The Dead in Christ

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:16
Date: 08/25/2012 
Lesson: 8
"Paul gives the Thessalonians (and us) a powerful hope for the future, the promise of the second coming of Christ."
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Welcome to central study hour coming to you from the Sacramento central seventh day adventist church in Sacramento, California. We are ready to go here at central church. We have a full house this morning with a lot of visitors. We're so excited. And those of you who are tuning in whether you are listening on the radio, watching live on our website at saccentral.

org or on the various television networks - however you are joining us, welcome. And let's pull out our hymnals and let's start our rousing song service. #15 - 'My maker and my king'. This is from anita in british virgin islands, edna, wilbert, and amy in Canada, carneil in cayman islands, kisku in india, garnet, arlene, melissa-ann, adiani, Paula, cecilia, Johnoy, kerry, and brian in jamaica, helina in New York, Christine in the Philippines, courine in saint vincent and the grenadines, mandla in south africa, verby, joy, and elah in Texas, jerusha in trinidad and tobago, and muvuti in the united kingdom. This is a favorite.

#15 - We'll sing all four stanzas. Is that the prayer in your heart this morning? That all your days and each desire will be in tune with Jesus? It's mine. #16 - We're getting in these requests and some of them are really, really small so we're going to sing #16. We have time. 'All people that on earth do dwell' - you're going to recognize the tune to this one.

If you have a favorite that you want to sing with us on an upcoming program, go to our website at and click on the 'contact us' link and you can send in your favorite hymn request and we will do our best to sing that for you as soon as possible. Let's bow our heads for prayer. Father in Heaven, we are here in your house right now. We ask that you would fill us - that you would fill this place - that you would come and live in our hearts. That you would change us from the inside out - that we would be new creatures - ones that have the victory over sin - over the devil and so that we will be ready to stand and look at you when you come in the clouds of glory and say, 'lo, this is our God.

We have waited for him and he has saved us.' Thank you so much for loving us and for giving us your son and Your Word - that we can count on it. That no matter what, the new winds of doctrine and change, that Your Word has not changed and that we are so thankful for. In Jesus' Name, amen. At this time our lesson study is going to be brought to us by our senior pastor here at Sacramento central, Pastor Doug Batchelor. And he's looking more senior all the time.

Hi. How is everybody. Good morning. No, I'm not trying to make a new fashion statement because I have a beard, it's just economy of time, actually. I was out camping last week and when I got back I thought it would take less time if I shave less and so that's all that's happening.

It's just we're near the end of time, the last days - time is shortened, so that's what it is. I want to welcome our friends who are studying with us, our extended class that is watching either on the internet or on satellite. We're glad you're with us today. And I want to welcome some of the extended church members - we have members of sac central who are scattered around the planet. They don't have a local church they can attend and they've joined as online members and we do minister and communicate with these people as much as we possibly can.

If you would like to know more about that, go to ''. We'd like you to be connected with a church family, locally. If that's not possible, let's see what we can do about connecting with you through the internet. And again, our website is and we try to put the lessons up there too. We're being more consistent now, so if you'd like some of the notes from our studies, we're trying to post them up at the saccentral website as well.

Continuing through our study on 1 and 2 Thessalonians. We have a free offer that goes well with our study today. The study is on the dead in Christ, it's lesson #8 and we've got a free offer we'd like to give you called 'absent from the body'. What does that verse mean? We're going to talk a little bit about that in our lesson today. We'll send you a free copy of that just for asking and it's offer #707 when you call.

The number is 866-788-3966. Ask for the book #707 'absent from the body'. Now, before we delve into our study - and this study is going to sound something like an evangelistic program because, you know, in every good evangelistic series you talk about eternal life and judgment and what happens when you die and really, that's what we're going to be talking about today. I'd like to read something from 'headlines this week'. University of California riverside - ucr - has just received a five million dollar grant to study the afterlife.

They are calling it the immortality project and the money will fund research into heaven, hell, purgatory, karma and other topics, according to the university's website. The three-year grant was especially given to a professor John martin fisher. He's a professor of philosophy. This is one of the largest grants that's ever been given to an individual - five million dollars - to study the afterlife. It came from the John templeton foundation and they're going to be talking about thinks like 'would the existence in an afterlife be repetitive or boring? Does death give meaning to life? And could we still have virtues like courage if we knew?' You know, if they just give me about one tenth of that grant I will answer their questions from the Bible.

