Death ends in a grave

Death is the end and not the start of an afterlife

Death is the end and not the start of an afterlife

Among the ancient pagan religions a single core religious belief is clear to see from theDeath ends in a grave tombs that have survived from those eras – namely the belief in an afterlife. The Babylonians placed weapons and implements in their tombs to help the ‘spirit’ of their dead ones protect itself and be able to hunt on its way to the afterlife. The Egyptian “book of the dead” shows how that they believed that upon death the “Weighing of the Heart” judgment ceremony was performed before the god Osiris. This would determine if the one whose heart was being weighed was worthy of spending eternity in the fields of Hetep and Iaru. The Greeks also believed in an immortal soul. The teachings of Pluto declared that everyone had an “immortal soul” which, depending on how an individual had lived their life, would mean they would either spend an eternity of torture in Hades or Tartarus or spend their time in paradise in Elysian. The Romans also adopted the same doctrine as the Greeks. So the ancients then, believed in the immortality of the soul and an afterlife upon death.

What about the moderns of today? A startling similarity of beliefs exist in current world religions. In Islam the idea of an immortal soul is a fundamental belief. The Buddhist religion teaches that upon death we live on as an ever-changing entity. In Sikhism we find a belief in the “Atma” or “Soul” which continues on after death. The Hindu religion teaches that all have a ‘spirit’ or soul which is reborn, again and again. The Catholic Church and many of the churches that have split off from her, believe in an immortal soul as a core doctrine. The doctrine of the ancients is alive and well in the many world religions we find being practiced today.

However, the important question is: what does the Bible teach about death? We know the Bible is the inspired word of God because of the authority of evidence that is found in its prophecy which surpasses all other religious texts, many of which do not contain a word of prophecy and those that do are untestable. So what does the Bible teach then in regards to death?

The nature of our life

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

The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life. If thou canst answer me, set thy words in order before me, stand up. Behold, I am according to thy wish in God’s stead: I also am formed out of the clay. Job 33:4-6

Thou (God) hidest thy face, they (the beasts) are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth. Psalm 104:29-30

So the Bible teaches that man is a creature formed from the dust and he lives by the energy that God has breathed into him. This is something man shares with all living things that God has created.

But note the facts here from the Genesis record. The Bible does not teach man became an “immortal” soul. He was a “living soul”. This “living” was threatened to be taken away upon disobedience:

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (Hebrew = “dying thou shalt die”). Genesis 2:17

So if man disobeyed God he would die. The apostle Paul, through inspiration, puts it like this:

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. Romans 5:12

When the power of God is removed from man, like beasts, man returns to the dust which he was created from. The following verses prove this:

All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust. Job 34:15

I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts. For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Ecclesiastes 3:19-21

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:7

Life is a vapour that vanishes away

The sad truth then is that our life is a temporary thing. We are here today but gone tomorrow. The scriptures describe life in these poetical ways:

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. James 4:14

Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away. Psalm 144:4

What exactly is death & what happens when we die?

For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun. Ecclesiastes 9:5-6

Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake. For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? Psalm 6:5

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. Psalm 146:3-4

For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth. Isaiah 38:18-19

As the above verses demonstrate, the Bible clearly teaches that death, in itself is a punishment. When a man dies, we are told that he is unconscious, knowing nothing. Dead in every sense of the word. The truth of the matter then is that there is no afterlife of the sort the ancients of old believed in – with their pagan concept of an immortal soul. Our life is not eternal. There is no clear evidence of any afterlife and such an idea of a spirit life after death is not presented in the Bible.

