•1 Samuel 28.7. "Then said Saul unto his servants, seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, behold there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at En-dor."
•1Thessalonians 4.14."For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him".
•Matthew 24.13 "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved"
Isaacc Watts on Immortality
Why I Beliefe in Conditional Immortaltty - Sidney A. Hatch
•Ephesians 4. 8-11"When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
A selection of articles by various authors
Luke 23.43 "And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise". The question which is asked is this, did the thief go to "paradise" that day to be with Christ? Almost without a moments hesitation many Christians would answer "yes" but is that indeed what happened? Let us look carefully at the facts. The thief's request was "Lord remember me when thou comest into Thy kingdom". The thief was no doubt an Israelite and as such knew well the promises of the Old Testament regarding the Messiah and the kingdom He would reign over. He had read the superscription written over the Saviour's head "This is Jesus of Nazareth the king of the Jews". He had watched the Lord and listened to His words and realized He was indeed the King. The thief did not ask to be taken to heaven to be with the Lord when he died that day but for Christ to remember him when he came into His kingdom.Our Lord's answer to him was regarding that day when His kingdom will be set up on earthotherwise it had no relevance. He promised the thief that he would be part of it when it would come. Later, after His resurrection the Lord told Mary "I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to My God, and your God". Surely these plain words of scripture are clear, Jesus had not at that point ascended into heaven. The problem lies with the comma and where the translators have placed it in the verse. Greek scholars inform us that in the original greek there are no punctuation marks so it was at the discretion of the translators where they placed it. The words of Christ to the thief are easily understood when we recognize this important fact, He simply told him "I tell you today you will be with me in paradise". The word "paradise" has the definite article and should read "The paradise", not referring to heaven at all but the paradise of the kingdom set up on earth.Someone is sure to say that's what the Jehovah Witnesses teach about this verse. We are not interested in what JW'S say and indeed recognize them as a false cult but we cannot change the true meaning of the verse just to get one over on them. The readers will see as we deal with other texts that it would have been scripturally impossible for the thief to go to heaven that day anyhow, but more on that later.
Matthew 24.13 "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" One of the primary rules in all Bible study is to first of all consider the context in which a verse or verses appear. The passage we want to look at is found in Matthew 24 and especially verse 13, "But he that shall endure unto the end shall be saved". So what is the context of Matthew 24? The whole chapter is taken up with the period of tribulation which will take place at the end of this age, just before the Lord Jesus returns to rule over this earth for 1000 years. It is easily seen by the statements made in the chapter that it is especially Israel or as we shall see a remnant of that nation which are in view. The mention of Daniel's prophecy in v 15 and the reference in v16 to "them which be in Judaea", give the setting and the context of the whole passage. Also the fact that the Lord is called by the name "Son of Man", a title which links Him with the nation, all point to the same unmistakable conclusion, ie. we are not dealing here with the nations but one nation, Israel, and in particular a remnant out of that nation. From these opening comments it will be seen that those addressed are believers who will be alive on earth during that time of tribulation. Verses 3-12 speaks of sorrows, persecutions, wars and famines. Verse 14 informs us that it is "The gospel of the Kingdom" which will be proclaimed. This period is referred to in Scripture as "The time of Jacob's trouble", showing that it is a time when the nation of Israel will find themselves under great persecution. Such will be the intensity of the affliction that two thirds of the nation will be wiped out see Zechariah13.8. The next verse in Zechariah tells us that the remaining one third will be preserved through the fire and saved. This brings us to the crux of the matter. The verse we are considering in Matthew 24.13 does not teach that a person must endure to the end to be saved. Even in the O.T. God guaranteed the security of His people, "For the Lord loveth judgement, and forsaketh not His saints. They are preserved forever", Psalm37.28. In the N.T. the message is the same "I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand", said the Lord Jesus in John10.28, and it is no different in this case. If those in the O.T and those in the N.T. were safe and secure, these believers at the end of the age will have that same security. What we are being told in our text, in accordance with the context, is that they who live through that period will be saved or preserved through it and will enter the Kingdom. These are the one third of the nation that Zechariah was writing about prophetically. It is more than likely that the 144,000 witnesses of Revelation 7.4 are taken from this remnant and it is they who will carry "the gospel of the kingdom" to the nations. This gospel is a proclamation of the coming of the King, and the response to the message and the messengers will be the basis of entrance into the millennial kingdom according to Matthew25.24-46 There is no thought of anyone being lost because they did not endure to the end but ratherly that remnant of Israel who have survived will be preserved through those awful final days and as Zechariah informs us they shall "Call on My (God's) name, and I will hear them". Zechariah 13.9. Paul in Romans describes that momentous day that lies ahead for the nation of Israel, we will close by letting him describe it, "There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, when I shall take away their sins", Romans 11.26-27. Paul tells us that these events will bring about the salvation of that remnant we have been mentioning.
