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Sunday: The State of the Dead — 20 Comments

  1. We are created in the image and likeness of our Creator who is as indivisible as we are and yet three. Pray about, think about it, visualize it in the light of the truth we have.

  2. With death delivering such a crushing blow when it strikes, is it justifiable to comfort the bereaved with the thought that their deceased loved ones are in Heaven, as is common practice among many, including some who claim no firm commitment to Christ?

    It is actually a false assurance of pagan influence, and one error leads to another. When Peter tried to comfort Christ with the words, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You,” Jesus did not respond, “It is okay, you mean well.” Instead He rejected any such solace with the plainest of responses (Matthew 16:21-23).

    The Apostle Paul did suggest that the hope of reuniting with loved ones after separation by death may comfort the hearts of the bereaved (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Yet he did not sanction the bearing of a false testimony even for a noble intent. The uncomfortable truth is people do not generally go directly to Heaven. Further we do not really know who will be in heaven eventually, although we would like to believe grandparents and other dear ones will be there. As well we cannot assure our own presence.

    The Judge of all the earth will ultimately decide who is fit to spend eternity with Him. Painful as it may be the reality is some separation is final. The time to make an impact is while loved ones are alive, and afterwards leave the case with the Savior. We may take comfort in the fact that we treated loved ones right while they were alive, and express gratitude we had an opportunity to serve God and our loved ones, even while we hope to see them again.

    Let us live to make today count; for we know not what tomorrow holds.

    • Hugh, I concur with you on comforting the bereaved with false hope that their loved ones are in heaven. This may brew disaster and indeed has in some homes. A pastor ones preached in that line only to cause more deaths. Infact the entire family committed suicide si that they could join their loved one in heaven. Such kind of information leads to more harm than good because even if the receivers may not die physically, they may die a spiritual death.

    • Hugh, even though it is possible that “we cannot assure our own presence” we certainly can have faith in God’s promises as John said, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 Jn 5:12-13 NKJV).

  3. There is a popular believe among many people that our dead loved ones watch over us and even participate in some of our daily activities!Friends,this is a total lie.satan uses this form of spirituality to trap people with his angles of darkness.Eccl 9:5-6 states clearly that the dead know nothing and cannot participate in anything under the sun.
    Others still trouble themselves praying for the dead.Friends,the dead cannot repent,when one has died his or her account in the heavenly books are closed awaiting the final righteous judgement.

  4. I like the bible because it leaves no question unanswered. In this matter on the state of the dead, it is very clear and plain that any reader even the careless one can understand.

    Consider this; "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.
    Also their love, their hatred, and their envy now have perished; nevermore will they have a share In anything under the sun.
    Ecc. 9:5-6
    The devil knows this word very well but he has stuck to his first lie "Ye shall not surely die" Gen. 3:4. He has managed to convince humanity that their departed loved ones can still come back to them in spirits. He has used the demons who impersonate the departed souls to prove his point. But God being Omniscient knew all these before hand and through His word has made everything clear.

    The dead can do nothing for even their plan perish in the day they die Psalm 146:4

    Let's read God's word and take it seriously. We should choose to listen to God for a different voice will be that of the surpent.

  5. Yes, the dead know not anything. A living spirit has to have breath and body. Take away the breath; there is no living spirit, equals death. Yes death is a sting, but with the promise of resurrection after dying in Christ, the sting melts away, that is how we as Christians survive death of a loved one. There is comfort in believing that your loved ones are watching over you after their death, that is not Bible Truth. Christ said that Lazarath is sleeping, which he meant he is dead. Have you ever been able to watch over your children when you are sleeping? No! I would find it much easier to believe that my Guardian Angel is watching over me, not my dead loved ones. When Elisha servant’s eyes were opened who did he see? Guardian Angels!

  6. There are good, honest Christians that believe that we are dualistic having both a physical form and a spiritual form. They feel that at death the spirit separates from the body and goes either to hell or to Heaven. They get that idea from texts such as Phil 1:21-23 but such concepts actually come from Greek philosophy rather than from the Jews. What we need to keep in mind is that the writers of the New Testament were steeped in Old Testament theology and they freely quoted and got their ideas from the scriptures of their time which was generally the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament).

    In my view Solomon refuted such notions along with several other texts from the Old Testament (Job 14:21; Ps 146:4; Ps 6:5, etc. Texts such as the following speak of such things:

    I said in my heart, "Concerning the condition of the sons of men, God tests them, that they may see that they themselves are like animals." For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust. Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth? (Ecc 3:18-21 NKJV)

    I think we need to realize that what this text says is that if we have a spirit floating around somewhere then so do the animals. What Solomon says instead is that at death for humans the information of life is retained by God but for animals that information is discarded (to the earth where the grave is) which is the same thing that will happen for those that experience the second death. What we are talking about here is the basis of life and it is becoming increasingly clear that life is basically highly specified information which is something that God constantly upholds (Heb 1:3). To me that is the spirit of life. We all have the same basic chemicals but how they are put together and interact with one another is what makes each of us different and that takes information. So at death God stores that information to be used in one of the resurrections to bring the dead back to life as he/she was before death except the righteous will be restored to health where the wicked won’t.

