Life Only in Christ

“A wide-open door for spiritualism is afforded by the teaching that man has life in himself—immortality by nature; and that death is not really death, but another form of life.

“The Scriptures close this door of false hope, teaching us that man is mortal, that death is really death, and that immortality is the gift of God through Christ by the resurrection from the dead.

“Clearly and definitely the Bible teaches that God only has immortality, styling Him the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality. 1 Timothy 6:15, 16.

“This Scripture disposes of every idea that man is immortal by nature, and opens the way for a consideration of the Scripture teaching concerning man’s nature, his state in death, and the promise of life and immortality in Christ.

Man by Nature Mortal

“The word mortal, as used in that ancient question by Eliphaz, describes man’s nature:

“Shall mortal man be more just than God? Job 4:17.

“In the creation, life was conditional upon the creature’s relation to Christ the Creator, in whom all things consist:

“All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life.” John 1:3, 4.

“He was, and is, as the psalmist says, ‘the fountain of life.’ Cut off from vital connection with Him, there could be no continuance of life. The Lord warned Adam that his life was conditional upon obedience. ‘In the day that thou eatest thereof,’ He said of the forbidden tree, ‘thou shalt surely die.’ Genesis 2:17. It was a declaration that man was not immortal, but was dependent upon God for life.

“When by unbelief and sin man rejected God, the sentence—death eternal—must have been executed had not the plan of salvation intervened. But as the stroke of divine justice was falling upon the sinner, the Son of God interposed Himself and received the blow. ‘He was bruised for our iniquities.’ In the divine plan, the great sacrifice for man was as sure then as when, later, it was actually made on Calvary. Christ was ‘the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.’

“And there Adam, the sinner, now with a fallen human nature, which would be perpetuated in his descendants in all subsequent time, was granted an extension of life, every moment of which, whether for him or for his posterity, was the purchase of Christ by His own death, in order that in this time of probation man might find forgiveness of sin and assurance of life to come. Adam was not created immortal, but was placed on probation, and had he continued faithful, the gift of immortality must have been given him at some later time, after he had passed the test. As the original plan is carried out through Christ, “the second Adam.,” the gift of immortality is bestowed finally upon all who pass the test of the judgment and are found in Christ, in whom alone is life.

“Having fallen, Adam, now possessed of a sinful nature, must die. ‘The wages of sin is death.’ Romans 6:23. It was impossible that sin or sinners should be immortalized in God’s universe. So, inasmuch as the tree of life in Eden had been made the channel of continuance of life to man, the Lord said:

‘Now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever: therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden.’ Genesis 3:22, 23.

“This negatives the idea that there could ever be an immortal sinner, who should mar God’s creation forever. Sin works out nothing but death. ‘Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.’ James 1:15. Fallen himself, Adam could bequeath to his posterity only a fallen, mortal nature. So began the sad history summed up in the text:

“’Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.’” Romans 5:12.

Mortality Universal

“Mortality is written upon all creation. Ages ago the wise man wrote, ‘There is one event unto all:…they go to the dead.’ Ecclesiastes 9:3. Human hearts everywhere and in all time have cried out against the remorselessness of the great enemy. ‘Do people die with you?’ was the question met by Livingstone in the untraveled wilds of Africa. ‘Have you no charm against death?’ The Greek as well as the barbarian confessed to the helplessness of man before the great enemy. Centuries before Christ, Sophocles the Athenian wrote:

‘Wonders are many! and none is there greater than man, who
Steers his ship over the sea, driven on by the south wind,
Cleaving the threatening swell of the waters around him.
‘He captures the gay-hearted birds; he entangles adroitly
Creatures that live on the land and the brood of the ocean,
Spreading his well-woven nets. Man full of devices!
‘Speech and swift thought free as wind, the building of cities;
Shelters to ward off the arrows of rain, and to temper
Sharp-biting frost—all these hath he taught himself.
Surely stratagem hath he for all that comes! Never the future
Finds him resourceless! Deftly he combats grievous diseases,
Oft from their grip doth he free himself. Death alone vainly—
Vainly he seeks to escape; ‘gainst death he is helpless.”

—Chorus from Antigone

“What unspeakable pathos in the cry of humanity’s helplessness before death, the great enemy! But when Adam went out of Eden, it was with the assurance of life from the dead through the promised Seed, if faithful. It is the message of the one gospel for all time—everlasting life in Christ.

“’God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ John 3:16.

“As there is none other name under heaven by which men can be saved, so there is no other way of everlasting life or immortality, save in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When Immortality is Bestowed

“Christ said, ‘I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.’ John 11:25.

“He has turned death, that would have been eternal, into a little time of sleep, from which He will awaken the believer. In the resurrection of the last day immortality is bestowed, ‘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.’ 1 Corinthians 15:52–54.…

“Not until the resurrection, ‘at the last trump,’ is immortality conferred upon the redeemed. Note that it is not something immortal putting on immortality; but this ‘mortal’ puts on immortality. Mark this: there is no life after death, save by the resurrection. ‘If there be no resurrection of the dead, …then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.’ 1 Corinthians 15:13–18.

“This resurrection, as stated by the apostle Paul, is not at death, but in the last day, when Christ shall come, and all His children that are in their graves shall hear His voice. Jesus says: ‘This is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.’ John 6:40.

“That is why the coming of Christ has been the ‘blessed hope’ of all the ages.

Man’s State in Death

“Between death and the resurrection, the dead sleep. Jesus declares that death is a sleep. Lazarus was dead, but Jesus said, ‘Our friend Lazarus sleepeth.’ John 11:11. It is the language of Inspiration throughout. The patriarch Job said:

“‘Man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: so man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more [the heavens will be rolled back as a scroll at Christ’s coming], they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.’ Job 14:10–12.

“This hope of the resurrection at the last day was no indistinct hope to the believer in God’s promises. The patriarch continued:

“’If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: Thou wilt have a desire to the work of Thine hands.’ Verses 14, 15.

“Job tells us of the place of his waiting for the Life-giver’s call: ‘If I wait, the grave is mine house.’ Job 17:13. It is thence that Christ will call His own when He comes. ‘The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth.’ John 5:28, 29.

“Death is an unconscious sleep. It must of necessity be so; for death is the opposite of life. Therefore there is no consciousness of the passing of time to those who sleep in the grave. It is as if the eyes closed in death one instant, and the next instant, to the believer’s consciousness, he awakens to hear the animating voice of Jesus calling him to glad immortality, and to see the angels catching up his loved ones to meet Jesus in the air.

“These Scriptures, out of many, will suffice to show that man is not conscious in death:

“‘His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.’ Psalms 146:4.

“’The living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything. …Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun.’ Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6.

“Death is a sleep, which will continue until the resurrection. Then the Lord will bring forth from the dust the same person who was laid away in death.

“Some have said that this Bible doctrine of the sleep of the dead until the resurrection is a gloomy one. Popular tradition thinks of the blessed dead as going at once to heaven, which, say some, is a beautiful thought. But they forget that the same teaching consigns their unbelieving friends to immediate torment—and that, too, while awaiting the judgment of the last day.

“No, the Bible teaching is the cheering doctrine, the ‘blessed hope.’ All the faithful of all the ages are going into the kingdom together. This blessed truth appeals to the spirit that loves to wait and share joys and good things with loved ones. Of the faithful of past ages the apostle says:

“’These all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.’ Hebrews 11:39, 40.

“They are waiting, that all together the saved may enter in. And the time of waiting is but an instant to those who ‘sleep in Jesus.’

“David was a man of God, but the apostle Peter, speaking by the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, declared to the people of the city of David: ‘He is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. …For David is not ascended into the heavens.’ Acts 2:29–34. They without us have not been made perfect. They are all awaiting that glad day toward which the apostle Paul turned the last look of his mortal vision:

“’I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.’ 2 Timothy 4:7, 8.

