Thursday, September 11, 2008

Immortality


This chapter has a lot of parts to it. Read it in sections if you are pushed for time.


Fears Surrounding the Immortality of the Soul

Even saying the words “the immortality of the soul” still evokes a powerful emotional response in me. It is the equivalent of high treason within Adventism and inexorably associated with caution, warning and fear. It’s been interesting to go back and trace the roots of those emotions to their source. Let me illustrate with these quotations from Ellen White.


“You are dealing strong blows against tradition and errors that lie at the foundation of a heresy that will destroy the souls of those who receive it. A wide door to destruction is open to all those who believe in the immortality of the soul, and do not believe that Christ alone brings life and immortality to light.” (Christian Worker 156.2)

“Satan commenced his deception in Eden. He said to Eve, 'Thou shalt not surely die.’ This was Satan's first lesson upon the immortality of the soul; and he has carried on this deception from that time to the present, and will carry it on until the captivity of God's children shall be turned." {The Bible Echo, August 10, 1896 par. 1}

“In Eden Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden tree, and then the flaming sword was placed around the tree of life, and they were driven from the garden, lest they should partake of the tree of life, the fruit of which was to perpetuate immortality, and be immortal sinners। Who of the family of Adam have passed that flaming sword, and have partaken of the tree of life? Not one has passed that flaming sword, and partaken of that tree; therefore there is not an immortal sinner. The soul that sinneth, it shall die an everlasting death, --a death from which there will be no hope of a resurrection; and then the wrath of God will be appeased." {BEcho, August 10, 1896 par. 2}

“It is a marvel that Satan has succeeded so well in making men believe that the words of God, 'The soul that sinneth it shall die,' mean that the soul that sinneth it shall not die, but live eternally in misery. Life is life, whether it is in pain or happiness. Death is without pain, without joy, without hatred.” {BEcho, August 10, 1896 par. 3}

The belief that the soul is immortal is attributed to Satan, to lies, mischaracterization of the very heart of God, and to deception. White makes it seem treasonous toward the government of God to entertain any thought that the human soul was created to live forever. She uses Ezekiel 18:4 & 20 to support her assertion, and tacks onto the end of it her own words “an everlasting death” that do violence to the original meaning of the texts. In chapter nine it will be shown, beyond question, that Ezekiel is not speaking about everlasting death, but punishment for a crime in Israel. She reasons that if Adam and Eve were to eat the fruit of the Tree of Life it would be the fruit that would give them eternal life. That is magical thinking; as if God were not the final arbiter of eternal life, but a magic tree. Continuing from that false premise, she interpolates the information to assert that no one has been granted immortality, since no one has reached and eaten from the magical tree.

She takes two Adventist doctrines - Sabbath and soul sleep - that are out of step with the rest of Christianity (Babylon) and labels them as deceptions of Satan, thereby raising suspicion, fear and separation from those who do not agree. “This is the same message that was given by the second angel. Babylon is fallen, ‘because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.' What is that wine? --Her false doctrines. She has given to the world a false sabbath instead of the Sabbath of the Ten Commandments, and has repeated the falsehood that Satan first told to Eve in Eden--the natural immortality of the soul. Many kindred errors she has spread far and wide, ‘teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.’" {Maranatha 171.3}

With such serious allegations, it's important that we go to the scriptures to see if, indeed, the immortality of the soul is found there, or if it is a “commandment of men.” If it is error, then we don’t want anything to do with it. If it is truth from God, then we need to know and learn as much as we can about it, and what its implications may be to our lives, our faith and our witness.

