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LESSON 1 – DOCTRINE OF IMMORALITY
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Harold Smith assisted by Shelly Allen
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LESSON 1 – IMMORTALITY
THE DOCTRINE OF IMMORTALITY
A Series of Study of Sound Doctrine
The New Testament reveals that “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears” (2 Tim. 4:3).
“The time” here referred to has come, for this is the day “when they will not endure sound doctrine”. People today want teachers who will not offend them with the rugged truth, but who will supply them rather with foibles, and who will provide them with a veneer of respectability, while they seek to fulfil their own purposes and desires, whatever these may be. The fashion of the times calls for the pleasurable tingling of the ears while charity is extended towards all the ideas and concerns and aspirations of the hearers.
“Sound doctrine” is not now considered to be so very important, and ideals of kindness and unity are thought to outweigh the value of Scriptural precepts. Teachers who meet this mood of the age, are those referred to by Paul in the passage quoted. Such teachers have been multiplying and are found “heaped together” in their various denominations, gatherings and seminaries. They are teachers “having itching ears”, who are always seeking new ideas and methods wherewith to stimulate, please and placate their hearers.
This heaping together of teachers with itching ears is to be found today in many centres of learning and in particular in the seminaries of the great Protestant religions. It is an extraordinary thing that many of the Church groups which fall from orthodoxy into error, do so first through the schools and institutions set up by godly men with the very intention of preventing and guarding against such declension. God intended the local churches to be themselves the custodians of Church and Gospel truth — not central schools. Wherever the schools become powerful and independent, they generally will not “endure sound doctrine”, and as Paul says to Timothy, such teachers “will turn away ears from the truth” (v. 4 R.V.).
In such an environment, teachers fall easily to pride of intellectual attainment, and they forsake the “sound doctrine” of the pure truth of God as it is set forth in the Scriptures in all its simplicity, and “through philosophy and vain deceit” (Col. 2:8) they cast about for startling new thoughts, wherewith to “spoil” (.v. 8) the minds of their hearers “after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (v.8).
Modern Worldly Rudiments
This process may be observed world-wide today, and it brings two major consequences. First, God is not feared, and secondly, the Scriptures are not acknowledged, believed and acted upon, as the inerrant Word of God.
A modern instance of this has come to notice recently in the writer’s country of New Zealand, in which the immortality of the soul has been questioned.
There are, however, still many God-fearing followers of the Lord throughout the present day Church of God, and it is with a desire to serve and help such that these pages have been prepared. If the production of this booklet could help towards the restoration of faith to others who have been diverted by the current “rudiments of the world”, then the effort involved will have been fully worthwhile.
The Professor of Old Testament studies at the New Zealand Presbyterian Theological College has recently tickled his own ears, and startled the ears of many others, with the pronouncements that he discerns other things.
(a) That Christ’s physical body did not rise from the dead on the third day, and that “the bones of Jesus in all probability lie somewhere in Palestine”.
(b) That “man has no immortal soul” and that “no part of man is immortal”.
Then the Professor of New Testament studies at the same College has confused the issues, and independently of his colleague, has announced as follows: —
(a) “Immortality of the soul in the popularly understood sense as the eternal survival of one part of man is incompatible with the Biblical doctrine of resurrection”.
(b) “Our hope is not in ourselves, not in the immortality of our souls, but in God who raised Jesus and will raise us”.
(C) “It was Jesus Christ whom God raised from the dead, not simply the ‘soul̓ of Jesus”. The Professor explains that in his view the man cannot exist apart from his body.
The Old Testament Professor says Christ’s body did not rise from the dead, and the New Testament Professor says that man cannot exist without the body, and that Christ rose from the dead, so that he must mean that Christ’s body rose from the dead. What a difference between the two Professors!
Both believe in no separate existence of the soul after death. Both intend it to be understood that they believe that there is no continuity of existence after death.
The Importance of These Issues
These are matters of vital importance to the Christian Faith, and it is surely right that those who hold the Christian Faith should be ready with a full and Scriptural answer to all this groping and blindness. Many people today need the assistance of a simple but clear statement of the Truth of God as it is found in the Scriptures. Let us review the teaching and declarations of the Word of God, and set in order the vital grounds of the Faith “once delivered unto the saints”, which as Jude tells us, we “should earnestly contend for” (Jude 3). We shall see as we proceed that the questions involved in this study go to the very foundation of the Faith, and we may̓ be assured at the commencement of such a study, that what was “once delivered unto the saints” cannot be taken away or varied or modified in any degree by anyone at all.
It is proposed to illustrate and review the issues involved in the present New Zealand Presbyterian controversy, not to take a direct part in that controversy but because the issues are vital to the faith of all Christians and because the same challenge is being given today in every denomination and throughout the world. Readers overseas will immediately recognize that the two New Zealand Professors are only saying in their own way what great figures in the Church Councils of the World have said and are saying today.
Straws in the Wind
The error with both Professors stems from the basic error that they both set their own philosophies above the Scriptures of Truth, and that they will not accept the Bible as the inerrant rule for life and doctrine. For instance, both Professors say that the Church got its idea of the immortality of the soul from the Greeks, and that the book of Ecclesiastes was written in the third century B.C.
If this book was written by Solomon in about B.C. 977, the date ascribed to it in many versions of the Bible, then of course it was written before the rise of the Greek philosophers who taught the immortality of the soul.
Now in this book there is a clear statement, in which the continuity of existence after death is in view. The writer says, speaking of death, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ch. 12:7). And at the end of the book he says, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Ch. 12:13 - 14).
That is, the writer taught both the continued existence of the spirit after death, and the accountability of the man to God thereafter. The Professors seek to discredit this, by inferring that the book was written only in the third century B.C. by someone who had in contemplation the then current Greek philosophy, rather than under inspiration of the Holy Spirit of Truth!
When was Ecclesiastes Written ?
The writer declares that he was King over Israel in Jerusalem. In Chapter 1, verse 12 he says “I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem”. Now in the third century there was no king at Jerusalem. Further, the last King at Jerusalem was taken into captivity in B.C. 610, so that the book must have been written by the Preacher prior to that date. But note further that the writer says he was King “of Israel” at Jerusalem. Now the last king of Israe1 at Jerusalem was Solomon, for after his reign the kingdom was divided, and the Kings of Israel reigned at Samaria or elsewhere, while the Kings of Judah reigned thereafter at Jerusalem.
Then the first verse of the first Chapter reads “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem”. Solomon is the only possible person to fit the description of the two verses, 1 and 12 of Chapter 1.
If the book was in fact written by some Jew in Alexandria in Egypt, in the third century, as the two Professors say, then what a liar that writer was. Rather are the Professors in error, and every Word of God is true.
TEST – LESSON 1 – IMMORTALITY
1. The Bible prophesy about departure from sound doctrine T__ F__
2. Most leaders do not consider doctrine too important T__ F__
3. Itching ears was to here new and pleasant things T__ F__
4. Seminaries usually teach sound doctrine T__ F__
5. Some teach Christ did not rise from the dead T__ F__
6. A Christian’s hope is in His resurrection T__ F__
7. Many modernist believe the Bible is inspired T__ F__
8. The spirit of all men return to God at death T__ F__
9. God will bring every work into judgment T__ F__
10. The Ecclesiastes was written by an Alexandrian Jew T__ F__
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Created by Harold Smith
Updated September 2012 by Shelly Allen