Is Paul Lutton a ‘Lover of The truth?’

Today I received copies of ‘Bible Study Notes’ issued by a man called Paul Lutton who has a ministry called ‘Lovers of the Truth’.

In these notes he deals with 3 topics –

  1. What is the soul?
  2. What happens after death?
  3. The rich man and Lazarus of Luke 16

The conclusions he draws in respect of the 3 topics examined are best summarised by the following portions of his ‘Statement of Faith’ –

· We believe that God is the only being in the universe who has immortality, believers will not receive it until Christ returns.

· We believe that man is a living soul (being) and not that he has a living soul (being).

· We believe that all the deceased are dead and await resurrection. Those who are his will be raised at his coming,, and those who are not will be raised to stand before the Great White Throne judgement.

· We believe that all Christ rejecters will have their part in the lake of fire, this is not hell but the final destiny (the second death) of all unbelievers.

Apart from these portions I would like to say that the rest of his ‘Statement of Faith’ conforms very much to my own understanding of matters such as 

  • The Bible is inspired, inherent and infallible
  • (Rather than ‘inherent’ I assume he meant inerrant – a rather unfortunate misspelling)
  • The Tri-une Godhead
  • The incarnation of Christ (Truly God and Truly man)
  • Christ’s sinless life and sin-atoning death
  • Christ’s bodily resurrection, ascension and glorification
  • Eternal salvation through Christ alone, grace alone and faith alone

Apart from the portions quoted in red above I would also have a different view of ‘end-times’ from those articulated by Mr Lutton in his ‘Statement of Faith’.

Eschatology (‘end-times’) is an area where genuine believers have differed for centuries and is based on differing interpretations of various portions of God’s Word so I will not address such matters in this short article.

However, the views of Mr Lutton on the matter of ‘The soul’, ‘What happens after death’ and ‘The rich man and Lazarus of Luke 16’ do tend to echo a mixture of some views that are put forward by cults such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christadelphians and Seventh-day Adventists.

Does this mean that Mr Lutton is preaching a false gospel? Well, based on his ‘Statement of Faith’ it would appear that he has a correct understanding of ‘the gospel’ as defined for us by Paul in 1st Corinthians 15:1-4. It would appear therefore that whilst Mr Lutton is teaching error similar to some cults on a number of issues, unlike those cults he does appear to hold to correct soteriology (The doctrine of salvation).

In my research I picked up that Mr Lutton is planning to hold a series of ‘Gospel Meetings’ in my own hometown of Ballynahinch in September as well as continuing his ‘Monthly Bible Study’ meetings near Dungannon.

Would I recommend people to attend these various meetings – respectfully ‘no’ as long as Mr Lutton continues to teach error in the areas mentioned.

Is there a good rebuttal of the errors taught by Mr Lutton – thankfully ‘yes’. John Montgomery many years ago wrote an excellent booklet called ‘Death and Beyond’ and whilst it was primarily written with the false teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in mind it does nevertheless also apply to the erroneous teachings of Mr Lutton.

If anyone would like a copy of this booklet ‘Death and Beyond’ then please write to me at 29 Edengrove Park, Ballynahinch, Co Down, BT24 8AZ enclosing cheque for £2.00 (payable to ‘Take Heed’ Ministries).

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 10 July 2012

APPENDIX

In the wake of the posting of this article to the ministry web site on 10th July 2012 I quickly received a number of phone calls and emails from Mr Lutton and several of his ardent supporters.

These communications served to clearly demonstrate how people can so easily misread, misrepresent or misunderstand the written word (in this case my article). Forceful overtures were in some cases made to me to come to various houses ‘with an open bible’ and I was also given 7-days notice by Mr Lutton to respond to an invite to take part in a public debate and in the event of a refusal on my part I was told by him ‘we will post a notice on our web page stating you were invited but have refused and on account of that we would feel your objections have no foundation and are to be disregarded’.

This ultimatum was given to me by Mr Lutton even though he already knew and had acknowledged what my planned course of action was to be – it was the same as I had posted to Facebook namely – in the wake of several phone calls etc I wrote “It will be my intention over the next week or so to address by way of an ‘APPENDIX’ to my original article some of the scriptures they have ‘lobbed’ in my direction in support of some of Mr Lutton’s teachings”.

This is what I now intend to do in this APPENDIX and firstly I want to address their assertion that God alone is ‘immortal’ and that consequently mankind cannot and does not possess an ‘immortal’ dimension namely ‘soul/spirit’. In that context they all appealed to the following scripture

1st Timothy 6:16

“Who (‘God’ – see verses 13-15) only hath immortality”

Just by way of introduction let me quote what Vine’s Expository Dictionary has to say about the word “only” – ‘alone, solitary is translated “only”… it is used as an attribute of God in … 1Timothy 6:15-16.

