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A Response to the Video:
Seventh-day Adventism, the Spirit Behind the Church

by Bob Pickle

Answers to Questions Raised by:
Mark Martin, Sydney Cleveland
Dale Ratzlaff, The White Lie
. . . and
Others

Discern Fact from Fiction


Salvation, Cont.; Conditional Immortality

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#159: "So the Adventists teach that when a person dies, he or she goes into the grave, into non-existence. But this teaching flies in the face of the Scriptures which clearly state that 'to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord.' 2 Corinthians 5:8. And when a believer dies he departs and is with Christ. Philippians 1:23."—Mark Martin.

#159: Conditional immortality flies in the face of two Scriptures. Actually, it doesn't, unless we want to say that the Bible contradicts itself.

While conditional immortality seems to fly in the face of two Scriptures, innate immortality, the idea that there is something in us that will not and cannot die, that not even God can kill, flies in the face of 265 verses found in 158 chapters taken from 35 books of the Bible (see "Immortality: Conditional or Innate?" at http://www.pickle-publishing.com/papers).

To illustrate the problem we are faced with, let us look at one concept that Mr. Martin is trying to drive home, one with which we agree, that we are saved by faith and not by works. Yet this, it would seem, "flies in the face" of a passage from James:

But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? . . . Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:20-26)

Yet Paul clearly says in Galatians 2:16 that we are justified by faith apart from works of the law. Does the Bible contradict itself, or is there a way to harmonize the two passages? Every Bible-believing Christian should agree that there must be a way to harmonize James with Paul, and of course there is.

Mr. Martin has referred to two texts: 2 Corinthians 5:8 and Philippians 1:23. These must be harmonized with the 265 verses that seem to say something different. Since it is easier to harmonize two verses with 265 rather than 265 with two, let us look at the two first.

The context of 2 Corinthians 5:8 gives us an idea of what Paul is talking about:

For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. (2 Cor. 5:1-4)

Paul in these verses longs for the day when he will receive a glorified body, an event Christians typically identify with the resurrection at the second coming. He clearly does not want to be a disembodied spirit, for he does not want to be "naked." Rather, he wants to be clothed upon with the new body he calls a "house." Now for the next verses:

Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. (2 Cor. 5:5-9)

When the time comes for us to be absent from our present body and receive our new body, we will literally be present with the Lord. There is nothing [p. 108] necessarily incompatible here with the idea that the dead await the resurrection in their graves.

Let us look now at the context of Philippians 1:23.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. (Php. 1:21-24)

This passage does appear to put Paul with Christ at death. However, two points should be noted about both of these passages: 1) Neither passage says that those who have died are not really dead. 2) Neither passage says that the dead are conscious. Thus neither passage really contradicts the following crystal clear verses:

The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence. (Ps. 115:17)

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. (Ps. 146:3, 4)

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. . . .

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. (Eccl. 9:5, 6, 10)

Thus the Bible teaches that the dead do not praise God, cannot think, and do not know anything. The fact is that neither 2 Corinthians 5:8 nor Philippians 1:23 contradicts these simple, plain, Bible truths.

Another basic problem with the doctrine of innate immortality is the way the Bible uses the Greek and Hebrew words for "soul" and "spirit." There are 157 verses using these words in ways that just don't fit (see "What Is the Soul and Spirit?" posted at http://www.pickle-publishing.com/papers). For example, when the second plague is poured out, "every living soul died in the sea" (Rev. 16:3). If souls are immortal and can't die, why are these souls dying? And why is it said that whales and fish are "souls"?

265 verses and 157 verses. Some passages are used in both documents, but between the two, there are a total of 411 different verses cited.

The documentation package under "Point 77" merely gives photocopies of the two verses Mr. Martin cited. It makes no attempt at all to explain any of the 411 other Bible verses that indicate that man does not have innate immortality.

A Response to the Video

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