Defining the Term “Immortal”

If what Ellen White and the Adventist church refer to as “the immortality of the soul,” with respect to human beings, is absolute immortality (without beginning and without end), then, of course, that would be false. Absolute human immortality is a Greek notion originating with Plato. Only God possesses that kind of immortality. “God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.” 1 Tim 6:13-16 (NIV)

However, absolute immortality is not the issue. Even EGW believes in human immortality. Her allegation is that human immortality is conditional. Here are examples where she acknowledges immortality for humans:

“All come forth from their graves the same in stature as when they entered the tomb. . . But all arise with the freshness and vigor of eternal youth…the mortal, corruptible form, devoid of comeliness, once polluted with sin, becomes perfect, beautiful, and immortal. All blemishes and deformities are left in the grave . . .The living righteous are changed ‘in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.’ At the voice of God they were glorified; now they are made immortal and with the risen saints are caught up to meet their Lord in the air. Angels gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. As the little infants come forth immortal from their dusty beds, they immediately wing their way to their mothers' arms.” {Maranatha 299.5} (I’m not sure where the wings came from.)


The Separation of Body, Soul and Spirit

So, the real discussion is over conditional, versus unconditional, immortality. No Christian group embraces absolute immortality for human beings. It is relative immortality, in that every human being has a beginning point in time. “To those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life…” Romans 2:7 (NASB) When God created humanity it was never His intention that they would die, or that He would ever be separated from them. They were created to be creatures composed of body, soul and spirit in constant communion with Him. So when Adam and Eve sinned, it was an unnatural event that they should die. It required a tearing or rending of body and soul/spirit that left the spirit naked. Humankind was not meant to exist as spirit beings without bodies. So it is an unnatural state for the human spirit to remain “unclothed” by a body. That is why the resurrection is necessary. Paul refers to this in 2 Cor 5.

“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in (the body) is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, (our imperishable or spiritual body) because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked (a disembodied spirit – more like angels). For while we are in this tent (body), we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed (the 'Come Up Here' by Duncan Longstate of being a disembodied spirit is not our final destination because we were created as beings with bodies. The fall caused this unnatural state for human beings. But even so, Paul saw it as better by far than being on earth in our mortal bodies) but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling (incorruptible body), so that what is mortal (the corruptible body) may be swallowed up by life.” 2 Cor 5:1-4 (NIV)

This understanding is echoed in the following text. “The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” 1 Cor 15:42-44 (NIV) Notice that it is the body that was buried and it is the body that is raised. It does not speak of the spirit being buried or raised. The Bible never speaks of spirits being resurrected - only bodies. The body goes to the grave and returns to the dust from which it came. The spirit returns to God who gave it. Now we can see how the spirits - who have gone to be with God as disembodied spirits or “naked” spirits (as Paul said) - come with Jesus to receive the incorruptible bodies that are raised from their graves. Here is how Paul describes this event:

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. (How could this be clearer? The only reason we have trouble with the interpretation is that we come to it with preconceived doctrine that contradicts the obvious.) 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 not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thess 4:13-17 (NASB) This agrees with Jude’s description and specifies that Jesus will return with “His saints” not angels. I know of nowhere in scripture that refers to angels as saints.


"Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints.” Jude 1:14-15 (NKJV) Picture it. The souls under the altar are finally vindicated and allowed to return with Christ in triumph. They are united with spiritual bodies that can function and exist in the new spiritual realm in which they will dwell and reign. Those who are still alive will be transformed so that the bodies they are wearing are changed into immortal, spiritual bodies that will never perish. They are all caught up into Heaven to be with the Lord.


Death, Ruin and Sleep, Body and Soul

When the Bible speaks of sleep it is never referring to the soul or spirit, but only to the body. The body is inactive and inanimate in death - or what the Bible calls “sleep.” As we have seen in previous chapters, the spirit and soul are not unconscious or inactive. When the word sleep is used in reference to death, it is used only for believers, never for unbelievers. The word used for unbelievers is always death, died, dead, etc.

We have seen the following scripture before, but this time, please notice that when Matthew speaks of those resurrected after Christ’s resurrection, he carefully specifies that it was their bodies that were resurrected.

“The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” Matt 27:52-53 (NIV) We are not told what happened to them after that time. This raises many questions that can’t be answered with the information that is given, but it is clearly stated that it was the bodies that came forth from the graves. Matthew Henry’s Unabridged Commentary has the following to say about this curious event.

