We need to understand what the Bible teaches about people when they die: what happens to them? where do they go? An understanding of what Scripture teaches about the state of the dead, is the Christian’s defense against the deception of end time spiritualism. The cornerstone of this understanding is Genesis 2:7 and 3:19
861 – Roots of Truth: Dust to DustWe welcome you to the roots of truth, a series of messages designed to show, that the major doctrines of the Bible, particularly those that we refer to as present truth, are all rooted in the earliest chapters of the Bible particularly the first three chapters of Genesis and more extensively the first 11. But particularly the first three chapters are the soil in which the major doctrines of salvation are all rooted and hence the title or a theme of this series, the roots of truth and the very first presentation is entitled dust to dust. That’s the first in the series entitled the roots of truth.
There is a common belief in Christianity that it is alright to eat anything and that the Bible authorizes the consumption of any creature and this erroneous belief is based on 1 Timothy chapter 4 verse 4 which says for every creature of God is good and nothing to be refused if it be received with Thanksgiving. Now if someone begins a study of dietary laws at that verse, then the person will naturally conclude that the verse is saying of the Bible is teaching that every creature of God is good for food. But if the person begins a study of diet all the way back in Genesis 1, it becomes very, very clear that 1 Timothy 4 verse 4 cannot and it’s not saying that every creature of God is good for food. In other words, one of the reasons why all Christian churches use the same Bible but arrive at so vastly different conclusions in various areas of teaching is because of the methods of study that they use.
The Bible must be studied systematically, in an organized way in order for the student of the Word to arrive at truth. Remember that when Satan tempted Christ, he used the Bible, when he said it is written he shall give his angels charge concerning thee and in their hands, they shall bear thee up lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. This was what he told Christ when he tempted Him the second time to jump off the temple. What he left out was it is written he shall give his angels charge concerning thee and they shall bear thee up but he left out in all thy ways and so how we use the Bible is important. Let me say that again. It is not enough to just go to the Bible and read it, it must be read and it must be studied a certain way. Certain principles and rules must be followed or the student will end up in error.
Now the rule we’re trying to stress in this series is this; it is called the law of first-mentioned and you can see that in the theme, the roots of truth. What that law says is this; when studying any Bible subject, begin that study where that subject is first mentioned or suggested or hinted at. For instance, if you read Genesis chapter 6 verse 8 but Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Now this is where the word grace is first mentioned but of course and the expression of grace occurs in the Bible before Genesis 6:8, it occurs in Genesis chapter 3 when God gave them the courts of skins and indeed even before that when God came down looking for them while they were in they lost condition. And so, the law of first-mentioned calls upon Bible students to go with that subject is either first mentioned explicitly or first suggested, referred to or hinted at. If that rule is followed, then the student has a guide that will steer him or her in subsequent studies of that particular subject.
Today our subject is dust to dust, but before we get into dust to dust we need to look at an example of Christ using this principle of beginning at the beginning. In Matthew 19 reading from verse 3, the Pharisees came to Christ as usual with a question designed to trap Him. The Bible says the Pharisees also came unto Him tempting Him and saying unto Him is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause and he answered and said unto them have ye not read that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female. Here we have Jesus Christ using the principle of first mention or going to the root of the subject. Now He was asked this question 4 thousand years after Adam and Eve were made. 4 thousand years after God, He Himself, I should say, Christ the Creator, performed the very first marriage ceremony in Genesis chapter 2 verses 21 to 23 or 24. Despite the passage of 4,000 years, Jesus goes back to a time before sin. He goes back to the first reference of this thing called marriage and from that He develops His response to the question of the Scribes and Pharisees. What Christ was saying, that any question asked today or in years to come in order to answer it biblically we need to go back to where that question of that subject first occurs and so Jesus said in verse 4 have ye not read that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female and said for this cause shall a man leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and they twain shall be one flesh. Well after the Pharisees did not like His response. They said in verse 7 why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement and to put her away for sake. Verse 8, He said unto them Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives but from the beginning it was not so. Here again Jesus sticks to His guns as it were and He goes back to the beginning. He repeats that principle, He answers the second question still from the beginning.
