This is the 15th post in a series, for the previous post please click HERE.
As an SDA I was always taught that there is no soul. I was taught that we are a soul. That the equation of man is:
Body + Breath of God = Soul
I once believed this adamantly. I believed that at the time of death we are no more, that we click off like a light and cease to exist until the resurrection. This is no longer my belief, the word of God has forced my position to change on this. It is now my opinion that the only reason that the SDA have this belief is due to the investigative judgement. Logically one cannot be redeemed and in heaven already if their name has not come up in judgement yet, so the SDA adopted the soul sleep doctrine. Later in this blog I will cover the SDA prooftext that is the foundation of their beliefs on soul sleep. First though I would like to address what the Bible really teaches that happens to us when we die in Christ.
The verses that changed my view on this forever are 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 continuing on to 2 Corinthians 5:1-9. I encourage you to read them all carefully right now:
“7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you. 13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. 16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Cor 4:7-18 ESV
Take another look at verse 7 and 16:
“we have this treasure in jars of clay”
“Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day”
When I read the above I see that the treasure in Jars of Clay is the inner self (treasure) that is in the outer self (Jars of Clay). It is clear to me that Paul is using imagery to convey the existence of the Human Soul. He is not referring it as being the same substance as the flesh, but rather a treasure inside of it.
“1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.” 2 Cor 5:1-9 ESV
Breaking this section of scripture down we can see the following:
“Tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God”
What jumps out to me here is that it its referring to our body as a tent. A dwelling that logically has dwellers. Meaning to me that our Soul dwells within our body. And that the Body, or tent, can be destroyed and we still exist. This is because we presently “have” and building from God (presumably in heaven). The word “have” is in the present tense, it doesn’t say will have or had, this is something that we can count on right now.
“in this tent we groan”
As we get older this is a more present reality day by day.
“we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him”
This is clearly teaching that it is possible to be absent from the body. This isn’t even a complicated reading of the text, it requires no interpretation one just has to read what it says and accept it as fact. Something to point out though is that it says we are to “make it our aim to please him”. It says this in the context of being either home or away from the body. To be pleasing it implies rather clearly that one must exist, at the very least. So it is therefore logical that while away from the body we do exist.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith,” Php 1:21-25 ESV
“to die is gain”
To me this is clear that something is gained at death. Logically one must be in existence to gain anything.
“My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better”
I don’t even have to comment on this, the text explains itself. Paul is stating that when he “departs” he is going to “be with Christ”. To be anywhere at all implies existence, and quite likely consciousness too. Especially since it is “far better”.
If none of that convinces the reader here is the strongest text I’ve seen on this subject:
“25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Jhn 11:25-26 ESV
“shall never die”
Yeah that about says it right there, the only question left is whether or not you the reader believe what Jesus Christ said in John 11 is true. There is no way of reading this verse sideways, it says what it says. There is a lot more I could go into on this chapter but that will be for another post on another day.
However, while I was SDA I always Quoted Ecclesiastes 9:5. It was the strongest proof text for Adventism beliefs on the state of the dead.
Before pasting it I am going to mention a bit about Solomon. He wrote this book towards the end of his life. He spoke a great deal about the pointlessness of life. Whether one is rich or poor, good or evil we all get buried in the dirt. That is true, and this perspective should level our view on how we see and treat others. I have underlined a few of the words in the verses below to make my point on the context of the passage:
“But all this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God. Whether it is love or hate, man does not know; both are before him. It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As the good one is, so is the sinner, and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath. This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 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. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.” Ecc 9:1-6 ESV
I absolutely agree that the dead know nothing and have no part under the sun. Christians do not believe in Ghosts of the past haunting your house or visiting you in your sleep. The dead have no part in this life, they have moved on to the next as clearly stated in the New Testament passages.
To hold a position of soul sleep one must interpret the New Testament with the Old Testament. As students of the Bible we are actually supposed to do the opposite of that. While the Old Testament does not contradict the New, it needs to be understood that the understanding of the resurrection was not clear until the fullest revelation given by Christ to the Apostles.
Now I want to point out a small piece of scripture in 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4. This is the famous rapture passage. SDA call this the second coming, either way you slice it this is certainly the resurrection. SDA will point out that verse 16 which states that “the dead in Christ rise first”. This is true, but they will skim right past verse 14 without even a thought.
“14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Thess 4:14 ESV
“bring with him”
Yes, they are there with him right before they are given glorified bodies in the resurrection. I believe that concludes all I have to say on this today. If you have any questions feel free to drop a comment below.