"And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it ... 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 ... And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." Revelation 20:11, 12, 15
Copyright © 1977, 1997 by Diane S. Dew
I. Is there life after death?
A. The question is as old as the Bible itself.
Job 14:14 "If a man die, shall he live again?"
B. Both the Old and New Testaments give
clear indication that there is,
indeed, a life after death.
1. Many Old Testament scriptures make reference to a life after death.
Job 19:25-27 "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and
that he shall stand
at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this
body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine
eyes shall behold, and not another..."
Psalms 16:9, 10 "... my flesh also shall rest in hope.
For thou wilt not leave
my soul in hell..."
Isaiah 5:14, 15 "Therefore hell hath enlarged herself,
and opened her mouth
without measure; and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that
rejoiceth, shall descend into it. And the mean man shall be brought down, and the
mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled."
Isaiah 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..."
2. Jesus spoke of a life after death.
Matthew 5:21, 22, 29; 16:18; 23:33; 13:41, 42
Mark 9:43-48; 10:30
Luke 16:19-31; 23:43; 20:34-36
John 11:23-25; Revelation 1:18
3. The early church did also.
2 Corinthians 5:6, 8, 9
Philippians 1:21, 23, 24; 3:11
1 Thessalonians 5:9, 10
2 Peter 1:12-15
C. God is not a God of the dead, but of the living.
Matthew 22:29, 31-33; Luke 20:37, 38; Romans 14:7-9
1. The account of the transfiguration.
Matthew 17:1-13 (Moses' death & burial are recorded in Deut 34:5-7.)
2. The translations of Enoch and Elijah.
Genesis 5:22, 24 with Hebrews 11:5
2 Kings 2:11
II. Is there consciousness after death?
A. When scripture speaks of "death," it
does not mean that the spirit
of a man has ceased to exist. Rather, it refers to the time at which
the spirit has left the body.
1. It is the spirit that makes alive.
Job 14:10 "But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea,
man giveth up
the ghost, and where is he?"
James 2:26 "... the body without the spirit is dead ..."
In the different accounts of deaths recorded in scripture,
it clearly states that the spirits departed from their bodies
and returned to God.
(1) Jesus commended His spirit to God and died. Luke 23:46
(2) At the time of his martyrdom, Stephen cried out, "Lord Jesus,
receive my spirit." Acts 7:59; 8:1, 2
(3) In giving birth to Benjamin, Rachel's "soul was in departing
and she died" in childbirth. Genesis 35:18
(4) "Abraham gave up the ghost (spirit) and died." Genesis 25:8
(5) "And Isaac gave up the ghost (spirit) and died ..." Genesis 35:29
(6) "And Ananias ... fell down and gave up the ghost (spirit)
(they) buried his body." Acts 5:5, 6
(7) "Then fell she (Sapphira) down straightway at his feet,
up the ghost (spirit): and the young men came in and found her
dead." Acts 5:10
When a person is raised from the dead, therefore, his spirit returns to
the body from which it had departed at the time of death.
(1) Elijah prayed for the widow's son, and "the soul of the
came into him again, and he revived." 1 Kings 17:22
(2) When Jesus raised Jairus' daughter, "her spirit came again,
arose straightway." Luke 8:55
2. Scripture teaches that
the spirits of men are fully conscious after separation
from the body at death.
a. They can speak.
Isaiah 14:9-11; Ezekiel 32:21
b. They can cry.
Matthew 8:11, 12; Matthew 13:42, 50; Matthew 22:13
Luke 16:24-31; 13:28; Revelation 6:9-11
c. They can hear.
John 5:25; 1 Peter 3:18-20; 4:6
d. They can see.
Luke 16:23; John 8:51-54, 56
e. They can feel pain.
Luke 16:23, 24
Revelation 20:10 ("torment" = Greek basanizo, meaning "to vex with
great pain" as Matthew 8:29)
f. They have memory.
B. Death does not mean extinction. The words
and "lost" in the King James Version are all used for the same
Greek word apollumi, meaning "that which is no longer useful."
It is also used in Matthew 9:17; 10:6; etc.
C. That there is consciousness after death
may be proven by the
following examples in scripture.