And this is the principle that this series the root of truth will try to establish with the hope that those of you who watch these presentations will apply this principle as you studied the Word of God. If you do along with other Bible principles which we cannot get into during this series, you will be richly rewarded in your study of God’s Word.
Now let’s get into dust to dust.
This subject has to do with the state of the dead. Like the subject of diet where most Christians believe anything is fit for food and that is authorized by 1 Timothy chapter 4 verse 4 which that verse does not say, most Christians also believe that when a person dies that person goes directly to heaven or directly to hell. That teaching is absolutely not of the Bible and if it is not of the Bible it is satanic. Let me say that again politely but firmly, any teaching contrary to God’s Word is satanic. It is not biblical and that teaching will have no sanctifying effect on the life of the person who believes it because Jesus is very clear in John 17 verse 17 sanctify them through thy truth. Error however sincerely it is believed does not and cannot sanctify. Let me repeat that. Error, false teaching cannot and will not sanctify anyone however sincerely the person believes it, because the instrument of sanctification is truth. This is what Jesus said sanctify them through thy truth thy Word is truth and those who believe that when you die you go straight to heaven or straight to hell, yes God is merciful and He overlooks ignorance but an error will have no spiritual value.
We need to understand what the Bible teaches about people when they die: what happens to them? where do they go? And to understand that teaching clearly, we must begin at the beginning. In other words, we will go to the root of that truth or we will follow the principle of the law of first mention.
Let us go to Genesis chapter 2 and we shall read from verse 7. Our subject is dust to dust. The Bible says and the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul. Question number one: What was man made of or made from or made with? The verse answers very clearly but most people do not see the answer because we read hastily and that has happened to me. Listen to the verse and the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground – that’s all He used to form man; the dust of the ground. Adam was not formed from breath, He was formed from one substance that’s dust. And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground. That was one discrete action God performed having completed that action with the formation of this thing which would eventually become Adam, with its formation completed then to give it life, to give it vitality God breathed into it.
So, God did two things and He used two different substances
- the first thing He did, He formed a human being – the substance He used? Dust
- the second action, He breathed into that thing formed the breath of life and the breath of life brought that formed thing to life. Of course, it became Adam
Let us go to verse 19 also of Genesis 2 as we continue with the subject dust to dust which is one presentation in a series entitled the roots of truth. In Genesis 2:19 the Bible says and out of the ground, the Lord God formed every beast of the earth and every fowl of the air and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them. Now here we’re told that animals, living things were made the very same way that human beings were made. The verses sound eerily similar. Listen to verse 7 of chapter 2 of Genesis and the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground. Listen to verse 19 and out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the earth and every fowl of the air. Now in verse 7, we have breathed into his nostrils. Now we do not see that in verse 19, but it has to be implied. Let me say that again, it has to be implied because we receive that information elsewhere in the Bible.
Go to Ecclesiastes chapter 3 verse 19. The wisest man who ever lived so it would be to our advantage to listen to what he says. This was one of the sons of David better known as Solomon. Ecclesiastes 3:19 the Bible says for that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts. The old English word befall it means happens to – that which happens to human being happens to an animal; even one thing befalleth them, he’s referring to death: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath. In other words, the breath of life in a man is the breath of life in a cow. This was God’s arrangement from creation. So, when we read verse 19 of Genesis 2 and out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the earth, we must understand that while it isn’t mentioned in words, it is implied that God also put the breath of life into the animals. The very same breath of life that’s in a man with respect to its physical effect, at the physical level we are the same as animals, we were made from the same substance.
The Bible confirms that elsewhere in Genesis chapter 7 verse 21 the chapter that gives us the details of the flood the bible says 21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: Now, listen to verse 22, 22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. The Bible is clear, foul, cattle, beasts every creeping thing, every man, that’s verse 21 of Genesis 7 and verse 22 says all in whose nostrils was the breath of life. In other words, the breath of life as I said before in a human being physically is the breath of life in an animal physically. We were made from the same substance that’s dust.
