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Subtitle: When Someone Dies, What Happens To Their Soul?

Surely those who devote serious thought to the subject will eventually arrive at the conclusion that there has to be more to man than meets the eye. Experience shows that there is a totally unique abstract being associated with each individual and it manifests itself through the ability to think and reason. Thus, the "real you" is that immaterial person--that personality--which  utilizes electrical impulses within your brain and is a distinct entity from the body itself. And because this fact is recognized, medical science generally defines life as a state of possessing brain activity.

That mysterious force we call "life" is something man cannot duplicate. Every living thing--every blade of grass, every insect, every animal--possesses it and we can only observe its duration and take note of its inevitable departure. But where did it originate and where does it go? It is apparent that life begets life in a seemingly unending cycle and it ends abruptly in what we call "death." But is this brief existence all there is to it? The Bible informs us that there is far more involved than is obtainable by scientific observation.

In the Book of Genesis, we find the following statement about man's origin:

"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 (KJV).

Then in the Book of Psalms, King David had this to say about God's role in his own creation:

" I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well [15] My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth." Psalm 139:14-15 (KJV).

So human life as we know it began with God's creation of Adam--in which the life force itself was given and has passed on to us by virtue of an unbroken string of procreation. Plants and animals were also given life, but not endowed with the human faculties of self-awareness and reasoning. (While it is true that some animals have displayed a  rudimentary ability to reason, it is nowhere near that of a very young child.) This ability to think and communicate sets humans apart and establishes each of us as a distinct personality. Then theology goes further by defining man as a dual being, consisting of body and soul/spirit--material and immaterial. The distinction between soul and spirit (terms which are often used interchangeably) is that "soul" can refer to both the material and immaterial aspects, while "spirit" is strictly immaterial--not including the body.

Our thoughts, motives, and actions make up who we really are. And it is to these the Bible refers as being our "heart"--our innermost being, our "soul"--the immaterial essence of self that will exist forever in the sight of the God Who created us. So when He removes the life force at "death", the body ceases to function and returns to the dust from which it was created, but according to the Word of God our imperishable soul/spirit lives on! Where it will spend eternity is the point of our discussion.

As is the usual case with Scripture, we must try to piece together all it has to say on any given subject before arriving at a conclusion. In the Old Testament the departed dead were said to have gone to sheowl--or "Sheol,"--the Hebrew term for the grave, or place of the dead. The New Testament Greek equivalent is haides, or "Hades". (In most instances, the King James Version translates both terms as "hell.") But the definitive teaching concerning the destiny of those who reject Christ as Lord and Savior is found in the Lord's own Words of Luke chapter sixteen:

[19] "There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: [20] And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, [21] And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. [22] And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; [23] And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. [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. [25] But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. [26] And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. [27] Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: [28] For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. [29] Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. [30] And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. [31] And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead" Luke 16:19-31 (KJV, emphasis mine)

In verse 23 we see that the rich man went to "hell" (Hades)--the place of the dead. And the context of the verse places Lazarus at the very least in the same vicinity, because they could see each other. However, their immediate circumstances were completely different. The unnamed rich man is in "torments" (plural) and "in this flame" (vs.24), while Lazarus is said to have been "in the bosom of Abraham" and comforted (vs.25). Between these two obviously different places was a "great gulf" or chasm, which prohibited anyone from moving from one to the other. And due to this teaching, various theologians have theorized that during the Old Testament era (prior to Christ's atoning sacrifice on the cross), this place of the dead was comprised of two "compartments"--a place of torment and Paradise, the home of the redeemed. Remember that the Lord told the thief on the cross, "to day shalt thou be with Me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). Then when the Lord was resurrected, He  "led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men" (Eph.4:8), leading many to believe He emptied Paradise of elect believers by taking them to Heaven--the abode of God. But in any case, it should be clear from what the Lord had to say that all who die will go to one of two separate places--"heaven or hell" as the terms have come to be known.

However, to refer to the redeemed as being "dead" is not proper terminology according to what the Lord had to say to the Saddicees in the following passage:

[18] "Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying, [19] Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man's brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. [20] Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed. [21] And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise. [22] And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also. [23] In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife. [24] And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? [25] For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven. [26] And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? [27] He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err" Mark 12:18-27 (KJV, emphasis mine).