“What joy in that day to march in through the gates into the eternal city, with Adam, and Abel, and Noah, and Abraham, and Paul and all the faithful, and the loved ones of our own home circles, and dear comrades in service, every one clothed with immortality, the gift of God in Christ Jesus our Redeemer! Horatius Bonar’s hymn sings the joyful hope as the loved are laid away to ‘sleep in Jesus:’

‘Softly within that peaceful resting place
We lay their wearied limbs, and bid the clay
Press lightly on them till the night be past,
And the far east give note of coming day.
‘The shout is heard, the Archangel’s voice goes forth;
The trumpet sounds, the dead awake and sing;
The living put on glory; one glad band,
They hasten up to meet their coming King.’

“In a word, the Scripture teaches that God alone has immortality, that man is mortal, that death is a sleep, that life after death comes only by the resurrection of the last day, that the righteous are then given immortality. Further, the Scripture teaches that later there will be a resurrection of the unjust, not unto life, but unto death, the second death, from which there is no release.

“Every doctrine of Scripture and of the gospel is in accord with this Bible teaching as to man’s nature and his state in death. But the traditional view of the natural immortality of the soul and of life in death, nullifies the Bible doctrines of life only in Christ, and the resurrection, and the judgment, and the giving of rewards at Christ’s coming, and the final judgment upon the wicked and its execution.

A Few Questions Briefly Considered

“1. The “Living Soul”

“Says one; ‘Did not the Lord put into man an immortal soul?’

“No; the Scripture says: “’The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7.

“The soul was not put into the man, but when the life-giving breath was breathed into his nostrils, the man himself became a living soul, a living being. The ordinary version (King James) gives ‘a living soul’ in the margin of Genesis 1:30, showing that the same expression is used of all the animal creation in the Hebrew text. The famous Methodist commentator, Dr. Adam Clarke, says on this phrase, ‘living soul:’

‘A general term to express all creatures endued with animal life, in any of its infinitely varied gradations.’

“2. Are ‘Soul’ and ‘Spirit’ Deathless?

“’Are the soul and spirit said to be deathless?’ questions another.

“No. One writer says of the Scriptural use of the words ‘soul’ and ‘spirit:’

“’The Hebrew and Greek words from which they are translated, occur in the Bible, as we have seen, seventeen hundred times. Surely, once at least in that long list we shall be told that the soul is immortal, if this is its high prerogative. Seventeen hundred times we inquire if the soul is once said to be immortal, or the spirit deathless. And the invariable and overwhelming response we meet is, Not once!’—Here and Hereafter by U. Smith, p. 65.

“On the contrary, the Lord declares, ‘The soul that sinneth, it shall die.’ Ezekiel 18:20. It means that the person who sins shall die; for the words ‘soul,’ ‘mind,’ ‘heart,’ and ‘spirit’ are used to express life or the seat of the affections or of the intellect. One may commend his soul to God, or his spirit to God (really his life into the keeping of God), until the great day of the resurrection. The word ‘soul’ is used of all animal life in New Testament usage, as well as in the Old; as, ‘Every living soul died in the sea.’ Revelation 16:3.

“3. The Thief on the Cross

“’Did not Christ promise the thief on the cross that he would be with Him that day in Paradise?’

“No; for Paradise is where God’s throne is, and the tree of life, and the city of God, the capital of Christ’s kingdom; and three days later Christ had not yet ascended to the Father. ‘Touch me not,’ He said to Mary after His resurrection; ‘for I am not yet ascended to My Father.’ John 20:17. The dying thief, therefore, was not with Him in Paradise three days before.

“Nor did the thief’s question suggest such a thought. His faith grasped Christ’s resurrection, the resurrection of His children, and the coming kingdom; and that day on the cross, in the moment of the deepest humiliation of the Son of God, the repentant sinner cried, ‘Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.’ And the Saviour replied, ‘Verily I say unto thee today’—this day, when the world scoffs and the darkness presses upon Me, this day I say it—‘shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.’ Luke 23:42, 43.

“The punctuation that makes it read, ‘Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise,’ is not a part of the sacred text, and puts the Saviour’s promise in contradiction with the facts of the whole narrative and the teaching of the Scripture.

“4. The Rich Man and Lazarus

“’Then there is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus,’ one says, ‘where Lazarus and Dives are talking, though dead—Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom and the rich man in torment.’

“But that is a parable; and no one can set the figures of a parable against the facts of positive Scripture. In parables, lessons are often taught by figurative language and imaginary scenes which could never be real, though the lesson is emphasized the more forcefully.

“In the parable of Judges 9, the trees are represented as holding a council and talking with one another. No one mistakes the lesson of the parable, or supposes that the trees actually talked. So in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the lesson is taught that uprightness in this life, even though under deepest poverty, will be rewarded in the future life; while uncharitable selfishness will surely bring one to ruin and destruction.

“In the face of the Bible teaching, no one can turn this parable into actual narrative, representing that the saved in glory are now looking over the battlements of heaven and talking with the lost, writhing before their eyes in agony amid the flames of unending torment. This is not the picture that the Scriptures give us of heaven, nor of the state of the dead, nor of the time and circumstances of the final rewards or punishments.”

Our Day in the Light of Prophecy, 275–285

From the Pen of Inspiration – Delusions of the Last Days

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, 588.

The signs and wonders of Spiritualism will become more and more pronounced as the professed Christian world rejects the plainly revealed truth of the Word of God, and refuses to be guided by a plain “Thus saith the Lord,” accepting instead the doctrines and the commandments of men. Through rejecting light and truth many are deciding their destiny for eternal death; and as men reject truth, the Spirit of God will gradually withdraw itself from the earth, and the prince of this earth will have more and more control over his subjects. He will show great signs and wonders as credentials of his divine claims, and through Spiritualism will work against Christ and his agencies.

The Scriptures positively forbid intercourse with evil angels on the supposition of communion with the dead. Through this deception Satan can educate souls in his school of falsehood, and make of none effect the lessons that Christ would teach, which, if practiced, would result in the eternal life of those who obey. Satan is seeking to form a great confederacy of evil by uniting fallen men and fallen angels. . . .

The great power that attends Spiritualism has its origin in the great leading rebel, Satan, the prince of devils. It is through his artifice that evil angels have been able to substitute themselves for the dead, and through lying hypocrisy they have led men to have intercourse with devils. Those who commune with the supposed spirits of the dead are communing with those who will have a corrupting, demoralizing power upon the mind. Christ commanded that we should have no intercourse with sorcerers and with those who have familiar spirits. This class are represented in the Gospel as among those who shall perish in their iniquity,—”the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.” [Revelation 21:8.]

For years Spiritualism has been growing in strength and gaining in popularity by advocating a certain kind of faith in Christ, and thus many Protestants are becoming infatuated with this mystery of iniquity. It is little wonder that they are deluded, when they persistently retain the error that, as soon as the breath leaves the body, the spirit goes immediately to heaven or hell. Through the hold this doctrine has upon them the way is prepared for the delusive working of the prince of the power of the air. Satan personated the serpent in Eden, regarding this creature as best adapted for his line of temptations. Satan has been increasing in skillful methods by constantly practicing upon the human mind. It is his one purpose to complete the work which he began in Eden, and work the ruin of mankind. Through his mysterious workings he can insinuate himself into the circles of the most educated and refined, for he was once an exalted being, in a high position of responsibility among the heavenly hosts. It is a mistake to represent him as a monstrous being with hoofs and horns, for he is still a fallen angel. He is capable of uniting the highest intellectual greatness with the basest cruelty and the most degrading corruption. If he had not this power, many would escape his snares who are now charmed with his attractive representations and taken captive by his delusions.