It tells us here that they're going to have a collection of people who will be reviewing this study from scientists, philosophers, and theologians. So if you'd like to recommend my name - if they don't have a committee together yet, I'd like to help them. I can tell them everything I know that the Bible says on this subject regarding the afterlife. Matter of fact, we're going to be talking a little bit about that today. But you know what that tells me? If someone is going to grant a university five million dollars for something called 'the immortality project' to study the afterlife, people are wanting to know what happens.

They're trying to get the final word from a university on what happens. You know, I suspect that after all the money's spent they'll have a very extensive report that's going to say, basically, 'we're not sure.' That will be the conclusive word. All right, to our lesson for today. We've been going through 1 and 2 Thessalonians - and this study is relevant today, isn't it? I mean, just look at the headlines. And 2 Thessalonians particular - our study today is focusing on a specific passage.

Here it is, we're going to read this - it's 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, verses 13 to 18. And before we get to that we've got a memory verse that's from Thessalonians 4, verse 16. This is the part we'll do together - 1 Thessalonians 4:16 if you could say this out loud with me - any good evangelist knows this by heart and if you've ever been to an evangelistic meeting I can almost guarantee that you have heard this. Are you ready? Thessalonians 4:16, "for the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trump of God. And the dead in Christ shall rise first.

" How many of you have heard that before? A lot of good theology - a lot of questions answered in that one verse. But, actually, the passage that we're going to study today goes a little further back so I'm going to start with verse 13 and we'll be reading through verse and before I do that I want somebody to look up for me acts 17:3. We gave out some verses - I don't know who got that one - acts 17:3 - hold up your hand if you were given that verse. Somebody got it and maybe they don't know. Not seeing a hand.

Do we have a volunteer? Acts 17 - got a hand right up here - acts 17 verse 3. We'll read that in just a minute, mike. We'll get you a microphone. I'm going to read verse - Thessalonians 4:13-18, "but I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, that you don't sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who sleep 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 by no means precede those who are asleep. 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." Now, when Paul makes this passage he goes on to say, 'we're saying this to you by the word of the Lord.' Sometimes Paul said, 'you know, I'm sharing something with you based on what I understand and my judgment with the holy spirit, but I don't really have Scripture for it.' But here he's saying, 'we know from Scripture that this is what the Bible teaches. All right. Paul preached in thessalonica about the second coming. We find some of those things in acts 17:3. Why don't you read that for us, mike? Acts 17 verse 3, "explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, 'this Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.

'" So even when Paul was in thessalonia he was talking about the resurrection and the state of the dead as you would say. Why did he need to spend some time in his first letter explaining the sequence of the death, sleep, resurrection, when the dead in Christ will come? Because, evidently, there was some confusion. It talks here about the situation in thessalonica. What was the confusion there? We don't know, there might have been a number of ways it was demonstrated because the people there in thessalonia, they had the influence of Greek mythology, they had the influence of roman mythology. They had the influence of eastern mysticism.

It could have been anything from reincarnation to thinking that the - you communicate with the dead and spiritualism and it could have been a whole spectrum of things but Paul knew they did not understand the Bible truth. You know, there's virtually no confusion that they had in thessalonica that we don't have in the church today. I've run into Christians who believe in eastern reincarnation. I've run into Christians that believe that you can communicate with the dead. And all kinds of mysticism and mythology and there's just all kinds of confusion.

And you know why? Did you notice in this thing I read about the immortality project it says one of the things that they're going to study is near-death experiences. Now, do you understand what I'm saying when I say 'near death experience'? Somebody has a heart attack and their heart stops beating and they fade off because the blood is not flowing to the brain and then they have a vision and many people assume these visions they have when they die on the operating table is somehow communicating truth about the afterlife. The thing is, no two people have the same vision. And they've done plenty of studies. We have doctors here in the room.

It's very well documented that when a person's brain is robbed of oxygen, you are going to see and hallucinate and experience all kinds of strange things. And whether it was from a heart attack or whether it was from a drowning, just when the brain is robbed of oxygen - sometimes it happens on the operating table and people have these out of body experiences and near-death experiences and they come back and they say, 'I was in hell and God said, 'this is where you're going unless you shape up' and he's given me another chance and I've come back and I know what happens after you die. I was burning in this room full of fire.' And someone else will say, 'I died and I walked through this fog and there were two lights and two tunnels and in one tunnel there was a pink light and in one tunnel was a blue light and I had to choose - do I want to come back as a boy or a girl in the next life?' And the pink would have been a girl I guess. And they say, 'that's what I saw.' And then someone else says, 'I died and I got to the gates of heaven and the angel met me there and he typed in my name to the computer and he said, 'no, the computers are down. You're not supposed to be here yet' and I came back.

