WHAT IS THE STATE OF THE DEAD?
One of the most misunderstood subjects in the Bible is the state of the dead. The main barrier to gaining a clear understanding of this subject is the teaching that assumes humans have an immortal soul which goes to heaven, hell, paradise, or someplace in-between after death.
Because this belief in the immortality of the soul is extremely comforting, most people avoid thinking about the validity of these teachings about heaven and hell. Instead, they avoid the clear scriptures which show that the dead are not alive in some form and in some other place, because these scriptures threaten the very foundation of the teaching of an immortal soul.
Although the beliefs of Catholics and Protestants differ radically in many respects, both believe in the immortality of the soul. They also believe that humans only die physically, but the spirit (i.e., the soul—the sentient being) remains alive in heaven, hell, or some transitory state in-between.
However, the Protestant theology of going to heaven or hell immediately upon death cannot be proven from the Bible. Moreover, the Catholic concept of purgatory as a place or condition of spiritual cleansing is also a non-biblical teaching. Neither of these teachings are valid biblical concepts. They are simply figments of theological imagination, which were conceived to explain the state of the dead in the context of humans having an immortal soul.
What really happens to humans at death? Are they alive in another dimension, or do they cease to exist? If you study the Bible and believe what it actually says, these questions can be answered truthfully.
TWO DIMENSIONS OF HUMAN EXISTENCE
In order to understand the state of the dead, it is important to understand what a human being is. Many theologians and others believe humans have a soul which is nonphysical. The Bible does say that humans have a spirit, but is this spirit a physical creation or is it from another dimension of existence?
The scriptures show two distinct dimensions of existence, and that humans are composed of elements from both dimensions. There is both a physical and a spirit dimension of existence and each is separate from the other in function and creation. However, both work together to enable humans to exist on a higher plane of consciousness than the rest of the physical creation:
"And I say to you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I [Jesus] will forewarn you whom you shall fear: Fear him [God the Father], who after he as killed has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, Fear him" (Lk.12:4-5 KJV).
"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him [God the Father] which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matt.10:28 KJV).
The English word body in these two verses is a translation of the Greek word soma, which means a human/animal body or a corpse. The Greek word used in these two scriptures for soul is psyche, which can be translated as life or mind. These two scriptures mention two distinct elements of human life: physical and nonphysical, both of which can be completely destroyed by God.
The English word destroy in the above verses is a translation of the Greek word apollumi, which means to destroy fully, to kill, to perish, to completely do away with. There is no doubt that the words used in Matthew 10:28 mean that God has the power to completely destroy all aspects of human life.
Jesus says there are two elements of human existence and we must fear God who can terminate both the physical and nonphysical elements.
Paul also refers to the two elements of human existence in his letter to the Thessalonians:
"And may the God of peace Himself fully sanctify you, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1.Thes.5:23 Para.).
In verse 23, the English words spirit, soul, and body are translated from the Greek words pneuma, psyche, and soma, which respectively mean physical breath or the soul, the spirit or the mind, and the physical body.
THE PHYSICAL ELEMENT OF HUMANS
In order to determine what the physical element of human life is, the creation of mankind should be reviewed:
"And the Lord God formed the man out of the dust of the ground, and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul" (Gen.2:7 Para.). See also vs.8; Deut.32:18.
"In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return to the ground; for out of it you were taken: for dust you are, and to dust shall you return" (Gen.3:19 KJV).
"You hide your face and they are troubled; you gather your breath, and they expire and return to their dust" (Psa.104:29 Para.; Job 34:13-15).
In Genesis 2:7, the English word soul is translated from the Hebrew word nephesh, which means a breathing creature or animal, vitality, beast, body, or breath. There is absolutely nothing in the word nephesh which indicates anything other than physical life¾human or animal. The Hebrew word nephesh means a state of being alive. God created a lifeless body in the form of man and made it a living soul (nephesh) by blowing air into its lungs; thus, he gave it life.
"The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty has given me life" (Job 33:4 KJV).
PHYSICAL LIFE IS IN THE BLOOD
"And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eats any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul [nephesh] that eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people," (Lev.17:10 KJV).
"For the life of the flesh is in the blood; . . .Therefore I said to the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood,. . .For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof:. . ." (Lev.17:11-14 KJV).