“The graves were opened. This matter is not related so fully as our curiosity would wish; for the scripture was not intended to gratify that; it should seem, that same earthquake that rent the rocks, opened the graves, and many bodies of saints which slept, arose. Death to the saints is but the sleep of the body, and the grave the bed it sleeps in; they awoke by the power of the Lord Jesus…We may raise many enquiries concerning it, which we cannot resolve…That, in virtue of Christ's resurrection, the bodies of all the saints shall, in the fullness of time, rise again. This was an earnest of the general resurrection at the last day, when all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God.”

Jesus adds to the understanding that the body will die but that the spirit remains alive. He speaks of Lazarus as being asleep as he did the little girl he raised to life. “After he 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, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.’” John 11:11-15 (NIV) When He meets Martha He reveals a deeper truth.

“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’" John 11:23-26 (NIV)

At the time when Jesus came to the Jews they were discouraged and had lived without strong prophetic revelations from God for centuries. Thier understanding of life after death was confused and vague. The Sadducees had completely given up on any form of life after death and had infected the nation with their lack of knowledge and faith. Jesus cut into their cherished teachings about life after death. What He said to Martha is echoed in His answer to the Sadducees when they thought they could trap Him in His own teachings.

“Jesus answered them, ‘You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God…And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? He is God not of the dead, but of the living.’ And when the crowd heard it, they were astounded at his teaching.” Matt 22:29-33 (NRSV)

Are we appropriately astounded at His teaching? What is He saying to Martha, to the Sadducees, to us? Those who have died in Him, even before the resurrection at the end of Earth’s history, are not dead, but alive. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had been in their graves for centuries when Jesus declared that they were alive. Therefore, when He told the story of Lazarus going to the bosom of Abraham, it was not in contradiction to his other teaching.

"Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” Matt 10:28 (NASB) If you have the presupposition of annihilation you would come to the conclusion that a person can kill another person but they are not able, by killing them, to determine their final outcome; only God has the power to either grant conditional immortality or annihilate the entire person for all eternity. But that is not what is being said here. Notice the difference in the words used. In the first instance it says that an enemy can kill the body at death, but even if they manage to kill the body, the soul does not die. The Greek word apokteino (Strong's Greek & Hebrew Dictionary) always refers to death. While in the second half of that statement a different word is used: apollumi (NASB Greek-Hebrew Dictionary), that is frequently used in the sense of ruin or loss. So, being put to death is nothing compared to being cast into the Lake of Fire where there will be eternal loss and ruin. If Matthew had wanted to say that the soul would be nonexistent he would have used the word apokteino for both phrases. But he carefully chose another word that would speak of something other than death of the spirit. For that reason, all translations of Matthew reflect that difference of wording and intent.

Here is how Matthew used the word apollumi in other parts of his book. “These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: ‘Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost (apollumi) sheep of the house of Israel.’” Matt 10:5-6 (NASB) These are clearly living people, not nonexistence ones.

"Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined (apollumi); but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved." Matt 9:17 (NASB) Here the word is used in terms of being broken or injured but still present. Luke uses the word in the same way, “And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.’” (apollumi). Luke 19:9-10 (NASB) He is speaking of a live Zaccheus and not someone who was annihilated. Paul used the words apokteino and apollumi with the same distinctions. “For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined (apollumi), the brother for whose sake Christ died” (apokteino). 1 Cor 8:11 (NASB) Of course, Christ’s body died, but His spirit could never have died because He is God. Some allege that Christ actually faced the second death and was annihilated, or at the very least, went
into soul sleep.

Think thru the implications of that. To assert that the second person of the Godhead went out of existence would require that, for a time, there was a binate Godhead not a trinity. Then at the resurrection He would have to have been reconstituted, making Him a creature from that point forward. And if it were asserted that only the human part of His being went into soul sleep or temporary non-existence, it would destroy the unity of Christ’s nature requiring a second incarnation. But Jesus Himself says, “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.” John 5:26 (NIV) So soul sleep was an impossibility for Christ. Putting the thoughts in Matt. 10:28 together with this text, we see that the body can be killed but the spirit can be injured, lost or ruined.