    To view the state of the dead from the New Testament consider the following, first a statement of David and second a part of Peter’s Pentecostal sermon:

    Now the days of David drew near that he should die, and he charged Solomon his son, saying: "I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man. (1 Kings 2:1-2 NKJV)

    Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. . . For David did not ascend into the heavens” (Acts 2:29-34 NKJV)

    Now, if he died like all the rest of those who have died and yet didn’t go to Heaven then what about us? Be assured that he will be in Heaven according to Hebrews 11:32 that list the faith of the righteous. So there is no way that at death the spirits of the righteous are taken to Heaven to live in bliss or to hell to burn endlessly as is commonly thought. The whole idea of the resurrection becomes totally illogical with that kind of thinking as also the concept of fairness does.

    Therefore, for me the SDA doctrine of the state of the dead rests on solid biblical foundation rather than from nebulous sources and questionable interpretations that ignore context.

    • 'What we are talking about here is the basis of life and it is becoming increasingly clear that life is basically highly specified information which is something that God constantly upholds'
      I know that my question comes in very late but I hope that I will get a response. I am understanding you correctly when I assume that you suppose that souls are stored somewhere else when one dies and restored back at resurrection?

  7. If when we die we all go to heaven, then who are the dead in Christ which will arise first at Jesus return? I have always wondered why people who believe that death leads to immediate entrance into heaven fight death to the end. I thank God that 1 Thess 4:13-18 clears it up for us.

  8. What do we say about Jesus parable of Lazarus and the rich man? Jesus said in the parable that Lazarus died and went to Heaven(Luke 16 vs19~26) so does that not mean when when people die, they actually go to either hell or heaven?

    • this was a parable and there was a lesson that God wanted us to learn. That when we don't pay attention to the ones who are poor then we will be tormented forever because once we die we will not be part of the first resurrection.

    • Grace, Without a proper understanding of what the entire Bible says about death, it would be possible to get the idea from that parable that when we die we go straight to heaven or straight to hell. When we study the Bible the way it suppose to be studied, “line upon line and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” Isaiah 28:10, we understand that when we die we rest in our graves asleep, not knowing anything until Jesus returns and wakes us up. If we take the story of the rich man and Lazarus literally then we have a contradiction as to what happens when you die, as the rich man in the story dies and goes straight to hell. Here are some things to remember while reading this story to keep us from being confused.

      Jesus tells this parable in the midst of other parables in Luke 15 and 16. Jesus is only using this story to make a point and was not meant to be taken literally. Jesus was telling this story to Jewish leaders and so He told it in a way to get their attention. For example, they were big believers in Abraham, so in the story Lazarus goes to Abraham’s bosom. Obviously, not only do we not go straight to heaven or hell when we die, we also do not go to Abraham but to Jesus. This is an obvious sign this story is not meant to be taken literally. The Rich man asks for water to be sprinkled on his tongue. Again if this was literal, what good would a few drops of water do? At the end of the story Jesus makes the point that if they did not believe already they would not believe though someone rose from the dead. Here Jesus makes the whole point of the story. Jesus picked the name Lazarus in His make believe story, to remind them that one named Lazarus did indeed rise from the dead and they still did not believe. And of course the real Lazarus who rose from the dead had no tales to tell from the grave as he had been dead and asleep the whole time.

    • The question as to the rich man and the beggar Lazarus is coming up again and again as a proof of the so called immortality of the soul. Let me try to make some brief points.

      Jesus had told the parable of a rich man and his dishonest steward before relating the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:1). Jesus was driving home the point that one cannot serve God and mammon (vere 13). After the Pharisees had listened to Jesus, they derided him (verse 14). So Jeus continued telling another parable driving home again just one point: If mammon was their God, they had to be admonished that the decision for eternal live or eternal damnation at he day of future judgement has to be made in the here and now. In the context of scripture that judgement does not take place after death. All will have to agree with scripture that the day of judgement occures at the coming of Christ (Matthew 25:31-34.41). That judgement for the righteous takes place before the millenium and against the wicked after the millenium (Revelation 20:7.11-14). To place the judgement after death contradicts the clear position of scripture as to the time of judgement.

      I think,it ought to remembered that the parable is driving home just one point as said before: the opportunity of a present desicion. The parable is saying that there will be no possibility of rendering any decision after death. Whosoever is taking this tory as an allegory, trying to explain all details, is missing the point and falling out of all the bible is teaching on judgement.