As the Spirit of God shall be withdrawn from the earth, Satan’s power will be more and more manifest. The knowledge that he had through being in connection with God, as a covering cherub, he will now use to subordinate his subjects who fell from their high estate. He will use every power of his exalted intellect to misrepresent God and to instigate rebellion against Jesus Christ, the Commander of heaven. In the synagogue of Satan he brings under his scepter, and into his counsels, those agents whom he can use to promote his worship. It is not a strange matter to find a species of refinement, and a manifestation of intellectual greatness, in the lives and characters of those who are inspired by fallen angels. Satan can impart scientific knowledge, and give men chapters upon philosophy. He is conversant with history, and versed in worldly wisdom.

Almost every phase of talent is now being brought into captivity to the prince of the power of darkness. Worldly minded men, because they wish to exalt themselves, and have separated from God, do not love to retain God in their knowledge, for they claim to possess a higher, grander intellect than that of Jesus Christ. Satan envies Christ, and makes the claim that he is entitled to a higher position than the Commander of heaven. His self-exaltation led him to despise the law of God, and resulted in his expulsion from heaven.

Through the Papacy he has manifested his character, and brought out the principles of his government. Of this power the apostle Paul says: “Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. . . . For the mystery of iniquity doth already work. . . . Shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming, even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” [2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4, 7–12.] . . .

Satan will use his agencies to carry out diabolical devices, to overpower the saints of God, as in times past he used the Roman power to stay the course of Protestantism; yet the people of God can look calmly at the whole array of evil, and come to the triumphant conclusion that because Christ lives we shall live also. The people of God are to advance in the same spirit in which Jesus met the assaults of the prince of darkness in the past. The evil confederacy can advance only in the course which Jesus has marked out before them; every step of their advance brings the saints of God nearer the great white throne, nearer the successful termination of their warfare. The confederacy of evil will finally be destroyed; for the prophet says, “Behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be as stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” [Malachi 4:1.] Even of him whose heart was lifted up because of his beauty, who corrupted his wisdom by reason of his brightness, the Lord says: “I will bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee; thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.” [Ezekiel 28:18, 19.] The Signs of the Times, May 28, 1894.

Spiritualism, Part I

One thing I have found, as I travel, is that God’s people are the same the world over. They all have a great desire to hasten the day of Jesus’ return. I think this has always been the desire of Seventh-day Adventists. As Adventists came out of the period of the Great Disappointment in 1844, it was a time of struggle for them. With the Millerite movement, there had been a great number of believers looking for the near return of Jesus that was to culminate October 22, 1844. When that day came and Jesus did not return, disappointment took place and thousands fell away. It got to where there were only about 300 believers out of tens of thousands across the land and many more thousands around the world.

James and Ellen White felt the burden to try to gather these believers into some form of unity, because it was not that they were wrong that Jesus was coming; it was the fact that they did not understand the circumstances and the time frame. So the movement began to build, until today there are many Adventists all around the world that are looking forward to Jesus’ Second Coming. We never want to lose sight of that; we want to always have the focus of Jesus ever in our hearts and in our minds, because that is what is going to see us through the times that are yet ahead of us.

The name Seventh-day Adventist declares two facts about our beliefs. First, we observe the seventh day as the day of rest that God outlined in the fourth commandment of Scripture. Second, the other part of the name, Adventist, means that we believe in the Second Coming of Jesus. The interesting part about this is that we have concentrated in these areas almost to the neglect of what has been revealed to us concerning the great controversy between Christ and Satan. We believe in preaching about the Second Coming of Jesus; we believe in preaching about the Sabbath-Sunday issue and how it focuses on the papacy. But, somehow, we do not really understand, as we should, about the great controversy. Indeed, we have a message that is to unfold the work of Satan in this world as well as proclaim the Sabbath and the truth about the Second Coming of Jesus.

Ellen White has written a book entitled The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan. We have a tendency to read certain portions of the last chapters of this book that deal with what is going to transpire relative to the Sunday law and those kinds of things. We neglect to see the connecting theme that goes all through the book that is centering upon the struggles between Christ and Satan for the souls of men and women in this world.

If we are going to make it through these last days, we must have a better understanding of the great controversy—not just an understanding of the Second Coming, as wonderful and as beautiful as that is; not only an understanding of the Sabbath-Sunday issue, as important as that is; but an understanding of how the devil is attempting to make shipwreck of the Seventh-day Adventist faith. If you do not think that the devil is trying to make shipwreck of the Seventh-day Adventist faith, then you are not fully aware of what is going on in the world today. He is doing everything he can to make shipwreck of our faith.

An Express Warning

The last letters we can chronologically put in the perspective of the writings of the apostle Paul are 1 and 11 Timothy. Timothy was a young preacher who was to carry on when the apostle Paul was no longer able to minister because of the sacrifice of his life in Rome, so Paul wrote some very specific counsel to Timothy.

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” 1 Timothy 4:1. As we study this text, we want to see if we can identify what it is that Paul is really saying. Often we have a tendency to read a text and, because we have a certain bias of the word or the words that are found there, we do not really dig much deeper, thinking that the meaning is self-evident. Look at this text a little more deeply.

Paul says, “the Spirit.” Who is the Spirit referred to here? It is the Holy Spirit. For what time frame is the Holy Spirit giving this information? It says, “the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times . . . .” When are those times? They are now. If Jesus would have come in the year a.d. 700, this text would have applied then. “Latter times” always applies to just before Jesus’ return. So if we really believe the prophecies, if we really believe the times in which we are living, Jesus is coming very, very soon.

Some Shall Depart

This text, I believe, applies specifically to the time in which we are living. The Spirit said that in the latter times a warning needs to go out. “Some shall depart from the faith.”

In the last ten years, we have seen a lot of things taking place in historic Adventism. We have seen a lot of things taking place in the mainstream denomination of Seventh-day Adventists. We have seen some, much to my disappointment, who have left the faith. Now let me tell you that anytime you see a person leave the faith, it is not just happenstance. It is through the direct working of seducing spirits. This is what causes those kinds of things to take place.

The devil is not just seated in an office somewhere in a large building, answering the phone once in awhile. He is out, the Bible says, “as a roaring lion.” (1 Peter 5:8.) He is on the track of every person who is trying to be faithful to the precepts of Scripture and inspiration.

Paul says that there are going to be some who are going to depart from the faith. They “depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” I want to emphasize that something like that happens through the process of seducing spirits. This is why we need to constantly be on guard. The only way that we are going to be able to know is through Inspiration. That is the knowledge that we must have to make it through to the time when Jesus comes.

Persuade to Disobedience

Look at the word seduce. Many times, when we hear this word, we have a tendency to use the application of the second definition in Webster’s dictionary—“to entice to unchastity.” That is usually what comes to our minds, but that is not the first meaning of the word, according to Webster. The first meaning is “to persuade to disobedience or to disloyalty.” That is how it is used in this text. That is how the devil works. The whole purpose of seducing spirits is to get people off the track into disobedience and into disloyalty. This is what they are determined to do.

The Bible says that the Spirit of God—that Person of the Godhead that was given after Jesus returned to heaven—is to guide us into all truth. He is to be our Comforter; He is to be our Helper in all things.

The first verse of 1 Timothy 4 says that, in the last days, the devil is going to work in such a way as to do his utmost to persuade to disobedience and to disloyalty. I have been in ministry for over 30 years, and I have to confess that I have not always preached the great controversy as it centers in this text—the devil doing everything he can to persuade to disloyalty and to disobedience. I have come to understand more fully in these last few years that this, indeed, is a reality and that we need to forewarn God’s people, because I believe to be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Speaketh Expressly

Look even deeper into this text, because we have to receive the impact of what is being said here before it really registers with us as to what is taking place. Paul could have written, “Well, you know, just kind of be aware, people, that in the last days the devil is really going to work.” But he chose some very specific words. He says that “the Spirit speaks expressly.” That needs to grab our attention. He is not just talking in small talk. He is trying to get a point across. “The Spirit speaketh expressly.”