We see the same ideas put forth in the Old Testament “You have rebuked the nations, You have destroyed (given up as lost, ruined) the wicked; You have blotted out their name (from the book of life, those who will live in the presence of God) forever and ever. The enemy has come to an end (failed, spent) in perpetual (for all time, with no limit) ruins.” Psalms 9:5-6 (NASB) This is speaking of a nation that came against Israel and we can see that God sees their influence as having come to an end and that they have failed and will be in perpetual ruins - not cease to exist for eternity.

The Moses Problem

One more instance that must be considered in this discussion is the transfiguration of Jesus. Matthew describes it this way: “And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.” Matt 17:2-3 (NRSV)

In the passage from Matthew 22:29-33, Jesus has told the people that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are alive because God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Here, God proves the truth of His statement by allowing Peter, James and John to actually see Elijah and Moses. Because I had been raised with the doctrine of soul sleep, I had been taught that Elijah was there because he was translated without seeing death, and that Moses had actually been raised as the first fruits of the resurrection. I believed this until just a few months ago when I decided to look in the Bible and see what it actually says. I was profoundly dismayed by what I found.

The first thing I had overlooked is that Paul, and even Moses himself, thru the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, declared that Christ was to be the first fruits of the resurrection, not Moses. “I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen--that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles." Acts 26:22-23 (NIV) If there were no other text this should settle the matter that Moses was not on the mount of transfiguration on the basis of resurrection. His spirit had returned to God who gave it, just like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. However, there are many more supporting statements.

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Cor 15:20 (NIV)

“And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” Col 1:18 (NIV)

“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.” Rev 1:5 (NIV)

There are only two references to the death of Moses in the bible and they are these.
“Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the LORD showed him the whole land... Then the LORD said to him, "This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, 'I will give it to your descendants.' I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.’ And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is.” Deut 34:1, 4-6 (NIV)

But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’" Jude 1:9 (NIV)

That’s all it says anywhere in scripture. So where did I get the idea that Moses was resurrected? Finally, it dawned on me. It must have come from Ellen White. To be consistent with the doctrine of soul sleep, Moses would have to have been resurrected so that soul sleep wouldn’t be discredited by this event in Christ’s life. I turned to her book, Patriarchs and Prophets and found the origin of the elaborate fabrication that I had incorporated into my belief system unawares. I’m going to spend some time here to expose to you what lengths she went to in order to cover over the falsehood in her teachings. She was not content to just tell the story. She spins a story of masterful proportions that is compelling - presented as extrabiblical, additional revelation. The language is persuasive and seductive. It is actually much more tantalizing than the original, and even as I read it a few months ago, I found myself caught up in the drama. Bear with me as I relate a large potion of what she wrote.
Here are some things I want you to notice as we read.

1) She markedly expands the story with details that the Bible does not give
.

2) She quotes enough scripture to give it an authentic sound
.

3) She prepares the way for Moses to see himself attending Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.

4) She identifies Jesus Christ, a member of the Godhead, as Michael the Archangel.

5) She finds a way to work in the new distinctive doctrines of soul sleep and the Sabbath that the Adventist church had recently adopted.

6) She appeals to fear about Sunday laws
.

7) She insinuates Adventists into the place of Israel as keepers of the Old Covenant
.

8) She paints Israel as rejected of God, in opposition to Romans 11 and Jeremiah 31.

Could this be where some of the lingering vestiges of legalism come from? Is it because the curse (that vow to be the keepers of the Old Covenant) has never been broken, that the freedom in Christ - which is our inheritance as Christians - seems out of reach? What follows is taken from Ellen White’s book, Patriarchs and Prophets pages 470-479. For the sake of brevity, I have removed only extraneous things that do not change the context or content of the text. Her fictitious story follows:
“As the people gazed upon the aged man, so soon to be taken from them, they recalled, with a new and deeper appreciation, his parental tenderness, his wise counsels, and his untiring labors…They bitterly remembered that their own perversity had provoked Moses to the sin for which he must die
.

