What Happens When We Die?
Many are always seeking answers on death like what happens when you die? Do some soar to heaven while others descend to hell? Is there a holding place called “purgatory”? Do we enter the spirit world? What about reincarnation? Might I return as an eagle? Can the living actually communicate with dead and do the dead haunt the house they used to live in? The truth about death can be found only in the Bible. The book of Revelation says, “Satan deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9), thus we cannot expect the majority of human beings to be right about anything!
What is the Spirit and Soul?
The Spirit and Soul is something that is very misunderstood by many so Body + Spirit = Soul.
We will primarily let the Strong’s dictionary followed by the Bible define what they are. Put simply, the Spirit is basically the BREATH of life from God. Both the Greek and Hebrew words translate “spirit” to “breath” or “air.” The Greek word “pneuma” is known by many of you in relation to things like pneumatic tools which are air driven or pneumatic tyres which means tyres inflated by air. As you can see, the word “pneumatic” originated from the Greek word “Pneuma” and means “breath” or “air.”
A person’s soul is just simply a living breathing creature. Have you heard the expression; I went to the park and there wasn’t a soul there? A soul just simply means a person and is who and what you are.
In the Beginning:
Genesis 2:7 God formed Adam into “a living soul.”
Genesis 2:16-17 God warned that if Adam sinned, he would “surely die.”
Genesis 3:4 The serpent said, “you will not surely die.”
Genesis 3:19 Because of sin, man will return to dust.
Ecclesiastes 12:7 Death is creation of a living soul in reverse. We return to dust “and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”
Job 27:3 The spirit of God does not live in our nose! This is referring to the breath of life from God.
Genesis 3:22-24 God did not want Adam and Eve after sin to take from “the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.” So He drove them out of Paradise. Therefore no sinner will naturally “live forever” apart from Jesus Christ.
Genesis 5:5 After Adam lived 930 years, then “he died.”
The Soul is Not Immortal:
Job 4:17 The Bible calls man mortal.
Revelation 16:3 "Every living soul died in the sea." Souls can die.
Ezekiel 18:4 God said, “The soul that sins, it shall die.” Again, the soul can die!
Exodus 1:5 “Seventy souls” went to Egypt. Souls are people.
Acts 2:41 “Three thousand souls” were baptized. Again, souls are people.
1 Peter 3:20 “Eight souls were saved” in Noah’s day. Again, souls are people.
1 Timothy 6:16 God “only has immortality.” Man is not immortal.
2 Timothy 1:10 “Immortality” comes only “through the gospel.”
Romans 2:7 Christians “seek for immortality.”
1 Corinthians 15:53 At the end, “this mortal” shall “put on immortality.”
Death is a Sleep:
Job 14:12 The dead “shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep” until “the heavens be no more.”
Psalms 13:3 “Lest I sleep the sleep of death.”
Daniel 12:2 “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake.”
Acts 7:60 When Stephen died, “he fell asleep.”
John 11:11-14 “Lazarus sleeps … Jesus spoke of his death.”
1 Corinthians 11:30; 15:6, 18, 51 Paul said death was “sleep.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-16 Those “which sleep in Jesus” will be resurrected.
Do the dead haunt their house?
Job 7:10 The dead “shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more.”
The Dead are Unconscious:
Psalms 115:17 “The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.”
Psalms 146:4 When a man dies, “in that very day his thoughts perish.”
Ecclesiastes 9:5 “The dead know not anything.”
Ecclesiastes 9:10 “There is no work... nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave.”
Jesus Christ Taught the Resurrection of the Dead:
Matthew 22:23, 29 Jesus rebuked those who said there was “no resurrection.”
Matthew 22:31 Jesus taught “the resurrection of the dead.”
Luke 14:14 The saints will “be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”
John 5:28-29 “All who are in their graves” will be resurrected at the second coming of Christ.
John 6:39, 40, 44, 54 All believers will rise “on the last day.”
John 11:24 Martha said to Jesus, “I know that he [Lazarus] shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
The Death and Resurrection of Jesus:
Matthew 16:21 Jesus would “be killed, and be raised again on the third day.”
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 “Christ died ... was buried ... he rose again.”
Matthew 28:7 The angel said, “he is risen from the dead.”
Revelation 1:18 Jesus “was dead,” but is now “alive for evermore.”
Revelation 2:8 Jesus “was dead, and is alive.”
Death and Resurrection in the Book of Acts:
Acts 2:29 David is “dead and buried.” His body is still in the tomb.
Jesus raising the deadActs 2:34 David has not yet “ascended into the heavens.” He’s not in heaven yet.
Acts 9:36-41 Tabitha “was sick, and died ... Peter ... prayed; and turning to the body said ... arise ... she opened her eyes ... presented her alive.”