So, according to Vine’s Dictionary, God ‘alone’ possesses “immortality”. Vine’s Dictionary then has this to say about the word “immortality” – literally ‘deathlessness’, is rendered “immortality” in 1 Corinthians 15:53-54 of the glorified body of the believer, 1 Timothy 6:16 of the nature of God… in early times the word had the wide connotation of freedom from death’.

How then can we understand “God only hath immortality” – does that preclude humanity from possessing any immortal dimension? Louis Berkhof in his book ‘Systematic Theology’ is helpful on this question – Keeping in mind the definition we found in Vine’s Dictionary concerning the nature of God we hopefully will clearly grasp the following that Mr Berkhof wrote ‘In the most absolute sense of the word, immortality is ascribed only to God. Paul speaks of Him in 1Timothy 6:15-16 as “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords who only hath immortality”. ‘In the most absolute sense of the word’ I agree with what Mr Berkhof has written.

But Mr Berkhof continues ‘This does not mean that none of His creatures are immortal in any sense of the word (Cecil – according to the Lord, those resurrected “neither marry nor are given in marriage. Neither can they die anymore FOR THEY ARE EQUAL UNTO THE ANGELS” [Luke 20:35-36]. If angels don’t die does this not indicate that they possess “immortality” and if angels possess “immortality” would it therefore seem unusual for mankind to possess an immortal dimension?) … The evident meaning of his statement is that God is the only being who possesses immortality as an original, eternal and necessary endowment. Whatever immortality may be ascribed (by God) to some of His creatures is contingent upon divine will, is conferred upon them (Cecil – as opposed to being ‘innate’ in God’s case) and therefore had a beginning. God on the other hand is necessarily free from all temporal limitations. Immortality in the sense of continuous or endless existence is also ascribed to all spirits, including the human soul’.

Later under a heading of ‘The survival of the soul’ Mr Berkhof writes – ‘A continued existence of both the righteous and the wicked is clearly taught. That the souls of believers survive (physical death) appears from such passages as –

Matthew 10:28 “And fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”

(Cecil – Firstly just a couple of comments upon two important words that appear in this verse. The word translated “hell” [Greek ‘geenna’] is synonymous with and referred to as the ‘Lake of Fire’ in Revelation 20:15. The word translated “destroy” [Greek ‘apollumi’] means according to Vine’s Dictionary ‘not extinction but ruin… of the loss of well-being in the case of the unsaved hereafter’.

A A Hoekema in his book ‘The Four Major Cults’ writes on page 347 and following ‘In this passage (Matthew 10:28) the ‘soul’ [Greek psuchee which equates to the Hebrew nephesh] cannot (simply) be another name for the whole person (Seventh-day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses assert that man does not have a soul but is a soul] for, if so, the psuchee would be dead when the body is killed. What Jesus is saying here is this. There is something about you which those who kill you (your body) cannot touch. That something is that aspect of man which continues to exist after the body has been lowered into the grave’.

Mr Hoekema then goes on to comment on Revelation 6:9-10 “And when he (the Lamb) had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls [psuchas] of them that were slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held; And they cried with a loud voice saying; How long O Lord; holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth”.

Mr Hoekema then writes ‘Souls here cannot simply mean living creatures or persons for it makes no sense to say “the people of those that had been slain” or “the living creatures of those that had been slain”. If psuchas here was intended to stand for persons we would expect that the case of the perfect passive participle which follows would be the same as that of the word psuchas so that the passage would read “the slain persons” or “the persons that had been slain”. Instead the participle is in the genitive case (esphagmenoon) so that the words must be translated “the souls of them that were slain”. The reference here is obviously to the souls of people who have been slain as martyrs for their loyalty to God – to souls, in other words, who still exist after death and who are conscious. That these souls are in a conscious state is evident from the fact that they cry out, and that they are spoken to [v 11].

It is clear that these souls have not yet experienced the resurrection from the dead for [1] the end of history has not yet come since they themselves affirm that their blood has not yet been avenged and [2] they are told to rest yet for a little while until their fellow-servants should have fulfilled their course [v 11]… The objection might be raised that since Revelation is a symbolic book we have no right to draw teachings about the intermediate state from such symbols. The point is, however, that if there is no conscious existence between death and the resurrection, the entire passage becomes meaningless…

Approaching the question of the intermediate state from a different angle we must next observe that the New Testament frequently speaks of a believer as being “in Christ”. This expression or others similar such as “in the Lord” or “in Him” occurs 164 times in the writings of Paul alone. The idea that the believer is ‘in Christ’ is therefore a central concept of the New Testament. From eternity believers have been chosen in Christ [Ephesians 1:4], believers are united with Christ in regeneration [Ephesians 2:4-5] and Christ continually lives in them [Galatians 2:20]. Believers are said to die in Christ [Romans 14:8], to be about to be raised with Christ [1 Corinthians 15:22] and to be destined for eternal glorification with Christ [1 Thessalonians 4:17]. Does it seem likely now that believers who were chosen in Christ from eternity, and who are in Christ during this life will, at the time of their death, lapse into non-existence (and) only be ‘recreated’ at the time of the (bodily) resurrection.

