There are so many conflicting beliefs about death and what it is like beyond the grave, that it becomes difficult to know which beliefs are true. But God has not left His people to wonder about this important subject without giving them insights into the truth on this issue.
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
As all scripture is inspired by God, then these sacred pages are where we can safely find the sure foundation for doctrine, and for reproof and correction of our errors, and thus obtain the pure knowledge of righteousness. So what does God declare through His word about death?
First of all, what is death? The Bible refers over and over again that death is likened to sleep. In Old Testament times, when someone died it was declared that he "slept with his fathers" (see 1 Kings 2:10, 11:43, 14:20,31, 15:8,24). In New Testament times, death was also likened to sleep (see 1 Corinthians 11:30, 15:20; 1 Thessalonians 4:14). Jesus plainly states this same idea when referring to the death of his friend Lazarus.
"Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead." John 11:11-14.
So being dead is like being asleep (see also Matt 27:52; 1 Corin 15:51; Dan 12:2). But when we die or fall asleep, what happens? "His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish." Psalms 146:4.
God stated that when we die, we no longer have any thoughts or mental processes. Thus there is no consciousness in the grave. So will God show us any of His wonders, whether past, present or future, in the grave? No.
"Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee?...Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction? Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?" Psalms 88:10-12.
Will we praise the Lord in the grave? No.
"The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence." Psalms 115:17.
Will we even remember the Lord in the grave? No.
"For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?" Psalms 6:5.
Will we see anyone else while we are dead? No.
"I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave...I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world." Isaiah 38:10-11.
But don't we see our loved ones and friends coming to our grave to pay us respect? No.
"But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost...His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not..." Job 14:10, 21.
So those who have died really do not know anything!
"For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten." Ecclesiastes 9:5.
Truly, being dead is like being asleep--just as Jesus stated. Yet many have been taught that at death some go straight to heaven. But does God teach that we go to heaven and see the Lord when we die?
"...I shall go to the gates of the grave...I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord, in the land of the living..." Isaiah 38:10-11.
Others have been taught that their dead relatives are in heaven who are watching over them and working for their good through various means. But is this what the Bible teaches? No.
"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, whither thou goest." Ecclesiastes 9:10.
What about those who believe that they have actually seen or even talked to their dead loved ones apparently raised from the dead?
"So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep." Job 14:12.
Then what about those who believe in, or who have seen, ghosts or the spirits of the dead haunting houses or graveyards or even helping people?
"...the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun." Ecclesiastes 9:5-6.
Thus the dead have no memory at all of when they were alive. So they can not remember anyone or anything that they either loved or hated, cherished or envied during their lifetime. Hence, even if they could come back as a ghost or a spirit, they could not even remember who they were to haunt or help!
Yet many people have actually seen ghosts or spirits and various apparitions. Others have heard unexplained noises and seen supernatural phenomena. But since the Bible of truth teaches that ghosts cannot be the actual dead person's spirit raised to life, then who are these apparitions?
"And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him....For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world..." Revelation 12:7-9, 16:14.
So there are indeed ghosts or spirits today, yet not one of these are dead people come back from the grave. They are only the evil angels or spirits of devils whom were cast out of heaven. These evil beings are only pretending to be the dead come back to life. And it does not matter whom they impersonate--even the dead Apostle Paul or other followers of Christ. In fact, the more widely known the dead individual, the better to impersonate them.
But why do these evil angels impersonate the dead and sometimes even communicate information to those whom they contact? Their whole purpose for doing so is to deceive people and try to get them to believe that the information given them is really the truth. But does the Devil, along with his evil angels, tell the truth?
"He...abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." John 8:44.
So we are not to believe any of the information relayed by these apparitions or so-called spirits of the dead because it is nothing but lies! The biggest lie which the Devil and his evil spirits have tried to pawn off as being true is the belief that when we die our soul continues to live on. This falsehood is also known as the immortality of the soul, and multitudes have been duped into really believing it is true. But is humanity immortal?
