What happens to my soul when I die?
The word "soul" is probably one of the most
misunderstood terms in use today. In
New Age spiritualism which teaches immortality erroneously, it is definitely a
is it that leaves the body at death? Is
it the spirit?---is it the soul? What
is that? What actually happens at
death? Well, let's go back to
Creation...... The Bible
says in Genesis 2:7, "The Lord God...." (read it
with me, please) ".....formed man of the dust of the ground, and
breathed into his nostrils the
breath of life; and man became a living soul."
So God formed man out of the dust of the ground, then God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and then man became a living soul, a living creature, a living personality. Does the Bible say God put an immortal soul into Adam? Does the Bible say that? No. God formed him out of the dust of the ground.....that's
So, what is A LIVING SOUL?---it's the product of the BODY plus the SPIRIT OF GOD breathed into Adam's nostrils. We can say it this way.....(read it again) .....the 'elements of the earth' plus the 'breath' equals a 'living creature.' So, in the Bible,when it talks about a living soul, it's also talking about a living creature, a living being. Don't we sometimes use that expression? You say, 'I went shopping and there was not a soul there'---and what does your husband say--- 'Good thing, or you really would have been frightened!'?---not at all. In fact, Paul talks about a boat having 276 souls on board. Did he mean some kind of conscious 'entities?' No---we use that for the word 'people.'
The Bible uses the word 'soul' in two ways---first, as something we
are'. ....(you ARE A LIVING SOUL, a living creature, a living being.) Second, the Bible sometimes talks about us as 'HAVING A SOUL,' which simply means that we 'have life'.....(we have a soul, we have life.) Death is creation in reverse. When God created us, he made our bodies out of the dust, breathed into our nostrils the breath of life, and we became living souls, living beings, living personalities, living individuals."He slept" or "He rested with his fathers " as their expression for death. You know, they used to bury their dead in multiple graves. Somebody said, 'Give me evidence that in the Bible, it teaches that death is a sleep.' Well, if you want some evidence that death is
Now, what happens when we die? Ecclesiastes 12:7 tells us, "Then the dust will return to the earth as
it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it." God breathed His spirit into us. When we die, the body goes back to the dust, and the spirit goes back to God.
Now, does the Bible say the 'soul' goes back to God? Is that what it says? Not at all, because when we die, the living soul no longer exists. Now, many people are confused---they have the idea that the spirit and the soul are the same thing, and that confuses them. Let's look at what the Bible says.....
Job 27:3 says, "All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils....." (in Hebrew poetry, often the poet mentions something in the first verse and explains it in the second---the Bible talks about 'the breath in me' and the 'spirit of God in my nostrils,' so the breath and the spirit are the same thing.) God breathes His 'breath' into a human being and that person lives; God breathes His 'spirit' into people, and they live.
The person dies, the body goes into the grave, and the spirit or power of life goes back to God who gave it. The body goes to the earth and the spirit to God. Notice Psalm 146:3,4: "Put not your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goes forth....." (now remember that Ecclesiastes 12:7 said that 'the spirit went forth'---the breath and the spirit are the same) ".....His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; In that very day his thoughts perish."
So, is this spirit that goes forth something conscious, yes or no? No.....the Bible says, "his thoughts perish." So, when a person dies, his body goes to the dust, then the spirit of God (not his spirit, but the spirit of God, the life-giving force of God) goes back to God who gave it.....and his thoughts perish. So, according to the Bible, when a person dies, the elements of the earth go back to the earth and the breath or spirit goes to God, and the person is dead. So, in the Bible, there is no such thing as an immortal soul that lives on.
There is no such thing in the Bible as a spirit that has conscious existence. Now, maybe I can illustrate it this way, so you can understand the term "spirit" and "body" in the Bible---let's suppose that we say that to have illumination, I need two things. I need power running through the filaments, and I need a light bulb---so that when the light is plugged in, and power runs through the filament, it will go into the light bulb and there will be illumination. So, the 'power' plus the 'light bulb' equals 'illumination.' So the power of God (the breath of God or the spirit of God) coming into my body produces life. But when the light bulb is unplugged, the light goes out---so when I die, just as the power goes back to the power house and the bulb is left but there is no illumination, so when I die, the power of God goes back to God. My body goes into the tomb, but God records my
identity.....God has a record of my individuality.
