1. THE DESIRE FOR IMMORTALITY
a. Why is there death in this world—and what hope has the Lord placed in our hearts? Romans 5:12; 6:23; Ecclesiastes 3:11 (margin).
“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. . . . And only through Christ can immortality be obtained.”—The Great Controversy, p. 533.
“In order to possess an endless existence, man must continue to partake of the tree of life. Deprived of this, his vitality would gradually diminish until life should become extinct. It was Satan’s plan that Adam and Eve should by disobedience incur God’s displeasure; and then, if they failed to obtain forgiveness, he hoped that they would eat of the tree of life, and thus perpetuate an existence of sin and misery. But after man’s fall, holy angels were immediately commissioned to guard the tree of life. Around these angels flashed beams of light having the appearance of a glittering sword. None of the family of Adam were permitted to pass that barrier to partake of the life-giving fruit; hence there is not an immortal sinner.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 60.
2. THE SOUL
a. Since the soul is composed of the matter made from clay plus the breath of God that was given at creation (Genesis 2:7), what must we realize about what happens at the moment of death? Ecclesiastes 12:7; James 4:14.
“Say not presumptuously, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain.’ God may have different plans for you. Life is but a vapor.”—The Review and Herald, December 23, 1902.
b. What is the difference between people and animals when death overtakes them? Psalm 49:16, 17; Ecclesiastes 2:15, 16; 3:19, 20.
“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.’
“He was placed, as God’s representative, over the lower orders of being. They cannot understand or acknowledge the sovereignty of God, yet they were made capable of loving and serving man.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 45.
“Oh, wondrous love of Christ, stooping to heal the guilty and the afflicted! Divinity sorrowing over and soothing the ills of suffering humanity! Oh, marvelous power thus displayed to the children of men! Who can doubt the message of salvation? Who can slight the mercies of a compassionate Redeemer?
“It required nothing less than creative power to restore health to that decaying body. The same voice that spoke life to man created from the dust of the earth had spoken life to the dying paralytic. And the same power that gave life to the body had renewed the heart. He who at the creation ‘spake, and it was,’ who ‘commanded, and it stood fast,’ (Psalm 33:9), had spoken life to the soul dead in trespasses and sins.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 269, 270.
“In the sentence pronounced upon Satan was given an intimation of redemption. ‘I will put enmity between thee and the woman,’ God said, ‘and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.’ Genesis 3:15. This sentence, spoken in the hearing of our first parents, was to them a promise. Before they heard of the thorn and the thistle, of the toil and sorrow that must be their portion, or of the dust to which they must return, they listened to words that could not fail of giving them hope. All that had been lost by yielding to Satan could be regained through Christ.”—Education, p. 27.
3. THE STATE OF THE DEAD
a. Explain what dead people are aware of—and why we need to understand this point clearly. Ecclesiastes 9:3–6; Psalms 115:17; 146:4.
“Spiritualism is the masterpiece of deception. It is Satan’s most successful and fascinating delusion—one calculated to take hold of the sympathies of those who have laid their loved ones in the grave. Evil angels come in the form of those loved ones, and relate incidents connected with their lives, and perform acts which they performed while living. In this way they lead persons to believe that their dead friends are angels, hovering over them, and communicating with them. These evil angels, who assume to be the deceased friends, are regarded with a certain idolatry, and with many their word has greater weight than the Word of God.”—This Day With God, p. 247.
“Spiritualism is about to take the world captive. There are many who think that Spiritualism is upheld through trickery and imposture, but this is far from the truth. Superhuman power is working in a variety of ways, and few have any idea as to what will be the manifestations of Spiritualism in the future. The foundation for the success of Spiritualism has been laid in the assertions that have been made from the pulpits of our land. The ministers have proclaimed as Bible doctrines falsehoods that have originated with the arch deceiver.
“The doctrine of consciousness after death, of the spirits of the dead being in communion with the living, has no foundation in the Scriptures, and yet these theories are affirmed as truth. Through this false doctrine the way has been opened for the spirits of devils to deceive the people in representing themselves as the dead. Satanic agencies personate the dead and thus bring souls into captivity. Satan has a religion, he has a synagogue and devout worshipers.”—Evangelism, pp. 602, 603.
b. Since the dead know not anything, can we pray to past saints to mediate between us and God? 1 Timothy 2:5.
“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.”—Evangelism, p. 603.
4. HOPE IN THE GRAVE
a. Contrast the level of hope between two different kinds of people as they descend into the grave. Proverbs 11:7; 14:32; Romans 8:11.
b. Explain the difference between the resurrection of the righteous and that of the wicked. John 5:21–29.
“A distinction is made between the two classes that are brought forth. . . . They who have been ‘accounted worthy’ of the resurrection of life are ‘blessed and holy.’ ‘On such the second death hath no power.’ Revelation 20:6. But those who have not, through repentance and faith, secured pardon, must receive the penalty of transgression—‘the wages of sin.’ They suffer punishment varying in duration and intensity, ‘according to their works,’ but finally ending in the second death. Since it is impossible for God, consistently with His justice and mercy, to save the sinner in his sins, He deprives him of the existence which his transgressions have forfeited and of which he has proved himself unworthy. Says an inspired writer: ‘Yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.’ And another declares: ‘They shall be as though they had not been.’ Psalm 37:10; Obadiah 16. Covered with infamy, they sink into hopeless, eternal oblivion.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 544, 545.
c. How does the Bible refer to that time period when the righteous are dead? Psalm 13:3; Mark 5:39; 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.
“To the believer, death is but a small matter. Christ speaks of it as if it were of little moment. ‘If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death,’ ‘he shall never taste of death.’ To the Christian, death is but a sleep, a moment of silence and darkness. The life is hid with Christ in God, and ‘when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.’ John 8:51, 52; Colossians 3:4. . . .
“At His second coming all the precious dead shall hear His voice, and shall come forth to glorious, immortal life. The same power that raised Christ from the dead will raise His church, and glorify it with Him, above all principalities, above all powers, above every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in the world to come.”—Ibid., p. 787.
5. THE MANNER OF HIS RESURRECTION
a. Like Adam, what hope do we need to keep before us? 1 Corinthians 15:12–23.
“After his expulsion from Eden, Adam’s life on earth was filled with sorrow. Every dying leaf, every victim of sacrifice, every blight upon the fair face of nature, every stain upon man’s purity, was a fresh reminder of his sin. Terrible was the agony of remorse as he beheld iniquity abounding, and, in answer to his warnings, met the reproaches cast upon himself as the cause of sin. With patient humility he bore, for nearly a thousand years, the penalty of transgression. Faithfully did he repent of his sin and trust in the merits of the promised Saviour, and he died in the hope of a resurrection.”—The Great Controversy, p. 647.
b. Describe how the resurrection of God’s faithful people will take place. 1 Corinthians 15:42–55.
“The earth mightily shook as the voice of the Son of God called forth the sleeping saints. They responded to the call and came forth clothed with glorious immortality, crying, ‘Victory, victory, over death and the grave! O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?’ Then the living saints and the risen ones raised their voices in a long, transporting shout of victory. Those bodies that had gone down into the grave bearing the marks of disease and death came up in immortal health and vigor. The living saints are changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and caught up with the risen ones, and together they meet their Lord in the air. Oh, what a glorious meeting! Friends whom death had separated were united, never more to part.”—Early Writings, p. 287.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why are people driven to live and do not want to die?
2. How is the original composition of the soul divided at death?
3. To what does the false idea of the conscious state of the dead lead?
4. What has been the hope of all believers since death first entered the world?
5. How does the body finally unite with the breath of life forever?