The Truth About Seventh-day Adventists


by William H. Branson


IN THE closing chapter of his book Mr. Canright attacks the position held by Seventh-day Adventists on the nature of man and the punishment of the wicked. Among other things he says:

Occasionally; here and there, along in the history of the church, men have arisen advocating the sleep of the soul and the annihilation of the wicked. But the doctrine has not met with favor, has been received by but few, has had a sickly existence, and has soon disappeared. - Seventh-day Adventism Renounced, pp. 397, 398.

In our reply we shall, for the sake of clarity, first give a brief resume of what Seventh-day Adventists believe on this point, thus making Mr. Canright's objections and our replies more understandable to the reader.


Seventh-day Adventists believe that man is mortal, subject to death and dissolution. This doctrine is based on such Scriptural teaching as the following: Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his Maker? Job 4:17. Paul declares that God only bath immortality (see 1 Timothy 6:15,16); and if this is true, then men are not immortal by nature. The word immortal appears only once in Scripture (1 Timothy 1:17), and there it is clearly applied to God, and not to men. The word immortality occurs five times, but in no instance is it applied to man in this natural state, but he is urged to seek for it as a treasure which may be gained through the gospel: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life. Romans 2:7.

Now, one does not seek for something which is already in his possession. If immortality were inherent in man, then surely he would have no need to strive and search for it. But God declares that immortality eternal life is brought to light through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:10); and this being true, then, of course, those who do not receive the gospel will never have eternal life. To this agree the words of John, who says: This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that bath not the Son of God hath not life. 1 John 5:11,12. Eternal life, or immortality, then, is a gift from God, through Christ, and is bestowed only upon those 'Who have the Son of God. Those who receive Him receive eternal life with and through Him, but those that reject Him do not receive this life. They will never become immortal, for the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23.

Seventh-day Adventists believe that eternal life is received by faith at the time of conversion, but that in actuality this gift is not bestowed upon Gods people until e return of Jesus. Until the resurrection day it is hid with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3. This is clearly taught in the Pauline letter to the Corinthian church, as follows:

Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 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. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 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. 1 Corinthians 15:51-54.

Note carefully the expressions: This mortal must put on immortality, and this corruptible must put on incorruption. That, then, is the time when we shall be changed from. the one state to the other. It is at. the sounding of the last trumpet, when the dead are raised.

Seventh-day Adventists believe that during the state called death, man rests in sleep, and is entirely unconscious until he is awakened by the call of the Life-Giver at the last day. Of this doctrine there is abundance of Scriptural proof. Said Jesus to His disciples, Our friend Lazarus sleeps. John 11:11.

Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. Verse 14. Of Jairus' daughter He said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleeps. And they laughed Him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. Luke 8:52, 53. So man lies down, and rises not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. Job 14:12.


During this sleep of the dead there is no consciousness of mind or spirit. This is clearly set forth in the following scriptures:

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. Psalms 146:3,4.

In death there is no remembrance of Thee: in the grave who shall give Thee thanks? Psalms 6:5,

The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence. Psalms 115:17.

For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in anything that is done under the sun. Ecclesiastes 9:5,6.

But man dies, and wastes away: yea, man gives up the ghost, and where is he? His sons come to honor, and he knows it not; and they are brought low, but he perceives it not of them. Job 14:10, 21.

It is from this unconscious state that man is called forth when Jesus comes the second time to gather His saints into His kingdom. They heed not the lapse of time. A thousand years in the grave will seem but as an instant when the dead are raised to life again. Nor will the living have any advantage over' them at the time of Christ's coming:

I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. 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 [precede] them which are asleep. 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: 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice. John 5:28.

Thy dead men shall live, together with My dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, you that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Isaiah 26:19.


Seventh-day Adventists believe that the wicked will be utterly destroyed in a literal lake of fire and brimstone; that this fire will be here on this earth, and that it will not only burn up the wicked, but will also cleanse and purify the earth, removing all the works of man and the blemishes made by sin; and that afterward the earth will be made new and become the eternal home of the saved.

Behold, the day comes, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.

But unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, says the Lord of hosts. Malachi 4:1-3.

Upon the wicked He shall rain snares [quick burning coals, margin], fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. Psalms 11:6.

God is jealous, and the Lord revenges; the Lord revenges, and is furious; the Lord will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies.

