God made man as a living soul, a free moral agent, formed in the image of God, created for His glory. Genesis 1:26-28; 2:7; Psalm 8:4-6; Isaiah 43:7. He was not endowed with natural and unconditional immortality. Only by obeying God and by eating of the tree of life could he perpetuate his existence. Genesis 2:9, 16, 17. Due to his disobedience, he forfeited his access to the tree of life, came short of the glory of his Maker, and was separated from the source of life. Sin brought death to Adam and all his descendants. Genesis 3:19, 22-24; Ecclesiastes 12:7; Isaiah 59:2; Romans 5:12, 17; Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 6:23.
Made in God's Image
"God created man in His own image. Here is no mystery. There is no ground for the supposition that man was evolved by slow degrees of development from the lower forms of animal or vegetable life. Such teaching lowers the great work of the Creator to the level of man's narrow, earthly conceptions. Men are so intent upon excluding God from the sovereignty of the universe that they degrade man and defraud him of the dignity of his origin. He who set the starry worlds on high and tinted with delicate skill the flowers of the field, who filled the earth and the heavens with the wonders of His power, when He came to crown His glorious work, to place one in the midst to stand as ruler of the fair earth, did not fail to create a being worthy of the hand that gave him life. The genealogy of our race, as given by inspiration, traces back its origin, not to a line of developing germs, mollusks, and quadrupeds, but to the great Creator. Though formed from the dust, Adam was 'the son of God.' "—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 45.
"Immortality, promised to man on condition of obedience, had been forfeited by transgression. Adam could not transmit to his posterity that which he did not possess; and there could have been no hope for the fallen race had not God, by the sacrifice of His Son, brought immortality within their reach."—The Great Controversy, p. 533.
"The only one who promised Adam life in disobedience was the great deceiver. And the declaration of the serpent to Eve in Eden—'Ye shall not surely die'—was the first sermon ever preached upon the immortality of the soul. Yet this declaration, resting solely upon the authority of Satan, is echoed from the pulpits of Christendom and is received by the majority of mankind as readily as it was received by our first parents."—Ibid.
"Adam, in his innocence, had enjoyed open communion with his Maker; but sin brought separation between God and man, and the atonement of Christ alone could span the abyss and make possible the communication of blessing or salvation from heaven to earth. Man was still cut off from direct approach to his Creator, but God would communicate with him through Christ and angels."—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 67.
"The eyes of Adam and Eve were opened, but to what?—To see their own shame and ruin, to realize that the garments of heavenly light that had been their protection were no longer around them as a safeguard. They saw that nakedness was the result of transgression. As they heard the voice of their Creator in the garden, they hid themselves from Him; for they anticipated that which before they had not known,—the condemnation of God."—The Signs of the Times, May 29, 1901.
"After his transgression Adam at first imagined himself entering upon a higher state of existence. But soon the thought of his sin filled him with terror. The air, which had hitherto been of a mild and uniform temperature, seemed to chill the guilty pair. The love and peace which had been theirs was gone, and in its place they felt a sense of sin, a dread of the future, a nakedness of soul. The robe of light which had enshrouded them, now disappeared, and to supply its place they endeavored to fashion for themselves a covering; for they could not, while unclothed, meet the eye of God and holy angels."—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 57.
Immortality Obtainable Only Through Christ
As a consequence of Adam's fall, man became mortal, subject to death; and his posterity was born with inherent propensities of disobedience. Psalm 51:5; Romans 3:10-18; Mark 7:20-23; Jeremiah 17:9. Man can be made free from sin, the character of God can be restored in him, and he can regain his original position before God (Matthew 5:48), only through Christ. Romans 3:23-26; Acts 4:12; John 8:36; 14:6; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Titus 2:13, 14; 3:3-6.
Those who accept this provision, seeking for life everlasting, will receive immortality at the second coming of Christ, when the sleeping saints will be called back to life by the voice of the Archangel. Romans 2:6, 7; 6:22, 23; 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, 51-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17.
"In Eden, man fell from his high estate and through transgression became subject to death. It was seen in heaven that human beings were perishing, and the compassion of God was stirred. At infinite cost He devised a means of relief. He '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. There was no hope for the transgressor except through Christ."—Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 25.
"The result of the eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is manifest in every man's experience. There is in his nature a bent to evil, a force which, unaided, he cannot resist. To withstand this force, to attain that ideal which in his inmost soul he accepts as alone worthy, he can find help in but one power. That power is Christ. Co-operation with that power is man's greatest need."—Education, p. 29.
"Christ's teachings are to be to us as the leaves of the tree of life. As we eat and digest the bread of life, we shall reveal a symmetrical character."—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 5, p. 1135.
The Dead Are Unconscious
The first death, to which we all are subject, is a state of total lifelessness and is represented as a deep sleep. Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6; Psalm 6:5; 115:17; 146:4; Ecclesiastes 3:20; Isaiah 38:18, 19; John 11:11-14.
The Dead Are in the Grave
At death, a good man does not go to heaven; and an evil man does not go to hell (lake of fire). All, whether good or evil, go to the grave. Job 7:9, 10; 14:10-14; 17:13-16; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Psalm 89:48; 104:29; Acts 2:29, 34; Daniel 12:13; Hebrews 11:13; Revelation 11:18.
Life After Death Only Through Resurrection
The righteous dead will be resurrected. Job 14:14, 15; 19:25-27; Hosea 13:14; Hebrews 11:39, 40; John 11:38, 39, 43; 1 Corinthians 15:51; 2 Timothy 4:7, 8; John 11:25. At the second coming of Christ, they will be taken to heaven. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; John 14:1-3. The wicked dead are not in a place of torment. 2 Peter 2:9; John 5:28, 29. They will be resurrected at the end of the millennium. Revelation 20:5, 6.
"Christ represents death as a sleep to His believing children. Their life is hid with Christ in God, and until the last trump shall sound, those who die will sleep in Him."—The Desire of Ages, p. 527.
"Christ became one flesh with us, in order that we might become one spirit with Him. It is by virtue of this union that we are to come forth from the grave,—not merely as a manifestation of the power of Christ, but because, through faith, His life has become ours. Those who see Christ in His true character, and receive Him into the heart, have everlasting life. It is through the Spirit that Christ dwells in us; and the Spirit of God, received into the heart by faith, is the beginning of the life eternal."—Ibid., p. 388.
"Our personal identity is preserved in the resurrection, though not the same particles of matter or material substance as went into the grave. The wondrous works of God are a mystery to man. The spirit, the character of man, is returned to God, there to be preserved. In the resurrection every man will have his own character. God in His own time will call forth the dead, giving again the breath of life, and bidding the dry bones live. The same form will come forth, but it will be free from disease and every defect. It lives again bearing the same individuality of features, so that friend will recognize friend. There is no law of God in nature which shows that God gives back the same identical particles of matter which composed the body before death. God shall give the righteous dead a body that will please Him. Paul illustrates this subject by the kernel of grain sown in the field. The planted kernel decays, but there comes forth a new kernel. The natural substance in the grain that decays is never raised as before, but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him. A much finer material will compose the human body, for it is a new creation, a new birth."—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1093.
The Destiny of the Wicked
After the wicked are judged (Revelation 20:4), they suffer the second death (destruction, extermination, extinction, or annihilation) which will be meted out to them at the end of the millennium—the 1000 years of Revelation 20. Revelation 20:9, 15, 14; Malachi 4:1, 3; Psalm 37:9, 10, 20, 38; Obadiah 15, 16.