Truth about Death


The Bible Truth about Death

by Bill Wong




Body + Breath of Life = Living Being


When we talk about the life of a man, many have been conditioned to think that spirit is a conscious entity that inhabits and can be separate from the body. They say it is what makes a person a person – what makes the body alive; the body is a shell. Many people believe this spirit within a person is immortal.


However, these are traditions based on ancient Greek philosophy and pagan beliefs and unfortunately, most Christians today essentially believe in the immortality of the soul.  This view of death advocates that the soul is eternal and merely goes through phases of existence; living in a body until the body dies, when it will then continue to exist as a disembodied spirit which goes to either heaven or hell.


But there is a huge problem with this view. 1 Timothy 6:15-16 says God is the only one who is immortal:


1 Timothy 6:

15   which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords,

16   who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.    (NKJV)



Therefore, the existence of an immortal soul for man is not possible unless God is called a liar.


And this is exactly what the enemy, Satan did:  he called God a liar.  We must remember that the enemy’s lie was about us being like God, including His immortality:


Genesis 3:

4   Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die.

5    For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."    (NKJV)



He deceived man into thinking we will not die which means we will be immortal.  But this is a lie, because only God is immortal. All of mankind has believed Satan’s lie and has been deceived ever since.  The belief in the immortality of the soul comes from the very beginning with Satan’s first deception.



The word spirit is used in many ways, but the main definition is breath or the breath of life. It can also mean spirit as in a supernatural being; a supernatural force or substance; an attitude or dominant disposition; the expression of a person; the essence, mind, sentient part of a person which would be synonymous with that person; etc.


The Bible tells us that a living soul only comes from the combination of a body and the breath of life, which are both provided by God:


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 being.   (NKJV)


We should note that there is no mention of God putting in a living spirit or living soul into the man.



This verse is also referred to in the New Testament:


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.   (AKJV)



We see that a living being is translated also as living soul. Soul means a being as in a life-form or entity; a person, self – something that is alive.



It is the combination of the breath of life and man’s body that creates the living soul or living being:





If spirit is supposed to mean a disembodied ethereal supernatural being which has the sustaining life, where would it fit in the equation BODY + BREATH OF LIFE = A LIVING BEING?


We see there is absolutely no place in the formula for the creation of man’s life where an immortal spirit fits in.


It cannot mean both breath of life and a living “spirit” being at the same time. This equation tells us that spirit/breath is not a living entity at all, but just a vital component required to create a living entity. This is made obvious again, because the word ‘soul’ is what is the living being, not ‘spirit’ or breath.


The fact that life only results from the combination of the breath of life and the body tells us immediately that an “already-living” or immortal spirit of man is a lie and does not exist. The Bible tells us plainly that a living being requires a body. Life and specifically a human being’s life, cannot exist without a body; therefore an already living spirit cannot be true, because it assumes that life already existed before combining with the body to create a living soul.


The only time a body is not required is if one is not flesh, but spirit. We know that man is not spirit.

The Bible never says that man, who is a living soul, is spirit and eternal. Man is always stated as being fleshly with a fleeting life (as a vapor, returns to dust, etc.) and the breath of life returns to God who gave it.


We see this very clearly in 1 Corinthians 15 where God tells us without a doubt that we are NOT immortal spirits, and the ONLY time we BECOME immortal is when we are raised from the dead or changed if we are still alive when the Lord Jesus returns; we are mortal until His return:


1 Corinthians 15:

50    Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

51    Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,

52    in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

53    For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.

54    But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory.    (NASB)




Therefore, spirit is not a separate conscious entity that lives in a body shell. The Bible indicates that living and consciousness only occurs when spirit (breath of life) is breathed into and combined with the body; only then does the creature become alive – a living soul. When we talk about man, the body and the breath of life is what constitutes life – a person. It is not a living spirit residing in the body or being alive separate from the body. The Bible teaches life only comes from the combination of God providing us with a body and God also providing us with the breath of life – the two together form life, a living soul. Neither can be called living without the other; they must come together.


This is the exact reason why resurrection to new and eternal life requires our bodies and why those sleeping in the graves will rise again upon this resurrection. The Bible does not teach that after we die we are still alive as spirit beings waiting for our bodies to come back. The Bible teaches that we become alive again – conscious, only after we wake up from the sleep of death during our resurrections.


