He Died for us

While I was in Cradle Roll Sabbath School, before I could even read, I was mesmerized by a picture in my Bible of Jesus dying on the cross. I would study it in church as the preacher preached. As I took in the entire scene, one thought kept reverberating in my heart, Jesus died for me. One night when I was seven I put my Bible away to fall asleep. As I lay there contemplating that picture, the Holy Spirit was painting that very scene on my heart. That night I decided to give my heart to Jesus and be baptized because Jesus died for me.

Over time the world and even people in the church have pressured me to compromise my faith and convictions. When they demand my loyalty to them, I remember that night when I gave my heart to Jesus. I remember the people pressuring me to compromise did not die for me. Jesus died for me. I must be loyal to Him. I gave my heart to Jesus. I did not give it to people in the world or in the church.

Way too many times over the years I have compromised my faith without any pressure from anyone else at all. Again my mind goes back to the picture of the cross that the Holy Spirit painted on my heart on that night so long ago. I don’t give up. Jesus died for me. I ask His forgiveness which He so freely offers me. I know I am forgiven because Jesus died for me.

I have completed many more trips around the sun since my Cradle Roll days and baptism when I was seven. Still, one theme still grips my heart and mesmerizes my soul. Jesus died for me. As time passes the Holy Spirit continues painting even more details into that picture of the cross. As I continue studying Scripture, the details become increasingly more vivid on my heart, making the scene more real, more wonderful and more awe-ful. While many want to attach specific theological labels to the cross, I find the picture of the cross the Holy Spirit is painting on my heart much too grand and vivid to fall under any one label. Many camps of thought are not so much wrong in what they teach as in what they fail to teach. One camp of thought does not necessarily have to replace the other. I believe we get the big picture of the cross when we put all the camps of thought together and just throw away the labels. After all, I did not fall in love with a theological label. I fell in love with Jesus because Jesus died for me.

The first time I heard the Gospel presentation I was taught that when I chose to knowingly break God’s law that was counted as sin according to 1 John 3:4. Sin is punishable by death, according to Romans 6:23. But John 3:16 tells me God gave His Son to die the death I deserve so I can have the eternal life He deserves. As I continue studying I find another definition for sin besides 1 John 3:4. In John 16:9 Jesus also defines unbelief as sin. Through my study I see that Jesus died not so much because humankind took a piece of fruit they were told not to, but because in taking that fruit they showed they did not trust God or really believe in His love. Therefore God became a man and went to the cross to die and prove that He loves us so we can believe in His love. Therefore Jesus heals us from the sin of unbelief. The atonement appeases an angry race instead of an angry God.

So which is it? Did Jesus die because humankind sinned by breaking the law which is punishable by death? Or did Jesus die because humankind stopped believing in God’s love and by dying on the cross Jesus reconciled us by convincing us He loves us? Both! Interestingly John records both definitions of sin-in 1 John 3:4 the sin of breaking the law, and in John 16:9 the sin of unbelief. John understood that Jesus died for sin by every definition.

I have heard that Jesus took on human nature so He could give us an example of human obedience. I have heard that Jesus took human nature because He had to die as a man. So which is it? Both!

The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. Romans 8:3-4 NLT

There is not a law in this universe that will allow someone to die for someone else. I can’t go to a murder trial and offer to die for the defendant so that he can go free. They won’t allow that. God can’t allow it either. So what was God’s solution? Jesus took my human body to the cross and died not just for me but as me. Not only is my sanctification dependent on the humanity of Jesus, my justification is dependent on it as well.

Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Hebrews 2:14-17 NLT

Jesus had to become us and die as us. This is why Paul describes Jesus dying as us as well as dying for us. Where we all sinned when we were in Adam we have now all lived a righteous life in Christ.

Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. Romans 5:18 NLT

Also as I sinned in Adam I have now been crucified with Christ. Take a look at how these verses describe us dying with Jesus and not just Jesus dying for me.