And they all have different kinds of dreams. Some have written books and made a lot of money. One guy wrote a book 'twenty minutes in hell' about, you know, his experience. And he documented his heart stopped beating and they declared him dead. But, you know a lot of people have been declared dead and they found that they weren't dead.

Not too many of them were dead like Lazarus was dead - buried, decomposing four days. These are usually short periods of time where they'd had very shallow breathing or some people are resuscitated even though their - I did an amazing fact a couple of weeks ago - michelle funk - Colorado - three years old - not quite three years old - fell into the creek behind her house. They tried to find her and - I think I shared this with you during a message not too long ago. She was underwater sixty - or she didn't breathe sixty-six minutes before they recovered her - sixty-six minutes. But the water was very cold and so it preserved the brain cells, it shut down the operation systems in the body - they revived her.

It had no ill effects from not breathing for sixty-six minutes. She would have been declared dead when they first came to her. No signs of life but she wasn't dead. You see, they used to measure by when you stopped breathing you were dead. Now we know it's really brain function that is determining that.

So it's not when your heart stops beating, it's not when you stop breathing. You can still be alive even though you're unconscious and you show no signs of life. So to base the afterlife based on somebody's dream or near-death experience. Is that a safe way to determine Bible truth about what really happens? Everybody has these experiences and it could be very real to you. But are you going to believe a dream - a vision when your brain is robbed of oxygen or the Word of God? Can the devil give you a dream? God can give you a dream but that's not how we determine what is the truth.

It's based on the Word of God. All right. So they had a little confusion. Now, even in the Christian world there is some confusion through reading and misreading Scriptures. One of the most common - well, wait, let me do this differently.

Let me just tell you what I believe the Bible teaches and then I'll just show you from the Scriptures what biblical support we have for that. Much of the world believes - Christian world - that when you die you go right to heaven or hell before the resurrection and the judgement. It doesn't make any sense but that's sort of what they believe. Have you been to a funeral before? Where the preacher, the person that was conducting the funeral said, 'our beloved brother or sister, they're now up in heaven' and I've even seen where some of these movie stars die and others come on and say, 'well, we know they're up there now telling the angels how to decorate.' Or they're directing things up there in heaven and they always talk like in these terms like they're there now, right? And boy, if you want to make somebody angry at the funeral when you start saying, 'they're now - our loved one is now in heaven with Jesus.' You try and show them that they're not there yet and it really upsets people. But they don't need to get upset.

You know a lot of that confusion comes from the next verse I'm going to read. Corinthians 5:6 - 8. And by the way, this book that we're offering 'absent from the body' really clears this up and that's, by the way, by Joe Crews. Paul's speaking here. He says, "so we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.

For we walk by faith and not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord." Now, first of all, Paul is not saying that as soon as you die you are immediately present with the Lord. If you are a Christian and you die, what is your next conscious thought? See, when you die - and Jesus refers to that as sleep - but it is a dreamless sleep. I mean, even if you sleep a good night's sleep and you sleep eight hours, when you go to sleep, sometimes you roll and toss and turn during the night - you have some awareness of the time that's passed during the night. Maybe you regain consciousness briefly and roll over.

Sometimes you've been so exhausted you close your eyes, you wake up, the alarm's ringing, you have no idea six hours have gone by, right? But for a Christian, when you die there is absolutely no consciousness of time so - for the Christian - when you die, if you're saved, your next conscious thought is the presence of the Lord. So it is true for them. For us who still live in the dimension of time it hasn't happened yet. Because why would they immediately go to the presence of the Lord before the resurrection? Is it clear that the resurrection is at the end of time? We'll read some other verses on that, including the verse that we're studying today - 'when the Lord comes he shouts - the dead in Christ rise.' It's at the end - the coming of the Lord - when Jesus comes, right? So when someone says, 'absent from the body, present with the Lord' - yes, as far as they're concerned, their next conscious thought is the presence of the Lord, but it hasn't happened yet. See - this starts getting really deep - can God see the future perfectly? Can God experience and move to any part of the future as perfectly as you and I are in the present? God can go a million years into the future at any moment.

Can God go past? When you read in Revelation 12 about the war in heaven, there there's a vision that John has seen, of something that is in the past. God can take a prophet forward in time or backward in time. He is from everlasting to everlasting all at the same time. You and i, we live on a continuum - like a timeline. Matter of fact, for you and I the present is just so razor thin that as soon as you think about the present it's gone - it's become the past, right? We're on this moving needle through time where we try to experience life but most of the time we're learning from what's happened a few minutes ago.