The body is indeed vital, but it is not because we just happen to need it as a formality or the body is something “nice to have”. It is because the very formula of life – even eternal life, dictates that the spirit of God must combine with our bodies to bring forth life. Those who are Christ’s and still alive when the Lord Jesus returns will have their bodies changed and those who are dead in Christ will have their bodies brought back to life as changed spirit substance.


This is the very model of the Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection and why there was an empty tomb.

The Lord Jesus did not go anywhere after He died. He slept and waited for His father to raise Him.


Many believe the Apostle’s Creed (which was not formed by the apostles, but the Roman Catholic Church) which states that Jesus went to hell for 3 days before resurrection.  Aside from the obvious contradiction of what we just discussed above, this is based on an incorrect interpretation of 1 Peter 3:18-20.  (see related article ‘Did Jesus go to Hell in 1 Peter 3: 18-20?’).



The Greek word ‘pneuma’ and its counterpart, the Hebrew word ‘ruach’ which is translated as ‘spirit’ in English mean first and foremost ‘breath’ or ‘wind’. The pneuma or ruach that returns to God is not our “immortal spirit”, but it is breath that returns to God, the breath of life – the breath of God.


Here are a couple of examples which show the breath that gives life is the breath of God and not a disembodied spirit:


Psalm 104:

29   You hide your face, they are troubled: you take away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.   (AKJV)


Ezekiel 37:

3     And he said to me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, you know.

4     Again he said to me, Prophesy on these bones, and say to them, O you dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.

5     Thus said the Lord GOD to these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live:

6     And I will lay sinews on you, and will bring up flesh on you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you,

     and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD.

7     So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking,

     and the bones came together, bone to his bone.

8     And when I beheld, see, the sinews and the flesh came up on them, and the skin covered them above:

     but there was no breath in them.

9     Then said he to me, Prophesy to the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus said the Lord GOD;

     Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.

10   So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up on their feet,

     an exceeding great army.   (AKJV)



We can see it is the breath of God that combines with the body that creates a living being and without it, we die.


The only time spirit comes into view is when we are changed into spirit when the Lord Jesus returns which means we are not spirits now in any sense of the word.


The Bible teaches that when we die, there is a complete cessation of consciousness and thought; there is no life or living in any state. The dead are asleep and await resurrection.  The Bible uses the term sleep for death quite often, because sleep implies there will be an awakening.  This awakening is resurrection. The very existence of resurrections means that until we are resurrected, we are no longer alive or conscious in any manner, shape or form.


This is what the Bible tells us about what happens when we die: we know nothing and are sleeping and waiting for the blessed day the Lord Jesus returns and will be with Him forever:


1 Thessalonians 4:

13   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.

14   For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.

15   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.

16   For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God,

     and the dead in Christ will rise first.

17   Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air,

     and so we shall always be with the Lord.   (NASB)


We must notice that the apostle Paul does not mention those who sleep (are dead) are already alive as spirits, but instead, they come to life again only when the Lord Jesus returns.




When we die: we sleep and do not live as disembodied spirits


The Bible tells us in various ways and many times what the Bible truth about death is – we sleep the sleep of death and await eternal life.  God does not tell us that after we die we continue to live as immortal spirit beings awaiting our bodies.  Let us review some of these passages with my comments.



Job 3:

11   "Why did I not die at birth, Come forth from the womb and expire?

12   "Why did the knees receive me, And why the breasts, that I should suck?

13   "For now I would have lain down and been quiet; I would have slept then, I would have been at rest,

14   With kings and with counselors of the earth, Who rebuilt ruins for themselves;

15   Or with princes who had gold, Who were filling their houses with silver.

16   "Or like a miscarriage which is discarded, I would not be, As infants that never saw light.

17   "There the wicked cease from raging, And there the weary are at rest.

18   "The prisoners are at ease together; They do not hear the voice of the taskmaster.

19   "The small and the great are there, And the slave is free from his master.   (NASB)



The general message Job gives is that no matter who you are, the field is made even when we die. How is the field made even? What will they all be doing? As verse 13 says, everyone will sleep and be quiet and at rest. After death, we know nothing; we do not reside in heaven or anywhere waiting for our bodies.


