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Death, Afterlife, and Eternity

A Biblical View

Death—no other word invokes in our minds such feelings of ultimate loss, finality, and even fear—but what is death? To many people death is merely the cessation of life, the natural end of all physical organisms. To those who embrace the naturalist’s philosophy concerning the origin of life that is the most logical answer. Natural forces, they say, created our life and natural forces will reclaim that life. To those who embrace evolution, there is no hereafter, no reincarnation, no resurrection of life, we merely die and cease to exist. On the other hand, many billions of the inhabitants of this earth believe that there is something beyond the grave to which all earthly life is transfigured. While there are thousands of variations of beliefs, we will try to summarize the major ones.

1. The Naturalist believes that the universe is the result of the “Big Bang”; that all life, from the simplest of organisms to that of all animals, mysteriously evolved as the result of natural forces; and that man, although he is on the highest rung of the evolutionary ladder, is still only a part of that process. They do not believe in a higher being—god, creator, force. They do not believe that man has a separate spirit and\or soul, but that death is merely the end of life and all consciousness.

2. The Buddhist believes that although death is the end of the natural body, it is not the end of life; that the spirit of man still remains after death and will be reincarnated in some other form. There are six realms to which all life will be reborn—heaven, human beings, Asura—demon, hungry ghost, animal, and hell. The realm to which a spirit is reincarnated is the result of their past actions—their karma. The highest state into which a spirit may enter is nirvana or enlightenment. It is here that the spirit breaks free from the cycle of reincarnation, and now dwells in a state of being as opposed to that of becoming. Those who reach this state of nirvana are called Buddhas.[1]

3. Hindus also believe in reincarnation, but in a different way than do the Buddhist. They view death as merely the temporary cessation of physical activity. When a person dies their soul goes into another world but returns after spending some time there. To the Hindu there are many heavens and hells to which a person may go. However, these are not real places, but only a part of some great illusion. The purpose of these temporary visits is to enlighten the traveler, learn important lessons, and then return to this earth to continue their journey. Once a person returns however, there is no consciousness of this afterlife, and most of what was learned may be forgotten. The only way to reach the divine state is for a Hindu to train their mind to think of god all the time through yoga, contemplation, meditation, and chanting god’s name. If they are in such a state at the time of death they are very likely to obtain oneness with god.[2]

4. The Confucian view of death is not easily defined because it has not been dogmatically set forth. Their concern is not with the afterlife, but with how one lives their present life. They believe that if a person lives virtuously and strives for the benefit of society, then that will follow them into whatever may be hereafter. “Immortality”, whatever that may mean to a Confucianist, is obtained by setting a great example of virtue, having a great career, and leaving behind great writings.[3]

5. Islam teaches that there is life after death. Both the prophets of Islam and the teachings of the Quran emphatically give credence to the hereafter. Islam presents to its followers the idea of a resurrection and a day of judgment to come. The status of all those who are raised from the dead depends upon their belief in Allah and how they live their present lives. Some will enter into eternal bliss, while unbelievers in Allah, and the wicked will suffer eternal retribution.[4]

6. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in a separate soul that lives beyond the grave. All life ceases to exist at death and only the believing Witnesses will one day be resurrected. Hell is merely the common grave of all mankind and there remains no consciousness after death. Only 144,000 believers become spirit creatures, ruling and reigning with Christ from heaven over the earth; and the rest of the resurrected Witnesses live in eternal bliss upon the earth.[5]

7. Mormons believe that after death, the spirit of man is separated from the body and goes to a temporary spirit world. This spirit world has two divisions, spirit prison and paradise. In the spirit prison live those who are wicked and those who may have lived righteously but never learned the truth about Jesus Christ and received the sacred ordinances that would make them believers. Those in paradise are the spirits who adopted the Mormon faith by submitting to its beliefs and rituals. Furthermore, those in prison may become proselytes by those who reach out to them from paradise. At a future resurrection, where the body and spirit become one again, the eternal reward of each person will be based upon their obedience to the sacred ordinances and the commandments of Jesus Christ. Those who are deemed righteous enter into one of three heavens—Telestial, Terrestrial, and Celestial. In the Celestial, Mormons continue to grow and become more like God.[6]

8. Catholicism teaches that after death the soul departs and goes to either Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, or Limbo. Heaven is reserved for those who have been baptized Catholics and who, through a lifetime of merit, are declared saints. Hell is reserved for those who are non-Catholics and have lived wicked lives. Purgatory is the temporary stopping place for most Catholics. There, the soul is purged from remaining sin through penance and the prayers and indulgences offered by those still living. Limbo is that place where non-baptized infants, and people who have lived righteously but are non-Catholics, go. Although Limbo is not Heaven, it is said to be a place of happiness. Catholics also believe in a future resurrection and an eternal state of bliss for those who are deemed worthy. Many of these teachings have changed down through the centuries as different Popes and Church Counsels have redefined Catholic beliefs.[7]

Now, while we could continue with many other views of death and the hereafter, our main focus will be on the teachings of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures; and, while it is true that many other religions and cults also lay claim to certain parts of the Bible, much of their theology is skewed by other sources of divine revelation. For example, certain aspects of the Islamic religion depend upon portions of the Old Testament Scriptures and incorporate many of its teachings; and while they even embrace Jesus as a prophet, followers of Islam worship a different god—Allah—than that of the Jews and Christians—Jehovah. Furthermore, most of their theology comes from the Koran and its interpretation by the Clerics and Prophets. While many cults like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholics, and Mormons try to incorporate much of the Old and New Testament Scriptures, their views are skewed by additional writings and edicts which take precedent, and are sometimes in direct opposition to the plain teachings of the Bible. Therefore, what we will attempt to do is to give a Biblical interpretation of death and the hereafter. While it will not be an entirely Jewish view, or even a Christian view, it will be a Scriptural view when we examine both the Old and New Testaments, comparing Scripture with Scripture.