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 NLT

Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was.We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. Romans 6:3-7 NLT

Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.2 Corinthians 5:14 NLT

Where I sinned in Adam I have now been crucified with Christ. He took my flesh to the cross and crucified it. That is my justification. The good news is it does not stop there. Jesus also took on humanity and died so we can be sanctified and have victorious lives. Consider how these passages describe the victory Christ gives us by taking on humanity. Lets go back to where we began at Hebrews 2.

Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested. Hebrews 2:18 NLT

He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. 1 Peter 2:24

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT

The atonement was not only possible because of Jesus’ complete humanity but also because of his complete divinity.

The broken law of God demanded the life of the sinner. In all the universe there was but one who could, in behalf of man, satisfy its claims. Since the divine law is as sacred as God Himself, only one equal with God could make atonement for its transgression. None but Christ could redeem fallen man from the curse of the law and bring him again into harmony with Heaven. Christ would take upon Himself the guilt and shame of sin—sin so offensive to a holy God that it must separate the Father and His Son. Christ would reach to the depths of misery to rescue the ruined race. –Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, Page 63.

Did Jesus make an atonement as fully man or fully God? Both. Did Jesus die to free us from the power of sin or the penalty of sin? Both. Did Jesus die because of the sin of breaking God’s law or the sin of unbelief? Both. I have learned so much more about the cross since my early childhood days. But I am still not in any one theological camp or label. When I am tempted I look at the picture of the cross the Holy Spirit has painted on my heart. His love empowers me to overcome as I remember Jesus died for me. When I make stupid decisions and fall into sin I look to the cross and know I can find forgiveness because Jesus died for me. I am reconciled to God and can believe in His love because Jesus died for me. God made an atonement for my sin and transgression of the law when Jesus died for me.

Many years since my Cradle Roll days, I have experienced hundreds of victories – victories I never imagined possible. But before you pat me on the back, I confess that I have also suffered a multitude of defeats that I never would have imagined possible when I first gave my heart to Jesus at the tender age of seven. Sin has brought me lower than I ever comprehended possible, and Jesus has raised me higher than I ever comprehended possible. I have found theological theories and labels get me nowhere. When I need forgiveness or power to overcome, I do what I have been doing since Cradle Roll. I look at the cross and remember, Jesus died for me.

You may listen to the podcast version of this article here.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

6: He Died for us-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath School Class, Sabbath, November 5, 2022.

Main Theme: Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. Desire of Ages, page 25

Read in Class: Revelation 13:8, Acts 2:23, 1 Peter 1:19-20 and Titus 1:2. Discuss the main thread of these passages.

Study: How could Christ be considered as “slain from the foundation of the world” (NKJV)? What do these verses teach us about how long ago the plan of salvation, which centered on Christ’s death, had been in place?

Apply: Animal sacrifices are gruesome and bloody — that is true. But why is this gruesomeness and bloodiness precisely the point, teaching us about Christ’s death in our place and what the terrible cost of sin was?

Share: Your friend says that while Jesus suffered terrible physical agony on the cross, so did every one crucified on a cross back them. What made Jesus’ suffering so much worse? What do you tell your friend? See The God-forsaken God.

Read in Class: Matthew 16:21-23, Matthew 17:22-23, Luke 18:31-34. What is the common thread of these passages?

Study: What were the reactions of the disciples to Jesus’ predictions of His own sufferings and death, and what should their reactions teach us about the dangers of misunderstanding Scripture?

Apply: People, especially God’s chosen people, had false concepts regarding the first coming of the Messiah. What are some of the false concepts out there today regarding the second coming of Jesus?

Share: Your friend asks you, “How could Jesus possibly consider these men his disciples when they misunderstood His clear teachings?” What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: John 19:17-30. What is the main theme of this passage?

Study: What is the crucial message to us in Jesus’ statement, “It is finished?”