Who can stand before His indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by Him. The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows them that trust in Him. But with an overrunning flood He will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue His enemies. What do you imagine against the Lord? He will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time. For while they be held together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry. Nahum 1:2, 6-10.

The wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away. Psalms 37:20.

'I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found. Verses 35, 36.  

The wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23.

That this destruction will take place here on the earth is clearly stated by the revelator as he portrays the fate of the wicked:

They went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. . . . And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:9-15.

And to this agree the words of Peter's prophecy:

The heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. . . . But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and basting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness. 2 Peter 3:7-13.


Now, it was to these scriptures that Mr. Canright took such strong exception. He opens his attack thus:

That man's spirit survives the death of his body and lives in a conscious state, has been so generally believed by all people in all ages that we may fairly call it universal. In this, the most barbarous and the most enlightened nations have agreed. Seventh-day Adventism Renounced, p. 395.

To this we reply that any system of error in the world could be proved in precisely the same way. If all that is required to prove a thing to be true is the fact that both barbarous and enlightened nations have agreed upon it, then we can, find abundant proof for almost any error, from the countless myths of the heathen world to the evolutionary theory, unknown to our grandfathers, but now almost wholly eclipsing the Christian faith of two generations ago.

The majority have not usually been on the side of truth. Truth has ever been unpopular. It has always had to plead its cause against strong odds, and often in the face of bitter persecution by the masses. The broad road of error and superstition has always been well patronized, while the narrow road of truth has had only a few travelers. The fact, therefore, that both barbarous and enlightened nations have agreed upon any point of theology is far more likely to constitute a proof against that point than for it.  

The church in which Mr. Canright found a borne after renouncing Adventism was, only a few centuries ago, much more unpopular, and some of its doctrines were at that time more sternly denounced than are the Adventists and their doctrines today. In those days many Baptists were put to death. Some were burned at the stake in England, and many were executed in Germany. The most enlightened nations were against them.

Again, Mr. Canright brings forth his arguments to prove that the wicked as well as the righteous possess immortality, and that therefore their punishment will be eternal torment, that the wicked dead are even now suffering this punishment, and that they will continue to suffer thus throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. Note carefully the proof he sets forth:

The Apocrypha gives the views of the Jews just before the time of Christ. Here are a few verses: The wicked shall 'endure eternal torture by fire.' 4 Maccab. 90. 'The divine vengeance is reserving you for eternal fire and torments, which shall cling to you for all time.' Chap. 12:12. 'Let us not fear him who thinks he kills; for great is the trial of soul and danger of eternal torment laid up for those who transgress.' Chap. 13:14. Of the martyrs it is said: 'Through which also they now stand beside the divine throne, and live a blessed life.' Chap. 17:18. 'The children of Abraham, with their victorious mother, are assembled together to the choir of their fathers, having received pure and immortal souls from God.' Chap. 18:23. 'The tyrant Antiochus was both punished upon earth and is punished now he is dead.' Verse 5. Seventh-day Adventism Renounced, pp. 395, 396.


Now we shall have to admit that these are pretty strong texts that Mr. Canright has cited. They appear to make out a strong case for the eternal-torture idea. The wicked shall 'endure eternal torture by fire,'

eternal fire and torments, which shall cling to you for all time, etc. Also, he finds a text which speaks of people as having received pure and immortal souls from God. No wonder someone called this book of Mr. Canright's a dumbfounder for the Adventists! We are not, however, so much dumfounded over these texts as we are over the fact that a Christian, Protestant minister should resort to them for proof of Christian doctrine! At that we, are dumfounded.

Will the reader kindly take his Bible just here, and turn to these texts cited by Mr. Canright? What? Can't find them? Why, yes, turn to 4 Maccabees, chapter 9, verse 9. Not in your Bible? Well! well!

Strange, isn't it? The writer has had the same difficulty. This book of Maccabees is not in his Bible either. What, then, shall we conclude from this fact? Just this, that Mr. Canright had another Bible just the same as the Mormons have. (See his charge against Adventists, in Seventh-day Adventism Renounced, page 136.)