2 Pet 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

2 Tim 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

To begin our study we need to ask the most basic of questions—what is death? And, while we would get many different answers from people of scientific, philosophical, and religious backgrounds, again, we will adhere to our one source—the Scriptures. However, even to comprehend the definition of death we need to understand the basic nature of man. From the Creation account of Genesis we are told that “God created man in his own image”; and while this means many other things, what concerns us most is the physical, psychological, and spiritual nature of man. We understand from the Scriptures that God is a trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost.[8] When God made man, He also made him a triune being. We are told that “the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground (body), and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (spirit); and man became a living soul (never dying soul).” The Apostle Paul reaffirms this in the New Testament when he says “and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Gen 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Gen 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 soul.

1 Thess 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Because of man’s triune nature, the meaning of death is different for the body, soul, and spirit of man; and our concept of death is much more complicated than most people realize. Therefore, to begin to understand our subject we must go again to the Book of Beginnings—Genesis. The first thing we see from this book is that death was not a natural part of God’s Creation. The Scriptures declare that “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Now, unless someone is suffering from some incurable, excruciating disease, or a painful, debilitating physical malformity, generally speaking, death is not looked upon as a good thing. If man was created only to live for a short time and then die, to most people, that would not be something that “was very good.” Indeed, for the One who inhabits eternity, who Himself is eternal life, and who loves life, for such a one as God to bring into being a creation where everything was destined to die, is certainly unthinkable.

Gen 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Isa 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

If we examine the creation account we come to conclusion that God designed man to live forever in a perfectly created world. Even the animals may have been exempt from dying. There did not exist a kill or be killed mentality for man and the animals, or was it a case of survival of the fittest, as evolutionist would have us believe. We see that man and the animals were all to co-exist upon plant life. It was not until after the flood that man was given permission to kill and eat meat; and in the beginning the animals were not carnivorous. Death was not designed into God’s creation. However, the concept of death and the possibility that man and animals could die were things that did exist.

Gen 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

Gen 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.
Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.

To insure that man would not die, God even provided a special tree in the Garden Paradise called “the tree of life.” This tree even had a special place within the Garden and was the centerpiece of this earthly paradise. Now, we must not think that this was merely some kind of miracle “fruit” or “nut” tree, that when eaten gave man perpetual youth. What this tree, and many of the other trees represented was knowledge about all the facets of God’s creation, even the mechanics of physical life. Just how this knowledge was conveyed to man we can only speculate; but the teachings of Scripture plainly reveal to us that these trees were a source of mental food.[9]

Gen 2:8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Therefore, if man was designed to live forever, and God made available every resource to insure man’s longevity, how did death become a reality? Most people are familiar with the Bible account of Adam and Eve who partook of the forbidden fruit, and by doing so brought death into the world. However, most people neither understand what that fruit was nor why the eating of it caused man to die. While the majority of Bible teachers and preachers have taught us that it was because Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command, and by doing so “sinned,” it was sin that caused man to die. While certain elements of that synopsis may be true, we must look into this account much deeper if we are to gain any meaningful answers about death.

What is plain from the Scriptures is that God planted a particular tree in the Garden of Eden called “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” It is also plain that God gave the command “thou shalt not eat of it.” Furthermore, God warned the first couple “for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” While we will not be exhaustive in our study here, we must have some understanding about what caused man to die. First of all, what did this tree represent?[10] As with many of the other trees it imparted knowledge— “the knowledge of good and evil.” But who or what determines “good and evil”?—the Law of God does. Whatever God does is good and whatever He does not do is evil. Why, we must ask, did God place this tree in the Garden; why was man forbidden to eat such a seemingly good tree; and why did the eating of its fruit cause man to die?

Gen 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
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.

In the Garden of Eden God placed “every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food.” God withheld nothing from man of all His infinite knowledge which man could ever conceivably use. God was not holding back from man—which the serpent had accused Him of doing—any resource that would be of value to man. Furthermore, this was a good tree because the law of God is good. Man could look upon this tree and gain any insight into its knowledge. The only prohibition was to “not eat of it.” To eat something means to take it into ones being, to make it a part of ones life.[11] Man could not do that with God’s law because man was not capable of obeying the law. The only law that governed man was the natural law which Adam, unconsciously, always obeyed; and God did not require anything more from Adam while he lived in ignorance of any greater law. God prohibited man from eating this tree and warned him of the consequences because God knew what the result would be. Man would place himself under servitude to a law which he could not obey; the law would condemn him for his disobedience; and because of his disobedience man would have to die.[12]

Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Rom 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

Rom 4:15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

Now, most people are familiar with the rest of the story. How the serpent tempted Eve and she ate the forbidden fruit. Then she gave the fruit to Adam and he also ate of it. However, the outcome of their disobedience is what brings us back to our study of death. God had said “for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Howbeit, we discover that the guilty pair did not fall down and die; and, even after God found them hiding in the Garden He did not strike them dead for their sin. In fact, it was not until after the fall that Adam and Eve had children, and Adam, we are told, lived for many years after that. How then did they die?—they died spiritually.

Gen 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Gen 4:1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.

Gen 5:5 And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.

Because Adam and Eve died spiritually and not physically “in the day” of their disobedience, this brings us to our definition of death. Death is not defined, as many people believe, as the end of existence. Neither is it merely our passing on to another realm where we may or may not return. Death, in the Biblical sense, is separation—separation of man from God, separation of the spirit from the body of man, and separation of our soul from this world. When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit they died spiritually because they became spiritually separated from the One who is life and who is the sustainer of life.