Apply: Think about how bad sin must be that it took the death of Christ to atone for it. What should this truth teach us about how useless our works are for attaining merit before God? After all, what can we do to add to what Christ has already done for us? 

Share: Your friend says that he does not need to overcome sin because Jesus said, “It is finished.” Jesus has already done all the work to save him, so he does not need to obey or overcome sin? What do you tell your friend? Hint: 1 Peter 2:24.

Read in Class: John 3:14-18 and Romans 6:23. What is the common thread in these passages?

Study: What do these verses teach that Christ’s death has accomplished for us?

Apply: What great hope can we take from these verses, especially when you rightly sense that you deserve to be condemned for something that you have done?

Share: Can you think of someone who needs to hear the plan of salvation? Can you pray for an opportunity to share it with them this week?

Can God Still Perform Miracles Today?

I heard a story in a pastor’s meeting a few weeks ago, where a hard working and dedicated pastor died around the age of 60. Some of the elders were so distraught that this hard working pastor was gone, they wanted to get together and pray for God to resurrect him and put him back to work. However, according to the story, his wife simply replied, “No. He has earned his rest. Let him rest.” I am not sure if his wife was thinking of this passage or not when she said what she did, but to me it seems to fit.

Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” Revelation 14:13 NKJV 

While teaching a Bible class years ago, a young student asked me why we don’t see more miracles today like we did in the Bible? He was especially wondering about resurrections. I shared several thoughts with him. For example if God was going to resurrect someone, why not just heal them and not let them die in the first place? If God was going to resurrect them, why not just not let them die? Also would modern day resurrections give the deceiver more ammunition for counterfeit miracles suggesting spiritualism? I believe the resurrections in the Bible served a practical purpose, for example the widow’s son continued to live and provide for his mother. Dorcas continued her community services. But beyond serving a practical purpose for that time, these resurrections also gave us hope for the resurrection when Jesus returns.

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4 NKJV

Our hope comes from the Scriptures and not modern day miracles. Having said that, I do believe if God sees fit he can work the same miracles through us today that he worked trough Elijah, Elisha and Peter when they raised the dead. While its obvious that you and I cannot raise the dead, it is also obvious that Elijah, Elisha and Peter never raised the dead. Actually Jesus in His humanity does not even take credit for raising the dead. He tells us His Father raises the dead.

For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. John 5:21 NKJV

Every miracle Jesus performed He performed by faith in His Father. In His humanity Jesus claims without the Father He was just as helpless as we are in our humanity without the Father. 

Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. John 5:19 NKJV 

When Jesus raised the dead His humanity was just as dependent upon the Father as Elijah, Elisha and Peter were. While its obvious we cannot do such miracles on our own, it is also obvious that 

with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26 NKJV

Jesus even said,

Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. John 14:10,12 NKJV

Sure Jesus meant we will take the Gospel farther into the world than He did when he said “greater works” but it also implies that as we rely on the Father the way Jesus, Elijah, Elisha, and Peter relied on the Father it is obvious we can do the same miracles Jesus did, if God actually needs the same miracles to be performed. Jesus said,

for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20 NKJV

We need to keep in mind just because it is possible does not mean it needs to happen. Jesus doesn’t need us to move every mountain, and He does not need us to resurrect every dead person. After all, there is a reason why mountains are where they are and there is a reason why those who are dead are still asleep. By the way I think a baby being born is just as big a miracle as someone being raised from the dead. I also believe God moves mountains today as needed. I also would not doubt that God can still raise the dead through us today as He did through Elijah in his day. Obviously we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength, Obviously, what the Father did through Elijah, Elisha, Peter and Jesus, He can do through us. 

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

5: Resurrections Before the Cross-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plans

Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath School Class, Sabbath October 29, 2022.

Main Theme: While Grace is found in the Old and New Testaments, the power of the the resurrection is found in both the Old and New Testaments.

Read in Class: Jude 9, and Like 9:28-36. Discuss the common thread of these passages.

