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Relevant Verses: Heb. 11:39-40

Leading Question: “ In the middle of history, what does it mean to switch from one hope to another? Can’t God make up his mind which hope is right?

Comment: The New Testament hope is clearer, more focused, than the OT hope and there is a difference between the two, yet both are part of God’s master plan. And lurking in the background of this week’s lesson, indeed of all the lessons this quarter, is non-biblical teaching of the immortal soul concept.

The official study guide notes a crucial point from Hebrews 11:39, 40. After citing all the hopeful and faithful believers, Hebrews makes this statement:

Hebrews 11:39-40: (NIV): These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

In addition to making the point that all those who die in Jesus will receive their reward at a particular point in time, the official study guide cites 1 John 5:11, 12:

1 John 5:11-12 (NIV): And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

In short, only in Jesus is there eternal life. From a biblical perspective there is no such thing as “natural” immortality. Only in Jesus Christ is eternal life possible, and that life is not granted as soon as a person dies, but at the resurrection at the end of time (John 6:40).

Question: The language in 1 Thess. 4:13-18 could suggest that Jesus will “bring with him” from heaven those who have died. How does a believer address that conclusion?

Answer : The official study guide gives this quote from a non-SDA author:

The reason why the Thessalonian Christians can have hope as they grieve for the dead members of their church is that God ‘will bring’ them, that is, he will resurrect these deceased believers and cause them to be present at Christ’s return, such that they will be ‘with him.’ The implication is that these deceased believers will be ‘with him’ in such a way that they share equally with living believers in the glory associated with his return.” – Jeffrey Weima, 1-2 Thessalonians, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2014, p. 319.

Summary: At least three New Testament passages point clearly to the idea of the non-immortality of the soul:

Hebrews 11:39-40 – all receive the reward at the same time
1 John 5:11-12 – only those who have the son, have life
1 Thess. 4:13-18 – Jesus will bring with him the resurrected ones

For someone who takes seriously the words of the New Testament, how is it possible to read these passages and still hold to the immortal soul concept?

The Question of Delay: One of the favorite New Testament passages for believers is found in John 14:1-3:

John 14:1-3 (NIV) “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Comment: It has already been over 2000 years since Jesus gave that promise to his followers. How long is too long? When do we give up?

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