1 Samuel 28.7. "Then said Saul unto his servants, seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, behold there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at En-dor."The complete narrative from which this verse has been taken can be found in 1 Samuel 28 v. 5-19. On many occasions this story has been presented to assure us that it proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that the dead are alive in another place, (presumably heaven or Abraham's bosom), but the question is does it?. Let me state plainly at the start of this article that I am deeply perplexed that any believer would dream of using these verses and this narrative to even think such a thing. It really does reveal the depths some would stoop to try and prove a doctrine the bible certainly does not teach. It is to inform those who would use this passage in their vain pursuit that we have taken the time to include it in our misunderstood texts, because being honest, to any clear thinking person such explanation should be totally unnecessary. King Saul had at this stage and earlier caused a breach between himself and God through his disobedience. God had stopped communicating with him as the word of God makes clear "And when Saul enquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets" 1Samuel 25.6. It was at this stage Saul determined to find someone with a familiar spirit so he could find out what to do. It is at this point the perplexity begins, How could any Christian consider, never mind believe that the God of heaven who had refused to speak to Saul in any way including through a prophet, would now allow a woman in league with Satan and familiar spirits to grant Saul a request He,(God) had most definitely refused? On top of that we have the explicit commandment of God given to Israel that they were not to consult those who practiced those abominable rites and those who were wizards or had familiar spirits were to be put to death, (Leviticus 20.27, 1 Chronicles 18.10-14). Are we now expected to believe that the God who outrightly condemned and abhorred these practices would now permit one of His most faithful and godly prophets to be "summoned" by a witch to advise Saul? How hard pressed people must be to use a scripture like this to prove the dead are still alive, it is absolutely ridiculous. Notice Saul said "Bring me up Samuel" v11, so if Samuel was in heaven surely he would have to have come down. Others may suggest he was in "Abraham's bosom", so do they believe this place is somewhere in a downward direction, the centre of the earth or the likes. Samuel was dead and in "sheol" or "the grave" and of course if he was to appear it would have to be up. What the witch "brought up" was a familiar spirit, a demon being which had the power to impersonate men or women who had been at one time alive. The narrative makes it clear that Saul saw no one but was guided by the witch and her familiar spirit. Saul had to ask her for a description of what she had seen and from that description he supposed it was Samuel she had made appear. It was her who relayed to Saul what the demon spirit was imparting to her. Among other things the "familiar spirit" told him that on the morrow both he and his sons would be with Samuel v19. Does any Christian actually believe that Saul the rebellious, scripture breaking, God forsaken, witch consulting king was to be in "heaven" or the "paradise of Abraham's bosom" that next day with Samuel? Of course not! That was simply not true and neither was the statement that it would be on the morrow this would happen. A simple reading of the remaining chapters of 1 Samuel (29-31) will show that Saul and his son's deaths were at least 3 days later. Are we now to think Samuel had told Saul lies? Emphatically NO! Everything that has happened here is the work and words of a demonic familiar spirit and has nothing to do with the workings of God. The first lie Satan told in Genesis 3.4 "Ye shall not surely die" has been the means of deceiving millions, including believers. If we would just accept what the bible says "The dead know not anything" Ecc. 9.5, what misunderstanding could have been avoided. No longer would our dear deluded Roman catholic friends pray to the saints and to Mary because they would realize both she and them are dead, no longer would the militant followers of Islam commit suicide because they would find no paradise with festal virgins awaits them, no longer would the spiritualist church grow at such an alarming rate because they would discover there is no one on the other side to communicate with and in fact, like the witch of En-dor they are summoning unclean, demonic familiar spirits and no longer would the "church" be guilty of casting a shadow over the holy character of God by teaching the unsaved are punished before they are judged or that believers can go to be with Christ and then brought back to earth again. All of this is a misunderstanding of scripture and leads to total confusion. To conclude let me quote to you from 1 Chronicles 10.13-14 which relates to Saul’s death. The careful reader of the KJV will notice some words are in italics and are therefore not in the original writing so we will quote the verses leaving the italicized words out. "So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, against the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking a familiar spirit, to enquire. And enquired not of the Lord; therefore He slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse" 1 Chronicles 10.13-14. Surely this is as plain as it can be, it was not Samuel he enquired to but a familiar spirit, no doubt impersonating Samuel. We trust this will put an end to this story ever being brought up again to prove that after death people are alive in some sort of soul/spirit form.