Acts 13:36 David “fell on sleep and was laid unto his fathers and saw corruption.”
Acts 24:15 “A resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.”
All Believers will be Resurrected when Jesus Christ Returns:
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 “The Lord himself shall descend ... the dead ... shall rise ... to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 15:50-55 The saints cry out, “0 death, where is thy sting” when they are resurrected at the second coming of Jesus.
John 14:1-3 Jesus will take us to heaven when He “comes again.”
1 Corinthians 15:12-23 Paul says there is a resurrection of both Christ and the dead, “but every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.”
We Must Beware of Satanic Deceptions:
Matthew 24:4 “Take heed that no man deceive you.”
2 Corinthians 11:14 Satan deceives as “an angel of light.”
1 Timothy 4:1 We must beware of “doctrines of devils.”
Genesis 3:4 The first doctrine the devil taught Eve was that if she sinned she would “not surely die”!
2 Corinthians 11:3 As “the serpent beguiled Eve,” so Satan continues to mislead even good people “through his subtlety.”
Matthew 24:24 All can be deceived by the “great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”
Behold, the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice, and come forth, they that have done good, to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation. ~~Jesus Christ (John 5:28-29)
So far it has been proven from the Bible that when a man dies, he is dead, asleep and unconscious in the grave until the resurrection when Jesus Christ comes again. Some will say, if this is true, then how do we explain other verses in the Word of God that seem to teach that either people or their souls go directly to heaven when they die? The following passages are often used to teach an “immediate flight to glory”, whereas, upon closer analysis, they really do not. Read them all carefully, and then don’t forget what Jesus and the rest of the Bible says.
The Thief on the Cross - Luke 23:42-43
When Jesus was dying on the cross the crucified thief right next to Him said, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
The interpretation of Jesus’ response depends upon where you place a tiny particle called a “comma.” The fact is, commas are not inspired, but were added over a thousand years later along with chapters and verses. Did Jesus Christ say, “I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise” or, “I say to you today, you will be with Me in paradise” (at the Second Coming)? Here is one translation that put the comma in the place that lines up with all other scripture.
Luke 23:43 TS98 “And Jesus said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you today, you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
Here is further proof that punctuation is not inspired. Acts 19:12 KJV “So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.” In this verse we see the diseases departed from the sick handkerchiefs or aprons. The comma should have been placed after the word “sick”. There are many such examples through even the King James Bible as well as other translations.
Let’s look at just one more that proves beyond all doubt that punctuation is not inspired by God. This following example involves chapters, verses as well as a comma. Matthew 28:1 reads, “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.”
The end of the Sabbath which is sunset and dawn are twelve hours apart, so why the apparent contradiction in the above verse? The answer is found in the translation of this passage. By reorganizing the last verse of Matthew 27 and the first verse of Matthew 28, the apparent ambiguity completely disappears. See Matthew 27:62-66.
In Matthew 27:62, a request for a guard on the tomb was made on the Sabbath (the day after the preparation) and that the request was for a guard until the third day. By simply moving the text “in the end of the Sabbath,” from the beginning of Matthew 28:1 to the end of Matthew 27:66, which is where it should have been placed when punctuation and chapters and verse were added, we would have the following.
Matthew 27:66 “So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch in the end of the sabbath.”
Matthew 28:1 “As it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.”
It was the watch guarding the tomb that began at the end of the Sabbath. Since Jesus was to rise the third day, the Roman guards were put in place immediately at the end of the Sabbath because they anticipated that the body of Jesus would be stolen by the Jews sometime on Sunday.
More reasons why the comma is wrongly placed in Luke 23:43
Right after His resurrection on Sunday morning, Jesus said to Mary, “I have not yet ascended to My Father.” John 20:17. Thus on Sunday, Jesus had not yet ascended to Paradise. “Paradise” is in heaven where God and “the tree of life” are.
Jesus would not contradict Himself or the rest of the Bible. He said previously that believers go to Heaven “on the last day” when He “comes again.” John 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 14:1-3.
What about Moses and Elijah? Luke 9:27-36
On the mount of transfiguration, “two men ... Moses and Elias ... appeared in glory.” These where not spirits or disembodied souls, but “two men.” Elijah never died. He was translated without seeing death. 2 Kings 2:11. Moses “died” and was “buried.” Deuteronomy 34:5-6. Yet the book of Jude reveals that Michael came from heaven and, “contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses.” Jude 1:9. Moses was also raised, that’s why the devil protested. Then Michael said, “the Lord rebuke thee.” Hence it was a living, resurrected Moses and a living, translated Elijah that appeared on the mount.
The Rich Man and Lazarus - Luke 16:19-31
Believe it or not, this is the ONLY place in the entire New Testament that suggests that a lost soul goes into a fiery hell immediately at death. This idea is not taught anywhere else - not by Matthew, Mark, John, James, Peter or Paul.
