Post Number: 1877
|Posted on Thursday, October 13, 2016 - 9:39 am: || |
The historic, orthodox Christian view of what happens to the spirits of post-cross believers at death can be summarized as follows: At death the spirit departs the body. The spirit returns to God. The spirit is consciously with the Lord. At the second coming, God will bring those departed saints with Him when He comes. He will then raise up for them imperishable bodies in the resurrection.
We could systematically look at texts throughout the Bible to get a general overview, a big picture view if you will, of the historic doctrine summarized above. However, I would note that I would not necessarily consider each of the individual texts to be conclusive in and of themselves, merely supportive of a larger picture presented in scripture.
To formulate sound doctrine we need to do more extensive inductive Bible study in didactic passages meant to teach the Church about this very topic. So, I would like to simply focus on looking at such a passage, 2 Corinthians 5:1-9. In particular, I would like to focus in on the long held Christian belief that states that when we are absent from the body we are at home with the Lord. Does the Bible actually teach “absent from the body, at home with the Lord”? That is the question we will attempt to answer through contextual hermeneutics.
2 Corinthians 5:1 (NASB)
1 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Paul here uses the symbolism of a tent to represent our current perishable bodies. A tent is not a permanent dwelling. It’s easily torn down, just like these bodies. But the good news is that we can look forward to one day, at the resurrection, having an imperishable body from Heaven that is permanent and will never be torn down.
2 Corinthians 5:2-4 (NASB)
2 For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven,
3 inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked.
4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.
Paul has already compared our current bodies to temporary tents. We groan in these bodies that grow older every day. We experience aches, pains, sickness and frailty, and yet few of us really look forward to the unnatural intermediate state of death when these bodies will be torn down like a tent. To be unclothed spirit without body is not a natural state, nor is it the final state. The Christian worldview is not a platonic view that seeks to be set free from the body. The Christian world view is very physical. What we truly look forward to is the final state when our spirits will be clothed with imperishable eternal bodies. It is worth noting that the idea that we can be “unclothed” or “naked” strongly suggests that there is something real there to unclothe, namely our spirit.
2 Corinthians 5:5-9 (NASB)
5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.
6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—
7 for we walk by faith, not by sight—
8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.
9 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.
This passage is the source of the oft repeated Christian refrain, “Absent from the body, present with Lord”. This seems pretty clear. In fact, I don’t know how Paul could be anymore clear. When we are in these bodies we are absent from the Lord. When we are absent from these bodies we are at home with the Lord. Now if we don’t have spirits, only breath as SDA doctrine teaches, how could we possibly be absent from our body and at home with the Lord? The only way Paul’s teaching makes any sense at all is if we have a real spirit that can be absent from the body and be with Christ awaiting the resurrection.
Also please note two other very important things:
1. Paul says he would actually “prefer…to be absent from the body”! Now this can only make sense if he is consciously with Christ. Think about it, who in their right mind would prefer to be non-existent over being here with loved ones and doing the work the Lord has given us to do? Paul can’t possibly be saying he would prefer to be non-existent or unconscious. It also doesn’t work to say that Paul is merely looking forward to the second coming and the resurrection because he specifically says that he is talking about a time when he is “absent from the body” and “at home with the Lord”. This can’t be the resurrection because he is “absent from the body”. Paul is describing a conscious existence, absent from the body, present with the Lord, which he sees as a preferable state.
2. Paul indicates that it is possible to be actively pleasing to the Lord when in the body *OR* when ABSENT from the body!!! The Greek verb used here is in the present tense and active voice. The only way we could possibly be actively pleasing to the Lord when absent from the body is if we are conscious and active in some way. To say that Paul is talking about a non-existent or unconscious state makes his teaching nonsense. And again, it simply does NOT work to claim that Paul is only looking forward to the resurrection because he specifically refers to being “absent from the body”. There’s just no viable way to get around this although some try.
I just don’t see how we can get an unconscious or non-existent state out of this didactic passage without doing incredible mental and verbal gymnastics. This is as clear as it could possibly be. If you were Paul and wanted to state that to be “absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord”, how could you state it anymore clearly? Paul has made his point abundantly clear to anyone willing and able to hear it.
