No one has yet discovered the fountain of youth, and neither has anyone been through that veil of death to
return and tell us what it is like on the "other side". The only authentic information we have on this subject is found in
the Great Book of God, The Bible. Unfolded here are the answers to questions that have plagued Man down through the ages.
Piercing through the froth of human emotion and superstition, it will bring satisfying assurance for those who fear the future
and who wonder what happens to the soul after death.
To introduce this subject, we must first find the answer to one great, basic question; and if we can answer
it correctly, all the other questions about death and the soul will open up like flowers in the sun. The really important
question is this: Did God create Man with the inherent nature of MORTALITY or IMMORTALITY? According to the dictionary, mortal
means "subject to death", and immortal means "not subject to death". Simply stated, we are asking whether God created
Man with a nature that could die, or with the power of an endless life that cannot die.
The answer to this significant question is found in Job 4:17,
"Shall MORTAL man be more just than God?
Shall a man be more pure than his Maker?"
There is the word we are looking for. Man is Mortal. He is subject to death. God did not make Man without
the capacity to deteriorate and die. Only God Himself has that inherent power of eternal existence: he is IMMORTAL. And rightly
so, because that is one of the foundational points that differentiates Man from God. In fact, the only time that the word
immortal is used in the Bible is when it is used in reference to God, such as 1st Timothy 1:17,
"Now unto the King eternal, IMMORTAL, invisible,
the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever."
The human family was not invested with a natural immortality. The Word of God assures us that only God has
that kind of nature. He is the Author of Life, the Source of all existence, as it is written in 1st Timothy 6:15,
"King of kings and Lord of lords
who ONLY hath IMMORTALITY."
At this point, someone may raise another question on the subject of immortality. Is it possible that man
just has a mortal body but an immortal soul living in his tabernacle of flesh? For, perhaps the "real" person
isn’t the body at all but rather an undying soul entity dwelling within that mortal body. That’s a good question;
however, as we have just seen from the Scriptures, though it may confound everything we have believed, no one and nothing
has immortality but God Himself. We need not puzzle over this point, for it is concisely settled by a number of Biblical texts,
such as this passage from Ezekiel 18:4,
"Behold, all souls are Mine; as the soul of the father, so also
the soul of the son is Mine: the soul that sinneth, IT SHALL DIE."
This quite firmly establishes that the soul in not immortal by nature or it could not experience death. Since
the word immortal means "NOT subject to death", there would be no question of death for a soul possessing an innate
immortality. If a soul were immortal, the above verse would have no meaning. Jesus Himself declared that the soul could die
in Matthew 10:28,
"Fear Him which is able to destroy both SOUL and body in hell."
By this clear statement, Christ places the matter beyond all question. The soul can and will die in the Lake
of Fire. Therefore it cannot be immortal by nature.
This, no doubt, is shocking to many people. The traditional view has been exactly the opposite of this. But,
in all of the many hundreds of biblical occurrences of the word SOUL, not once is it referred to as being immortal, undying
So where then did the doctrine come from? Most of us have heard the "soul that never dies" doctrine from
our earliest childhood. When all the facts are gathered, one thing is certain – it did not originate in the Scriptures.
It has come to us over the centuries directly from pagan tradition and mythology, mainly through the compromises of the church
and synagogue. The ancient Chinese tradition of ancestor worship is rooted in the belief that the soul does not die. Egyptian
pyramid hieroglyphics reveal that the doctrine of the "naturally immortal soul" was basic to the worship of their sun god,
Ra/Horus. In India, the Hindus believe in the reincarnation and the transmigration of the soul. African and West Indies Voodoo
and Santeria ceremonies are built around the concept of the undying soul as a direct result of this doctrine. But anyone can
say that any doctrine came from paganism; talk is cheap, so let’s continue on with what God’s Word has to say
There is not one biblical text that supports a doctrine of consciousness after death; nevertheless the Bible
does tell us how this doctrine got started in the first place and whom it was that preached the first sermon on the subject.
In Genesis 3:1-4 we read,
"Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field
which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman,
"Yea, hath God said, ‘Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?"
And the woman said unto the serpent,
"We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden;
but the fruit of the Tree which is in the midst of the garden
God hath said, ‘Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it,
lest ye DIE.’"
And the serpent said unto the woman, " Ye shall NOT surely die!"
Please note that someone disagreed with Almighty God. The Creator had explicitly decreed that sin would bring
death, but Satan said just the opposite: ye shall NOT surely die. That was the first great lie that was ever told, and the
one who told it has been trying to uphold it ever since. That serpent’s first sermon on natural immortality has been
repeated many times throughout the years, often by theologians who ought to know better. A few years ago, Reader’s
Digest featured an article entitled "There is no Death" by one of America’s most popular Christian ministers. The
great preacher said EXACTLY what the great deceiver said to Eve: You don’t really die at all! It may seem like death,
but you really keep on living and you’ll know more afterwards than you ever did before!
Can this doctrine be dangerous? Indeed, it involves much more than promulgating a false statement. The implications
of this satanic teaching are far-reaching and eternal in consequence. Many will be lost because they do not understand the
Truth about the nature of Man. Deception on this point opens a door that can flood the soul with darkness. The only protection
we have is in the Truth of God’s Holy Word. Psalm 22:29 also shows that the soul is not immortal with these words,
"All they that go down to the dust shall bow before Him,
and none can keep alive his own soul."