And in the Bible, death is but a sleep---it is but a rest. I am simply resting, secure in the arms of God. When I die, there is no more temptation. When I die, there is no more harassment from the devil. It is perfect rest and perfect peace. But God preserves my personality, God preserves my identity, God preserves my
individuality.....and on the resurrection day, when Christ comes, I will be resurrected to serve Him forever.
That is the teaching of the Bible. In fact, the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 9:5, "For the living know that they shall die; But the dead know not anything." How much do the dead know, everybody? How much do the dead know? Nothing. Can the dead communicate with the living? Can they? No, but can Satan, through an evil angel, try to impersonate a dead loved one? Can you see why the devil wants the church to misunderstand death?---so he can deceive
people through a false idea of spiritualism. But my Bible says, "The living know that they shall die; But the dead know not anything." Psalm 115:17 says, "The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence."
The dead praise not the Lord. Somebody said, 'But, wait a minute, I thought when you die, you immediately went to heaven!---and I love the idea of my mother up in heaven, the idea of my momma looking down at me, seeing me from up there in Heaven.' Friend, let's suppose that what some people believe is true. Let's suppose that momma died and for purpose of discussion, let's suppose she was up in heaven. Let's suppose that your marriage went sour, that you had an alcoholic husband, and that he came into the room and put his hands on your throat and began choking you. Would momma be up in heaven saying, 'Stop, stop, stop!' Or let's suppose that momma died and supposedly went to heaven, leaving behind a little 7-year-old girl, and suppose that 7-year- old is running out into the street---would momma in heaven see the car coming, with its tires screeching? Or what about the boy flying the fighter plane in war--- does momma see, as he is shot down with machine gun bullets
through his chest and his hands burned? Or does momma see her son suffering with cancer, week after week, and dying in agony? Oh, God's way is so much better, friend!
The living know that they shall die, but the dead know nothing. When a person dies, the power of life goes back to God, and his body goes back to dust. When a person dies, it's like resting peacefully in the hands of Jesus. It's secure---He records our identity, our individuality---but there is no conscious existence at that point. And all the sorrow and heartache of life, we know nothing about it, until Jesus resurrects us and makes us all new! Isn't God's way so much better, friend?
The Bible says, in Psalm 6:5, "For in death there is no remembrance of You; In the grave who will give You thanks?" See, if we went to heaven when we died, we'd certainly be praising God, but the Bible says, "The dead praise not the Lord." The Bible says that in death there is no remembrance of God in the grave. "Who will give You thanks?" The Bible is clear. You know, some people say, "Well, don't we have an immortal soul?' Ezekiel 18:4 says, "The soul that sinneth it shall die." If the soul were immortal, could it die?
No. So the Bible says, "The soul that sinneth it shall die." So, can the soul die, according to the Bible? Sure. What is the soul? It's a living creature. And when the person's breath goes back to God, and the body goes to the earth, they're no longer a living creature or a living soul.
It's important in the Bible to look at two words: mortal and immortal. The word 'mortal' means subject to death. The word 'immortal' means not subject to death. The word 'mortal' means subject to disease and decay. The word 'immortal' means not subject to death, disease and decay.
In the Bible, human beings are always mortal. Job 4:17 says, "Shall mortal man be more just than his Maker?" We are mortal. Romans 6:12.....Romans 8:11.....2 Corinthians 4:11.....all talk about us as being mortal. We are subject to death and disease. Human beings always seek immortality, but we will only receive it at the Second Coming of Christ. Romans 2:7 says we are seeking for immortality. So, we are mortal, subject to death, but at the Second Coming of Christ, we shall receive immortality---then we're not subject
to death. Now notice, the King James version of the Bible uses the word 'soul' 1600 times but never once does it use the term "immortal soul." Wouldn't you think that that which people talk about so freely, if it were true, would be in the Bible? Never once does the Bible use the term 'immortal soul' in 1600 times when it uses 'soul,' because in the Bible, there is no immortal soul---only God is immortal. The Bible says, in 1 Timothy 6:16, that God "only has immortality."