Mr. Canright's appeal to the Aprocrypha shows the desperate straits he was in to prove his contention. The Apocrypha is not recognized by Protestants as of any authority whatever in matters of Christian doctrine, and 4 Maccabees is not recognized even by Catholics. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says of this book, that it is absent from the Vulgate, and therefore from the Romanist canon and from the Protestant versions. Not only did Mr. Canright have another Bible, but, as we have seen, he made it himself, admitting to it anything from any source that he could use to discredit that which he himself had so zealously taught for twenty eight years.

But why did he turn to the Apocrypha instead of to the Bible? We answer, Because he could get no help from the Bible. It is not on his side. Its teachings are exactly contrary to his theory. Therefore it became a pressing necessity that he find proof elsewhere, so he turns to the Apocrypha. He has another Bible. It says what he wants it to say. Almost every spurious doctrine can be found there, and it was to these uninspired books that Mr. Canright turned for proof of an eternally burning hell and the natural immortality of the soul.


The Scriptural teaching concerning the punishment of the wicked is that they shall die. The wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23. Now, death is not life, but is the opposite of life. To die is to cease to live. To die, therefore, does not mean an eternal conscious existence in hell, but eternal extinction. The wicked are to be cut off, 69 cut down, consumed into smoke; pass away so that they cannot be found; burned up root and branch, reduced to ashes, burned up as stubble fully dry, and to be as though they had not been. (See Obadiah 15, 16; Psalms 37:9, 20, 22; Malachi 4:1-3.) How anyone could possibly read eternal torture into such expressions as these, we cannot tell.

Nor can this everlasting-torment doctrine be harmonized with the statement that God is love. True, God will punish the wicked, and they will have to pay to the uttermost farthing for their rebellion and sins; but even the wrath of God against sin has a limit. Only a fiend would punish a human being in a caldron of fire and brimstone throughout the eternal ages, reckoning that his sins committed during a short lifetime merited such severity. Only a fiend could endure the horrible sight of the damned roasting and writhing in hell, and enjoy the foul miasma of such a plague spot, where the wicked were continually cursing and blaspheming God because of their agonies in hell.

What do you imagine against the Lord? He will make an utter end: affliction [or sin] shall not rise up the second time. For while they be held together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry. Nahum 1:9, 10. God has declared that sin shall be destroyed forever, that the earth shall be purified with fire, and that it shall come forth new and clean again from the hand of the Creator. It shall be clothed with the beauty of Eden once more.

The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them [the saved] ; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God. Strengthen you the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Isaiah 35:1-3.

God will have a clean universe again. He will not permit sin and sinners to mar it forever. ' He will not rope off a section somewhere in His kingdom to which He may turn at times for diversion, where the wicked are to be kept writhing in hell. God is not a fiend, that He should take pleasure in such things. I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, says the Lord God. Ezekiel 18:32. It is God's express purpose that the wicked shall be cut off, and that the meek shall inherit the earth. (See Psalms 37:2, ll.)


Paul declares that the gift of God is eternal life. Romans 6:23. But what about the wicked who do not receive this gift? How shall they live eternally in hell if they do not have everlasting life? Obviously it would require a greater manifestation of God's power to keep the wicked alive in a roaring, burning, seething hell than to perpetuate the lives of the righteous in heaven, where they are given access to the tree of life. But the wicked do not have God's gift of life. They must therefore die, and their death will be eternal.

From the second death men will never come forth ,to live again. They are cut off; they are reduced to ashes; they have ceased to be; they are as though they never had been. Then, and only then, can John's prophecy be fulfilled, in which he said:

Every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. Revelation 5:13.

All through Mr. Canright's chapter on this subject he advances the idea that the spirit of man has an existence and entity separate from the body, and that the spirit goes immediately to its reward at death. In commenting on the experience of the thief who was converted on the cross, he says: Jesus plainly said, 'Today shall thou be with Me in Paradise.' If he went to Paradise that day, then all Christians go there at death. His body did not go to Paradise, for it was buried. Hence his spirit did live and go there. Seventh-day Adventism Renounced, p. 404.

The statement made by Jesus to the thief has long been used by immortal-soul advocates to prove that men go to their reward at death. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shall thou be with Me in Paradise. Luke 23:43.

Now, of course, the thief could not be with Jesus in Paradise that day unless Jesus Himself was there. And the Bible record clearly reveals that Jesus did not go to Paradise on the day of His crucifixion, for He said to Mary on the morning of His resurrection, three days later: Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father: but go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God. John 20:17. Of course, no one will dispute that Paradise is the place where God dwells; and therefore here is clear testimony from Jesus to the effect that He had not yet visited this place when He appeared to Mary near the empty tomb.