1 Thessalonians 4.14. "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him". Before the Apostle Paul had ever written these words the Lord Jesus had told His disciples about His coming again on several occasions. Much confusion in the text and passage of scripture before us could have been avoided if only His words had been listened to. Perhaps the best known passage in the gospels where our Lord spoke to His own about His return is John 14. Let us take a moment to re-iterate what the Saviour told them. He had said He was going to prepare a place for them and that at a future date He would return and receive them to Himself, so that where He was there they could be also. (We intend to deal with this passage at length in another of our "misunderstood texts", but at the moment we want to point out a couple of things Jesus said which are of vast importance to our understanding of this text in 1Thessalonians 4.14.). The disciples were no doubt saddened by His words announcing His departure from them, but when He added, "If I go away I will come again and receive you unto Myself that where I am there ye may be also"John14.3, how comforting to them these further words must have been. In their minds there would have been no question as to what He meant, it was very simply put to them, "I will come again and receive you".There can be no doubt the Lord knew that the men to whom He spoke these words would all be dead long before His return, and as a matter of fact He plainly told Peter that he would die John 21.19. That being the case, why did Jesus not tell these disciples they would come to Him at death to be with Him forever? Why tell them that He would come for them to receive them unto Himself at His return, when in fact, if orthodoxy is correct, centuries earlier after they died they should have been with Him? All of this is very perplexing if we do not believe or disregard the words of the Lord Jesus. He was clearly intimating to them that it was not until His return that they would be with Him to share in His kingdom and glory. His exact words were "That where I am there ye may be also".In the passage in Thessalonians which is before us Paul puts it like this, "so shall we ever be with the Lord".So where was it they were going to be "forever with Him"?Almost with one voice orthodoxy exclaims "heaven", but is this correct, we think not? The word of God tells us that at His return the Lord Jesus will reign for 1000 years from Jerusalem over this earth we now live on, Revelation 20.4, Zechariah 14.4-9. At the close of that 1000 year reign Satan will be cast into the Lake of fire and after the "Great white throne judgement" new heavens and a new earth will be created Revelation 21.1-2, Isaiah 65.17. The New Jerusalem will descend out of heaven from God to become the new earth's capital city and Christ will be in it reigning forever over the new universe Revelation 21.23, ch. 22.3-5. It stands to reason therefore that if Christ's words,"where I am there ye may be also"and Paul's words, "So shall we ever be with the Lord"are to be literally fulfilled then it will be on this earth, and the new earth, and not heaven, that their words will find meaning. Scripture never contradicts itself and with these truths held solidly in our hearts and minds we are in a position to examine the text now before us. The Thessalonians were perturbed about their departed Christian friends, so Paul writes these words to enlighten and comfort them."I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren concerning them which are asleep",are the opening words of this section. Paul had saw these Thessalonians "turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus"1 Thessalonians 1.9-10. Like all believers at that stage they expected the imminent return of the Messiah to set up His kingdom and reign but they were worried and in ignorance about some who had died in the interim period, would they miss out in any way as far as kingdom blessing was concerned. If it had simply been a matter of putting their minds at rest regarding those who had departed why did Paul not just say that they were with Christ in heaven happy and secure? The fact he did not do this should make us sit up and take notice. Much has been surmised by Paul's next words, "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him".Immediately the traditionalist misinterprets these words to mean that Christ is bringing back from heaven with Him the souls of those who have died to be re-united with their "resurrected bodies".We have already explained the bible knows nothing of a "resurrection of the body",but only speaks of "the resurrection of the dead".(See ‘How are the dead raised up?)If it were souls Paul was here referring to, are we to now believe that it is the soul which sleeps, for after all, according to Paul's careful wording, it is those that "sleep in Jesus"Christ is bringing with Him. Again does the text not say "Will God bring with Him",surely if it was souls returning with Christ from heaven grammatically it would have read "Will God send with Him".Paul is not talking about souls, nor does he mention souls in the whole of the narrative, Paul is speaking about dead Christians and the rest of the chapter should prove beyond doubt that the only possible way for them to live and to be with Christ is through resurrection when He returns to set up His kingdom. Paul is revealing to these worried Thessalonians the chain of events which will take place. His remarks at the start are to set their minds immediately at ease for just as surely as Jesus died and rose again even so, in like manner, these dead Christian Thessalonians would arise out of their graves to meet the Lord in the air and then to accompany Him back to earth to share in His reign, hence the meanng of the words"Will God bring with Him".Paul was assuring them the believers who were asleep would miss out on nothing. The word translated"meet"here is the Greek word "eis apantesin"and it occurs only 4 times in the New Testament. We find it in Matthew 25.1,6 then in Acts 28.15 and here finally 1 Thessalonians 4.17 and in all of these places it carries with it the thought of meeting with a view to returning with. This is its meaning in Matthew 25 regarding the coming of the bridegroom, "Go ye out to meet Him",there can be no doubt, meeting with a view to returning with. This is its meaning in Acts28 regarding the brethren who came out of Rome to meet Paul, which they did at "the Three Taverns" and then accompanied Paul to Rome. This is without doubt its meaning here in Thessalonians 4 as well, those who are described as "the dead in Christ"will rise and together with the living saints will meet the Lord in the air, to return with Him to the earth over which He will reign. No less a scholar than F.F. Bruce has confirmed this, he writes, "The Greek word used here was the common one which denoted meeting with a view of returning with".Paul emphatically closes his discourse by stating "So shall we ever be with the Lord",or "in this manner shall we ever be with the Lord".This is the ONLY manner through which it can happen and it is only when He returns that the dead will be raised and the living changed that we will be TOGETHER caught up to meet the Lord to return and to be forever with Him. Neither this text nor the passage it is found in teach that the dead are alive, but quite the opposite and it should never be used to prop up that idea, Mr. Tyndale the godly translator saw this very clearly. In his refutation of the Roman Catholic Sir Thomas More who believed that souls were immortal and survived death he wrote these words,"I marvel that Paul had not comforted the Thessalonians with that doctrine, if he had wist it, that the souls of their dead had been in joy; as he did with the resurrection, that their dead would rise again".Mr. Tyndale we salute you Sir, you have done a great service to humanity through your translation of Holy Scripture and through your sound doctrine which questions this erroneous teaching that the dead are not dead but alive in heaven or hell.
