by Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
May 12, 2017
While most Christians believe that the soul is immortal and returns to God at death in a conscious state, Seventh-day Adventists (and Jehovah Witnesses) do not. While calling death "unconscious nothingness" or "soul sleep," they really teach annihilation of the soul at death. They teach that nobody is in heaven yet. All souls cease to exist at death and await recreation at the resurrection of the dead for both the righteous and the unrighteous. However, with very few exceptions, it is very evident that the soul [O. T. nephesh] survives without the body after death.
"Sheol," Strong's #7585, is the Hebrew word most often translated as "hell" (31x) and "grave" (30x) in the KJV Old Testament. It is also translated as "pit" (3x). Sheol is the "realm of the dead" and includes the concepts of death, souls and bodies for both the righteous and the unrighteous before Calvary.
1. NOT UNCONSCIOUS NOTHINGNESS: Sheol is very far from the S. D. A. definition of "unconscious nothingness." Not one of the 64 Sheol texts describe non-existence or nothingness. Therefore, since "unconscious" is not the same as "nothingness," SDAs lack a single verifying Sheol text for their doctrinal statement.
2. MORE THAN THE GRAVE: Sheol is much more than the grave. Since none of the 64 Sheol texts contain the Hebrew article "the" as would be expected before the word "grave," this suggests that Sheol, of Hell, the realm of the dead is the more accurate meaning. Most importantly, the most common O.T. words for "grave" and "sepulcher" are "qabar" (132x), "qeber" (70x)" and "qeburah" (15x).
3. DEEP DOWN: Sheol is located down. This cannot be true if Sheol were "nothingness" which has no location or direction. Something nonexistent cannot be "deep" and none of the following texts make sense if Sheol is "nothingness."
Job 17:16 down to the bars of the pit; 21:13 down; Numb 16:30 down quick into the pit; 16:33 down alive into the pit; Deut 32:22 fire shall burn unto the lowest hell; Ps 86:13 thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell; Prov 9:18 her guests are in the depths of hell; Isa 7:11 ask a sign; make it deep in Sheol; Isa 14:11 pomp is brought down to the grave [Sheol], and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. Isa 14:15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell [Sheol], to the sides [caves] of the pit [bor]; Ezek 31:15 down to the grave [Sheol]; Ezek 31:16 cast him down to hell with them that descend into the pit: … in the nether parts of the earth; Ezek 31:17 down into hell [Sheol]; Ezek 36:21 down; Jonah 2:2 he heard me out of the belly of hell.
4. AS FAR DOWN AS HEAVEN IS HIGH: Sheol is a place which is as far down as heaven is up. God is there. Again this cannot be true of "nothingness."
Job 11:8 as high as heaven … deeper than hell; Ps 139:8 if I make my bed in hell, thou art there; Isa 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; Isa 14:15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit; Amos 9:2 Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down.
5. PLACE: Not only is Sheol in a down direction, it is also a distinct place. Yet it cannot be both a place and nothingness."
Job 17:13 house, bed; 26:6 Sheol is naked before God; Ps 49:14 … death shall feed on them … and their beauty shall consume in the grave [Sheol] from their dwelling; Ps 141:7 Our bones are scattered at the grave's [Sheol] mouth; Prov 5:5 Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell [Sheol]; Prov 7:27 Her house is the way to hell [Sheol], going down to the chambers of death; Prov 9:18 the dead are there and her guests are in the depths of hell Prov 23:14 beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell [Sheol]; Prov 27:20 Hell [Sheol] and destruction [Abaddon] are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied. Prov 30:16 The grave [Sheol]; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough; Isa 5:14 Therefore hell [Sheol] hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it; Isa 14:15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell [Sheol], to the sides of the pit [bor]; Isa 14:15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell [Sheol], to the sides of the pit [bor]; Isa 38:10 I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave [Sheol]: I am deprived of the residue of my years; Isa 38:11 I shall not see the LORD, even the LORD, in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world; Isa 57:9 debase thyself even unto hell [Sheol].
6. THE RIGHTEOUS GO THERE.
As early as Job, the righteous expected to go to Sheol at death and nothing is said about ceasing to exist.