What, then, shall we conclude from thief just this: that Jesus did not promise the thief that he would go to Paradise that day. In fact, the thief did 'not ask that. He said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom. Luke 23:42. Not when Thou goes, but when Thou comes. This is quite different. Daniel tells us that Jesus comes into, or receives, His kingdom at the time of the judgment:

The judgment was set, and the books were opened. . . . I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not he destroyed. Daniel 7:10-14.

This, then, is the time the thief asked to be remembered, and not on the crucifixion day. It was in the day of the resurrection that he did not want to be forgotten. The answer Jesus gave to this dying man's request becomes as clear as day if, when reading it, we just place the comma after the word today instead of the word thee. It then reads thus: Verily I say unto thee today, Shall thou be with Me in Paradise.

Joseph Bryand Rotherham, in his Emphasized New Testament, renders this text thus:  

Jesus! remember me when so ever Thou shall come into Thy kingdom. And He said unto him, Verily I say unto thee this day: With Me shall thou be in Paradise. - Printed in London, 1903.

The use of the word today in a sentence for emphasis is common in the Bible. (See Zechariah 9:12; Deuteronomy 8:19; 26:16-18; 30:15, 16, 18, 19; 11:26-28.)

It was the promise that was made that day. Verily I say unto thee today. Yes, today, when I am hanging here with you on the cross, when everything appears hopeless and men and devils think they have silenced Me forever; today I make you the solemn promise that you shall be with Me in Paradise. But just when the repentant thief would be with Jesus in Paradise the Savior did not say. This point was already clear in the thief's mind. It was to be when Jesus should come into possession of His glorious kingdom and come to ransom His people. That is when all the saved will go to Paradise together, and the thief will be among them. The Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works. Matthew 16:27.

The idea that men go to their reward at death the righteous to heaven and the wicked to hell-is entirely inconsistent with many other Bible texts. For example, the Bible clearly teaches that there will be a final judgment, a time in the end of the world when the cases of all men will be tried. It is clearly stated that the purpose of this judgment is to determine what rewards shall be given the people who have lived upon the earth. Thus Paul declares, We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10.

But if the rewards are to follow the judgment, and if the judgment is to be at the time of the end, how, then, is it possible for men to go to their reward at death? Will these people who have been sent to the respective places be recalled and judged to determine where they should be sent? Will Abel have to come down out of heaven and Cain up out of hell, and wait for the judge to determine what their reward should be? If so, is there some possibility that, after the judgment, some will have to exchange places because it is found that a mistake had been made in the place of their consignment? Such questions sound foolish, and yet this is exactly what might happen if men went to their reward prior to the time of final judgment.


In a desperate effort to find some support for this doctrine that people receive their reward at death, Mr. Canright departs from the Bible and quotes Josephus, the Jewish historian, as follows:

Of another Jewish sect, - the Essenes, he says: 'They teach the immortality of souls. - Antiqities, book 18, chap. 1. Further: 'Their doctrine is that bodies are corruptible and that the matter they are made of is not permanent; but that the souls are immortal and continue forever; and that they come out of the most subtle air, and are united to their bodies as to prisons, into which they are drawn by a certain natural enticement. But that when they are set free from the 'bonds of the flesh, they then, as released from a long bondage, rejoice and mount upwards.' -Seventh-day Adventism Renounced, p. 396.

Surely this reasoning is very profound! Souls are immortal. They come out of the air, and are enticed into human bodies. When they-get in they discover that they are in prison. When they are set free from the bonds of the flesh [at death], they then, as released from a long bondage, rejoice and mount upwards! But the most tragic part of it all is that these poor liberated souls do not seem to realize, when they fly away so quickly and happily, that their release from the prison is only temporary. If they knew about the resurrection of the body, which is to take place at the coming of Christ, no doubt their rejoicing would be somewhat modified. What, we wonder, would happen if some of them were enjoying their liberty so well at the time of the resurrection that they refused to go back to the prison of the body? Would there then be some spirits without bodies and some bodies without spirits?