Now we’ve established a couple of things:
- mankind, Adam was made from dust. He was not made from dust and breath, he was made from dust, with dust and breath was breathed into him from God and that brought the dust to life
- we’ve learned that animals were made the same way, they were formed from the dust and of course they received from God the breath of life because all life comes from God, Psalm 36 verse 9 with thee is the fountain of life. Every living thing receives its life from God in some way. I may not be able to explain how a plant is kept alive by God, but every living thing regardless of the form of life is kept alive by God. So, man was made from dust animals were made from dust.
- The Earth and its relationship to mankind
Let’s go to Genesis chapter 3. This is God speaking to Adam. God has come down to investigate the crisis in the Garden of Eden and in verse 17 He says because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, that’s verse 17 of chapter 3 and has eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee saying thou shalt not eat of it cursed is the ground for thy sake. Let’s pause. Adam was made from the ground and God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Now I have said earlier, let me repeat, Adam was not made from breath, he was made from dirt, dust, clay, the ground. So, when he sinned and God came down to execute punishment or judgment, God said curse is the ground for thy sake not cursed is the breath because Adam was not made of breath, the breath gave him life, yes but in a certain sense the earth belongs to man. He was made from it, he was put on it, he was given dominion over it.
So, God said the ground that which you were made from, that over which you have dominion, that which represents you, and with which you are closely associated, that is what I curse. And so, God cursed the ground. In verse 19 God says in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return unto the ground for out of it was thou taken for dust thou art. Now, here again God tells us, the Bible tells us very clearly, it connects mankind to dirt – for dust thou art. That’s what God says to Adam. Now when God said that to Adam, Adam was alive which makes the statement very serious and very embarrassing. Adam was alive and God looked at a living man who was breathing and did not say dust and breath thou art, God said dust thou art. That is all Adam was in the eyes of God, even while he was alive, even while he breathed that breath in and out, God called him dust.
In Genesis 18 when Abraham was talking to God about the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah because Lot lived in Sodom and Abraham was highly concerned about the welfare of Lot. And Abraham told God if 50 righteous people were found would He saved the place and God said in verse 26 of Genesis 18 if I find in Sodom 50 righteous within the city then I will spare all the place for their sakes and in verse 27 and Abraham answered and said behold now I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord which am but dust and ashes. Abraham describes himself as dust and ashes. Who am I dust and ashes to negotiate with God, to speak to God so directly and so boldly. Abraham does not say I am dust and breath, he simply says, I am dust and ashes and he takes that belief, that teaching from Genesis chapter 2 verse 7 and from Genesis 3:19. His statement is rooted in the earliest mention of the physical state of man.
In Psalm 103 verse 14 we read 13 first and then 14. 13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 14 For He knoweth our frame, meaning how we’re made; He remembereth that we are dust. He does not remember we’re dust and breath, He remembereth that we are dust. Now I have to keep stressing this because it is upon this point that God will build a philosophy. It is upon the reality, the truth that we are of the dust, we came from the dust, we’re made of dust – it is on this truth that God will build a philosophy. Here is the philosophy:
Let’s go back to Genesis chapter 3 listen to verse 19 very carefully and by the way when you read the Bible read very, very carefully one word at a time, then one clause at a time, one phrase at a time, one sentence at a time understand and what the word is saying.
Genesis 3 verse 19 in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return unto the ground for out of it wast thou taken. Here is the philosophical basis to explain why human beings when they die do not go to heaven, they go to their origin which is the ground. God says, because you were taken from the ground, this is the reason why you go back to the ground. Listen to the wording in Genesis 3:19 – in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return unto the ground. Now look at the word return. The word return can be broken out into two sections re and turn. If you define
- turn as go,
- re is again – the prefix, re means again, to repeat – is to say something again, to re-evaluate is to evaluate again, to re- state is to state again
- So, to re is to do something again.