“That very day there came to Moses the command, ‘Get thee up । . . unto Mount Nebo… and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession...’ There was a mystery and awfulness about the scene before him, from which his heart shrank. Moses turned from the congregation, and in silence and alone made his way up the mountainside. He went to ‘the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah’. Upon that lonely height he stood, and gazed with undimmed eye upon the scene spread out before him.

“And now a panoramic view of the Land of Promise was presented to him। Every part of the country was spread out before him, not faint and uncertain in the dim distance, but standing out clear, distinct, and beautiful to his delighted vision. In this scene it was presented, not as it then appeared, but as it would become, with God's blessing upon it, in the possession of Israel. He seemed to be looking upon a second Eden.

“Moses saw the chosen people established in Canaan, each of the tribes in its own possession। He had a view of their history after the settlement of the Promised Land; the long, sad story of their apostasy and its punishment was spread out before him. He saw them, because of their sins, dispersed among the heathen, the glory departed from Israel, her beautiful city in ruins, and her people captives in strange lands. He saw them restored to the land of their fathers, and at last brought under the dominion of Rome.

“He was permitted to look down the stream of time and behold the first advent of our Saviour। He saw Jesus as a babe in Bethlehem. He heard the voices of the angelic host break forth in the glad song of praise to God and peace on earth. He beheld in the heavens the star guiding the Wise Men of the East to Jesus, and a great light flooded his mind as he called those prophetic words, 'There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel.' Numbers 24:17. He beheld Christ's humble life in Nazareth, His ministry of love and sympathy and healing, His rejection by a proud, unbelieving nation. Amazed he listened to their boastful exaltation of the law of God, while they despised and rejected Him by whom the law was given. He saw Jesus upon Olivet as with weeping He bade farewell to the city of His love. As Moses beheld the final rejection of that people so highly blessed of Heaven--that people for whom he had toiled and prayed and sacrificed, for whom he had been willing that his own name should be blotted from the book of life; as he listened to those fearful words, 'Behold your house is left unto you
desolate' (Matthew 23:38), his heart was wrung with anguish, and bitter tears fell from his eyes, in sympathy with the sorrow of the Son of God.

“He followed the Saviour to Gethsemane, and beheld the agony in the garden, the betrayal, the mockery and scourging--the crucifixion
. Moses saw that as he had lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of God must be lifted up, that whosoever would believe on Him 'should not perish, but have eternal life.' John 3:15. Grief, indignation, and horror filled the heart of Moses as he viewed the hypocrisy and satanic hatred manifested by the Jewish nation against their Redeemer, the mighty Angel who had gone before their fathers. He heard Christ's agonizing cry, 'My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?' Mark 15:34. He saw Him lying in Joseph's new tomb. The darkness of hopeless despair seemed to enshroud the world. But he looked again, and beheld Him coming forth a conqueror, and ascending to heaven escorted by adoring angels and leading a multitude of captives. He saw the shining gates open to receive Him and the host of heaven with songs of triumph welcoming their Commander. And it was there revealed to him that he himself would be one who should attend the Saviour, and open to Him the everlasting gates.

“Moses beheld the disciples of Jesus as they went forth to carry His gospel to the world. He saw that though the people of Israel… had failed of the high destiny to which God had called them…yet God had not cast off the seed of Abraham; the glorious purposes which He had undertaken to accomplish through Israel were to be fulfilled. All who…were inheritors of the covenant promises…were called to guard and to make known to the world the law of God


“And
now another scene passed before him. He had been shown the work of Satan in leading the Jews to reject Christ, while they professed to honor His Father's law. He now saw the…Christian world under a similar deception in professing to accept Christ while they rejected God's law। He had heard from the priests and elders the frenzied cry, 'Away with Him' 'Crucify Him, crucify Him' and now he heard from professedly Christian teachers the cry, 'Away with the law!' He saw the Sabbath trodden under foot, and a spurious institution established in its place. Again Moses was filled with astonishment and horror. How could those who believed in Christ reject the law spoken by His own voice upon the sacred mount? How could any that feared God set aside the law which is the foundation of His government in heaven and earth?

