(REV 6:9-11; 2 COR 12:2-4; GEN 2&3; EZK 18:20-24)

Copr. 1999, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All scripture references are
to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984
International Bible Society,  unless otherwise noted. Quotations
from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible
Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The
lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual
aid. This lesson can be found at: <url:http://www.CameronLaw.com>

Introduction: This week we look at a very interesting subject: do
we have a spirit or soul that is separate from our body?  What
happens to it when we die? What does the Bible teach about this
subject?  Let's dive in!


          A.   An increasing number of Christians believe that when we
     die our soul lives on in either heaven or hell (or somewhere
     in between).  In light of this, our lesson (Sabbath
     afternoon) says a very controversial thing: "Nowhere does
     the Bible speak of the soul as an immortal entity capable of
     living apart from our body."

          1.   Do you think this true?

                    2.   Are most Christians convinced of a doctrine that
          has no Biblical basis?  Or is our lesson "off on a toot
          of its own?"

                    3.   Can you give me a text that refers to a soul as an
          entity apart from the body and therefore contradicts
          what the lesson says?  Let's look at Revelation 6:9-11.

                              a.   What is the timing here?  Is this before or
               after the Second Coming of Jesus? (It has to be
               before if (v.11) the killing is still going on.)

                              b.   If the answer is "before," then this text
               refers to people who were killed (v.9), yet have
               souls in heaven which are having conversations
               with God!

                                        (1)  Are you beginning to hear the sounds of
                    a horn? (That the lesson is off on a toot of
                    its own?)

                    4.   Let's look at another text: 2 Corinthians 12:2-4.
          While this text does not say that the man's spirit went
          up to heaven, clearly Paul suggests it is possible that
          some part of this man that was not his body made the
          trip, right?

                              a.   Does this text suggest that we have a soul
               that can go to heaven without our body?

                    5.   Let's look at yet another text: Matthew 10:28.
          Does Jesus say that we have a soul independent from our
          body that cannot be killed by men?

                    6.   It seems a little unfair for the lesson to make
          such sweeping statements, then expect you to be able to
          defend your beliefs when someone who knows these texts
          challenges you.

                    7.   Can you defend your belief that when you die your
          "soul" dies too?  Or are you ready to admit you have
          been wrong all these years?


          A.   We must study the Bible as a whole. One or two texts
     might mislead us about what the Bible really says. (Of
     course, we are going to be even more misled if we just close
     our eyes and say contrary texts simply do not exist.)

                    1.   On what basis do you believe that we do not
          possess an immortal soul?  Are there any Bible verses
          that tell us that?

                    2.   Compare Genesis 2:15-17 with Genesis 3:1-4.
          Compare God's word with the devil's word.

               a.   Is there a conflict?  What is it?

                              b.   If you remain a conscious being after your
               body "dies," have you really died?

                                        (1)  If you knew that your soul lived on,
                    would you care about your body dying?
                                                  a. Would it be an advantage to live
                         without a body?

                                        (2)  If your soul lives on, who was telling
                    the truth to Adam and Eve, God or the devil?
                    (This is the first and most deadly problem
                    with the doctrine of the immortality of the
                    soul.  It is a repetition of the devil's
                    first lie   that we do not die.  No matter
                    how evil you are, at least in hell you have
                    eternal life!)

                    3.   Read Ezekiel 18:20-24. Does this text equate sin
          with the death of the soul?
                              a.   Is it possible that this text just refers to
               the death of the body and not the soul?

                                        (1)  Look at v.21. To which death does this
                    refer? (Obviously this is not talking about
                    the first death, for we all will die.  This
                    is speaking about eternal life.  Only those
                    who are righteous will have immortal souls.
                    Those who are wicked die, period.)

                    4.   Let's read another text: 1 John 5:12-13. Is there
          life apart from Jesus?


          A.   If you take all the texts that we have read so far
     would you conclude that only the righteous have immortal
     souls or spirits?  Is that what the Bible teaches?

          B.   Our lesson goes into a detailed discussion of the
     Hebrew and Greek words for spirit and then announces
     (Sunday), "Neither in the Old Testament nor the New
     Testament does ruach [the Hebrew] or pneuma [the Greek]
     refer to an intelligent entity capable of existence apart
     from the body."  That sounds like the earlier grand
     statement in the lesson.  Is this statement true?