The Sadducees denied any possibility of a literal resurrection of the dead and were trying to entrap the Lord by using a silly
"what if" situation involving what was termed "levirate marriage"--under Mosaic Law the requirement that an unmarried brother was obligated to marry his brother's widow in order to perpetuate the family line. So after 7 brothers were married to the same woman, they wanted to know whose wife she would be at the resurrection. The Lord ruined their day by pointing out that the resurrection changes everything! Saints in glorified bodies will not retain the human distinctions and relationships (male, female, married, single, etc.) of their former lives. But the phrase I have underlined above immediately arrests our attention because of  its tremendous implications! The Lord refuted the Sadducees' belief about there being no resurrection of the dead by quoting Exodus 3:6 and informing that when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, He said "I am" the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob--not "I was" their God!!!! In other words, their souls/spirits were still very much in existence and living in God's presence. We also see this demonstrated in Matthew 17:3 when Moses and Elijah appeared on the mount of transfiguration with the Lord and carried on a conversation with Him while Peter, James, and John looked on in amazement. Their mortal bodies had long since been in the grave, but they had the ability to materialize in bodily form.

In the Book of Second Corinthians, the Apostle Paul makes several comments which give us additional insight into the transistion between this life and the next:

"[1] For we know that if the tent which is our earthly home is destroyed (dissolved), we have from God a building, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. [2] Here indeed, in this (present abode, body) we sigh and groan inwardly, because we yearn to be clothed over--to put on our celestial body like a garment, to be fitted out--with our heavenly dwelling; [3] So that by putting it on we may not be found naked--without a body. [4] For while we are still in this tent, we groan under the burden and sigh deeply--weighed down, depressed, oppressed; not that we want to put off the body (the clothing of the spirit), but rather that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal (our dying body) may be swallowed up by life [after the resurrection]. [5] Now He Who has fashioned us (preparing and making us fit) for this very thing is God, Who also has given us the (Holy) Spirit as a guarantee [of the fulfillment of His promise]. [6] So then, we are always full of good and hopeful and confident courage; we know that while we are at home in the body we are abroad from the home with the Lord [that is promised us]. [7] For we walk by faith [that is, we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance. [8] [Yes] we have confident and hopeful courage, and are well-pleased rather to be away from home out of the body and be at home with the Lord" 2 Corinthians 5:1-8, (Parallel Bible KJV/Amplified Bible commentary, emphasis mine).

Referring to our body as a "tent," or temporary dwelling, Paul makes it clear that believers have a "building, a house not made with hands" waiting for us in the heavens. But while we are still in our mortal bodies, we have the Holy Spirit within us as God's guarantee, or "earnest" (2 Cor.1:22 and 5:5) that His promise of an eternal body will be fulfilled. Then in verse 8 Paul expresses his desire to be "away from home out of the body" and to be "at home with the Lord." He was an old man at that time, extremely weary from his duties as an apostle, and wistfully expressing the desire to leave his tent--his mortal body--behind so that he could finally stand before the Lord in his "celestial body" (vs 2). But it appears from other comments Paul makes in the Book of First Corinthians (Chapter 15) that the glorified, or celestial, body will not be a complete reality for believers until the  "the last trump" (vs.52)--the Rapture of the Church. Therefore, many theologians believe the soul/spirits of departed believers exist with God in some sort of intermediate state until the rapture reunites them with resurrected, glorified bodies.

But it should be clear that "death" for the believer is merely an instantaneous change of address as we move from one realm of reality to another of infinitely greater importance and duration. Under normal circumstances (the Rapture being the exception) the body is left behind just like an empty house after the occupants have moved. But praise the Lord, one day soon He is coming for His Church and all who have left their houses behind will receive them again--but as completely new and perfect versions! Believers who are alive at that time will just change locations and receive a glorified body in the process.

So the comments of the Lord concerning the rich man and Lazarus, coupled with the teaching of the Apostle Paul, leads us to believe that death is merely the separation of the body from the soul/spirit. An instantaneous transition occurs in which our immortal essence passes from this present reality of being a prisoner of time into the realm of eternity--each to his own fate as determined by the infinite mind of God Himself. This truth we find expressed in the following:

"But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; [6] Who will render to every man according to his deeds: [7] To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: [8] But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, [9] Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile" Romans 2:5-9 (KJV, emphasis mine).

For which destination are you now headed?

If you have been born again and received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.

If you have never placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, but have come to sense His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to receive His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you truly believe in Him as Lord and Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.

We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order—Kingdom of Antichrist—in their daily news.

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