Last Updated on September 1, 2021 by Paul

Lord, do people really die or is death just a change from a bodily existence to some other state of being?

“… It is appointed for men to die once….” Hebrews 9:27

Is death the end for those that have died or will they live again?

“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.… Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice  and come forth; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” John 5:25-29

Lord, we know when our loved ones die, but when will they live again? When will they hear Jesus’ voice and come out of their graves?

“So man lies down and does not rise.Till the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep.” Job 14:12

When will the heavens be no more?

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” 2 Peter 3:10

So when the day of the Lord comes, the dead come to life again?

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.”      1 Thessalonians 4:16

It is comforting to know that they shall rise again. But where are the dead now, until the coming of Christ?

“If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness. Job 17:13 “…The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice.”  John 5:28  “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell [the grave] delivered up the dead which were in them.” Revelation 20:13 

I know that the body goes into the grave, but what about the spirit? Where does that go?

“Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7

What is then this spirit that God gave us?

“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

I have heard that men’s spirits go to heaven after death. Those spirits must be very happy. They sing your praises day and night, don’t they?

“The dead do not praise the Lord, nor any who go down into silence.” Psalm 115:17 “For in death there is no remembrance of You; in the grave who will give You thanks?” Psalm 6:5

You mean their spirits aren’t in a conscious state of mind, having emotions and feelings?

“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. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun.”    Ecclesiastes 9:5-6

Can’t the dead think at all?

“His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” Psalm 146:4

I’ve heard that the spirits of the dead can see what their children are doing and can communicate with them, or that they can come back to their own homes. Is that true?

“His sons come to honor, and he does not know it; they are brought low, and he does not perceive it.” Job 14:21 “As the cloud disappears and vanishes away, so he who goes down to the grave does not come up. He shall never return to his house, nor shall his place know him anymore.”       Job 7:9-10

Then what is the spirit which returns to God at death?

“You hide Your face, they are troubled; You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. You send forth Your Spirit, they are created.” Psalm 104:29-30

Note: In this context, the word “spirit,” in the original Hebrew, means “wind” or “breath.” When applied to man, it means the breath of life that makes a body a living soul (person). See Genesis 2:7. This breath of life has no existence or intelligence apart from the body. Sometimes the word “spirit” or “soul” refers to the non-physical, thinking part of man, but even then, when the body dies, the thinking ends. “The dead know nothing.” Ecclesiastes 9:5. Also, this “spirit,” or breath of life in man, should not be confused with the good and evil angels that are called spirits in the Bible, nor with the Holy Spirit, which is God’s own Spirit.

Well, then, who or what are the spirits of the dead that have appeared and talked to people?

“For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles….” Revelation 16:14 “…The working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9

Then is the devil responsible for these lies?

“…When he [the devil] speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” John 8:44

What was his first lie?

“Then the serpent [the devil] said to the woman [Eve], ‘You will not surely die.’” Genesis 3:4

What shall I do when the spirits of devils appear as impersonations of the dead?

“And when they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the  testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:19-20

I believe what you say, Lord, but please explain the soul. 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 [person].” Genesis 2:7 “And all the souls [persons] that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls [persons].” Exodus 1:5 “And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls [persons].” Acts 27:37

Can a soul die?

“…The soul [person] who sins shall die.” Ezekiel 18:4 “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28 “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave….” Psalm 49:15

Note: In the Bible, the word “soul” is translated from the original language about 1000 times, and not once is it defined as something immortal or unable to die. Depending upon the context, it means life, person, breath, emotions or mind—the non-physical aspects of a person.

Lord, I know our bodies die, but I thought souls are immortal.

“…The King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality….”   1 Timothy 6:15-16

You mean our souls are not immortal?

“Shall mortal man be more just than God?…” Job 4:17 “…Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.” Rom 2:7

I see that if we have to “seek for” immortality, we obviously don’t have it automatically. How can we get it, then?

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

So eternal life comes only through Jesus Christ?

 “…Our Savior Jesus Christ … has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 2 Timothy 1:10  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe on Him would not perish [eternal death], but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

Lord, I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. Because of my belief or faith, aren’t I promised eternal life?

“…Everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”  John 6:40  “…God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life.” 1 John 5:11-12

I think I understand. Do you mean that eternal life is ours now by faith and we shall become immortal in the resurrection at the last day?

“…We shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’” 1 Corinthians 15:51-54

Suppose there is no resurrection. What then?

“For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” 1 Corinthians 15:16-18

Let me make sure I understand, Lord: When a man dies, You take back the spirit (breath of life), the body turns into dust again, and the thoughts stop. The soul (person) ceases to be. Then, from the moment of death until the coming of Jesus, the dead are unconscious. When Jesus comes, the spirit (breath) returns to the resurrected bodies and the dead live again. Is this right? 

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.” 1 Corinthians 15:22-23

It sounds like going to sleep and waking up at the resurrection.

“…He said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus sleeps,’… However, Jesus spoke of his death, …Then Jesus said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead.’” John 11:11-14 “And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’… And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7:59-60 “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:2

Lord, it is comforting to know that our loved ones are sleeping in the grave, not knowing anything. Might not some of them be forgotten in the resurrection?

“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.” John 6:39 “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:4

Thank you, Lord, for that comforting thought. According to Your Word, the wicked are not suffering punishment now, are they?

“…The Lord knows how to … reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment….” 2 Peter 2:9 “There [in the grave] the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest.” Job 3:17

If the wicked are not punished now, then the righteous are not in heaven either, are they?

“For David is not ascended into the heavens….” Acts 2:34 “For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.” Isaiah 38:18 

So where is David now?

“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.” Acts 2:29 “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption.” Acts 13:36

Have any faithful people received the promised immortality yet?

“And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” Hebrews 11:39-40

What a wonderful thought that God, our Father, will make our bodies perfect and take us to heaven. What a wonderful homecoming that will be! But when do we receive our reward?

“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” Matthew 16:27 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” Revelation 22:12

Did the apostle Paul agree with this? Did he expect to receive his crown at the appearing of Jesus Christ, our Lord?

“…The time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8 

Thank you, Lord. This knowledge is great comfort, but I have one more question.  After the resurrection, will there be more death for God’s people?

“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Lord, I want to be there with You! I am determined, by Your grace, to lay aside every evil thought, word and act. I will follow only You, even if it means forsaking friends, relatives and former well-meaning teachers.

“And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:14