The present is pretty sharp. God is not like that. He's able to experience the present at all times in history. So, when a person dies, their next conscious thought is the presence of the Lord. They have no awareness that time has passed, but you and I are stuck in this dimension of time where this Great Controversy is being acted out.

On the continuum of time, the resurrection has not happened yet, they are not in heaven yet, they are sleeping in their graves waiting for the resurrection, as are the lost. You know how many people who have been driven crazy by the idea that while they walk the earth their lost love ones - let's face it, some people know that their loved ones made no profession of faith and did not live Godly lives and then they die and you want to be hopeful and you want to say things like, 'well, God knows their hearts and we hope they make it. God is loving. God is merciful.' But you have your doubts. If you're honest, there are people - you've been to their funerals and you have your doubts about whether they're going to make it.

Am I right? It's a horrible thought, isn't it? To think about what it would be like to wake up lost. Does Jesus say the majority are saved or are they lost? Don't like to think about that, do we? I mean, when you consider that that means most of the funerals you go to it may not be good news. Of course you're a Christian - let's assume most of the funerals you go to are people who are also believers. But not all those that say, 'Lord, Lord, are going to be there either. We don't like to think about that.

How horrible is it for a parent to think that a child that they've lost that may not have made a profession of faith - an adult child - is now burning in hell while they walk the earth through all eternity? Isn't that what a lot of Christians believe? A lot of dear catholic and baptist people believe that as soon as their lost loved one dies, they are now sent to a place of terrible pain and torment that will never end. Horrific thought when you think about it. It's comforting to know the truth that saved or lost, the dead are sleeping. Isn't that what the Bible says? They sleep. All right, let's look at some verses that talk about that.

First of all, Matthew 13, verse 38 - and I'll be calling on you to help me read some of the others. Matthew 13, verse 38. When are the wicked punished? When does it happen? You know the parable of the wheat and the tares when Jesus talks about 'wait until the end of the harvest and then the tares are gathered and they're burned and the wheat is gathered into the barn.' He later interprets that parable for the apostles because they weren't sure what it meant. There can be no confusion on this. Matthew 13:38, "the field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the Kingdom, but the tares" - those are weeds - "they are The Sons of the wicked one.

The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age." - End of the world - "The Son of man will send out his angels, and they will gather out of the kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their father. He who has ears let him hear.

" When are rewards given? As soon as a person dies or at the end of the world? The Bible ends - Revelation 22 - 'behold he comes quickly to give every man according to his works.' When do people receive according to their works? When he comes. Jesus refers to this as the last day. That's when people are going to be rewarded and that's when gifts are given. All right, let's go to the section under 'hopeless grief'. So there's a lot of confusion and we're going to spend the whole lesson trying to clear up the confusion a little bit.

Some of the people in thessalonia, they were also taught - not only reincarnation - others were probably being taught that when you die you just turn into fertilizer and that's the end of your consciousness forever. A lot of people - a lot of atheists believe that today, don't they? That you die and that's it. That's what I used to believe. 'This life is it. You only go around once in life.

You die and you lose all consciousness.' I had a conversation last night with nathan and he thought what would it be like for the lost after they're punished in the lake of fire and they stop to exist? What are you thinking? He said, 'are you thinking nothing?' I said, 'well, what were you thinking before you were born?' I said, 'that's what you'll be thinking then. It's kind of like the last note on a piano that kind of echoes through eternity. That's it. It's gone. It's called 'the second death' in the Bible.

It's the absence of life. You see, the big lie that the devil started out with in Genesis 3, verse 4. God said, 'if you eat the forbidden fruit' - what will happen? 'You will die.' Die means dead, absence of life, you don't experience anything. The devil then spoke to eve and he said, 'you know, he didn't really mean what he said. There's a deeper meaning to that.

You'll not really die. You will not surely die.' First lie the devil ever tells is that you don't really die. You either live forever in heaven or you live forever in hell and you go right to heaven or hell after you die. And the first lie was about the state of man and immortality. The Bible says only God has immortality.

But the devil will say, 'no, you're immortal. You're like God.' Isn't that what he told eve? Eat this fruit, you'll be like God. You're immortal. You can't die.' And some people still believe that today. You live forever in heaven or you live forever in hell, but you're immortal.

Have you heard people talk about the immortal soul? Where in the Bible does it say that we have an immortal soul? One verse. Now, this is a live lesson here and I don't mind if they turn around the camera. If you want to - if anyone wants to offer me a verse right now that says you have an immortal soul. How many of you have heard it taught that we have immortal souls? Isn't it strange that you can't produce a single verse that says we have an immortal soul and yet there's - so many people believe that? What does Jesus say in John 3:16? Do we all know that one? It's got a lot of good theology in it. You've got two options - "for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes (has everlasting life) shall not perish.