Psalm 6:

4     Return, O LORD, rescue my soul; Save me because of Your lovingkindness.

5     For there is no mention of You in death; In Sheol who will give You thanks?   (NASB)



In verse 4, soul cannot mean a living spirit separate from a body shell. Why? Because in verse 5, David speaks immediately that the dead can no longer do anything, for the very least we would do if we actually continued to live as disembodied spirits is to thank and praise God – but David says there is no mention of God in death! This means there is no life after death as a disembodied spirit. It is therefore contradictory to think that God saves a man’s spirit apart from his body, but this spirit for all intents and purposes, knows and can do nothing (like praise Him). In other words, when one dies, he is dead and does not continue to live as a spirit being. The Bible tells us life returns upon resurrection only.



Psalm 13:

3   Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; (AKJV)



Can continuing to exist as a disembodied spirit really mean sleeping the sleep of death?

Or is it plain that complete cessation of life/thought happens when we sleep this sleep?


Psalm 30:

9   "What profit is there in my blood, When I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your truth? (NKJV)



Psalm 88:

5     Forsaken among the dead, Like the slain who lie in the grave, Whom You remember no more,

     And they are cut off from Your hand.   (NASB)



If it were true that disembodied spirits reside in heaven, why would God not remember them any more? If they were truly in heaven, God would remember them – they are living with Him! Obviously, the dead no longer continue to live as spirits – that is why God forgets them.



Psalm 88:

10   Will you show wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise you? Selah.

11   Shall your loving kindness be declared in the grave? or your faithfulness in destruction?

12   Shall your wonders be known in the dark? and your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?    (AKJV)


Psalm 115:

17   It is not the dead who praise the LORD, those who go down to silence;



Again, Psalms 88:10-12 and 115:17 tell us when we die we are completely dead and do not continue to live as disembodied spirits. That is why we cannot praise YHWH after we die. For if we continue to exist as disembodied spirits then surely we can and will praise YHWH? There is a contradiction here. The fact that the Bible says we cannot praise him after we die means our existence – in any form, completely ends and there is no continuation of thought or consciousness.



Psalm 119:

175     Let my soul live that it may praise You, And let Your ordinances help me. (NASB)



Once again, a person can praise YHWH only when one is alive. This is further proof why the Bible repeatedly says that one who is dead cannot praise God. We can see again also that the soul is not separate spirit being from the body, but means the same thing as the person - his self and that is why the soul can die; it is not an immortal spirit. This is why soul is referred to as 'it' and the person - his soul, dies when the body dies and can no longer praise God anymore. Soul and the person are the same and when someone dies, he cannot praise God; he (his soul - same thing) can only praise God when he is ALIVE.



Psalm 146:

3     Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

4     His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.   (AKJV)



The thoughts of a man perishes as soon as he dies. Life is defined by our consciousness – our thoughts. This is why when we die we no longer have any consciousness. The cessation of thought is therefore a definition of and a synonym of, death: cessation of thought is cessation of life. This simply means a man ceases to be and there is no consciousness whatsoever in any form after he dies. The man dies and that is it.



Ecclesiastes 9:

4     But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

5     For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward,

     For the memory of them is forgotten.

10   Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might;

     for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.   (NKJV)



The dead know nothing and they are forgotten. They cannot still be living as spirits.



Isaiah 38:

18   For the grave cannot praise you, death can not celebrate you: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for your truth.

19   The living, the living, he shall praise you, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known your truth. (AKJV)



A clear equation is demonstrated. A dead man where there is no mention of God and a living man where he can praise God. There is no mention of a disembodied living spirit between the man’s death and his life. It is just a dead man or a living man.



John 5:

25   "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God,

       and those who hear will live.

26   "For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself;

27   and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.

28   "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,

29    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. (NASB)



People who have died are sleeping and waiting for the Lord’s voice to raise them to life again. They are not already still living as disembodied spirits.



John 11:

11      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."

12      The disciples then said to Him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover."

13      Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep.

14      So Jesus then said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead,

15      and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him."

16      Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, so that we may die with Him."

17      So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days.

18      Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off;

19      and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother.

20      Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house.

21      Martha then said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.

22      "Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You."

23      Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."

24      Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day."

25      Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,

26      and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?"