Surely it is clear to everyone that this doctrine of a separate, intelligent, conscious existence of the soul apart from the body is contrary both to the gospel and to common sense. If there is to be a resurrection of the body, then the soul, or spirit, of man does not enter upon the enjoyment of its reward at death.


For further proof of his contention Mr. Canright cites the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, which he quotes and comments upon in the following manner:

See the same doctrine so definitely taught in the case of the rich man and Lazarus. Luke 16:19-31. 'And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and sees Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger 'in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime received thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that ,they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou would send him to my father's house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham says unto him, They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.' . . .

These events occurred between death and the resurrection, while the brethren of the rich man were yet alive on earth. Hence immediately after death and before the resurrection the rich man is in hell and Lazarus is rewarded. They are both conscious. Abraham is alive over there. Both think and talk. Hence the dead certainly know something. Had we no other text, this alone would disprove the sleep of the dead.' - Ibid., pp. 406, 407.

In arguing against Spiritualism on page 398 of Seventh-day Adventism Renounced, Mr. Canright states: 'Further, the Bible forbids seeking to the dead, and states plainly that they know nothing of things on the earth. See Deut. 18:9-12; Job 14:21; Ecc. 9:5, 6; Luke 16:19-31.

Note carefully the contradiction here. In one place Mr. Canright says that the Bible states plainly that the dead know nothing of things on the earth, and he cites four Scriptural references to prove it. In another place he takes a parable as though it were a literal happening, says the things in it occurred between death and the resurrection, has the dead in heaven and in hell talking together about five brothers of the rich man who are still on earth, and closes by observing, Hence the dead certainly know something. In one place the dead know nothing of things on the earth; in the other place a dead man in hell carries on a perfectly rational conversation about five brothers of his who are still on the earth! Perhaps Mr. Canright's admirers who circulate his book so freely will also want to smooth this glaring contradiction up a bit before the next edition is published. It really needs it. It looks bad as it is.

Try to picture in your mind what heaven would be like, and how much enjoyment you could get out of being there, if this parable of our Lord's were to be taken as an indication of actual conditions existing there between death and the resurrection. Lazarus is in heaven, the rich man in hell; and Abraham. is seen holding Lazarus in his bosom. The rich man and Lazarus decide to have a visit together. Really, these two places must be in pretty close proximity to each other. The inmates can converse freely. A saintly mother in heaven can visit now and then with her wayward son who is in hell. She can hear his cries and entreaties for mercy. She puts him off, saying that he had a good time on earth and now he must be tormented. This goes on for a year, two years, ten years, a hundred years, and the mother realizes that it must continue to all eternity! Can anyone possibly imagine such a state of things existing in heaven, where the redeemed are promised pleasures for evermore?

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus was not given to teach the conscious state of man during death. This parable was to serve as a rebuke to covetousness and self righteousness. just before Luke records it he reports the words of Christ:

No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. . . . And He said unto them [the Pharisees], You are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knows your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. Luke 16:13-15.

Those haughty Pharisees thought the fact that they had succeeded in accumulating riches was evidence of God's favor. No matter if they got it by grinding down the poor and suffering, refusing them even the crumbs that fell from their tables. Let the poor suffer; it only showed that the curse of God was upon them. None of these things mattered to the Pharisees. If they were rich-as the most of them evidently were-then they felt sure of heaven.

It was this spirit that Jesus sought to rebuke by the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. He was teaching that riches make no difference with God-are no evidence whatever of His love. The rich man is no surer of heaven than is the beggar who lies at his gate. God is no respecter of persons. The poorest widow in the slums is as dear to His heart as is the king in his palace. It is character alone which counts with God, and not worldly possessions.

This parable shows clearly that in the future the cases of many will be entirely reversed from what they have been in this life. Then the first shall be last and the last first. Many of those who have filled their coffers here and have had all that heart could wish, but who have forgotten God and been disobedient to His law, will be consigned to the fate of the enemies of God. Also many of those who have been poor in this world's goods, who have felt the pinch of want and the pangs of hunger, who have suffered from cold and nakedness, but who have been faithful in their obligations to God, will in that day be made kings and priests unto God, and will reign with Him forever. Many a person who spent his last days in the almshouse will then be exalted above those who lived in kings' palaces.

In God's estimation no man is valued by what he possesses. All that men have is lent them of the Lord, and a misuse of these gifts places the richest of the rich below the poorest sufferer who reveres God and loves his fellow men.