      The Pharisees believed in the immortality of the soul (Flavius Josephus, Jewish War,Book II, 14). And even the Essenes believed in that idea expecting the durarion of eternal bliss over against the duration of eternal torture (Josephus, Book II.11). Jesus is using this story, known in Judaism, in order to meet his hearers on their own ground, bringing them up to a decision for eternal life in accepting Jesus as their saviour from sin and death. Jesus himself did never ever believe in eternal torment and eternal bliss after death,inasmuch as he compared death with the condition of sleeping (John 11:11-13).

      In brief: The story of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus has to be interpredted in its immediate context as well as in harmony with the wider context of scripture-- not taking the described event als an isolated allegory explaining all details, but as a parable pointing to a single driving point.

      Winfried Stolpmann

  9. I'm made to understand that the story referred to is a PARABLE. In a parable we are supposed to look for the moral lesson delivered rather than the story details. Here the Lord was imparting the important truth that we choose our citizenship for the Kingdom of God NOW or never, definitely not after death. For sure Jesus would not opt to contradict Himself as He is the Word and Author of the holy writ which has been extensively quoted in this lesson.

  10. As a young girl growing up in a church where life in heaven and hell was expounded on at funerals, I was saddened and slightly confused at the thought that after my beloved grandmother who had just died (and who would surely be in heaven) could be happy given the misery she'd be witnessing in her children's lives here on earth. It ever made sense. Also the thought that a loving Creator and Father would allow His beloved albeit rebellious creatures to suffer eternal torment. Amongst other things, this caused me to explore many alternatives & doctrines, but in each something always fell short. Imagine my relief when I discovered (amongst other things) the teaching of the state of the dead when introduced to this church. This important teaching confirms that we indeed do serve and worship the true, loving, and compassionate Father, God.

  11. Very good explanation William. Thank-you! I can think of another parable that holds the same water. Like Grace's parable, it is an illustration, not pertaining to a specific doctrine, or even trying to explain it, and yes not literal. The parable I am thinking of, Jesus gave to Peter through a vision. To make a long parable short, Christ was illustrating how we are to treat and minister to gentiles, and not how we are to eat. I do believe it is found in Acts 10:9-47 and Acts 11:1-18.

    Thanks Tyler for your good information on the state of the dead. I will be able to use it someday when called to testify without your support. I know knowledge does not save us, but it sure helps us be a better witness. Then again, some will be lost for the lack of knowledge.

    Now don't anyone get discouraged when the one you are talking to, another Christian, before you even get into God's character found in nature, the necessity of knowing God, The love of God, confession, forgiveness, and repentance, all tied in with what God has done for us,(The Gospel), stops you by saying, "we are both Christians, we believe the same." Immediately your Christian friend goes into another topic, green peace or the state of the local city government.

  12. Death just might be one of the most misunderstood subjects today. To many it is enshrouded in mystery and evokes dreaded feelings of fear, uncertainty, and even hopelessness. Others believe that their deceased loved ones are not dead at all, but instead live with them or in other realms! Still others are confused about the relationship between the body, spirit, and soul. But does it really matter what you believe? Yes... absolutely! Because what you believe about the dead will have a profound impact on what happens to you in the end-times....
    . What happens when a person dies?

    "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." Ecclesiastes 12:7.....The body turns to dust again, and the spirit goes back to God, who gave it. The spirit of every person who dies--whether righteous or wicked--returns to God at death.

    • I think the word "spirit" has 3 dimensions 1. Spirit of God (also called the Holy Spirit) 2. The evil spirit/spirits (also called demons), it looks we can only possess one of the two at a time 3. Then we have the "spirit of life" which whether one is a believer or not possess as long as life is concerned, I think when the Bible mentions this spirit of life "in my nostrils" is simply trying to teach us that "the power of life" belongs to God alone,whether one is a believer in God or not, it's more than the air we breath, but does not go to the extent of living on its own. I like one comparison of spirit of life to a battery, it can not act in any way until it set into the technology one wants to operate, that ability of reassembling the "bodily technology" to "the spirit battery" to make a functioning-living human being belongs to God alone. And the composition/ components of the spirit of life is better known to God himself, that is why the Bible says "the spirit returns to God". Only Jesus has the power to restore the integrity of a living being.

    • John5:21,24,25,28,29- These words were spoken by our Lord and Savior JESUS CHRIST the Son of GOD to the Jews after they sought to persecute and slay him, regarding death:(21)For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneh them; even so the Son quuickeneth whom he will.(25) Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and NOW is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the SON of GOD: and they that hear shall LIVE.(28) Marvel not at this : for the hour is coming ,in the which ALL that are in the graves shall hear his voice.(29)And shall come forth: they that have done good, unto the Resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the Resurrection of damnation.


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