In fact, the Bible declares that death is a sleep 53 times. But you say,
where did the idea of the immortal soul ever come from? Do you remember that, in those early years of Christianity, there was a mixing of pagan doctrine with truth? That is how Sunday worship came into the church, in 321AD, on the day of the sun. The Roman empire was falling apart, so the church and state united, and pagan practices and Sunday worship came in.
William Gladstone, the historian, said this: "The pagan doctrine of the
immortality of the human soul crept into the back door of the church." See, the immortality of the soul---that is, the notion that we have a part of us that lives on, that's immortal, that never dies---this is nothing new. You are looking at a Babylonian column of ancestor worship..... Ancestor worship is based on the false doctrine of the immortality of the soul---the Babylonians believed that when you die, you have this immortal soul that lives on, so they worshipped those souls. And in Egypt for example, when a pharaoh died, the ancient Egyptians also believed in the pagan doctrine of the immortality of the soul.....in fact, here is a grave drawing of an Egyptian physician operating, preparing a pharaoh for death..... they believed in the Ba
and Ca, immortal parts of us that live on. See, this comes from Egypt and Babylon---it doesn't come from the Bible.
Egyptians, Babylonians and the ancient pagan Romans all believed in the immortality of the soul. They all believed there is this part that lives on, and in harmony with that, so do Satanism and spiritualism. Satanists believe in the pagan doctrine of the immortality of the soul. So this whole idea of the immortality, that there is a soul that lives on, comes from Egypt, Babylon--- from paganism. But the Bible says, 'No! When you die, it's not the immortality of the soul, but it's sleep! We sleep---that is what the Bible says.' In fact, the Bible has a very interesting expression: In the Old Testament, you have all these pagans---the Babylonians, the Egyptians---who believe in the immortality of the soul, but the Bible writers use the phrase
a sleep, here it goes! Get ready.....!
David, the king shall sleep with his fathers.....1Kings 1:21
David slept with his fathers.....1Kings 2:10
David slept with his fathers.....1Kings 11:21
Solomon slept with his fathers.....
Do you want more evidence? Here it is:
What does the Bible teach about death? Back to it:
All this on death.....so clear.
Jeroboam II slept with his fathers.....
Do you want more evidence?
Death is a sleep, friend.
Do you want more evidence? I'm not going to give you any more!
The Bible is so plain, isn't it, folks? Death is but a sleep until Jesus
comes! The Bible is plain. In fact, even Jesus said that in John 11:11. Lazarus was dying. He was sick, and then he died. Jesus, on His way to see Lazarus, said, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth, but I go that I may wake him out of sleep....." (now you know, if somebody is sick and he's sleeping, he's doing well) ".....Then said His disciples, 'Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.' Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep....." (they thought if Lazarus indeed is sleeping, he's doing very well, so they said, 'Lord, if he is sleeping, he must be doing
well,' but Jesus said, 'No, that's not the problem---he's not sleeping as you think') ".....Then said Jesus unto them plainly, 'Lazarus is dead.' " So Jesus said in John 11:12-14 that death is a sleep, and if Jesus says death is a sleep, I believe it, don't you?
Now notice in John 11:21, when Jesus sees Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, they speak to him sorrowfully. Martha says, "Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." Lord, if You were here---You are the Lifegiver--- my brother would not have died! And Jesus replied in John 11:23, "Thy brother shall rise again." Jesus did not say to Martha, 'Martha, your brother Lazarus is up in heaven right now, so don't cry.' (Some preachers comfort the loved ones of those who have died by saying that their loved one
is up in heaven.) Jesus didn't do that. He said that Lazarus was sleeping, awaiting the resurrection. Then Jesus said to Martha, "Thy brother shall rise again." Your brother is going to rise! And Martha, because she got her religion directly from Jesus, said in John 11:24, "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Martha knew that there would be a resurrection at the end, at the last day---she was looking for the coming of Christ.
As a token that Jesus would raise men and women at the last day, as a token that Jesus has the keys to the grave, He went to Lazarus's grave and said (in John 11:39), "Take ye away the stone. But Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto Him, 'Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days....." There is a bad odor---he's been in there four days. What are You doing at the tomb? ".....And Jesus cried with a loud voice, 'Lazarus,
come forth.' " Now, Jesus didn't say, 'Lazarus, come down.' Now let's suppose that what some people believe is true---that Lazarus died and went to heaven---and Jesus says, 'Lazarus, come down.' And Lazarus, up in heaven (now if it were me, I would have done this) says, 'Lord, I've been up here four days, and I'm not coming back. I am not coming back to that sinful world. I am in Gloryland, Lord, and you think I'm coming back?'
