Seventh-Day Adventists/Death and souls


Frank wrote at 2013-04-27 22:25:13

4 24 2013 - Death and souls

<<< The expert’s answer: >>>

In Acts 2:29-34 Peter is not teaching on the state of the dead. In context Peter is teaching the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2:36 NIV). Peter is also contrasting David’s fate with Jesus’. David’s body is in the tomb decaying not so with Jesus.

“Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it” (vs. 29-32 NIV).

Jesus was raised up and ascended to God not so with David.

“Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”’ (vs. 33-35 NIV).

<<< The expert has applied this lame argument to other scripture that says that the dead are dead and not some disembodied soul floating around somewhere. >>>

A contextual reading of this passage shows clearly that it has nothing to do with the ultimate state of the dead and everything to do with proving to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah.

<<< Just because Peter is not teaching about the state of the dead, that is not evidence that the passage can’t or doesn’t reveal truth about the state of the dead. >>>

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day (vs. 36-41 NIV).

Paul also contrasted David’s bodily corruption with Jesus’ lack of same.

“God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’  And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David.’

Therefore He also says in another Psalm: ‘You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.’ For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; but He whom God raised up saw no corruption. Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:33-39 NKJV).

You are correct that the 4 passages you referenced do show that the souls of believers go to be with the Lord not into unconsciousness. You mentioned 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. If you read from v. 13 you will see that the souls of believers who had died returned with Jesus from heaven.

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 NASB).

<<< It seems there are two ways to interpret the phrase “God will bring with him”. The expert believes that it means God will bring back to earth with Jesus disembodied souls that have gone to heaven at death and will be reunited with their resurrected bodies. The other way to interpret the phrase “God will bring with him” is that God will bring the resurrected saints (souls) to heaven with Him in the same manner Jesus was resurrected and was taken to heaven. There is no mention of disembodied souls in these verses.

“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.” (1 Corinthians 15:52-53 NKJV)

Here we see that the righteous dead are raised incorruptible and along with the righteous living are changed. It is at that time that the mortal saints put on immortality. The living righteous must put on immortality as they do not already possess it. >>>

Those souls once they departed their physical bodies went to be at home with the Lord in heaven. “[F]or we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:7-8 NASB). Paul was very clear that upon death he expected to “be with Christ”.

<<< There is nothing in these verses that say Paul believes he immediately goes to heaven at death. Paul is simply saying he would prefer to be with Christ than continue in his earthly body.

Adventist pioneer Uriah Smith wrote, “Absent from the body. In 2Cor. 5:8 Paul says: "We are confident, I say, and willing rather, to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." This text is urged with great assurance as proving a conscious intermediate state. But the essential point in the argument is lacking; for Paul does not say that we are present with the Lord just as soon as we leave the body. Granting that by absence from the body he means our condition in death, he does not tell us how long it is after we are thus absent from the body that we are present with the Lord. The first part of the chapter explains this verse. In our earthly house of this tabernacle, in this present mortal state, we groan, desiring, not to be unclothed, as we are in death, but to be clothed upon with our house from Heaven, or to reach the eternal immortal state promised to the believer. And when we reach this, "mortality is swallowed up of life." Verse 4. But when is mortality swallowed up of life? When all that there is mortal is made immortal. Paul had written to the Corinthian church very plainly on this subject in his first epistle. He had spoken about this mortal being made immortal, and this corruptible being made incorruptible, which is the same thing as mortality being swallowed up of life. And when is this? Not when we die, but at the last trump, when Christ appears, and the dead are raised. 1Cor.15:52-55. Then is the time when we are present with the Lord, not before, nor by any other means.” John 14:3; 1 Thess.4:17. {1878 UrS, TBI 192.2} >>>

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Philippians 1:21-23 NKJV).

Could a Christian really believe that Paul would consider it “far better” to be unconscious rather than to remain preaching the saving gospel of his Lord?

<<< Paul did not say if he died he would instantly be with Christ but that he had the desire to depart and be with Christ which he would prefer than to continue “in the flesh”. Does anyone believe that he had the choice to either continue in the flesh or depart and be with Christ? That would require that he kill himself and to believe he considered that an option is complete nonsense. This is the same Paul that wrote, “knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.”

(2 Corinthians 4:14 NKJV)

When are the saints raised up? That of course is at the second coming (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). >>>

John saw the conscious souls of Christians in heaven.

“When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’”

(Revelation 6:9-10 NKJV).

<<< Souls under the altar is a figurative expression. >>>

Paul also spoke of the conscious souls of believers in heaven.

“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect” (Hebrews 12:22-23 NKJV).