Isa 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Gen 35:16 And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour.
17 And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also.
18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Ben-oni: but his father called him Benjamin.
19 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.
20 And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day.

Eph 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

Adam and Eve—before the fall—enjoyed fellowship with God based upon their innocence and ignorance of the law. But now, eating of that fruit has made them aware of the vast difference between their created goodness and the holiness of God. They now realize that they are naked before God and attempt to cover up their nakedness. They also are now in the fear and dread of seeing God and therefore run and hide from Him. Fear and guilt has now replaced love and trust in how they relate to God. God also, because man is no longer innocent before Him, must account man a sinner and separate Himself from man. The Holy God will not tolerate sin in His presence. Therefore, God and man can no longer walk together in the Garden; and man can no longer draw spiritual strength and life from God. This separation between God and man begins to cause man to die from the inside out. Without a spiritual connection to the Creator, man has truly died and will continue to experience the further phases of death.

Gen 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

Isa 6:1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

Now the question that might be raised by some is—why was the whole human race put under law, condemned, made sinners, judged, and sentenced to death for the disobedience of one man? The answer to this compelling question lies in the love, mercy, and grace of God toward mankind. First of all, Adam, our first father, was the pinnacle of human creation. He was not created as some cave-man from whom the rest of us have evolved into a higher being. He was the representative man, because he was as good as a man can be spiritually, mentally, physically, and psychologically in the day he was created. He was our champion, so to speak, who in the Garden faced the temptation of the Serpent and failed. There would be no other man born, even if he were born perfectly, who would have succeeded any better than Adam—other than the Second Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, God foreseeing this, in His infinite wisdom placed all of mankind in Adam and allowed him to be our representative; so that one day, upon Calvary’s cross, He could place all of His redeemed ones in one man, even in Jesus Christ. Because we were all made sinners in one man and condemned to death, we may now all be made righteous in one man and inherit eternal life. God “concluded all under sin,” knowing eventually that all would succumb to temptation and sin, “that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.”[13]

Rom 5:15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Rom 5:12 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:

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

Gal 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

The resulting separation of man and God brought about many things that relate to the death of man.

1. The first thing we see is that God issues what has been called the curse. This curse was directed against the three participants in our story—the serpent, Adam, and Eve. Howbeit, as is seen from the text, the whole of creation suffered because of man’s sin. While there is much to be said about this curse, our main focus will be on how it contributed to the death of man.[14] In the garden paradise man had every resource available to him that promoted his life. Food was in abundance and required very little effort on man’s part in order to sustain himself. However, those carefree days in paradise are about to be changed. Now, because of the alterations of nature that the curse would bring about, man must exert hard labor in order to grow and harvest his food. Furthermore, the elements would not always favor man—the weather, weeds, disease, insects, and other natural forces would fight against man’s efforts. Malnutrition, starvation, and hard work would take their toll upon the physical life of man. Also, the drudgery of day to day survival would begin to break down both the spirit and soul of man. 

Gen 3:9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
13 And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
17 And unto Adam he 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;
18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
19 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.

Rom 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

2. Man is expelled from the Garden of Eden and prevented from eating the Tree of Life. We have already studied how this tree was meant to insure the longevity of man’s physical life. However, God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, would not allow the man to live forever in his sinful, fallen condition. God has, and will provide another Tree of Life to those who are reconciled to Him in Jesus Christ; but for those who refuse His salvation, the knowledge of this tree will never be known. Even though scientists have made great strides in medicine and understanding the human body, they are far from knowing the secrets of life; and God has insured that they never will.

Gen 3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Prov 3:13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
14 For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.
16 Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.

Rev 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Rev 22:1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

3. The effects of sin and man’s separation from God began to deplete the energy of man’s spirit. The spirit is the life force of man. It was not until God “breathed into his nostrils the breath (spirit, pneuma) of life… (that) man became a living soul.” Man’s life came from God and God must sustain that life. Man’s spirit is like a rechargeable battery that must be renewed by being connected to the power source; and God is the power source of the universe. That is the reason why people who live their lives without God are empty of any real power or zeal of living. The longer man lives and the older he gets the less desire and energy he has to live. Many old people give up living and resign themselves to merely wait for death. However, those who are born again experience “regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” They are reconnected to God through Christ and find new life in Him.

Psa 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Psa 38:10 My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me.

Psa 42:1 As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

Tit 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

4. The effects of sin and man’s separation from God begin to psychologically affect the soul of man. Man’s spiritual connection with God was intended to enlighten and strengthen the soul of man; but man’s soul has been cut off from the light of God’s presence and now lives in darkness. As man drifts farther away from God’s light and truth he begins to think and desire evil thoughts and worldly ambitions. He begins to follow false hopes and plans that lead to nowhere. Moreover, the drudgery of day to day living also begins to take its toll. Many people spend their lives merely struggling to exist and find no pleasure in life. The soul becomes cast down, “weary of… life,” and man languishes in the “bitterness of (his) soul.” Furthermore, because man is an eternal soul, there is no escape from the spiral of death and darkness into which he plunges. Physical death is not the end of man’s torment; and only those who reconnect to God through faith in Jesus Christ can find restoration for their soul.

Isa 59:10 We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.

Prov 4:19 The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.

Eze 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

Job 10:1 My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.

