Life After Death

A Russian scientist prepared a serum designed to retard the aging processes of the body’s tissue. He believed that an individual should live to be a least 150 years of age. Unfortunately, the learned doctor died at the age of 64, just 86 years short of the mark. And we still do not understand the mysteries of life and death.

No one has yet discovered the Fountain of Youth to ward off the grim reaper. Death is the most inevitable thing in the world, and the grave has always been the end of great and small, rich and poor alike. The information on today’s subject can’t be derived from any living authority; the only way we can know the facts is to turn again to the wonderful Word of God. It’s not proper to speculate and conjecture about so great a mystery. The One who has created life is able to illuminate this subject for us.

First of all, let’s establish the facts concerning the nature of man. What does the Scripture teach? Our first text is found in Job 4:17: “Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his maker?” The word “mortal” here, according to the dictionary, means “subject to death.” “Immortal,” of course, means “not subject to death.” All the human family has been created with mortal nature, possessing the possibility, yes, even the inevitability of deterioration and death. No man on the fact of this earth has the power of an endless life within him by nature.

The word immortal is used only once in all the Bible. That may be a strange thing, but it’s true. In 1 Timothy 1:17 we read: “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Here it refers to God, of course. He is the only one who has no beginning of days or ending of life. 1 Timothy 6:16 makes it even more clear and understandable: “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.” Notice that God only has this power of immortal existence; man is described as being mortal, or subject to death.

You may ask if these texts refer to the body of man only. Some people believe, you know, that the soul is an immortal entity which has just been placed inside the body. They believe the soul can’t die. Now friends, what about it? Does this refer to just the body, or does it refer to the whole man? Let us read a text now to clear up this common misconception forever. Ezekiel 18:4 says: “Behold, all souls are mine; the soul that sinneth it shall die.” This makes it abundantly clear that the soul is subject to death. If the soul was naturally immortal, it could not die and this text would not be true.

It could not be an undying part of man, or else the Scriptures are certainly mistaken. Nowhere in the Bible is such a doctrine taught or even intimated. From Genesis to Revelation there are seventeen hundred references to the word “soul” or “spirit,” and yet not once is it referred to as immortal or undying. I have more than ten texts before me right now which teach the exact opposite. I’ll just merely city several for your own reference and study. Psalm 33:19, Psalm56:13; Psalm 78:50; Revelation 16:3; Judges 16:16; Isaiah 53:12. This will give you a few for your own reference.

You might now be asking, “Where did this idea originate that man has an immortal soul?” I’ll tell you something, friends, it didn’t come from any Christian source. You’ll find the doctrine strong in India today. When I lived there for five years, I found the doctrine of the transmigration of the soul and the reincarnation of the soul. Hindus believe that the soul cannot die, that it merely leaves the body at death and travels to some other place.

You will find the same thing in Africa. I China they bring food and put it on the graves of the dead, because they worship the spirits of their dead ancestors. Down in Egypt we found that when the ancient Pharaohs died they often killed their servants and put them into the tomb, because they believed in the immortality of the soul and believed that the king would need his servants in the next life.

God said, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Somebody disagreed with God, and down through the ages they tried to deny this truth. Where did it come from; who started this thing, friends? This lie that people can’t really die at all? Turn to Genesis 3:1-4 and you’ll find a conversation between the devil and Eve, our first mother.

Notice in the first and fourth verses, how Satan contradicted the Word of God. First he asked, “Hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Then he said, “Ye shall not surely die.” Now, here is the foundation for the doctrine for the natural immortality of the soul. Here is the first sermon ever preached on it; but of course, many, many others have followed down through the ages.

Now if the soul is not immortal, what does happen at death? What leaves a person’s body when he dies? The answer is here in Ecclesiastes12:7, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” That tells us that the spirit which God gave in the first place is to return to Him. In fact, in this text, everything goes back or returns from whence it came. Now we know where the body came from, of course. It was made out of the dust and just simply goes back to dust again after death. But this spirit which returns to God, what is that? No man can tell of himself. But in Job 27:3 we have an answer, “All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils.”

Now notice, that he is speaking about the breath being in his nostrils, but he calls it the “spirit” which is in his nostrils. Now friends, what did God actually put into man’s nostrils? In Genesis 2:7 we find the answer: “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.” So you see, the very thing God breathed in was the breath, but in Job it is called the spirit in the nostrils. The fact is that the words breath and spirit are used interchangeably in the Bible. They go back to the same root word, and they simply refer to the spark of life from God by which man lives.

In that text in Genesis 2:7 we find out how God made man. He formed that body out of the dust, perfect and complete in every part, but lifeless. There was the brain in his head ready to think, but it wasn’t thinking; there was blood in his veins, but it wasn’t flowing. Then God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul. Notice that God did not put a soul into the body. Many, many people have this false idea that God simply put a soul into that empty shell of a body, but this is not the teaching of the Bible. The soul is simply the life which resulted from that union of the breath with the body.

Now let’s try to illustrate it. Suppose we have a pile of nails and a pile of boards. I take the nails and the board and make a box. Let me ask you, where did the box come from? You say, “It didn’t come from anywhere; it merely is the result of union of the nails and the boards.” Now let’s take the nails out and put them back in a pile, and the boards in another pile. Where did the box go? I think you see the point, friends. It takes two things together to make the box, and it also took two things together to make the soul. It took the breath with the body, and then life resulted; and that is the soul.

I think an electric light bulb may help us understand this subject, also. First we push a button and the current comes into that bulb. Now let’s say that the bulb represents the body, the body of dust that God had created before life was put in. The current that flows into the bulb will represent that breath which God breathed into the body.

Now when the current comes into the bulb, what do we have? We have light. And when God put the breath into the body, what did we have? The Bible says that we had a soul. Now push the button again. Where does the light go? You can’t say it goes up into the socket in the electric fixtures. Not at all. There is simply no light existing at that time. Now listen friends, when the breath returns to God or the spirit, at the time of death, where is the soul? The fact is that there simply is no soul until the resurrection day when God will put that breath back into the body and man is restored to a living soul as a result of this combination of the breath with the body.

It’s interesting to note that even animals are called souls in the Bible. In Revelation 16:13 the fish are called souls. The reason for this is obvious: animals have the same breath of life that man has. In fact, Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20 makes it even more explicit. “For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

Now we come to the vital question, where are the dead? There are scores of texts on this particular point, but we’ll just consider a few. In Acts 2:34 we read about Peter preaching on the day of Pentecost under the inspiration of God. He was talking about the patriarch David. Notice in verse 34: “For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand.” Now if David, who had the assurance of salvation, didn’t go to heaven at death, where was he while Peter was preaching here several hundred years later? The answer is found in Acts 2:29: “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day.” Yes, David will come forth when the dead in Christ rise first at the coming of Jesus, but now he rests in the grave till the life giver calls.

What about the wicked then, friends? Do they immediately go to their punishment at the time of death? The answer is plain and simple in 2 Peter 2:9: “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the Day of Judgment to be punished.” The wicked are reserved somewhere until the Day of Judgment and then they will be punished. Why should they be punished before they are judged, friends? That would be unjust, even from an earthly viewpoint. God would not do that. They are reserved somewhere, but where?

Jesus gives the answer in John 5:28,29: “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.” Isn’t it a wonderful thought, friends, to close this message today? The thought that when Jesus comes, the righteous are going to be resurrected and rewarded, the wicked will also be punished at that time, and in the meantime, they simply sleep in their graves, sleeping the sleep of death until that time comes.

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