie. 1 Cor 5:5] “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of
the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus”.