Thursday, June 5, 2014

What the Bible Says about Death

My father-in-law passed away suddenly two weeks ago today.  He wasn't ill.  In fact, he appeared quite healthy.  He had just finished his daily 11-mile bike ride, but it all ended soon after.  My mother-in-law found him dead in his chair after she came back from shopping.  Heat stroke?  Heart attack?  Aneurysm? We don't know.  All we know is he is gone, and we are all going to miss him very much.

Death is a deadly reality.  It happens every day all around us, yet seems mysterious and permanent.  What exactly is death?  What happens when a person dies?  Are they still conscious after death?  Can the dead communicate with the living?  Where do immortality and everlasting life fit in with death?  Does the Bible have answers for all these questions?

Yes.  God has made it very clear for us in the Bible what happens at death, what the dead know, and when everlasting life takes place.

What Is Life?

To understand death, first you need to understand what life is.

When God created man from the dust of the ground, it says in Genesis 2:7 that He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and THEN man became a living being, or some translations say "soul".

So, we could describe life as a formula:
Dust (Body)  + Breath = Living Being (Soul)

This is life: a body made of dust with the breath of God breathed into it.
We all have the breath of God in us.  Without it, we are not alive.
Job 27:3 (KJV) says "all the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils".
So, breath is sometimes translated as spirit.  Our formula could be changed to:

Dust (Body) + Breath (Spirit) = Living Being (Soul)

Can a body exist without its breath?  Can a soul exist without a body?  No.  The body needs the breath of life in order to be a living being or soul.

What Happens at Death?

Death is the opposite of life.  It is the same as not existing.  So, what happens to a living being, or soul, at death?  Let's look at our formula for life and see what happens to each of its components.

The Body at Death

The Bible is clear what happens to the body at death.  This is no mystery.  We know from visible evidence.  At death, the body returns to dust.

Ecclesiastes 3:19,20 (NKJV) says, "For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust."

Genesis 3:19 says, "In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground,

for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”

The Breath (Spirit) at Death

What happens to your breath or spirit at death?

Ecclesiastes 12:7 tells us, "Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it."

The Living Being (Soul) at Death

As Genesis 2:7 declared, and our formula above showed us, the soul is the combination of a body and the breath or spirit of God.  The soul is the total entity of a person - the body and spirit.  If the body or the spirit is missing, the living soul ceases to exist.

Dust (Body) - Breath(Soul) = No Living Soul

The Bible mentions the word "soul" 1600 times, but it never says the soul is immortal.  The human soul is not everlasting, or indestructible. 
Ezekiel 18:20 states plainly, "The soul that sins shall die."

And we all have sinned:  "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

So we all will die.  Our living being or soul will die.

The Bible is clear that our mental functions end at death:  "His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; In that very day his thoughts perish." Psalm 146:4 (NASB)

"For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten." Ecclesiastes 9:5

Jesus likens this death to sleep (See the story of Lazarus in John 11:11-14).  It is a sleep with no conscious passing of time from the moment you die to the resurrection at the second coming of Christ.
The Bible compares death to sleep more than 50 times. 

Is there Life Beyond the Grave?

The good news is that Christ has provided a way of escape from the grave.

In John 11:25 Jesus says,"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live."

Jesus is the only way to eternal life - the only way to escape death.  Just as He was raised from the grave on resurrection morning, so we too, if we believe, trust, and live for Him, shall be called back to life on the great Resurrection Day when He returns to earth to take us to live with Him forever.

If we accept Jesus as our Saviour, death is not a frightful or uncertain inevitability.  He has told us He will come back for us, to raise us to new life.  And this new life will be eternal.  Our bodies will be changed from mortal to immortal.  We will not be in bondage to sin and death anymore.  Hallelujah!  He is the Great Redeemer and Saviour!  

Is my father-in-law in heaven, hell, or purgatory?
No, the Bible says that he is sleeping in the grave.
He is resting until the day Christ calls him up at the Second Coming.

I am hoping to see my father-in-law again at the resurrection, as well as many others whom I have been separated from by death.  What a great and glorious day that will be!

Click here to learn more about what will happen at the resurrection.

Have you accepted Christ as your Lord and Saviour?  If not, why not do it today.  Today is the day of salvation. 

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