Job 14:12 So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep; Job 14:13-15 O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me; (v14) If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come; (v15) Thou shalt call [me in Sheol], and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands; in Genesis 37:35; 42:38; 44:29 and 44:31 Jacob kept repeating that he would go "down" to "Sheol" in sorrow If death ended his sorrow, he would look forward to it. However he expected to continue in sorrow for Joseph after death; Ps 49:15 But God will redeem my soul [nephesh] from the power of the grave [Sheol]: for he shall receive me; Ps 88:3 For my soul [nephesh] is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave [Sheol]; Ps 89:48 What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul [nephesh] from the hand of the grave [Sheol]?; Prov 15:24 The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell [Sheol] beneath; Jonah 2:2 I cried … and he heard me out of the belly of hell [Sheol].
7. SHEOL IS A PIT -- NOT NOTHINGNESS
As a pit with caves, Sheol is not a description of nothingness. If the grave is "nothingness," what is the "lowest" grave?
Ps 30:3 thou hast brought up my soul from the grave [Sheol]: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit [bor]; Ps 88:3 For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave; Ps 88:4 I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength; Ps 88:5-6 Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand (v6) Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps; Prov 1:12 Let us swallow them up alive as the grave [Sheol]; and whole, as those that go down into the pit [bor]; Ezek 31:16 I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to hell [Sheol] with them that descend into the pit … comforted in the nether parts of the earth; Ezek 32:18 … cast them down … unto the nether parts of the earth, with them that go down into the pit; Ezek 32:21 The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell [Sheol] with them that help him: they are gone down …; Ezek 32:23 Whose graves [qeburah] are set in the sides of the pit, and her company is round about her grave [qeburah] …; Ezek 32:24 gone down uncircumcised into the nether parts of the earth … with them that go down to the pit; Ezek 32:29 … with them that go down to the pit; Ezek 32:30 gone down with the slain … that go down to the pit.
8. THE WICKED GO THERE IN CONSCIOUSNESS
Sheol is a place where conscious souls cannot return to earth. It is a place of darkness, suffering, sorrows, pain and trouble. It "moves to meet" lost souls and "stirs up" others to "greet" them. It is a cruel place with "coals of fire" from a "most vehement flame." Some will "speak" to Pharaoh out of the midst of hell when he arrives and Pharaoh will "see" them.
1 Samuel 22:6 is it a place of sorrows; Job 26:5 dead things [Rephaim] are formed [tremble: NAS] from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof; Psalm 18:5 hell [Sheol] is a place of sorrows; Ps 116:3 the sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell [Sheol] gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow; Prov 1:12 let us swallow them up alive as the grave [Sheol]; and whole, as those that go down into the pit [bor]; Isa 14:9 hell [Sheol] from beneath is moved to meet thee: it stirreth up the dead [Rephaim] for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up all the kings of the nations; Isa 26:14-15, 19 they are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish; (v19) Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead [Rephaim]; Song 8:6 love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave [Sheol]: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame; Ezek 32:21 mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell [Sheol]; Ezek 32:24 yet have they borne their shame with them that go down to the pit; Ezek 32:27 … which are gone down to hell [Sheol] with their weapons of war: and they have laid their swords under their heads; Ezek 32:31 Pharaoh shall see them …
9. REPHAIM/SPIRITS OF THE DEAD/ SHADES ARE THERE
The Rephaim (Strong's #7496) are mentioned eight (8) times in the Hebrew Old Testament. They are most likely the souls of the dead. Regardless of whom they are, their existence disproves the SDA teaching that the grave/Sheol is an "unconscious nonexistence."
Job 26:5 Dead things [Rephaim] are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof.
Ps 88:10 Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead [moot]? shall the dead [Rephaim] arise and praise thee?
Prov 2:18 For her house inclineth unto death [moot], and her paths unto the dead [Rephaim].
Prov 9:18 But he knoweth not that the dead [Rephaim] are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell [Sheol].
Prov 21:16 The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead [Rephaim].
Isa 14:9 Hell [Sheol] from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead [Rephaim] for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
Isa 26:14 They are dead [moot], they shall not live; they are deceased [Rephaim], they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish.
