Lesson 7

God's Gift of Immortality

(Genesis 3, 1 John 5, 1 Corinthians 15)
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Introduction: Next to the question of "Where did we come from?" is the question, "Where do we go after we die?" The older you get, the more interest you would logically have in the second question. There is much confusion today about the Biblical answer, so let's dive in to see what the Bible has to say about it!

  1. Satan's First Lie


    1. Read Genesis 3:1-3. Why did the serpent (Satan) misquote God in verse 1? (He wanted to start a discussion about fruit eating.)


      1. What if Eve answered, "I'm not sure. You know how it is when you're first created. There are so many forms to sign! And instructional booklets; there are booklets on everything! It's all so new! We got so many directions at one time I'm a little hazy on the subject." (Satan's second purpose in asking the question was to "make the record clear" that Eve clearly understood what God had said on the subject. No one would be able to say that the sin of mankind was an accident.)


    2. Read Genesis 3:4-6. Was Satan's statement that Eve would not "surely die" a lie? (Eve had affirmed that God said that eating the fruit would cause death. Therefore, Satan directly contradicted God.)


      1. What do you think motivated Eve to eat the fruit? Did she want to test whether she would die? (No. Who wants to test that? It was the lie about being like God that attracted her.)


        1. Was the "being like God" line a lie?


        2. Don't we sing in church about becoming "more like Jesus every day?" Isn't our goal to become more like God? (The "like God" aspect that Satan was marketing to Eve was "knowing good and evil." They already knew about good. The lie had two parts: they could know evil and not die.)


        3. What was wrong with Satan's suggested path to "be like God?" (It involved disobeying God and taking Eve's own path to knowing more about evil. The quest to "be like God" is what caused Satan to fall in the first place. See, Isaiah 14:13-14.)


          1. Do you know people who want to be "gods" without obeying the Heavenly Father?


      2. If you had been Eve, would you have fallen to this temptation? (Everyone who reads this lesson has sinned. 1 Timothy 2:14 tells us that Eve sinned because she was deceived. It also says Adam was not deceived when he sinned. The logical conclusion from that statement is that Adam deliberately sinned. Paul seems to suggest that gives Adam some credit over Eve. Is it better to be a ninny or a rebel? The rest of us can probably admit to being both ninnies and rebels at some point in our life.)


    3. Since we believe God and not Satan, at this point in our lesson we are all dead. Is there a way out? Let's explore that next.


  2. The Way Out


    1. Read 1 John 5:1. Why is it important to be "born of God?" (We just learned in Genesis that we are dead because of sin. If it were possible, a dead person would need to be born again, right?)


    2. Read 1 John 5:2-3. How do we know that we are born again? (Verse 1 tells us believing Jesus is the Christ is the basis for the new birth. However, verse two tells us that from that new birth springs love "for the children of God." This love has two parts: loving God and obeying His commandments.)


      1. Why does obedience to God's commandments demonstrate "love to the children of God?" (This gives some hard edges, some definition to the concept of love. It is not some abstract, mushy feeling. True love can be measured by performance towards our fellow humans and towards God's requirements. However, as verse 3 says, these commands "are not burdensome.")


    3. Read 1 John 5:4-5, 11-13. What does it mean to "overcome the world?" (Putting these texts together shows that overcoming the world is the gift of eternal life.)


      1. How do we get this eternal life according to verses 11-13? (Again, belief in Jesus gives us confidence ("you may know") that we have eternal life.)


    4. After reading these texts, what is your conclusion about whether the wicked will die? (This is a clear and fundamental truth of the Bible. If you sin and turn away from God you die. If you accept Jesus, you have eternal life.)


  3. The Future


    1. So far we have learned that we have two options: death or life. Satan's first lie was that sin did not bring death. We know about that lie now, so we should not fall into that same "hole" of thinking that we can sin and live.


      1. Let's explore how this life and death choice works. When do we get this eternal life?


      2. Do the righteous get one death (because they sinned in the past) and then get eternal life?


      3. What is eternal death for the wicked?


    1. Since the Bible has a great deal to say about these kinds of questions, much of which seems confusing, we are going to basically stick to the "hard evidence" texts.


      1. Can we, who have sinned, go to heaven without first dying? (Yes. There is precedent for this in the "translation before death" of both Elijah (2Kings 2:11-12; Matthew 17:1-3)and Enoch ( Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5). In addition, 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 describes a group that are taken directly to heaven.)


    2. Can we go to heaven soon after death? (Yes. The death and burial of Moses is described in Deuteronomy 34:4-7. A cryptic reference to God bringing Moses to life is found in Jude 1:9, and clear evidence of this is found in Matthew 17:1-3. Of course, this also happened to Jesus. Matthew 28:1-6.)


    3. Can we be resurrected and go to heaven long after death? (Yes. In 1 Corinthians 15:12-14 Paul argues the general resurrection of the righteous. Later in that same chapter (1 Corinthians 15:51-54) he explains the nature of the general resurrection of the righteous at the Second Coming of Jesus (v.52 "last trumpet"). Perhaps the best description of this is in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17, which discusses the timing of both the resurrection of the righteous dead and the translation of the righteous living at Jesus' Second Coming.)


    4. Most funerals that I attend speak of the departed loved one as being in heaven at that time. Is that possible? (The example of Moses and Jesus show the possibility going to heaven shortly after death. However, there is the problem that neither Moses ( Jude 1:9) nor Jesus left a body behind to view. My belief is the Bible teaches that immediate transportation to heaven is rare. Paul's discussion of the future of the righteous in 1 Thessalonians 4 teaches that the bulk of the righteous dead remain in the grave until the Second Coming of Jesus.)


    5. What about the future of the wicked? Do they burn forever in hell?


      1. If the wicked burned forever in hell would they have eternal life? (Yes. The texts on hell seem to be all over the place when you first read them. The Biblical evidence that convinces me that hell is not forever is Satan's first lie -- that sin would not cause death.)


      2. If you teach that the wicked do not burn forever in hell, will that cause some people to sin who would otherwise be too scared to sin? (Does anyone think that Jesus ever used terror as a conversion tool? Since the Bible is plain that the wicked burn ( Revelation 20:7-10), just how much burning is necessary to deter sinners?)


    6. Friend, God gives us two options. Eternal life with Him or eternal death by fire. Since He loved us so much that He died in our place, can we reasonably choose anything other than life?


  1. Next Week: Light and Shadows: The Earthly Sanctuary.

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