According to Webster, expressly means “to set forth, to make clear the meaning of; directly and distinctly stated, explicit, exact, precise.” The second definition says that “it is the dispatch conveyed by a special messenger.”

Do you ever receive an express package? The delivery person usually comes to the door and knocks on the door to deliver an express package. In reality, this is what the Holy Spirit is doing. He is knocking on the door, and He says, “I have an express message for you. I am speaking expressly.”

If you think that I am repeating myself, I am, because I need to get the message across. Seducing spirits are going to do their utmost to persuade us to disobedience. They will try to draw us away from the doctrines of God to the doctrines of devils. The Spirit gives some very explicit warning to this end.

Every Wind

It may be that you, who are not sitting behind a desk at Steps to Life, find this strange. But many of the phone calls I receive day after day consist of people wanting Steps to Life to endorse some strange doctrine. A large amount of my time is spent responding to people who send in manuscripts, full-published books, cassette tapes, and videos. They say, “Please review these things, and then let us know if you can give some endorsement to them.”

I can tell you that every wind of doctrine is blowing. They are blowing, because the devil has his helpers out across the land in every way causing those winds to blow. But those winds are not yet blowing fully. They are giving little gusts here and there, but they are not blowing in full.

I count it a very serious responsibility on my part to review the things sent to Steps to Life. I read everything, and I try to match it with Inspiration. Sometimes that can be very, very difficult. The reason that it is difficult is because the track of truth lies very close to the track of error. The most successful deception is when there is a great amount of truth coupled with a little bit of error. The Spirit gives some very explicit instruction.

We know that God’s true church and Satan’s counterfeit church have been growing side by side for some 6,000 years. The angels are holding the winds so that they do not blow. Once the angels release those winds, the doctrines of devils are going to go out, and the people from all corners of the earth will be gathered into one of two camps—either in the camp of God or in the camp of the devil.

Two Camps

That is why we urgently work to convey God’s truths to the people, so they will be so grounded that they will not be taken in by the devil’s deceptions. There are two camps—one with truth and love as the impelling force and the other built upon lies and deceit, one upholding God’s government and His Law and the other rebelling against it with a malignant hatred.

Good angels have been sent to Adam and all of his descendents to enlighten, to counsel, and to plead with them to look by faith to their Creator and their Redeemer. Satan’s angels have been sent to ensnare these offspring of Adam with innumerable schemes, so they will despise or neglect or ignore the salvation that is made possible by Jesus Christ. In all of this, God spreads out the issues of the great controversy between Christ and Satan in such a way that every individual is to be enlightened so he can choose whom he is going to serve.

If we read this text carefully, we can see that it is a challenge for us to know what is going on and what is going to take place. If we are going to make it through to the end, we are going to have to know what the issues are. Ellen White makes it very plain that this deals with spiritualism. (See Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 951, 952.)

More than Masquerades

I would like to suggest to you that spiritualism is more involved than evil angels masquerading as dead people. It is much more profound than that. It has to do with everything that is devil-inspired. If, indeed, this is the case, then we need to have a firm basis for every decision we make. We need to know with exactness what is going to take place in this area of deception, because this is how God’s Holy Spirit has spoken to us. He has spoken to us expressly to get the point across.

What this text is saying to us is that this is very serious business. It is not something with which to toy. It is not something that we can ignore. The devil has been playing and practicing this game of deception for thousands of years in an effort to try to persuade to disloyalty and to disobedience. That is his whole plan and purpose. We need to have some inside information so we do not get caught up in what the devil is trying to promote. If any-one does get caught up in it, it is because they have not paid clear attention to the counsel God has given.

It is a disappointment to me to hear that the Adventist Book Centers are not carrying Ellen White’s books as they should, because there is no longer a call for them. Supply and demand is what is important. That is the business world. But we are not in a setting where business is to go on as usual. We are here to spread a message.

A Little Con Game

It is easy to be deceived, if we do not have the right information at our fingertips or if we are innocent to circumstances or if we are naive about various issues. A number of years ago, a carnival came to town and set up shop right across the street from where my wife and I lived. We, at that time, were not Christians. Neither of us had been brought up in a Christian home. We were not wicked people, but we did not have a Christian background. So, when the carnival came to town, I went over to it.

I wanted to see all the lights and all the things that were going on. There were many people there. My attention, as I walked through the various booths that were set up, was drawn to one booth that was a con-type gambling game. I will not go into all the details of it, but I got drawn into gambling. The interesting part was that it started out with a dime. Ten cents. Before I knew what was happening, I had $300 sunk into that game.

Forty years ago, $300 was like $1,500 today. Minimum wage back then was $1 per hour. Can you imagine being drawn into some-thing like that? I had taken that money out of our monthly budget, and I lost it. I lost every dime of it. The whole month was yet ahead of me. Do you know what I had to do? I had to go down to the bank and borrow $300, because we did not have any reserve. We were just newly wed. It took me a year to pay back that $300 loan.

Heed the Warning

The interesting thing was that, having lost my money in such a quick, slick con game, I was determined that I was not going to let someone else lose their money in the same way. It was a deception. I knew it was a deception. So I decided that I was going to stand right by that booth and, as people came along, I would tell them what kind of a game it was. I will never forget one lady who came by. She was a waitress, working for $1 an hour, and older than I. She had her whole paycheck with her, which, for a 40-hour week, was a grand total of $32 after taxes. She stood and watched this con artist pour the balls into the little pans that had numbers on the bottoms of them, and as she watched, she was getting into her purse to fish out a dime. I told her, “This is a con game. I just lost $300 here. Do not let him take your money.” I warned her, “Listen to me.” I warned her expressly, “Do not get involved in this kind of con game.” Do you know what? She listened to me and walked on down the fairway. The fellow running the booth called me every conceivable name, but I was determined that I was going to stand there and not let other people get drawn into that con game.

Little did I know that down the fairway and around the corner was another booth exactly like the one where I had taken my stand. It was not too long before I heard a woman’s voice cry, “Oooooooooh! You have taken all of my money.” I could hear it clear across the fairway. So I walked down there, and who do you suppose was there? The very woman whom I had expressly warned. She was crying and weeping that they had taken her whole paycheck. Her whole paycheck for that week was gone. She was raising such a ruckus that a short, fat man came out of a nearby trailer. He tried to talk to this lady, but she would not listen. She was out of control. Finally he reached into his wallet and pulled out a wad of bills. He handed her $32, and told her that it was time for her to leave the grounds. It was really quite pathetic.

I am convinced that there will be many people in the last days who will be just like this woman. They have been given a clear warning, but they have decided, for whatever reason, that they do not want to give heed to the warning. Their hearts have never truly been converted. They may listen to the warning and pass by one of the devil’s traps, only to later disregard the warning. That seems, to a great extent, to be the lot of humanity, but it does not have to be that way—not when the Spirit has given express warning. We need to pay attention. We need to heed the warning.

Two Great Errors

“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 Great Controversy, 588. I do not know which one is worse. They are both bad news—two great errors that will bring people under deception.

The driving force of Seventh-day Adventists is to get the messages of warning to the world. Not everyone is going to listen, but Jesus says, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness.” Matthew 24:14. He does not say the whole world is going to respond, but the message has to be given for a witness.

This is one of the reasons Steps to Life is on Internet radio, because it has the potential of reaching the entire world. This is why we have a television program. This is why we send out containers of literature. It is in an effort to try to get this witness, this warning, out to the world.

To be continued . . .

Pastor Mike Baugher is Associate Speaker for Steps to Life. He may be contacted by e-mail at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Spiritualism, Part II

In The Great Controversy, 588, we are told, “Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions.”

The immortality of the soul concept lays the foundation for spiritualism. “The Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” 1 Timothy 4:1. We need to have our eyes open. We need to see what is taking place. If we do not learn what we are told by the Spirit, we are destined to be deceived. If we are deceived, we are lost, and that is pretty serious business, in my book.