Isa 26:19 Thy dead [moot] men shall live, together with my dead body [nebelah; bloat?] shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead [Rephaim].
10. NECROMANCY/WORSHIP OF THE DEAD
God's stern prohibition against attempting to conjure up the dead proves that Old Testament man believed that death did not end existence.
Lev 19:26 … neither shall ye use enchantment …; Lev 19:31 Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards …; Lev 20:6 And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people; Deut 18:10 There shall not be found among you any … that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch; 1 Chron 10:13 So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it; Isa 8:19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?; Isa 29:4 And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.
11. SHEOL AND ABADDON
"Abaddon," destruction, the lowest part of Sheol, only occurs 7 times in the Hebrew Old Testament --- 6 times with Sheol. Souls cannot hide from God because He sees them. This cannot be true of they were "unconscious nothingness." Again, Abaddon is lowest" Sheol; if Sheol were "nothingness," what would "lowest Sheol" be?
Job 26:6 Hell [Sheol] is naked before him, and destruction [Abaddon] hath no covering; Job 28:22 Destruction [Abaddon] and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears; Job 31:12 For it is a fire that consumeth to destruction [Abaddon], and would root out all mine increase; Ps 88:11 Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave [qeber]? or thy faithfulness in destruction [Abaddon]?; Prov 15:11 Hell [Sheol] and destruction [Abaddon] are before the LORD: how much more then the hearts of the children of men?; Prov 27:20 Hell [Sheol] and destruction [Abaddon] are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.
12. PSALM 16:10 AND ACTS 2:27, 31
Ps 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul [nephesh] in hell [Sheol]; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Acts 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul [psuchee] in hell [Hades], neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Acts 2:31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
Since Jesus' soul (O.T. nephesh; N.T. psyche) did not cease to exist in hell (O.T. Sheol; N.T. Hades), this is very strong evidence that Sheol/Hades is not a state of "unconscious non-existence" as taught by Seventh-day Adventists. Ephesians 4:9 teaches that Christ's soul "descended first into the lower parts of the earth." (It did not cease to exist.) Many believe that He did so in order to relocate Paradise from upper Sheol/Hades into heaven itself. Compare the movement from Luke 23:43 to 2 Corinthians 12:4 and Revelation 2:7.
13. RESURRECTION AND JUDGMENT:
Old Testament man believed in a future time when the soul would be resurrected from sleep in Sheol to meet God in the judgment. Again, there is no suggestion that non-existence occurs at death; rather it is a hiding place.
Job 14:10-15 But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost [expires], and where is he? (v11) As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up, (v12) So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. (v13) O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave [Sheol], that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! (v14) If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. (v15) Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands; 1 Sam 2:6 The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave [Sheol], and bringeth up; Prov 15:24 The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell [Sheol] beneath; Isa 28:18 [28:15-19] no escape of death and hell; Hos 13:14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave [Sheol]; I will redeem them from death [moot]: O death [moot], I will be thy plagues; O grave [Sheol], I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.
SDA TEXTS FOR SOUL NON-EXISTENCE
The following texts are used by Seventh-day Adventists to promote their doctrine that the grave is an unconscious nonexistence.
Job 19:25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
Job 19:26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
Job 19:27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.
Though Job is often more correct than his accusers, his conclusions are still only those of "vain" unenlightened man "under the sun." God tells him so in Job 38:2 "Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?" Even so, Job did not consider death to be an "unconscious nonexistence." In Job 2:18; 9:18 and 21:16 the Rephaim (dead spirits) are "there" with the "congregation of the dead" in the depths of Sheol. In 14:13-15 Job did not describe non-existence; he asked God to "hide me in the grave [Sheol]" and "keep me secret" "until thy wrath be past," "appoint me a set time," "remember me" and he would "wait til my change come" when God would "call" and he would "answer." In 17:13 Sheol is called a house and bed. In 17:16 and 21:13 Sheol located down to "the bars of the pit." In 26:6 Sheol is "naked" before God.