In this modern age, we can understand the biological implications of this scripture. The heart circulates the blood throughout the body, which in turn performs its life sustaining functions.
If God had not activated Adam's life functions by inserting air into his lungs, Adam would not have lived. But, is human life no more than a chemical-electric reaction of a well designed structure of gas, fluid, and solid matter reacting to internal and external stimuli? Is this the sum of what God created as physical man? If so, humans would be no different from any other animal.
But humans are different from animals and the rest of creation in many obvious ways. Humans are on a higher plane of existence than the rest of creation. But, what is it that makes humans different? The unseen physical and spirit elements of the human creation make it different from the rest of creation.
THE SPIRITUAL ELEMENT OF HUMANS
There is another element to human life besides the physical. This element is the spirit in man that separates mankind from the rest of creation:
"But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty gives them understanding" (Job 32:8 KJV).
Here, the English word spirit is a translation of the Hebrew word ruwach, which means wind or mind. It does not mean a physical being or even a being at all. Rather, it denotes something which is not physical.
"The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, says the Lord, which stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him" (Zech.12:1 KJV). See also Ecc.12:5-7.
The human spirit is a nonphysical element of the human body that truly separates humans from the rest of the physical creation. God calls this nonphysical element the spirit in man and he has designed it to be a part of the human body. It is this spirit that gives mankind the ability to be on a higher thought-plane than all other physical creatures on earth.
The spirit in man is only one of the two elements of human life that the scientific community neither understands nor ascribes to the human life function. Nevertheless, the spirit in man is of major importance to human life after death.
THE GOD OF SPIRITS
The scriptures show that God formed the spirit which lives within the human body:
"And they fell on their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh [i.e., humans], shall one man sin, and will you be angry with all the congregation?" (Num.16:22 Para.).
"Let the Lord God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation" (Num.27:16 Para.).
The spirit in man is neither an undefinable essence nor mysteriously apart from man. The spirit of man is man. The physical body is the habitation of the spirit, which is the sentient and conscious element of the human creation.
THE HUMAN LIFE-FORM
Human life is unique in all of creation. A human being is the only lifeform on earth which is both physical and spiritual and has the opportunity to be elevated to the highest of all life-forms—a spirit-being in the Family of God.
Animals do not have the potential for immortality and they do not relate to God in the same way as humans. Furthermore, they do not have the ability to worship or interact with God like humans do. See Rom. 8:14-16.
For a detailed explanation of the destiny of humanity obtain a copy of the book, The Gift of Immortality, ISBN 978-0-9844608-4-7.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN HUMANS DIE?
The Bible describes two major events which take place at the death of a human being. These events are of extreme importance to the final destiny of each individual, because each event decides whether or not each individual will have a future existence.
What the Bible says about the physical and spirit record and the events which happen to humans after death is very different from what is taught by the religions of this world. According to the Bible, after a human dies, there are two records of their existence: one which is kept in heaven and one which is kept on earth.
NO MENTAL ACTIVITY AFTER DEATH
At death, the cerebral functions cease; there is no more thought process, no reward, no memory, no knowledge, and no access to this world. Death terminates an individual's interaction with this physical dimension of existence.
The Psalmist Wrote
"Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish" (Psa.146:3-4 KJV).
"For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun" (Ecc.9:5-6 NIV).
"Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you go" (Ecc.9:10 KJV).
"The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence" (Psa.115:17 KJV).
The reason the dead cannot praise God is because they are no longer alive; their life has been silenced. In death, there is no thought process.
"Return, O Lord, deliver my soul: oh save me for your mercies' sake. For in death there is no remembrance of you: in the grave who shall give you thanks?" (Psa.6:4-5 KJV).
"Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but you have in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for you have cast all my sins behind your back. For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot celebrate you: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for your truth. The living, he shall praise you, as I do this day: . . ." (Isa.38:17-19 KJV).
It is obvious by the abundant scriptural proof that all conscious thought and life-functions cease at death. The scriptures which speak of human speech, desires, and admonitions after death are either poetic metaphors or analogies, and in some cases, they are describing demonic impersonations of dead people.
There is nothing throughout the entire Bible which indicates the human life function continues in one state or another after death. The Bible says just the opposite; it clearly shows that the physical life of a human is a temporary condition, which can be terminated forever.