" You've got perish. You've got everlasting life. Those are the two options. Perish does not mean whoever believes they have everlasting life but whoever believeth not they have everlasting life in the fire. It doesn't say that.

Perish means cease to exist. It's gone. And so - just one of the areas of confusion that's out there. Can a soul die? Ezekiel 18:4 - wait, somebody look up for me Psalms 6, verse 5. Who has that one? Right back here, okay.

Psalm - you'll - in just a moment we'll have you read psalm :5, but I'm going to read Ezekiel 18:4 first. It just gives our cameras a chance to focus. "Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of The Father as well as the soul of The Son is mine;" - notice - "the soul who sins shall die." Souls do die. You can read in Revelation where it says 'all the souls that were in the sea died.' I think that's Revelation 16 where it talks about the plague where the oceans turned to blood. It says that all the souls in the sea died.

The idea that a soul doesn't die is not biblical. All right, read for me Psalms 6, verse 5. It says, "in death there is no remembrance of thee; in the grave who shall give thee thanks?" People who are dead, they're not thinking anything. They're not thanking God. You read job 19:25 - job says, "for I know that my redeemer lives and he will stand at the last" - meaning the last day - "on the earth and after my skin is destroyed I know that in my flesh I will see God.

" Did job believe in the resurrection? But he said that it's at the end that we are raised - that these bodies are brought back to life again. And then here's a real clear one. I think everyone knows. Someone look up Ecclesiastes 9, verse 5. Who's got that? Ecclesiastes 9 - have we got a hand back there? And in the meantime I'm going to read psalm 146, verses 3 and 4 - this is king David, "do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.

His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish." The living know they'll die. The dead know not anything. The dead don't know anything. I heard a pastor this week on the radio, he was reading this verse. He said, 'this has confused a lot of people.

' And he said, 'it sounds like, if you read this verse, that dead people don't know anything.' But he said, 'Solomon is just talking about what the dead know under this sun.' He said, 'Ecclesiastes is talking about in this world.' He said, 'but they're with Jesus. They know something then.' And I thought, 'well, that doesn't make any sense.' The dead - they're the dead - they're the ones it's talking about - it says, 'they don't know anything.' It doesn't say they don't know anything now, it says they don't know anything. And then again, I read that other verse that says, 'when his spirit departs, he returns to his earth; that very day his thoughts perish.' That day his thoughts perish. They're not thinking anything. Did I just read Ecclesiastes for you? I didn't let you read it, did i? All right, go ahead, read Ecclesiastes 9:5 for me.

"For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing and they have no more reward for the memory of them is forgotten. Thank you very much. I gave that out. You know, I'm an evangelist and I'm used to just taking this stuff and running with it because I've done this so many times before. I didn't give them a chance to say it.

You know what I think is amazing? Think about this for a second. There are approximately twelve resurrections in the Bible. Now, I just showed you where somebody's donating five million dollars to study what happens in the afterlife. It is the big question. What happens when you die? Do you know if you live long enough you're going to die? I mean, isn't that true that there's about a one hundred percent death rate in the world given enough time? I went to do an amazing fact about this couple that was the longest married couple.

And at the time that I got the fact they were still alive - been married 87 years. Their name is fisher - zelmyra and herbert fisher. By the time I went to share the fact, one of them had died - because he was 105. Well, that happens. And in the message today I looked up somebody that was years old and I was going to use them again because I talked about them last year.

Well, they're gone now. They were - it was the oldest man - he's still the oldest man in the world - walter breuning. But he passed away. I mean, when you get to a hundred years old - I heard one person say, 'you know, actually once you get to a hundred years old your chances of living are pretty good because very few people die after 100.' You think about - actually, there are more and more people that are living to be 100. So you live long enough, you're going to die.

All right? So there's twelve resurrections, approximately, in the Bible. The big question is, 'what happens after you die?' People want to know. With every single resurrection in the Bible - you would think that you would send a film crew and the first thing that would interview them about is 'what did you see? What happened? Lazarus - dead how long? Four days. Were there a number of witnesses to his resurrection? Word spread everywhere regarding his resurrection. When he came out of the grave, the first thing, I think, that everybody would have asked is, 'what was it like? Who did you see? Where did you go? What did you do? What did you experience?' What does Lazarus say about his experience being dead? Nothing.

