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- Death: Immortal Soul Or Soul Sleep

The traditional view is that when you die, you go to either Heaven or Hell. But is this true? What does God's word say? The vast majority of Christians will have you believe that God sentences people to eternal, never ending torture. God allows Satan to deceive you and eternal torture is the result. God essentially coerces you to love and obey him with the most unmerciful threat imaginable. God is essentially a monster, but it's ok because none of this stuff is applicable to them, so no need to see anything wrong with this line of thinking. Just accept it and move on. But does God really need to put a gun to our heads to have a relationship with us? No, God seeks a true relationship with with us without coercion. A relationship by coersion is not a true relationship at all, which by itself dismisses the traditional teaching on hell. So not only is the traditional view of hell not taught in the scriptures as we will see, but it goes against the very objective God is trying to obtain, which is a true relationship with his people. Yes we should fear God and his righteous discipline, but that is different than coercion. God has his limitations as he can not go against his character.

The traditional teaching on hell also goes against the very character of God. God is a God of restoration and mercy. God is also a God of justice and righteousness as well. He does inflict punishment and discipline on his people like any parent does to their children. But his objective is to mold you and teach you, not destroy you. Discipline has the objective of correcting behavior. Eternal torture has no such objective. God has a principle of the punishment fitting the crime when it is taught an eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth. Eternal torture is not a punishment fitting the crime. God is merciful just as almost any earthly father would be. An earthly father may spank his child 2 or 3 times for correcting behavior, but if he spanks 10 times, 20 times, 100 times, or perhaps a million spanks, we now have overkill and it is unmerciful and without purpose and is now considered abuse.

What happens when we die? Do we go to heaven? Do we go to hell? Is there a purgatory? Is their conscienceness after death? The Bible tells us what happens and we can know if we are willing to set our traditions and preconceived notions aside and listen to the word of God. When we die, we are dead and have no conscience. We do have a blessed hope of being resurrected to eternal life at the resurrection, but our loved ones are not with Jesus at this time. The good news however is that it is like a time warp in that the dead do not have an awareness of time passing as they have no awareness at all while dead in the grave. And our next conscience thought will be at the resurrection. And guess what? You won’t have to wait for your loved ones to die on earth to join you because they will already be there with you. What would be the significance of Christ"s 2nd coming and the resurrection if we all just went to heaven or hell right away after death? There would be no significance at all. Let's carefully read through what God actually says about these things. Ultimately it comes down to the issue of the immortal soul doctrine vs the doctrine of soul sleep. Also check out the following links as well:

Is Hell A Place Of Eternal Torture? Tradition suggests that Hell is a place where bad people go, there is fire, Satan, demons, and eternal torture and torment. Is this really how the scriptures describe "hell?"

Is Heaven The Reward Of The Saved? - Does the bible say that the saved go to Heaven? Are you sure or is that your tradition talking? 

Does Everyone Receive The Same Reward In "Heaven?" - Were you taught that everyone that makes it into "Heaven" will receive the same reward? Is this what the bible teaches? 

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23 (Death is contrasted with eternal life. Death is just that, total destruction and annihilation. Living in "hell" is still eternal life. There is no life in death.)

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. Gen. 2:7 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. Gen. 2:17 (The Bible doesn’t teach that we POSSESS a soul, but instead that we ARE a soul. We are a soul, and we can die. We are not immortal but mortals due to the fall of man. The breath of life is the spirit joining the body and creating a soul. Body plus spirit equals soul. When the soul dies the body decays, and the breath or spirit goes back to God. But the breath or spirit is not a life or conscienceness as will be discussed later. Prior to the fall, it was Jesus, or the tree of life, that sustained us. After the fall we were banned from access to the tree of life and so our sins activated a natural consequence of a gradual death within us in which we no longer had an answer for.)

The soul that sinneth, it shall die. Ezek. 18:4 (The soul can die. This means total destruction and annihilation.)

For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been. Obadiah 1:16 (To "be as though they had not been" is to not exist at all. Eternal life in hell does not fit this. This indicates total destruction and annihilation.)

For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Ecclesiastes 9:5 (Here to "know" and "know not indicates consciousness and no consciousness. So again death indicates total destruction and annihilation.)

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. Ecclesiastes 3:19-20 (Without the return of Christ and the resurrection of the dead we are without hope. We would simply return to dust with complete destruction and annihilation.)

The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence. Psalm 115:17 (You are not in Heaven with God praising him when you are dead. Silence is quite a contrast to wailing and screaming in agony in a burning furnace forever or going to heaven and singing and playing harps. It is silent because there is no consciousness upon death, not until the resurrection.)

For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? Psalms 6:5 ("No rememberance" indicates lack of consciousness. Death is complete destruction and annihilation.)

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. Psalm 146:3-4 (There are thoughts in eternal life in hell so that is not a fit. This indicates total destruction and annihilation.)

Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Psalms 104:35 (To "be no more" is not eternal life in hell. It is total destruction and annihilation.)

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. John 5:28-29 (Jesus tells of the resurrection of the wicked and the righteous, and to marvel not.)

O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands. Job 14:13-15 (Job seems to have a good understanding about the matter. Job asks God to hide him in Hell. Why would he say that? Because hell is sheol, or simply the grave. And to “live again” seems to contrast with immortal souls. And why would Job need to be “remembered” if he were to go to Heaven when he dies?)

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. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. I Cor. 15:51-54 (This verse should dispel the immortal soul doctrine. It clearly says we are mortals, but will receive immortality at the resurrection.)

