Relevant Verses: Rev. 6:19-11; 1 Peter 3:13-20; Phil. 1:21-24; Luke 16:19-31; John 3:16
Leading Question: “Many of our lessons this quarter deal with “contrary passges.” Why can’t we just talk about the truth and not worry about ‘contrary passages’?
Comment: Sometimes error is so deeply rooted that it is necessary to confront it directly. In this lesson we will look at several key passages that seem to support the idea of immortal soul (and an eternally burning hell). First on the list is promise Jesus made to the thief on the cross. All 79 translations listed in Bible Gateway translate Luke 23:43 with the same sense as KJV:
“And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” And this in spite of the fact that Jesus did not go to Paradise that day. John 20:17 quotes Jesus as saying on the first day of the week: “I have not yet ascended to the Father.”
In short, it is an important work to address error.
The Rich Man and Lazarus: Luke 16:19-31 (NIV).
Luke 16:19-31 (NIV):
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
Departing and Being with Christ:
Phil. 1:21-24 (NIV): For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
Comment: The English translations of this passage suggest that Paul wishes to depart and be with Christ. But a fascinating use of the Greek preposition ek is overlooked by virtually all English translation. The normal meaning for ek is “out of” or “away from.” In other words, Paul is saying that he does not like either alternative. Instead of saying (as most translations do) “I am torn between the two,” he is actually saying, “I am torn away from either alternative, preferring a third option, namely, to depart and be with Christ.
In short a literal translation of the Greek, solves the problem.
Preaching to the Spirits in Prison:
1 Peter 3:13-20 (NIV): Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,
Comment: Seeking to find the doctrine of an immortal soul in this passage runs up against several obstacle. First, Scripture nowhere teaches the doctrine of a second chance. Secondly, why would Christ preach only to the antedeluvians “in prison” where there not others in hell who could also “benefit” from the preaching?
Souls crying out under the altar
Rev. 6:9-11 (NIV): 9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.
The official study guide quotes George Eldon Ladd, a non-SDA on this passage, indicating that it has nothing to do with the state of the dead:
“The fact that John saw the souls of the martyrs under the altar has nothing to do with the state of the dead or their situation in the intermediate state; it is merely a vivid way of picturing the fact that they had been martyred in the name of their God” – A Commentary on the Revelation of John (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1972, p. 103
The simple forceful use of John 3:16: One of the clearest passage of what happens after death is found in John 3:16:
John 3:16 (KJV): For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Comment: Those believe in Jesus live. Those who do not, perish. The meaning of the word “perish” is quite clear in English!