Death is the absence of life: complete utter unconsciousness, an inert lifeless state in which there is no animation, no thoughts, no actions, no deeds. To most people, death is a dreaded enemy. As human beings (nephesh) we are temporal creatures, subject to death, just as are the animals. While we have the potential to be begotten of God, (more about this at the end of the Bible study) and become eternally alive, which the animals do not have, during this earthly experience we are mortal and subject to death. Most churches teach that when a person dies the soul goes straight to Heaven or to Hell. The confusion comes with the misunderstanding of soul. Man does not have a soul - man is a soul. The original Hebrew word for soul is nephesh. Bagster’s Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon defines it as “breath,” and “anything that breathes, an animal.” It can also refer to a person, or even one dead, or a dead body. When “nephesh” is rendered “soul” it refers to a living person. The soul is composed of the dust of the ground (the body) and the breath of life (the spirit). When “nephesh” is rendered “dead” only the body is indicated. The spirit has departed and the soul has ceased to exist. The dead “nephesh” is material, not spiritual. The doctrine of the immortality of the soul according to the respected Jewish Encyclopedia came from pre-Christian Greek philosophers who acquired it from pagan Egypt and Babylon, and over the centuries it trickled down into the churches. The Bible, as we soon shall see, is not the source of the common belief in the immortality of the soul. The Bible plainly teaches that man is mortal, physical - fleshly - of the dust. There is no place in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, where the words “immortal soul,” are ever found.
Jesus described death as being asleep. When Jesus spoke of Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, Jesus said he is asleep and He would awake him (John 11:11-14). Death, like sleep, is a condition in which people are not conscious and from which they shall be awakened. There are many other verses referring to death as a sleep (Matthew 27:52, Daniel 12:2, 1 Kings 2:10). Jesus Christ should know what death is like since He is the only one that has returned from the other side of death. Jesus made the statement, “I am He that liveth and was dead and behold I am alive for evermore.” (Revelation 1:18). You might ask, “When will the dead rise?” The Bible says the great resurrection to life will come at the precise moment of the second coming of Jesus Christ. Job wrote of the grave as a waiting place and spoke of the voice of God calling the dead from the grave. Jesus said the time is coming when all that are in the grave would hear His voice, those that have done good unto the resurrection of life and those that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation (John 5: 28-29). Notice, too, that both classifications of people, good and evil, are mentioned as being in their graves. Neither the good nor evil are living elsewhere, either in Heaven or Hell. They are both dead, according to your Savior, Jesus Christ.
We should all desire to be in the resurrection referred to as those that have done good. In order to be begotten, we must repent of our sins, be baptized, and receive the Holy Sprit so we can change our lives. (Refer to previous Bible studies on these subjects.) Once this has been done, death is no longer our enemy. At the instant of death, all consciousness ceases. Thousands of years can pass. So far as you’re concerned your consciousness will only have been interrupted for a millionth of a second. The transition from the sensation of this life into the life that awaits us is exactly as quick as the blinking of your eye. You will no longer fear the sting of death for you will have conquered it.
FOR FURTHER STUDY:
Job 14:14-15 Job knew that he would hear the voice of the Lord call him from the grave.
Psalm 6:5 There is no memory in the grave.
Psalm 88:10 The dead see no wonders and cannot arise and praise God.
Psalm 115:17 The dead cannot praise the Lord.
Psalm 143:3 The dead dwell in darkness.
1 Corinthians 15:52 We shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye and the dead shall be raised incorruptible.
1 Thessalonians 4:14-16 Those who are still alive at the returning of the Lord will be changed after the dead in Christ, which are asleep, rise first.
Revelation 20:6 There is a first resurrection and a second death.
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