1 Corinthians 15.35. "How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?" The questions raised in this verse are those Paul anticipates someone will bring up to cast doubt on the reality that such a resurrection could take place. We need to first of all notice that there are two questions posed and not just one. The first question is "How are the dead(s) raised up?" and Paul has already dealt with this at the beginning of ch15. He has shown clearly that in spite of some who denied it there will be "a resurrection of the dead(s)", Christ's resurrection is the guarantee of all. In verse 15 Paul states that it was God who raised Christ from the dead and then in verse 22 he tells us that "as in Adam ALL die, even so in Christ shall ALL be made alive". All the dead will be raised, saved and unsaved, not at the same time nor with the same outcome. However in this article we are mainly concerned with the resurrection of the believer. The same power which raised Christ from the dead shall raise us up also. In his second epistle to the Corinthians Paul makes this fact crystal clear to them "Knowing that He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise us up also by Jesus, and shall present us with you" 2 Corinthians 4.14. Nowhere is it suggested that it is a body that is raised but "the dead ones", and the wording in verse 14 "shall raise US up" makes this absolutely clear. The term "the resurrection of the body" is unknown in scripture but the phrase "the resurrection of the dead(s)"occurs over and over again, (see Matthew 22v31, Acts 17v32, Acts 23v6, Acts 24v15,21, Romans 1v4, 1 Corinthians 15 v12,13, 21,42, Philippians 3v11, Hebrews 6v2). The Lord Jesus also spoke of the "resurrection of the just" Luke14v14, but we emphasize, never is it recorded that it is a resurrection of dead bodies. As a matter of fact in the verses mentioned above the word dead is a collective word or as Newbury shows in his reference bible it is a plural, making the sentence read "the resurrection of the deads". That however would be very poor English and would be better rendered "the resurrection of the dead ones", showing that it is persons and not bodies that are referred to. No more should have to be written to prove this fact as the scriptures speak for themselves but to underline what we have shown we will look at the second half of our text. Paul writes, "and with what body do they come?" It is the believer personally who will be raised but what sort of a body will he/she need to fit them for the new environment they will eternally live in. Paul tells us "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" 1Corinthians15.50, so therefore we will need a body suitable for the atmosphere of glory. The body we shall receive will be fashioned "like unto His own glorious body" Philippians 3.21. It will be completely different to the bare grain which has been sown, "Thou sowest not the body that shall be" 1Corinthians15.37 and then in a series of comparisons Paul shows the differences of that which is sown with that which we will have in the resurrection. Paul gives further light on this new body which we will receive when he writes to the Corinthians his second epistle. He describes it as "Our house which is from heaven" showing that it is a body God has prepared for us to be received when the Saviour returns. So then to sum up what we have learned so far and what the scriptures are saying. We have discovered that it is the person who will be resurrected not a body, and that the resurrected will have a new body given to them which will enable them to live forever in God's paradise with no pain, no sadness or no death. Glorious hope! This is, as we have said only true of believers, the unsaved will be raised but their future is completely different. The whole hope of resurrection has been eroded by the teaching that the soul/spirit goes to heaven to behold the face of God the moment the believer dies. Such teaching, which we freely confess we believed ourselves for years, completely negates the need of resurrection, for what does it matter about a body if the "real person" is already with the Lord. Resurrection is the great hope the Word of God presents to us, without it, there is no way out of the grave and Paul reminds the Corinthians of this very thing, "If the dead(s) rise not........then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished" 1Corinthians15.16-18. It is this hope he presents to the Thessalonians who were perturbed about their departed Christian loved ones. He does not try to comfort them by saying they are with Christ, as orthodoxy does today. Nor does he tell them their loved ones are "safe in the arms of Jesus" as many of our hymns would suggest. We must get past all this sentimentality if we are to embrace the truth of God's word. Paul has told us that "The dead in Christ will rise first, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with THEM, (not their bodies but THEM), in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so,(in this manner and no other manner), shall we ever be with the Lord" 1 Thessalonians4.16-17. His closing words in that wonderful chapter are these "Comfort one another with these words". What comfort it brings to properly understand these truths, our departed Christian friends are asleep and on that glorious day the living and the sleeping saints will meet the Lord together. For just as Paul states the living will have no advantage over the dead, so it stands to reason, the dead will have no advantage over the living but we will meet Him together all at the same time.