A final word before closing, remember this most basic rule of hermeneutics (the science and art of proper biblical interpretation). The strongest most dogmatic Christian doctrine should be based on New Testament didactic (teaching) passages. Starting from the solid foundation of very clear teaching that is given to the New Testament Church we are then able to rightly interpret the Old Testament as well as other forms of biblical literature such as wisdom literature. Be very suspicious of dogmatic doctrine that seems to flip flop this most basic hermeneutical principle. When a doctrine has been based largely on Old Testament wisdom literature, it deserves careful scrutiny.
The New Testament didactic passage we looked at here gives us an excellent basis for the Christian doctrine of “absent from the body, present with the Lord”. I also plan to follow up with a line by line exegesis of another New Testament didactic passage that is equally strong and convicting.
Post Number: 15438
|Posted on Thursday, October 13, 2016 - 10:01 am: || |
Thank you, Chris. This is a wonderful study.
Post Number: 105
|Posted on Thursday, October 13, 2016 - 10:30 am: || |
Succinct, in Biblical context, and a comforting reminder why death holds no terror for those who trust alone in Jesus. Thanks, Chris!
Post Number: 22
|Posted on Thursday, October 13, 2016 - 12:54 pm: || |
Well, just because it is a long-held interpretation doesn't make it infallible. Also, why stop at verse 9? Verses 14 through 17 must be considered also.
The problem with your interpretation is it contradicts our total need of Christ's righteousness. If there's something good in me that lives on after my death, that component of me doesn't need redeeming. That makes it anti-gospel.
The gospel tells me that I'm 100% sinner, not 66% sinner. If my spirit is good & holy that component of me (1/3 or 33%) doesn't need Christ. It gets to heaven on it's own merit. That sir, is legalism. It's glorying in one's goodness.
Post Number: 23
|Posted on Thursday, October 13, 2016 - 3:19 pm: || |
5:1 “For we know that if our earthly house (one’s body – see verse 6), this tent, is destroyed, we have (present tense) a building (i.e., “glorified body”) from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
If this fallen body dies we have (present tense) a body that is “in the heavens.” When Paul wrote this you and I were not yet even born. In other words before we were born we already had a glorified body in heaven residing “in Christ Jesus”. How did it get there?
Eph 2:6 tells us: “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus…”
So at Christ’s resurrection our “new creation” was taken to heaven in Him. He is the “last” or 2nd Adam. See 1 Cor 15:45.
Let’s drop down to verse 6
“So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.”
You see “flesh and blood” cannot enter heaven. See 1 Cor 15:50. Our bodies, indwelt with “iniquity” – i.e., our bent-to-self – cannot defile heaven. See Rev 21:27. So before we can enter heaven “we must be changed”. See 1 Cor 15:51 We must be made actually righteous. That happens at the 2nd coming.
Verse 8: “We are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”
What is Paul stating? Does he say that when the body dies we are home with the Lord? No, he states that we “prefer” to be absent from the body so we can be at home with the Lord.
Does that happen at death? No! Then when?
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive (future tense). 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the first fruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming (i.e, 2nd coming). 1 Cor 15:22-23
(Message edited by setufree314 on October 13, 2016)
Post Number: 1880
|Posted on Thursday, October 13, 2016 - 3:31 pm: || |
Rather than going right back to hopping around to various proof texts and linking them through convoluted "logic", how 'bout focusing on exegeting the actual passage we are dealing with right now? Please work through the passage line-by-line providing exegesis on this passage as you go. You almost started to do that, then got distracted and fell back into SDA habits. If you would like to expand your exegesis through verse 17, please feel free to do so, but you haven't yet exegeted this passage in it's own context. .
Post Number: 24
|Posted on Friday, October 14, 2016 - 3:29 am: || |
"Convoluted logic" - why, because it disproves your cherished, self-righteous doctrine? Either something good exist in you or there's nothing good in your fallen humanity.
Paul said we must "be changed" and that happens at the 2nd coming. Then, and only then, do we put on immortality. Here, let me quote that for you:
1 Cor 15:51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep (remain dead), but we shall all be changed (i.e., into "the image of the heavenly Man") - see verse 49. 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet (i.e., at the 2nd coming). For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption,
and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 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.”
Clearly, we put on immortality at the 2nd coming of Christ. At that time we will be "changed" into "the image of the heavenly Man". At that time we will actually be made righteous and holy.
