Copr. 1999, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references
CONDITION IN DEATH
(JOHN 11; LUKE 16; 1 CORINTHIANS 15)
Introduction: If you studied the outline for "Lesson
Spirit, Soul and Body" then you have a very good grasp of
this week's lesson. Unfortunately, the authors of our
lessons decided to plow the same ground twice -- even to the
point of making the same erroneous statement about the
Hebrew word "ruach!" (Compare p.42 with p.93 of the
teachers' edition of the lesson.)
They, however, had help. Part of the fault is clearly mine.
My teaching outline for Lesson 4 had us look at all the
texts which create serious questions about whether the dead
sleep until the resurrection (as opposed to going straight
to heaven, hell or purgatory). The current lesson goes over
these tough texts just as my teaching outline previously did
for Lesson 4. If you are a teacher and a regular subscriber
reading this lesson, you should also review Lesson 4.
Assuming you were with me on Lesson 4,
I will try to spare
you as much repetition as possible. So let's dig in.
I. LAZARUS, WHAT DO YOU SAY?
A. Let's read John 11:1-4. What is the relationship
between Jesus and these siblings, Mary, Martha and
Lazarus? (They were close friends.)
B. We have Jesus predicting the future in these
verses. Since you already know the story, was
1. Imagine you were present, and did not know how
the story would end, would you reach a point
in the story where you would say Jesus was a
C. Let's skip a few verses and read John 11:11-15.
Why did Jesus say that Lazarus was sleeping when
he was really dead?
1. Why would Jesus say that He was going to wake
Lazarus up if he had already gone to heaven?
(This talk does not make sense unless a person
is unconscious in death.)
D. Read John 11:17, 21-27. We are told that Lazarus
has been dead for at least four days because he
was in the tomb for that period of time. Tell me
about Martha's beliefs? (She believed that Jesus
could have saved Lazarus' life if He had come, but
now Lazarus would be dead until the resurrection
unless Jesus decided otherwise.)
1. Are your beliefs the same as Martha's?
2. Look at vv. 25-26 again. Jesus says "Do you
believe this?" If I were Martha, I would ask
Him, "Could you repeat that again?" I have
difficulty understanding what Jesus is saying
in these two verses. Can you explain it?
a. How can Jesus say if you believe
you will live, and if you believe and
live you will never die?
b. Does this sound like someone
dog didn't bite you." "My dog doesn't
bite." "I don't own a dog." Is Jesus
making more fantastic (and contradictory)
claims with each phrase in verse 25?
(Remember the importance of the context?
Since Lazarus just died, and he no doubt
believed in Jesus, the answer must turn
on the fact that Jesus calls death a
"sleep." Jesus views death as a sleep.
So whether you live or "die," if you will
not truly die if you believe in Him.)
E. Assume you are not a believer and you are
listening to all of this. Would you ask Jesus
about what just happened to His friend Lazarus?
What, exactly, would you ask Jesus?
1. Verse 19 indicates there was a crowd around.
Do you think there were those who did not
believe Jesus and were skeptical?
F. Let's skip down and read on. Read John 11:38-44.
1. Why did Jesus raise Lazarus?
a. Because He loved Lazarus?(Verse 38
that He loved Lazarus. But that could
not be the motivating reason because He
could have come earlier and kept Lazarus
b. To prove that He was from God?
strongly suggests this.)
c. Look again at vv. 23-27. Martha
part of the belief in Jesus is the belief
that He is the Son of God and has the
power of resurrection and life.)
2. Our lesson (Monday) says, "Explain how the
resurrection of Lazarus confirms the biblical
evidence that the dead sleep." What answer
would you give to this? (Nowhere in the Bible
does Lazarus talk about his disappointment in
being ripped out of heaven and returned to
earth. Nowhere does he describe heaven.)
a. Is there another possible
be drawn from this story? Could you also
explain how the resurrection of Lazarus
confirms the biblical evidence that Jesus
has the power to raise people to life
before the "resurrection at the last day"
b. Do you think Jesus has the power to
people to life before the resurrection?
(He says (v.25) that He has that power
and this story proves He has the power to
c. Let's read two sections of the Bible.