Psa 88:3 For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.
4 I am counted with them that go down into the pit:
I am as a man that hath no strength:

Luke 16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

Col 1:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

Psa 23:3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Prov 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

5. The effects of sin and man’s separation from God begin to physically affect the body of man. Although the body of man was designed to live forever in God’s earthly paradise, the decaying effects of sin now begin to wear down this miraculous organism. As the spirit of man begins to lose its power, and the soul of man becomes “weary of… life,” the body is soon affected. Through the uncleanness of sin, the hardships of ordinary life, the escape which many people find in alcohol and drugs, and other psychological and physiological afflictions, the body becomes overtaxed, wears down, grows old, and then dies. The first man Adam lived “nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.” Methuselah, the oldest man recorded in the Bible, lived “nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.” Abraham, the father of the faithful, only lived “an hundred threescore and fifteen years.” Moses would later record that “The days of our years are threescore years and ten (seventy years); and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years (eighty years), yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” Many people’s lives are cut off in infancy, and while some may live into their nineties or one-hundreds, we can see how the progressive corruption of sin has gradually affected our physical life. Moreover, not only has man succumbed through disease, starvation, and other physical ailments, but man’s inhumanity to man has taken the lives of countless human beings. The first murder took place soon after Adam and Eve left the Garden. History and the Bible record countless murders, wars, and genocides that have taken untold millions of lives. The days of man’s physical life are like “a tale that is told,” “like grass which groweth up. In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.”

Gen 5:5 And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.

Gen 5:27 And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.

Gen 25:7 And these are the days of the years of Abraham's life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years.

Psa 90:5 Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.
6 In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.
7 For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.
8 Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.
9 For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.
The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

Gen 4:8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

1 Pet 1:24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:

The last things we want to consider is when does death occur and where do the dead go? These questions also have many facets and there are many groups of people who offer various opinions. Medical people used to say that when the heart stops beating and cannot be resuscitated then a person has died. Now they have become more technical and say that a person is dead when no brain activity can be measured. Of course, with the advent of machines that can oxygenate and pump blood, even the bodies of people in a vegetable state—no measurable brain activity—can be kept “alive.” Others have the hope of being put in a cryogenic state, either before or at the time of natural death, in the hopes of some future medical advance. These issues further complicate our answers to these questions. Are these people still alive? Are they still in their bodies? Are they floating over their bodies waiting for some final determination of death? Although we may speculate about many of these issues, we must resign ourselves to what the Scriptures teach.

Ecc 8:8 There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.

Having already laid the foundation of man’s being and the meaning of death, let us proceed without being redundant. Although we have spiritualized the meaning of death as it relates to God and our spirit-soul-body being, when, Scripturally, does physical death occur and what happens after that? A person dies physically when his spirit, soul, and body become separated. Although we cannot, with our eyes, see the spirit and soul leave the body, we can clearly see the evidence that it has happened. When we view the dead corpse of a person that we have known, we understand that the essence of that person is not there. Their soul, their life, who they were, is gone. We have become separated from them, and merely the presence of their body does not satisfy our longing for them.

Jam 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Gen 35:18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Ben-oni: but his father called him Benjamin.

Almost everyone understands what happens to a person’s body after death. Despite our best efforts to preserve it, the body will return to the earth from which it was formed. We may bury it in a sealed casket, freeze it, or mummify it; but in time “unto dust shalt (it) return.” There is no afterlife for the body as the Egyptians believed; and dead bodies will not come out of the graves and walk around—except in the resurrection. At birth we are all programmed to die because we have all inherited the sin nature of Adam. The process of physical death begins at birth and will end in the grave. The body begins to weaken, break down, eventually die, and then decompose. There is no differentiation as to what happens to a rich or poor man, saint or sinner, as far as the body is concerned.

Gen 3:19 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.

Rom 5:12 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:

Ecc 9:2 All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.
3 This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live,
and after that they go to the dead.

Where, we now ask, does the spirit and soul of man go after they leave the body? We have already seen that the spirit is the life force of the body and the soul is the essence of a person. Do these ethereal parts of a man’s being merely vanish when they separate from the body? Although the liberals and modernists would have us to believe that, the Bible has a different answer. However, that answer is more complicated than most people realize. For example: does the spirit and soul go to the same place; does everyone’s spirit and soul go to the same place; has the spirit and soul always gone to the same place; will the spirit and soul always remain in that place? Some of the answers to these and other questions are apparent from the Scriptures, but some are not.

To answer any doubts about the existence of the spirit and soul of man after death, Jesus taught the Sadducees—who were the naturalists, modernists, and liberals of His day— “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” Even though these fathers of Israel had died physically, Jesus made it very plain that their spirit and soul was alive somewhere. The essence of their being was still alive even though their dead bodies lay in the grave. Furthermore, when Jesus told the true account—not parable or story—of “a certain rich man” and “a certain beggar named Lazarus” —not fictitious characters—who had both died, He made it plain that they were in a place of afterlife along with Abraham.

Matt 22:31 But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying,
I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

Luke 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

Now, as to whether the spirit and soul of man remain together and go to the same place, the Scriptures seem to indicate that they do. In fact, although they are separate parts of man’s being, they seem to be inseparable parts. It was not until God “breathed into (man’s) nostrils the breath of life (that) man became a living soul”—never dieing soul; and man remains forever an eternal soul. Furthermore, many Scriptures seem to interchange the soul and spirit of man as though they were one. In speaking of Christ’s descent into “hell” it says, “By which— the Spirit—also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; and in another place “thou wilt not leave my soul in hell.”

Gen 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 soul.