The clearest and most concise, inspired definition of death was written by King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12:7,
"Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was,
and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."
Immediately we are struck by the word return. After death, everything reverts to the source from which
it came. The body returns to the dust of the earth from which it was taken, and the spirit returns to God who gave it in the
first place. Death is just the reverse – or opposite – of creation.
It is easy for us to picture the process of bodily decay and decomposition. We understand very well that
the physical components of the body are the same as that of the earth itself. When it is buried, the body reverts to the chemical
elements of the ground from which the Creator took it in the beginning.
But what about the spirit which returns to God? That is not so easy to understand. There is not a man in
the world that can explain it with human wisdom. It is with God's wisdom from the Holy Scriptures that we can comprehend this
crucial point. We read in the Epistle of James 2:26,
"For as the BODY WITHOUT THE SPIRIT IS DEAD,
so faith without works is dead also."
The word SPIRIT, from the Hebrew word Ruach and the Greek word Pneuma, literally means Breath.
This is very important. We take our English word Pneumonia from this because it is a disease of the lungs and of breathing.
We have Pneumatic tires on our cars, so called because they are filled with air.
Look at these other examples:
Pneogaster – the respiratory tract
Pneograph – instrument for gauging lung breaths
Pneoscope – instrument for measuring the movement of the thorax when breathing
Pneumaticity – character of being buoyant caused by air cavities or inflation
Pneumatocele – hernia of the lungs
Pneumatacyst – the air pocket in sea creatures that assists in floating
The Greek Pneuma and Hebrew Ruach, meaning Breath, are translated in our Bibles as spirit.
Ghost is the same word. The use of the two different words generally has to do with the state of the body – before death
it is called a "spirit" and after death it is called a "ghost" (which is why scary stories always depict the spirits of the
dead as "ghosts"). The Spirit of God is referred to as both the Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost, attesting to the life/death/resurrection
The Greek for Holy Spirit is Hagios Pneumatos, literally meaning Holy Breath. The words breath and spirit
are used interchangeably throughout the Bible. But, you may ask, why didn’t the Bible translators simply use the word
breath? Because the translators want you to understand that when they translate Pneuma or Ruach as SPIRIT, they are conveying
the fact that the Biblical text is referring to the Breath of Life – not the simple air we breathe. That Breath of Life
is the power of God in us that makes us a living being. Job 27:3 says,
"All the while my BREATH is in me,
and the SPIRIT of God is in my nostrils."
Now, it doesn’t take a high level of intelligence to know that Job was describing the same thing by
the words BREATH and SPIRIT. Man only has breath in his nostrils. In fact, in Genesis 2:7, that is exactly what God breathed
into man’s nostrils at creation:
"And the Lord God formed Man out of the dust of the ground,
AND BREATHED INTO HIS NOSTRILS THE BREATH OF LIFE,
and man became a living soul."
Earlier, when King Solomon described the SPIRIT returning to God at death, he was referring specifically
and only to the BREATH OF LIFE, for that was what God gave in the beginning and is therefore the only thing that can "return"
to Him. Psalm 104:29 and Job 33:4 say,
"Thou takest away their BREATH and they die and return to the earth;
Thou sendest forth Thy SPIRIT, they are created."
"The SPIRIT of God hath made me,
and the BREATH of the Almighty hath given me life."
Here God gives the SPIRIT to create, but Genesis said that God gave the BREATH to create. It only makes sense
when we understand that the two words are used interchangeably and mean the same thing.
Again, please take note that this spirit/breath is not the same as the Holy Spirit Himself, and neither is
it the same as the simple air that we breathe. This breath/spirit is the special life giving power of God, emanating expressly
from His person, that makes the body a living and functioning organism.
Read Genesis 2:7 again and try to visualize the act of creation: "The Lord God formed man out of the dust
of the ground." We have no difficulty with this. We can see that lifeless body, perfectly formed and containing all of the
elements necessary for life. But there was no life. The heart was there but it wasn’t beating, the blood was there but
it wasn’t flowing, and the brain was there but it wasn’t thinking. Then God added something to the body that He
had made. He "breathed into his nostrils the BREATH OF LIFE, and man became a living soul".
There are actually some that would insist that the soul and the spirit are basically the same thing. This
is like saying that nitrogen and oxygen are the same simply because we cannot see them. The spirit and soul are quite different
and have distinct functions, as different and distinct as the functions between the spirit and the body. In addition to the
above verse in Genesis 2:7, which distinctly shows the individuality of the body and soul and spirit, the Apostle Paul also
confirms their distinctiveness in 1st Thessalonians 5:23 and Hebrews 4:12,
"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly,
and I pray God your whole
spirit AND soul AND body
be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…
For the Word of God is quick and powerful
and sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul AND spirit,
and of the joints and marrow.."
Do not miss the significance of the words "and man became a living soul." They are often misconstrued. God
did not put a soul into the body; He added only one thing – breath/spirit. Then, as the result of that union of the
body and spirit, man became a living soul.
Many have accepted the traditional, but false, view that God put a soul into the body to create man. This
is based entirely upon the common erroneous doctrine of all non-biblical religions. In the Bible, except in poetical usage,
the soul does not wander in and out of the body, and neither can it have an independent existence outside of the body.