What about jarius' daughter? What did she say? Nothing. The boy of nain who was resurrected on the way to his funeral, what does he - what's his comment? Nothing. Two boys resurrected by Elisha/Elijah, what do they say? Nothing. Eutycus falls out the window, his comment about death? Nothing. You go through the Bible.

All these people resurrected - do any of them say - can you imagine if Lazarus - if you go right to heaven or hell when you die, suppose there's a little waiting period - maybe three days - and then you go. Lazarus should have been there after four days - wherever you go, right? I mean, a lot of funerals happen two or three days after they die and they've got them in heaven already. Lazarus should have been there. Can you imagine if Lazarus was in heaven? He's now got his glorified body and he's hearing the most beautiful music and he's reaching out to take from the Tree of Life and all of a sudden - poof! - Jesus, because they're friends, decides to do him a favor and bring him back to this world. He's all wrapped up in grave clothes in a grave.

Would you appreciate that if you were Lazarus. You would have said, 'oh, thanks a lot, Lord.' You know, 'for bringing me back.' Or, maybe if Lazarus wasn't ready - Lazarus was in hades and he was being turned by the devil's proverbial pitchfork - to get cooked evenly, you know, and plunged under the molten fire and brimstone - he's shrieking in agony and all of a sudden - poof! - He's back alive and all the pain is gone. He would have said, 'oh, thank you so much, Lord for getting me out of hell.' He doesn't say either. You think he would have said something, right? Why? How does Jesus refer to Lazarus' condition? He said, 'our friend Lazarus is asleep.' By the way, that's John chapter 11. We don't have immortality now.

Timothy 6 - well, matter of fact, someone look up for me John 5:28 and 29 - the Gospel of John 5:28 and 29 - who has that? Hold up your hand if you've got it because we'll get you a microphone, okay? In the meantime, talking about immortality, who has immortality now? Timothy 6 verses 15 and 16, speaking of God it says, "he is the blessed and the only potentate, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, who alone has immortality dwelling in unapproachable light that no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power, amen." God alone has immortality. The idea of saying that we have immortality now - it's a little audacious and it's certainly not biblical - it's an attribute of the everlasting of God. Immortality means you can't die and the Bible doesn't say you have an immortal soul anywhere. You don't find the phrase 'immortal soul;. You can preach about it, you can write poems about it, you can sing about it, you can put it on your gravestone - it doesn't make it true.

Immortality is a gift given to the redeemed and they receive the gift by faith now but they don't really cash the check until the resurrection and they get their glorified bodies. You can, by faith, receive everlasting life now. That's where Christians sleep - typically when a person is asleep you don't call them dead but they don't actually get it until they get their glorified body. Now, you notice when we were reading in 1 Thessalonians it says, 'the dead in Christ rise first.' That indicates there must be two different resurrections. And then you read in Revelation chapter 20, 'blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection.

Over such the second death has no power" - but the rest of the dead live not again until the thousand years are up. So you've got the first resurrection - the dead in Christ - and at the end of the one thousand years you've got the resurrection of the lost. You don't want to be in that resurrection so there are two separate resurrections. When the Lord comes, the dead in Christ rise first and - notice, when does this resurrection happen? John 6:54, "whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up the last day." Do they get raised up as soon as they die? No. John 6:39, "this is the will of The Father who sent me, that of all he has given me I should lose nothing and should raise him up at the last day.

" I think four times in the Gospel of John Jesus says the resurrection is the last day. It's the end of the world. And if those verses aren't clear about when it happens, here's one that's real clear. Somebody look up for me acts - I'm just going to get you queued up here - acts 2, verse 29 - got a hand right here. Thank you barry.

Acts 2:29. In the meantime, let me read 1 Corinthians 15 - you could read the whole chapter of 1 Corinthians and it's just really clear. Corinthians 15 - I'm going to read verses 20 to 23. This, to me, settles any doubt. "But now Christ has risen from the dead and has become the first fruits of them that slept.

For since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the dead." - Through adam death came, through Christ the resurrection comes - "for as in adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive." - Now listen very carefully - "but each one in his own order" - there's an order, a sequence - you've got the first resurrection, the second resurrection - it tells when the resurrections happen. "Christ the firstfruits" - Jesus rose - "afterward those who are Christ's at his coming." When do the dead in Christ rise? When the trumpet sounds and the angel - archangel shouts - at his coming. Are they risen yet? No. The judgment hasn't happened yet. Do we all agree that judgment day hasn't happened yet? I mean, you know, there's an investigative judgment, there's - judgment begins at the house of God, but the great white-throne judgment has not happened yet.