Also Christ taught by this parable that after death there is no further probation for the sinner. The rich man is represented as seeking for mercy after death, but he is told that a great impassable gulf has now been fixed. If during this life no provision is made for eternity by acceptance of the gospel, at death it becomes forever too late. The gospel commission is limited to this life. All preparation for eternity must be made this side of the grave. After death the gulf is fixed, and no one can pass over. Christ was also teaching in this parable that those who were lost would be altogether without excuse. God has made full and abundant provision for the salvation of every man who desires to be saved.

The rich man is represented as saying:

I pray thee therefore, father, that thou would send him to my father's house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Luke 16:27, 28. But: Abraham says unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. Verses 29-31.

Thus the rich man is represented as suggesting that if men only had additional light, they would be more likely to do right and avail themselves of the plan of salvation. But the answer is given concerning those who refuse the light of God's word found in Moses and the prophets, that any additional evidence would be of no avail. Even though one rose from the dead to carry to them a message of warning, they would still not believe. God has done all that infinite love could do to save lost men from sin. He asks:

What could have been done more to My vineyard, that I have not done in it? Isaiah 5:4.

No one therefore will be able to rise up in the judgment and justly claim that he was lost because of any failure on God's part. Every lost man will be entirely without excuse. If he has rejected the light shining from the Word of God, there is no clearer light that can be given, and he proves himself unworthy of eternal life.

It evidently was to make these truths plain that this amazing parable was spoken, and not to teach that people go to heaven or hell as soon as they die, and that they are such close neighbors that they can converse with each other. (Compare this parable with judges 9:7-15. Here the trees are represented as talking, but surely no one would say because of this that all trees actually have the gift of speech.) It has already been shown that this parable could not possibly apply literally to conditions existing between death and the resurrection. During that time the dead are asleep; their thoughts have perished, and they know not anything. They have no portion in anything that is done under the sun. During this time, therefore, the righteous and the wicked dead cannot see one another or talk together. They do not enter into their reward until after the resurrection from the dead.  


At the second coming of Jesus the first resurrection will take place, and at this time all the righteous dead will be brought to life again. It is only the blessed and holy, those that sleep in Jesus, who will have a part in this resurrection. (See Revelation 20:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16.) These resurrected saints, together with the righteous who are still living on the earth, will then be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and will be escorted by Jesus and the holy angels to the mansions of glory. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:17; John 14:13.)

But at this time all the rest of the dead, the wicked of earth, who have died in ages past, remain in their graves; and they are joined there by the wicked who were alive upon the earth at the appearing of Jesus and who are destroyed by the bright glory of His presence. (See 2 Thessalonians 2:8.) They have no part in the first resurrection, but will have to wait for the second.

These two resurrections will be a thousand years apart, according to Revelation 20:13; and during this interval, which constitutes the millennium, Satan is bound here upon the earth by a great chain of circumstances. The righteous are all gone where they are forever beyond his power, and the wicked are all still in death. Of them it is written:

The slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground. Jeremiah 25:33.

Satan will have this time in which to meditate upon the results of his rebellion against the law and government of God. He is shut up in this awful death house, this bottomless pit, from which he cannot escape. During this thousand years the righteous will join Christ and the angels in the work of judging the wicked dead and the fallen angels. So far, only those who had at some time in life accepted *the plan of salvation, have been judged. Now the life records of the others must be investigated and punishments determined upon. In this work the righteous will all have a part.

Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know you not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life? 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3.

When this work of judgment is completed, at the end of the thousand years, Jesus will return once more to the earth. This time He will be accompanied by the saints, and will bring with Him the city of God, the New Jerusalem, in which are the mansions: which Jesus has gone to prepare. (See John 14:2,3) The Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee. Zechariah 14:5. John beheld this scene in holy vision, and exclaimed.

I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; and had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple -of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it. Revelation 21:2, 10-12, 18, 22-24.

It is at this time that the wicked dead will be raised to life again. Thus far they have suffered only the natural death which has been the common lot of both saints and sinners because of inherited mortality, and now the wicked must be brought to life that they may suffer the second death, which is the wages of their sin. John declares, The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.

