What Happens at Death
Let's take a quick look at what happened in the very beginning with Adam and Eve:
Genesis 3:22-23 ...'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: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.'
Can you see what has happened here? After Adam and Eve sinned, they could have continued to live forever by eating from the tree of life. But God DENIED them access to the tree, therefore DENYING them eternal life, which means they would end up dying, which is what God said would happen if they ate from the tree of knowledge.
So what does this mean? It means that Adam and Eve COULD NOT live forever without the tree of life. And when they die, they would return to the dust as the Bible confirms in Genesis 3:19.
When did Jesus say we would be with Him in heaven? Straight after death? No. Take a look at John 14:3:
'And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.'
At the second coming we go to heaven, not before.
Part of the confusion about death and what happens when we die is down to two words in the Bible that are misinterpreted. Those two words are 'Soul' and 'Spirit'. Now if we take a look at the original Hebrew and Greek meaning of these words, we can start to better understand what the Bible teaches about death, and the truth about what happens when we die. So first let's take a quick look at the 'Strong's' meaning of these two words.
Soul in Hebrew is the word 'nephesh', which means "a living being" (Strong's 5315)
Soul in Greek is the word 'psyche', which means "a living being" (Strong's 5590)
Spirit in Hebrew is the word 'ruwach', which means "breath, wind, air" (Strong's 7307)
Spirit in Greek is the word 'pneuma', which can either mean "Holy Spirit" or "breath, wind, air" (Strong's 4151)
So we can see from this that the words soul and spirit do not mean that we have our OWN spirit or soul, but rather we basically have the spirit of God in us keeping us alive. And we can see this clearly from the creation account ... Genesis 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.' ... Notice one very important point about the creation of Adam. When God breathed into him the breath of life, "Spirit", Adam BECAME a living "Soul". Do you see that? So if we reverse this process, God's Spirit (breath) is removed and Adam dies, he becomes dust again.
This is an important truth concerning death and what happens when we die. Remember that Adam wasn't given a soul, he BECAME a living soul with the breath of God inside him. We are but dust without the Spirit (breath) of God in us, as this following Bible verse confirms ... Genesis 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.'
Why do so many Christians ignore the clear teachings of the Old Testament? These truths from the Old Testament haven't changed.
Now I hear you saying, "but what about the souls crying under the altar in Revelation?" Let's look at the verse ... Revelation 6:9-10 .....'And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?' ... Now don't forget that much of Revelation is symbolic language and not literal. So these are the people of God who have died for Christ and they are crying out to Him under the altar. first, where is the altar? The altar will be God's throne in Heaven, so could "under the altar" be on the earth? Take a look at this following Bible verse which reveals the truth about death and this issue of crying out to God under the altar:
Genesis 4:10 ...'And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.'
Do you see what is happening here? Abel has died at the hands of his brother Cain, and what is happening? His blood is "CRYING" out to God FROM THE GROUND, or THE EARTH. Now does blood cry? Of course not, this is just symbolic language for God knowing what Cain has done to Abel. So from this we can better understand the Bible verse about death in Revelation. They are not literal souls of people still living that are crying out to God, because they have turned back into dust. But their blood is a testimony to what they have had done to them, and it is their blood that "symbolically" cries out to God for justice, just as Abel's blood did.
Job 14:10-12 ...'But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.' ... This is a pretty clear Bible verse about death and what happens when we die. Where is man after the Spirit of God leaves him? He returns to the ground and doesn't arise until when? "till the heavens be no more". When will the heavens be no more? When Christ Jesus returns at the second coming and resurrects His people. Now Job describes death in an interesting way. He says that we will "sleep" when we die. Who else taught the meaning of death in that way? JESUS!!
Matthew 9:24 ...'He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.'
John 11:11-14 ...'These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.'
So Jesus spoke of death as sleeping, not about going to heaven or hell when we die, but sleeping. And until when do we sleep in the grave? Martha knew the answer ... John 11:23-24 ...'Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.' ... You see Martha knew that Lazarus would rise again at the resurrection, which would be Jesus' second coming, but as we know, Jesus decided to resurrect Lazarus there and
Job 34:14-15 ...'If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.' ... With the spirit of God in us, we are living souls, but without God's spirit (breath) we return to dust. David revealed the same truth about death in Psalm 104:29-30 ...'Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.'
