From: allenroy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue May 06 2003 - 17:33:38 EDT
Sondra Brasile wrote:
> Dear Allen,
> Hmmm, that's not how they explained it to me, they said they believe
> that the Christian's soul never dies but lives on in eternity, but the
> soul perishes in hell (ceases to exist). This same soul, "sleeps"
> somewhere until the resurrection, I guess I may have assumed they
> meant in the body, but the rest I was told by their pastor. Maybe it
> differs from SDA to SDA?
I've never heard anything quite like that from any SDA pastor or
evangelist or in any SDA publication.
I think that you may have misunderstood the pastor in this way:
The reverse of what happened in making a soul -- i.e., body +
breath-of-life = living soul -- is found in Ecclesiastes 12:7 "and the
dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God
who gave it." --i.e., living soul - spirit = dead body that returns
to dust. (You know the sayings: "Dust thou art and unto dust you shall
return," and "Dust to dust, ashes to ashes.") In Ecclesiastes 12:7,
the word spirit means the breath. It is the "breath-of-life" that God
breathed into the nostrils of Adam, that returns to God upon death.
This "breath-of-life," aka 'spirit,' is not some conscious entity, but
simply the life power that God gave the body so that man could exist.
When that life power goes away, man does not exist. That life power
remains with God, until the resurrection when the body is reconstituted
and the breath-of-life (the life power) is restored and people --
conscious, living souls -- exist again.
This topic is complicated by the fact that the English words "spirit"
and "soul" have many different meanings and that the several Hebrew
words from which "spirit" and "soul" are translated also have many
different meanings. As everyone says, context, context context. Not
just the context of a phrase, but also sentence, paragraph, book and the
complete compilation of the Bible must make sense.
I suspect that the pastor told you that the 'spirit' of Ecclesiastes
returned to God until the resurrection. But I doubt that he meant that
a conscious entity went to God and slept there. This may have been
something you though he said. Rather, he was probably using the words
"breath-of-life" and "spirit" interchangeably meaning the life force,
and you may have been thinking "spirit" as the consciousness of man (or
As I said before, death is "LIKE" sleep in that the dead know nothing
until the resurrection awakes them from the grave. It is not that
disembodied souls/spirits really go to sleep.
> What is your understanding then of the verse that says "the soul dieth
> not" would it seem to mean that the soul has no end and therefore
> cannot cease to exist?
I think you are referring to "their worm dieth not" (There is no such
phase as "the soul dieth not" or anything similar, in any version of the
Bible of which I know.)
Mark 9:47-48 It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one
eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where
" `their worm does not die,
and the fire is not quenched.' NIV
Mark 9:47-48 : it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God
with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where
their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. KJV
The Greek word for "hell" used here is "Gehenna." Gehenna was the
garbage and excrement dump for the city of Jerusalem and is used here
figuratively for the lake of fire that consumes the wicked at the end.
I understand that the bodies of those executed were also thrown there.
The poetic phrase "their worm does not die" does not mean that a soul
will not die, but rather that the worms that eat dead bodies will not be
killed. You need a dead body for the worms to live on. No dead
bodies, no worms. In the same way, as long as there is something to
burn, no one can quench the fires. But, when there is nothing to burn,
there is no fire.
But, do souls die or not? The Bible is clear that souls die.
Ezekiel 18:4 and 18:20, "the soul that sinneth, it shall die."
When a soul is understood as defined by Genesis 2:7 and Ecc. 12:7, then
it makes perfect sense that souls do die.
-- "I have been shown that, without Bible history, geology can prove nothing. Relics found in the earth do give evidence of a state of things differing in many respects from the present. But the time of their existence, and how long a period these things have been in the earth, are only to be understood by Bible history. It may be innocent to conjecture beyond Bible history, if our suppositions do not contradict the facts found in the sacred Scriptures. But when men leave the word of God in regard to the history of creation, and seek to account for God's creative works upon natural principles, they are upon a boundless ocean of uncertainty. Just how God accomplished the work of creation in six literal days, he has never revealed to mortals. His creative works are just as incomprehensible as his existence." Ellen Gould Harmon White, 1864
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