Bond of Sympathy

“While the former [immortality of the soul] lays the foundation of spiritualism, the latter [Sunday sacredness] 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.” Ibid. Do you know why that is? It is because the devils are at work. The devils are determined to get as many as they possibly can to depart from the faith. They are determined to get as many as possible to become disloyal to God. They are determined to get as many as possible to be disobedient. They are at work everywhere we turn.

We, as Seventh-day Adventists, have studied the papacy and all that is involved with the papacy to the nth degree. We have studied it so much that many of us could probably, with accuracy, outline the pope’s daily routine. I believe such study and understanding is profitable, because of the ramifications of which we need to be aware.

Fear of the Devil

We have not, however, kept up the same pace of knowledge on the other side of the coin that is labeled spiritualism. I am not really sure in my own mind why that is, but I have an idea. I think that most people are terrified to have anything to do with the devil. They think that if they stay as far away as possible from the devil and any kind of reading material about the devil, they will be safe. But let me tell you something. That is not true. That is exactly what the devil wants you to believe.

If you allow the devil to terrify you to the point that you do not understand what he is all about and what his tactics are for taking you down the road of disloyalty and disobedience, then he has you right where he wants you! We must get beyond this fear of saying, “It is better to talk about Jesus than it is about the devil.” We need to talk about Jesus, but we also need to talk about the tactics that the devil is using to destroy God’s people. We need to understand the way he works. We need to know about the deceptions of Sunday, for example, and that those deceptions are going to find hate and hands and voice through spiritualism.

Force of Spiritualism

Ellen White wrote, in Evangelism, 602: “Spiritualism is about to take the world captive.” Who is behind spiritualism? Satan and all of his hosts are behind spiritualism.

“Spiritualism is about to take the world captive.” How will the devil be able to take the world captive? He will be able to do it because we, as Seventh-day Adventists, have not done our homework. For this reason, we could very easily be found in the ranks of the world through deception.

“There are many who think that Spiritualism is upheld through trickery and imposture, but this is far from the truth. Superhuman power is working in a variety of ways, and few have any idea as to what will be the manifestations of Spiritualism in the future.” Ibid., 602, 603. Do you know what superhuman power is? Superhuman power is demonic power, and Mrs. White could very well have substituted those words.

Master of Deception

In what ways will spiritualism manifest itself? It would be impossible to cover everything, but I will try to set a direction. We are going to be surprised at what is going to take place in the future regarding spiritualism. Some things you are already aware of, but I will endeavor to amplify them so that they may have more meaning.

Spiritualism has put on one face in the past, but it will take on other features in the future, and it will be working in a variety of ways. The statement Mrs. White makes that “few have any idea as to what will be the manifestations of Spiritualism in the future,” applies to those who do not know what the Bible teaches on the topic. They will be caught unawares. It also has some very deep implications as far as Seventh-day Adventists are concerned. We need to know what is happening. God does not tell us to be warned and beware, and then not tell us any more. We must be aware of the manifestations of spiritualism.

“Modern spiritualism, resting upon the same foundation, is but a revival in a new form of the witchcraft and demon worship that God condemned and prohibited of old. It is foretold in the Scriptures, which declare that ‘in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.’ 1 Timothy 4:1. Paul, in his second letter to the Thessalonians, points to the special working of Satan in spiritualism as an event to take place immediately before the second advent of Christ. Speaking of Christ’s second coming, he declares that it is ‘after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.’ 11 Thess-alonians 2:9. And Peter, describing the dangers to which the church was to be exposed in the last days, says that as there were false prophets who led Israel into sin, so there will be false teachers, ‘who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them. . . . And many shall follow their pernicious ways.’ 11 Peter 2:1, 2.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 686.


The devil is going to use heresy to get us off track. Heresy can be especially deceptive for Seventh-day Adventists. We have to watch so carefully. God has delivered us the truth, and we should be studying the truth. When these heresies come along, they should command only a millisecond of our attention. But there are many Adventists who believe and follow these heresies.

I weep when I hear about these people who are giving up the faith and departing from it. Some of them are even going out and starting Sunday-keeping churches! A number of years ago, David Neff, one of my colleagues in ministry, departed from the faith because of heresy and became an Episcopalian priest. He and his wife both wrote a number of articles for The Signs of the Times, in years past. Today, he is the editor of the magazine Christianity Today, which is a Sunday-keeping journal. It is a tragedy that things such as this have happened.

False Teachers

False teachers, Mrs. White said, will come in with power and signs and lying wonders—false teachers and false prophets bringing in damnable heresies. Modern spiritualism is going to come with power and signs and lying wonders. It will also involve false prophets who are false teachers and preachers, speaking as with the authority of God, who will bring in these heresies and false teachings, and numerous Seventh-day Adventists and other Christians will be gathered into this great net of the devil.

“Errors will come in, and strange doctrines will be advocated.” Evangelism, 595. We have seen this prophecy fulfilled in many, many ways. “Some will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” Ibid. This has happened. The devil has been working in this way for thousands of years.

Refining His Product

When Henry Ford built his first automobile, it was not a Crown Victoria. It was a little horseless carriage with a stick in the front that turned the wheels. When spiritualism first took off in Old Testament times, it was about as crude as Henry Ford’s first automobile. But over the years, just as the Ford automobile has been repeatedly refined, so the devil has been refining his product. He has been fine-tuning it. His engineers are working around the clock to design false doctrines. He is tuning it all up in an effort to bring a final assault against God’s people.

False Christs

What was it that Jesus warned, as He gave His final message to His followers in Matthew 24? Matthew 24:24 says, “There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets.” There are not too many people who are taken in by false christs, but there are some. Many burned in Waco, Texas, as a result of following a false christ. There were others, a group called Heaven’s Gate, who took poison and died. They were determined that the comet Hale-Bopp would take them up to the skies to be with the Lord, but in order to do that, they had to release their souls from their bodies, and this they did by poisoning themselves to death. Jim Jones was another false christ. Do not think for a minute that all the false christs are dead; they are not dead. There are still false christs operating, and they are still seeking your attention.

False Prophets

There are also false prophets. The classification of a prophet does not necessarily only include someone with a mantle, such as Elijah, or someone like Ellen White. A prophet is a spokesman for God. Please do not misunderstand me, but I could be classified as a prophet. Why? Because as I stand at the desk and read God’s Word, I become a mouthpiece for the words of God to you. Now, I do not claim inspiration at all, but the word prophet can rightly and very truthfully apply to a preacher of God’s Word.

Knowing that there is a secondary application, we not only need to beware of those people who claim to be Christ and beware of those who come with the office and the mantle of a prophet, but we also need to beware of preachers who are saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it.” We have to be very, very careful.

These individuals, we are told, will display great signs and wonders. What does that involve? You may be aware of some of the things that have crept into Adventism. We, as Seventh-day Adventists, are tempted to try to imitate those who are involved in these great signs and wonders and the things that are being preached. We are tempted because they are bringing numbers of people into Adventism. But, friend, it is not numbers for which Jesus is waiting. Jesus is waiting for the heart to be given completely over to Him. Jesus is waiting for character development to take place.

Character of Christ

Do you remember what it says in Christ’s Object Lessons, 69? “When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.” The devil continually works in an effort to divert us from developing the character of Christ. He is going to do everything he can to keep that from occurring.

Seventh-day Adventists are his prime targets. He is trying to zero in on them, because if he can silence the Sabbath-keepers and get them to throw away the Spirit of Prophecy and to give up on the Lord, he has them right where he wants them. We are going to have to make sure that our stakes are driven very deep. If they are not driven down, when the winds begin to blow, we are not going to have anything to hold us in place.

Spiritualism is going to take on forms that will surprise some and deceive others. We do not want to be in either camp. We do not want to be surprised, because those who are surprised are lost. Those who are deceived are lost.

We have to make sure that we understand what the issues are, and if we study and understand Inspiration, we will understand those issues.