27      She said to Him, "Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world."  




Note in John 11 that the Lord Jesus Himself refers to death as sleep and the disciples did not understand until He told them what He meant.  There is absolutely no mention of Lazarus being in heaven when he died, merely that he was asleep for 4 days and rotting (past the 3 days where there is no decay). 


Also, note that in verse 23 Jesus is saying that life and consciousness only "restarts" when the body rises again. 


In verse 24, Martha naturally thinks Jesus is referring to a resurrection at the last day – and the Lord does not correct her, which means they are in agreement that the next waking thought of Lazarus would have been at this resurrection. 


In verse 25, the Lord Jesus confirms that resurrection and life are the same, and then contrasts it with death, by saying we may live again even after we die.


This entire episode with Lazarus is merely a foretaste of the awesome power and plan of God - we will all be raised one day to live again forever or to be judged against. 


We should be reminded also in all cases where the dead are raised, none of the accounts tell us that the deceased was still living as a spirit before coming back to life. This is especially the case here with Lazarus; the Lord Jesus never says or intimates (neither does the Bible) that Lazarus has a spirit in heaven that has to be brought back to his body. Instead, the Bible just says that Lazarus comes back to life when his body is restored from decay.



Acts 7:

55   But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,

56   and said, "Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!"

57   Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord;

58   and they cast him out of the city and stoned him.

     And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59   And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."

60   Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin."

     And when he had said this, he fell asleep.   (NKJV)



Stephen fell asleep. There is no mention of him going to heaven. If he did, would he then not be accompanying God and Jesus?



Philippians 3:

10   that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

11   if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.   (NKJV)



The Bible is clear that for all intents and purposes, the dead know nothing and are likened to being asleep, awaiting an awakening – a resurrection. 

This is why in Philippians 3, Paul mentions death and resurrection together: at death life stops; upon resurrection it returns. There is no spirit retaining consciousness in between the time of death and resurrection. Paul mentions he looks forward to the resurrection from the dead. He does not mention going to heaven or anywhere before being raised.  



On that Day of Pentecost when the spirit of God falls upon the 120 in the upper room, the apostle Peter tells us that even King David is not resurrected yet.  He tells us that David is still dead and buried in his tomb:


Acts 2:

29   "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.    (NKJV)


There is no doubt that King David is sleeping the sleep of death and awaiting the return of the Lord Jesus to be raised bodily from his tomb unto eternal life.



The Bible teaches that life is created and then dies. Life is recreated when we are resurrected. Man does not continue to exist as a disembodied spirit. He was created and given life and then will die. He is not immortal. The judgment of whether he lives forever only comes after resurrection. Until this resurrection and judgment, he is dead and knows nothing.




Arguments to try to support belief in spirit still living without a body after we die



“Absent from the body, present with the Lord”


2 Corinthians 5:8 is a primary example used to support the belief that we continue to exist as disembodied spirits after we die and would immediately go to heaven and see God:


2 Corinthians 5:

8    we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.



But this goes against everything the Bible says about how after we die we sleep until resurrection.


What Paul says is this: when we die we are asleep and know nothing. But our first waking moment will be in the presence of God. The Bible is not saying we are alive as spirit beings between death and resurrection; the definition of death is ceasing of all consciousness – we “sleep” the sleep of death and are not alive.


We can see this even now. When we have deep sleep we essentially close our eyes, know nothing for several hours, and then “pick up where we left off” when we open our eyes again. When we open our eyes is our next waking and conscious thought/action. Or an even better example is someone who is in a long coma, and then suddenly wakes up. It is like being in a time capsule: we were alive and then we die. The next waking moment can be 10 years or 1000 years later, but to the one who is sleeping the sleep of death, it is an instant blink of an eye.


This is exactly the same thing that will happen when we die. As the Lord Jesus said, the dead will hear His voice and be raised from this sleep. There is no mention of these dead people residing anywhere before being raised, but staying dead/asleep in the grave.


This is why the Lord Jesus reminds us consistently and frequently to be ready when He comes. He is not only referring to those people who are still alive at His second coming which would be comparatively few to all those who have died as God’s children throughout history. The Lord is also referring to everyone who has died. The dead are waiting for His voice to raise them to life again:


John 5:

25  Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God;

     and those who hear will live.