Genesis2.7 "And the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul" This is propably the most misunderstood and misquoted verse in the whole of our bibles. From children at Sunday school we were told that at the creation of Adam God put something inside him called "an immortal soul". Is that what the verse teaches? First of all from a very simple reading of the text it is manifestly clear it says nothing of the sort. The only thing that we are told God put into Adam was the "breath of life", and through this infusion "man became a living soul/being". We need to recognize that the Hebrew word "nephesh" translated "soul" in verse7 has already been used 4 times in chapter1 where it is employed in connection with the animal creation, they too are living souls. Not only that but that same animal creation also has the "breath of life" Genesis 7.14-15. It is clear from what we have pointed out that we cannot from this text teach that man has "an immortal soul" because this verse simply does not state such a thing. Even in 1Corinthians15.45 Paul tells us "The first man Adam was made a living soul", please notice it does not say "was given" but "was made", and through the breathing of the breath of life into him, Adam who up to that point though perfectly formed was a lifeless being, now became a living person. Wouldn't it seem peculiar to you that if God had put this so called "immortal soul" into Adam He would have made mention of it after Adam sinned and was put out of the garden of Eden. Listen to what God's sentence was, in addition to cursing the ground because of Adam's sin He said "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return"Genesis 3.19. Not a single word spoken by God about an immortal soul. Now do you really believe if it had been there God would not have mentioned it? This is traditional teaching on a subject that has been passed down from generation to generation with very few seeking to find out the truth. Later from other texts we will see that the subject of the soul finds its roots, not in the bible but in heathen Greek philosophy. Man is different to the animal creation because he has been made in the image of God. Image in this sense does not imply shape or form but relates to the fact that man, unlike the animals is a rational responsible being who will be raised again after death and held responsible for his/her actions.
Ecclesiastes 12:7 “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”This verse is often used to prove that the ‘soul’ is immortal.There are a few problems with trying to use this verse to prove the immortality of the soul. Firstly the word used in this verse and translated, ‘spirit’ is the Hebrew word ‘ruach’. This word literally translated means ‘breath’. Here are some occurrences of this word in the OT.Genesis 6:17 “And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, in which is the breath (ruach) of life”Genesis 45:27 “And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said to them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit (ruach) of Jacob their father revived.”Genesis 7:15 “And they went into Noah in the ark, two and two of all flesh, in which is the breath (ruach) of life”.It should be easily seen from these verses that this word ‘ruach’ sometimes translated ‘spirit’, can be used of both animals and humans and has nothing to do with an immortal soul unless animals as well have one of these. The word ‘ruach’ is never even translated ‘soul’ in the KJV but because this verse has something leaving the body, proponents of the immortal soul view are quick to use this verse to ‘prove’ their theory.Another problem with using this verse to mean the soul is immortal, is the fact that in the verse, all the spirits are going to the one place. They are all going to God. Everyone would agree that all who die will return to the dust but if the ‘spirit’ in this verse is an immortal soul, how can all souls go to God? Surely it would only be the righteous souls that would go to God! Some people try to get around this issue by claiming all souls do indeed go to God and then are judged before being sent to their destination. Such teaching is totally contrary to the Word of God. We do read in Hebrews 9:27 ‘It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgement’ but we are also told that this judgement is collective and not individual. God will judge the world, not person by person at death.‘Because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness.’ (Acts 17:31)‘And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.’ (Revelation 20: 11,12)In conclusion, to use the verse in question to prove that we have an immortal soul would mean that also animals have immortal souls as the same word is used of them. It would also mean that every soul would go to God regardless of their relationship with Him, and not just the saved. We have also seen the impossibility of souls going to God at death to be judged separately, as God has appointed a day to judge the world. Very simply, this verse is merely saying that when we die we shall return to the dust, and our breath/life will return to God who gave it to us in the first place. Why complicate something so simple?