But, you keep insisting that something in you, namely your spirit, is already righteous and holy. IF so then it doesn't need to be changed because it is already immortal and therefore holy.
This teaching then is legalistic to the core. It is ant--gospel.
I am on the side of the Apostle Paul on this topic.
(Message edited by setufree314 on October 14, 2016)
Post Number: 1881
|Posted on Friday, October 14, 2016 - 4:03 am: || |
And this is why SDA doctrines and other aberrant doctrines do not hold up to biblical scrutiny. They are not based on careful exegesis and solid hermeneutical principals. I have often said if SDA pastors were forced to preach through whole books of the Bible line by line, Adventism would fall.
Post Number: 1882
|Posted on Friday, October 14, 2016 - 4:15 am: || |
While I am disappointed that you didn't exegete the passage we are dealing with here, I also have to point out that the passage you did site supports the orthodox Christian view, not yours. If you had looked at the entirety of I Cor. 15 in it's own context, or even just started reading a few versus earlier you would have seen the context: the perishable body. At death our perishable bodies "sleep" and our spirit is at home with the Lord. At the resurrection, we come with the Lord who raises up for us imperishable bodies. As I said in the openning of this post:
The historic, orthodox Christian view of what happens to the spirits of post-cross believers at death can be summarized as follows: At death the spirit departs the body. The spirit returns to God. The spirit is consciously with the Lord. At the second coming, God will bring those departed saints with Him when He comes. He will then raise up for them imperishable bodies in the resurrection.
I Cor. 15 further reinforces the teaching Paul gives us in II Cor. 5.
Post Number: 1883
|Posted on Friday, October 14, 2016 - 6:10 am: || |
We started this thread with Paul’s teaching on death in II Cor. 5:1-9. We saw that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. We also saw that we can continue to be actively pleasing to the Lord when absent from the body. As a companion to this, I would also like to look at Philippians 1:21-26. Although this is still a strong didactic (teaching) passage, it is a much more personal one for Paul. Paul is in prison and possibly facing death.
Philippians 1:21 (NASB)
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Paul sees death, not as a non-existent state, but as a state that can actually be described as “gain”.
Philippians 1:22 (NASB)
22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose.
In fact, Paul is so eager to be with the Lord that he can barely choose which possibility he prefers, living or dying. Also note that there is no indication at all that the options are living on in the flesh or being non-existent. Rather the most natural way to understand Paul’s dilemma is to understand the choices as living on in the flesh or living on in the spirit.
Philippians 1:23 (NASB)
23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;
Both possibilities, living on in the flesh or living on in the spirit, are desirable to Paul. Paul knows that if he remains in the flesh he will be able to continue his work and serve the fledgling Church. However, he also knows that being with Christ is a far better thing.
The only way that being with Christ can be considered better than continuing on in this life is if it is a conscious existence with Christ. If the choice were between staying and continuing his work or becoming non-existent, then it would be a pretty easy choice. Who would be torn between living and being non-existent? That would make non-sense of the dilemma that is tearing Paul in two different directions.
It also doesn’t work to say Paul is only looking forward to the future resurrection at the second coming. It’s obvious by the way he is struggling with the options that he is debating two immediate possibilities: live on in the flesh NOW or depart and be with Christ NOW.
Philippians 1:24 (NASB)
24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.
Again, ask yourself what contrast Paul is making here. What is the direct contrast to “remain on in the flesh”? The most direct contrast is to “depart in the spirit”.
Philippians 1:25-26 (NASB)
25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith,
26 so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.
As Paul struggles with where his desire should be placed, he ultimately displays a selfless character. As badly as he wants to depart and be with Christ, he instead accepts that he will remain and continue the work. Of course this would be no struggle at all if the only other possibility was to be non-existent. This entire passage, and the dilemma Paul faces, are both predicated upon the biblical teaching that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. This is the only reason that Paul would have such a hard time choosing where to place his desire.
As Christians, it is very comforting to know that to die is gain. To die is to be in the very presence of our Lord. In fact, being with Christ at death is desirable and can even be considered very much better than our present condition. As Christians, it is also comforting to know that when the Bible says we will be “absent from the body and at home with the Lord” we can simply accept it for what it says and claim this promise as reality.