The clear Bible teaching about the soul

The Bible is clear about the idea of a soul. It teaches simply that the soul can die and is therefore not immortal. Consider these passages:

“…the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ezek 18:4

“my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life.” Job 7:15

“Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” James 5:20

“But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me.” Psalm 49:15

“And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.” Revelation 16:3

“He made a way to his anger; he spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence;” Psalm 78:50

“All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.” Psalm 22:29

Contradictions with the immortal soul theory

One who claims to believe in man having an immortal soul might want to think about the following contradictions which arise from such a belief:

  • Men would not perish like beasts if they had an immortal soul:
    Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling. Psalm 49:14-20
  • Immortality would not only be for the righteous if men had it already:
    Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath. Romans 2:6-8
  • Immortality would not be a gift if we had it already:
    For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23
  • Immortality would not now be hidden if it is something which happens all the time:
    For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3
  • Immortality could not have been brought to light by Jesus if it was around before him in every man who had lived:
    But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 2 Timothy 1:10
  • Immortality would not be dependent upon a belief of Jesus and the gospel:
    And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:40
  • There would be no need of a resurrection:
    For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 1 Corinthians 15:16-20
  • The soul would not be something which could be lost or exchanged:
    For whosoever will save his life (Greek = “psuche” translated “soul” elsewhere) shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

Why do we die?

After Adam sinned God passed a sentence on him:

And unto Adam he (God) said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. Genesis 3:17-19

The Bible teaches that all of mankind dies because they have inherited Adam’s nature – a nature related to sin, which is sin-prone and mortal. Man is therefore in a position which is in need of reconciliation with God.

Man dies because of this nature he inherits and because of the transgressions he commits when he chooses to follow the temptations of this rebellious nature and break God’s law (called sinning):

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. Romans 5:12

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:22

Where has the idea of the immortal soul come from?

We hope, dear reader, that you can see clearly now that the idea of having an immortal soul is not one that comes from the Bible. Why then do churches all over the world hold to this view and teach it?

To understand this one must understand the Bible’s prophecies about it’s message becoming corrupted. Please read our article “Christianity Teaching Corrupted“…

It’s worthy of note that the idea of the immortal soul was not actually taught by the very early churches but came in much later. Once inculcated into the Catholic church, this doctrine was carried with it into all the split-offs from the Catholics which is why the doctrine is so prevalent no matter what church you go to.

This is what one of the early church Fathers proclaimed about this subject:

 “For some things are known even by nature: the immortality of the soul, the instance, is held by many … I may use, therefore, the opinion of Plato, when he declares: ‘Every soul is immortal”  Tertullian, 220 AD

Notice where he is quoting from to support the concept of an immortal soul. He quotes from Greek Philosopher Plato and not from the Bible. So to answer the question where has the idea come from Tertullian is telling us it came from – Greek paganism!

The teaching of the immortal soul was not officially declared by a Catholic church council until 1513. This is what was decreed at the Lateran Council:

Whereas some have dared to assert concerning the nature of the reasonable soul that it is mortal, we, with the approbation of the sacred council do condemn and reprobate all those who assert that the intellectual soul is mortal, seeing, according to the canon of Pope Clement V, that the soul is immortal and we decree that all who adhere to like erroneous assertions shall be shunned and punished as heretics. Lateran Council of 1513

Where is the basis of argument? On the scripture or on what  a previous Pope had written? A protestant called William Tyndale, an early translator of the Bible into English, could see the false teaching that had arisen within the church:

“In putting departed souls in heaven, hell, and purgatory, you destroy the arguments wherewith Christ and Paul prove the resurrection, which we be warned to look for every hour.  The true faith putteth the resurrection; the heathen philosophers, denying that (i.e. the resurrection) did put that souls did ever live.  And the pope joineth the Spiritual doctrine of Christ, and the fleshy doctrine of philosophers together, things so contrary that they cannot agree, and because the fleshy minded pope consenteth unto the heathen doctrine, therefore, he corrupteth the Scripture to establish it……..If the souls be in heaven, tell me why they be not in as good case as the angels be, and then what cause is there for the resurrection?” William Tyndale

Is death the end?