Study: What evidences do you find in these texts for the bodily resurrection of Moses?

Apply: Moses was not allowed to enter the earthly Canaan (Deut. 34:1-4) but was taken into the heavenly Canaan. What does this teach about how God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20, NKJV)?

Share: Your friend asks how Moses got to go to heaven before Jesus even died for Him? What do you tell your friend? Hint: Revelation 13:8.

Read in Class: 1 Kings 17:8-24 and 2 Kings 4:18-37. Discuss the common thread of these passages.

Study: What similarities and differences do you see in these two resurrections?

Apply: These are great stories, but for each one of these two accounts, how many untold others didn’t have something so miraculous happen? What should this sad fact teach us about just how central to our faith is the promised resurrection at the end of time?

Share: Your friend asks why we don’t see modern day resurrections? (I have heard claims that they still happen today.) What do you tell your friend? Hint: See Can God Still Work Miracles Today.

Read in Class: Luke 7:11-7 and Mark 5:35-43. Discuss the common thread in these passages.

Study: What can we learn about death from Christ’s words, “The child is not dead, but sleeping”?

Apply: Jesus’ words, “Do not fear, only believe” (Mark 5:36, NRSV), are still meaningful for us today. How can we learn to do that, even amid fearful situations, which are the most important times to keep believing?

Share: Your friend asks, why you think Jesus chose to raise the widow’s son, and the young girl? What purpose might it have served other than just demonstrating the resurrection power? What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: John 11:1-44. Discuss the main point of this passage.

Study:  In what sense was Jesus “glorified” by the sickness and death of Lazarus (John 11:4)?

Apply: Read John 11:25,-26. In one line Jesus talks about believers dying, and in the next He talks about believers never dying. What is Jesus teaching us here, and why is the understanding that death is an unconscious sleep so crucial in understanding Christ’s words? And why do His words offer us, as beings destined to the grave, so much hope?

Share: Your friend asks you why Jesus waited for Lazarus to be dead four days before raising him? What do you tell your friend, and how could this be related to Jesus telling the people earlier that the girls was just asleep?

Hint: “When Christ raised to life the daughter of Jairus, He had said, “The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.” Mark 5:39. As she had been sick only  a short time, and was raised immediately after death, the Pharisees declared that the child had not been dead; that Christ Himself had said she was only asleep. They had tried to make it appear that Christ could not cure disease, that there was foul play about His miracles. But in this case, none could deny that Lazarus was dead.” –Desire of Ages, Pages 534-535.

Death and the Resurrection in Both Old and New Testaments

Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

In the Old Testament, Daniel was not told that he would be in heaven the moment he died. Instead he was told,

“But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.” Daniel 12:13 NKJV

In the New Testament Jesus did not tell His disciples they would be with Him in heaven the moment they died. He told them He would have to come again so they could be with Him again.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:3 NKJV 

Both the Old and New Testaments agree about what happens when we die, and the hope we have in the resurrection. Let’s take a look at Death and then the resurrection in both the Old and New Testaments. 


Death is a state of unconscious sleep. The dead do not know anything at this time and are not awakened until the last trump at Christ’s second coming. See Ecclesiastes 9:5-6Job 14:121 Corinthians 15:51-551 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Why is it important to know the truth about death:
The teaching that you don’t really die is a lie Satan started in the Garden of Eden when he told Eve, “Ye shall not surely die.” By telling this lie Satan hoped to get Eve and all mankind to believe that there is really no consequence for disobeying God. He also wants us to believe that we are all immortal even if we have no relationship with God. This opens the door for spiritualism in which people may actually communicate with the devil and his angels, thinking they are speaking with their loved ones.

Our salvation does not come from knowing what happens when we die. Our salvation is found alone in God’s love. However, no lie is ever harmless, and when Satan told the lie, “Ye shall not surely die,” not only was he lying, but he was also calling God a liar.

