“What happens when you die”? Christians have wrestled with this question for ages. Many believe – and many pastors, preachers, etc. teach – that upon dying, we go to heaven or hell, depending on how we lived on earth. There’s the belief that our loved ones that descended to heaven are looking down on us. And those that didn’t are burning in hell.
Is this what the Bible says?
While on earth, Jesus raised many people from the dead. Not once did Jesus state that He returned the raised individuals from heaven or hell.
In numerous verses, the Bible explicitly states that upon death, the spirit returns to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7), and man is not conscious, nor aware of their surroundings (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6).
Whether or not you agree with the fact that upon death, we are no longer conscious of our surroundings, one thing to remember is that death brings to an end the chance to accept God’s gracious offer of salvation. That being said, I implore you to get saved while you can!
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
How did we get here in the first place?
“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
Answer: God made us from dust in the beginning.
What happens when a person dies?
“Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7
Answer: The body turns to dust again, and the spirit goes back to God, who gave it. The spirit of every person who dies–whether righteous or wicked–returns to God at death.
What is the “spirit” that returns to God at death?
“The body without the spirit is dead…” James 2:26. “All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils.” Job 27:3.
Answer: The spirit that returns to God at death is the breath of life. Nowhere in all of God’s Book does the “spirit” have any life, wisdom, or feeling after a person dies. It is the “breath of life”.
What is a Soul?
“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.
Answer: A soul is a living being. God’s Word teaches that we are souls.
Do Souls Die?
“The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ezekiel 18:20. “Every living soul died in the sea.” Revelation 16:3.
Answer: According to God’s Word, souls do die. We are souls, and souls die. Man is mortal (Job 4:17). Only God is immortal (1 Timothy 6:15, 16). The concept of an undying, immortal soul goes against the Bible, which teaches that souls are subject to death.
Do good people go to heaven when they die?
“All that are in the graves shall hear his voice.” John 5:28, 29 “David … he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.” “For David is not ascended into the heavens.” Acts 2:29, 34 “If I wait, the grave is mine house.” Job 17:13
Answer: No, people do not go either to heaven or hell at death. They go to their graves to await the resurrection day.
How much does one know or comprehend after death?
“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. 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. 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 9:5, 6, 10 “The dead praise not the Lord.” Psalm 115:17.
Answer: God says that the dead know absolutely nothing!
But can’t the dead communicate with the living, and aren’t they aware of what the living are doing?
“So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep… His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.“Job 14:12, 21. “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 9:6
Answer: No, the dead cannot contact the living, nor do they know what the living are doing. They are dead. Their thoughts have perished (Psalm 146:4).
Jesus called the unconscious state of the dead “sleep” in John 11:11-14. How long will they sleep?
“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 “The day of the Lord will come … in the which the heavens shall pass away…” 2 Peter 3:10.
Answer: The dead will sleep until the great day of the Lord at the end of the world. In death, humans are totally unconscious with no activity or knowledge of any kind.
What about the verse that says, “After death comes judgement?
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9:27, 28
Answer: The Bible does state that, after death comes judgement. People often reference Hebrews 9:27 as testament to the fact. But the statement actually speaks to the second coming of Christ – as mentioned in Hebrews 9:28. According to the Bible we are not judged as soon as we die.
What happens to the righteous dead at the second coming of Christ?
“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.“Revelation 22:12. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-53.
Answer: They will be rewarded. They will be raised, given immortal bodies, and caught up to meet God in the air. There would be no purpose in a resurrection if people were taken to heaven at death.
Will the righteous people who are raised in the resurrection ever die again?
“But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” Luke 20:35, 36. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 21:4
Answer: No! Death, sorrow, crying, and tragedy will never enter into God’s new kingdom.
OTHER BIBLICAL REFERENCES
“There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.”
Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10
“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. 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… 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.”
“For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.”
“Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”
“He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.”
“Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. 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.”
“For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.”
Isaiah 57:1, 2
“The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.”
“Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”
1 John 2:28
“And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”
John 5:24, 25
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.”
Romans 5:12, 18
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned… Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”
“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.”
2 Peter 2:9
“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:”
36 VERSES ON SLEEP & DEATH
You turn man back into dust And say, “Return, O children of men.” For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night. You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew. read more.
“Why then do You not pardon my transgression And take away my iniquity? For now I will lie down in the dust; And You will seek me, but I will not be.”
“But man dies and lies prostrate Man expires, and where is he? “As water evaporates from the sea, And a river becomes parched and dried up, So man lies down and does not rise. Until the heavens are no longer, He will not awake nor be aroused out of his sleep.
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.
He said, “Leave; for the girl has not died, but is asleep.” And they began laughing at Him.
And entering in, He said to them, “Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep.”
Now they were all weeping and lamenting for her; but He said, “Stop weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep.” And they began laughing at Him, knowing that she had died.
1 Kings 2:10
Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David.
The LORD said to Moses, “Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers; and this people will arise and play the harlot with the strange gods of the land, into the midst of which they are going, and will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them.
2 Samuel 7:12
“When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.
1 Kings 11:43
And Solomon slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of his father David, and his son Rehoboam reigned in his place.
1 Kings 14:20
The time that Jeroboam reigned was twenty-two years; and he slept with his fathers, and Nadab his son reigned in his place.
1 Kings 16:6
And Baasha slept with his fathers and was buried in Tirzah, and Elah his son became king in his place.
1 Kings 22:50
And Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of his father David, and Jehoram his son became king in his place.
2 Kings 14:16
So Jehoash slept with his fathers and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel; and Jeroboam his son became king in his place.
2 Kings 15:7
And Azariah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David, and Jotham his son became king in his place.
2 Kings 16:20
So Ahaz slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David; and his son Hezekiah reigned in his place.
2 Kings 20:21
So Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and Manasseh his son became king in his place.
2 Kings 21:18
And Manasseh slept with his fathers and was buried in the garden of his own house, in the garden of Uzza, and Amon his son became king in his place.
And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”
This He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. read more.
Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.
1 Corinthians 15:6
After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;
“Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.
“Oh that You would hide me in Sheol, That You would conceal me until Your wrath returns to You, That You would set a limit for me and remember me! “If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait Until my change comes. “You will call, and I will answer You; You will long for the work of Your hands.
As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.
Your dead will live; Their corpses will rise You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, For your dew is as the dew of the dawn, And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.
“Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
“Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. “In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.
1 Corinthians 15:20
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. read more.
“I will make her princes and her wise men drunk, Her governors, her prefects and her mighty men, That they may sleep a perpetual sleep and not wake up,” Declares the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.
O LORD my God, if I have done this, If there is injustice in my hands, If I have rewarded evil to my friend, Or have plundered him who without cause was my adversary, Let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it; And let him trample my life down to the ground And lay my glory in the dust. Selah.
The stouthearted were plundered, They sank into sleep; And none of the warriors could use his hands.
“When they become heated up, I will serve them their banquet And make them drunk, that they may become jubilant And may sleep a perpetual sleep And not wake up,” declares the LORD.