THE SLEEP OF DEATH
Many scriptures speak of the state of the dead as analogous to sleep. Because the dead do not have a conscious thought process (Psa.146:4; Ecc.9:5-6), sleep is an excellent description of the condition of death. Below are a few references which show how God views the condition of death:
"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" (Dan.12:2 KJV).
"He said these things. And after this He said to them, Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going that I may awaken him. Then His disciples said, Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover. But Jesus had spoken about his death, but they thought that He spoke of the sleep of slumber. Then Jesus said to them plainly, Lazarus is dead" (Jn.11:11-14 Para.).
"While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell on his knees and cried out, Lord, do not hold this sin against them. When he had said this, he fell asleep" (Acts 7:59-60 NIV).
"But man dies and is cut off, and man expires; and where is he? As the waters go from the sea, and a river wastes away and dries up, so man lies down and does not rise. Until the heavens are no more, they shall not awake, nor be roused out of their sleep. Who will grant that You would hide me in Sheol; You would hide me until Your anger turns back; that You would set a limit for me and remember me? If a man dies, will he revive? All the days of my warfare I will wait, until my change comes" (Job 14:10-14 Para.). See also 1.Kg.2:10; 1.Thes.4:13-17.
The billions of humans who have lived and died over the centuries are completely unaware of the passage of time. The interim period between the moment of death, when their conscious thoughts ceased, and the instant they awake to life again at the resurrection does not exist for them. It will be as if they had gone to sleep and awakened without dreaming; the passage of time is meaningless to them.
The Righteous Dead
In his first major evangelistic sermon after Jesus' death and resurrection, the Apostle Peter says, "Men and brethren, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us to this day. . .. For David is not ascended into the heavens" (Acts 2:29, 34 KJV).
Peter made these statements about the dead fifty days after Jesus had been resurrected. At this point in history, King David was still dead and buried; he had not been resurrected to life.
The Writer to the Hebrews
In Hebrews, chapter 11, there is a long list of righteous individuals who died without receiving God's promises:
"Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:" (Heb.11:33-35 KJV).
If any are worthy to receive the promises of God, it would surely be these champions of faith: Abel, Enoch, Abraham, and Moses whom God called his friends, Rahab who had faith that God would protect her for her kindness to the Israelite spies, and King David who loved God with great zeal. All of these are among the great men and women of faith. However, about thirty years after Jesus' death and resurrection when the letter to the Hebrews was written, these righteous individuals were still dead.
"And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect" (Heb. 11:39-40 KJV) See also verse 13.
Twice in this eleventh chapter these righteous individuals are mentioned as having died without receiving the promises that God made to them.
The simple truth is that the righteous of all ages, are not alive; they are dead awaiting the return of Jesus to resurrect them and give them their reward. See Matt.24:29-31; 1.Cor.15:50-54; 1.Thes.4:16-17; 2.Thes.2: 1-8.
WHERE DOES THE BODY GO AT DEATH?
Science defines death as the cessation of the life function (i.e., all systems cease to operate—the heart stops circulating blood, the brain stops sending orders to the organs, all thought processes cease, the body becomes immobile, all regeneration processes stop, and the body starts to decay). The Bible defines physical death in the same way:
"By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground. For you have been taken out of it; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return" (Gen.3:19 Para.).
God says our bodies were made from the elements of the earth and they will return to these same elements after death.
"All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again to dust"
(Job 34:15 KJV).
"For that which happens to the sons of men, and that which happens to beasts; even one event is to them. As this one dies, so that one dies; yea, one breath is to all; so that there is to the man no advantage over the beast; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are of the dust, and return to the dust" (Ecc.3:19-20 Para.).
Solomon says that both man and beast have the same death process; they both die and return to the elements from which they were made. There is no quarrel with the scientific definition here. At death the physical body in which God placed the spirit of man ceases to function. However, there is more to the physical body than the visible elements from which it is made.
WHERE DOES THE SPIRIT GO AT DEATH?
"Who knows the spirit of the sons of man, whether it goes upward, and the spirit of the beast whether it goes downward to the earth?" (Ecc.3:21 Para.).