For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts. Mal. 4:1-3 (These words in bold seem to contrast eternal life in hell. These are words of total destruction and annihilation.)

But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away. Psalms 37:20 (Perish is not eternal life in hell. "Into smoke they consume away" shows their complete destruction and annihilation. Smoke perishes into nothing.)

Are The Righteous Dead In Heaven Today

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. Acts 2:29 (David is not in Heaven, he is dead to this day, awaiting the resurrection.)

For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Acts 2:34 (This is consistent with the above verse.)

Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our fatherAbraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? John 8:52-53 (Abraham and the prophets are not in Heaven. They too are dead in their graves awaiting the resurrection.)

Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. John 13:33 (Christ went to Heaven, and he tells us that we can not go there)

And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. John 3:13 (Jesus appears to plainly say that no man has ascended to Heaven expect himself, which came from there. This is also consistent with the fact that we can not go there)

Context, Context, Context

We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 2 Cor. 5:8 (Many will quote this verse wrong as saying "to be away from the body IS TO BE at home with the Lord. This makes it mean that one equals the other. If you are away from the body then that equals being at home with the Lord. But this isn't true because nonbelievers are away from the body, but they are not with the Lord. All translations say the same thing. "To be away from the body AND be at home with the Lord." The word "and" means these are two separate things. For example, to be away from my house does not equal to be present at my friends house. I would need to say, "to be away from my house AND be present at my friends house.)

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Philippians 1:20-24 (The apostle Paul suffered much persecution and hardship during his ministry. He was beaten many times and put in jail. Paul is showing a positive outlook "whether by life or by death." "To live is Christ" means he received much joy in his work of advancing the kingdom of God and the message of Jesus. "To die is gain" because he would gain relief from his hardships and rest in the grave awaiting his resurrection to glory. Either way Paul is good. But again we see the word "and." To depart AND be with Christ is 2 different things. One doesn't equal the other.)

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:42-43 (Punctuation is uninspired and thus changes the meaning of this verse. Having the comma before "today" makes it mean that the thief would be with Jesus in paradise that very day. We know this is not true because even Jesus himself was not in paradise that day. John 20:17 tells us that Jesus had not yet ascended to the Father right after his resurrection when he told Mary to not touch him. If you put the comma AFTER "today" then it reads differently and maintains harmony with the rest of scripture. Jesus was giving the thief assurance. I tell you today, or I tell you right now, you will be with me in paradise at the resurrection. Notice what the thief said in vs42. "Remember me" when? "When you come into your kingdom." Both Jesus and the thief understood this to occur at the resurrection when Jesus returns.)

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:7 
Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? Ecclesiastes 3:21 
And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:59-60 (Our body and soul goes to the grave, our spirit returns to God. These will reunite at the resurrection at Christ’s return. Our spirit returns to God in Heaven, but we do not. So what is our spirit? Our spirit is the breath that God gives us that makes us alive. It is not a conscienceness but it does identify who we are. It is like a spiritual microchip that contains all the information of who we are. For example it contains our beliefs, our memories, our feelings, etc. These things are kept with the Lord in Heaven, but again it is not a conscienceness. And at the resurrection this spirit is reunited with our glorified bodies.)

The Rich Man And Lazarus

The following text in Luke 16 is a parable that Jesus spoke to the Pharisees that unfortunately many people are reading literally and drawing false conclusions. Some will not deny it is a parable yet will still read it literally and disregard what Jesus's true message was. Some say it's not a parable because it doesn't specifically state that it is a parable. But we know that it is a parable for several reasons. First, it is written among a whole line of parable teachings from Jesus. It wouldn't make sense for all the other texts to be parables except for this being the only exception. Secondly, it wouldn't make sense if taken literally and it would also cause for some really strange teaching if taking that approach consistently throughout the text. Third, it has all the elements of a parable and there was a masked message being sent from Jesus to the Pharisees. So the real question is, what does the parable mean?

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. (The "rich man" represents the Jews. "Purple and fine linen" indicates royalty and being the chosen people of God to carry on the revelation of God to the rest of the world. They "lived in luxury every day" because they received the law of God and were protected and cared for by God.)

At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. (Lazarus represents the Gentiles who did not receive the revelations of God.)

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. (Being carried to "Abraham's side" means the Gentiles are now going to become apart of the promises of God that was given to Abraham and his descendants. The rich man being buried means that the Jews are being cut off from the promises of God. It's not speaking of an actual death or of actually dying, but instead of a transition being made. Instead of the transition from life to death, this transition is from being cut off to being grafted in for the Gentiles. And being grafted in to being cut off for the Jews.)

In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ (Again we are not actually talking about an afterlife in Hades or Hell. We are talking about the Jews being cut off from the promises. They are in torment because they are cut off and the Gentiles are grafted in.)

“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. (The "good things" the Jews received was the revelations and protection of God. The "bad things" the Gentiles received was the absence of the good things and the false teachings handed down by Satan and his fallen angels.)

And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ (The "chasm" is the blinding of the Jews from the truth. They can not be grafted back in until this blinding is lifted off them. And the Gentiles cannot convert them back because of this blinding of the truth as well.)

“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’  (The 5 brothers represent the lost tribes of Israel dispersed into the nations. Their best bet to avoid this same blindness to the truth is to listen to the word of God.)

“ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ” Luke 16:19-31 (Jesus foretells that even his resurrection from the dead will not allow them to see the truth.)

This text actually has nothing to do with the afterlife. Jesus is telling the Pharisees that they have mishandled the blessings and revelations of God. It will be taken from them and given to another people. This same message is delivered and is consistent with many other areas of scripture.