- Category: Good News (For Real)
Theme Text– If a man dies, will he live again? (Job 14:14 NASB)
1) What’s mankind’s most terrible problem?
Death! 150,000 people die every day. Two-thirds of them die of old age and the rest by diseases, accidents, homicides, disasters, wars… (Source: Wikipedia).
2) But isn’t this the natural order of things? Animals die, don’t they?
Well, Man is unique. Unlike animals, Man was created in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27).
Mankind was created to live forever as rulers of earth (Gen 1:26, 28). Death is unnatural to the human psyche (Eccl 3:11). Human beings have extreme difficulty in dealing with it. The death of a loved one is traumatic. Does the pain ever go away? We miss them and ache to see them again.
3) Why did we start dying in the first place?
God warned him [Adam, the first Man], ‘You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden [Eden] -- except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.’ (Genesis 2:16-17 NLT).
Satan, a rogue angel, deceived Eve [the first Woman] telling her ‘You won’t die’ and convinced her to ignore God’s warning. Eve gave Adam the forbidden fruit.
By eating it, Adam disobeyed his benevolent Creator’s one and only command and thereby became subject to the death penalty (Gen 3:1-6 NLT).
4) Did merely eating a fruit merit death? And why do we have to die for Adam’s fault?
It was a simple test to see if Man will obey or not. And it did prove to be an adequate test as mankind quickly degenerated to the point of committing murder. Adam’s son killed his own brother (Gen 4:8). Obeying God’s laws actually helps men from hurting each other and themselves (Job 35:5-8, Matt 22:39). To see the results of disobedience today, all we have to do is switch on the news.
Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned…
By the offence of ONE [Adam] judgment came upon ALL men to condemnation (Romans 5:12, 18).
Yes, all of us inherit sin and death from Father Adam by heredity. Sin and death are in our genes and DNA. Every human child is born under a death sentence. In Adam ALL die (1Corinthians 15:22 NIV).
5) What happens when a man dies?
The Bible defines death as a state of unconscious sleep. No matter who, when a man dies, he falls asleep, just like every man before him did. When Abraham died, the Bible says he ‘was gathered to his people’ (Gen 25:8). Abraham’s people were not believers in God, but the faithful Abraham slept with them in death. David too ‘slept with his fathers’ (1Kings 2:10), and so slept Solomon (11:43). When Stephen was killed, he fell asleep (Acts 7:60).
All across the Bible, death is mentioned as entering a state of sleep (1Kings 14:31, 1Thess 4:14, 1Cor 15:6 and so on).
6) What did Jesus Christ say about death?
When his friend Lazarus died, Jesus said ‘Our friend has fallen asleep’ (John 11:11 NASB). And when he awakened Lazarus from death, the Bible says, ‘The man who had died came forth’ (John 11:44 NASB).
It doesn’t say he who was in hell or heaven returned. It simply says, he who had died i.e. he who had been in the sleep of death as Jesus had earlier mentioned, was awakened and came forth.
7) What kind of sleep is death?
The Bible makes it clear that death is an unconscious sleep. It says the dead do not have awareness of anything - ‘the dead know nothing’ (Ecclesiastes 9:5). As a matter of fact, it declares that when a man dies, ‘his breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish’ (Psalm 146:4).
The dead have no thoughts. They cease to think. Both mind and body perish. The dead cease to exist.
8) Does science agree with the bible on the state of death?
“Death noun \’death\ - a permanent cessation of all vital functions: the end of life” – Webster’s Dictionary.
The death of an organism results in a permanent absence of consciousness - Wikipedia.
Soul & Spirit
9) If death is a cessation of existence, what happens to the soul then?
Since ancient times, many cultures/religions - Babylonians, Egyptians, Persians, Chinese etc. - have promoted an idea that the soul does not die during death, but rather lives on immortally. But the Jewish people did not have any belief in such a concept. That’s because the Bible does not support it. Nope, there is no ‘immortal soul’ in the Bible.
10) What is a soul according to the Bible?
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 (Gen 2:7). Yes, Adam became a living soul. He did not possess a soul. Rather he himself was the soul. Souls have blood (Jeremiah 2:34). Souls can be touched, and killed (Joshua 11:11).
Men do not have some entity called a soul living within them. Rather, as the Bible says, men are the souls. The distress signal ‘SOS – Save our Souls’ means ‘Save us’, not ‘Save something that’s living within us’.
11) Can the soul die?
The soul that sinneth, it shall die (Ezekiel 18:20). That’s straightforward. Adam was the first soul who sinned. So he died. The soul named Adam died. We too are living souls like Adam. And we too shall die.
12) What about the spirit? Won’t that live on after death?
Some think the word ‘spirit’ means some spiritual entity living within man. They usually quote Eccl 12:7 - Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. But the word ‘spirit’ in this verse translates a Hebrew word that simply means the impersonal ‘breath’ – the power of life. Modern translations do a better job –
The dust returns to the earth as it was, and the breath returns to God who gave it (12:7 NRSV).
This is in harmony with Genesis – God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (Gen 2:7).
John Goldingay [D.A.H. Professor of Old Testament] writes -
"The life of a human being came more directly from God, and it is also evident that when someone dies, the breath (Psalm 104:29) or the life (Gen. 35:18) disappears and returns to the God".
The Bible confirms, ‘when you [God] take away their breath, they die and return to the dust (Psalm 104:29). We give up our breath (spirit) and return to dust as per Adam’s curse - for out of it [the ground] you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return (Gen. 3:19 NRSV).
13) If there’s no immortal soul in the Bible, how come many present-day Christians believe in it?
The original lie - ‘You won’t die’ (Gen 3:4 NLT) – that Satan used to deceive Mother Eve still lives on. It just perpetuates in different forms! Satan continues to deceive mankind that somehow they will not really die during death, but rather only their bodies would die and their so-called soul or spirit would live on forever. But as we studied, the Bible disagrees with that idea.
14) So is there any hope for mankind in life after death?
Yes indeed! But that hope is not based on the error that somehow death is just of the body and not fully real. No, death is real.
Job asked, ‘If a man dies, will he live again?’
He didn’t ask, ‘If a man dies, is he really dead?’
Job knew that those who die go out of existence unless God restores them to life.