If Christ is God and if, as our Lord Himself tells us in John 10:28-29, no one can ever snatch believers out of either His hand or the Father’s hand, does it seem likely that death can do so?… if we are once truly in Christ, we shall remain in Christ forever, even after we die. This fact precludes the possibility of non-existence between death and the resurrection’).

Luke 23:43 “And Jesus said unto him (Cecil – the dying but repentant thief) Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise”

(Cecil – the incarnate Lord Jesus truly died on the cross and as physical death approached we read 3 verses later in verse 46 “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit, and having said this he gave up the spirit”. We see here the Lord committing His ‘spirit’ into the hands of His Father at the moment of physical death. But what happened to His physical body? Well, we know from the words of the angel to the women who came to anoint His body as it lay in the tomb precisely what happened to it for we read in Mark 16 “And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome had bought sweet spices that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning… they came unto the sepulchre… and when they looked they saw that the stone was rolled away… and entering into the sepulchre they saw a young man sitting on the right side clothed in a long with garment… And he saith unto them. Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified; he is risen; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him”.

As Stephen the first Christian martyr was about to die we read in Acts 7:55, 56 & 59 “But he [Stephen] being full of the Holy Spirit, looking up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God… And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God and saying. Lord Jesus, receive my spirit”.

Both the Lord and Stephen, as life in their physical body was about to expire, were committing their ‘spirit’ into the care and keeping of God and in the verse under consideration (Luke 23:43) on the cross the Lord promised the repentant, dying thief that later that very day he would be with the Lord in Paradise.

Mr Lutton uses the same argument as Jehovah’s Witnesses to claim that the verse should be re-punctuated from the punctuation used by translators (there were no punctuation marks in the Greek text) and Mr Lutton writes on his web site – ‘The verse should read. “I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in paradise”, ‘today’ relating to when the promise was made and not to when it will be fulfilled’.

The Lord quite often prefaced some particularly important statement that He was about to make with the words “Verily, Verily’ meaning ‘Truly, Truly’ and then the important statement immediately followed. Keeping that in mind the word ‘Today’ is clearly part of the important (and reassuring) statement that He gave to the dying, repentant thief – if it wasn’t then why on earth would the Lord insert the word ‘today’ as it was perfectly obvious when He was making the statement. The positive statement to the dying, repentant thief was “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise”.)

John 11:25f “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die”.

(Cecil – in the first part we might ask ourselves ‘how can someone who is dead believe on Christ and so live?’ Clearly the Lord is not speaking in ‘physical’ terms’ but rather in ‘spiritual’ terms. This was the same dilemma that Nicodemus faced when the Lord said to him in John 3:7 “Ye must be born again”. Nicodemus had clearly been thinking in ‘physical’ terms as we read in verse 4 but the Lord made it plain that people needed to be reborn in the dimension of ‘spirit’ as we read in verse 6.

Later in John 5:24 the Lord says “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life”. So, to answer the question I posed earlier, people can be physically alive but spiritually dead [indeed that’s the natural state of all born into the world since Adam] but those who are quickened by God to hear, become spiritually alive and believe and that spiritual dimension will never die now in the sense of ever being separated from God.

In John 14:16-17 the Lord promises His disciples that after He departs he will send “another comforter” even “the Spirit of truth” to indwell them – this equates to the full Godhead indwelling believers as we read in verse 23. ALL true Christians are likewise indwelt as we read in Romans 8:9 & 14 “But ye (‘born again’ believers) are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his… For as many as are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God”.

Christians have an indwelling spiritual divine ‘dimension’ but more than that we read in verse 16 “The Spirit himself beareth witness with OUR spirit that we are the children of God”. Not only do believers have an indwelling spiritual ‘divine’ dimension but they clearly have a personal spiritual ‘dimension’.)

2 Corinthians 5:1 “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”

(Cecil – and to that we might add verses 6 & 8 “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord… we are confident I say and willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord”.

What part of “we” is it that can be absent from our physical body and then can be present with the Lord? Surely the prayers of both the Lord Himself and Stephen as they each died physically answer that question.

Referring once more to A A Hoekema and his book ‘The Four Major Cults’ we read on page 355-7 the following ‘Let us look carefully at the two verbs used in these verses: endeemeoo and ekdeemeoo. These verbs are compound forms derived from deemos meaning people. Endeemeoo thus means to be in among one’s people or to be at home, whereas ekdeemeoo means to be away from one’s people or to be away from home… “We are of good courage or good cheer” Paul says in verse 6 “knowing as we do that while we continue to be at home in the body (endeemountes, a present participle, implying continuing action) we are continually away from home as regards the Lord (ekdeemoumen, a present indicative again stressing the continuation of the action).