With joy Moses saw the law of God still honored and exalted by a faithful few. He saw the last great struggle of earthly powers to destroy those who keep God's law. He looked forward to the time when God shall arise to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and those who have feared His name shall be covered and hid in the day of His anger. He heard God's covenant of peace with those who have kept His law, as He utters His voice from His holy habitation and the heavens and the earth do shake. He saw the second coming of Christ in glory, the righteous dead raised to immortal life, and the living saints translated without seeing death, and together ascending with songs of gladness to the City of God.

“Then, like a tired warrior, he lay down to rest। ‘So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulcher.’ Many who had been unwilling to heed the counsels of Moses while he was with them would have been in danger of committing idolatry over his dead body had they known the place of his burial. For this reason it was concealed from men. But angels of God buried the body of His faithful servant and watched over the lonely grave.

“But he was not long to remain in the tomb. Christ Himself, with the angels who had buried Moses, came down from heaven to call forth the sleeping saint. Satan had exulted at his success in causing Moses to sin against God, and thus come under the dominion of death. The great adversary declared that the divine
sentence 'Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return' (Genesis 3:19)--gave him possession of the dead. The power of the grave had never been broken, and all who were in the tomb he claimed as his captives, never to be released from his dark prison house.

“For the first time Christ was about to give life to the dead. As the Prince of life and the shining ones approached the grave, Satan was alarmed for his supremacy. With his evil angels he stood to dispute an invasion of the territory that he claimed as his own. He boasted that the servant of God had become his prisoner. He declared that even Moses was not able to keep the law of God; that he had taken to himself the glory due to Jehovah--the very sin which had caused Satan's banishment from heaven--and by transgression had come under the dominion of Satan. The archtraitor reiterated the original charges that he had made against the divine government, and repeated his complaints of God's injustice toward him.


“Christ did not stoop to enter into controversy with Satan. But Christ referred all to His Father, saying, 'The Lord rebuke thee.' Jude 9. [Notice the scripture says that Michael the Archangel was the one who said this, so she is calling Christ Michael the Archangel.] The Saviour entered into no dispute with His adversary, but He then and there began His work of breaking the power of the fallen foe, and bringing the dead to life. Here was an evidence that Satan could not controvert, of the supremacy of the Son of God. The resurrection was forever made certain. Satan was despoiled of his prey; the righteous dead would live again. In consequence of sin Moses had come under the power of Satan
. In his own merits he was death's lawful captive; but he was raised to immortal life, holding his title in the name of the Redeemer. Moses came forth from the tomb glorified, and ascended with his Deliverer to the City of God.

“Upon the mount of transfiguration Moses was present with Elijah, who had been translated...Such is the last scene revealed to mortal vision in the history of that man so highly honored of Heaven.”


The Gift of God Is Eternal Life

Let’s look at annihilation from one more perspective before we move on. Paul tells us in Romans 6:22 that “The gift of God is eternal life” for all who are in Christ Jesus. He also says, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29 (NASB) Most of us know these texts. We have been taught and have seen instances where the gifts of the Spirit given to some have been misused, but still, God does not remove them or take them back. The same is true of creating a person in His own image with a spirit (Chapter Four). Would He do so provisionally? When people misuse other gifts of God, He does not take them back. He allows the consequences. So it is with the human spirit. He does not take it back when the life He has given has been misused, and wrong choices have been made. This is also why hell makes perfect sense. But we will deal with that in a later chapter.