1. Samuel and the witch of Endor. 1 Samuel 28:3, 11-16, 19
2. The transfiguration on the mount. Matthew 17:3 (Luke 9:30)
3. The rich man and Lazarus. Luke 16:19-31
4. The thief on the cross. Luke 23:42, 43
III. If the spirit of man is conscious after death, why does scripture
repeatedly refer to death as "sleep"?
A. Scripture speaks of death as "sleep"
only in its reference to the
physical body (not the spirit) of man. In a sense, it appears that,
when dead, the body is "asleep." See 1 Kings 1:21; 2 Kings 10:35;
16:20; 2 Chronicles 27:9; Job 14:12; Psalms 13:3; Jeremiah 51:39,
57; Daniel 12:2; Matthew 27:52; Mark 5:39; Luke 8:52-55; John
11:11-14; Acts 13:36; 1 Corinthians 15:6, 51, 20; 1 Thessalonians
4:14; 5:9, 10.
B. The reason there is no knowledge, wisdom,
worship, or praise in
the grave (see Psalms 6:5; 88:10-12; 115:17; 146:4; Ecclesiastes
9:5, 10; Isaiah 38:18 scriptures used by promoters of the
"soul-sleep" doctrine) is that the intelligence of man is not in the
body, which, in the grave returns to dust (Ecclesiastes 3:20) but
in the spirit (1 Corinthians 2:11), which returns to God (Ecclesiastes
IV. What about "ultimate reconciliation"?
A. The doctrine of eternal judgment is
one of the most basic teachings
Hebrews 6:1, 2
1. "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment."
2. Scripture gives
adequate support to prove the duration of the
punishment as eternal: "for ever and ever."
Isaiah 33:14; 66:24; Matthew 18:8; 25:41, 46
Mark 3:29; 9:43-46, 48; 10:43-49; 2 Thessalonians 1:9
2 Peter 2:17; Jude 6, 7, 13
Revelation 14:11; 19:20; 20:10; 21:8
The same word (aionos) that describes the eternity of God (Revelation
10; 5:14; 10:6; 15:7; 1 Corinthians 15:26; etc.) is used to describe the
punishment of the wicked. Matthew 25:41, 46
The devil, false prophet, and all unbelievers will be "cast into the lake
and... tormented day and night for ever and ever" (Revelation 20:10, 15).
The Greek word "basanizo" (here translated "torment") means, literally, "to
vex with great pain." It was this time of "torment" that the demons feared had
already come upon them in Jesus' day (Matthew 8:29).
B. 1 Corinthians 15:22 does not speak of a "universal
salvation." It refers to those who are,
as it says, "in Christ."
C. The doctrine of "ultimate reconciliation" denies
the very character and integrity of God.
God is merciful, but He is also just. "Behold therefore the goodness and the
severity of God." (Romans 11:22).
V. What will hell be like? Is there a real hell-fire?
A. Total separation from God.
2 Thessalonians 1:9
B. "Great furnace."
Matthew 13:41, 42, 49, 50
Revelation 9:1, 2
C. "Bottomless pit."
Revelation 9:1, 2; 20:1-3
Isaiah 33:14; 66:24; Matthew 5:21, 22; 13:41, 42, 49, 50; 18:8;
Mark 9:43-49; 10:43-49; Luke 16:24; Jude 7
Revelation 14:10; 19:20; 20:10, 14, 15; 21:8
Luke 16:23-25, 28
Revelation 14:10, 11
F. "Wailing and gnashing of teeth."
Matthew 13:41, 42; Luke 13:28
G. Decaying worm.
Mark 9:44, 46, 48
H. Eternal: "for ever and ever."
Exodus 34:7; Isaiah 33:14; 66:24; Daniel 12:2
Matthew 18:8; 25:41, 46
Mark 3:29; 9:43-46, 48; 10:43-49
2 Thessalonians 1:9; 2 Peter 2:17; Jude 6, 7, 13
Revelation 14:11; 19:20; 20:10; 21:8
I. "Outer darkness."
Matthew 8:12; 22:13
J. "Mist of blackness (or, darkness)."
2 Peter 2:17; Jude 13
VI. Is there any scriptural support for the doctrine of reincarnation?
A. A person lives and dies only once, after which he is judged.
B. When his son died, David said,
" .... now he is dead .... I shall go to him,
but he shall not return unto me."