Though the Greek word PSUCHE (pronounced sook), meaning life, is correctly translated in our
Bibles as SOUL, some have drawn some very wrong conclusions, but only because they have applied a wrong definition to the
word soul. People have been taught that the soul is naturally immortal, so each time they hear that word they presume something
totally false and unbiblical. Only God is immortal. Isn’t it just like Man to have the arrogance and presumption to
lay claim to that which belongs to God alone?
The soul is the conscious life that resulted when God added the breath/spirit to the body. It is that
which makes the difference between something that is alive and something that is inanimate, between something that lives and
something that is dead, between a human and, say, a nice hot cup of tea. A simple illustration may help us to see this truth
Let us liken the BODY to a light bulb.
The electric current flowing into that bulb represents the BREATH/SPIRIT that God breathed into man at creation.
The light itself represents the SOUL which man became when the spirit entered the body.
Now, turn off the light. What has happened?
The current left the bulb and returned to its source, just as the SPIRIT returns to God.
The bulb will eventually decay, just as the BODY will decay and return to dust.
Where is the light? Did it go up into the electric socket? No, it simply ceased to exist when the power separated
from the bulb. Then let us ask, where then is the SOUL when the spirit leaves the body at death? It ceases to exist until,
at the resurrection, the Lord restores the breath of life to the body, as it is written in Psalm 49:7-9, "None of them can,
by any means, redeem his brother or give to God a ransom for him - (for the redemption of their SOUL is precious AND IT CEASETH
FOR EVER ) - that he should still live forever and not see corruption."
This should not sound so strange to us, now that we understand how everything "returns" at death to the way
it was in the beginning. Before creation, Man did not exist in some Hindu-like disembodied form. Before creation, man had
no personality, no consciousness, no existence…not until God created the body and added the spirit to it. AT THAT MOMENT
man became a living soul; at that moment he came into existence. If man came to be as a result of the union of the body and
the spirit, when does man cease to be? Surely at the breaking of that union of body and spirit by death.
Suppose we have two things before us:
Boards and nails.
Drive the nails into the boards, making a box.
Now we have three things before us:
Boards, nails and a box
Remove the nails from the boards
Again we now only have two things before us:
Boards and nails
There is no box because it requires the union of the boards and nails for it to exist.
The union of the spirit and body brings the soul into existence, and the separation of the spirit from the
body causes the soul to once again cease to exist. The soul cannot exist if the power (the spirit) to live has been removed
from the body. At death, the power is returned to God’s person (for it was His property), the body returns to the dust,
and the state of that person is exactly as it was before its creation – no life, no thought, no consciousness, no conscience,
no emotion, no personality, no identity, no memory – for it is dead.
Even animals are referred to as souls in the Bible because they have the same power from God to make them
live. They are given a spirit to live. In Ecclesiastes 3:19-20, King Solomon writes,
"For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth the beasts.
Even one [the same] thing befalleth them: as one dieth,
so dieth the other;
yea, they have all one [the same] breath.
All go unto one [the same] place –
all are of the dust and all turn to dust again.
Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward,
and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?"
This does not mean, of course, that Man and animals have the same ultimate end. There will be a resurrection
and judgment for God’s human creation, who are created in His Own image and who alone among the creations of God may
be redeemed. But life comes from God, whether it be human or animal, and that life is referred to in the Bible as the SOUL.
With this background, we are now ready to see what actually happens to the person who dies. In the Apostle
Peter’s Pentecost sermon in Acts 2:34, he makes this strong statement about King David who had been dead for about a
"For David is NOT ascended into the heavens."
Now think of this for a moment. David had long ago died and, though often wayward, had received the assurance
of forgiveness and salvation because of his faith. Why, then, was he not enjoying the bliss of heaven ten long centuries after
his death? A few verses before this, in verse 29, Peter explains himself:
"Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you
of the patriarch David,
that he is both dead and buried and
his sepulcher [tomb] is with us unto this day."
Peter clearly states that David has not ascended to heaven, but rather, he is right out there in his grave.
If the "man after God’s own heart" had not yet received his reward 1000 years after his death, what about everyone else
who has died? They too are right out there in their graves, awaiting the call of God in the resurrection.
Jesus answered the people of His day in Luke 14:14,
"Thou shalt be recompensed
AT THE RESURRECTION OF THE JUST."
In Matthew 16:27 Jesus said,
"For the Son of man shall come in the glory
of His Father with His angels,
and THEN he shall reward every man according to his deeds."
In simple, direct language, Jesus declared that NO ONE would be rewarded until the resurrection takes place
at His return. This means that none of the righteous dead has gone to heaven so far. More biblical proof on this is forthcoming,
so read on.
Please note in the previous verse by Matthew that it is the angels – not we (as has been commonly
taught in the church) – who accompany Jesus at his return. All are waiting in their graves for the judgment at the end
of the world. Almost the last words of the Bible, Revelation 22:12, confirm this fact,
"Behold, I come quickly, and My reward is with Me,
to give every man according as his works shall be."
In 1st Thessalonians 3:13 we read,
"To the end He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness
before God our Father AT THE COMING
OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST."
2 Thessalonians 1:7 tells us,
"And you who are troubled, rest with us, WHEN THE LORD
SHALL BE REVEALED FROM HEAVEN WITH HIS ANGELS."
Again, in 1st Peter 5:4 we see,
"And when the Chief Shepherd SHALL APPEAR,
ye shall receive a crown of glory which fadeth not away."
