Bible Study – The State of the Dead

October 23 – 29, 2022

Key Text

“For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.” Ecclesiastes 9:5

Study Help: The Great Controversy, 531–562


“Upon the fundamental error of natural immortality rests the doctrine of consciousness in death—a doctrine, like eternal torment, opposed to the teachings of the Scriptures, to the dictates of reason, and to our feelings of humanity.” The Great Controversy, 545



1.a. When God created man and commanded him to dress and keep the Garden of Eden, what specific instruction was given to him? Genesis 2:15–17


Note: “A compassionate God gave no severe test, no strong temptation that would tax human endurance beyond the power to resist. The fruit itself was harmless. If God had not forbidden Adam and Eve to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, their action in taking it would not have been sinful. Up to the moment of God’s prohibition, Adam might have eaten of the fruit of that tree without realizing any harm. But after God had said, Thou shalt not eat, the act became a crime of great magnitude. Adam had disobeyed God. In this was his sin. The very fact that Adam’s trial was small, made his sin exceeding great.” The Signs of the Times, January 23, 1879

1.b. What words were used by Satan, “the old serpent,” to defy God’s simple and explicit command? Genesis 3:4, 5


Note: “God said that sinners would die. Satan declares that they will not die.” The Bible Echo, February 1, 1897



2.a. Where do all living creatures go when they die? Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20; 9:10. What happens to the memory of the dead? Psalm 146:3, 4


Note: “Nowhere in the Sacred Scriptures is found the statement that the righteous go to their reward or the wicked to their punishment at death. The patriarchs and prophets have left no such assurance. Christ and His apostles have given no hint of it. The Bible clearly teaches that the dead do not go immediately to heaven. They are represented as sleeping until the resurrection. In the very day when the silver cord is loosed and the golden bowl broken, man’s thoughts perish. They that go down to the grave are in silence.” The Great Controversy, 549, 550

2.b. What did God say would be man’s fate because of disobedience? Genesis 3:19. What did Solomon say about the mental condition of the dead? Ecclesiastes 9:5


Note: “God declared that as a penalty for his sin, man should return to the ground whence he was taken: ‘Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.’ Verse 19. The words of Satan, ‘Your eyes shall be opened,’ proved to be true in this sense only: After Adam and Eve had disobeyed God, their eyes were opened to discern their folly; they did know evil, and they tasted the bitter fruit of transgression.” The Great Controversy, 532

2.c. Why do many people disbelieve what God has said about the state of man at death? Isaiah 5:20, 21; 30:9, 10


Note: “The theory of the immortality of the soul was one of those false doctrines that Rome, borrowing from paganism, incorporated into the religion of Christendom. Martin Luther classed it with the ‘monstrous fables that form part of the Roman dunghill of decretals.’ Commenting on the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes, that the dead know not anything, the reformer says: ‘Another place proving that the dead have no … feeling. There is, saith he, no duty, no science, no knowledge, no wisdom there. Solomon judgeth that the dead are asleep, and feel nothing at all. For the dead lie there, accounting neither days nor years, but when they are awaked, they shall seem to have slept scarce one minute.’ ” The Great Controversy, 549



3.a. What happened to Moses because of his sin at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh? Deuteronomy 32:50, 51; 34:5, 6


Note: “Satan had exulted at his success in causing Moses to sin against God, and thus come under the dominion of death. The great adversary declared that the divine sentence—‘Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return’ (Genesis 3:19)—gave him possession of the dead. The power of the grave had never been broken, and all who were in the tomb he claimed as his captives, never to be released from his dark prison house.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 478

3.b. How long will the dominion of death keep those who have died since Adam in the grave? Romans 5:14. What happened to Moses after his death? Jude 1:9


Note: “The Bible clearly teaches that the dead do not go immediately to heaven. They are represented as sleeping until the resurrection. In the very day when the silver cord is loosed and the golden bowl broken, man’s thoughts perish. They that go down to the grave are in silence.” The Faith I live By, 181

“Satan railed bitterly against God, denouncing Him as unjust in permitting his prey [Moses] to be taken from him; but Christ did not rebuke His adversary, though it was through his temptation that the servant of God had fallen.” Early Writings, 164

“This act [of the resurrection of Moses] was a great victory over the powers of darkness. This display of power was an incontrovertible testimony to the supremacy of the Son of God. Satan had not expected that the body would be raised to life after death. He had concluded that the sentence, ‘Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return’ gave him undisputed possession of the bodies of the dead. Now he saw that he would be despoiled of his prey, that mortals would live again after death.” Christ Triumphant, 130

“In consequence of sin Moses had come under the power of Satan. In his own merits he was death’s lawful captive; but he was raised to immortal life, holding his title in the name of the Redeemer. Moses came forth from the tomb glorified, and ascended with his Deliverer to the City of God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 479



4.a. What does the Bible say about the resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust? John 5:28, 29


Note: “In consequence of Adam’s sin, death passed upon the whole human race. All alike go down into the grave. And through the provisions of the plan of salvation, all are to be brought forth from their graves. ‘There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust;’ ‘for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.’ But a distinction is made between the two classes that are brought forth. ‘All that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.’ They who have been ‘accounted worthy’ of the resurrection of life, are ‘blessed and holy.’ ‘On such the second death hath no power.’ But those who have not, through repentance and faith, secured pardon, must receive the penalty of transgression.” The Great Controversy, 544

4.b. When will the general resurrection of the righteous take place? 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 20:4, 5, last part, 6.When will the wicked be raised? Revelation 20:5, first part


Note: “At His [Christ’s] coming the righteous dead will be raised, and the righteous living will be changed.

“Man in his present state is mortal, corruptible; but the kingdom of God will be incorruptible, enduring forever. Therefore man in his present state cannot enter into the kingdom of God. But when Jesus comes, He confers immortality upon His people; and then He calls them to inherit the kingdom of which they have hitherto been only heirs.” The Great Controversy, 322, 323

“At the close of the thousand years, Christ again returns to the earth. He is accompanied by the host of the redeemed and attended by a retinue of angels. As He descends in terrific majesty He bids the wicked dead arise to receive their doom. They come forth, a mighty host, numberless as the sands of the sea. What a contrast to those who were raised at the first resurrection! The righteous were clothed with immortal youth and beauty. The wicked bear the traces of disease and death.” Ibid., 662



5.a. When Jesus received news that Lazarus was sick, He waited for a while. After that, what did He say to the disciples? John 11:11–14


Note: “Christ represents death as a sleep to His believing children. Their life is hid with Christ in God, and until the last trump shall sound those who die will sleep in Him.” The Desire of Ages, 527

5.b. The Scriptures compare the state of those who die in the Lord to what? Acts 7:59, 60; 1 Corinthians 15:6, 16–18


Note: “They that go down to the grave are in silence. They know no more of anything that is done under the sun. Job 14:21. Blessed rest for the weary righteous! Time, be it long or short, is but a moment to them. They sleep; they are awakened by the trump of God to a glorious immortality.” The Great Controversy, 550

“Amid the reeling of the earth, the flash of lightning, and the roar of thunder, the voice of the Son of God calls forth the sleeping saints. He looks upon the graves of the righteous, then, raising His hands to heaven, He cries: ‘Awake, awake, awake, ye that sleep in the dust, and arise!’ Throughout the length and breadth of the earth the dead shall hear that voice, and they that hear shall live.” Ibid., 644



1    What was the first lie told to Eve?

2    What is death?

3    In what sense is the resurrection of Moses an exception to the general rule?

4    Explain the differences between the first and second resurrections.

5    What lessons are demonstrated in the raising of Lazarus?

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