Ps 146:4 His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
If Psalm 146:4 is contrasting life on earth with the soul's inability to communicate with living mankind, the text makes sense. Otherwise it is in contrast with many other Psalms. Referring to Jesus, Psalm 16:10 states that Jesus' soul would spend time in Sheol but not remain there; 18:5 describes Sheol as a place of sorrows; 30:3 describes either resurrection or resuscitation from Sheol; 49:15 God will redeem my soul [nephesh] from the power of the grave [Sheol]: for he shall receive me; 55:15 describes a place where men go down quickly and wickedness is inn their dwelling; 88:3 For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave [Sheol]; 86:13 Thou hast delivered my soul [nephesh] from the lowest hell [Sheol]; 88:4 I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength; 88:5 Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave [qeber], whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand; 88:6 Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps; 88:10 departed spirits [Rephaim] are there; 89:48 shall he deliver his soul [nephesh] from the hand of the grave [Sheol]; 116:3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell [Sheol] gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow; 139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell [Sheol], behold, thou art there; 141:7 Our bones are scattered at the grave's [Sheol] mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth. Surely all of the other Psalms' texts must be included in an accurate description of what happens at death.
Eccl 9: 5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
Eccl 9:6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
Eccl 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
Like Job, most of Ecclesiastes is not a book to base doctrine. Like Job, Ecclesiastes is a picture of how "vain" unenlightened man "under the sun" saw life perhaps 3000 years ago -- much of it is correct and much of it is wrong. Except for the final two verses (12:13-14), all of it is "vanity" "under the sun." For example 9:2 is only true if 12:14 is not true. According to 9:3, 9:2 is "evil" because there is no final spiritual understanding "under the sun" 9:4 is partially true because hope of grasping spiritual knowledge only resides with the living. Verses 8-9 are tongue-in-cheek as "all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun." The mockery of unenlightened man continues in 9:11 "I returned, and saw under the sun." Therefore it is wrong for SDAs to pull Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6 and 10 out of their context of "vanity under the sun."
Dan 12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Dan 12:13 But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.
Daniel 12:2 and 12:13 do not teach unconscious non-existence; instead, they teach a continuing existence of "rest" similar to "sleep."
Isa 25:8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.
Isaiah 25:8 does not teach non-existence of the soul at death. The chapter is about the restoration of national Israel in its own land, "in this mountain" (v6, 7, 10) --- a doctrine rejected by SDAs. Its context is the celebration of national Israel (v9).
John 5:28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
John 5:29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
It is dishonest to quote 5:28-29 and ignore its context in 5:24-27. The souls of the living who "hear" and "believe" have already "passed [over] from death into [everlasting] life" and "condemnation" of a future "judgment" is also already passed (5:27). When Jesus said "and now is" in 5:25, He was referring to the spiritually dead among the living. Since Jesus has "life in himself" (5:26), He does not need to wait to conquer death. At the very least, 5:28-29 do not teach the non-existence of the soul because (at the very least) the bodies of dead saints "hear his voice" (5:28). When balanced with the "everlasting life" statement of 4:14, "whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die" of 11:26, and Christ "bringing" the souls of believing saints back with him of 1 Thess 4:14, one sees the immortal soul awaiting the resurrection of the body in 1 Thess 4:16.
John 11:11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
John 11:12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
John 11:13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
John 11:14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
When Seventh-day Adventists quote John 11:11-14 to prove that the soul ceases to exist at death, they make the same mistake as Martha in 11:24. Again, "whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die" of 11:26 refers to the immortal soul not experiencing spiritual death.
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
This is an odd text to use to prove the non-existence of the soul at death. "Death" here must refer to the soul's separation from God at the moment one sins as it did with Adam and Eve; they did not die physically but their immortal soul died in an instantaneous separation from God (Gen 2:17; 3:7-8).
1 Cor 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
1 Cor 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
1 Cor 15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
1 Cor 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
These texts are not even discussing what happens at death -- much less nonexistence of the soul. They are discussing what happens to the bodies of Christians who are alive when Jesus returns. The soul, being in the image of God, is already immortal. The body becomes immortal because it will not be separated from God --- it will not suffer either the first or second death ( 1 Cor 15:55-56; 1 Thess 4:13-16; Rev 20:6, 14; 21:8).