These words sound strange. How can Paul say that he is now absent from the Lord? Does he not have fellowship with the Lord in his life? Yes, Paul replies in verse 7, but the fellowship which we have with Christ during this life is a walking by faith, not by sight. That is to say, our present fellowship with Christ, good though it be, is still incomplete, still leaves much to be desired.

In the light of this background, we approach verse 8, where the thought is continued. “We are of good courage, I say and deem it better (eudokoumen mallon) to be once-for-all away from home as to the body (ekdeemeesai ek tou soomatos – an aorist infinitive, suggesting momentary or snapshot action), and once-for-all at home with the Lord (endeemeesai pros ton kurion – another aorist infinitive)… the aorist infinitives of verse 8 point to a once-for-all happening. What can this be? There is only one answer: death, which is an immediate transition from being at home in the body to being away from home as to the body…. In a moment says Paul I shall be at home with the Lord. At what moment? Obviously at the same moment indicated by ekdeemeesai, the moment of death… the moment we are away from home as to the body (the moment of death), that very moment, we shall be at home with the Lord’.)

To these scripture verses cited by Mr Berkhof we could also add the following –

Philippians 1:21-24 “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh this is the fruit of my labour, yet what I shall choose I know not. For I am in a strait between two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you”.

(Cecil – Clearly Paul felt that if He were to die he would immediately ‘gain’ by being in the presence of Christ before those to whom he was ministering, namely the believers in Philippi. Yet, if that were not the case, and if Paul wouldn’t ‘gain’ by dying and being immediately in the presence of Christ until the resurrection as Mr Lutton would teach, then he would have faced no dilemma. In that case he might as well ‘soldier on’ ministering to the believers in Philippi and just let death take its course because according to Mr Lutton both he and the Philippians would eventually be in the presence of Christ at the same time when the resurrection takes place. By dying, according to Mr Lutton, Paul would not ‘steal a march’ on his listeners and would not be in the presence of Christ before them. 

Turning again to A A Hoekema and his book ‘The Four Major Cults’ we read on pages 354-5 the following ‘Note that Paul here calls death gain. How could he do this if death meant entering a state of non-existence? One could argue I suppose that Paul thinks here only of the final resurrection which, as far as his subjective experience is concerned, will follow immediately after his death (this is basically what Mr Lutton teaches). Verse 23 however sheds light on what Paul has in mind. Paul’s desire to depart is not a morbid longing for death as such, but an eagerness to be closer to Christ than he is while still on earth – and this eventually (death and being closer to Christ) would be very far better.

The Greek here reads teen epithumium echoon eis to analusui kai sun Christoo einui. Analusui, to depart, is an aorist infinitive depicting the momentary act of death. Linked with analusui by a single article is the present infinitive, einui, to be. The single article ties the two infinitives together, so that the actions depicted by the two infinitives are to be considered two aspects of the same thing, or two sides of the one coin.

What Paul is therefore saying here is that the moment he departs or dies, that very same moment he will be with Christ. Since the verb to be denotes continuing existence, Paul implies that he will then not only be with Christ but continue to be with Christ…

If Paul were here referring only to the resurrection of the body he would have made this plain – see his unambiguous allusion to the resurrection which will occur at Christ’s parousia in chapter 3: 20-21… At that very moment of death he says I will be with Christ. This condition he adds will be “very far better” than his present existence, clearly refuting the thought that after death one enters a state of non-existence (or total ‘deathly sleep’ as Mr Lutton would view it). How could such a state be “very far better” than Paul’s state while still on earth in which he does have conscious, though imperfect fellowship with Christ?)

Now I want to look at another verse that Paul under inspiration wrote together with one that was similarly penned by the Apostle John –

1 Thessalonians 5:23 “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

3 John:2 “Beloved I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth”.

(Cecil – in relation to the verse in Thessalonians Pastor John MacArthur in his Study Bible notes wrote this ‘By using spirit and soul Paul was not indicating that the immaterial part of man could be divided into two substances. The two words are used interchangeably throughout scripture (cf Hebrews 6:19; 10:39; 1 Peter 2:11; 2 Peter 2:8)… There can be no division of these realities… Nor was Paul a believer in a 3-part human composition (cf Romans 8:10; 1 Corinthians 3:11; 5:3-5; 7:34; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Galatians 6:18; Colossians 2:5; 2 Timothy 4:22) but rather two parts material and immaterial’.