And wouldn't it be odd for a person to die and go right to hell and they're down there in hell and then the angel taps them on the shoulder and they're so happy to get out of hell and you say, 'where are we going?' He says, 'it's time for your judgment.' And so you're judged and they said, 'sure enough, you were guilty. Back to hell.' Or you're in heaven and you're enjoying heaven and you're traveling to other worlds and an angel says, 'come with me.' 'What's going on?' 'Got the judgement.' And you come back and you're judged and she says, 'okay, you're free to go now.' The idea that you're going to be rewarded before the judgment is unbiblical. Does that make sense? So - and you know - Christians didn't used to be so illiterate on the subject of death as they are today, but a lot of well, quite frankly, a lot of medieval theology crept into the church and it's really spread. You can look at - even in a number of old - you can go to some old methodist cemeteries. I used to do this when I was in Texas.

Sometimes we'd go visit - they had all these abandoned churches and they still had - some of them - the cemeteries connected to the church, you know. People would get buried - I don't know if they thought it was hallowed ground or what. And you read the tombstones and you could tell from the tombstones they would say, you know, 'our beloved mother and wife sleeping in the arms of Jesus.' And they - a lot of them would refer to death as a sleep. You know, even r.i.p. - What does that stand for? Rest in peace.

I mean, people used to know this but now, kind of spiritualism has come into the church and - all right we've got a verse. I forget which one I gave you. Okay, whatever it is, you go ahead and read it. Acts 2:29, "men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day." All right, now, king David. How many of you believe king David will be saved? How many believe king David will be lost? So some of you don't raise your hands because only a few believed he was saved.

Nobody believed he was lost, right? So we all agree David is going to be saved, right? When Peter begins preaching - I've actually met folks before that say, 'well, it is true that people slept in the graves until Christ rose and went to heaven. And after Jesus rose and went to heaven, then everybody went to heaven. They were waiting kind of in Abraham's bosom until then.' Have you heard that one? And so they were in some kind of a protestant version of limbo - I'm not sure what it was - or purgatory or something. But certainly by acts - the book of acts - when Peter is preaching, David should have been to heaven by then because the resurrection is already 50 days old at that point. But what does Peter say about David? David is dead, he is buried, his tomb is here, he is not ascended to heaven.

Peter says all those things regarding David in that chapter. Dead, buried, tomb is with us, not in heaven. I mean, he couldn't be any more clear than that. Now David died about a thousand years b.c. I expect he'll be saved.

It says David slept with his fathers. Even David told Solomon, 'I'm going to go the way of all the earth.' Will David be resurrected when Jesus comes? Does it seem like three thousand years for David? Because we're now two thousand years after Christ - he died about a thousand years before Christ. That's a total of three thousand years. How long will it seem like for David when the trumpet sounds and the angel shouts and the graves open and he comes out with a glorified immortal body. For him, his last conscious thought is he was trying to be warmed by abishag - do you remember the story? He couldn't get warm and he drifted off and he died.

And the next thing he knows, he wakes up, he's got a glorified body, and he has to explain to bathsheba why he was with abishag. No. They could have a lot of interesting conversations when they get up there. And so it doesn't seem like any time at all. But the Bible says he's dead and buried.

He's not ascended to heaven. Lazarus, Jesus said, was asleep. What about - oh, you know what people say? 'Pastor Doug, then please explain to me the thief on the cross.' Jesus said to the thief on the cross there in Luke - it's only in the Gospel of Luke - don't ever build a doctrine on one verse. It says in the Gospel of Luke that he says, 'verily I say unto you, today you will be with me in paradise.' And keep in mind, there is no punctuation in the original language that was written in the Bible. Translators later added punctuation to try and figure out for themselves how you should interpret the meaning.

Not having the comma in the right place in that verse causes all kinds of problems. Jesus said to the thief, 'verily I say to you today, (comma) you will be with me in paradise.' Some translations do it that way, but in the King James and other translations the translators have 'verily I say to you, (comma) today you'll be with me in paradise.' Now there's a problem with that. I mean, just read your Bible and you know Jesus did not go to paradise that day with the thief. Jesus did not rise until Sunday morning. How could he be with the thief that day? Jesus told mary magdalene in John 20, 'I have not yet ascended to my father.

' I mean, how more clear can it be? So how could the thief be with The Father and Christ in paradise Friday if Jesus, by Sunday, has not gone yet? But the correct way to read that verse is 'verily I say to you today.' 'I'm making a promise to you today, you will be with me in paradise. Not that day, but you'll be there with me - I'm promising you today.' And really the emphasis should be on 'I'm making a promise today. I don't look like a king.' Christ is on the cross, he's all beaten, he's dying saying, 'today, when I don't look like a king, I don't look like I've got anything to offer you. Because you've spoken out in faith I'm making a promise to you today, you will be with me in paradise.' It didn't say he went to paradise that day. And then the other one is they take the parable - also in Luke - the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, which is so obviously a parable.