2 Samuel 12:23
C. John the Baptist was not Elijah
reincarnated (as promoters of the
reincarnation heresy teach, by use of Matthew 17:11-13).
1. He himself denied it.
2. He simply ministered under the same anointing as did Elijah.
VII. Is there a "purgatory" or place of purging after death?
A. Scripture teaches that there
is, at death, an immediate transfer of the
spirit of man to either heaven or hell.
1. Jesus spoke
repeatedly of heaven, and even more often referred to hell; but He
never once mentioned a middle state or place of spiritual purging after death.
Matthew 25:5-10; Luke 16:26-31; Revelation 3:15, 16
Jesus told the repentant thief on the cross next to Him that
shalt be with Me in Paradise." Luke 23:43
He told the story of Lazarus who "died and was carried by the
Abraham's bosom," and the rich man who died and suffered torment in Hades.
A "great gulf," He said, separated the two and was "fixed: so that they which
would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would
come from thence." Luke 16:19-31
The apostle Paul said that to die is to be "with Christ." He never
or implied the existence or possibility of an intermediate state of any kind.
Romans 14:8, 9
2 Corinthians 5:6-9
Philippians 1:21, 23, 24
1 Thessalonians 4:13; 5:9, 10
2. There will
be no "second chance" for anyone. We have the choice in this life to
accept or reject Jesus Christ. Our status in the after-life will be based upon
a. After death: judgment. Hebrews 9:27
b. Parable of the ten virgins: ".... and the door was shut." Matthew 25:1-10
B. The doctrine of praying for the dead is based
not on scripture, but has its roots in the
Old Testament Apocryphal books of the Bible. (See 2 Maccabees 12:46 "It is a holy
and wholesome thought to pray for the dead.")
1. 2 Timothy
1:16 (the scripture used by some to support this doctrine) does not
say that Onesiphorus, for whom Paul prayed, was dead. In fact, the same man
and his family are even mentioned later in the same epistle (chapter 4:19) in the
form of a greeting.
2. No restitution
can be made of the living for the dead. "None of them can by
any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him."
Psalms 49:6, 7
3. David fasted
and wept while his son was sick; but when the child had died he
recognized that there was no longer any place for doing so.
2 Samuel 12:21-23
4. Prayer to
or contact with the dead (termed "necromancy" in scripture) is strictly
forbidden and condemned by God. The punishment for consulting the spirits of
dead persons is very severe.
1 Samuel 28:3-20
2 Chronicles 10:13, 14
5. We are individually
accountable to God and can't "get to heaven" on someone
else's spiritual experience.
C. There really is no need for a purgatory.
1. The doctrine of purgatory
denies the completeness of our redemption and forgiveness
through the work of Calvary, and it rejects the blood atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.
a. Jesus declared on the cross, "It is finished!"
b. "Ye are complete in Him." Paul said.
c. The sacrifice was made for us "once for all ... forever ..."
Hebrews 9:11, 12, 25-28; 10:9-14; 1 Peter 3:18
2. The only unforgivable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
Mark 3:28, 29
3. We are saved not by "good works," but by grace (God's "unmerited favor").
Romans 4:2-6; 9:11, 16, 31-33; 11:6; Galatians 2:16, 21
Ephesians 2:8, 9; Titus 3:5
4. When we confess our sins, He cleanses us "from all unrighteousness."
Colossians 2:13, 14; Titus 2:14; 1 John 1:9
a. He forgets our sin. He will not hold it against us at some future date.
Isaiah 43:25, 26 "I,
even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions
for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Put me in remembrance;
let us plead together; declare thou, that thou mayest be justified."
Jeremiah 31:34 "...
for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember
their sin no more."
Hebrews 8:12; cp. 10:17
"For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness,
and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more."
He casts our sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:18, 19) and blots
them out as a thick cloud (Isaiah 44:21, 22).
He removes our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalms 103:11-14);
he casts them behind His back (Isaiah 38:17).
d. We are washed whiter than snow.
Psalms 51:7; Isaiah 1:18
5. We can know that we have eternal life.
John 3:36 "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life ..."