Pastor Mike Baugher is Associate Speaker for Steps to Life. He may be contacted by e-mail at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Satan’s First Lie

Even before Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Satan put forth his first lie. Moses recorded the event in Genesis 3.

“The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”

“ ‘You will not surely die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ ” Genesis 3:2–5.

From that time on Satan has been promoting this lie, his favorite false doctrine. In the final struggle of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, this lie will be one of his most prominent deceptions. He will develop it in the form of spiritualism.

What is spiritualism? Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary says that spiritualism is “a belief that spirits of the dead communicate with the living, usually through a medium.”

Let us take notice how this error that “you will not surely die”—the immortality of the soul—plays out in last day events.

“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.

“As spiritualism more closely imitates the nominal Christianity of the day, it has greater power to deceive and ensnare. Satan himself is converted, after the modern order of things. He will appear in the character of an angel of light. Through the agency of spiritualism, miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and many undeniable wonders will be performed. And as the spirits will profess faith in the Bible, and manifest respect for the institutions of the church, their work will be accepted as a manifestation of divine power.” The Great Controversy, 588.

“Through spiritualism, Satan appears as a benefactor of the race, healing the diseases of the people, and professing to present a new and more exalted system of religious faith; but at the same time he works as a destroyer.” Ibid., 589.

“The miracle-working power manifested through spiritualism will exert its influence against those who choose to obey God rather than men. Communications from the spirits will declare that God has sent them to convince the rejecters of Sunday of their error, affirming that the laws of the land should be obeyed as the law of God. They will lament the great wickedness in the world and second the testimony of religious teachers that the degraded state of morals is caused by the desecration of Sunday.” Ibid., 590, 591.

It is through spiritualism that the crowning act of deception will come upon the people of the earth.

“Fearful sights of a supernatural character will soon be revealed in the heavens, in token of the power of miracle-working demons. The spirits of devils will go forth to the kings of the earth and to the whole world, to fasten them in deception, and urge them on to unite with Satan in his last struggle against the government of heaven. By these agencies, rulers and subjects will be alike deceived. Persons will arise pretending to be Christ Himself, and claiming the title and worship which belong to the world’s Redeemer. They will perform wonderful miracles of healing and will profess to have revelations from heaven contradicting the testimony of the Scriptures.

“As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ. The church has long professed to look to the Saviour’s advent as the consummation of her hopes. Now the great deceiver will make it appear that Christ has come. In different parts of the earth, Satan will manifest himself among men as a majestic being of dazzling brightness, resembling the description of the Son of God given by John in the Revelation. Revelation 1:13–15. The glory that surrounds him is unsurpassed by anything that mortal eyes have yet beheld. The shout of triumph rings out upon the air: ‘Christ has come! Christ has come!’ The people prostrate themselves in adoration before him, while he lifts up his hands and pronounces a blessing upon them, as Christ blessed His disciples when He was upon the earth. His voice is soft and subdued, yet full of melody. In gentle, compassionate tones he presents some of the same gracious, heavenly truths which the Saviour uttered; he heals the diseases of the people, and then, in his assumed character of Christ, he claims to have changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and commands all to hallow the day which he has blessed. He declares that those who persist in keeping holy the seventh day are blaspheming his name by refusing to listen to his angels sent to them with light and truth. This is the strong, almost overmastering delusion. Like the Samaritans who were deceived by Simon Magus, the multitudes, from the least to the greatest, give heed to these sorceries, saying: This is ‘the great power of God.’ Acts 8:10.” Ibid., 624, 625.

A clear understanding of the state of the dead—the non-immortality of the soul—will be one of the individual’s major defenses against these powerful delusions of spiritualism.

The non-immortality of the soul is one of the great pillars or landmarks of the church. Let us consider the importance placed upon this doctrine in the following statement from the Spirit of Prophecy:

“The passing of the time in 1844 was a period of great events, opening to our astonished eyes the cleansing of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven, and having decided relation to God’s people upon the earth, [also] the first and second angels’ messages and the third, unfurling the banner on which was inscribed, ‘The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus’ [Revelation 14:12]. One of the landmarks under this message was the temple of God, seen by His truth-loving people in heaven, and the ark containing the law of God. The light of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment flashed its strong rays in the pathway of the transgressors of God’s law. The non-immortality of the wicked is an old landmark. I can call to mind nothing more that can come under the head of the old landmarks.” Counsels to Writers and Editors, 30, 31.

This statement places “the non-immortality of the wicked” along with “the cleansing of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven,” the Three Angels’ Messages, “the law of God,” and the Sabbath as one of “the old landmarks” of the advent faith.

In light of the importance of having a clear understanding of “the non-immortality of the wicked” let us turn to the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy for true instruction on this subject.

Let us first look at the origin of man. The word of God states that “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7. Here we see that man became a living being when God gave him the breath of life. It was the combination of both the dust of the ground and the breath of God that made the man a living being or living soul.

Now let us see what happens to man when he dies. God said, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:19. Solomon says that “the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit [the breath that God breathed into the body] returns to God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7. James says that “the body without the spirit is dead.” James 2:26. The body, without the breath that God breathed into it, is lifeless. From another point of view Moses, speaking of the experience of Job, wrote that “as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter no deceit.” Job 27:3, 4.

God says that when a man dies, he simply returns back to the ground—to the elements—from which he was created in the beginning and that the breath that God breathed into the body to make it a living soul simply returns back to God. The only evidence that remains that this person has ever lived is found in the books of record which are in the Most Holy Place of the sanctuary of the New Covenant in heaven. Of this record we read, “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.” Revelation 20:12.

Solomon makes a very interesting observation concerning the dead. He says, “The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6.

Job made the following observation concerning the state of the dead: “So man lies down and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, men will not awake or be roused from their sleep.” Death is represented here as a sleep. “If his sons are honored, he does not know it; if they are brought low, he does not see it.” Job 14:12, 21.

Solomon says that we who are living know that we will die, but the dead are not aware of anything. They do not even know that they will be raised in the first or second resurrection. See Revelation 20:4–6. This may be an appropriate time to raise, or consider the question, How can there be resurrections if man does not die? If they are already living, how can they be raised from the dead? The Scripture is very clear that there are two major resurrections, one before the 1,000 years and one following.

In the book of Revelation we have this record of the two resurrections: “I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. … This is the first resurrection.” Revelation 20:4, 5.

These verses bring to light a group of people who were killed because of their faith in Jesus and the Bible. Then it clearly states that they came to life to reign with Christ. If they had not surely died, as Satan had said, how is it that they were called to life at the beginning of the 1,000 years? In that they were raised to life is evidence that they did not live on after they were martyred. In verse 6 this event is referred to as the first resurrection.

It is interesting to note that there is another resurrection at the end of the 1,000 years in which all who have ever lived, including those who killed the faithful people, are raised to life. This is evidence that this group of people also did not live on after they died. The Scripture simply states that “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.” Revelation 20:5. (This is referring to the second resurrection.)

Paul wrote the following account of the first resurrection: “According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. [Notice that death is represented as a sleep.] For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” I Thessalonians 4:15, 16.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthian church concerning this resurrection he said, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised.” I Corinthians 15:51, 52.

Jesus confirms the resurrection in His own words. “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out.” John 5:28, 29.

Solomon goes on to say that they have no more rewards in life and furthermore, after a time the “memory of them is forgotten” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) by those who are still living. Then he says that their love, their hate and jealousy—their character—vanishes and will never again have any part in life on this earth.

The Bible plainly states that, “The soul who sins is the one who will die.” Ezekiel 18:20. And further it says, “No one remembers you [the Lord] when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave?” Psalm 6:5.

More evidence concerning the state of the dead is found in Luke’s account of the body of David. “Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day.” “For David did not ascend to heaven.” Acts 2:29, 34.

Let us refer to one more event that sheds light on the state of the individual who has died. We find the account in the Gospel of John.