Job 14.12. "So man lieth down, and riseth not; till the heavens be no more, They shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep."If we had only this text to support the truth that the "dead are dead" or as Job puts it "asleep", there is enough said here in a few words to silence those who would teach the "dead are alive". Job is telling us clearly that when man dies he sleeps until resurrection, there can be no refuting that. Sleep is continually used in the bible, both in the O.T. and in the N.T. to describe those who are deceased. It is a term which refers to the unsaved as well as the saved as a reading of Daniel 12.2 reveals. Please also note that when this metaphor for death is used nothing is added to suggest that such are either in torment or bliss, but simply asleep. For instance in the O.T. we are repeatedly told of those who have died, both good and bad, and these words are added "He slept with his fathers", but we never find any suggestion that they were in heaven, hell or Abraham's bosom. The same applies in the N.T. where we find folk like Lazarus described as "sleeping" but again no reference is made to any existence beyond the grave. We could speak of Jairus's daughter, Stephen the first Christian martyr, those raised after Christ's resurrection, and those in Thessalonica who are said to be "asleep in Jesus", all of these were dead or asleep and that is all the information that is given. All other comments on these passages are man made conclusions and find no basis in the actual contexts. Many try to insert the word "body" into these narratives but that will simply not do for as we have pointed out we believe in "verbal inspiration" and if God the Holy Spirit has not included the word "body" in the inspired sacred page then neither must we. The bible does not speak of the "resurrection of the body" but it does speak of the"resurrection of the dead(s)". It is not dead bodies which are resurrected but dead people who are asleep, as Job has written. He is totally clear as to when this awakening shall occur for he tells us "Man lieth down, and riseth not; till the heavens be no more they shall not awake" that is until the resurrection takes place man will sleep until God awakes him. The Lord Jesus spoke of this awakening "Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice 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(judgement)". Jesus did not say those to be resurrected were alive in some other sphere, but that they were in their graves. Note once more the word body appears nowhere in the passage, Christ is speaking of the resurrection of persons not bodies. Job's inspired words would need no explanation were it not for the confusion which has been caused by trying to fit an intermediate state into his statement of truth. If Christians could just accept that "the dead know not anything"that they "go down into silence" that the "dead cannot praise thee", and that they are all asleep awaiting Christ's coming, all confusion would cease. Why should they not believe these things? Even the reformers Tyndale, Luther and Wycliffe believed this and why should they not, after all it is what the word of God states. The major passage on resurrection namely 1 Corinthians 15 and the questions, "How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?" will be dealt with later as we seek to examine these "misunderstood texts".
Ephesians 4.8-11 "When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.) And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;These verses are used by many who seek to prove that the dead are still alive and other extraordinary beliefs. The manipulating and twisting of the text to prove these things is very sad and blatantly wrong as we shall see. Let me take a moment to present what they attempt to make the text say, and regrettably at one time I too would have used their argument. I will present it as honestly as I can. They say that when the Old Testament saints died they went to a paradise known as Abraham's bosom. This was one part of a region which had two compartments, on one side the damned and on the other those who were righteous. It would seem communication took place among the dead and those on the one side could speak to those on the other. The righteous were also able to hear the cries and torments of the damned and the lost able to behold Abraham and the place of blessedness the righteous were in. This state of affairs continued, they tell us for centuries, until after the Lord's resurrection when He ascended back into the presence of God from Mount Olivet. The Lord supposedly took with Him, back to heaven, the "souls" of those who were in this domain, ie "Abraham's bosom". We are told by those who hold this view that the "sheol" of the Old Testament and the "hades" of the New Testament is actually the name(s) given to this abode. Having released all the saints from "sheol/hades/Abraham's bosom", only the wicked and unrighteous were left and they alone still occupy their compartment, which is simply referred to now as "hell". I trust this is an honest representation of the view held and I submit that the text quoted above from Ephesians 4 is the one used to prove all of what I have stated above. First of all, let me state, any fair minded person who has not been indoctrinated would freely admit the impossibility of seeing in Ephesians 4 all that I have stated above, and yet, there are those who are adamant that they can recognize all these things in the Ephesian passage. We must therefore give these verses careful consideration, remembering it matters nothing what we would like the passage to teach, but only what it actually does say. As to the existence of these two compartments, the O.T. scriptures are completely silent. The word "sheol" appears in the O.T. 65 times and never in any one of its occurrences is there any reference made to such a place. This in itself creates great difficulty. Are we to believe that God allowed men and women of that day to die in their sins and never warn them of the torment into which they were going? Of course, neither is there any mention of a place of bliss called "Abraham's bosom" where the righteous were to be detained. Then there is the added dilemma of where righteous "souls" went before Abraham died? From Adam to Abraham is a period of some 2000 years, thousands of righteous had died during those two milleniums, but where did they end up, there could not have been an "Abraham's bosom" before Abraham existed or died? If, as has been suggested, this place did exist full of righteous "souls", in what sense could they be said to be in captivity? Surely those saints who had died and were in this place could not be referred to as captives. In a brethren periodical publication "Precious Seed", there is an article in 2009 written by a Mr. Howard Coles of Coleford England where this text is dealt with. At the conclusion of it Mr. Coles says this, "It would be difficult to see what kind of captivity O.T. saints could possibly be in, having been saved by God". Difficult indeed, for all of this is simply surmised not plainly stated. The problem has arisen because orthodoxy has insisted that the dead are alive. If Abraham's bosom was their abode in the O.T. but in the New Testament the souls of Christians who die go direct to heaven, this created a further dilemma. We are now faced with the unsavoury conclusion that there were saints in Abraham's bosom, in some sort of captivity, while others were in heaven itself beholding the face of God. Such a thing would never do, so a way had to be found to empty Abraham's bosom and release all these captives so they could be in heaven. Finding support for such a major event in the N.T. was nigh impossible but the inventors of