What Happens After Death?
God has given us life. He is the source of life. Speaking of the beginning of life on earth, God created Adam from the dust of the ground. His body was there with all the parts necessary, but Adam had no life.
Then, God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life. That life force or “spark of life” made Adam a living being. Adam became a living soul.
God did not put a soul into Adam; Adam became a living soul. A person is a soul. Some think a spirit or the soul goes to heaven when a person dies. The Bible says, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7, NKJV). The word rendered “spirit” is also rendered “breath”. It is the breath of life that God breathed into Adam that returns to God.
Job understood what happens at death. “If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness” (Job 17:13, NKJV). He knew no living, intelligent part of him went anywhere except to the grave.
With a pile of lumber and a pile of nails, one can make a box. Take the nails out and set the box apart. Where did the box go? It ceased to exist. It is the same way with the body and breath. Put them together and you have a living person—a living soul. When the body and breath are separated in death, it is like the box; the person ceases to exist. The breath returns to God and the body returns to dust.
Do souls die?
Perhaps you’ve heard of an undying soul or an immortal soul. God says, “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20, NKJV. This means that the person who continues in sin and does not repent will die.
If we accept that humans live forever, this would mean that God was not truthful when He spoke to Adam and Eve in the Garden:
“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die'” (Genesis 2:16,17, NKJV).
Do good people go to heaven when they die?
Speaking of the return of Jesus, the Bible says, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are 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 (John 5:28-29).
King David was one of the Bible’s great men. But in Acts 2:29, 34 we read, “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. For David did not ascend into the heavens” (NKJV). If there is anyone who we expect to be in heaven, it’s David. However, we are told that David is not yet in heaven.
What do people know after they die?
“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. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, NKJV).
Those who have died know nothing. They are not watching over loved ones and don’t have feelings. When Jesus comes again, He will call them from the grave and they will have eternal life.
What do dead people do?
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (Ecclesiastes 9:10, NKJV).
“The dead do not praise the Lord, nor any who go down into silence” (Psalm 115:17, NKJV).
Can the dead communicate with the living?
“His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish” (Psalm 146:4, NKJV).
Dead people cannot communicate with us. As a matter of fact, the Bible condemns the practice of speaking with the dead because these are apparitions that are not of God (1 Chronicles 10:13). When a person dies, they do not return to speak with the living.
Did the thief and Christ go to heaven that day?
Jesus saith unto her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father” (John 20:17, NKJV).
Jesus did not go to heaven the day He died. He died on what is called Good Friday. On Easter Sunday morning, Christ told Mary He had not yet gone to heaven. We conclude that the thief and Christ did not go to heaven the day they died.
What does 1 Peter 4:6 mean where it appears the gospel was preached to dead people?
“For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit” (1 Peter 4:6, NKJV).
The gospel was preached to them when they lived. Now they are dead. God gives everyone a chance to accept Him as Savior. This must be done while the person is alive. When a person dies, their probation is over. Nevermore can the person change masters. They have either decided for Christ or against Him (Matthew 12:30). Since the dead know nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5).
God is love. A soul that lives forever in torment is not reflective of the character of our loving God. As you study this topic, the Holy Spirit will guide you to a reflection of God’s love.
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