“After he [Jesus] had said this, he went on to tell them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.’ His disciples replied, ‘Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.’ Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead.’ ” John 11:11–14.

In His statement Jesus uses sleep as a symbol of death. Now it is easy for us to understand the condition of the person who is dead. Just ask yourself the question, “What is the condition of my body when I am sound asleep?” The state of consciousness in sleep is the same for one who is dead.

The conclusion of this event is a wonderful encouragement to the faithful believer today. Here is the rest of the story. “Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. ‘Take away the stone,’ he said. ‘But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’ ” John 11:38–43.

This is a wonderful truth for the righteous dead. In the near future Jesus is going to call them from their condition in death to give them immortality and eternal life in the kingdom of glory.

And in the closing scenes of the great controversy the true knowledge of the state of the dead will be as a bulwark protecting the faithful believers from the deceptions and miracle-working power of apparitions and spirits appearing to represent the dead.

“When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?” Isaiah 8:19.

Maurice Hoppe is retired and volunteers at Steps to Life. His primary responsibility is working with the Training Program for Ministers and Church Leaders and the Training Program for Lay Workers. He also conducts a Bible Correspondence School from his home with emphasis on Bible prophecy. He can be contacted at:

Editorial – Be Not Deceived!

A great delusion is coming upon the world that will deceive the whole world except for a remnant (II Thessalonians 2:8–12; Revelation 12:9, 17; 16:13, 14), and you will not be able to believe what you see and hear.

Recently, I was sent a review of a book that has recently been written, claiming to prove consciousness after death and that our souls are immortal. Like a multitude of other books, this one is based on the near death experience of a neurosurgeon who was formerly a skeptic but now thinks that he believes in God. He claims, in his book, that God told him (while he was in this near death state) that (1) evil was present in all the other universes, and (2) evil is necessary. Both of these statements directly contradict the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. Those acquainted with the teachings of witchcraft and demons are aware that these have been satanic teachings for a long time. The “god” that spoke to the physician was not the God of the Bible, Who cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18; Numbers 23:19), never contradicts Himself and is consistent in all His manifestations.

The Bible says that (1) only God has immortality (I Timothy 6:15, 16) and the soul that sins will die (Ezekiel 18:4); (2) souls do not burn forever in hell, but are destroyed (Matthew 10:28); (3) eternal fire does not burn forever, but is fire that is eternal in its results or consequences (Jude 7); (4) although there was a time when there was evil in heaven, it has been cast out and is restricted to this earth. When this earth is cleansed by fire in the last day, there will not ever again be any evil in the entire universe. Evil is not necessary (II Peter 3:10–13; Revelation 12:7–12; 21:7, 8, 27; 22:14, 15; Nahum 1:9; James 1:13–17; Proverbs 10:22).

There are two supernatural forces seeking to control the minds of men, the God of the Bible and His arch-enemy called the devil and Satan. So who was it masquerading as God to this physician in his near death state? The Lord has given men a rule by which to detect error: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20.

State of the Dead

The first deception which fastened itself upon the mind of man was the idea that man could live out of harmony with his Creator and never die. Though this assertion went directly contrary to that which God had stated, it was accepted in the place of God’s Word and acted upon. This false concept was ultimately accepted within the professed Christian church and is part of that wine of Babylon with which she had made the nations drunk. “Babylon has been fostering poisonous doctrines, the wine of error. This wine of error is made up of false doctrines, such as the natural immortality of the soul, the eternal torment of the wicked, the denial of the pre-existence of Christ prior to His birth in Bethlehem, and advocating and exalting the first day of the week above God’s holy and sanctified day.” Testimonies to Ministers, 61.

The servant of the Lord has told us that in the closing struggle of the great controversy, there are two issues on which Christendom will unite.

“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 Great Controversy, 588.

In view of the rapidly approaching crisis, it is imperative that each one of us be thoroughly grounded in the truth. The editors of Historic Adventist LandMarks think that it is a good idea to review, from time to time, some of our basic doctrines. This will not only be an excellent review, but will also provide an outline for marking your Bible, a help in giving Bible studies. –The Editors

Creation of man: “And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” Genesis 1:26, 27.

Question: In what condition is man in death?

Job 14:12–14—”So man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep. Oh, that You would hide me in the grave, that You would conceal me until Your wrath is past, that You would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes.” NKJV. Note: The most common definition found in the Bible is that it is a sleep.

Psalm 13:3—”Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.” NKJV.

Jeremiah 51:39, 57—”In their excitement I will prepare their feasts; I will make them drunk, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep and not awake,’ says the LORD. . . . ‘And I will make drunk her princes and wise men, her governors, her deputies, and her mighty men. And they shall sleep a perpetual sleep and not awake,’ says the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.” NKJV.

Daniel 12:2—”And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.” NKJV.

John 11:11–14—”These things He said, and after that He said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.’ Then His disciples said, ‘Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.’ However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead.’” NKJV.

Acts 13:36—”For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption.” NKJV.

I Corinthians 15:51—”Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” NKJV.

Psalm 104:29, 30—”Thou hidest Thy face, they are troubled: Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth Thy spirit, they are created: and Thou renewest the face of the earth.” KJV.

Job 27:3—”All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils.” KJV.

Genesis 3:19—”In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” KJV.

Question: Is this sleep with dreams, or consciousness, or is it totally unconscious?

Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10—”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. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun. . . . Whatever your hand find to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” NKJV.

Psalm 49:12–20—”Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish. This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Selah. Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave form their dwelling. But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave; for He shall receive me. Selah. Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased; for when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him. Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself. He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light. Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.” KJV. Note: A man that is given honor after he is dead has no knowledge of it.

Isaiah 38:18,1 9—”For Sheol cannot thank You, death cannot praise You; those who go down to the pit can not hope for Your truth. The living, the living man, he shall praise You, as I do this day; the father shall make known Your truth to the children.” NKJV. Note: The dead do not know God’s truth. They cannot praise God; they are unconscious; they know nothing.

Psalm 6:5—”For in death there is no remembrance of You; in the grave who will give You thanks? NKJV.

Psalm 115:17—”The dead do not praise the LORD, nor any who go down into silence.” NKJV. Note: The Bible teaches this truth over and over again. God must have known that there would be some misunderstanding on this subject.

Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20—”For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.” “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7 KJV. Note. As we have already seen, Solomon has already told us that the dead have no consciousness. Certainly he will not, a few chapters later, contradict himself. What then, is meant by the spirit returning to God?

There is one difference, however, between man and beast, according to Ecclesiastes 3:21. “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” At death, the spirit of man goes back to God so that He can preserve them in their unconscious state until the resurrection day when the righteous will be brought back to life. “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.” I Corinthians 15:51, 52 KJV.

I Corinthians 15:17, 18—”For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” KJV.

Question: When do we go to heaven?

John 14:1–3—”Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” KJV. Note: Jesus said that after He prepares a place, He will come to the earth again to take the righteous to the mansions prepared in Heaven. We do to be with Christ when He returns, and not before. This is why the Second Coming of Christ is so important to the New Testament believers.

Question: What does Paul say would happen to the dead if there was no resurrection?

I Corinthians 15:12–23—”Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ: whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the Firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by Man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming.” KJV. Note; If for 4,000 years the righteous have gone directly to heaven at death, how could Paul have said that if there is no resurrection, those who have fallen asleep in Christ are perished? What need would there be for a resurrection.”

Question: What further does Jesus say about the future life?

John 5:28, 29—”Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which 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.” KJV.

John 6:39, 40—””And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise Him up at the last day.” KJV. Note: The dead are going to be raised at the last day [the resurrection]!

John 11:23, 24—”Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” KJV.

Question: What does Peter say about the future life?

I Peter 5:4—”And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” KJV.

Acts 2:29, 34, 35—”Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, for he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. . . . For David is not yet ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thy foes Thy footstool.” KJV.