In relation to the verse in John, on this link http://bible.org/seriespage/exegetical-commentary-3-john-1-15 we read the following written by W Hall Harris III ‘The meaning of the phrase in verse 2, ‘kaqwV eujodou’taiv sou hJ yuchv’ (‘kaqws euodoutai sou Jh yuch’, literally, “just as your soul is well off”). The noun yuchv (yuch) is used 10 times in the Gospel of John and 2 times in 1 John; of these 6 of the uses in the Gospel of John and both in 1 John refer to a person’s “life” (as something that can be laid down).

In John 10:24 and 12:27 the yuchv (yuch) is that part of a person where emotions are experienced; one’s yuchv (yuch) is held in suspense or deeply troubled. This is, in other words, the immaterial part of a person as opposed to his physical existence.’

(Mr Harris is Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. For over thirty years he has taught courses at Dallas Seminary in intermediate level Greek grammar and syntax, exegetical method, and various courses in the Gospel and Epistles of John. He received a Th.M. from Dallas Seminary and a Ph.D. from the University of Sheffield, England.)

As John had clearly made specific reference already to the ‘material’ part of Gaius by mentioning his health it is clear that his usage of yuchv can only refer to that immaterial part of John’s being.)

One person who contacted me wrote ‘You take issue with the statement that God alone has immortality, but that is the plain statement of Scripture 1Tim. 6.16. That this immortality is given to believers at resurrection is clear from 1Cor. 15.53.’

By way of response I would first repeat some of what I wrote several years ago in an article on ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses and The Resurrection’ –

In the great ‘resurrection’ chapter of 1 Corinthians 15 we receive teaching on the difference between the body that goes into the ground at death [“sown” verses 42-44] and the body that will come out of the ground [“raised” verses 42-44] at the true and glorious [for Christians] ‘resurrection’ of all who have ever died as promised by the Lord in John 5:28-29… The body that will die is our ‘legacy’ from the first ‘Adam’ who sinned and caused death, as promised by God, to enter into the world [see Romans 5:12]. Our ‘resurrection’ body is a gracious gift from the last ‘Adam’ [the Lord Jesus Christ] to all who die “in him” [see John 6:40]. These truths are found in 1 Corinthians 15:35-49.

In his Bible notes for these verses Pastor John MacArthur writes [please note – the comments/quotes in brackets have been added by myself] ‘Here Paul answers the question of verse 35 [‘How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?’] more specifically by showing that the resurrection body of Jesus Christ is the prototype. He begins [verse 45] with a quotation from Genesis 2:7 [‘and man became a living soul’] with the addition of two words “first” and “Adam”. Adam was created with a natural body…The “last Adam” is Jesus Christ…He is saying that through the first Adam we received our natural bodies, but through the last Adam we will receive our spiritual [see verse 44 and please note it is “spiritual” and not ‘spirit’] bodies in resurrection. Adam’s body was the prototype of the natural, Christ’s [glorious] body [the prototype] of the resurrection. We will bear the image of His body…as we have borne the image of Adam’s on earth…Focussing directly on the resurrection body, Paul gives 4 sets of contrasts to show how the new body will differ from the present ones. (1) no more sickness and death [“corruption”] (2) no more shame because of sin [“dishonour”] (3) no more frailty in temptation [“weakness”] and (4) no more limits to the time/space sphere [“natural”].

To those comments I would add that in verses 51-53 Paul gives additional information about the resurrection and the body we shall receive at that time. First of all he tells us that it will happen “in the twinkling of an eye” and not by some lengthy ‘evolutionary-type’ process [I really would like to know what ‘theistic-evolutionists’ think about the timescale necessary for the ‘production’ of the resurrected body].

These new resurrection bodies will, unlike our first bodies, no longer be subject to ‘mortality’ and ‘corruption’. They will mark the contrast between our first “vile” bodies and our “glorious” resurrected bodies that shall be fitted for our eternal, undying existence with the Lord – as Paul wrote in Philippians 3:20-21 “we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like his glorious body”.

And just as the Lord’s “spirit, that He had commended into the hands of His Father as He died on the cross, was clearly reunited with His resurrection body so our individual ‘soul/spirit’ will likewise be united to the resurrection body we receive on that great day. ” [The Lord confirms the reality of the existence of such a thing as “a spirit” but makes clear that in and of itself a “spirit” does not possess “flesh and bones” – see Luke 24:39]

Turning from specified scriptures I would now direct attention to an article posted on http://www.founders.org/library/boyce1/ch39.html that deals with ‘Death and the soul’s immortality’. It’s quite a lengthy, scholarly article and contains this significant portion –

The Scriptures, however, teach plainly the continued existence of all men after death.

(a.) It is everywhere assumed as a fact, neither to be doubted, nor proved; but that will be at once received without question.