Why understanding death in the light of the cross is important:
If you don’t really die, then Jesus did not really die for us, and we still need a Savior. The lie that we don’t really die destroys the cross and everything Jesus endured and accomplished on it. If Jesus was not really tasting death like Hebrews 2:9 says He did, then we have just minimized the cross to a six-hour pain endurance marathon.

I remember sitting in a funeral for a little girl who was hit and killed by a car. Her mother sat on the front pew, sobbing uncontrollably. Meanwhile the pastor talked about how happy the little girl and Jesus were right now up in heaven. Do you know how cruel that made Jesus look to the poor mother? Would Jesus tear a mother’s heart apart just to go have fun with her daughter? I think not! The little girl is resting in her grave and will be united with Jesus in heaven when the mother is reunited with her at the second coming.

For Further study on Death:

What did Adam become?

And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7

What returns to God?

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:7

What is the spirit?

All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils; Job 27:3

What does God take that turns the body to dust?

Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Psalm 104:29

What age-old question did Job ask?

But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where [is] he? Job 14:10

What is the Bible answer?

So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens [be] no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. Job 14:12

Do the dead know what happens to the living?

His sons come to honour, and he knoweth [it] not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth [it] not of them. Job 14:21

How much do the dead know?

For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any [thing] that is done under the sun. Ecclesiastes 9:5–6

What did Jesus call death?

These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. John 11:11-14

How long had Lazarus been dead?

Then when Jesus came, he found that he had [lain] in the grave four days already. John 11:17

Did Martha believe Lazarus was in heaven?

Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. John 11:24

What did Mary say?

Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. John 11:32

Was Lazarus called from heaven, hell or the grave?

And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. John 11: 43-44

The Resurrection

When does the book of Daniel tell us that the dead will awaken?

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:2

“But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.” Daniel 12:3 

When are the dead raised?

For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 1 Corinthians 15:16-23

When do we receive immortality?

Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 1 Corinthians 15:51-54

Our hope and comfort:

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. for this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [and] remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

4: The Old Testament Hope-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Photo by Shayla on Pexels.com

Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School class, Sabbath October 22, 2022.

Main Theme: The Old and New Testaments both celebrate the hope of the resurrection. If God created us out of nothing the first time, He can create us out of nothing again when He resurrects us.

Read in Class: Job 19:25-27. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: under what circumstances was Job expecting to see God, and when?

Apply: What kind of faith do we need to trust God when things aren’t going our way?

Share: Your friend asks, “How did Job know about a Redeemer when Jesus had not even been born yet?” What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: Psalm 49:11-15. Discuss the key thought of this passage.

Study: In what ways have you seen the folly of those who trust in their wealth and accomplishments?

Apply:  How do you know that God is going to redeem you from the power of the grave? 

Share: Your friend says, “Shouldn’t we all work hard for financial security? Is it wrong to work hard to be rich?” What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: Isaiah 26:14,19. What is the main idea of these passages?

Study:  What is the contrast between those who will perish forever and those that receive eternal life?

Apply: How do you want to be remembered, and by whom? 

Share: Your friend asks, “Where the people in Old Testament times saved by keeping the law or by grace?” What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: Daniel 12:1-2. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: What does Michael standing up have to do with the resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust?

Apply: Do you want to live to see Jesus coming or sleep in the dust until the resurrection? What factors might be involved? 

Share: Can you think of someone who needs to hear the message in this week’s lesson? Can you share it with them this week?

The Non-Immortality of the Soul

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

I was listening to a popular Christian music artist a while back, who said, “A baby is not a toy, but an immortal soul.” I was with a church group one evening taking a tour of a live nativity scene, graciously presented by a local protestant church in my community. At the end of the tour our guide made an appeal and told us we would be spending all eternity either in heaven or in hell. Over and over, even in Christian circles, the serpent’s lie, “You will not surely die” has been repeated so many times that many people just accept it as fact. Many are being deceived because they simply do not question the serpent’s lie. In Genesis 3:17 Eve says, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Why was Even deceived? In Genesis 2:17 God’s Word clearly said if they ate of the forbidden tree they would die. What was there not to understand? All Eve had to do to keep from being deceived was simply believe God’s Word. It wasn’t complicated then or now.