Also, in 1st Corinthians 4:5 it says,
"Judge nothing before the time, UNTIL THE LORD COME,
Who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness
and will make manifest the counsels of the heart,
AND THEN shall every man have praise of God."
This Last Days reward is further described in 1st Corinthians 15:53,
"And this mortal shall put on immortality…"
When does this happen? When we die? No, but instead,
"…in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, AT THE LAST TRUMP."
This settles the issue of the time of the reward of the righteous, but what about the wicked? When will they
be raised to give account and to receive judgment for their treason against God? Peter gives the answer in 2nd
"The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation,
AND TO RESERVE THE UNJUST UNTO
THE DAY OF JUDGMENT TO BE PUNISHED."
This verse tells us they are reserved somewhere….but where? In the fires of hell? In Purgatory? Jesus
Himself gives the answer to that question in John 5:28-29,
"Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming in the which
all that are IN THE GRAVES shall hear His voice and come forth:
they that have done good unto the resurrection of life
and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation."
Paul also tells us in Romans 2:56,
"But after thy hardness and impenitent heart thou treasureth up unto thyself wrath against THE DAY OF WRATH
AND REVELATION OF THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT OF GOD WHO WILL RENDER TO EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS."
The Lord makes it quite plain that everyone would be reserved in their graves until called forth in the Resurrection
to receive their just rewards. We know that the Resurrection of the Just takes place at the Lord’s return, but
when are the wicked dead resurrected? This is told us by John in Revelation 20:4-5, who foresaw these events which occur at
the end of the world,
"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them,
and judgment was given unto them;
and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded
for the witness of Jesus and for the Word of God, and which had not
worshipped the Beast, neither his image, neither had received his
mark upon their foreheads or in their hands –
BUT THE REST OF THE DEAD LIVED NOT AGAIN
UNTIL THE THOUSAND YEARS WERE FINISHED."
The "thousand years" spoken of here refers to the thousand year reign of Christ upon the earth after His
physical return, during which time Lucifer is held a powerless prisoner in the Bottomless pit. According to Revelation, at
the end of this time, Lucifer will be released, the physical universe will be brought to an end, Judgment will commence, and
the wicked will be cast into the Lake of Fire along with their father Lucifer. It is at the end of this thousand years, Revelation
tells us, that the wicked dead are resurrected to receive their judgment (the righteous dead had been resurrected at the beginning
of the thousand years, when Jesus returned).
So, to sum it up, when we die our bodies decay into the dust of the earth, our breath of life (spirit) returns
to God who gave it, and our soul extinguishes until the Resurrection. The Resurrection of the Righteous occurs at Christ’s
return, and the resurrection of the wicked commences 1000 years later, apparently so that they can be judged along with their
father Lucifer when he is released from the Bottomless Pit.
The amazing message of the Bible, which is lacking in all of the other religions of the world, is that the
saved and unsaved are resting in their graves until the Resurrection. No other religion has made such an astounding claim
as the Bible has. We read in Job 14:12-13,
"So man lieth down and raiseth not.
TILL THE HEAVENS BE NO MORE they shall not awake,
nor be raised out of their sleep.
O that Thou wouldst hide me in THE GRAVE,
that Thou wouldst keep me secret
UNTIL THY WRATH BE PASSED,
that Thou wouldst appoint me
SET TIME AND REMEMBER ME!
If a man die, shall he live again?
All the days of my appointed time
WILL I WAIT UNTIL MY CHANGE COME.
Thou shalt call and I will answer Thee.
Thou shalt have a desire to the work of Thine hands."
Such powerful words! Job has just described death. When we die, we wait in our graves until the Resurrection
occurs after the Tribulation of the end times when "the heavens be no more" after "Thy wrath be passed" when "my change come".
Job did not say that we would be up in heaven, or in hell, or in some Purgatory, when we die, but in our grave. He specifically
describes a period - an "appointed time" - of unconscious sleep in the grave before awakening in the Resurrection to receive
his reward after God’s wrath and indignation, the Tribulation, has swept across the earth. The great prophet Isaiah,
26:20-21, comes back with a resounding echo of this,
"Come, My people! Enter thou into thy chambers
and shut thy doors about thee!
Hide thyself as it were for a little moment,
until The Indignation be overpast!
For, behold! the Lord cometh out of His place to punish
the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity;
the earth also shall disclose her blood
and shall no more cover her slain."
Many biblically unlearned persons, who hold the same view as the Sadduccees, refer to this doctrine as the
"Heresy of Soul Sleep", and compare it to the blasphemous doctrines of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. While it is true that
the Jehovah’s Witnesses have a vaguely similar teaching on this subject, their entire distorted concept of God and death
are so far from the doctrines of Scripture that it cannot even compare, especially since they use a bible which they themselves
created in order to support their invented doctrines. The Bible ITSELF refers to death as:
SLEEP: 30 times
SLEPT: 41 times
SLEEPETH: 4 times
SLEEPEST: 1 time
ASLEEP: 7 times
REST: 10 times
If the doctrine of "soul sleep" is heresy, then the Bible has committed that heresy 93 times! However, as
we all know, there is no error in God’s Word, therefore, the Bible is correct and the naysayers are the heretics. It
is God’s Word that judges Man, it is not Man that judges God’s Word.