Col 3:4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
By lifting 3:4 out of is context of 3:1-3 SDAs attempt to make 3:4 say that Christians will not be with Christ until He returns. However verses 1-3 do not agree. The more important spiritual reality is that believers have already "risen with Christ" and are already "sitting" with Him "on the right hand of God" (3:1). They are already "dead" to sin and the things of this world and their lives are already "hid with Christ in God" (3:3). It is incredible how SDAs can ignore the very clear teaching of 3:1-3 and teach that souls cease to exist at death.
1 Thess 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
1 Thess 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
1 Thess 4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
1 Thess 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
1 Thess 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Incredibly, SDAs have taken some of the strongest texts in the Bible which prove that souls do NOT cease to exist at death and have attempted to make them say exactly the opposite! The Christians in Thessalonia thought that their loved ones who had recently died would not be included when Christ returned for His Church (4:13). Instead of "ceasing to exist," they were "sleeping in Jesus" (4:14)! Much more, Jesus would "bring" the souls of sleeping saints back with him (4:14)--- thus proving the SDA logic to be wrong! The souls of sleeping saints will be reunited with their bodies before the living saints will be caught up body and soul (4:15-17). There is no "comfort" in telling mourners that their loved ones have ceased to exist (4:18); that is why SDAs use the term "sleep" instead of the harsh terms they really teach -- "unconscious nonexistence" and "annihilation."
1 Tim 6:15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
1 Tim 6:16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
SDAs quote First Timothy 6:16 to argue that only God is immortal. If this were true, the text would have several internal problems: (1) If it only refers to the Father, it disallows Christ and the Holy Spirit and (2) if Christ is included, it probably refers to inherent immortality (Jn 1:3). If man does not have immortality as part of the "image of God," terms such as "never die" and "everlasting life" have no special meaning.
The final texts submitted by Seventh-day Adventists to prove the non-immortality of the soul is Revelation 20:1-10. In Revelation 20:4 John saw "the souls of them that were beheaded" for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God. There is no indication that this "first resurrection" involved the re-creation of these souls from nothingness. In 20:5 the text does not say that the souls of "the rest of the dead" continued to cease to exist." Such a statement would contradict all of the O. T. texts on consciousness in Sheol.
The SDA and EGW sequence of events from Revelation 20 to 21:2 is extremely out of order. GC656-675 contains many O. T. texts and little from Revelation 20:7-15.
In GC656-657 EGW states that none of mankind is alive at the beginning of the Millennium; this contradicts scores of unconditional O. T. prophecies to the contrary. In GC660 EGW says the wicked will be judged during the 1000 years while John 3:16-18 says they are judged as they reject the gospel. [Revelation 20:11-14 is the execution of the judgment.] Contrary to SDA doctrine, GC662-664 describes the wicked dead as "arising" out of the grave with the same physical features they died with; this means God would re-create them that way. This re-creation of the wicked dead from 20:13 occurs out of sequence in 20:8 to avoid admitting a populated earth during the Millennium. In GC662 EGW has Christ descending to the Mount of Olives per Zechariah 14; thus the SDA-conditional prophecy of literal Israel is re-instated only for Christ's literal return. In GC663-664 EGW has the saints in the New Jerusalem which (SDAs claim) is the "beloved city" of 20:9. This is odd because they SDAs a literal Mount of Olives for His return but deny a literal Jerusalem on earth during the Millennium because it contradicts their Millennium doctrine. On GC665 EGW inserts Christ appearing above the New Jerusalem while it is being attacked in Revelation 20:9. On GC666 the destruction of the wicked from 20:9 is equated with 20:11-12. Therefore, SDAs insert 20:11-15 and 21:1 before 20:9-10. Since "death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them" (20:13), the idea that death and hell are non-existence makes no sense -- they will give up the existing souls of unbelievers. Finally, Revelation 20:10's "shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever" repeats the Third Angel's message of 14:10-11 which SDAs totally ignore. Whatever one might chose to call it, "something" will be tormented forever and ever.
Russell Earl Kelly