My friends, this is the root of the teaching of the state of the Dead. The root is, human beings were made from dirt, that’s what they are – whether they’re alive or dead. In the living form, we are just sophisticated, there that’s all we are. When we’re dead, then we decompose and we go to the lower versions of dirt. We are dust, dirt, clear, we are of the earth. That is by God’s deliberate arrangement. By God’s arrangement, the source of a person is the place where the person returns after death. We did not originate in heaven and so we do not go back to heaven but the breath of God which originates from heaven that goes back to heaven.
And so, Ecclesiastes 12 verse 7 then shall the earth or the dust return to the earth as it was and the spirit returned unto God that gave it. The word spirit there means breath. It does not mean some living soul that wanders around like a ghost. The word spirit there means breath. What the verse is saying, that at death the physical goes back to dirt where it came from and that life principle that came from God, it goes back to God.
When you understand this and you were guided by this beacon light of truth, this early, this foundational basic teaching of the state of the dead, when you get to Luke 4 thousand years later, Luke 16 the rich man and Lazarus even though you read Luke 16 from verse 23 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Now you do not conclude from that, that at death a man go straight to hell or heaven or a woman. You cannot conclude that because it brings you into conflict with the very root of the teaching as found in Genesis 2 and Genesis 3 and it is the root of the tree that determines the tree.
In Daniel chapter 4 when God gave Nebuchadnezzar a dream that he would be cut off for a while, lose his kingdom for seven years. In verses 14 and 15 Nebuchadnezzar is represented as a tree. One of the heavenly talkers, person said hew down the tree cut off its branches, verse 15 says but leave the stump of his root in the earth. Why leave the stump of the root? As long as the root, the tree can return to its original glory. The key thing was to preserve the root. This has a spiritual application. The root of truth is what guides us in our study from Genesis to Revelation and so when you read to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, that does not teach that at death a person goes right to heaven or a person goes right to hell. Luke 16:19-31 rich man and Lazarus does not teach that a dead person goes right to heaven or hell despite the fact that this has a widespread belief and at almost every funeral the preacher says or someone who gives some kind remark says he’s now in heaven or she’s now in heaven looking down.
My brothers and sisters with all respect if you begin at the root of this teaching you will understand that your dead relative is in the grave and I have dead relatives there in the grave not in heaven. Now one day they will come from the grave if they’ve been faithful to God, live a Christ-like life, they will come from the grave.
And so, Daniel chapter 12 verse 2 says and many that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awaken. Now why does Daniel say the dust of the earth? Daniel is writing about 3,400 years after the Genesis event because Daniel understand from Genesis 2 and Genesis 3 that dead people sleep in the dust of the earth and many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth, Daniel understands that.
In a John chapter 5 verse 28,29 Marvel not at this for the hour is coming into which all that in the graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth they that have done good unto the resurrection of life and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation. This is Jesus Christ speaking in his humanity, Christ had to study the Bible and Christ understood from the earliest chapters of Genesis 2 and 3 that dead people are in the graves and they will come forth at the sound of His resurrecting voice.
My friends this is the Genesis 3:19 again in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return unto the ground. You cannot return to a place where you’ve never gone. Adam did not originate in heaven, he could not return to heaven. You and I, our relatives who passed, I should say did not originate in heaven they cannot return to heaven. Now as I said if they live Christ-like lives, one day they will go to heaven for the first time but as it stands now, every person sleeping in the grave, is in the grave not in heaven. Every dead person I should say, is in the grave not in heaven. This teaching may interfere with our cherished beliefs as the way our relatives are, but my friend it is not what makes us feel good that is of grave importance, it is what is true.
And so, may the God of truth:
- According to Deuteronomy 32 verse 4 a God of truth and without iniquity.
- John 14:6 Jesus says I am the way the truth,
- 1 John 5:6 the Spirit is truth
So, may God bless you as you ask Him to give you a heart and a mind to accept truth for it is truth alone that sanctifies. God, bless you!