this theory decided to plump for these verses in Ephesians 4 as the answer. They interpreted it to mean that the Lord Jesus at His ascension emptied this place where the saints had been held and took all its inhabitants with Him to heaven. What terrible exegesis of scripture and what false doctrine they proposed. In the O.T. the phrase or thought of "leading captivity captive" appears twice, namely Judges 5.12 and Psalm 68.18. In both of these occurrences it is the enemies of Israel which are taken captive. It is the passage in Psalm 68 which is quoted in Ephesians 4. Here it is King David telling of the joy of Israel over their defeated enemies. The passage does not entertain the thought of captivated saints being taken into some other form of captivity. Paul knew well what a Roman triumph was. After a Roman general had accomplished a mighty victory he was afforded the honour of leading his conquered foes behind his chariot through the streets of Rome. As the procession passed by "gifts", no doubt plunder from the conquered people, was thrown out to the cheering crowd as the conqueror passed by. This no doubt is what Paul has in mind. The mighty conquering Saviour, who has defeated sin, death, and Satan entered in glorious triumph into heaven, all His enemies as it were following in captivity and through His mighty victory at Calvary He is able to give gifts to men for the edifying of the Body of Christ. In Colossians 2.15 he puts it like this " Having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it (ie the cross)."When we are told that the One who ascended is the One who first descended into the lower parts of the earth, there is no suggestion that, as the Apostles Creed teaches, He went down into "hell" or "sheol". It simply means He went down into the grave or as He put it Himself, "So shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the centre of the earth". There is no mystery here at all. There can be no doubt this is what the passage in Ephesians is teaching, ie the great victory of Christ over His foes at Calvary and His triumphal entry into heaven at His ascension. The leading scholars are agreed on this. I noticed recently that Charles Wesley himself held this scriptural view. So just how exactly did those "souls" of the O.T. saints get released from "Abraham's bosom"? If, as we have shown it cannot be proved through a right understanding of Ephesians 4, just how did these "righteous souls" get to heaven? Such a momentous event would warrant a long explanation in the New Testament if it has taken place. We have searched the N.T. carefully to find a solution. but in vain. We therefore submit that the scriptures teach no such thing but rather insists that Abraham along with all other saints are dead awaiting resurrection (see on our website our literature on the state of the dead). May we respectfully request that this passage in Ephesians 4 should never be forwarded to prove the false doctrine stated above.
MISUNDERSTOOD TEXTS. The bible in its original writings is undoubtedly the inspired Word of God. We believe in plenary/verbal inspiration ie that each Hebrew and greek word has been chosen by the Holy Spirit of God. That being the case any translation we hold in our hands, no matter how good it may be, is just a translation and there will be scribal errors and personal interpretations presented in each and every one. It is therefore the duty of every believer to follow the exhortation both of our Lord Jesus and our beloved Apostle Paul. The Saviour told the Jews to, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me" John 5.39. Then Paul writing to his son in the faith Timothy wrote these words "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth" 2 Timothy 3.15. In this little booklet that is what we intend to do. We are leaving aside men's opinions and honestly seeking to find out and understand exactly what the Holy Ghost has inspired men of old to write down. We do realize however there are many subjects which are fundamental to the faith which are not open for debate in any shape or form. For example; The pre existence of Christ; We believe that Bethlehem is not His beginning but ratherly the reflection in the waters of time of One who had existed from all eternity. There never was a time He did not exist and there will never be a time when He will cease to be. The incarnation of Christ; We believe that "God was manifest in flesh". This is how Paul describes that unfathomnable mystery. Or as John says in his gospel "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us". The Son of God voluntarily clothed Himself in humanity, veiled the outward manifestation of His Deity and walked among men. He became what He had never been before but never ceased to be what He always was. The sinlessness of Christ; We believe it is not that He didn't sin, but the fact that He could not sin which makes unique. He was "Holy harmless undefiled and separate from sinners", "He did no sin". "He knew no sin", "In him is no sin". Even on the cross He became the sinbearer but not a sinner. The atoning death of Christ; We believe in an unlimited atonement. There is enough virtue and value in His precious blood to cleanse and remove the stain of sin from every sinner. His sacrifice has satisfied all the demands of the outraged throne of God and has fully met man's need. That substitutionary sacrifice is once for all needing never to be repeated, for when He cried "Tis finished" everything was fully done. The resurrection and ascension of Christ; We believe He was truly dead but as the scriptures and He himself had foretold after 3 days He rose from among the dead. His resurrection is the most attested to fact in history, for literally hundreds saw Him alive after His shameful death. After appearing to His followers for 40 days He ascended from the Mount of Olives until those who witnessed it could see Him no longer, for a cloud received Him out of their sight. Up and up He ascended until He had reached the pinnacle of glory, and He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. The Father greeted Him with the words of Psalm 110.1 "Sit Thou at my right hand until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool". The coming again of Christ; The 2 men dressed in white apparel had announced "This same Jesus which is taken from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go". Our Lord will return in resplendent glory. The place of His rejection will become the place of His coronation. He will take up all rule and authority, every knee will bow before Him and of His kingdom there will be no end. His feet shall stand again on Olivet and the Lord shall be King over all the earth. His reign will extend right on to the new heavens and the new earth where God will be all in all. These are indisputable facts which must never be questioned or changed. However in the whole range of scripture there are issues over which believers have argued for centuries. Beliefs have been held which we find impossible to support from scripture without harming the veracity of God's Holy Word. Verses have been wrested from their context to prove some traditional belief or another. Some verses have been used to back up certain doctrines and it is in support of these "misunderstood texts" that this little booklet has been compiled. There is no claim here for infallibility but we desire to humbly allow the Word of God to speak fot itself without putting any slant on it whatsoever. The texts we have chosen to deal with are the ones most commonly used to teach certain ideas and it is our duty as believers to "search the scriptures to see if those things be so", Acts 17.11. We look to the Lord to guide the mind of the writer and the understanding of the reader.
