After reading your December 1994 Megiddo Message, I am slightly confused. On page 3, in your doctrinal statement, paragraph 6, you say, “The blessings of immortal life,” and in paragraph 7, “With eternal life ….” Then in the questions and answers, on page 17, you say, “Our Founder in the 1880’s offered $1,000.00 to anyone who could find anywhere in the Bible that the soul of man is described as immortal, deathless, or undying.”
It seems to me that the writer of the Q&A does not believe your doctrinal statements, or I am confused…?
Our doctrinal statement and the answer you cite, are speaking about different things, but they are not contradictory. The paragraphs from our doctrinal statement refer to eternal life (immortality) which God has promised to those who comply with His demands (Rev. 22:14; Rom. 2:7). Our founder’s offer was to anyone who could find in the Bible a single statement that we are by nature immortal. To date no one has received that award.
The Bible states that we are, by nature, mortal. Any hope of life after death must come from our Creator. “If there is no resurrection of the dead,” said the apostle Paul, our “preaching is empty, and your faith is also empty” (1Cor 15:13-14), for none of us has any ability to perpetuate our existence. The theory of the immortal soul has been widely accepted for centuries, even millenniums, and has been a comfort to many, but it is without Bible support. The evidence from Scripture is exactly the opposite. Psalm 49 is specific: “For he sees wise men die, likewise the fool and the senseless person perish, and leave their wealth to others. Their inner thought is that their houses will last forever, their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names. Nevertheless man, though in honor, does not remain; he is like the beasts that perish” (vs. 10-12). Also, “The living know they will die: but the dead know nothing…Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you are going” (Eccl. 9:5,10).
For this reason our founder years ago offered an award of $1000 to anyone who could find a single text in the Bible stating that in our natural state we have any immortal principle or soul which is immortal, undying or deathless. Occasionally someone will write us claiming to have the evidence, but when we explain that the condition is that the Bible must say that the “soul” (or equivalent term) is immortal, deathless or undying, they quickly retire.
This does not mean that there is no hope of life after death. The Bible tells us of hope; in fact, the Bible is God’s book of instructions on how to obtain eternal life. We are not born with the right to it, but it can be obtained. Scores of passages instruct us on this point: “Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell forevermore” (Ps. 37:27); “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5); “Blessed are those that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Rev. 22:14). And the apostle Paul informs us in Romans 2:7 that to them who “by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, and honor and immortality,” God will give “eternal life.”
Immortality is real, and immortality can be ours, but we must seek it. We must meet God’s requirements before He will give it to us.