John 5:24 "... He that heareth my word, and believeth
on him that sent me,
hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed
from death unto life."
John 1:12 "But as many as received him, to them
gave he power to become
the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."
John 6:37, 47 "... He that believeth on me hath everlasting life."
Romans 8:16, 17 "The Spirit itself beareth witness
with our spirit, that we are the
children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ ..."
Galatians 4:6; 1 John 3:18, 19, 24
1 John 4:13 "Hereby know we that we dwell in him,
and he in us, because he hath
given us of his Spirit."
1 John 5:10-13 "He that believeth on the Son of
God hath the witness in himself ...
God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life
... that ye may know that ye have eternal life ..."
6. Jesus Christ is our "advocate
with the Father ... And He is the propitiation for
Acts 10:43; Hebrews 1:3; 1 John 2:2
D. God has made no provision in His Word for "indulgences."
1. Favor with God can be purchased neither for oneself nor for another.
2 Chronicles 19:7 "...take heed ... for
there is no iniquity with the Lord our God,
nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts."
Psalms 49:6-8 "They that trust in their
wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude
of their riches: none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a
ransom for him. For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever."
Isaiah 52:3 "For thus saith the Lord,
Ye have sold yourselves for nought;
and ye shall be redeemed without money."
Ezekiel 33 "The soul that sinneth, it shall die."
Matthew 25:1-10 "...buy for yourselves ..." (Parable of the 10 virgins)
2. We have been bought with the precious blood of the Lamb.
1 Peter 1:18, 19
VIII. Scriptures well describes the tremendous grief experienced
who have lost a loved one.
"And all his sons and all his daughter rose up to comfort him;
but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave
unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him."
2 Samuel 1:11, 12, 17
"Then David took hold on his clothes, and rent them
and likewise all the men that were with him; and they mourned, and wept, and fasted
until even ... And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son."
2 Samuel 18:33
"And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber
over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son,
my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!"
2 Samuel 19:1-4
"And it was told Joab, Behold, the king weepeth and mourneth
for Absalom. And the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all the people:
for the people heard say that day how the king was grieved for his son.... But the king
covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom,
my son, my son!"
"The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted
when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying She
goeth unto the grave to weep there. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was,
and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here,
my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also
weeping with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled ... Jesus wept."
A. David knew that he must submit to the
wisdom of God and accept the death
of his son, that he could not "wish" him back to life.
2 Samuel 12:22, 23 "And he said, While the child was yet
alive, I fasted
and wept; for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the
child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back
again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. And David comforted
Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son ..."
B. It is encouraging to realize that God
Himself is personally aware of the death
of every one of His saints.
Psalms 116:15 "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death
of his saints."
Luke 12 (Even a sparrow does not fall to the ground without his notice.)
C. Our part is to comfort those who have lost
a loved one and feel compassion
for them in their loss.
Genesis 24:67; Proverbs 25:20; John 11:19, 31
Romans 12:15; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
IX. What is to be the Christian's attitude toward death?
A. The Christian has no reason to fear death.
Matthew 10:28; Romans 8:38, 39; 2 Corinthians 5:1-8
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:9, 10; Hebrews 2:14, 15
B. Death is the result of disobedience and rebellion against God.
Genesis 2:17; Genesis 3:17-19; Romans 5:12
Romans 6:23; Hebrews 2:14
C. Jesus Christ overcame the power of death.
Isaiah 28:18; Luke 7:14, 15 (John 11:43, 44)
John 10:17, 18; Acts 2:24, 27 (Psalms 16:10)
1 Corinthians 15:54, 55; Hebrews 2:14; Revelation 1:18; 28:18
D. Recognizing the brevity
of this life is essential for an accurate perspective
on the things of this world.
Psalms 90:10; 103:14-26; 114:4
Ecclesiastes 8:7, 8; James 4:14
E. Paul said that he actually
preferred death and going on to be with the Lord
rather than this life.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8
1. He realized that, for the saved, death is merely a promotion.
Philippians 1:21, 23
2. "To die," he said, is simply to "be with Christ."
Romans 14:8, 9; 2 Corinthians 5:6-9;
Philippians 1:21, 23
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
© 1976, 1977, 1997 by Diane S. Dew
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