Solomon asked the same question many have asked over the centuries about the destination of the spirit in man. However, the great difference between Solomon and most others who ask this question is that Solomon knew the answer:
"Then the dust shall return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return to God who gave it" (Ecc.12:7 Para.).
The spirit of man returns to God who gave it. King David and Jesus also understood that God was the custodian of the human spirit.
"Into your hands I commit my spirit: you have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth" (Psa.31:5 KJV).
"And crying with a loud voice, he said, Father into your hands I commit my spirit. And saying this, He breathed out the spirit" (Lk. 23:46 Para.).
At death, this spirit, which is composed of material from the spirit realm, returns to God the Father who inhabits the spirit-realm
The Spirits Cry Out
The Book of Revelation has an allegorical reference to the spirits of the righteous dead crying out for God to avenge their death:
"And when he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those having been slain for the word of God, and the witness which they had. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O lord, holy and true, do you not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" (Rev.6:9-10 KJV). See also Gen.4: 10; Heb.11:4.
Although the spirits under the altar are unconscious and unaware of anything happening on earth or anywhere else, they symbolically cry out for justice. This scripture confirms that these human spirits have been returned to the Father from their earthly habitation.
IS THE BODY MORE THAN FLESH AND BLOOD?
The scriptures show that the human body is just a chemical-electric reaction of a well designed structure of gas, fluids, and solid matter reacting to internal and external stimuli with the spirit of man inhabiting it. And at death, the body becomes lifeless and useless:
"Then shall the dust [physical body] return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return to God who gave it" (Ecc.12:7 KJV). See also Gen.2:7, Deut.32:18.
"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (Jms.2:26 KJV).
THE INVISIBLE ELEMENT OF THE BODY
The scriptures clearly show that two separate elements are combined to form the creation called a human being. It is also extremely clear that, at death, the body returns to the earth and the spirit returns to God. However, how do we answer the clear scriptures which indicate a dead person is both in heaven and on the earth?
A brief study into physical and spiritual law shows that an object cannot occupy two different dimensions of time and space simultaneously. This knowledge helps solve the mystery surrounding the scriptures which seem to indicate that the dead are in two places at the same time. See Ecc.12:7; Psa.31:5; 49:14-15; Lk.23:46; Acts 2: 27-29, 34; Heb. chp.11.
There is an invisible physical element to the body which is preserved on earth after the body dies. This invisible element of the human creation is extremely important to the destiny of each individual. Without an understanding of what this essential element is, much of the Bible does not seem to make sense when it comes to the state of the dead and the various resurrections.
THE MYSTERIOUS REPHAIM
Who or what are the Rephaim? Bible Scholars have had great difficulty discovering the intended meaning of this Hebrew word, because its usage indicates that all dead humans remain on earth, instead of going to heaven or hell, which is a common belief.
The Hebrew word rephaim is often used as an allegory which describes the dead and gives vital insight into an extremely important unseen element of the human body.
The Hebrew word rephaim has three basic meanings: giant men, ghost of the dead, or shades (i.e., shadows). There are many references which refer to the dead as rephaim. These references also indicate that the rephaim occupy sheol, which is located within the confines of earth's environment. The following scriptures reveal the allegorical use of the word rephaim to describe dead humans:
"Sheol below is excited for you, to greet your coming, waiting for you rephaim, all the rulers of the earth. Rising them from their thrones, all the kings of the earth" (Isa.14:9 Literal Translation).
"The dead will not live, rephaim will not rise, therefore you have punished and eliminated them, and caused their memory to perish" (Isa.26:14 Literal Translation).
"The dead will live, their corpses will rise, Awake and shout for joy, dwellers in the dust! For dew of lights [morning] is your dew, and earth will give birth to rephaim" (Isa.26:19 Literal Translation).
In verse 14, Isaiah laments the state of the dead. But, in verse 19, he speaks of the hope of the resurrection. He says the rephaim (the dead) which are dead in the dust of the earth will be resurrected:
Psalm 88 speaks of those who are dead in the depths of the earth being devoid of life or conscious thought.
"For the dead will you do a wonder? Will the rephaim rise and praise you? Selah! (Psa.88:10 Literal Translation).
