LESSON 8
CONDITION IN DEATH 
(JOHN 11; LUKE 16; 1 CORINTHIANS 15)

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: If you studied the outline for "Lesson 4
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
          Jesus correct?

                         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
               false prophet?

               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
                    and die
                    you will live, and if you believe and
                    live you will never die?

                                   b.   Does this sound like someone
                    saying, "My
                    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
                    shows
                    that He loved Lazarus.  But that could
                    not be the motivating reason because He
                    could have come earlier and kept Lazarus
                    from dying.)

                                   b.   To prove that He was from God?
                    (Verse 42
                    strongly suggests this.)

                                   c.   Look again at vv. 23-27. Martha
                    says that
                    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
                    conclusion to
                    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"
                    (v.24)?

                                   b.   Do you think Jesus has the power to
                    raise
                    people to life before the resurrection?
                    (He says (v.25) that He has that power
                    and this story proves He has the power to
                    restore life.)

                                   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
                    Jesus.)

                                   d.   Is it possible that upon your death
                    you
                    will go to heaven?

                                             (1)  Do you think that upon
                         your death
                         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
                         heaven?

                                   e.   Do we know how Moses went from
                    death to
                    heaven? Read Jude 9.

                                             (1)  This is certainly a brief
                         and
                         backhanded reference to a very
                         important event, but there are some
                         very important lessons here.

                                                       (a)  Was there a
                              difference of
                              opinion on whether the
                              resurrection of Moses should be
                              allowed?(Yes. Sounds like it is
                              not routine because of the
                              dispute.)

                                                       (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
                              in heaven.)

               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
          bad things.)

                         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
               the kingdom!

                                   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
                    true.)

                                   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
                    astonished.")

                         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
                    Himself!)

                                             (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
                         parable is
                         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
               existence.)

               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
                    resurrection "firstfruits?"

                                   c.   Should it be a goal to be a
                    "firstfruit?"

     III. NEXT WEEK: INVENTED BY THE DEVIL