In Genesis God makes promises to the faithful man Abraham:

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. Genesis 12:1-3

And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. Genesis 3:14-17

These promises which were directly given to Abraham and his ‘seed’ (descendant) were not to do with a fanciful realm in the clouds but were directly related to the earth. In Galatians Paul, through inspiration says that these very promises were the gospel, the good news, preached to Abraham (see Galatians 3:8 & 16). Abraham was to inherit land on the earth. Abraham lived and died and did not receive this promise:

And he (God) gave him (Abraham) none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on… Acts 7:5

These (faithful men and women of old, Abraham among them, see v8) all died in faith, not having received the promises… Hebrews 11:13

So this promise of inheriting the land and all nations being blessed is still unfulfilled. How then will Abraham be able to inherit the land “forever” seeing that he is dead? There is a clue in Hebrews 11:17-19:

By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. Hebrews 11:17-19

Abraham believed in a resurrection from the dead. This teaching of a resurrection from death at a future time is confirmed in many parts of the Bible:

I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness. Psalm 17:15

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:2

Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Isaiah 26:19

So then there is to be a resurrection of the dead. However a resurrection in itself is not enough. Lazarus, for example, was raised from the dead (John 12:17) but in due time he died again. The problem of the nature he inherited from Adam still caused him to sin and therefore he died. What is the Bible’s answer?

The Judgment

Following on from the resurrection there is to be a judgment:

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. John 5:28-29

…for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. Luke 14:14

A resurrection from the dead is one thing but there is a process of judgement which will take place to determine whether the one raised is worthy of the gift of life or the damnation of death.

If the one who is judged is found acceptable then we read that the person’s body will be changed – changed from having Adam’s nature to something far more wonderful:

…we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. Phil 3:21

For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 2 Corinthians 5:2

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 1 Corinthians 15:53

This is the teaching of the Bible but the message of salvation is not a universal one. It is only offered to a select few who God calls.

How can I be saved?

It was the mission of Jesus Christ to open up a way of salvation and a way to immortality for doomed mankind. Sin had brought death and only righteousness would bring life. Jesus, although bearing Adam’s sin prone nature, never gave into it and showed forth God’s righteousness in obedience to God. His sacrifice provided a way whereby others could become acceptable in the sight of God and have their sins forgiven.

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. John 1:29

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:22

So to obtain this hope of salvation then, a person must move from being “in” Adam to being “in” Christ. How is this possible?

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:27

Therefore the Bible teaches that only those who have been baptised, those “in Christ” have opportunity to be saved. This is God’s revealed way of salvation. Through belief and baptism. There is no other way:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

When will eternal life be given?

The Bible teaches that this gift of eternal life is to be given in the future when Jesus returns:

But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 1 John 15:23

And, behold, I (Jesus) come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. Revelation 22:12

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom… 2 Tim 4:1

The Bible records how that when this gift is given, those who receive it will live and reign on the earth in God’s Kingdom. It is through those who are accepted that God’s glory will be seen and cover the earth (Habakkuk 2:14).

So then, we have an opportunity to accept the call of salvation offered to us in the Bible and in God’s mercy, obtain a place in His Kingdom.

An appeal

The Bible then, teaches that there is a way to escape death but it is not an easy way – where at death our inner being floats off to the pearly gates in the sky. The true way of escape from death is in a humble recognition of God’s righteousness and our weakness. It requires a belief in the Gospel and the Lord Jesus Christ, followed by baptism and the leading of a life in accordance with God’s commands. It requires us to listen to the still small voice of the Bible. If we can do this then, in God’s mercy, when Jesus returns to the earth we can be given the gift of immortality. Consider this verse:

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. 1 Corinthians 15:25-26

Our appeal then is to you, dear reader, to find out more about this Gospel, to accept the true teaching of the Bible and to follow the Lord Jesus Christ:

For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 1 Corinthians 15:25

By Matthew Davies

If you would like to find out more about the Bible’s message for you, then please go to our website and explore the True Bible Teaching concerning the Purpose of Almighty God with this earth and your opportunity to be a part of it.

To learn about God’s Promises to You here