State of the Dead

resurrection-1

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.

Lets continue:

“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.

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About ACTheologian

I am a layman who blogs my Biblical studies. Enjoy, please read with an open Bible and do double check with your pastor.
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24 Responses to State of the Dead

  1. dawie says:

    wondering what you did to believe the lies of satan.

    Like

    • nursingninja says:

      I would encourage you to read the blog. I learned from scripture not from Satan. I had to choose between the teachings of my youth and the clear word of scripture. I chose the word of God.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Tricia says:

    When Jesus returns and the dead rise first. If this is true, who are in the grave? Would a loving God take some and not others before Jesus returns? And those believed to be in heaven now, would a loving God allow them to see their loved ones on earth maybe not going to heaven?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Armchair Theologian says:

      Hey, thanks for reading my blog! I used to feel similarly. But it was careful study that led me differently. Please allow me to explain.

      For starters I don’t think you have a Biblical definition of the Love of God. We don’t get to define that, the Bible does. Because of this you are inadvertently utilizing your emotions and reason in a magisterial fashion over and above scripture rather than pulling the meaning out.

      In accordance with the scripture I would argue that the first ressurection is the hearing of the word. Faith regenerates the spiritually dead into life. So we pass from this shell into eternal life given to us by God upon death.

      Those who do not take part in this first ressurection remain spiritually dead in trespasses and sins. Which when they pass from this shell the Bible describes as eternal torment in hell.

      I would recommend reading my posts on the Holiness, Wrath, and Love of God in Christianity 101. Also, the one on Hell same location.

      I don’t have one on means of Grace at the moment but here is a link you might find helpful.

      http://clclutheran.org/corpus/MeansOfGrace.html

      Like

  3. Donna says:

    Your analogy is a bit of a stretch. Eccl 9:5-6,10; John 11:11-14; 1 Thess 4:15-16; John 5:28-29; Gen 2:7; Eccl 12:7; Gen 3:4; 1 Tim 6:15-16; 1 Cor. 15:51-54; Acts 2:34; John 20:17; Job 19:25-26;
    Job 27:3; Ps 146:3-4 Rom 2:7; Ps 115:17; Ps 6:5 Rom 6:23; 2 Tim 4:7-8; Rev 22:12; Job 14:21;
    Rev 1:8: Job 7:10; Ps 104:29; Job 27:3, 33:4
    Eze. 18:4 (soul – a breathing creature/ Strongs H5315); Is 8:19-20; Job 3:11-13 &;14:12;
    Ps. 13:3; Jer. 51:39-40; Dan. 12:2; Is 38:18-19

    Like

    • Armchair Theologian says:

      I looked at those when I was writing this. Most are unclear verses in the old testament. In the new the breakdown of life after death was alot more clear. Especially when Jesus says we shall never die. John 11:26

      Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall NEVER die. Do you believe this?”
      John 11:25-26 ESV
      http://bible.com/59/jhn.11.25-26.ESV

      If I understand you correctly you would answer Jesus “NO” if he asked you the above?

      Read those verses you posted again and notice they speak in context of the flesh rather then the spirit. Even though our flesh dies and is sown in this life our spirit is resurrected in the first ressurection. In the second we receive new bodies. The scripture you refer to do not preclude or contradict the verses posted in my blog, but rather just give another view that you are attempting to abbrogate other scriptures with. And this is ultimately the flaw with SDA. They do not use hermeneutics.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Like

  4. Donna says:

    So then is Jesus quoting Satan from Genesis 3:4 where it says:”Then the serpent said to the woman you will not surely die?” The first lie. Of course not! And if the soul lives on after death what about
    1 Timothy 6:16 where speaking of God it says “who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light whom no man has see or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power: Only God has immortality we do not receive that until until Jesus comes. See 1 Cor 15:53

    The reference in John 11:25-26 is clearly speaking of the second death. Revelation 20:5-6 says “But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”. This verse also proves your theology about the second resurrection is wrong. The second resurrection is for the wicked not for new bodies. Daniel 12:1 says: At that time Michael shall stand up. the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people: and there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered. Every one who is found written in the book and many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake. Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt Two resurrections.

    The hermeneutics that SDA’s us is that the Bible is it’s own interpreter. A lot of what you say is based on your own interpretation of a scripture instead of going to other scriptures to determine what the meaning is. I say let the readers look up the scriptures I posted and decide for themselves.
    Thank you for responding.

    Like

    • Armchair Theologian says:

      I think what you’re missing is that Jesus says he will give us eternal life.

      I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
      John 10:28 ESV
      http://bible.com/59/jhn.10.28.ESV

      The lie of the devil was that one could sin and not die. This is what is so wonderful about the gospel. Jesus has given us eternal life through his death burial and Resurrection.

      Yes the Bible does say only God has immorality. If you’re defining immortality as eternal life though you have a problem in that God has given eternal life to us, angels have eternal life, and even Moses does if you recall his presence in the transfiguration.

      So I would Biblically define the immorality in view in 1 Tim 1:16 as being uncreated. Which is true. Only God is uncreated.

      Sorry, but John is not speaking of the second death. He told the woman in front of him she would never die and she had not experienced the first death yet. So logically such a statement precludes any death.

      I think your flaw in your assessment of 1 Cor 15 is that you neglect to take into account that Paul wrote elsewhere that the souls of the departed are brought with God to the Resurrection before they are given new bodies. So when you tie the two together it fits. This was actually in my post I don’t understand how you missed it.

