In this episode, Pastor Ted Wilson talks about death and the promise of the resurrection, the subject of the twenty-sixth fundamental belief of the Seventh-day Adventists.
One of the most painful and devastating losses we can ever experience is the loss of a loved one. While grief may lessen over time, the memory of that special person stays with us.
But we have an amazing hope of seeing our loved ones again. Jesus said in John 11:25, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live." This promise assures us that death is not the end of everything. In Him, there is eternal life.
When does eternity begin?
1 Timothy 6:16 tells us that God "alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light." In contrast, humans are mortal beings. Genesis 2:7 says, "God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being,” or in other translations, “living soul.” To be a living soul, one must have the breath of life and a body.
When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them free will, the power of choice. They could obey or disobey Him. But if they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would “surely die” (Genesis 2:17).
Unfortunately, Satan contradicted God’s warning, tempting Eve, “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). But after they sinned, Adam and Eve discovered that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). They would "return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:19).
The Seventh-day Adventist Fundamental Belief #26 states: "The wages of sin is death. But God, Who alone is immortal, will grant eternal life to His redeemed. Until that day, death is an unconscious state for all people. When Christ, Who is our life, appears, the resurrected righteous and the living righteous will be glorified and caught up to meet their Lord. The second resurrection, the resurrection of the unrighteous, will take place a thousand years later."
Death is an unconscious state, a deep sleep from which a person awaits the resurrection. "For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing" (Ecclesiastes 9:5). "The dead do not praise the Lord, nor any who go down into silence" (Psalm 115:17).
Daniel also spoke of death as a sleep, saying, "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).
Jesus echoed this concept of death. Referring to Lazarus, He said to His disciples, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up" (John 11:11). At the same time, He was referring to His own resurrection that would happen soon.
Since death is a sleep, there is resurrection. This is possible through Christ’s death and resurrection. “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty" (1 Corinthians 15:13, 14).
"But now Christ is risen from the dead and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man," that is, Jesus, "also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive" (verses 20-22).
In addition, Ellen White says in Heaven, page 35: "Amid the reeling of the earth, the flashing of lightning, and the roaring of thunder, the voice of the Son of God calls forth the sleeping saints. He looks upon the graves of the righteous, then raising His hands to heaven, He cries, 'Awake, awake, awake, ye that sleep in the dust, and arise!' Throughout the length and breadth of the earth, the dead shall hear that voice, and they that hear shall live."
Because Jesus lives, we may live also. But as we’ve learned from Daniel 12:2 earlier, some will be raised to “shame and everlasting contempt.” This refers to the second resurrection, in which those who have rejected Christ as their Savior will be resurrected for their final judgment and destruction, which we will discuss in the next episode.
"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort one another with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
What a great assurance that Jesus is coming and that He has the power over death!
Learn more about death and resurrection at www.adventist.org/death-and-resurrection.