While we hear over and over the serpent’s lie that the soul is immortal what does God’s Word say?

He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality…. 1 Timothy 6:15-16 NKJV

While much of the world today is saying the soul is immortal, God’s Word clearly says, only God currently has immortality. 

in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 NKJV

God’s Word says we receive immortality after the resurrection at the second coming. No one has immortality right now. The dead are sleeping in their graves and know nothing. God’s Word says the saved will be given immortality at the second coming. This is why the second coming and resurrection are the blessed hope of the New Testament. In John 14:3, Jesus comforted His disciples, by telling them, “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” Did you notice that Jesus never comforted them by telling them they would be with Him as soon as they died? He clearly told them He would have to come again in order for them to be together again. The popular theory of the immortality of the soul, and going straight to heaven when you die makes the second coming and resurrection meaningless and unnecessary. Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 15 that without the resurrection there would be no life after death. The popular theory of the immortality of the soul and going straight to heaven when you die, is not in God’s Word, it is a teaching from spiritualism

Spiritualism also teaches that sinners will be tortured throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. When I was a child a lady once told me that  even if the body is destroyed in hell that the soul will be tormented for all eternity. Again there is no reason to be deceived. What does God’s Word say about the punishment of the wicked? 

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 NKJV

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 NKJV

Paul is in agreement with Jesus the the believer has eternal life while the sinner perishes and dies. 

The soul who sins shall die. Ezekiel 18:4 NKJV

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in]hell. Matthew 10:28 NKJV

While the lady told me that the soul of the sinner will be tortured throughout all eternity, there was no reason for me to be deceived. God’s Word clearly says the soul of the sinner will be destroyed and die. Again all Eve had to do to keep from being deceived when the serpent said, “You will not surely die” was to believe God’s Word when He said “You will die.” Genesis 2:17. All we have to do today in order to keep from being deceived is to simply believe God’s Word. 

Again God’s Word is not as hard to understand as some make it appear. Paul tells us in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11 that the reason people are deceived is not because God’s Word is unclear, but rather because people do not love the clear teachings of God’s Truth, and prefer lies instead. 

Many prefer the lie of the immortal soul and going straight to heaven when you die, thinking it sounds good. But does it really? Years ago I was at the funeral of a little girl who was hit and killed by a car. The mother sat on the front pew crying uncontrollably while the pastor spoke about how happy the little girl and Jesus were up in heaven right now. I could not help but think how cruel the preacher made Jesus look to that poor mother. Making the mother to believe that Jesus tore her world apart so He could have fun with her daughter in heaven. The theory of the immortal soul, like every other false doctrine skews our understanding of God’s love. Satan knows we are not saved by doctrine. We are saved by grace alone. So why does Satan bother skewing our understanding of doctrine? So he can skew our understanding of God’s love and grace by which we are saved. By the way that pastor also used an illustration of David dying and going straight to heaven to be with his son who died. Again no reason to be deceived. God’s Word clearly says in Acts 2:29 and Acts 2:34 that David has not gone to heaven yet, but is still resting in his tomb. As always in order to keep from being deceived all we have to do is believe God’s Word whenever the serpent lies and says we surely will not die. 

A while back I was reading the book, To Sleep with the Angels, about a horrific fire in a Catholic school, killing over 90 people. The author of the book challenged the priests who tried to comfort the parents who lost children. The priests told the parents that God needed their children. The parents said, “No! We needed our children!” The priests told the parents that God only takes the very best, thinking that would comfort them, but the parents replied, “What does that make us who are left? Chopped liver?” Some lies may sound smooth on the surface, but in reality they are not comforting nor do they help us understand God’s love. In 1 Thessalonians 4:18, Paul tells us to comfort each other “with these words” about the resurrection described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17. God’s truth is so much more comforting than the serpent’s lies. God’s Word is Truth and it can be trusted and His Word of Truth is good news indeed that we can believe. 