Summary of Immortality

1) Adventists have been taught to believe that the doctrine of the immortality of the soul was the first lie Satan told the human race.
2) Ellen White teaches that acceptance of that doctrine will lead to all manner of evil, most specifically, the rejection of the seventh-day Sabbath.
3) Only God is immortal in the absolute sense. Humans have been given immortal spirits with a beginning point in history.
4) The word sleep is used with reference to believers’ bodies only, never of unbelievers'.
5) The word death is used exclusively when referring to the bodies of unbelievers. It is used sometimes of believers’ bodies.
6) Spirits and souls are never said to be resurrected, only bodies.
7) Humanity was created to have bodies and with the intention they would live forever from that time forward.
8) When sin entered the world, it led to the unnatural separation, rending or tearing of body and soul/spirit.
9) Paul speaks of the intermediate state of the disembodied spirit as being “naked.”
10) Paul explains that when Jesus returns to Earth a second time, He will bring with Him all those who have “fallen asleep” in Him.
11) They have been with him as disembodied spirits from the times of their deaths.
12) At the resurrection their spirits are united with “spiritual bodies” and those who are still alive are given a change of clothes.
13) Jesus confirms that God is the God of the living, not the dead, and refers to patriarchs in one instance and Lazarus in another.
14) There is a distinction made between the death of the body and the ruin of the spirit.
15) Moses’ presence on the Mount of Transfiguration, alone, should settle the question of soul sleep, once and for all, since we are told that Christ would be the first to be resurrected.
16) The notion that Moses was resurrected is to be found nowhere in the Bible.
17) Ellen White is the only writer anywhere that I can find who spins the story of Moses’ resurrection in opposition to the teachings of scripture. (Acts 26:22, 1 Cor 15:20, Col 1:18, Rev 1:5)
18) God’s gifts are irrevocable even when we choose to pervert and misuse them. He created humanity to live with Him forever. Eternal life is one of the gifts of God to humanity.
Quiz for Immortality
Choose the correct answers:

1. What did Ellen White say would result in eternal life?
A. Believing in Jesus Christ
B. Eating fruit from the tree of life
C. Confessing our sins and accepting Jesus as our Savior
D. Jesus’ death on the cross

2. What marks any church as “Babylon” according to Adventist teaching thru Ellen White?
A. Universalism and baptism by sprinkling
B. Purgatory and baptism for the dead
C. Church attendance on Sunday and the immortality of the soul
D. Denial of Christ as Savior and atheism

3. God alone has absolute immortality
A. True
B. False

4. Paul states that we can legitimately press on toward all of the following except:
A. Honor
B. Immortality
C. Eternal life
D. Absolute immortality

5. Because we were created to have bodies, the unnatural consequences of sin caused a separation of body and spirit at death. Paul refers to the disembodied spirit as being:
A. Naked
B. Cold
C. Bored
D. Embarrassed

6. At the Second Coming, God will bring with Him:
A. A list of sins that each person has committed
B. Sack lunches for the long trip back to Heaven
C. Those who have fallen asleep in Jesus
D. Keys to our new mansions

7. According to the Bible, what is it that sleeps and is resurrected?
A. The spirit
B. The soul
C. The mind
D. The body

8. In Matthew 22 Jesus referred to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who had been born 2000 years before. He stunned the Sadducees by saying:
A. They were still alive (God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.)
B. They were not their ancestors (You are really Egyptian.)
C. None of them had ever really existed (The Bible is actually myth.)
D. The flood had killed them all (The chronology got really messed up.)

9. When Jesus spoke of “killing” the soul He used a word that means to:
A. Annihilate
B. Eradicate
C. Ruin
D. Cease to exist

10. Where is it written that Moses was resurrected?
A. Jude 9
B. Deuteronomy 34
C. Somewhere else in the Bible
D. The Great Controversy by Ellen G. White









Answers: 1-B, 2-C, 3-A, 4-D, 5-A, 6-C, 7-D, 8-A, 9-C, 10-D



Spirit Table of Contents


The Next Chapter: Spiritual Implications
The Holy Spirit connection. More exciting than you have ever dreamed.


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