Question: What did Job say about a future life after death?
Job 19:25–27—”For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” KJV.

Question: What did Paul say about the future life?

II Timothy 4:7, 8—”I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” KJV.

Acts 13:36, 37—”For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: but He, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.” KJV.

Acts 24:14, 15—Again, from the apostle Paul: “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: and have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” KJV.

I Thessalonians 4:14–17—”For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” NKJV. This describes the resurrection.

I Corinthians 15:51–55—”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.’” KJV.

Question: Will the resurrection be a secret and invisible event, or will it be noticed by all?

I Thessalonians 4:16–18—”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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” KJV.

Is the Virgin Mary Dead or Alive? Chapter 2

by Danny Vierra

Is the Virgin Mary Dead or Alive booklChapter 2 – The First Lie– Man’s Immortality

In the very beginning of earth’s history, Satan, while in the form of a serpent, told the first lie to Eve. He told her that if she disobeyed the command of God not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, she would “not surely die, ” even though God had expressly warned her that “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die .” (See Genesis 3: 4; 2: 17). Satan treacherously assured her (another monstrous lie) that upon eating the fruit “your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods , knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3: 5). Friends, are we still believing the devil today? The Bible is quite clear that only God “hath immortality .” (I Tim. 6: 16). In fact, the Bible, on the other hand, contains a number of Scriptures that prove that mortal man receives not his immortality until the second coming of Christ— at the time of the resurrection. (I Cor. 15: 51- 55; John 5: 28, 29). Now please note these unequivocal and authoritative pronouncements on the condition of man in death from Ecclesiastes 9: 5 and 10: “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything …. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”

I remember the first time I ever read these Scriptures. I immediately wondered why I had always believed that a dead person could speak to me if he so chose. Was this another error of the Roman Church that had been sold to me by the priests? After all, according to the Bible, are not seances meetings in which the devil tries to send his deadly messages to unwary people through a human medium who is supposed to be able to communicate with the so- called spirits of the dead? The greatest of all seances in the Bible occurred when Saul went to the Witch of Endor , described in the Scriptures as “a woman that hath a familiar spirit”— that is, a woman who received messages from an evil angel who claimed to be the “spirit” of a particular dead person usually known to the seeker— and asked her to bring up Samuel from the dead since “the Lord answered him not , neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets?” (I Sam. 28: 6, 7). Since when does a man of God go to the devil for advice when the Lord explicitly said: “Regard not them that have familiar spirits,… to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God”? (Lev. 19: 31; see also Isa. 8: 19, 20). The Bible plainly states: “The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence;” for when a man dies, “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish .” (Ps. 115: 17; 146: 4).

So why do most people, both Christians and non- Christians, believe the doctrine of the immortality of the soul? I believe the problem exists because of a misinterpretation of Scripture. In Genesis 2: 7, the Bible says: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life ; and man became a living soul.” The Hebrew word for “soul” used in this text is nephesh. Besides being translated 428 times as “soul” in the Old Testament, nephesh is also translated as the following: life— 119 times; person— 29 times; and creature— 19 times. “There is nothing in the words translated ‘soul’ or in their usage in the Bible that even remotely implies a conscious entity that survives the body after death, or that attributes immortality to it. Nephesh is not part of the person; it is the person!” (Bible Dictionary by Siegfried H. Horn, Ph. D., p. 1061).

I believe the confusion stems from a misinterpretation of verses like the following: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12: 7). Many people use this verse in an attempt to prove that the “soul” or “spirit” is, therefore, immortal and goes to God at the point of death. But, if you look at Job 27: 3, you will find a Scripture that will help you understand that the “spirit” is simply the breath of life by which man lives, and which is only lent him of God, and at death goes back to the Great Author of life—“ All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils.” The Hebrew word used here for spirit is ruach, which is defined in Gesenius’ Lexicon as follows: (a) spirit or breath; (b) breath of the nostrils; (c) breath of air. When the spirit, or breath of the nostrils, goes back to God, the body, made originally from the dust of the earth, now begins its process of going back to the earth as it was and ceases to function as normally, and the nonbreathing individual no longer exists as a living, conscious, thinking being, but will rest in the grave until he is called forth by the voice of Christ “at the last day.” (John 6: 39). “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which 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 .” (John 5: 28, 29). The righteous dead will rise at the second coming of Christ and together with the living saints will meet the Lord in the air (see I Thess. 4: 15- 18), but the wicked dead will not rise until one thousand years after the resurrection of the righteous. “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” (Rev. 20: 5). How can someone “live again” except he has first experienced having died?

By now, friends, you may be asking yourself the question: “How can the Virgin Mary be alive when the Bible so clearly tells us there is no consciousness in death?” To further establish the point, let us look at a few more Scriptures that prove that man is mortal. In the Book of Job, we read: “Man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost [breatheth out; Strong’s Concordance], and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more [the heavens roll back at Christ’s second coming (Rev. 6: 14)], they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.” (Job 14: 10- 12). And if that weren’t clear enough, Job continues: “If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come . Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee.” (Job 14: 14, 15). Obviously, Job believed that he would sleep in the grave until Jesus called him out on Resurrection Morning. (See also Job 17: 13- 16). After all, it was Jesus who spoke of death as a sleep when referring to Lazarus’s state. He never once implied that Lazarus had gone to heaven, but, on the contrary, said, “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep.” (John 11: 11). Then in John 11: 23, Jesus tells Martha, “Thy brother shall rise again,” and Martha responds, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus, in calling Lazarus from the tomb, said, “Lazarus, come forth (John 11: 43),” not “Lazarus, come up!” or “Lazarus, come down!” I believe that Jesus’ use of the word sleep is a very appropriate synonym when used in place of the word death (the first death), because the word implies a temporary state— a state from which every soul “shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt [the second death (see Rev. 20: 12- 14)].” (Daniel 12: 2).

The great teacher, the apostle Paul, clearly understood that he, too, would sleep in the grave until the second coming of Christ: “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure [death] is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day : and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His [Christ’s] appearing.” (II Tim. 4: 6- 8). Paul knew, as did Martha, that not until the resurrection of the last day, at the second coming of Christ, would he receive the reward of eternal life and be changed from mortality to immortality. Remember, it was Paul who told us in the Sacred Word that mortal man will not put on immortality until the last trumpet blast that calls forth the righteous dead at the coming of Jesus: “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep [for some will be living when Christ comes], 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 [the Virgin Mary also], and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality [Please notice when this happens— not at death, but at the second coming of Christ].” (I Cor. 15: 51- 53). Earlier in the chapter, Paul stated: “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man [Adam] came death, by man [Christ] came also the resurrection of the dead . For as in Adam all die , even so in Christ shall all be made alive . But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming .” (I Cor. 15: 20- 23).

To solidify this position, let us now look at the request of the thief on the cross, who was crucified next to Jesus as recorded in Luke, Chapter 23. The repentant thief, believing Jesus was indeed the Son of God, “said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.” To this request Jesus responded, “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou [thou shalt] be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23: 42, 43). Those who believe in the doctrine of the immortality of the soul often refer to these Scriptures to prove that the spirit of the dead goes immediately to Heaven at the time of death. But let us take a closer look at Luke 23. First, we need to understand that the comma placed before the word “today” was supplied by the translators. If you place it after the word “today,” it would then read, “Verily I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23: 43). Second, Jesus did not ascend into Heaven as He died, for in John 20: 17, He told Mary in the early morning of His memorable resurrection: “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father .” It should also be noted that this statement was made two days after His death on the cross. Thus, the repentant thief was given, that day [Good Friday— the day of the crucifixion], the assurance of eternal life and a place in Paradise, but he, as with the rest of the righteous dead, would not receive his reward until Jesus comes the second time. (See Rev. 22: 12).

Go to Chapter 3 ⇒

All emphases in this article are mine.
Published by Modern Manna Ministries