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. John 17:17 NKJV

When the serpent lied about the immortality of the disobedient, all Eve had to do was believe God’s Word and she would not have been deceived. All we have to do in order to keep from being deceived is simply believe God’s Word. The serpent’s lies cannot be trusted and are not really good news, even if made to appear so. God’s Word can be trusted and is really good news! 

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

3: Understanding Human Nature-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Photo by Mike B on Pexels.com

Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath School class on Sabbath, October 15, 2022.

Main Theme: The Bible does not teach the natural immortality of the soul. The soul is mortal until the resurrection, when those who are saved put on immortality. See 1 Timothy 6:15-16, and 1 Corinthians 15:51-54.

Read in Class: Genesis 1:24-27 and Genesis 2:7, 19. Discuss the main idea of these passages.

Study: What are the similarities and differences between how God created animals and humans?

Apply: How close and personal did God get in creating man? In what ways were mankind made in the image of God?

Share: Your friend says that the Bible appears to be sexist in the way it portrays male and female roles. What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: Ezekiel 18:4 and Matthew 10:28. Discuss the common thread of these texts.

Study: What do these verses teach us about human nature and the soul? Is the soul that sins immortal?

Apply: When threatened with death if we do not obey man over God, how do these passages help you choose who to remain loyal to?

Share: Your friend says she died for a while on the operating table and saw a bright light which she believes meant she went to heaven for a while while she was dead. How do you respond to your friend?

Read in Class: Ecclesiastes 12:5-7. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: What is the spirit that returns to God? See Job 27:3 KJV and Psalm 104:29 KJV.

Apply: We often say that death is just part of life. Why is that so wrong? Death is the opposite of life, the enemy of life. What great hope, then, is found in this verse: “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:26, NKJV)?

Share: Your friend is reading Ecclesiastes 12:7 and says, “See, this verse says the body dies and the spirit returns to God who gave it. This says that we have two parts: the body and the spirit. So when we die, our spirit goes to heaven.” How do you respond to your friend?

Read in Class: Read in Class, Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, Job 14:12,19. Discuss the main idea of these passages.

Study: What can we learn from the passages about the condition of those who are dead? See also Death in Light of the Cross.

Apply: Are you afraid to die? Why or why not should we be afraid to die?

Share: Can you think of someone who would be encouraged about this week’s study and the hope we have in the resurrection? How can you share this hope with the this week?

Jarvis’ Baptism Pictures and Stories

The Homosassa Adventist Church family was very happy when Jarvis first started visiting our church. He had met a lady friend who was a Seventh-day Adventist and he wanted to learn more about the Bible teachings the Adventist Church followed. Sadly as Jarvis and I continued our Bible studies, his lady friend passed away. Jarvis was saddened but encouraged by the new hope he had found in the resurrection. Jarvis was determined to continue studying the Bible with me and the other members of the Homosassa Adventist Church. On October the 8th of 2022, Jarvis was baptized.

And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. Galatians 3:27 NLT
After the baptism we presented Jarvis with his baptism certificate and welcomed him into our church membership, though he was already a part of our church family!
This Sabbath as well as having Jarvis’ baptism we also celebrated communion. Wally, one of our elders had the privilege of washing Jarvis’ feet as Jarvis participated in his first ordinance of humility and communion service with his new Homosassa Adventist church family. We enjoyed a joyous Sabbath with Jarvis from beginning to end!
Don’t let the sun go down on your life without experiencing the joy and hope of salvation which Jarvis now has. If you would like to give your life to Jesus, because He gave His life for you, I would love to help you make this step. You can contact me at william.earnhardt@floridaconference.com