1 Corinthians 15:22-24 ...'For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end.'
Look at what Paul is saying above. Do you see the ORDER that has been set in place by God? It is ONLY at the resurrection of the righteous at the second coming of Christ, that we are raised from our graves and go to heaven. NOT before.
Can we Praise God After we Die?
Many Christians believe that when we die, if we are saved we go straight to heaven to be with Jesus. Which means we would be able to praise God after death. Is this so? Well, take a look at the following:
Psalm 115:17 ...'The dead praise NOT the LORD, neither any that go down into silence.' ..... What happens when we die? Do we go to heaven to praise God? No, David revealed the truth about death. When we die, we go to the grave and stay in silence. We sleep until the resurrection day. So who can praise God? ... Psalm 150:6 ...'Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.' ... Every LIVING being, that has breath! The book of Ecclesiastes also confirms this Bible truth ... Ecclesiastes 9:5,10 ...'For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.' ... And also did the prophet Isaiah know the truth about death ... Isaiah 38:18-19 ...'For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise thee.'
And why can't those who have died praise God? Because they do not go to dwell in Heaven or in a so called fiery hell. So where do they dwell when they die? ... Isaiah 26:19 ...'Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.' ... What happens when we die? Mark these words well, we DWELL in the dust. That is our home until the resurrection at the second coming of Christ Jesus. The prophet Daniel also confirmed this Bible truth ... Daniel 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.'
Matthew 27:52 ...'And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose.' ... At Jesus' resurrection He gave gifts to some and resurrected them also from the dead. But what were they doing before they were resurrected by Jesus? They were sleeping. In other words they were in their graves not knowing, anything awaiting the resurrection.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 ...'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. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.' ... Now if Christians went to heaven when we die, then Paul would have encouraged these with this truth, but no, Paul knew that you don't go to heaven when you die, and therefore he is encouraging the people with the promise of the resurrection when Christ returns. Let's face it, Paul could have said "hey don't worry about death, you will go to heaven as soon as you die and be with God". But no, he told them the Bible truth about death, in that you sleep in the dust until the resurrection.
Also if Christians go to heaven when we die, then we will have received our reward there and then. But Jesus revealed the truth about when we get our reward ... Matthew 16:27 ...'For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.' ... Only at the second coming and resurrection we receive our reward, not before.
Now if we were already in heaven with Jesus when He returns, then we would hear His voice in heaven and come back with Him. But take a look at this Bible verse ... 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.' ... Where are we when we hear His voice? IN THE GRAVE. This is where we will be when we die, in the grave.
Now the clearest verse in the New Testament which confirms what happens when we die is found in the book of Acts. Take a look at this clear Bible verse that cannot be taken any other way, other than the simple truth which it reveals:
Acts 2:29,34 ...'Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. For David is not ascended into the heavens.'
For David is NOT ascended into the heavens.
Does Paul say we go to Heaven When we Die?
There are a few contentious verses which Christians use to say that we go to heaven when we die, and the majority of those Bible verses were penned by the apostle Paul. In 2 Corinthians 5 and Philippians 1, he makes a statement that goes like this ... "we rather be absent from the body and present with the Lord" and also "to live is Christ and to die is gain, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better".
Even on their own, these statements can be easily understood, but in light of what the rest of the Bible teaches about death, then these verses become even more clearer. Think about what Paul was saying. Would you think it better to depart the way Elijah and Enoch did and be with Christ? Of course you would, and this is what Paul was thinking about. And there are two reasons why to die would be gain. One is that Paul would be free from temptation and persecution, and also his next conscious thought after death would be the second coming and the resurrection. So of course to die would be gain in his eyes. In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul talks about three "houses" (bodies). He talks about the earthly body (house) we have now, the heavenly body (house) we will have in Heaven and an unclothed body. The unclothed body is death, and Paul is saying that although to die would be better than living in this earthly body with it's sufferings, to go straight to heaven into our immortal body like Elijah and Enoch did would be an EVEN BETTER way. In no way is Paul talking about living on as a spirit being after we die.
Spiritualism is a fast growing form of religion, and the only reason for that is because of this false teaching of when you die you live on as a 'spirit being'. Friend this is a false teaching and the Bible shows it to be false. We can find out the truth about death and what happens when we die by opening our hearts to the truth of God's clear Word in the Bible. I believe Satan is going to use this false teaching of living on as a spirit being after death to deceive many people during the end times. But we can escape all deceptions if we will be grounded on the Rock of Truth in the Bible.
James 5:7 ...'Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord.'