                    1.   Let's examine the very first time the word "ruach"
          ("ruwach")appears in the Bible. We find it in Genesis
          1:2 ("Spirit" in "Spirit of God"). Read.

                              a.   Does this refer to an intelligent entity
               capable of existence apart from the body? (If it
               does -- and it is hard to conclude it does not --
               you would think that the lesson authors might
               notice that the very first appearance of this word
               disproves their claim!)

                              b.   Let's look next at "pneuma," the Greek word
               for spirit. The very first occurance of it in the
               New Testament is in Matthew 1:18 ("she was found
               to be with child through the Holy "pneuma").  Does
               this refer to "an intelligent entity capable of
               existence apart from the body?

                                        (1)  Let's look at another example of
                    "pneuma." Read Matthew 8:16 (He drove out the
                    "pneuma"). Are these intelligent entities
                    apart from bodies?

                    2.   If you have a part of your existence that is
          analogous to the Holy Spirit, or analogous to an evil
          spirit, would you conclude that you were one
          indivisible whole?

          C.   Even if the grand statements in the lesson are wrong,
     and pneuma and ruwach can refer to an intelligent entity
     without a body, do they refer to a separate intelligence
     when it comes to mankind? Let's look at Genesis 2:7 and
     compare it with Ecclesiastes 12:6-7.

                    1.   What kind of ruwach is being given and returned
          here?  Is it clear to you?

                         2.   Vines Expository Dictionary makes clear there is
               no dispute that ruwach can simply mean "breath."
               (See for example Jeremiah 14:6 which refers to the
               breath of animals.)

                         3.   Is there any evidence that "spirit," when it comes
               to man, means an independent intelligence? Let's
               look at those texts next.


               A.   Read Psalms 146:3-4. What does this suggest happens to
          our thoughts when we die?

               B.   Read Matthew 27:50. This tells us that Jesus' spirit
          left at His death.  Did something intelligent go to
          heaven at that point in time? (No. In John 20:16-18
          Mary sees Jesus after His bodily resurrection and He
          says that He has not yet gone to His Father!)

               C.   Read Acts 7:59-60. Stephen dies and asks that the Lord
          receive his spirit.  Does this text suggest that this
          is an intelligent spirit that goes to God? (No. This
          text is just one of many where death is likened to a
          sleep.  In sleep we are unconscious.  Why would death
          be referred to as a "sleep" if our minds are fully

               D.   Let's take turns and someone read each of these texts:
          Read Psalms 115:16-18; Psalms 94:17; Psalms 6:4-5;
          Psalms 88:10; Isaiah 38:18.  What do these texts say
          about the state of our consciousness in death? Our
          ability to praise God in death?

               E.   So how do we explain those texts that I started with?
          Let's look again at Revelation 6:9-11. Could a spirit
          wear a "white robe?"

                         1.   As you look at this entire chapter, do you think
               that there are real horses in heaven that are
               white, red, pale and black?

                                   a.   If the chapter has all of these illusions and
                    symbols, why should we believe that the
                    spirits with white robes under the alter are
                    not also an illusion or symbol?

               F.   What about 2 Corinthians 12:2-4?  Look at v.7.  Isn't
          this "man" Paul?  If he is talking about himself, how
          does he suggest that he "visited" heaven? (Commentators
          believe that Paul is speaking of himself and v.7 shows
          he is talking about a revelation. Those who are given
          revelations are not having an actual"out-of-body"

               G.   What about Matthew 10:28? How can God kill that man
          cannot kill? (Eternally. Verse 39 strongly implies that
          Jesus is speaking about the second death.  If we lose
          our life here we will gain an eternal life from God.)

                         1.   Does that fact that God has the power of eternal
               death a reason to believe in an eternal soul?
               (Obviously, no!)

               H.   Friends, death is a sleep.  We are not conscious in
          death.  But when Christ comes again, He will wake us
          from our sleep and give us a new unified body and soul!
          Be faithful! (See 1 Corinthians 15:50-57)