In confirmation of this doctrine, Daniel 12:1-2 speaks of the coming of Messiah in these words,
"At that time shall Thy people be delivered…and many of them that
SLEEP IN THE DUST OF THE EARTH shall awake,
some to everlasting life
and some to shame and everlasting contempt."
Job 17:16 says,
"They shall go down to the bars of the pit
WHEN OUR REST TOGETHER IS IN THE DUST."
Isaiah 26:19 says,
"The dead men shall live;
together with my dead body shall they arise.
AWAKE AND SING, YE THAT DWELL IN THE DUST!"
There is a reason that the Bible writers so often spoke of death as sleep. "Sleep" is a perfect description
of the state of the dead. When a tired person lies down at night he is soon wrapped in sleep. As far as he is concerned, from
his perspective, the very next moment the rising sun awakens him. He is totally unconscious of anything that transpired while
he slept. So it is with the sleep of death.
The most explicit proof of this comes from Jesus Himself, when Lazarus had died in John 11:11-14. The disciples
only knew that Lazarus was very ill and did not know that he had died yet. Jesus, knowing all things, told His disciples,
"Our friend Lazarus SLEEPETH,
but I go that I may AWAKEN HIM OUT OF SLEEP.
Then said His disciples, Lord, if he sleepeth he shall do well.
Howbeit Jesus spake of his DEATH, but they thought that He
had spoken of taking rest in sleep.
Then Jesus said unto them plainly: Lazarus is DEAD."
Now, who will be the first in line to accuse Jesus of teaching heresy? Nobody? I thought not. This is a classic
example of the true biblical teaching about death. It was Lucifer who said that we would not die. God said we would. The terror
of death - the horror of the punishment which was decreed upon Adam and Eve for their defiance of God’s law - is that
death is the state of non-existence. God brought us into existence and disobedience took us right back out of existence.
The whole purpose of Christ’s death and resurrection is so that He would be able to BRING US BACK from non-existence.
He could not simply call us back to existence, because His own law dictates that sin must be punished by death. Therefore,
to appease His own law, the perfect and sinless Son of God surrendered His own life – HE CEASED TO EXIST – for
three days. Jesus Himself said on the cross to the Father and to the Holy Spirit, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken
Me?" When the sins of the world were placed on Jesus while He hung on that cross, the Father and the Holy Spirit BY HIS LAW
had to literally separate, or disconnect, themselves from Jesus. Jesus, being a part of the Godhead, was MADE SIN for us,
and since sin cannot be with God, Jesus was excised from the Godhead on our behalf for three days, during which time He –
the Creator of the Universe – ceased His existence for His people. Then by the power of God, when the time was fulfilled
and death was defeated, He RESURRECTED – He returned to existence! And it is upon the belief in THAT DOCTRINE that He
will resurrect us when He returns. What God is there who is like our God, to do such a mind boggling, breathtaking and courageous
act! What love! What unspeakable glory! THAT is the act of a REAL God! Those that dare say that we do not die, that our souls
are immortal, that we go on after death, are no more than the children of the father of lies; for they deny all the Wonder
that Christ has done.
So Jesus had called death "sleep". Later, as he stood by the tomb of Lazarus, He cried out, "Lazarus, come
forth!" He did not say, "Lazarus, come DOWN!" Like King David, Lazarus was not up in heaven, nor anywhere else but inside
the cage of his tomb. In response to the call of Jesus, the Author of Life, Lazarus awoke from his sleep of death and walked
out into the sunlight.
Many exaggerated tales have circulated about people who "come back from the dead", but this story and a few
others like it in the Bible are the only authentic and legitimate stories on record. There is no doubt that Lazarus had been
dead for four days. Jesus Himself had wept at his death, and Martha, the sister of Lazarus, had protested when Jesus ordered
the stone to be removed from the door to the tomb, saying, "Lord, by this time he stinketh!"
It is vital to understand why Jesus waited four whole days after Lazarus’ death to come to resurrect
him. Jesus had received word that Lazarus was ill and near to death, but Jesus’ response was to go somewhere else and
delay. Why? Why would He do that? Because there was a sickening doctrine going around Israel in those days which crept in
from the surrounding pagan nations. That doctrine said that a soul hovers around a body for three days, trying to get back
into the body; if it failed, it would then depart to some netherworld, or "Purgatory", as the Babylonian sorcerers called
it. By waiting four days, the resurrection of Lazarus proved that God alone had absolute authority and control over matters
of life and death.
Many accounts of patients who resuscitate from, say, heart failure include dramatic recitals of glorious
views of heaven. But here we have BIBLICAL PROOF of someone coming back from the dead. And what did Lazarus have to say about
his four days of death. Did he report visions of heavenly reward? Did he speak of a tunnel of light, or of the glories of
heaven, or of visitations from departed loved ones? He said not one word of such things. And why would he? He had been asleep,
just as Jesus had said! It had been a moment of oblivion for him.
By the way, it is begged to be asked, if Lazarus was indeed in heaven, what kind of unspeakable terror would
it have been for him to be ripped from the glory of the Father’s presence and brought back into this dark world again?
Surely he would have pleaded to return, had he truly been there. A resumption of earthly life would have been worse than the
horror of hell in comparison to 96 hours in Paradise! Certainly the Lord of all mercy would never play such a cruel and despicable
trick on the friend He had only moments ago wept for.