Acts 2.34 "For David is not ascended into the heavens". One would be justified in saying that such a clear statement of truth would forever end all speculation as to where the dead are. Yet it is argued, this verse is speaking only about David's body and has nothing to do with his soul which is in heaven. It is such reasoning and blindness to the context of this passage of scripture which has placed us in the sorry mess we are in to-day. Firstly let it be re-iterated, we believe in the plenary and verbal inspiration of God's word. Therefore we must not take out any words which the Holy Ghost has chosen to use but equally we must never insert words He has chosen not to use. In the original Greek of this verse the word "body/soma Gk." appears nowhere in the narrative. Peter is not talking about David's body but David himself. The context of the passage is conclusive, Peter was addressing an exclusively Jewish audience and is pointing out that certain verses used in David's Psalms do not refer to him but to Christ. In v.27 Peter quotes the words of Psalm 16.10 "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell/sheol; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption". Petershows that David is both dead and buried v.29 and that like all other humans has seen corruption, therefore he was not writing about himself but being a prophet was writing about his greater Son, the Lord Jesus who did indeed see no corruption v.31, but was raised from the dead. He then quotes the words of another of David's Psalms 110.1. "The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool" v34-35. Again Peter wants to show these words were not written about David but the Lord Jesus when He ascended into the Father's presence. To remove all doubt from his hearers minds he makes this statement "For David is not ascended into the heavens". If, as traditionalists tell us, David's soul was in heaven then Peter's argument carries no weight at all. If David was there in some sort of "soul form" then the words recorded in Psalm 110 could have been spoken to David, it is the fact that David was not there in any shape or form that proves Peter's argument. David is dead and buried not alive in heaven as so many wish to believe, but awaiting resurrection with Job, Abraham, Moses and all other sleeping saints. This of course opens a larger can of worms, for we are told that when Christ ascended to heaven He took with Him all those O.T. saints who were in "Abraham's bosom". If that is so, and remember the verse quoted to uphold this view Ephesians 4.8 has no reference to that event, then why were all other O.T. saints taken and David left behind? What confusion has been created by not taking God at His word. More on these issues will be discovered as we examine further texts.
Revelation 6.9. "I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held", This text is often quoted in support of "souls" surviving death and being in heaven. When we consider the symbolism and imagery which is used in the book of Revelation and see a text like this offered to try and prove this doctrine it reveals the real poverty of the argument. It is evident that what John is receiving here is a vision of those who had suffered martyrdom and they are seen as being in heaven calling out for God to avenge them. If this is indeed reality what sort of place must heaven be? Is there a place where multitudes of martyrs are crying and pleading for the vengeance of God to fall on their murderers? Of course not! Just as Abel's blood cried unto God from the ground and he being dead still speaks, so this, in vision form, pictures those dead martyrs looking to God to avenge their blood. Heaven is not a place of crying, pleading and unrest. The verses following are to assure us that God has missed nothing and that in His own time justice will be meted out. It should be pointed out that nowhere in the narrative of Revelation 5 is it suggested that the altar mentioned is in heaven, that is only surmised. We do meet these martyrs again in Revelation 20.4 where we are plainly told that they are part of the "first resurrection", then it is recorded that "They lived and reigned with Christ one thousand years". It stands to reason that if they are said to be alive after resurrection then they could not have been alive before it had taken place. To emphasize that point we are told in verse 5 regarding those who were not part of that "first resurrection" that the "rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished". So there we have it, those who do not take part in this first resurrection are said not to live until the thousand years are finished and it is not until after the first resurrection that these dead martyrs are brought to life, so we can rest assured they were not alive in the vision of Revelation 5. How interesting also to note that we are told many times, souls are invisible, and then when it suits the argument, they are quite easily seen. Souls are simply persons or beings or lives, this is easily proved by looking at the different ways the word "nephesh Heb." and the word "psuche Gk." are translated into the English. We leave this for the research of all interested students. This text does not prove that the dead are alive in heaven.