The following verses in Proverbs show that the foolish will occupy sheol where the rephaim are:
"The woman Folly is loud; she is undisciplined and without knowledge. She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way. "Let all who are simple come in here!" she says to those who lack judgment. "Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!" But little do they know that the dead [the Rephaim] are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave" (Pro.9:13-18 NIV).
"And he does not know that the rephaim are there. In the depths of sheol are her invited guests" (Prov. 9:18 Literal Translation).
There is no doubt that the rephaim are a part of the human creation. The question is what part? The scriptures show that the rephaim are in sheol, have no conscious thought, are lifeless, and will be resurrected. See also Psa.6:5; 31:17; Pro.9:18, 21:16; Isa.26:14-19.
The rephaim cannot be any part of the spirit of man, because the spirit of man returns to God at death, but the rephaim are in a state of preservation on earth. A rephaim is the invisible yet permanent part of a physical human body, which continues to exist on earth after the human body decomposes and returns to the elements from which it came. The rephaim is the record of the human body which will be used when the body is resurrected to a physical existence.
SPIRIT AND PHYSICAL DIMENSIONS OF EXISTENCE
The scriptures show that spirit-beings and spirit-substance can exist in this physical dimension (See Gen. chps.18,19; Numb. chp.22; Job 1:6-12; Lk. chp.24; Rev.12:7-9). However, the scriptures also show that physical beings cannot exist in the spirit realm (See Jn.3:3-5; 8:13-23; 13:33-36; 1.Cor.15:50). Therefore, it makes sense that the spirit element of the human creation returns to God at death (Psa.31:5; Ecc.12:7; Lk.23:46), but the physical element of the human creation remains on earth (Gen.3:19; Job 34:15; Ecc.3:19-20).
Because God designed the human life-form with both spirit and physical elements, both of these elements will be used to reconstruct individuals at the time of their resurrection.
THE DEAD SHALL RISE FIRST
In Paul's writings to the Corinthians and the Thessalonians, he speaks of the first general resurrection of the dead at which time the elect of God will be given immortality at Christ's coming:
"Behold, I show 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" (1.Cor.15:51-52 KJV).
"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which sleep [are dead], that you 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 [are dead] in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep [are dead]. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead shall rise first" (1.Thes.4:13-16 KJV).
These scriptures are very important, because Paul says the dead shall be raised and it is obvious that Paul understood the dead remained on earth awaiting their resurrection. See 1.Sam.2:6; Psa.49:14-15; Jn.3:13; Acts 2:29-34; Heb.11.
Because the spirit record of the elect returns to the Father, when Paul speaks of the dead rising from the earth, he must be referring to a physical record, that will rise from the earth where it resides in sheol awaiting the resurrection.
THE RESURRECTION OF ISRAEL
Another key to understanding the rephaim is found in Ezekiel, chapter 37. This chapter speaks of the resurrection of the Israelites to physical life sometime after the return of Christ.
"The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones. And caused me to pass by them round about: and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry" (Ezk.37:1-2 KJV).
This event transpires on earth, and these bones represent people who will be brought back to life.
"And he said to me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, you know. Again he said to me, Prophecy upon these bones, and say to them, O you dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones; Behold I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord" (Ezk.37:3-6 KJV).
Here, God promises to resurrect these dead Israelites to physical life (Ezk.37:11). The word for bone in Hebrew can also be used allegorically to mean a dead person.
"And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said he to me, Prophesy to the wind, prophesy son of man, and say to the wind, Thus says the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood upon their feet, an exceeding great army" (Ezk.37:8-10 KJV).
There are similarities between this resurrection and the creation of Adam and Eve. God made Adam's body from the elements of the earth; then, he took a bone from Adam's body and made Eve. In this resurrection, God takes the bones (an allegory of the dead Israelites) to use as the foundational substance with which to reconstruct each individual Israelite. Adam, Eve, and these resurrected Israelites are constructed from the elements of the earth. And like Adam, these Israelites have no life force until air is placed into their lungs and they begin to breath.
"Therefore prophesy and say to them, Thus says the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And you will know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And shall put my spirit in you and you shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall you know that I the Lord have spoken and performed it says the Lord" (Ezk.37:12-14 KJV).
In order for these reconstructed bodies to function as sentient beings, the spirit of man must be put back into the body: "The body without the spirit is dead . . ." (Jms.2:26). At death, the body dies and becomes useless to the spirit which inhabited it.