<<< “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2, 3 KJV)  

Paul is telling the Hebrew believers they are now part of the church above, “Mount Zion” and “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem”. Their names are registered in heaven and they are being perfected. They are not yet literally in Mount Zion or the heavenly city. They are taken there at the second coming when they will have been made perfect. >>>

In the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) we read of the dead being conscious. In the face of this obvious contradiction to their theology, the SDA claim that this story is a parable; therefore, they do not have to consider what Jesus says as literally true. Even if one accepts this story as a parable, does it follow that one can dismiss what it says? The answer is: no. In what other parable does our Lord use a falsehood to teach truth? The answer is: none. So whether this story is a parable or not the fact remains that Jesus speaks of the dead as conscious, and he never used a falsehood to teach a truth.

<<< Of course this story is a parable. It is one of two in chapter 16 that begin with the words “there was a certain rich man”. Jesus is not using falsehood to teach truth.  The parable is full of allegory and cannot be interpreted literally.

Since the expert believes that everything Jesus said in the parable is truth let’s see just what he believes.

“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.”

(Luke 16:22-23 KJV)  

The parable starts with a dead man being carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom. Is this literal or is it allegory? The rich man is buried and finds himself in torments and “looks up” and sees Abraham in the distance. Is this literal or is it allegory? Is the rich man’s request to cool his tongue with Lazarus’ dampened finger literal or is it allegory? >>>

Another passage that shows that Jesus believed that the dead were conscious is found in the story of the Good Thief (Luke 23:39-43). Jesus indicates the consciousness of the dead with his statement, “I assure you: this day you will be with me in paradise” (v. 43). So strong and clear is this statement from our Lord that Soul Sleep advocates try to manipulate the very words of our Lord. They make a slight, but important change. “I assure you today: you will be with me in paradise.”  It may be informative to know that no Bible scholar translates v. 43 in that manner. Firstly, it would be ridiculous of our Lord to be informing the Good Thief that he was speaking to him this day! Secondly, Jesus uses the phrase, “I assure you” (also translated as “Verily, verily”, “Truly, truly”, or “Amen, amen”) over 70 times in the gospels.

<<< There is absolutely no manipulation of words involved in the SDA interpretation of verse 43. It seems rather deceitful for the expert to use different translations of the Bible to make it appear that words have been changed. Also, the original manuscript has no punctuation. That was added by the translators who also added chapter and verse numbers. >>>

Never once does he add to the phrase what day it is that he is speaking. He always uses the phrase followed by a promise or statement of fact. Therefore, the Soul Sleep advocate has no legitimate grounds for changing the traditional rendering of this passage.

<<< ‘Verily’ is found 54 times in Matthew, Mark and Luke. John uses “Verily, verily” 25 times in his gospel rather than the single ‘verily’ that the others use. The fact that this is the only time Jesus expressed Himself in this manner when using verily (or verily, verily) is irrelevant. At the end of the day the Jews asked that those on the cross be brought down because they believed leaving them on the cross would desecrate the Sabbath (see John 19:31). They broke the legs of the thieves because they were still alive but found Jesus dead. Living thieves could not have been with Jesus that day in paradise. >>>

It seems to me that we are composed of spirit, soul, and body. “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23 NASB).

<<< SDA’s believe that the body plus the spirit (breath) is a living soul. Has anybody ever noticed that when a person dies they stop breathing? >>>

Further it seems that the spirit animates the body.

“And they ridiculed Him, knowing that she was dead. But He put them all outside, took her by the hand and called, saying, ‘Little girl, arise.’ Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately. And He commanded that she be given something to eat” (Luke 8:53-55 NKJV).

<<< The spirit does animate the body. It becomes a living soul. The body without the spirit is a dead soul. “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 KJV) The spirit has no consciousness apart from the body. >>>

James used this truth figuratively. “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:26 NASB).

<<< The body without the spirit is dead. “The soul who sins shall die. . .” (Ezekiel 18:20) “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) “Then the dust (body, see Gen. 2:7) will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it.” (Eccl. 12:7) >>>

The souls of deceased believers are seen in heaven.

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4; cf. 6:9-10).

<<< Those are not the disembodied souls of saints who were beheaded. The souls in heaven during the one thousand years are the resurrected saints including those who had been beheaded for their witness. The next verse says “the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. . .” (KJV)

“And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” (Revelation 20:13-14 KJV)


It is not a conscious soul that gives life to the resurrected body but the Spirit of God. “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Romans 8:11 KJV) >>>

I pray that this was helpful to you.

God Be With You,

Brother Sal

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I am privileged to be able to offer an alternative insight into the complicated world of Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA) theology. I will rely heavily on the Bible, but will also consider history and use logic in exposing deficiencies in SDA teachings. I would ask anyone who is considering becoming a SDA or if you are already in the SDA church, but are searching for the truth, to please allow me to offer a different explanation for the claims of the SDA. Remember : "The truth will set you free" (John 8:32). I can answer your questions pertaining to the beliefs and history of the SDA. I am not able to answer questions concerning spirituality or church discipline.


I have extensively studied the theology of the Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA) for a number of years. I have many books and tape sets produced by experts in this field of study. I have debated current members of the SDA church. I have a great desire to help these people see the truth.

M.S. degree in Food, Nutrition, and Dietetics

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