28  Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice

29  and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil,

     to the resurrection of condemnation.   (NKJV)



The Lord reminds us, because when we die, our very next waking moment will be before His face. The Lord is telling us this: in your next waking moment after you wake from the sleep of death – will you awake to everlasting joy and eternal life or to condemnation? 


He is telling us we must live uprightly and faithfully until the moment we die, because our death and being raised for judgment is virtually continuous and instantaneous.  The Lord Jesus likens death to sleep; we do not continue to exist as spirits without bodies.  We sleep --- waiting to hear the Lord Jesus' voice, and only then we will awake.



The apostle Paul supports the Lord Jesus and the Bible truth that death is like sleep and we do not exist as spirits without bodies at any time after we die:


1 Thessalonians 4:

13  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.

14  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.

15  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.   

16  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God,

     and the dead in Christ will rise first.    (NASB)



Did you get what Paul is saying?  He of course says again that death is like sleep.  But he says much more that declares "absent from the body and present with the Lord" does not mean we go to heaven as disembodied spirits immediately after we die. 


Why is he saying that we should not grieve about those who are dead like non-believers who have no hope? 


This is why:  Paul is saying that we should not grieve about dead (asleep) believers, because they will wake up again when Jesus returns!  Unlike non-believers who have no hope, believers in Christ who die do have hope.  This hope is that even if we are dead, we will come back to life again when Jesus returns.  The clear and unambiguous truth is that the only time we become conscious again --- alive again, is when we wake from the sleep of death, and this is when the Lord Jesus returns. 



And what does the oldest book in the Bible tell us about death? What does the Book of Job say? Job is considered as an outstanding example of a righteous man. What does he have to say about death and what happens after we die?


Job 19:

25   For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth;

26   And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God,

27   Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!   (NKJV)



Look at verse 26. Job is telling us that even after he dies (“my skin has been destroyed”), he will still see God in his flesh. This can only be done upon resurrection and nothing else. If God promotes a doctrine of disembodied spirits continuing to live after the body/flesh dies, then Job would say he would see God again as a spirit and will see him in heaven. But the Bible does not say this. Instead, he says he will see God in his flesh. This means that life and continued consciousness for the dead only comes again at resurrection with a resurrected body.


This again proves that what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:8 about being “absent from the body, but present with the Lord” does not mean we continue to live as spirits and see God in a spirit form after we die. Job confirms that when we die, we sleep, and the next waking moment we are raised in the flesh and stand before God.


For one who dies, his next waking moment is standing before God with a resurrected body.



Visions and “out of body” experiences


Another passage used to support the belief in the continued living of a disembodied spirit is the appearance of Moses and Elijah with the Lord Jesus:


Matthew 17:

3     And behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elijah talking with him.

4     And Peter answered, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt,

     I will make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.

5     While he was yet speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold, a voice out of the cloud,

     saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

6     And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.

7     And Jesus came and touched them and said, Arise, and be not afraid.

8     And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one, save Jesus only.

9     And as they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying,

     Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen from the dead.   (ASV)


However, the Bible tells us outright in verse 9 that it is a vision which James, Peter and John saw.



2 Corinthians 12 is also used to support the belief in an eternal spirit that is disembodied after we die and wait for our bodies to be resurrected.


2 Corinthians 12:

1     It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord:

2     I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago --- whether in the body I do not know,

     or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows --- such a one was caught up to the third heaven.

3     And I know such a man --- whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows ---

4     how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.   (NKJV)



The thing we should notice immediately is that the apostle Paul begins the subject by categorizing it as “visions and revelations”.  So what he describes is a vision.


Now what does Paul mean by in the body or out of the body?   The real meaning of that phrase is if he was physically taken to heaven to witness these things or not.  Which is to say, was his body moved to heaven or was his body still fixed on earth and these things were revealed to him some other way. 


Of course, those who believe in eternal spirits living in an empty body shell believe Paul’s spirit left his body and went to heaven.  This ignores the Bible truth that the dead know nothing and cannot worship God. Also, it must be considered that when people even now say they had “an out of body” experience, there are several possible causes for such a sensation.  Are they just describing an experience that is indescribable?  What about the fact that mind-altering drugs can induce vivid and life-like hallucinations?  And what about medical conditions which reduce the oxygen to the brain that can also induce the very same powerful hallucinations?   How about the old, but true saying that the mind can play tricks on you? 