You'll find in Luke chapter 16, verse 19 on to the end of the chapter. The emphasis of that - well, first of all, the parable has nothing to do with the state of death. The parable has to do with if we are feasting on the truth and we are not sharing it with those around us, we may find the ones who are hungry for the truth are going to be in the Kingdom and those of us who are feasting on the truth but don't share it with others, we are in outer darkness. And Christ was specifically talking to the jews and also the church. He said, 'you're like that rich man feasting and you've got people at your gate' - that was the gentiles - 'hungering for the crumbs of truth falling from your table.

' And when they both died, the rich man, he goes to the Greek place of torment called 'hades'. The poor man, who's the gentile, he goes to the Jewish place of heaven. You see the irony in the story. Jesus is saying - he's telling the Jewish listeners, 'don't think because you are a jew you're going to be saved. God has given you the truth, that's true, but if you don't share it with the gentiles around you, you don't love your neighbor, and you won't be saved.

You may find when you die you end up in their proverbial torment and they end up in your proverbial Abraham's bosom. See, there's a lot of symbolism and irony in here - it has nothing to do with people in heaven and hell talking to each other. Do you really think the people in heaven are going to be looking from the walls of the new Jerusalem and eating popcorn watching the wicked burn? Do you really think that we're going to be entertained by that through eternity? In the parable Abraham is looking at this son - he calls him son - burning. It's a parable and don't ever build doctrine on one witness like that or you get into all kinds of problems. All right.

When does this happen? Someone look up for me Matthew 24:31. Who has - did we give that to someone? Right here. Matthew 24, verse 31. To understand something about Christ's coming back, all you've got to do is look at how he ascended. If you read in acts 1:9 through , "when he had spoken these things, while they watched, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight.

And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who said, 'men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw him go into heaven." Christ is going to come back as they saw him go. It'll be very real. But, you know, you don't need to be discouraged. Some people who are watching this or maybe hearing for the first time the idea that 'you mean my loved one that died is not in heaven now?' Well, if they died and they're saved their next conscious thought is the presence of the Lord so you don't need to worry about what they're feeling and thinking because, as far as they're concerned, they're going to experience God next. But they're not there yet because we live in time.

The resurrection hasn't happened yet, the judgment hasn't happened yet, the final events have not happened and we're not going to heaven like these comics where you go and you check in with saint Peter at the golden gate one by one - people lined up - it does not say that. It says, 'we will be caught up together with them in the clouds. We will go as the glorious triumphant parade together. You know how much more fun it is to enjoy something spectacular when you're with somebody? Have you ever seen something incredible and spectacular and beautiful and you looked around and you wanted to tell someone but you had no one to tell? It's kind of disappointing if you can't share it with anybody. We're not going to heaven like that one by one.

We're going to heaven as a triumphant parade - together we're caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Isn't that what we just read there in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, verse 16 on? It tells us that it's together. And then Revelation 20, verse 6, "blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." You know, I especially like the words that we find, 'wherefore comfort one another with these words.' The coming of Jesus is called 'the blessed hope'. We don't need to be afraid of death, Christians don't die, they just go to sleep, amen? It's a dreamless sleep, they wake up this corruptible puts on incorruption, this mortal puts on immortality.

It happens in the twinkling of an eye. If you're alive and remain when Christ comes - an instant change and then it'll all come together. We are out of time. I want to remind our friends who are watching one more time you really - if you have any questions about this subject you should ask for the offer. It's a free book called 'absent from the body'.

We'll send it to you, just call the number 866-788-3966 and please ask for offer #707. God bless until we study together again next week. Paul and Jesus both predict that the church of God becomes a force against God. The radical faith that Jesus taught had become the official religion of the empire that murdered him. This is a religion born within the roman empire born in, sort of, the roman social and political context.

The Gospel as we know it is a product of the fourth century. Christianity went from being a marginalized small group to now having influence at the center of the roman empire. That's not the whole story. They made a personality cult out of Jesus but they ignore his teachings. The speed with which the early church tobogganed into apostasy would take your breath away.

This changes everything. If you've missed any of our Amazing Facts programs, visit our website at ''. There you'll find an archive of all our television and radio programs, including Amazing Facts presents. One location. So many possibilities.

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