(b.) The cases of Enoch and Elijah gave signal proof of another world than this into which even men might enter. But they furnished no evidence that any other than these two would go thither. They simply showed that the possible existence of men, otherwise than on this earth, has been actually realized in these servants of God. But, so far from thus furnishing conclusive proof of the future life of other men, the fact that these were not removed through death, but by extraordinary means, naturally suggested the possibility that exemption from death is necessary to that life, and that all those who go down to the grave perish together. It was only to those otherwise taught of the continued existence of the soul, that their removal gave confirmatory proof of such immortality. In like manner, we are taught the same truths by the presence of Moses, and Elijah, at the scene of the Transfiguration. The appearance at various times of angels to men furnishes additional proof of another world. The resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ confirm most conclusively the doctrine of a future life.

(c.) The Scriptures teach, in the account of the creation of man, that his soul did not originate from the dust; but was a direct spiritual creation of God. Gen. 2:7. They make further statements about the difference between soul, and body, confirmatory of the distinction made in their creation. Gen. 25:8; 35:29; Ecc. 12:7; Matt. 10:28; Acts 7:59.

(d.) They make express reference to the existence of the soul after death. 2 Sam. 12:23; Job 19:25-27. [Conant translates this passage. “But I, I know my Redeemer lives, and in aftertime will stand upon the earth; and after this my skin is destroyed, and without my flesh, I shall see God. Whom I, for myself, shall see, and my eyes behold, and not another, when my reins are consumed within me”]. Matt. 22:32; 25:46; Luke 16:19-31; John 11:25; 2 Cor. 5:1-4.

(e.) They make known that this future life is the lot of the wicked, as well as of the righteous; teaching that it is one of happiness to the latter, and of condemnation and misery to the former. Matt. 25:46; John 6:47; 12:25; 1 Cor. 15:17-20.

(f.) They declare the continuance of this, at least until the day of the Resurrection and Final Judgement. Job 21:30; Ecc. 3:17; Luke 14:14; John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15; Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 15:51, 52; 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Thess. 4:13-17.

(g.) They represent the decisions of the judgement day as fixing the destinies of men, for an unending existence. The evidence of this teaching will be given in the discussion of “The Judgement Day.”

The Scriptures are thus seen to teach conclusively the doctrine of an unending future life of all men. This, as has been stated, is what is commonly referred to as the immortality of the soul.

In the light of these comments by linguistically qualified me, in particular those by A A Hoekema, it appears to me that it is evident that God’s Word teaches that man possesses an ‘immortal, immaterial dimension’, created by and derived from God the Creator, the only One who eternally has always been ‘by nature’ ‘immortal’ but who has graciously chosen to ‘implant’ an eternal dimension within His creation of humanity – after all, if God chose to implant an ‘immaterial’ conscience within all of humanity then an ‘immortal, immaterial soul’ within all of humanity is in the light of the teaching of God’s Word a tangible reality.

I particularly like these words from the first reference to ‘Soul’ in the ‘Dictionary of the Holy Bible’ by the Rev John Brown (1722-1787) – ‘Soul: signifies (1) That spiritual, reasonable, and immortal substance in men, which distinguishes them from beasts, and is the source of our thoughts and reasoning, Matthew 10:28, and so men’s glory may be their soul’.

Responding to general comments

The majority of Mr Lutton’s followers who contacted me and indeed Mr Lutton himself took issue with me over the fact that in my article I had recommended a booklet called ‘Death and Beyond’ written by John Montgomery. Here are just a few samples of what was written to me –

It is obvious that you do not believe in the absolute inspiration of the Word of God, unforgivably like so many people today who call themselves Christians you are more interested in quoting and believing mans writings than the writings of The Inspired Text. With the greatest respect to Mr John Montgomery, and his book called “Death and Beyond” (something no mortal man has ever come back to explain, thus we ought to be directed by Gods Word) I am not interested what he has to say! My only source of truth is the Inspired Word of God.

The amazing thing is that you do not use Holy Scripture to support your very serious allegations, not one chapter or verse from Gods holy word is presented on your web page, in an effort to show the general public where we are in error of Gods holy word. From what I gather from your conversation, you do not use the holy bible, which is infallible inspired living word of God, but rather you appear to run to a book entitled ‘death and beyond’, by John Montgomery, as if it inspired by God. I must confess that I have not read this book by Mr Montgomery, but I would assume that it would be along the same lines as the Westminster Confession of Faith and The Apostles Creed and many more articles and books written by man. What a man believes and teaches must be based on the word of God and if not it is not worth the paper it’s written on.

I have looked at your website and it seems to me it is full of the comments of others. Would it not be more advantageous to you to study the word of God for yourself as I have done

In my article I posed the question – ‘Is there a good rebuttal of the errors taught by Mr Lutton’ and in response I said ‘yes’ and I then directed folks to the booklet written by John Montgomery. Those familiar with my own ministry know that I only quote or recommend writings that are laced with and consistent with the truth contained in God’s inspired, inerrant and infallible Word, The Bible.