Deuteronomy 34:7-8 and Matthew 17:1-4.
What does this reveal? (That a man who
died shows up on earth and is talking to
d. Is it possible that upon your death
will go to heaven?
(1) Do you think that upon
you will go to heaven?
(2) If it is possible that
upon death a
person could go to heaven, then
should you dispute with someone who
is comforted in their grieving with
the idea that their loved one is in
e. Do we know how Moses went from
heaven? Read Jude 9.
(1) This is certainly a brief
backhanded reference to a very
important event, but there are some
very important lessons here.
(a) Was there a
opinion on whether the
resurrection of Moses should be
allowed?(Yes. Sounds like it is
not routine because of the
(b) Does this seem
like a "spirit
slipping into the air" at death
kind of thing? (No. This is a
dispute over Moses' body! This
tends to suggest that if you see
the person's body, they are not
G. Let's look at the second Lazarus story. Read Luke
16:19-23. We have Moses in heaven, now we also
have Abraham there, right? Are these bodies or
spirits which are in heaven? (The rich man saw
them so it seems they are bodies.)
H. Let's read on, Luke 16:24-26. Why does Father
Abraham say that Lazarus is in heaven and the rich
man burning in hell? (He says it is because they
each had their turn on earth for good things and
1. Ever hear that theory of salvation before?
Have a good life here? Then expect to burn in
hell. Have a bad life here, then you will be
rewarded in heaven! Misfortune is the key to
a. If this does not sound like familiar
theology, what should we conclude? That
Jesus is giving us "new light" about
salvation? (No! It suggests that He is
telling a story where the point is not
the details of the story, but the
conclusion to the story. I just argued a
case before a Supreme Court where I
started with a story to make my legal
point. None of the story was true, and
in some ways the details were ridiculous,
but the conclusion (the lesson) was
b. Let's detour a minute and read Matthew
19:23-26. What is the theology of the
disciples regarding salvation and wealth?
(It is just the opposite of the Lazarus
story. No doubt the disciples reflected
the general view that if you were doing
well in life it showed that you were
righteous. Jesus' listeners would not
have believed that doing poorly, in
itself, merited salvation. If the
listeners thought that this was truth, as
opposed to a story, they would (like the
disciples) have been "greatly
2. Let's go back to our Lazarus story. Read Luke
16:27-31. What is the point of this story?
a. When Jesus talks about someone "rising
from the dead" to convince them, who is
He talking about? (He is talking about
(1) Does this explain why
Jesus told a
story about people rising from the
dead? (Yes. He was forced to use
those "facts" to make His spiritual
point. That even His rise to life
for us would not be sufficient
evidence for some people.)
(2) Can we conclude this
proof of the afterlife? (No.)
(3) We talk about being
comforted by the
thought of our loved ones being in
heaven at death. Consider the
comfort angle of this parable.
Imagine the person you love the most
on this earth. Then imagine that
they are lost and you are saved.
For eternity, you get to "enjoy"
seeing them "in torment" and
"agony"(vv. 23-25) and you cannot do
anything to ease their suffering
(v.26). All you can do is listen to
their pleas for help. That is not
my God. That is not a God who gave
up His life for us!)
II. FIRST FRUITS
A. Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 15:12-18. Read. The
resurrection of the dead is a key doctrine
according to Paul. If the resurrection doctrine
is not true, what else does Paul say is not true?
(He says that if the dead are not raised at the
resurrection, then Jesus was not raised from the
dead. If Jesus was not raised from the dead, then
we are still in our sins.)
1. How does Paul describe those who have died?
(Verse 18 "fallen asleep." Once again, we
find an analogy involving an unconscious
B. Read 1 Corinthians 15:19-23. What does Paul say
about people going to heaven before the general
resurrection of the dead at the Second Coming? (He
calls Jesus a "firstfruit" in v.20, but in v.23 he
refers to other "firstfruits.")
1. Who are these other "firstfruits?"
a. Was Moses one of them?
b. How often do you think we have
c. Should it be a goal to be a
III. NEXT WEEK: INVENTED BY THE DEVIL