(Message edited by Chris on October 14, 2016)
Post Number: 25
|Posted on Friday, October 14, 2016 - 6:21 am: || |
Chris said: "At death our perishable bodies "sleep" and our spirit is at home with the Lord. At the resurrection, we come with the Lord who raises up for us imperishable bodies."
Let's look at the context that you alluded to:
1 Thess 4:13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep (dead), so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.
Now here's the question: Which way is Jesus going? a] From heaven to earth or b] back to heaven after the resurrection?
15 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 (died). 16 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.
Clearly Jesus comes to earth to resurrect his sleeping saints, but where is God the Father? Answer: In heaven.
So then "God (who is in heaven) will bring with Him (Jesus) those who have fallen asleep...."
In other words the context is speaking of the trip back to heaven. The answer then is "b".
Please pay attention to details from now on. If not, your doctrine will be off....
Post Number: 1884
|Posted on Friday, October 14, 2016 - 6:36 am: || |
Oh my! That's certainly a novel twisting of the text that completely ignores the context. I don't think I've heard that one before.
Context, context, context. Again, this is the problem with all aberrant doctrine. Aberrant doctrine largely ignores context.
In regards to the passage you cite, we need to determine the unit of thought (it is 1 Thes. 4:13-18 with a closely related discussion following into ch. 5:1-11). We then need to determine the context of this passage. The context is "the coming of the Lord" followed by a discussion of "the Day of the Lord". Both of these terms are eschatological in nature as is the context of these passages. Contextually, this is about what happens at the second coming.
Someone once said, "A verse without its context is just an excuse for a pretext". Amen.
Post Number: 26
|Posted on Friday, October 14, 2016 - 6:37 am: || |
Chris: "Paul sees death, not as a non-existent state, but as a state that can actually be described as “gain”."
That's your interpretation based on the fallacy of your doctrine.
Yes, I agree with Paul, "to die is gain". Of course Paul is not telling us to commit suicide. Then what's his point? I'll use myself as an example:
When I die all conscious thoughts* cease. Time is no longer a factor for me. So when I die the next conscious thought I'll have will seem as if a millisecond passed. And to top if off I will have received my "new creation" which is currently "in Christ Jesus".
"the dead know nothing" Eccl 9:5
"His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish." Ps 146:4 KJV
Post Number: 27
|Posted on Friday, October 14, 2016 - 6:43 am: || |
What's the bottom line, Chris?
You hate Adventism. So you desperately want to trash anything they teach. If not, then pardon my observation.
So in your attempts to distance yourself from Adventism you've thrown out the baby, if you will, with the bathwater.
Perhaps you should take what is good and disregard that which is bad doctrine.
Adventism does have its problems especially in the area of legalism. But that's another subject.
Post Number: 1885
|Posted on Friday, October 14, 2016 - 7:01 am: || |
No, I love Adventists, they are my people. Because I love my people, I try to be obedient to the NT commands to oppose false teachers and dangerous doctrine that twist scripture.
I think this notion of non-existence at death (with the underlying idea that there is no spirit in any real sense) is really bad doctrine that also then affects how we think about the nature of man, our fallen condition, and salvation. I believe it is important for people reading this site to know what the Bible says in context about all this and why the Church has believed what it has believed down through the ages.
By the way, it just dawned on me what you were probably trying to say in post #25. I apologize for misunderstanding. It's one of those deals where you get away from Adventism for a while and you kind of forget about some of the assumptions.
I now think you were probably coming at I Thes. 4 with the SDA mindset that at the second coming, everyone leaves the earth, goes to some physical/geographic Heaven elsewhere in the universe and then spends the millennium there judging whether or not God was just in His judgments before coming back to the earth after the millennium. In other words, Great Controversy stuff.
I kind of forgot about that SDA distinctive, hence my puzzled response. I honestly am not sure why SDAs, who are more less premillennial, see the millennium as happening some place other than the earth. It's a really odd belief. I know of no other premillennial model that posits the millenium happening somewhere other than earth.
Since you brought up Eccl. 9:5, I'll deal with that passage in my next post. Again, it's all about context.
Post Number: 1886
|Posted on Friday, October 14, 2016 - 7:20 am: || |
"The dead know nothing.” We have probably all heard that phrase dozens of times and most of us believed that was the definitive statement on the state of the dead. Most of us believed that phrase proved those who died were unconscious or non-existent. But what does this partial quote from Ecclesiastes 9:5 really mean when examined in context?