When you read these comments you would think that Mr Lutton and his followers would never appeal to ‘man’s writings’ to support what they believe – not so. On Mr Lutton’s web site and in the emails I received I was directed to amongst others the writings of Martin Luther and William Tyndale so there appear to be double-standards being employed here – Mr Lutton and his followers can quote ‘man’s writings’ to substantiate aspects of their beliefs but apparently I’m not being afforded that privilege.

Incidentally John Montgomery makes reference in his booklet to the views of Martin Luther and they are not quite as clear and consistent as Mr Lutton and his followers would have us believe.

Moving on the following comment was also included in one email –

The thing that surprises me most is your disagreement that The Lake of Fire is the final destiny of unbelievers. That is to blatantly contradict the plain teaching of God’s Word.

This is an incorrect presumption on the part of the correspondent who wrote this and I assume it related to the fact that I included the following portion of Mr Lutton’s Statement of Faith in my article and viewed it as being problematical –

· We believe that all Christ rejecters will have their part in the lake of fire, this is not hell but the final destiny (the second death) of all unbelievers.

Let me say straight away that I do believe that the ‘Lake of Fire’ is the final destiny of all unbelievers who are subject to the second death following God’s final judgment. I believe God’s Word teaches that this will be unending conscious punishment and this location is also referred to in God’s Word as ‘hell’.

In the Authorised Version of the Bible three Greek words are variously translated as ‘hell’ – they are ‘tartaros’ ‘hades’ and ‘geenna’. Most people who think of ‘hell’ think of it as the final destiny of all Christ rejecters, but do all 3 of these words refer to that final destination? Hopefully the following comments will help resolve the issue.

‘Tartaros’ – This word appears only once in the New Testament in 2 Peter 2:4 “God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgment”. Clearly this is a temporary location where the angels who sinned are incarcerated until God’s final judgment.

‘Hades’ – The Hebrew equivalent of this word is ‘Sheol’ and it appears 65 times in the Old Testament. It is variously translated ‘the grave’, ‘hell’, and ‘the pit’. As ‘Sheol’ always referred to ‘the soul’ it was unfortunate that the translation ‘the grave’ was on occasions used as most people only associate the body with ‘the grave’ and in fact there is a Hebrew word for ‘the grave’ when used in the context of only the body being located there – that word is qeber and it appears 67 times in the Old Testament and is variously translated as ‘burying place’, ‘grave’ and ‘sepulchre’.

As God’s revelation unfolded, on the balance of Old Testament references ‘Sheol’ would appear to have been the interim destination of the souls of ‘the ungodly’. Keeping the words of the Lord in mind to the dying, repentant thief the interim equivalent for the souls of ‘the godly’ would be ‘paradise’, the same location that Paul was ‘caught up’ to as we read in 2 Corinthians 12:4. We shall now look at what follows these interim locations.

‘Geenna’ – This word is derived from the Valley of Hinnom, a place just outside Jerusalem where the rubbish of the city was burnt and the smoke of this unending fire rose continually – a picture of the “hell fire” that the Lord alluded to in Matthew 5:22 “Whoever shall say, thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire”.

This place then became a fitting symbol for the eternal fate of ‘the ungodly’ as the Lord described it in Mark 9:43-44 (and following) “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off; it is better for thee to enter into life maimed than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched. Where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched”.

Who then goes to this place of unending punishment? We read this in Revelation 20:13-14 “And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades delivered up the dead that were in them; and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and Hades 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”. ‘Death’ (where the material part of ‘the ungodly’ has gone) and ‘Hades’ (where the ‘immaterial’ part of ‘the ungodly’ has gone) will give up their contents for final judgment and consignment to the lake of fire. 

What then is the eternal location of ‘the godly’ – well of course they will after the resurrection be welcomed by the Lord into His “new earth” that He shall create as we read in Revelation 21:1-5 a place where “there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain for the former things are passed away”.

Finally in this section I want to respond to comments regarding the raisings of Lazarus and Dorcas. One supporter of Mr Lutton wrote –

Acts Chapter 9: 36-43 regarding the death of Dorcas. When Dorcas died, did she go to heaven? When Dorcas was raised again from the dead did she come back out of heaven? Or where was Dorcas whilst dead? John chapter 11: 1-25 regarding the death of Larazus. Larazus was dead four days and in the grave, where was Larazus during the four days? Was Larazus in heaven Verse 24, what did Martha know about this dead man and his whereabouts? Did Martha think he was in Heaven? If he was in Heaven, as taught by pagan philosophy, why did Jesus weep at the grave? John chapter 11: 35.

What we need to recognise is that the miracles as recorded in the New Testament served several of 3 purposes.