1 Pet 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

Psa 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

The next question to be answered is—where does the spirit\soul of man go after leaving the body? This answer can be confusing to those who do not properly compare Scripture with Scripture. Furthermore, those who base their theology only on the Old Testament will find a different answer than those who base it only on the New Testament. This is because there was a change of address for the saints of God after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The answer is also different for those who have been redeemed and those who have not. During the Old Testament era—before the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ—every spirit\soul was sent to Sheol—the underworld, hell, the bottomless pit. However, this place had two compartments or divisions—hell for the unredeemed and paradise for the redeemed. In the account of the rich man and the beggar, Lazarus, they both went to the same place, but there was a separation between them— “a great gulf fixed.” Jesus promised the thief on the cross “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Jesus Himself spent three days in the paradise side of sheol until His resurrection from the dead.

Psa 9:17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.

Luke 12:5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

John 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

Luke 16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

Luke 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

We then ask, ‘Is this a literal place and where is it?’ Yes, it is a very real and literal place located in the center of the earth. The spirit\soul of Jesus is said to have “descended first into the lower parts of the earth?” The Old Testament Scriptures describe its location as Hell from beneath, and “the depths of hell.” Those under the Old Testament who died, are always said to have descended or gone down into Sheol. The New Testament writer, John, calls it “the bottomless pit,” because it is located in the center of the earth. When you are in the center of the earth, relatively speaking, you are at the extreme bottom and everything else is up.

Eph 4:9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?

Isa 14:9 Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.

Prov 9:18 But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.

Rev 9:1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.

Now, we all have the idea of Hell as being a place of fire and torment, but is that what the Scriptures teach? Indeed it does. When “the bottomless pit” was opened, “there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace.” Jesus Himself taught that this is a place of “hell fire: Where their (the spirit\souls of the unsaved) worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” The rich man cried out to Abraham, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” However, we must not forget that we are not talking about a place of physical suffering, because the bodies of both the saved and the unsaved are in the grave. Hell is a place of mental and spiritual torment. Even though the body is dead, the ethereal being of man is still alive. The spirit\soul of man still has the capacity to think, feel emotions, and express itself. In looking at the rich man again, we can see that he was conscious, that he could see, and he could communicate—“he lift up his eyes, being in torments and seeth Abraham afar off”; “he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” He could remember his former life on earth, his family, and even the poor beggar Lazarus. He even had concerns about his family’s spiritual welfare. The water he desired to cool his tongue was not H2O, but was for some act of mercy to quench his torment. The “worm” that Jesus talked about was not the maggot of a decaying corpse; it is that of remorse, regret, a guilty conscience, and past remembrances. The “hell fire” is the fear and torment sinners have about meeting God and receiving the recompense for their sin; it is hopelessness; it is emotions, desires, and passions that will never be fulfilled again.

Rev 9:2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.

Mark 9:47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:
Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

But what about those who were saved under the Old Testament, were they not basically in the same place? Yes they were, but they were separated from those who are ungodly. They were in Paradise because God was present there with them. Their sins had been forgiven; they had been reconciled to God through faith in the coming Messiah; and their conscience was cleansed from guilt. The worms and fires of Sheol had no effect on them. The Bible account of “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego” tells us that they refused to bow to the false idols of this world, but instead put their trust in the Lord. Because of their faith they were thrown into “the burning fiery furnace” that was superheated seven times hotter than it normally was. The guards that threw them in perished from the heat, but they walked around in the fire because God was present there with them. Even so, those who were in Paradise were unaffected by the fire. Although they did not walk around in the flames of Sheol, they were at rest, waiting for the future Messiah to come and offer His sacrifice.

Psa 139:7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there:
if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

Dan 3:19 Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.
20 And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
22 Therefore because the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.
23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellers, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, came forth of the midst of the fire.
27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counsellers, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was
an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.

The Scriptures teach that Old Testament saints entered into a soul-sleep when they died. Hell and Paradise were not places of eternal habitation, but of waiting for future events.  The unsaved dead await a future resurrection and judgment; the saved awaited the fulfillment of Christ’s sacrifice. The reason Old Testament saints could not go to Heaven was because the atonement for sin had not yet been offered. Jesus Christ had to die, be buried, be resurrected, and then ascend to the Father to present His blood as the offering for the sins of His people. Some Old Testament believers had to sleep for many thousands of years before this all took place. There is an interesting account in the Bible of King Saul going to a witch in order to speak to the dead prophet Samuel. To the witch’s amazement, God allowed Samuel to be awakened from soul-sleep and appear to Saul; but Samuel was clearly not happy about being disturbed.

Deut 31:15 And the LORD appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle.
16 And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.

Acts 13:36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:

John 20:16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Heb 9:6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.
7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:
8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:
9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.
18 Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.
19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,
20 Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.
21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.
22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

1 Sam 28:12 And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul.
13 And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.
14 And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.
15 And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.

Now, we have been speaking as if the spirit\souls of the redeemed are no longer in the Paradise of Sheol, and that is true. Once the redemptive work of Jesus Christ was accomplished He led those saints out of Paradise and into Heaven. When the Spirit\Soul of Christ descended into Sheol for three days He “preached unto the spirits in prison”; after those three days He brought “out the prisoners from the prison”; and  “When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive.” Those Old Testament saints were awakened out of soul-sleep and now stand rejoicing in the presence of God. The Paradise that is located in earth’s center is now empty, but not Hell. The spirit\souls of the unredeemed are still there, and will remain there until the final judgment of the Great White Throne.

1 Pet 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

Eph 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

Isa 42:6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
7 To open the blind eyes,
to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

Rev 19:1 And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God:
2 For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.
3 And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.
4 And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.
5 And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.
And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

To answer those who might be inquiring as to where the spirit\soul of someone who dies now goes—after the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ; the lost, the unsaved, the unredeemed, continue to be sent to hell; but the saved, the redeemed go directly to Heaven. Paul taught in the New Testament that “to be absent from the body” is “to be present with the Lord.” Since the Lord Jesus was “taken up… into heaven”  and now stands before the Father interceding for His people, even so His people who have died are present with Him in Heaven.