Let’s start by talking about the concept of context. In biblical hermeneutics, context can be seen as a series of ever expanding concentric circles. So to really examine the context of a text we must first consider the context of the immediate passage it is found in, then consider the context of the book it is within, then consider the contextual implication of the type of literature it is, then consider its context within its testament, and lastly consider its context within the whole Bible. Then and only then can we say that we have examined the context of a text. So let’s trace the context of Ecclesiastes 9:5 through each ring of the contextual spiral.
Ecclesiastes 9:1-9 (NASB)
1 For I have taken all this to my heart and explain it that righteous men, wise men, and their deeds are in the hand of God. Man does not know whether it will be love or hatred; anything awaits him.
2 It is the same for all. There is one fate for the righteous and for the wicked; for the good, for the clean and for the unclean; for the man who offers a sacrifice and for the one who does not sacrifice. As the good man is, so is the sinner; as the swearer is, so is the one who is afraid to swear.
3 This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that there is one fate for all men. Furthermore, the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil and insanity is in their hearts throughout their lives. Afterwards they go to the dead.
4 For whoever is joined with all the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion.
5 For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten.
6 Indeed their love, their hate and their zeal have already perished, and they will no longer have a share in all that is done under the sun.
7 Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works.
8 Let your clothes be white all the time, and let not oil be lacking on your head.
9 Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.
When we examine the book context I will deal more fully with the perspective that the author of Ecclesiastes is presenting and the inspired purpose of the book. However, it can readily be seen from this passage that from the author’s perspective there is no difference in the fate of the righteous and the wicked. Death is seen as an evil fate that separates us from the things of this world which the author views as being all there really is to hope for. The context of the passage is that the dead have no more part in anything “under the sun” (i.e. anything that is done in this world).
The author presents this view because he is showing how futile life and death appear apart from a relationship with God. However, there is a sense in which this is also true from a believer’s perspective as well. Christians do not believe that the dead are roaming the earth as spirits or poltergeist. Christians do not believe in communicating with the dead or that the dead are communicating with us. Christians do not believe in ghosts or séances or any other form of spiritualism. The dead are either with the Lord or in Sheol awaiting final judgment. They are not here on earth “under the sun” and they are no longer directly involved with the activities of life here “under the sun”. As we work through the next section, it will become even clearer why we need to consider the inspired purpose of the book before using this passage as a primary place to formulate doctrine on the consciousness or knowledge level of believers who have died in Christ.
Ecclesiastes 1:1-3 (HCSB)
1 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem.
2 “Absolute futility,” says the Teacher. “Absolute futility. Everything is futile.”
3 What does a man gain for all his efforts he labors at under the sun?
Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 (HCSB)
1 Again, I observed all the acts of oppression being done under the sun. Look at the tears of those who are oppressed; they have no one to comfort them. Power is with those who oppress them; they have no one to comfort them.
2 So I admired the dead, who have already died, more than the living, who are still alive.
3 But better than either of them is the one who has not yet existed, who has not seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 6:1-5 (HCSB)
1 Here is a tragedy I have observed under the sun, and it weighs heavily on humanity:
2 God gives a man riches, wealth, and honor so that he lacks nothing of all he desires for himself, but God does not allow him to enjoy them. Instead, a stranger will enjoy them. This is futile and a sickening tragedy.
3 A man may father a hundred children and live many years. No matter how long he lives, if he is not satisfied by good things and does not even have a proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he.
4 For he comes in futility and he goes in darkness, and his name is shrouded in darkness.
5 Though a stillborn child does not see the sun and is not conscious, it has more rest than he.
Ecclesiastes 12:8 (HCSB)
8 “Absolute futility,” says the Teacher. “Everything is futile.”
Whenever I hear someone quote Ecclesiastes 9:5 in a state of the dead discussion, I always think, “Have they ever read Ecclesiastes?” Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon (or in the voice of Solomon) during his apostasy. The context of the entire book is the futility of life apart from God. Depending on the translation you use the Hebrew word, hebel, might be translated as “futile”, “meaningless”, or “vanity”. Whichever English word is used, they all convey the truth that whatever is done apart from God is worthless and fleeting. This is a predominant theme of the book as demonstrated by the fact that hebel is used 33 times in Ecclesiastes.