People seeing visions often describe the experience the exact same way regardless of the cause, and one way they describe these indescribable visions is as “an out of body” experience.  We must always remember that when one sees a vision it can be something in front of their actual eyes or very often it is in the eye of the mind.  When the mind is involved it is sometimes difficult to tell what reality is – was I taken there or did it happen in a dream, for example.


The Bible states what Paul experienced is what he says it is:  “I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.” What the prophet Ezekiel saw were visions as what the apostle John saw in Revelation. The visions of God Almighty are surely realistic beyond what we can imagine.




We sleep and then we wake: Two Resurrections


After we die, we do not go to heaven or hell (see related article: ‘Does Hell Exist?’), we sleep the sleep of death and await resurrection. The Bible tells us there will be two general major resurrections for the vast majority of the dead.


The first resurrection occurs when the Kingdom of God is established at the Lord Jesus' return at the Battle of Armageddon to destroy the enemies of God.  Only the elect of God are raised:


Revelation 20:

1     Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.

2     And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;

3     and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer,

     until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.

4     Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been

      beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God,

      and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand;

      and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

5     The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.

6      Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power,

      but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.   (NASB)



Note that verse 4 states “…and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” and verse 5

states that the "rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed” – this means

the dead in the first and second resurrections are both sleeping the sleeping the sleep of death and are

waiting fortheir resurrection; they are NOT living in any form, spirit or otherwise, UNTIL they are resurrected

to life.


The dead are not still living as spirits without bodies.  The dead will live again ONLY at their resurrections at

thesetimes.  For those in the first resurrection, the dead, along with those who are still alive and changed

during this first resurrection, will serve as priests and reign with Christ for 1000 years.  This is the resurrection

we must striveto be in.



The second resurrection occurs after the 1000 years are over, where everyone not in the first resurrection will be judged according to their works on Judgment Day:


Revelation 20:

7     When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison,

8     and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog,

     to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.

9     And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city,

     and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.

10   And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone,

     where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

11   Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away,

     and no place was found for them.

12   And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened;

     and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things

     which were written in the books, according to their deeds.

13   And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them;

     and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.   (NASB)



These two resurrections detail the fulfillment of the Lord Jesus’ words that those who hear His voice will be raised either to a resurrection of life or of judgment as given earlier in John 5:


John 5:

28  "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,

29     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.  (NASB)



The Bible clearly shows in these two resurrections in the Book of Revelation that the dead know nothing – they are not continuing to live as immortal spirits without a body.  Instead, they are sleeping – dead, as the Lord Jesus refers to Lazarus as we read earlier in John 11.  The dead know nothing and cannot praise God; they are just waiting for the Lord Jesus’ voice to bring them back to life.

Note that besides these two general major resurrections, the Bible speaks of only two other resurrections and they are very, very specific and much smaller.  They are the firstfruits of barley (Wavesheaf Offering) shortly after Jesus’ resurrection and the firstfruits of wheat (Pentecost) that is still in the future.  For more information, please see the article: ‘God’s Salvation Plan in the Biblical Feast Days’ about these holy days and also the Feast of Trumpets.  This is the Wavesheaf Offering of barley firstfruits:

Matthew 27:

52   and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised;

53   and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.    (NKJV)



The Bible says we die and await resurrection. It also says we die and await judgment. In both cases, there is no indication of a person continuing to live as a disembodied spirit. With the exception of those in the first resurrection and those who are still alive in Christ when this first resurrection happens, the vast majority of the dead must be raised for judgment:


Hebrews 9:

27   And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment:   (AKJV)



It is evident that after we die we wait for judgment. How can we go heaven or hell as disembodied spirits immediately after we die if we have not been judged? When are we saying we are judged then?


For those who believe we go to heaven or hell immediately, where does the Bible say:


1) a spirit is judged without a resurrection, and


2) there is judgment instantly upon death that sends us to a heaven or hell?  



Does this make sense, or should we just listen to the Bible which says there will be one resurrection at Christ’s return and then a second one, 1000 years later, for the Great Day of Judgment (Revelation 20:11-13)?  