Revelation 20:3. But now Jesus calls them to life. The revelator describes them as being as the sand of the sea for multitude. (Verse 8.) They have traveled the broad way, the popular route; and they awake to find themselves still with the crowd. Among them are the rich and the poor, the kings and the paupers, the bond and the free of earth who, during their lifetime, rejected God's plan for saving the lost race. They are all there.

As this mighty multitude of lost ones look up and behold the holy city, New Jerusalem, descending from heaven to earth, they are seized with consternation, and flee to the valley of the mountains in an effort to hide from the face of Jesus and the redeemed host who accompany the city. (See Zechariah 14:4, 5, ll.). Self condemned, they feel that they cannot look upon the face of their Lord, whose mercy they have rejected.

Satan, however, who is now loosed out of his prison (by the fact that the wicked are now living again and he can continue to practice his work of deception), rallies these forces, and begins to organize them for battle. Revelation 20:8 indicates that the great adversary deceives them into believing that what they have apparently lost by rejecting the gospel they can, under his leadership, now gain by force. Surely they have the advantage of superior numbers. Why should they not capture this city, and make it the capital of a great empire?

Thus the matter is settled. They agree upon a course of action, and prepare for battle. They begin the march against the city. But let us permit John the revelator to describe the scene as it was shown to him in vision:

When the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up oh the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city. Revelation 20:7-9.

Foretelling this scene, Jesus Himself declared: There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. Luke 13:28. This is when the wicked will plead for mercy, but will find that it is now too late. The day of grace ends with the Second Advent of Jesus. The door of mercy is then no longer ajar. The loving invitation of the Spirit, calling, Whosoever will, let him come, is then no longer heard. To their entreaties Jesus replies:

Because I have called, and you refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded; but you have set at nought all My counsel, and would none of My reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear when your fear comes as desolation, and your destruction comes as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish comes upon you. Then shall they call upon Me, but I will not answer; they shall seek Me early, but they shall not find Me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: they would none of My counsel: they despised all My reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. Proverbs 1:24-31.

It is at this time that every knee shall bow to Christ, and every tongue shall confess to God. (See Romans 14:11.) But for the wicked, this confession is to no avail. It serves only as an acknowledgment of the justice of their punishment. It proves that in rejecting them as citizens of His kingdom, the judge of all the earth has done right. They are condemned upon the strength of their own testimony.

It was this time of which Paul wrote when he declared. We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10. They do not gather here to be judged, but to hear the sentence that has already been prepared, and to suffer its execution. This will be the final meeting of the families of earth. Never again will the righteous and the wicked look upon one another's faces. God will make an utter end of sin and sinners, so that His universe may be clean.


And when the time for that destruction has come, God by His power converts the water in the streams into pitch and the dust of the earth into brimstone, and then fire begins to rain from heaven. The earth also is melted, thus forming a bottomless lake of fire which will compass the entire earth. And in this the devil, his angels, and all the wicked perish, and the earth is cleansed from sin's defilement. Note how clearly the following scriptures set forth these truths:

They went up on the breadth of the earth, and cornpassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:9, 10, 13-15.

Behold, the day comes, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But, unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, says the Lord of hosts. Malachi 4:1-3.

This, then, is the end of the wicked, and of Satan. They are reduced to ashes. They are utterly annihilated.

They are cut off. They are punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 1:9), but that punishment is everlasting death. It is everlasting in its effects. From the second death there is no resurrection. The punishment therefore is eternal. It is eternal death. Not that they will be eternally dying and yet never die, but they are to be eternally dead. They will never see life again. They are to be as though they had not been. Obadiah 16.

This, then, is hell. Peter speaks of this terrible fire which shall melt and purify the earth as being the perdition of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:7) It is a hell 25,000 miles in circumference. It is hot enough to melt the earth and utterly consume the wicked. God has decreed that those on this earth who follow Satan in his rebellious course against God and His law must also share the fate that awaits him in this caldron of fire. If men refuse salvation God has no alternative but to destroy them, for sin must be eradicated and the kingdom of God be made safe for His people.

After the fire has done its work and the curse of sin has thus been entirely removed, the fire will go out. The earth will be left a total waste, but it will be clean. Then the great Creator will once more reveal His power by making an entirely new earth out of the ruins of the old one. Says the apostle:

The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness. 2 Peter 3:10-13.

He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. Revelation 21:5, 1.

Then the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. Psalms 37:11.