The Bible teaches that all human beings are "mortal", not immortal (see Job 4:17; Romans 6:12). In fact, God alone "only hath immortality" 1 Timothy 6:16.
So the holy Scriptures declare that at death, we do not go on living for eternity. We do not go to heaven or to hell at death, but rest in the grave. Nor do we reincarnate into some other creature as in the pagan belief of the endless circle of life--a continual rebirth only to die again. For God mercifully states that human beings die once--not many times. "...it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement..." Hebrews 9:27.
But the big question which needs to be asked is: What causes humanity to die in the first place?
"And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die....And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat....And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him...In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." Genesis 2:16-17, 3:6,9,19.
So death began when God's command or law was disobeyed and broken. But what actually occurs when we disobey or transgress the law of God?
"Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." 1 John 3:4.
Thus in breaking God's law, we commit sin, and what happens because of our choice to sin? "For the wages of sin is death..." Romans 6:23.
Who is the author and originator of all sin and death? "Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou was created, till iniquity was found in thee." "He (the Devil) was a murderer from the beginning..." Ezekiel 28:15; John 8:44.
So God cannot be blamed for either sin or death because the Devil or Satan or Lucifer is the originator and creator of all sin and death and thus is alone responsible for all the horror, pain, and suffering caused because of it. And since sin entered the world with its penalty of death, humanity has ever since tried to find a way to circumvent death and continue to live on, and the Devil has been very successful in helping us believe this with his lies.
Multitudes believe the theory that sin only causes the penalty of death to our fleshly body, but our soul continues to live on forever. But does the Bible teach this? No. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." Ezekiel 18:20.
The soul that sins does not live on forever, but it dies! And as "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), then the soul of no dead human being has ever continued to live on after death! This belief, that we are made up of a body and a separate soul, is another lie directly from the Devil and his evil spirits. God tells us the truth about how we were created.
"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." Genesis 2:7.
God clearly states that a body, plus the breath of life, equals a living soul (see also Job 33:4; Ezekiel 37:6). Thus a body, without breath, cannot equal a living soul--but a dead one! So there is no truth to the doctrine of our soul continuing to go on living after we die. Neither does humanity have a spirit which goes on living after death.
Our breath, which comes from God and allows us to have life, can also be translated in the scriptures as "spirit" (see also Job 27:3). So a body, plus the breath or spirit of life, equals a living soul. But a body, without spirit, cannot equal a living soul. So there is no truth to the belief that at death, our spirit continues to go on living. When we die, our breath or spirit of life goes back to God who gave it to us at birth (see Ecclesiastes 12:7; Psalms 31:5), but there is no separate life or consciousness in this breath--no more than there would be when we exhale.
Is the lot of humanity to face death without any hope of ever escaping from it's eternal grasp? Has anyone delivered us from this hopeless destiny?
"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man...Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." Hebrews 2:9, 14-15.
Jesus has mercifully provided a way that all humanity can be delivered from this hopeless destiny of eternal death in order to have life again!
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." 1 Corinthians 15:22; 1 John 5:11-12.
All humanity can now have hope that there is indeed life after death--but only in Jesus Christ. No other human being: be he president or pope, evangelist or guru, shaman or priest, can offer anyone eternal life in truth. Life after death is only found in Jesus Christ because it is only Jesus that has been given "power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many" as are His (see John 17:2). And Jesus Christ is available to all humanity--even those considered to be in the lowest scale of human worth or in the deepest pit of sin.
"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:15-16.
"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." 1 Timothy 1:15.
So all humanity can now rest in the hope that there is indeed life after death--but only in Christ Jesus. No longer need anyone be afraid of death--unless you have not accepted Jesus as your Saviour and are not connected with Him.
Please do not allow another moment to go by without getting on your knees, repenting of your sins, and asking Jesus to forgive you and then plead for Him to take control of your life. "Now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2)--not tomorrow, because tomorrow may be too late.