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Man’s Nature and Destiny

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    18 DID CHRIST TEACH THAT THE DEAD ARE ALIVE?

    YES, says the immaterialist; for he taught that God, who declares himself to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is not the God of the dead, but of the living; therefore Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are living; but they are living as immaterial, disembodied, immortal spirits; for their bodies are in the grave.MND 132.4

    The occasion on which these words were spoken is described in Matthew 22:23-32. To understand the words of Christ, we must understand fully the point at issue, and what his words were designed to prove; and to do this, we must look carefully at the narrative: -MND 133.1

    “The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren; and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother; likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection, whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”MND 133.2

    What, then, was the point at issue between Christ and the Sadducees? See verse 23: “The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection, and asked him,” etc. The Sadducees professed to believe the writings of Moses, but denied the resurrection. Christ also believed the writings of Moses, but taught the resurrection. Here, then, was a fair issue between them. They hear him teaching the resurrection; and to object their faith to his, they refer to the law of Moses concerning marriage, and then state either an actual occurrence, or at least one which was possible, which would answer their purpose just as well; namely, that seven brothers, one after another, according to the instruction of Moses to which they refer, all had one woman, and all died. Now arises a problem which they no doubt thought would completely overthrow the doctrine of a resurrection which Christ taught; namely, how will this matter be arranged in the resurrection, when all the parties are made alive again together? Whose wife shall she be then? Let it be noticed that the controversy between Christ and the Sadducees had no respect whatever to an intermediate state, nor does their query or Christ’s answer have any reference to such a state. They do not inquire whose wife she is now, or which of the men’s immortal souls claims her immortal soul in the spirit world; but, Whose wife shall she be in the resurrection (a future event)? Christ tells them that they err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. And then, to defend himself and condemn them out of their own mouths, he proceeds to prove out of the writings of Moses - what? a conscious, intermediate state? - No; but the resurrection of the dead. “But as touching the resurrection from the dead,” says he [as “touching the dead that they rise” says Mark; and “that the dead are raised,” says Luke]. have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”MND 133.3

    Let us now show that this quotation did prove the resurrection, and our argument on this passage is closed. That Moses, by this language, did teach the resurrection of the dead, we think it easily evident. Thus, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were dead; but God is not the God of the dead (or those who are irrecoverably and eternally dead, as the Sadducees believed them to be), but he is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. What, therefore, shall we logically and scripturally conclude from this fact? - Why, simply that they shall live again, or have a resurrection from the dead. In this view of the subject, Christ reasoned well, proved the point he aimed to prove, confounded the Sadducees, and gained the applause of the Pharisees, who believed in the resurrection.MND 134.1

    But grant for a moment that the language means what is popularly claimed for it; namely, that all the dead are alive, as disembodied, conscious spirits in the spirit world, and what becomes of Christ’s reputation as a reasoner, and a teacher of wisdom sent from God? He set out to prove the resurrection; but when he closes his argument, lo, mirabile dictu! he has proved that all the dead are now alive, and that therefore there will never be any resurrection, because in this case there would be no need of any! He neither meets the query of the Sadducees, nor defends himself, but quite the reverse. Believe that our Lord would reason thus, ye who can!MND 135.1

    If any should admit that a resurrection is proved by the language, but claim from it that such resurrection takes place at death, - a theory not uncommon at the present time, - we reply that they thereby abandon the conscious-state theory, and affirm the existence of those who have died, on another ground, viz. a resurrection. But, further, this is equally foreign from what Christ set out to prove; for he had reference to an event which was then future to the seven brethren and the woman that died. They asked him, saying. “In the resurrection, therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them?” And Jesus answered and said. “When they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels in heaven.” Mark 11:23, 25. Again, in Luke’s account, Jesus says. “But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage.” Luke 20:35. Thus we see that a future event is everywhere referred to, and if he in reality proved that an event had already taken place, which he designed to show would take place in the future, it speaks no better for his reasoning or his wisdom than the former supposition.MND 135.2

    Why God calls himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, though they are yet dead, we learn from Hebrews 11:16. It is not because they are now alive, but because in God’s purpose, who speaks of things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17), they are to live, and “he hath prepared for them a city. Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city, into possession of which they will of course come in the future.MND 136.1

    In view of these facts, our friends should be careful lest they expose themselves to the rebuke Christ gave to the Sadducees: “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures;” for this instance, like all others, when properly understood, so far from sustaining their position, becomes an irrefragable evidence of the resurrection of the dead, and a future life, but affirms nothing whatever for consciousness in death.MND 136.2

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