2 Cor 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Acts 1:9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

Heb 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

The next question we might ask is—what is the state of being for those in Heaven? We have seen that Old Testament saints slept awaiting the redemptive work of Christ. Do believers continue to sleep while waiting for the resurrection of the body? Although many New Testament Scriptures speak of the death of believers as falling asleep, these are not referring to the spirit\soul, but the body. Only the bodies of believers sleep in the dust of the earth awaiting resurrection. When Paul wrote that it was his desire to depart this world and to be with Christ, it was not so that he could sleep—Christ is not sleeping. There are many other Scriptures which teach that there is a lot of activity going on in Heaven. Now, many people have been given the idea that Heaven is a place where everyone is like an angel and floats from cloud to cloud playing their harps; but that concept is not what the Scriptures teach. It is little wonder that people have no desire to leave this world and go to such a place. Which brings up another point—even Heaven is only temporary. Heaven is not—as many teach—the eternal home of the people of God. Although some believers have been there for almost two-thousand years, others will only be there for seven—the length of the tribulation period. This earth was created for man, and as we shall see, the saints are going to return here.

1 Cor 11:30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

1 Cor 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

1 The 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

Heb 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Luke 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Rev 4:1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
(These elders represent the twelve tribes of Israel—Old Testament Saints; and the Twelve Apostles of Christ—New Testament Saints.)

Having already said that Hell, Paradise, and Heaven are only temporary stops for the spirit\souls of the departed—where will be the eternal home of the saved and unsaved? Paradise of Sheol has already been vacated by the Old Testament saints who slept there. Every saint of God who has died, and who will die until Jesus returns for His bride, the Church, is temporarily in Heaven. They have a temporary heavenly body, and are in the presence of God and Christ. They are awake, active, and awaiting the resurrection of their dead bodies. When Christ returns to earth for His completed bride—the event referred to by many as the Rapture— “them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” Then “the dead in Christ shall rise first” and those “which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall (they) ever be with the Lord.” In a split second Christ shall call out, and the bodies of those of have died trusting in Him shall be resurrected and reunited with their spirit\souls. At the same moment the bodies of those saints which are still living “shall be changed.” This resurrected body, made from the dust of our old body, will be a glorified body. It will not be subject to sin or death, but will be like Christ’s resurrected body.

2 Cor 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.
For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

1 Thess 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

1 Cor 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
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.

John 5:28 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.

1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

After this, the resurrected saints shall return to Heaven for seven years—the period of time referred to as the Tribulation. During this time, when the earth will be experiencing troubles beyond imagination, God’s people will be in Heaven. The first order of business there will be “the judgment seat of Christ.” There the saints will receive, or lose, rewards for serving God on the earth. There, every issue, discouragement, and root of bitterness between believers and God will be dealt with. There, every believer will be made to see that truly “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Finally, after the bride “hath made herself ready,” there will be “the marriage supper of the Lamb.” This supper will usher in the eternal union between Christ and the Church. His wife will be “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white,” signifying her complete devotion and holiness to her Lord.

Isa 26:20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.
21 For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.

2 Cor 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Rev 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

At the end of the seven-year tribulation period, Christ returns to this earth with the saints of God. He puts an end to the conflict that has been raging here on earth and destroys those who are in direct rebellion against God. Satan, the prime instigator of man’s rebellion against God, is himself cast into the Bottomless Pit. Christ sets up His kingdom on earth and the saints of God will rule with Him over this planet for one-thousand years—called the Millennial Reign of Christ. This will be a period of perfect peace and justice. God will remove the curse and the earth will again bring forth bountifully. This world will once again become like the Garden of Eden. Even the animals will return to their former docile state.

Rev 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;
18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.
19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

Rev 20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands;
and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Matt 19:27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you,
That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Isa 11:4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.
9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea

Now, what about those spirit\souls who are still in Hell, what is their fate? All of the unredeemed who have died, or who will die during the millennium will be there until this period of time is over— “the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” Then, after the thousand-year reign of Christ, Satan is loosed from the Bottomless Pit and again deceives those nations who have lived through the millennium. Even though men have lived in peace and prosperity under the rule of Christ, they still will choose to rebel against God’s authority. (Man is incorrigible unless God changes his wicked heart by the new birth—John 3:1-21) These multitudes gather together to make war against Christ and the saints. However, this anarchy does not last long because God is no longer going to tolerate rebellion— “and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” At this time Satan’s dominion and power is forever destroyed—“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone.” He will nevermore be allowed to deceive men or lead them in rebellion against God. This “lake of fire and brimstone” will be his eternal home.

Rev 20:5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

After this last act of sin and rebellion comes the final judgment—the “great white throne.” Here at last, the spirit\souls of the unsaved dead are brought out of Hell and reunited with their resurrected bodies. They are made to stand before God to determine their final and everlasting judgment. This judgment is determined by the record of their life and whether or not their names are found written in “the book of life.” God has recorded every thought, word, and deed that every individual thinks, says, and does; and those who have not sought mercy through the blood of Christ will be accountable for everything they have done in their lives. When their names are not found[15] in “the book of life,” then they are judged “according to their works.” Here at this throne there is no reprieve, no forgiveness, and no mercy. The day of salvation has passed and every unsaved man will be found guilty of their sin and rebellion. At the end of this terrible judgment, “death and hell (body, soul, and spirit) were cast into the lake of fire.”[16] Throughout all eternity this will be the final abode of both the unredeemed of men and angels—all who refused to bow to Christ and receive God’s mercy and forgiveness. This will be a place of never-ending torment, living death, and never-ending destruction.