      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

      Your interpretation of Revelation largely rests upon your eschatology. I would recommend forming your hermeneutic outside Revelation in the clear texts and then coming back to it. For example, I would argue that the thousand years is referring to our present age as a figurative completion of the dispensation of time. Ten being the perfect number of God and three being reflective of the nature of God. Taken as a whole we have Gods completion of time. This explains the first ressurection which is people here and now hearing the gospel, their souls coming to eternal life.

      Rom 10:17 “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God”

      Also we can see the Ezekiel prophecied of this day in which dead souls received life at the preaching of the word. See Ezekiel 37:1-14.

      Daniel is simply speaking of the same event you identified in 1 Cor 15 where it is clear that the souls are brought with him.

      With respect, SDA don’t have a Biblical hermeneutic at all. In fact, your own theologians complained about this at the last GC. The SDA hermeneutic is to look at what Ellen White taught and then prooftext unclear verses that can be eisegeted to fit the motif.

      Take a close look at the clear verses assembled in my blog. I don’t have to interpret them. I simply believe what they say and the rest of the Bible falls into place when I do. I don’t have to avoid verses that don’t fit my hermeneutic. They all fit. And with respect, that is something you cannot do.

      Thank you for your critique by the way. Even though we clearly disagree, part of the reason I post my studies publicly is to test their efficacy and truthfulness with public discourse.

      Like

  5. kongor amol says:

    state of dead as you said is a flaw of sda church .i think you need to clarify that do you say about dead are soul immortality ?give me bible verse and bible say that God only has immortality 1 timothy 6:16

    Like

    • Armchair Theologian says:

      Well you believe that you will live forever in heaven right? Is that immortality? Angels live forever is that immortality?

      See this is the problem with SDA my friend. You take one verse and run with it. Logically the immortality in view in Timothy is an eternal immortality. God has no beginning and has always existed.

      Created beings have a beginning and have not always existed.

      The Bible is also clear that we have a soul, or inner man as Paul says. And that this soul can be absent from the Body and present with the Lord.

      You can’t just put verses against each other friend. They are all true.

      Like

  6. syloh says:

    Genesis 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

    Like

    • Armchair Theologian says:

      Twist not the scripture lest thou be like Satan.

      I would recommend studying the difference between Spiritual death and physical death. They are not the same, otherwise how can paul say to physically living people that they were “dead in trespasses”. Eph 2:1

      Also your eisegesis would contradict the clear scriptures that I posted above in my blog. I think you need to think your presuppositions through and study carefully friend.

      Like

      • Kent Ainsworth says:

        I certainly do agree with you that we have a soul that goes to be with the Lord at the time of our bodies death. The soul does not die. To say the soul dies makes out Jesus as a liar.

        I see the first resurrection as that of those who have died with faith in God. He will bring these with Him and give them new bodies. The second ressurection is after the thousand years and is of the wicked. They too will be given new bodies. They will then go into final judgement in those bodies.

        The time when you accept Jesus Christ as your savior I would say is regeneration not resurrection.

        Resurrection is getting a new body.

        As far as a persons view on the milenium, it depends on wether you are pretrib, posttrib, midtrib, amil, or whatever. Personally I see it as an actual thousand years after the return of Jesus. Jesus will rule on the earth for the thousand years followed by the second ressurection.

        We may disagree on the timing of these things but that does not prevent us from fellowshiping together. What we do agree on is the fact that our soul goes to God when we shed these old style bodies. When He brings us back with Him at the resurrection we get the new model.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Armchair Theologian says:

        Hey thanks for commenting! You make some good points!

        Like

  7. Stewart says:

    Arm Chair.Does God bring with him the souls of those that have fallen asleep for both the wicked and righteous?if only for the righteous,what happens to the souls of those who dont die in Christ

    Like

  8. Evin Tucker says:

    “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, fear the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

    This verse seems to imply, at the very least, a conditional immortality of the soul, in which believers have immortal souls and unbelievers don’t. But if the soul dies with the body, and people can kill the body, then they can also kill the soul, and Jesus is a liar.

    Like

    • Armchair Theologian says:

      I don’t use that verse on this topic because it’s not teaching the state of the Dead. It is teaching to fear God. On this matter I don’t see it as an issue of what God can or cannot do but rather what he does do and this verse is speaking to the former.

      Like

  9. Melini Moodley says:

    Great post that is nicely explained using only the Scriptures. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Like

  10. L Bartlett says:

    I’m curious to know who the SDA’s think are the souls under the altar in Revelation 6:9? Or who Jesus could have been talking to when he went to the prison to preach the gospel in 1 Peter 4:6? As well I wonder if SDA’s believe that all of Christendom was entirely wrong about souls going to heaven until EGW came along?

    Like

    • ACTheologian says:

      Ha! I don’t recall what they say about the souls under the altar. The believe the spirits in Peter are angels. And yes they believe all Christians were wrong until Ellen White came along and helped us out.

      It was Constantine you know… He corrupted the church.

      That poor guy is the whipping boy of the cults. Everyone has a Constantine theory!

      Like

    • ACTheologian says:

      I looked up your revelation question. It looks like some SDA argue the souls are symbolic. They use the blood of Cain crying out as an example. But they of course take the 1000 years literally. Funny….

      it goes to show why we should always lean on the clearest texts. God Bless

      Like

      • L Bartlett says:

        So blood can cry out but spirits can’t live?! I guess whatever works to conform with Ellen!

        God is the God of the living, all are alive to him. Yes we certainly do have living spirits.

        Thanks for the speedy answer ACTheologian. 🙂

        Like

      • ACTheologian says:

        Astute observation! Thanks for visiting and commenting. Most comments I get are people calling me a Jesuit luciferian etc etc. So some intelligent conversation is nice!

        Like

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