And again, the Lord Jesus Himself consistently refers to judgment on the last day where people do not live again until that last day for judgment: 


John 6:

39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.

40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."


44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.


54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.     (NKJV)


Comment:  Verses 40 and 54 show us that our everlasting/eternal life only begins on the last day and we are not immortal souls before that time.



John 12:

48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him --- the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.     (NKJV)



Let us look some more:


Romans 2:


5     But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day

     of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,

6     who will render to each person according to his deeds:

7     to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;

8     but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.

9     There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek,

10   but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

11   For there is no partiality with God.   (NASB)



Whether good or bad, our eternal destinies are decided after judgment. We do not go to anywhere immediately after we die. We wait (sleep) until resurrection; judgment follows resurrection.

Notice verse 7 – why would we need to seek immortality if we are supposedly already “immortal spirits”?



Romans 8:

23   And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves,

     waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.   (NASB)



Our adoption, whether we are dead or still alive when the Lord returns, only occurs at the redemption/resurrection of our bodies. Paul would not be groaning if he would be living as a spirit in heaven with God after he died! Paul states here very clearly that the hope we eagerly wait for is eternal life, but this only comes when our bodies are resurrected, which means life is picked up again only after resurrection.



2 Corinthians 5:

10   For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body,

     according to what he has done, whether good or bad.   (NKJV)



We are judged by what we do in our lives. Judgment and of the body implies there is no spirit “free pass” or grace period; it is strictly about the body --- we live it, are judged by it and are raised to it. Resurrection to an eternal spirit body like the Lord Jesus’ example will still require the re-composition of our dead bodies.

It does not make sense to think that we are spirit beings after we die. At what point would this happen if we must be judged? Indeed, judgment must come first to determine whether you live forever. There is no period of time between death and judgment where we live as spirits; living as a spirit is not death, because it is not complete cessation of consciousness – our thoughts and mind.



The Bible clearly teaches that the precious free gift of eternal life begins only upon our resurrections or good judgment for us.

We do not have eternal lives as immortal spirit beings – this is not Biblical.  A gift means it is given, and the gift of eternal life is only given at our resurrection to eternal life or at a righteous judgment for us; before this, we wait in the sleep that is death and are dead, not conscious at all.




Flee from the enemy's lie - Conclusion


The Bible teaches that when we die, we sleep and await an awakening from this sleep, which is the resurrection. If we continued to live as spirit beings after we die, then we are not truly dead. Death is the cessation of conscious thought and existence. To continue to live as disembodied spirits is not a cessation of consciousness at all.


The Bible does not talk about the death of a body, but the death of the person. This includes all that the person is in his totality. It is a complete cessation of life of that person. There is no continuing to live in spirit.


After all, why would a spirit being wait for his body to be raised if the spirit is already eternally living? The Bible says the flesh is a vapor, weak and a limitation. The Bible always says the spirit is greater. Why then would the spirit wait for the flesh? The Bible does not teach this. The Bible instead says that the body will be raised and changed into spirit. This means our existence as spirit beings does not occur until only after our resurrection (with a good judgment; those judged as wicked perish forever in the second death, the lake of fire).


In fact, for the same reason that the spirit is better than the body, if we are supposedly spirit beings to begin with, why do we need a body at all? Again, the Bible says that new life comes when we are changed into spirit and this requires the template of our bodies. The Bible teaches spirit (pneuma/ruach) is the breath of life and must be combined with our body to produce a living being. The Bible does not teach an immortal spirit needs a body.


The only time the spirit which is greater became less is when the Son of God Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ, humbled Himself to die for us. To say that people are really immortal spirits who just happen to need bodies to live in goes against all logic and Bible truth, and makes a mockery of what the Lord did.


The belief in a spirit being living separate from our bodies conflicts with the very nature of Christ's death and resurrection itself.  The Bible does not tell us Jesus is conscious or alive again until only after He was bodily raised (similar to Lazarus, but Lazarus began to rot after 3 days).   This highlights the truth of what resurrection really is and what and when life after death occurs – we become alive again and conscious again, only when our bodies are resurrected. 


