It is no secret that many people (believers and unbelievers alike) think that when you die, your spirit or soul remains alive. Most people believe that when you die you either go to heaven or hell. The “church” believes this with confidence and this is the very heart of the Christian belief system. Believers go to heaven at death and unbelievers (and wicked humanity) go to hell at death. The truth in scripture will reveal that both of these beliefs are unscriptural. If we rely on the teachings and traditions of men, we leave no room for the truths of God to rule our hearts. Let’s start with this verse in 2 Corinthians 5:8 which is often quoted as the paramount verse that justifies the teaching of receiving the promise of eternal (aionios: age-abiding) life immediately after death.
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be ABSENT FROM THE BODY, and to be PRESENT WITH THE LORD. (King James Version)
This verse is taught that upon death, the believer’s spirit immediately goes to heaven to spend eternity with the Lord. The problem is that there are many other scriptures that contradict this teaching. There aren’t any contradictions in God’s word. However, there are contradictions in the translations (by uninspired men) that we have and in the carnal interpretations that people make. We must let scripture explain scripture through guidance by the Spirit of Christ if we are to ever understand God’s word.
1 Corinthians 2:13 Which things also we speak, NOT IN THE WORDS WHICH MAN’S WISDOM TEACHETH, but which the HOLY GHOST TEACHETH; COMPARING SPIRITUAL THINGS WITH SPIRITUAL.
The Creation of Man
Genesis 2:7 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.
So from reading this verse alone, we see that this is the equation for man’s creation;
dust of the ground + breath of life = living soul
In Genesis 2:17, God tells man that he will SURELY DIE if he eats from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Christians disagree with God and they are actually in “agreement” with the serpent that professed to Eve, “you shall NOT surely die”.
Notice that Genesis 2:7 says “living soul” (not immortal soul) so it is implied that a soul can cease from being living. Not convinced?
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.
So if a soul is immortal, how can it die? The problem with this idea is that men try to create a definition for a soul that is not consistent with what is plainly stated in the scriptures. Consider this definition for the word soul according to Merriam-Webster;
“The spiritual part of a person that is believed to give life to the body and in many religions is believed to live forever.”
This definition divides the spiritual part of a person and the body of a person as if they can exist a part from each other. Notice that this definition gives NO credit to the real source of our life which is God. If we look back at the scripture in Genesis 2:7, we clearly see that it is the combination of the dust of the ground and the breath of life that creates a living soul. When we die, we return to the dust of the earth. Let’s look at several scriptures that explain the process of death.
Psalm 104:29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: THOU TAKEST AWAY THEIR BREATH, THEY DIE, AND RETURN TO THEIR DUST.
Even with scriptures such as this, people still believe that the body dies but the spirit of a man continues to live on albeit without a body. They believe that this spirit or immortal soul goes to heaven or hell at death.
Luke 16:23 And IN HELL HE LIFT UP HIS EYES, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Although this verse is a part of a parable, this verse is often quoted to justify that hell is real. Notice that is says he lift up his eyes. Eyes are a part of a human body that decomposes and returns to the dust of the earth as explained earlier.
Luke 16:24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the TIP OF HIS FINGER in water, and cool MY TONGUE; for I am tormented in this flame. So apparently in this “spirit world”, the rich man’s body-less soul (spirit) has a tongue and the body-less soul (spirit) of Lazarus has fingers.
Matthew 18:8 Wherefore if THY HAND OR THY FOOT offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having TWO HANDS OR TWO FEET TO BE CAST INTO EVERLASTING FIRE. Clearly this is a contradiction. When a person dies, they have a funeral and are buried. The person can be exhumed years later and you will still be able to see their hands and feet. This verse tells us that hands and feet get cast into this “everlasting fire” (the word everlasting is not a proper translation). Hands and feet are a part of a human body not a body-less spirit and Christ makes it clear that it is a body that gets cast into this hell (geenna) fire.
Do you not see how these scriptures present a contradiction to the common belief in the immortality of the soul? The scriptures do not support this belief in any way. Most Christians will not be able to provide you with any scriptures to justify this belief. They were taught it and they just believed it. Some will try to find a scripture to twist in order to make their carnal interpretation appear to have some truth but remember, God’s word doesn’t contradict itself.
So when a man dies, his body returns to the dust but what happens to the breath of life? Would it be too much of a stretch to say that since man returns to the dust of the earth at death, then the breath of life (spirit) returns to God? What do the scriptures say?
Ecclesiastes 12:7 Then SHALL THE DUST RETURN TO THE EARTH AS IT WAS: and THE SPIRIT SHALL RETURN UNTO GOD WHO GAVE IT.
What do we say now? Is this not clear enough for you? Is it that hard for you to believe God’s word? There are so many scriptures like these that contradict the teaching that man has an immortal soul. Let’s look at some others;
Psalm 6:5 For in DEATH there is NO REMEMBRANCE OF THEE: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?