There are several passages that recommend that the reader live it up. Eat, drink, and be merry because this is all there is. Several passages suggest that there’s no difference between where the righteous and unrighteous dead end up. This is certainly not the world view of one who is in relationship with God. Christians don’t believe that life is meaningless and they certainly don’t believe that there is no difference between the righteous and the unrighteous.
So is Ecclesiastes teaching falsehood? Absolutely not! It’s graphically demonstrating an absolute truth. Life without God is futile, meaningless, and without any positive hope for the future. Ecclesiastes is truly and accurately portraying the bleak outlook of someone apart from God. It’s a depressing picture, but a true picture of what such a life looks like. Without God we might as well live it up because this is all there is, life is meaningless. Fortunately, Christians have more hope than this. Christians have a hope that goes beyond this life.
So this raises the question, “Is this really the primary book from which we should formulate our doctrine on the state of the dead?” Of course not! This book is written to show how depressing and meaningless life apart from God is. The view of death the author presents is just as morbid, depressing, and meaningless as the view of life that is presented. It is a truthful and accurate view if you are separated from God, but it does not describe the view of those who are in Christ.
It’s hard to imagine that anyone who has ever read this book through even once would want to make a phrase from this book the foundation of their doctrine on the state of the dead. That’s just not why this book was written. It’s not that I don’t think the book has anything of value to say to us on death, I think it does especially as it turns the reader back towards God in the last chapter, but this isn’t the primary place where we want to formulate a key Christian doctrine on the state of the dead. I also want to strongly affirm that I believe all scripture is inspired, inerrant, infallible, and useful for teaching and training. However, we need to be careful to rightly use scripture for its intended purpose and make sure we are teaching what is intended. Ecclesiastes is intended to teach us about the futility of life apart from God, not about the state of those who have died in Christ.
Ecclesiastes is part of what is known as “wisdom literature”. Wisdom literature is not usually intended to be didactic doctrinal literature. Wisdom literature teaches us certain truths, but it often uses highly poetic language forms and other literary devices to do so. Because wisdom literature is designed to portray certain truths about life in very memorable ways, we need to be very careful in drawing our doctrine primarily from wisdom literature. Rather we should use didactic passages to interpret the wisdom literature.
Let me give you a graphic example from the wisdom literature of Psalms.
Psalms 137:7-9 (NASB)
7 Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom The day of Jerusalem, Who said, "Raze it, raze it To its very foundation."
8 O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one, How blessed will be the one who repays you with the recompense with which you have repaid us.
9 How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock.
Now if we weren’t careful in our hermeneutical methods, we might formulate a doctrine that says that those who kill the children of their enemies will be blessed by God! Now we know that this can’t be because we have didactic passages that teach something very different.
Matthew 5:43-44 (NASB)
43 "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.'
44 "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
So what do we make of Psalms 137? The Psalms show the full range of human emotion. They often show people crying out to God in their anguish and pain. They show the rawness and pain of the human experience. They encourage us to open our hearts to God, pour out our thoughts to Him, allow Him to comfort us, and ultimately allow Him to conform us to his way of thinking. The Psalms are not primarily intended for the formulation of doctrine. They tell us much about worship, the relationship between God and man, and the woes and joys of life. We can learn much from the Psalms, but they must be interpreted based upon didactic teaching literature or we could easily formulate wrong doctrine.
Wisdom literature also frequently advances truisms that are USUALLY true in most cases, but not ALWAYS true in every individual case. We could give many examples of these types of truisms in Proverbs, but one should suffice.
Proverbs 22:6 (NASB)
6 Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.
While this is usually true, we could probably all cite cases where things did not turn out this way. We should not then formulate a doctrine claiming that any parent with a rebellious child must have failed to train them in the way they should go. This is not always the case. Some parents have worked very hard to train their children only to have them go astray. The proverbs are not meant to be absolutes in all cases, but general truisms about life. This is often the nature of wisdom literature.
Much more could be said on this, but hopefully these two examples make the point as to why we want to be very careful about using wisdom literature as our primary source for a doctrine. To formulate strong doctrine we start with didactic passages and then rightly interpret and apply the truths contained in wisdom literature in light of the teaching passages.