Jesus often told parables. While containing many practical lessons, parables are not meant to be taken literally. Here are 9 reasons why the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus is definitely a parable:
Jesus often began his parables in the book of Luke with the phrase, “a certain...” See Luke 12:16; 13:6; 14:16; 15:11; 16:1; 19:11-12; 20:9 (KJV).
A man cannot literally enter into “the bosom” or chest of Abraham.
It is impossible for anyone who is literally burning in fire to carry on a normal conversation.
Can those in heaven and hell talk to each other?
The rich man was represented as being “bodily” in hell, with eyes, a mouth, a tongue, etc. This is obviously symbolic. If the rich man’s grave was dug up, wouldn’t his body be there? Of course.
A real man burning in fire would not ask for a little water to cool his tongue. (He would ask for the fire brigade!)
Jesus Christ did not interpret every parable He told. Yet He did interpret the parable of the wheat and the weeds in Matthew 13. In His interpretation of this parable, Jesus said plainly that hell-fire occurs at the end, rather than at death. Read Matthew 13:40.
Consciousness at death contradicts the rest of the Bible. Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; Psalms 6:5; 115:17; 146:4; etc.
2 Peter 2:9 says that the lost will not be punished until “the day of judgment” which occurs at the end of the 1000 years (see Revelation 20:11-15).
The purpose of this parable was to teach the greedy Pharisees that contrary to their present opinions, the rich are not necessarily blessed and the poor cursed (16:14, 22-23), that a man’s destiny is fixed at death (16:26), that speaking against Him with their “tongues” would result in their going into hell-fire (16:4), and that if they would not believe Moses and the prophets, a resurrection would not convince them (16:29, 31). Thus Jesus declared that we must believe Moses and the prophets. Nowhere in the writings of “Moses and the prophets” do people instantly go to heaven or into hell-fire at death. Why did Jesus use the name Lazarus? Because this parable was also a prophecy. At the end of His life Jesus would resurrect a real person named Lazarus, yet this miracle would still not convince the Pharisees that He was the Messiah. John 11:1-53.
Note: We should interpret parables in the light of the rest of the Bible, rather than the rest of the Bible in the light of one parable.
Saul, Samuel and the witch of Endor - 1 Samuel 28:5-14
Did King Saul really speak to Samuel after his death? Do the whole host of scriptures that clearly state the dead sleep until the second coming of Christ contradict this passage? Definitely not! In 1 Samuel chapter 28 we find Saul afraid of the host of Philistines and so enquiring after the Lord for help. But the Lord would not answer Saul so he went to the witch of Endor to see if he could contact Samuel from the grave and have him ask God how he could gain victory over the Philistines.
Saul of course sinned greatly by inquiring of an evil spirit in place of the Lord. If Samuel had actually gone to heaven, Satan would certainly not have been given permission to bring him down in response to the incantations of a wicked woman. The figure that appeared to the witch had to be an impersonation of Samuel by a demon or even Satan himself. If Satan can appear as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), he can certainly appear as the prophet Samuel. Note in verse 11 that Samuel was supposedly brought up from below. Heretical but popular theology says that righteous people such as Samuel would come down from heaven, but pagan ideas assume that the dead are below ground. This popular pagan idea about death had obviously crept into the beliefs of God’s people well before the time of Christ. See the story of the rich man and Lazarus earlier and John chapter 11 for example.
This witch of Endor was known for having a familiar spirit but what is a familiar spirit? It is certainly not an angel of God because of His strong condemnation against consulting with them. A familiar spirit is a demonic spirit (fallen angel) that is in league with Satan. This is what the woman at Endor had. She had communication with a demon that was quite capable of impersonating Samuel. It was not Samuel who appeared but a demon masquerading as Samuel. Note in verse 12 that the first thing the demon did was expose Saul’s masquerade to the witch. Note also that Saul did not actually see anything himself and had to ask what she saw. The witch replied that she saw gods ascending out of the earth and an old man covered with a mantle. What were these so called gods ascending out of the earth with Samuel? More demons! Saul assumed it was Samuel he communicated with based only on what the witch said. Since the witch said she saw Samuel coming up from out of the earth (not down from heaven), King Saul was putting his trust completely in a spirit medium, a necromancer, a witch, against the expressed will of God. So the conversation that followed was not between Saul and Samuel, but between Saul and a witch with a familiar (demonic) spirit.
So with all these facts in mind and understanding what the Word teaches about the state of the dead and the circumstances of Saul’s relationship with God at the time, we know that it could not have been Samuel raised from the dead but a fallen angel. The fact that Saul even attempted this séance with a witch or spirit medium was an abomination and rebellion against God of which Saul paid for with his life.