How many times have we seen people of TV and YouTube make claims of having “near death experiences”? Come on people, let’s use our brains here for a second, – near death is not death. Death is death. There are also others who actually claim to have died and went to heaven or hell and came back to share their personal testimony with the world. I’ve actually watched some of these videos on YouTube and some of them are quite comical. It is all garbage and lies. We can choose to believe the scriptures, or believe the polluted ideas of men. So let me make myself clear on this; every single person that has ever made a claim that they died and went to heaven or hell and came back to earth to tell their story is a liar.
Here is a nice scripture for them; Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all LIARS, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. [As amazing as some of those stories may seem, do not believe this religious junk. Men can create some of the most outlandish stuff and people are so gullible that they will believe any and everything that’s shoved in their faces. It’s time to wake up. Do not get caught up with all of this Hollywood fanciful hogwash just because it tickles your emotions.]
Psalm 146:4 His breath goeth forth, HE RETURNETH TO HIS EARTH; IN THAT VERY DAY HIS THOUGHTS PERISH.
Here is but a second witness that when your breath leaves your body, you return back to the earth. Not in some place where you are dead but also alive. How absurd… You can’t be dead and alive at the same time. When you die, you are dead, which is the opposite of life. In death, you have no thoughts, feelings, or memories. This is a complete contradiction to the teaching of hell and life after death as it is taught in the Christian church.
Ecclesiastes 9:5 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.
The bible is clear on this subject. When you die, you don’t remember anything. It is true that some will continue to believe that man has an immortal soul although the scriptures plainly state otherwise. These are the people that love the traditions and words of men over the Word of God.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when THEY WILL NOT ENDURE SOUND DOCTRINE; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And THEY SHALL TURN AWAY THEIR EARS FROM THE TRUTH, and SHALL BE TURNED UNTO FABLES.
Death compared to Sleep
When we literally fall asleep, sometimes we dream because our brain never really stops working but other times, we wake up and have no recollection of ever falling asleep. We just wake up not remembering what happened during the sleep. This same reference is made time and time again in scripture;
John 11:11-14 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, 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.
Psalm 13:3 Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I SLEEP THE SLEEP OF DEATH;
1 Corinthians 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; WE SHALL NOT ALL SLEEP, but we shall all be changed,
1 Thessalonians 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so THEM ALSO WHICH SLEEP in Jesus will God bring with him.
Can the scriptures be any clearer than this? There isn’t any consciousness or feeling in death. Man’s soul doesn’t live on as some try to make the claim. So why does the bible liken death to sleep? The bible speaks in this way because it is implied that people wake up from being sleep. This allegory is a reference to being resurrected from death because death is not the end for mankind.
As with any bible study, there will always be naysayers. So I’ve heard people ask the question, what about Luke 23:43? Let’s take a look at it;
And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
This verse has caused quite a bit of confusion and it is also used to make the claim that a believer immediately receives the promise of eternal (aionios) life after death. With this interpretation, we again have a contradiction in scripture. At the crucifixion of Christ, we know that Jesus physically died that day. How could he be in paradise and dead at the same time? If there is a contradiction, it is the interpretation that has been contradicted not scripture.
Let’s revisit the story of Lazarus and his resurrection;
John 11:43-45 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. [Okay, so let’s examine this scenario; Lazarus dies and is buried. Those who believe that the soul of a man continues to live on at death would conclude that Lazarus most likely went to heaven (paradise). Days later, he is resurrected back on Earth. Do you think that it’s strange that Lazarus had nothing to say about spending a few glorious days with God in heaven? How can one receive the promise of eternal (aionios) life in paradise but then get it stripped away a few days later forced back into the realm of the mortal? If I was Lazarus and this were true, I’d be ready to fight Jesus for resurrecting me. This of course is absurd to say the least. Think sometimes before you just believe whatever someone tells you. Lazarus was dead and he had no thoughts, memories, or feelings whatsoever while he was dead.]
For you folks that think Lazarus was in heaven, read this; John 1:18 NO MAN HATH SEEN GOD AT ANY TIME, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. [Lazarus was not in heaven or paradise with God nor was the sinner on the cross. Note: I am completely aware of the total unscriptural belief that “paradise” is a section of hades which is supposedly different from “heaven” in which believers go to before judgment. There is no scripture that supports this belief and it is a terrible interpretation of the words of Christ.]
So, when Lazarus died, he was dead in the ground for four days and had already started to stink. Even Martha (sister of Lazarus) knew that you didn’t immediately go to “heaven” upon death. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. John 11:24 Martha knew full well that Lazarus was not in “heaven”. So if this is the case, then what is the explanation for Luke 23:43?
The explanation of Luke 23:43 is a translation error. Let me show you what this scripture looks like in the Greek;
καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ ἀμήν σοι λέγω σήμερον μετ’ ἐμοῦ ἔσῃ ἐν τῷ παραδείσῳ
Notice anything missing? How about the two little commas that you see in the English translation that was placed there to fit the interpretation of the King James translators?
And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. [The purpose of a comma is to separate clauses in complex sentence structures. So as you can see, in this case, the placement of such commas is crucial in understanding the meaning of the words that Christ spoke. This is not semantics but rather simple sentence structure. If we read this scripture as it is written in the King James translation, it presents a wealth of confusion and even more contradictory interpretations.]