The entire Bible is inspired, the entire Bible is true, but Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God. The teachings of Jesus and his apostles made things plain that were mysteries in the Old Testament or that were only partially known. This does not mean that the New Testament corrects the Old Testament, only that it provides more information that expands and clarifies many things that were not fully known in the Old Testament. Some examples of things that were either mysteries or partial mysteries in the Old Testament, but were more fully revealed in the New Testament, would include; the nature of God’s Messiah, the Trinity, the Church, resurrection, and death.
In the Old Testament death is a rather vague shadowy concept not fully understood by the Jews or fully revealed by the Old Testament writers. The New Testament gives us much more information about what we can expect and why we have such hope. That’s why we need to allow the New Testament to shed light on the Old Testament. If our doctrine is primarily formulated on Old Testament passages it is not nearly as strong as if we start with the New Testament and then interpret the Old Testament in the full light of scripture. This is true of the topic at hand. We have a much clearer picture of death revealed in the New Testament.
The analogy of faith dictates that we may never interpret any passage in such a way that it contradicts something that is taught elsewhere in scripture. The Bible is remarkably internally consistent. We know that if we ever interpret anything in such a way that in contradicts something else in the Bible, it is not the Bible that is in error, but us. So this means we CANNOT interpret Ecclesiastes 9:5 in such a way as to contradict other parts of the Bible. We cannot use Ecclesiastes 9:5 to contradict Paul’s teaching in I Corinthians 5 and Philippians 1. If we do so, it is we who are in error not the Bible. The SDA interpretation of Ecclesiastes 9:5 puts it in conflict with other parts of the Bible. That means the SDA interpretation must, of necessity, be wrong.
In conclusion, it should be apparent that the understanding we grew up with of Ecclesiastes 9:5 is not supported by the context. It’s not supported within the context of the passage, the book, the literature form, the testament, or the Bible as a whole. Overall, this is a very weak “proof text” indeed. It rather surprises me that some still use it.
Post Number: 28
|Posted on Friday, October 14, 2016 - 1:35 pm: || |
"Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon (or in the voice of Solomon) during his apostasy."
Okay, so 66 books - 1 = 65
I have a feeling when we are through nothing will be left of the Bible.....
Post Number: 29
|Posted on Friday, October 14, 2016 - 1:46 pm: || |
I stated the following: "... “flesh and blood” cannot enter heaven. See 1 Cor 15:50. Our bodies, indwelt with “iniquity” – i.e., our bent-to-self – cannot defile heaven. See Rev 21:27. So before we can enter heaven “we must be changed”. See 1 Cor 15:51 We must be made actually righteous. That happens at the 2nd coming."
Of course your doctrine, concerning the spirit of mankind, denies the above. What you ladies and gentlemen are teaching is that your spirit is already actually righteous. Therefore it is immortal and ascends to heaven upon your death.
Your doctrine is really rehashed paganism. Keep in mind that all pagan religions teach salvation by works. Your gospel, which is not the gospel, teaches that man has something good in him that doesn't need the righteousness of Christ. Salvation is therefore 66% Christ and 33% man's sinless spirit.
Conclusion: Your doctrine, concerning the spirit, is really no different than the SDA who teaches salvation by sanctification. Both roads lead to the same result: salvation by one's goodness....
Post Number: 106
|Posted on Friday, October 14, 2016 - 3:17 pm: || |
Alas, no meaningful response or exegesis of relevant passages Chris went through the time of covering. Just the kind of pride and arrogance that are remnants of being formally a part of a cultic religion, and then engaging in "lone Christianity". It is not a "cheap shot" as you have said, but an accurate analysis. Alas! :-(
Post Number: 15441
|Posted on Friday, October 14, 2016 - 4:14 pm: || |
The human spirit does not have any "good " in it. It must be born again to have eternal life. A non born again spirit will suffer eternal death. And once again, the Bible never defines "death" as ceasing to exist. 1Thessalonans 4 is describing Jesus' return to get His saints. Those who have fallen asleep, He brings with Him and reunites with a resurrection body, just as Chris explained.
I appreciate Chris's time-consuming exegetical posts here which show everyone reading what Scripture says in context about death and the human spirit.
I wonder why you are here, Setufree. We love having these subjects discussed here, but I''m wondering: do you really believe we will change our minds from what contextual Bible study has taught us?
Your arguments depend upon Adventist proof-texting and an Adventist worldview that denies the existence of an immaterial part of humanity, the spirit.