Rev 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire

2 Cor 6:2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

After this final judgment God will recreate the heavens and the earth. First of all, everything will be dissolved by a great nuclear fire bath. Then God will make a “new heavens and a new earth” from the cleansed material of the old. This will be the final and eternal home of all the redeemed people of God. Here, in this new creation, it will truly be Heaven on Earth; and God will once again walk among His people. Although this present world is a place of great natural beauty, we can only imagine what the glory of this new creation will be. Certainly the eternal home of God and the redeemed will have beauty beyond compare. What a contrast between the eternal homes of the saved and the lost. For those who rebel and reject God’s mercy—“the lake of fire.” For those who bow to the Creator God and find forgiveness in Christ—the “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”

2 Pet 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise,
look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

Rev 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

Let us finish our discourse by examining some relevant questions which may arise in the minds of some people.

1. Where is “the lake of fire”? Although the Bible gives us the location of Hell, and even Heaven to some degree, we can only speculate where such a place may be. It is possible that it has not been created yet, but there is much indication that it already exists. There is, in the universe, already millions upon millions of such places and we call them stars. Our own Sun qualifies as a “lake of fire” and indeed may be the very place Scripture is referring to. In the new heaven and earth “the city (the New Jerusalem) had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” Although the Sun exists at the time of the Great White Throne of judgment, Scripture seems to indicate that it is not needed in the new creation. Furthermore, because the Sun has always been a witness to the misdeeds of men, it may qualify as the place of eternal judgment. The phrase “under the sun” occurs some twenty-seven times in the book of Ecclesiastes, testifying to its significance. The Sun is also a witness to men of the power and fearsomeness of Almighty God. If the Sun is a place of such intense light, heat, and fire, what about the awesomeness of the One who created it? The Scriptures says that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” It also says that “our God is a consuming fire.” These Scriptures may be have a direct reference to the Sun.

Rev 21:23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.

Ecc 1:14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

Heb 12:29 For our God is a consuming fire.

2. Does the Bible teach that the unsaved will always be consciously suffering in this place? Having already studied the temporal state of the spirit\souls in Hell, the Scriptures indicate that their suffering is not extinguished or diminished in the eternal Lake of Fire. Many verses throughout the Old and New Testament tell us of “everlasting burnings,” “shame and everlasting contempt,” “everlasting punishment,” and “everlasting destruction.” When the Devil is finally cast into the Lake of Fire, he joins the first two inhabitants of that place— “the beast and the false prophet.” These human members of the unholy trinity were cast into the “lake of fire” at the end of the Tribulation Period, and will have already been there for one-thousand years. Yet the Scriptures indicate that even after this length of time they have not burned up or disintegrated. The Bible very clearly says that the devil will “be tormented day and night for ever and ever”; therefore, it is plain from the Scriptures that this is a place of eternal, never-ending torment. Insomuch that Satan, the leader of the rebellion against God, and “the beast and the false prophet” will suffer eternal torment; we have no reason to assume that the eternal spirit\souls of men, who have followed them in their rebellion, will escape the same fate.

Isa 33:14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?

Dan 12:2 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.

Matt 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

2 Thess 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

Rev 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

3. What about the bodies of the unsaved, won’t they merely evaporate? If we are to assume that the “lake of fire” is a place of molten heat and flame; and we also assume that the body which is raised from the dead is a literal body of flesh; then we would also have to assume that the bodies of the unsaved would be forever destroyed in the flames. Although many have the idea that the unsaved will be physically tormented in this place, the evidence of Scripture does not support that. If that were true, then men, who are body, soul, and spirit beings, would suffer greater torment than the Devil, who is only a spirit being. However, the idea that their bodies are forever destroyed and they will never again enjoy any of the pleasures of the flesh, certainly will add to their spiritual-psychological suffering.

4. Why would a loving God send people to such a place? There is much that can be said in answer to this question: (a) Many people have the idea that God is too loving to send people to eternal torment. Although God is love, He also is holy and hates sin. Though He is merciful, He is also just. Men, of their own choosing, reject God and His provision for their salvation in Jesus Christ. Sin is an awful thing, and God’s justice requires that its penalty be paid. Jesus Christ paid that penalty for all those who trust in Him; but for those who refuse to bow to Christ, there is nothing left for them but to pay for their own sin. (b) The “lake of fire” was actually “prepared for the devil and his angels.” However, those who rebel against God and follow Satan, either consciously or ignorantly, will follow him to his eternal place of torment. (c) If men were left to their own devices, they would destroy this world and themselves in it. Man already has enough nuclear capability to destroy the world many times over; and unless God intervenes in the Great Tribulation they will destroy this world and make it uninhabitable with an atomic fire-bath. Man’s ways are leading him to create his own Hell on earth, and God is providing him a place other than this world. (d) When men reject God, they are rejecting love, light, truth, righteousness, and everything else that is holy and good. God is the Creator and rightful Sovereign of this universe; and those that refuse to bow to Him will be sent to a place where there is nothing good, not even God.

Psa 99:9 Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy.

John 12:46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

2 Thess 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

Matt 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

Matt 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.

Acts 1:25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.

Rev 22:11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

5. Is there any hope that God will one day reprieve those who are sent to the “lake of fire”? In Dante’s “Divine Comedy[17] the sign over the entrance to Hell says "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Although we might disagree with some of Dante’s “theology,” at least on this point his message is true. The Scriptures declare that “When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth.” It is only while men live that they can repent and trust in Christ. Once an unredeemed spirit\soul leaves a person’s body and enters hell, there is no hope of salvation— the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever.” Souls cannot be prayed out of hell, bought with indulgences out of hell, or have someone be baptized for them to deliver them from hell— “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.”