Firstly, in the case of the Lord Jesus Christ they validated His claims that He was the promised Messiah. The apostle John wrote in John 20:30-31 “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing ye might have life through his name”. The Lord Himself appealed to His miracles as proof of His Messianic ‘credentials’ in John 10: 37-38 “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me and I in him”.

Secondly miracles served to validate the claims of the early disciples that they were true Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ and had authority to speak for Him – Paul referred to these miracles in 2 Corinthians 12:12 as “the signs of an apostle”. Hebrews 2:1-4 identifies the truth of the message of God’s “so great salvation” as preached by the early disciples and Apostles and declares how God Himself validated the ministry of those early Apostles – “God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders and with diverse miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit according to his own will”.

Thirdly miracles served to bring glory to God. In John 2:11, in the wake of the Lord turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana we read this – “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee and manifested forth his glory”. Later in John 9 we read of how the Lord miraculously gave sight to the man who had been blind from birth. The disciples were curious to know why he had this affliction – was it because of his own sin or the sin of his parents. The Lord replied that this affliction was not down to the sin of any of those suggested and then made this revealing statement in verse 3 “but that the works of God should be made manifest in him”.

Miracles in which ‘natural elements’ were changed, as in the case of water into wine, or in which ‘natural processes’ such as illness, sickness, and on occasions death were reversed and health or life itself was restored served these purposes. Christ or His accredited Apostles had power to intervene in the ‘natural order’ of things.

That being the case, in respect of these miraculous resuscitations of Lazarus, Dorcas and the others mentioned, we can only bow to and acknowledge the truth of God‘s Word when it declares “The secret things belong unto the Lord but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever that we may do all the works of his law” (Deuteronomy 29:29) and “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9) Echoing Job 9:10 Paul wrote in Romans 11:33 “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out”.

Quite simply we cannot from scripture say dogmatically what happened to the ‘souls/spirits’ of Dorcas and Lazarus nor indeed to the widow of Nain’s son, to the daughter of Jairus and to the young man Eutychus during the time they were dead and before the Lord or His apostles raised them back to life because those are “secret things” that have not been “revealed” to us – they “belong unto the Lord”. But this we do know that in each case the miracle, whether performed by the Lord or by the Apostle Peter or by the Apostle Paul manifested the glory of God and validated their Messianic or Apostolic ministries. We also know that the Lord and Stephen entrusted their ‘spirit/soul’ into the care of God as life expired from their bodies and I believe that on that scriptural evidence we can safely assume that likewise the soul and spirit of those mentioned went likewise in to the keeping care and sovereign jurisdiction of God their creator.

I would make one other comment in relation to what was written to me concerning Lazarus. Mention was made about ‘why did Jesus weep at the grave?’ Firstly we do well to remember that the Lord whilst being fully divine was also fully human and so he would have experienced the full gambit of human emotions whilst here on earth. This is emphasised when we read these comforting words concerning His present heavenly intercessory and keeping role for His redeemed people – “Seeing then we have a great high priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:14-15).

Vines’s Dictionary in relation to the word “touched” directs inquirers to its comments on ‘compassion’ and has this to say ‘to suffer with another, to be affected similarly; in Hebrews 4:15 of Christ as the High Priest’.

As Christ stood before the tomb of Lazarus, in His compassionate humanity, He was clearly “touched” – As a close friend He was suffering with the family and friends of Lazarus in their up swell of sorrow (verse 33) and like them He was emotionally affected.

I also believe that the Lord was intensely and emotionally affected to the point of tears as He confronted ‘the fruit’ of sin namely death and He would have been graphically reminded of how in a short time He, who knew no sin, would on the cruel cross of Calvary “be made sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21) to secure the redemption of His people.

In John 11 verses 33 & 38 we read “Jesus groaned in the spirit and was troubled” and “again groaning in himself”. Several years ago I listened to a sermon on the raising of Lazarus and the preacher explained this in relation to the Lord “groaning”. The New Testament Greek translated “groaned & groaning”, when used in secular Greek, has application in equestrian circles to describe the snorting sound made by a horse when it is deeply upset and repulsed or terrified by something. I’m not saying that the Lord ‘snorted’ but clearly His “groaning” was very audible and gave testimony to His repulsion at seeing directly in front of Him the reality of sin’s hideous consequences in a fallen world.

In the light of all this should we be in any way surprised that the fully human and fully divine incarnate Lord shed tears along with His close friends and their friends as they mourned the death of their loved one, Lazarus?

In my first article I wrote ‘Would I recommend people to attend these various meetings – respectfully ‘no’ as long as Mr Lutton continues to teach error in the areas mentioned’. In the light of what has transpired since first posting that article and, with even more conviction now, that remains my position.

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 21 July 2012

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