This is how Jesus spoke it and how it should be read as it is in the Concordant Literal New Testament;
And Jesus said to him, “Verily, to you am I saying TODAY, with Me shall you be in paradise.”
So we see in this translation, Jesus is making a proclamation to the sinner on that particular day not that he would receive the promise on that day. Remember that the scriptures do not contradict; they blend together in perfect harmony.
Absent from the body –Present with the Lord
So back to 2 Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be ABSENT FROM THE BODY, and to be PRESENT WITH THE LORD.
It is easy to get confused about the meaning of this verse if we only read this verse without reading the verses before and after (or the context) of this verse. In addition, this verse doesn’t read well in the King James Version. Let’s first look at this verse in some other translations;
we have courage, and are well pleased rather to be away from the home of the body, and to be at home with the Lord. Young’s Literal Translation
yet we are encouraged, and are delighting rather to be away from home out of the body and to be at home with the Lord. Concordant Literal New Testament
Now let’s read 2 Corinthians 5:1-8
For we know that if our EARTHLY HOUSE of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a BUILDING OF GOD, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For IN THIS WE GROAN, EARNESTLY DESIRING TO BE CLOTHED UPON WITH OUR HOUSE WHICH IS FROM HEAVEN: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are IN THIS TABERNACLE DO GROAN, being burdened: not for that we WOULD BE UNCLOTHED, but clothed upon, that MORTALITY MIGHT BE SWALLOWED UP OF LIFE. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at HOME IN THE BODY, we are ABSENT FROM THE LORD: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing RATHER TO BE ABSENT FROM THE BODY, and to be PRESENT WITH THE LORD.
So Paul in these verses is giving a comparison to two types of bodies; earthly bodies and spiritual bodies. While in this life in our earthly bodies we groan (get sick, weary, stressed out, scared, etc.) and we would rather be in our spiritual bodies with the Lord (incorruptible and in power –but this takes place after the resurrection not at death). Although we suffer in this life, we don’t want to be UNCLOTHED – which Paul is referring to as being “dead” or “naked” because in this state, we have no existence. Humans are created beings and we have to have a body in order to have life. So we look forward to the spiritual bodies that we will receive at the resurrection to life with Christ. So to be clear, this passage of scripture has absolutely nothing to do with dying and immediately going to heaven.
The topic of natural (physical or earthly) and spiritual bodies is continued in 1 Corinthians 15. There is never even one inclination of a man existing in any form without a body.
1 Corinthians 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. THERE IS A NATURAL BODY, AND THERE IS A SPIRITUAL BODY. The only thing that happens between being sown in a natural body and being raised a spiritual body is DEATH. One must die in order to be resurrected.
1 Corinthians 15:45 And so it is written, THE FIRST MAN ADAM WAS MADE A LIVING SOUL; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. In this verse, Paul is making a quote from the Old Testament with the phrase “made a living soul” but haven’t we already seen that statement before?
Genesis 2:7 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.
So we clearly see that man was made a “living soul” but men which are living souls DIE meaning that they are no longer are living. To suggest that the dead are really alive without a body is nonsense. Notice the comparison made in 1 Corinthians 15:45 that the last Adam (which is Christ) was made a “quickening spirit”. What is a quickening spirit? The word “quickening” is translated from the Greek word “zōopoieō” and this word is used to describe the resurrecting power that God used in the resurrection of Christ.
Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also QUICKEN YOUR MORTAL BODIES by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. This tells us that this quickening is different from just being a “living soul” but a quickening in which DEATH has no more power.
In Regards to Lost Love Ones
This may sound harsh and I by no means want to offend anyone but I’d rather you know the truth instead of continuing to believe the lies perpetuated in the church and in the world. When people die, they do not got to heaven looking down on you. People do not turn in to guardian angels or ghosts floating around haunting houses. There is no such thing as a literal heaven with streets of gold and physical mansions or a literal hell that bad people go to upon death. It makes us feel good to think that our loves ones are in heavenly bliss with God. Nobody thinks that their loves ones are in hell and I can assure you that nobody is in the fabled hell being tortured. In all sincerity, neither of these scenarios (heaven and hell) are the truth. My father died in 2008 and I know that he is in the grave sleeping. He suffered the last several years of his life with Hepatitis B, kidney failure, and cirrhosis of the liver. Most of these ailments were due to a lifelong addiction to drugs and alcohol. Although he made many bad decisions, I know that he is no longer suffering at this time and I am at peace with this. He is not in heaven nor hell, he is in the grave resting until the resurrection to judgment in which God will teach him and everyone else the ways of righteousness. With that said, if you have lost loved ones, know that the common phrase, RIP (rest in peace) is most appropriate.
One last thought concerning immortality;
1 Timothy 6:15-16 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; WHO ONLY HATH IMMORTALITY, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen. [So we can be sure that no man or soul is immortal because this is reserved only for the Almighty. The gift of immortality will eventually be given to all mankind in the end in which we will all become sons and daughters of the Most High. Now that is GOOD NEWS!!!!]