Prov 11:7 When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth.

Psa 49:7 None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:
8 (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:)

The Bible declares that “the wages of sin is death”; and death is not something that is temporary. There is no amount of suffering or making amends that can ever satisfy the justice of God. The only death that can ever satisfy God’s wrath against sin is the death of His Son. Jesus paid a terrible penalty for the sins of His people and God will accept nothing else. Jesus overcame death, hell, and the grave by His resurrection; and those who trust in Him are resurrected in Him. There will nevermore be made any such provision for those in the “lake of fire.”

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

Rom 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

1 Pet 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Even if God were to somehow “change His mind” concerning the eternal state of the lost, the sufferings of the unsaved will not cause them to repent. Those who are in the lake of fire are there because they rejected God’s goodness and mercy; and no amount of torment will have any affect upon their wicked hearts. God is not going to show mercy and grace to those who do not repent and bow to Him. The unsaved will never be allowed into His eternal kingdom, because God is not going to allow sin and rebellion to arise a second time.

Rev 16:10 And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain,
And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.

Rev 22:11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

Rev 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Rev 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

Once the Great White Throne of Judgment is past and the unsaved are sent to the “lake of fire,” even God will choose to forget them. What a terrible and frightening thought it should be, that the only one who could possibly deliver these souls will forget that they even exist in that place. God shall also remove from the memory of His saints every trace of ever knowing those who are sent to “lake of fire”; so it will be as if they never existed.

Jer 23:39 Therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence:
40 And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.

Lam 5:20 Wherefore dost thou forget us for ever, and forsake us so long time?

Rev 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

6. What can a person do to escape this terrible place? There is only one avenue of escaping the terrible judgment to come— “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Any person who earnestly desires to be saved must cease their wayward rebellion against God and seek His forgiveness for their sins. They must bow to His Sovereign authority as Creator and LORD, and yield to His will. Then they must accept the only provision that God has made for them to be saved— “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Believe that Jesus is the Son of God; believe that the blood He shed can redeem us from the penalty of sin; believe that He died and rose again from the dead; and believe that He ascended to Heaven and we await His return.

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

Acts 16:30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

1 Cor 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

When a soul casts themselves upon God’s mercy and trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ with all their heart, they can be sure that they have been redeemed. The next thing to do would be to confess Jesus Christ in believer’s baptism. This simple act is a way of confessing and identifying one's self with Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection. This can be done at a local church that exalts the name of Jesus Christ, bows to the Sovereign authority of God, and faithfully preaches His Word. A redeemed soul should continue to worship and grow in grace with others who have also found “like precious faith.”

Acts 8:36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

2 Pet 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

To know where we will spend eternity is the most important issue any of us will ever face. Most people are so caught up in day to day living that they do not give any thought to this and other spiritual matters. Jesus gave us this question to meditate on, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Matt 16:26)Nothing this world offers is more important than our soul’s salvation; and it should be our utmost concern to secure our eternal welfare. The life spent on this earth is too short and eternity is too long not to ponder the answers to these questions: (1) Where will I spend eternity? (2) What is my relationship with God? (3) Do I have any real Biblical basis for what I believe about salvation?

Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isa 55:6, 7)


[1] “Buddhist View of Death and Rebirth,” Ven. Thich Nguyen Tang, www.urbandharma.org.

[2] www.hinduwebsite.com

[3] www.crvp.org, “Theories of Life and Death in Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism: an Outline”

[4] www.islam-guide.com, “Life After Death”

[5] www.watchtower.com, “Highlights of the Beliefs of the Jehovah’s Witnesses”

[6] www.allaboutmormons.com, “What is the Mormon View of the Afterlife?”

[7] www.newadvent.org, Catholic Encyclopedia, “Limbo”

[8] For a more complete study on the trinity and the nature of man see The Garden and the Gospel, the chapters Dying and Death, Man’s Nature and Dying and Death, Man’s Design. Also available from this author or at "http://GodsPurposes.org".

[9] For more study on this subject see The Garden and the Gospel, Understanding the Garden Account, the Trees. Also available from this author or at "http://GodsPurposes.org".

[10] For more study on this subject see The Garden and the Gospel, Understanding the Garden Account, the Law. Also available from this author or at "http://GodsPurposes.org".

[11] For more study on this subject see The Purpose of God Concerning Sin, Eating the Fruit and Sin. Also available from this author or at "http://GodsPurposes.org"

[12] For more study on this subject see The Garden and the Gospel, Understanding the Garden Account, the Fall. Also available from this author or at "http://GodsPurposes.org".

[13] For more study on this subject see, The Garden and the Gospel, the chapter, Understanding the Garden Account, The Fall, also available from this author or at "http://GodsPurposes.org".

[14] For more study on this subject see The Garden and the Gospel, Understanding the Garden Account, the Curse. Also available from this author or at "http://GodsPurposes.org".

[15] Although this is a mute point to make—it is a foregone conclusion that anyone who is being judged at the Great White Throne does not have their name in the Book of Life. Those who do have their names written down will be there, but only as witnesses to the proceedings. Some believe that the unsaved will be shown the place where their name was written, but was blotted out. This is because God made provision for their salvation but they rejected His grace and mercy.

Rev 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

[16] This is also called “the second death,” because those who are there have already died once. However, they were resurrected to stand in judgment but must die again, this time eternally.

[17] Divine Comedy, by Dante Alighieri


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