If anybody could have had a near-death experience, it would have been Lazarus! If anybody could have had an experience to report to us what it's like (not for so many seconds but for four days!) after death, it would have been Lazarus, but Lazarus said nothing about life after death. Why not? Because he was sleeping, awaiting the final resurrection.
But Christ woke him up after four days, not in the final resurrection --- to take the fear of death out of your heart. You need not fear death, you need not worry about death, because Christ is the Lifegiver, and in the presence of Christ, death trembles. At the presence of Christ, death flees. The Bible says, "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first." Death, where is your sting? Grave, you can't hold your victims! At the name of Jesus, death trembles. At the coming of Christ, the earth shakes and the graves open, and the dead in Christ rise!
"Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1Thessalonians 4:16,17). When Jesus comes, the dead in Christ rise, the living are changed, and together they are caught up to meet Christ. Death is but a sleep. 'In a moment',' the Bible says---in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, you die and the next thing you know, Jesus is coming! You've slept, you've rested---there seems to be no passing of time in sleep!
There is no consciousness in sleep. When you die, the body goes to the earth, and the breath goes back to God. When you die, it's like resting in the arms of Jesus---you're secure---He preserves your identity, and one day he'll come and take you home.
But somebody says, 'Mark, wait a minute! I'm confused, because didn't Jesus say to the thief on the cross that they would be together in paradise that day?' You know, it's amazing to me, you can read that 'the living know that they will die, ' and that 'the dead don't know anything' in Ecclesiastes 9:5. You can read in Psalm 115:17 that 'the dead praise not the Lord.' You can show folks that the doctrine of immortality is a doctrine of spiritualism and paganism that came into the church. You can read text after text---they slept, they slept, they slept. You can even get out of breath doing it! And some folks take one Bible text and throw all the rest of the Bible out, because they want to believe a certain way.
But let's look at that thief on the cross.....do you remember that story? The Bible describes Jesus dying on the cross, when the thief looked at Jesus "and he said unto Jesus, 'Lord, remember me when thou comest into Thy kingdom.' " Nobody has ever uttered that request and Jesus remained silent! 'Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom'---Jesus remembers when you
remember to call on Him. And here, Jesus said to the thief, "Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise." There it is! You say Jesus said that He's going to be with him today! Well, not so fast---it all depends on where that little comma is, you see. It either reads, "Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise," meaning that the thief and Jesus would be there that day---or---if the comma were after the word 'day,' it would read like this: "And Jesus said unto him, 'Verily I say unto you today....." (this day that I'm dying on the cross, this day with the crown of thorns upon My head, this day with blood running down My face, this day when I'm saving humanity, this day that it looks like I'm a criminal) ".....verily I say unto you today, shalt thou be with me in paradise.' " It
all depends where you put that comma!
But somebody says, 'How do you, Mr. Finley, know where to put it?" That's a good question, and there are three ways we know.....First, the Bible was not written with punctuation marks. The punctuation was added centuries later, in the 12th, 13th, or 14th century by the medieval church. No punctuation in the Bible, in the original manuscripts, is Point One.
.....Point Two, do you think Jesus is going to tell something to the thief that contradicts the rest of the Bible? Is He going to do that? Not at all.
.....Point Three, how could Jesus have meant to the thief that they would be together in paradise on Friday when Christ died, if Jesus didn't go there until Sunday? How could that have happened? Lets look at that, friends.....
Jesus did not ascend to heaven on the day of His crucifixion. The Bible is very plain on that. Mary came to the tomb on Sunday morning, she fell at the feet of Jesus, because she wanted to worship and embrace Jesus---and what did Jesus say? "Jesus saith unto her, 'Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father: but go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God.' " How could Jesus have meant that He and the thief would be together in paradise on Friday, if He hadn't gone there until Sunday? What did Jesus mean? He said, 'This day when I'm dying on the cross, this day when it looks
as though men have stripped Me of my dignity, this day when it looks as though My body is crushed and broken, bruised and bleeding, this day when it looks as though I'm going into the tomb, this day I am the Son of God! This day I offer you forgiveness. This day I offer you eternal life, and this day, I promise you that you will be with Me in paradise.' Why? Because Jesus says, in Revelation 1:18, "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." Jesus Christ has
the keys of death. Jesus Christ has the keys to the tomb.