This is the exact reason why resurrection to new and eternal life requires our bodies and why those sleeping in the graves will rise again upon this resurrection. Resurrection does not mean “joining” with our supposed disembodied spirit, but a true first-time rising again to consciousness – life. Like waking from sleep. The Bible does not teach that after we die we are still alive as spirit beings waiting for our bodies to come back. The Bible teaches that we become alive again – conscious, only after we wake up from the sleep of death during our bodily resurrections.


It is why the Bible always says that when we sleep we know nothing – it is not that the body alone knows nothing, but the person himself as a whole knows nothing. In this sleep they will not be able to praise God which means there is NO consciousness whatsoever. The Bible expresses the hope of all man is that we eagerly await the day we will rise again to life and be with God and His son forever. The Bible says we must wait for immediately after the resurrection, not death, for this eternal life.


The Bible says when we die, we fall asleep. It does not say we go anywhere. The next waking moment will be resurrection:


1 Corinthians 15:

50   Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption.

51   Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

52   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.   (AKJV)



Paul tells us that only what is spirit and not flesh and blood can inherit the Kingdom of God. But when is this time we are changed? It is when the Lord Jesus returns at the last trumpet blast. We do NOT go to heaven immediately after dying, because we are not spirits until only His return.



2 Timothy 4:

6     For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.

7     I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;

8     in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge,

     will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.   (NASB)



Paul was going to die soon and expected in a time yet future he will be rewarded, but not immediately.  He would be sleeping and be raised when Christ returns. 


It is very important to know the Bible truth about what really happens when we die. Why? It is crucial, because the role of judgment is ignored and also deception about the demonic realm begins with erroneous and un-Biblical beliefs about the spirit world.


The only times the Bible speaks of spirits inhabiting a body, it is always demonic possession, but the Bible says the dead know nothing. The Bible tells us the dead sleep and await Christ. Therefore, there are no spirits of the dead that we can see or talk to, and any spirits of the dead are actually demonic manifestations to deceive man.


Remember the enemy Satan’s lie that deceived mankind from the very beginning in Genesis 3:4-5.  He fooled us into not believing in God’s word about life and death – that we will not die and can live forever.  The enemy’s lies are a path to death. We have been deceived ever since about death from disobeying God’s word then.  


However, it is not too late to obey God’s word now and break the cycle of Satan’s lie. 


The Bible plainly says that we do not live again – in any state, until our resurrections.  The word of God is very clear about what happens when we die: we sleep and await judgment or the glorious joy of being raised and changed to be like Christ when He returns in power.


During these end times we are in, apostasy and demonic deception which includes the false “spirit world” or “spirits of the dead” (this includes apparitions of the virgin Mary) will increase and get worse and worse.  Have you noticed that besides in movies, there is also a greatly increased frequency of TV/cable shows about ghosts and the supernatural? 

We are being set up for a great supernatural deception in these end times so that we will seek and follow the spirit world of demons, and not seek God in Christ to know His truth and follow Him: 


Isaiah 8:

19   When they say to you, "Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter," should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?    (NASB)



But God makes it clear that dealing with the occult is an abomination:


Deuteronomy 18:

9    "When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations.

10  There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer,

11  or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.

12  For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you.

13  You shall be blameless before the LORD your God.

14  For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not appointed such for you.    (NKJV)


The Satanic lie of spirits continuing to live before judgment is the doorway to demonic activity and Satan holding control over our lives, and turning us away from the narrow righteous path that leads us to eternal life with God and Christ.  This demonic activity for the enemy’s control to blind many to the Bible truth and eternal salvation will run completely rampant and unchecked.  We must flee from the enemy and his lies.


This time, we must know the truth and walk by it.  There is no excuse. Then we will no longer be in bondage to lies and fear, allowing Satan to rule over us.  Then we will take our lives here on earth seriously – knowing that there will be judgment for our lives and we must have a Biblical repentance; knowing that we must no longer be deceived by the deadly lies of “cheap grace” and “instant heaven”.  



Therefore, the truth about what happens when we die, becomes a matter of life and death.


The Bible truth about death is indeed the truth that we must know which shall make us free. 


We must not be deceived by the doctrines of men and demons which only lead to death.




Please also see the articles:  ‘The Coming Great Apostasy’ and ‘Idolatry: the Roman Catholic Church breaks the 2nd Commandment’.

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