THE RECORDS OF THE DEAD
The Father has promised to resurrect not only all of the Israelites who have ever lived and died without an opportunity for salvation but also the rest of humanity who have not had this opportunity. In order to accomplish this task, he has a record of each person's intellect (mind), which is stored in heaven.
The Sovereign God made provisions for a record to be kept of each individual who has ever existed. Humanly, we can understand that everything in the physical universe operates under a system of immutable laws, which control and sustain the physical creation. The physical record of man does not exist in some mysterious magical nonphysical dimension of time and space; it exists as a physical thing, which was created as a part of the human being and exists under the specific laws which regulate its physical existence.
The rephaim or the record of a dead human body which occupies sheol is neither spirit nor human, does not have conscious thought, and is not animated or alive. However, it is real and made of physical substance which occupies this physical existence.
Because of the abundance of allegorical and factual references about sheol and the rephaim (record of dead bodies) which occupy it, the rephaim must be the physical record and pattern of each human body.
Logic tells us that, because this record or pattern is invisible yet physical, it must be composed of pure energy in one form or another. This invisible yet physical element is the physical record/pattern that God will use to reconstruct each individual's unique physical body at the proper time in his plan for the salvation of humanity.
The physical body decays and returns to its basic elements, while the rephaim, which is the record/pattern of the physical human form, remains on earth because it is a part of this physical existence and cannot enter the spirit-realm.
The Resurrection Process
The spirit record of a human is kept in heaven, the physical record is stored on earth, and each is being held ready for the resurrection process. The scriptures show that there will be two kinds of resurrections: one is to spirit life as a spirit-being, and the other is to physical life as a human being. Therefore, it is important to know the process involved in each.
Resurrection to Immortality at Christ's Return
"The dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the Clouds, to meet the Lord in the air" (1.Thes.4:16-17 KJV).
During the resurrection of the righteous dead, the following will occur:
- Each person's unique physical body will be reconstructed using the pattern that is stored on earth.
- Each person's unique spirit will be returned to earth from wherever it was stored in heaven and placed into the reconstructed body.
- Each person will then be changed to an immortal spirit-being.
Resurrection to Physical Life
The dead will be resurrected to physical life for the purpose of giving them an opportunity for salvation or for destroying them because of incorrigible wickedness. During the resurrection the following will occur:
- Each person's unique physical body will be reconstructed using the pattern that is stored on earth.
- Each person will then have the breath of life placed into their lungs to start the physical life processes.
- Each person's unique spirit will be returned to earth from wherever it was stored in heaven, and then it will be placed into the reconstructed body.
SPIRITS OF THE DEAD
Many people believe in what are commonly called ghosts, which are believed to be the spirits of dead people interacting with this physical existence for various reasons. The interaction with people by some of these supposedly dead individuals may seem to be harmless, but in reality such interactions are far from harmless.
It is well documented that supernatural events do occur. Hazy apparitions of people do appear in houses and other places. Banging, thumping, doors opening and closing seemingly on their own, objects moving about in a room, places which become extremely cold for no apparent reason, and many other types of seemingly unexplainable events occur regularly throughout the world.
These occurrences are not actually the manifestations of dead people, but are caused by evil spirits masquerading as people and causing these events to happen in order to terrorize people or to deceive people into interacting with them.
If one believes the biblical narrative, the answer to this question is simple. The Bible clearly shows that when a person is dead they are dead and have no thoughts or ability to interact with mankind or this physical existence (Psa.146:3-4; Ecc.9:5-6). The only exception noted in the Bible is the account of Saul, Samuel, and the Witch of Endor in which Samuel was awakened by God to pronounce a curse of death on Saul for his violation of the law concerning witches and necromancy.
Events attributed to ghosts of the dead interacting with the living and other such occurrences can easily be explained as natural phenomena or the manifestations of evil spirits.
The dead are simply dead; they have no life function; they are not alive in heaven or any other place; they are dead without conscious thought awaiting a resurrection. Some of the dead will be resurrected to eternal life and immortality, some will be resurrected to physical life and be given their opportunity for salvation, and some will be resurrected to the punishment of a second death from which there is no return.
By B.L. Cocherell b7w14