When you go to the ancient catacombs of Rome, in the heathen tombs, it says this goodbye from people writing inscriptions to their friends, "Goodbye for all eternity." Goodbye forever.....hopelessness and despair in those pagan tombs.....goodbye forever. The tomb is a sealed door, the tomb is locked, there is no way out.....goodbye forever. But you look at the Christian tombs--- the inscriptions are different in the Christian tombs: "Goodbye until we meet again, goodbye until the morning." Christians never meet for the last
time, because one day, after sleeping and resting with our identity preserved in God, one day Christ the Lifegiver will stream down through the skies in dazzling glory. One day He'll say, 'John, come forth. Mary, come forth.' One day husbands and wives will be reunited. One day babies will be placed in their mothers' arms again. Have you lost your husband or wife, a son or daughter to death?
Some time ago, I was sitting in my study, and the telephone rang, and there was a nurse on the other end of the line. She said, "Are you Pastor Mark Finley?" Yes, I am. "Do you know so-and-so?" Yes, I do. "A baby-sitter, Pastor, just walked into the doctor's office with a dead baby in her arms. She dropped it on the floor and ran out of the doctor's office screaming, saying, 'I need help! I need somebody to counsel with me! Call Pastor Finley!" This young teenage girl was baby-sitting for one of the neighbors, and the little baby suffocated and died. The girl was so frightened that she
picked up the baby and took its limp body to a nearby doctor's office, but she became so afraid when the baby turned blue that she dropped it and ran out of the office screaming. I got in my car and began to drive.....30, 40, 50 miles an hour. I thought, 'Where do I go first, looking for the girl or to the parents' house?' And I thought that maybe the girl had gone to the parents' house---maybe she's gone home. I didn't know where---I couldn't find the girl, so finally I went to the parents' house---I wondered if the parents even knew by this time that the baby was dead. I walked from my car up those stairs with a heavy heart. There were two kids playing by the side of the
One child looked up and said, "Preacher, the baby is dead! The baby is dead!" I knew then that the parents knew. I walked into the living room.
The husband was sitting, embracing his wife and pulling her close to his chest. She was sobbing. I walked over and put my hand on both of their shoulders. And I said, "Folks, you know, I really don't know what it's like to lose a little baby. I have got three wonderful children (at that time they were very young) and I have never experience d your pain or your sorrow.....but there is One who has." And I just stood there for a little while as they cried. And they looked up at me with eyes filled with tears, and I said, "There is One who has experienced sorrow like you. There is a Father whose Son died. His Son did not die a crib death when He was just six months old. His son died with cruel nails in His hands and a crown of thorns upon His head with blood running down His face. His son died, and He experienced pain and suffering, so that Father's heart of love knows what it's like to lose a little baby---that Father knows that your son died, and that Father reaches out in compassion. We live in a wicked world. I can't explain death to you, but I know this---although I can't explain why your little baby died, one day Jesus will come, and the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout,
with the voice of an archangel, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Death is but a moment. Your baby is secure. It's just asleep, resting until Jesus comes."Also see the "second coming" - our hope for our future.
Friend of mine, what if Jesus never died on the cross? What if Jesus never went into the grave? What if Jesus never unlocked the grave, so that its prisoners could go free? What if there were no God? What if there were no Bible? What if there were no Second Coming of Jesus? Then death would be a dark hole in the ground, where worms would eat our bodies. But the good news is, you don't have to fear death, because Jesus Christ has the key! And one day very soon, He's going to resurrect that husband, that wife, that son, that
"Oh, my Father, the devil tries to deceive us with false ideas about death. But Your word is so plain and so simple---when we die, we simply rest, with no knowledge of the passage of time, securely preserved from the heartaches and sorrows and disappointments of Earth, until Jesus comes to take us home. We thank You, Lord, that we can be on Your side. We thank You for the hope of it all. We thank You for the fact that we need not fear death, that it is but a
rest, a sleep, a tranquility, until the coming of Jesus. Oh, Lord, deep
within our hearts, we want to be there!
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