You have come almost halfway into this book. You will either have agreed with its content by now or you will
be thinking that it is just a load of dingo’s kidneys. Maybe you are borderline on the issue and just aren’t quite
sure. Regardless of your persuasion, let me give you a verse that will knock your socks off. A verse that confounds and refutes
all doubt. A verse that is so profound that there is nothing you can do but agree with it or collapse in to relativism and
say it can’t be so. That verse is John 3:13, from the mouth of Jesus Himself. It says (are you ready….?),
"NO MAN HATH ASCENDED UP TO HEAVEN
BUT HE THAT CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN,
EVEN THE SON OF MAN, WHICH IS IN HEAVEN."
No matter what your views, no matter your doctrine, no matter what your parent, pastor, priest, elder, or
pope has told you, no matter what books you’ve read or what guru you have sought out – NO ONE HAS ASCENDED UP
TO HEAVEN but Jesus. Period. End of debate. God Himself has spoken it and no one can contest it.
But I must sigh heavily here and explain that even this is not enough for some people who have filled themselves
with doubt, rather than with the faith that God’s Word is true. Some will say that they still don’t believe it
because they have other verses that they think proves this verse to be a lie (for, after all, this verse is as straight forward
as you can get, so therefore, if someone claims that there is something else that refutes this verse, they can do nothing
less than call this verse a plain lie). So, let us continue and discuss these supposed contentious verses, shall we?
Why do we find it so hard to believe the very simple terminology that the Bible writers use in describing
death? Certainly we have no problem understanding the nature of sleep. Suppose a man lies fast asleep on a park bench. So
soundly does he sleep that he is totally unaware of the stealthy approach of an attacker. In another moment the sleeping man
lies dead in a pool of blood. Now, according to the traditional view of death, this man, who knew nothing while sleeping,
suddenly knows everything as his soul floats away from his body like a helium balloon. But how can this be since the Bible
says that it is - not the soul, in which lies the consciousness of man - but the SPIRIT which returns to God? If the man knew
nothing while sleeping on that bench, he most certainly could not know anything more if he died in that sleep. He is dead,
and therefore there is nothing for him to know further in this world until the Resurrection at the end of time when he will
be returned to existence. He has perished, his mind and thoughts along with him, just as it is declared in Psalm 146:4,
"His breath goeth forth, he returns to the earth:
IN THAT VERY DAY HIS THOUGHTS PERISH."
Once again the Bible defies the traditional view. The wise King Solomon spreads these incredible words of
wisdom and light upon us in Ecclesiastes 9:5-6&10,
"For the living know that they shall die,
BUT THE DEAD KNOW NOT ANYTHING,
neither have they any more a reward,
for the memory of them is forgotten.
Also their love, hatred, and envy is NOW PERISHED.
Neither have they any more a portion in
ANYTHING that is done under the sun….
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might:
for there is NO work, NOR device, NOR knowledge, NOR wisdom
IN THE GRAVE WITHER THOU GOEST."
If one deliberately tried to produce stronger words to support a totally dreamless sleep in death, one would
be hard pressed to match the words of Solomon, whom the Bible says is the wisest man to ever live AND that his wisdom came
directly from God Himself.
Suppose for a moment that the same forceful statement was made to assert CONSCIOUSNESS after death. In other
words, suppose Solomon had instead said, "Their love, hatred and envy will CONTINUE…for there IS work, there IS device,
there IS knowledge, there IS wisdom in the grave." Such a statement would silence this author and would be the total end of
the issue. Such a statement would prove that there is in fact consciousness after death. But, not only does the Bible say
no such thing, it repeatedly says the exact opposite. Isaiah, who gave us more prophecies about Jesus than any other single
prophet, wrote in 38:18-19,
"For the grave CANNOT praise Thee,
death CANNOT celebrate Thee;
they that go down to the pit CANNOT hope for Thy truth.
The living! The living! HE shall praise Thee, as I do this day!"
Would not the righteous dead praise God if they were truly ushered into heaven at death? The great king David
answers in Psalm 115:17,
"The dead PRAISE NOT the Lord,
neither ANY that go down to the pit."
And in Psalm 6:5 King David says,
"For in death there is NO remembrance of Thee,
In the grave, who shall give Thee thanks?"
Yet again David says in Psalm 30:9,
"What profit is there in my blood when I go down to the pit?
Shall the dust praise Thee? Shall it give Thee thanks?"
There are many that sincerely believe that they have physical, eye witness proof that the dead appeared to
them. They have the witness of their senses that they have actually conversed with departed loved ones. They can give the
place, date and hour they were confronted by dead loved ones who are often reported to appear in the same form as when they
were alive. What can be said about these manifestations?
First, let us imagine that the traditional life-after-death story is true, and we will see how contradictions
nullify the possibility of it being reality. Under that doctrine, if a loved one which "appears" had received salvation from
Christ, they would be worshipping at the feet of God and enjoying the bliss of heaven. If they had not received salvation,
they would be burning in the fires of hell. Neither would be making deathbed cameo appearances. And since when has God stopped
using His "ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of angels" to deliver messages on behalf of God to the
living? There is not so much as one incident in the Bible of God sending a dead person to speak to the living. That duty is
reserved for the ministering angels of God.
And note these important verses in 1st John 4:2-3 and 2:22, which say,
"Hereby know ye the spirit of God:
Every spirit which confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God;
and every spirit which confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh
is not of God,
for this is the spirit of antichrist whereof ye have heard that it should come
and even now already is it in the world….
Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ;
he is antichrist which denieth the Father and the Son."
Rarely, if ever, is it claimed that departed loved ones spoke of Jesus Christ and salvation by Him. Although
there are some that do turn to spiritualism and religion after seeing a vision, the apparition is never reported to have bared
witness of Jesus to the dying person, and never have they fulfilled the requirement stated in the above verses. Therefore
they cannot be whom they claim to be, and more importantly, they cannot be of God.
Should we discount all such psychic appearances as mental apparitions of emotional and unstable individuals?
Hardly. Sometimes forms DO appear and they have been verified countless times. In September of 1998, the worldwide pseudo-Christian
TV network TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network), issued an entire book filled to the brim with these near-death experiences
with departed loved ones as a "love gift" for sending them money ("send us money and we’ll love you"). But on the true
and infallible Witness of God – the Holy Scriptures – we can categorically reject those stories as legitimate
encounters between the living and the souls or spirits of the dead. King Solomon already told us earlier, "The dead know not
anything, neither have they a portion for ever in anything that is done under the sun." The issue isn’t whether or not
someone actually encountered a vision; visions do occur! The issue is over WHO is appearing in those visions.
Then who is appearing and making lying claims in the name of the innocent dead? From the biblical evidence,
it could be only one of three things: angelic, demonic, or self-induced.
The angels of God certainly would not waste their time impersonating the dead, and they wouldn’t lie
about it and say that they were someone from among the dead. Angels in the Bible from time to time appeared as humans to living
men to give them a message or mission from God, but they never take on the form of the person’s departed friends or
family. More often than not, angels appear in the Bible in natural form – which is anything but human. Nor were angels
once human, and neither do humans become angels when they die, as a surprising number of people actually believe. Angels are
separate creations of God which have great powers from God, powers that Man cannot understand, and one of those powers is
the ability to take on other forms and appearances, especially that of Man. But angels who serve the Lord are not deceivers.
On the other hand, Lucifer and his fallen angels delight in deceiving Man through shape shifting and are
described in Scripture as appearing in many guises such as a serpent, a cherub, an angel of light, a wolf, a lion, a whirlwind,
a flood, a dragon, the Antichrist, and many other things to either mislead us or attack us. Who else but the Father of Lies
would do such a thing, who built his first deception around the issue of death in the guise of a serpent. He boldly and defiantly
contradicted Jesus, saying to the woman, "Ye shall NOT surely die." And if that old snake could deceive the perfect Adam and
Eve, how much more will fallen Man be deceived by him! When death did follow, Satan made Adam’s descendents believe
that it was just an illusion. By impersonating the dead, Satan has convinced Man that he was right and God was wrong. He certainly
tricked King Saul when he appeared as the High Priest Samuel (1 Samuel 28:7-20), giving the God-forsaken king the idea that
witches, mediums and necromancers have power to call up the dead – and not just ANY dead, but the saints of the Almighty!
Rest assured that Satan will pay for his treachery against the Word of God, but I fear that We the Church
will have to answer to God for spreading Satan’s lies. Beware of anything that comes to you and claims to be from the
dead! It is written that Jesus alone holds the keys to the grave and death; and to have keys to the grave and death implies
that the grave and death is LOCKED. And now we also know that they will not be UNLOCKED until the resurrection. Jesus said
in Revelation 1:18 & 3:7,
"I Am He that liveth and was dead; and behold, I Am alive for evermore, Amen!
And I have the Keys of Hell [the grave] and of Death….
…He that openeth and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth."
There are some other factors to consider as well, such as the high probability that an apparition is self-induced.
Many people who have "Near Death Experiences" claim to have wondrous visions of the other side. But as a colleague of mine
once said, "Being NEAR Chicago isn’t the same as being IN Chicago." If you are NEAR death, you aren’t dead. If
you were completely dead, your spirit would have departed from you, as it is clearly written, and therefore your body would
have no conscious memory or thought, because there would be no mind there for you to even perceive such a vision. Remember
we read earlier that King David said of the dead, "In that very day their thoughts perish," and King Solomon said, "The dead
know not anything." So just what are these visions and apparitions?
Most people who revive on their deathbeds, who claim to have had visions, aren’t gone very long. A
doctor may declare you to be dead, but you may not necessarily be totally dead. Your brain and body can still be working off
bits of oxygen it received when the heart stopped, like a car running on fumes when it runs out of gas. A stopped heart does
not necessarily a dead person make, else they couldn’t be revived to tell us of these "Near Death Experiences"! If you
can be revived, that means that your spirit has not yet left you, which in turn means that you are not dead and you are still
a living soul.
In a distressed condition, medical research has proven time and again that the mind can imagine anything.
Usually this is a defensive act of the body under extreme trauma. The sleep that we take every night is a shadow of death,
a daily reminder of our mortality; and just as we dream up images that we cannot control while we sleep, so too may we envision
things when we are comatose and moving toward the gates of death. Brain scans cannot be 100% effective in determining whether
someone is dead because death is only half-physical. Death is also a spiritual event, and there is no tool on earth to measure
Some people who have been jolted suddenly and without warning by a threat of death (such as a near miss by
a car), will often say that their whole life flashed before their eyes. Instantly every memory of importance leaps to the
forefront of their conscious mind at the same time as though it were trying to escape through their ear and rescue itself,
like a log buoy containing a ship’s historical records which is jettisoned from a ship when there is eminent threat
of destruction. Other people claim to see a tunnel of light or a tunnel with light at the end of it. This is often explained
away as a person passing from this world into heaven. Thanks to both the Scriptures and to modern medical science (for Christ
is the Chief Physician), we now know this to be merely an effect of the mind.
