1. DEATH’S ORIGIN AND THE FIRST GREAT LIE
a. With what was the first biblical mention of death associated? Genesis 2:17. What lie was told by the serpent in a conversation that took place at this tree? Genesis 3:1–4.
“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’ (Genesis 3:4)—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. The divine sentence, ‘The soul that sinneth, it shall die’ (Ezekiel 18:20), is made to mean: The soul that sinneth, it shall not die, but live eternally. We cannot but wonder at the strange infatuation which renders men so credulous concerning the words of Satan and so unbelieving in regard to the words of God.”—The Great Controversy, p. 533.
b. When faced with temptation to eat from this tree, what did the first pair do? Genesis 3:6. What came as a result of this sin? Romans 5:12; 6:23.
“It is now evident to all that the wages of sin is not noble independence and eternal life, but slavery, ruin, and death.”—Ibid., p.668.
2. THE NATURE OF DEATH
a. How did God bring body and breath together to give life to the first person? Genesis 2:7. What happens when a soul dies? Psalm 146:4.
b. What control does a person have over death, and what state does one enter upon dying? Psalm 6:5; 89:48; 115:17; Ecclesiastes 8:8; 9:5.
“Upon the fundamental error of natural immortality rests the doctrine of consciousness in death—a doctrine, like eternal torment, opposed to the teachings of the Scriptures, to the dictates of reason, and to our feelings of humanity. According to the popular belief, the redeemed in heaven are acquainted with all that takes place on the earth and especially with the lives of the friends whom they have left behind. But how could it be a source of happiness to the dead to know the troubles of the living, to witness the sins committed by their own loved ones, and to see them enduring all the sorrows, disappointments, and anguish of life? How much of heaven’s bliss would be enjoyed by those who were hovering over their friends on earth? And how utterly revolting is the belief that as soon as the breath leaves the body the soul of the impenitent is consigned to the flames of hell! To what depths of anguish must those be plunged who see their friends passing to the grave unprepared, to enter upon an eternity of woe and sin! Many have been driven to insanity by this harrowing thought.”—The Great Controversy, p. 545.
c. What did Jesus say about death? Matthew 9:18, 19, 23, 24; John 11:11–14.
“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.
d. How did the apostle Peter signify that a righteous person does not go immediately to heaven upon death? Acts 2:29, 34.
3. THE SERPENT’S LIE RETOLD
a. How were the Israelites warned against heathen customs involving supposed communication with the dead? Leviticus 19:28; Deuteronomy 14:1.
“Nearly all forms of ancient sorcery and witchcraft were founded upon a belief in communion with the dead. Those who practiced the arts of necromancy claimed to have intercourse with departed spirits, and to obtain through them a knowledge of future events. . . .
“This same belief in communion with the dead formed the cornerstone of heathen idolatry. The gods of the heathen were believed to be the deified spirits of departed heroes. Thus the religion of the heathen was a worship of the dead. . . .
“The deification of the dead has held a prominent place in nearly every system of heathenism, as has also the supposed communion with the dead. The gods were believed to communicate their will to men, and also, when consulted, to give them counsel. Of this character were the famous oracles of Greece and Rome.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 684.
b. How was King Saul led to seek counsel from Satan under the guise of the supposed spirit of the dead prophet? 1 Samuel 28:7–14.
c. What should be the perspective of every true worshipper of the living God? Isaiah 8:19, 20.
“If men had been willing to receive the truth so plainly stated in the Scriptures concerning the nature of man and the state of the dead, they would see in the claims and manifestations of spiritualism the working of Satan with power and signs and lying wonders. But rather than yield the liberty so agreeable to the carnal heart, and renounce the sins which they love, multitudes close their eyes to the light and walk straight on, regardless of warnings, while Satan weaves his snares about them, and they become his prey. ‘Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved,’ therefore ‘God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie’ (2 Thessalonians 2:10, 11).”—The Great Controversy, p. 559.
4. CHRIST’S VICTORY OVER DEATH
a. Who controls life and death? Psalm 68:20; Revelation 1:18. Although He holds the keys of death, what did Jesus do? Hebrews 2:9; Acts 2:24.
“In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived. ‘He that hath the Son hath life’ (1 John 5:12). The divinity of Christ is the believer’s assurance of eternal life. ‘He that believeth in Me,’ said Jesus, ‘though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this?’ (John 11:25, 26). Christ here looks forward to the time of His second coming. Then the righteous dead shall be raised incorruptible, and the living righteous shall be translated to heaven without seeing death. . . . By His word and His works He declared Himself the Author of the resurrection. He who Himself was soon to die upon the cross stood with the keys of death, a conqueror of the grave, and asserted His right and power to give eternal life.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 530.
b. What has Jesus done to death? 2 Timothy 1:10; Hebrews 2:14, 15.
“The question, “If a man die, shall he live again?” has been answered. By bearing the penalty of sin, by going down into the grave, Christ has brightened the tomb for all who die in faith. God in human form has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. In dying, Christ secured eternal life for all who believe in Him. In dying, He condemned the originator of sin and disloyalty to suffer the penalty of sin—eternal death.”—Testimonies, vol. 6, pp. 230, 231.
c. In contrast to death’s penalty, what is God’s gift? Romans 6:23; John 3:16.
“To the believer, Christ is the resurrection and the life. In our Saviour the life that was lost through sin is restored; for He has life in Himself to quicken whom He will.” —The Desire of Ages, pp. 786, 787.
“All believers who pass through a natural death, have, through eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of God, eternal life in them, which is the life of Jesus Christ. In dying, Jesus has made it impossible for those who believe on Him to die eternally.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 7, p. 926.
5. DEATH DESTROYED
a. What happens after the first and second resurrections? Revelation 20:4–15.
“At the close of the thousand years, Christ . . . bids the wicked dead arise to receive their doom. . . . What a contrast to those who were raised at the first resurrection! The righteous were clothed with immortal youth and beauty. The wicked bear the traces of disease and death.”—The Great Controversy, p. 662.
b. What will finally happen to all the wicked? Matthew 13:40–42. Rather than eternal punishment, what is inflicted on them? Malachi 4:1–3.
“Some [of the wicked] are destroyed as in a moment, while others suffer many days. All are punished ‘according to their deeds’ (Psalm 28:4). . . . [Satan] is made to suffer not only for his own rebellion, but for all the sins which he has caused God’s people to commit. His punishment is to be far greater than that of those whom he has deceived. After all have perished who fell by his deceptions, he is still to live and suffer on. In the cleansing flames the wicked are at last destroyed, root and branch—Satan the root, his followers the branches. The full penalty of the law has been visited; the demands of justice have been met; and heaven and earth, beholding, declare the righteousness of Jehovah.”—Ibid., p.673.
c. What will happen to even death itself? 1 Corinthians 15:26; Revelation 21:4.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How was death introduced to this world?
2. What state does a person enter after death?
3. How was the first lie of the serpent perpetuated throughout history?
4. What has Christ done to the curse of death?
5. How do we know that the wicked are not left to burn eternally?