So, though the visions and apparitions could easily be demonic, it could just as easily be self-induced.
But either way, don’t blame the dead; they are resting peacefully in their graves awaiting the Resurrection. Now here
is an incredible but true story as told by a minister…
"A woman who served with her husband as missionaries in Africa for many years was living in an isolated Mission
Station. A fatal tropical disease killed their three-year-old daughter, and they buried her on the hillside across from the
station. A few days later, the mother was sitting in the kitchen when suddenly the door burst open and her little girl ran
across the room to throw herself into her mother’s arms."
Can you imagine yourself under that kind of traumatic horror? To make matters worse, the child cried out,
"Mommy! I’m not dead! I’m not dead!" Fortunately that Christian mother knew the truth about death, and God gave
her the extraordinary strength and power to pray instantly for deliverance from that satanic masquerade. When she called upon
the name of the Lord Jesus, the form disappeared.
It is instances such as this that the Bible warns us about when it commands us not to be ignorant of Satan’s
devices. We must recognize his ability to manipulate the minds of men and women with deceit. God has given us a weapon against
him – a Sword, which is the Word of God, the Bible. Jesus and the prophets and apostles used the Scriptures in all instances
when contending with the Devil because it is the Power of the Almighty, against which Satan is powerless. Satan knows this.
We should not and cannot be a disgraceful soldier of Christ, with a rusty sword and armor. Satan’s loophole into your
life is based on your ignorance of God’s Word. Knowledge of God’s Word is mandatory for your safety and sanity.
There are certain, specific doctrines that are the foundation of our faith as Christians. Part of that foundation
is the doctrine concerning death, because death is at the very heart of the whole message of the Scriptures. The whole purpose
of why Jesus came was to defeat death and the power of Satan. All of eternity hinges on the issue of life and death. This
is why it is so important to properly understand what death is. True, if you let it, the subject of death could appear to
be a rather morbid and depressing one. But once you have solidly set your feet upon the Living Rock, death will appear rather
puny. It is pain, not death, that people are usually afraid of; but once you have the Word of God reigning in your heart,
you will be able to separate the fear of pain from the reality of death and you will realize that death, while not a good
thing, is actually powerless over you, in the eternal sense, because Jesus Christ has conquered it and brought it into subjection.
And if Christ has total power over death and it is subject to Him, so much so that He holds the keys to its doors, what then
is there for a believer to fear?
A dark tunnel is scary because you cannot see inside of it, you do not know what you will find in it, you
do not know where the exit on the other side is, and you do not know where that exit will lead. But if the owner of the tunnel
bears light with him as he traverses the entire length of it and then emerges with the assurance that you will be safe inside
from all harm, then you know that you have nothing to fear when you enter it and that you will be completely safe while you
sleep inside it. So it is with death; for Christ descended into it, conquered its darkness, and has come out of it alive with
victory and power and ownership over it. To the wicked, that dark place of death will exit out into the condemnation of an
eternal living death in the Lake of Fire. But for the righteous, the Lord will come and stand at the other side of death and
call to you, and you will hear His voice and come out into the eternal presence of the Lord who will personally greet you
when you emerge from it. THAT is the experience of the Resurrection. That is the true "light at the end of the tunnel."
But understand now more fully the purpose of death. Death does more than just put an end to one’s life;
it also puts an end to SINNING. Death is not merely the end result of sin, it is the end of sin. The end of
sins is the purpose for death’s existence, and when sin and sinners are finally wiped from creation, death itself will
meet it’s end. When man sins, sin must be crushed along with its vessel. As it is written in the law, when a person
sinned they had to be brought outside the camp of Israel and put to death so as not to contaminate the People of God and the
camp. They are "cut off from among the people".
God will not tolerate sin in His presence, and if He is to dwell with us then there can be no sin permitted
among us either. But man is born in sin as the offspring of sinners, and therefore all men must die. There is nothing that
can stop it. There is none that can escape it, from the most wretched sinner to the holiest man of God. But the gift of eternal
life through faith in the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus then guarantees us birth from death. Even as Jesus is called
"The first born from the dead," so too shall we be born from death, called out of oblivion by God Himself never to sin or
be defiled again, in our regenerated body which cannot be corrupted and therefore can never die, as prophesied by Job 19:26,
"And though after my skin worms destroy this body,
yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself,
and mine eyes shall behold, and not another,
though my reigns be consumed within me."
But if man must die because of sin in accordance with the law of God, how then can man obtain eternal life in his own body,
even if it is transformed to be
incorruptible? We cannot simply say, "Because God can do anything". There are in fact some things that God
cannot do. God cannot sin and He cannot brake His own law. Why can’t He brake His law, especially if He made it? Because
God’s law and God’s identity are one and the same. God IS the law, just as Jesus IS the Word of God (the Word
and the Law are the same, you see). God made man in His own image, therefore if it is a sin for man to break the law, it is
a sin for God to break the law. Since God cannot sin, He therefore cannot break the law, especially since sin is specifically
the breaking of the law. He can no sooner brake His law than He can cease to be God, which can never happen because He is
and always will be God, as it is written, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday and today and forever."