What Happens to a Person When He Dies?

Can the Dead Actually Come Back and Visit us?

Lorraine Day, M.D.

There are at least 25 Bible texts that tell us that death is a sleep, and that when a person is dead, he remains in the grave and he has no thoughts. He is in a state of lack of consciousness. He knows NOTHING! He is not in heaven nor hell. He is in the grave and knows nothing.

1) For the living know that they will die, BUT THE DEAD KNOW NOTHING; they have no further reward, for even the memory of them is forgotten.

Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now PERISHED; neither have they any share in anything that is done.

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
Ecclesiastes 9:5

2) Turn, O Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. No one remembers You when he is dead. Who praises You from the grave? Psalm 6:4,5

3) And the Lord formed man of the DUST of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the BREATH of LIFE, and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7 (The Creation of Man)

4) Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. When their breath departs, they return to the ground; on that very day, their thoughts perish.
Psalm 146:3,4 (The Death of Man = the REVERSE of Creation: Their breath returns to God, their body returns to Dust, and their thoughts CEASE.)

5) Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the breath shall return unto God Who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:7

6) The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence. Psalm 115:17

7) Jesus Christ...the King of kings and Lord of lords, Who ALONE is immortal.
1 Timothy 6:15,16

8) For the grave cannot praise You, death cannot sing Your praise; Isaiah 38:18

9) The soul who sins, SHALL die. Ezekiel 18:4 (It will NOT just change into another form.)

10) But the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God has said "You shall NOT eat of it, neither shall you touch it, or you will die!" Genesis 3:3 (Eve is telling, Satan the Adversary who has taken the form of a serpent, what God has told Adam and Eve.)

11) And the serpent (Satan) said unto the woman: "You will NOT surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will become as gods, knowing good and evil." Genesis 3:4,5

This is the FIRST GREAT DECEPTION; Satan said "If you sin, you WON'T die, instead you will become as gods!" This is still the theme, AND the continuing DECEPTION, of the New Age Religion!

John 11:11-14 Jesus compares death to sleep. The Bible compares death to sleep over 50 times.

Eccl. 9:5, 6, 10 The dead don't know anything.

Ps. 6:5 In death there is no remembrance of God.

Gen 2:7 Dust + Breath = A living soul (a person). This is the essence of creation. The soul is not a separate entity from the body.

Job 27:3 The Spirit is the same as God's breath of life or His power.

Ps. 146:4 Reverse of creation: Breath ceases, the body returns to dust and the thoughts (the essence of a living soul) perish.

Eccl. 12:7 The body returns to dust and the spirit (breath) returns to God.

Ps. 146:3,4 When the breath (spirit) returns to God, the thoughts perish.

Ps. 115:17 The dead do not praise God.

1 Cor. 15:51-54 We receive immortality when Jesus comes again.

Acts 2:34 David did not ascend to heaven at death, but awaits the coming of Jesus and the first resurrection.

1 Tim. 6:16 Human beings do not have immortality, only God does.

Job 19:25,26 The righteous will be resurrected to see God at the Last day.

John 5:28,29 Where are the people who come forth in the resurrection? They are now in the graves.

Rom 6:23 The wages of sin is death.

Ezekiel 18:4 The soul (person) who sins will die.

1 Tim. 4:7,8 The apostle Paul waited the coming of the Lord for his final reward.

Gen. 3:3,4 The first great deception: "You won't die!"

John 14:2,3 "I go to prepare a place for you. And I will come to get you and take you where I am." Why does He have to come and get them if they are already in heaven?

1 Thess 4:16-18 Why do the righteous dead have to rise at the resurrection if they're already in heaven?

Acts 17:31 The world will be judged on an "appointed day." You can't go to heaven until God makes a judgment on your case. Obviously it doesn't happen when each person dies.

Rev. 20:12 Why is there a FUTURE judgment if everyone is already in heaven or hell?
They must have been "judged" already on an individual basis at the moment they died.
But that is not Biblical (see previous text).

Rom. 2:7 Why do we "seek for immortality" if we already are immortal?

John 11:23,24 Mary and Martha were Jesus' closest friends on earth, other than His disciples. What was their understanding about where Lazarus was in death and when he would be resurrected?

John 11:43,44 If Lazarus was already in heaven why would Jesus resurrect him back to this earth? That would be cruel!

John 20: 11-18 Jesus did NOT go to heaven immediately at death!

The Bible uses the word "soul" approximately 1600 times, but NEVER ONCE does it use the expression "immortal soul." The word mortal means subject to death. The word immortal means NOT subject to death.

When we die, we sleep in the grave until we are resurrected. The righteous dead will be resurrected when Jesus comes. Those who died without knowing Jesus will be resurrected for the Judgment after the Millennium.

Commonly Asked Questions Regarding Death

What about these few texts that are used to support the doctrine of "immortality of the Soul", meaning that when you die, you are still really alive, just in a different form - a "spirit" form?

A) What does Paul mean by the expression "absent from the body, and present with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:6,8)?

First, let's remember that Paul is the one who has stated the following:

1) Human beings do not have immortality, only God does (1 Tim 6:16).

2) We receive immortality when Jesus comes again (1 Cor 15:51-54).

3) Paul was waiting for the coming of the Lord for his final reward (1Tim 4:7,8).

4) That we "seek for immortality" (Rom 2:7) Why do we seek for it if we already have it?

In light of these texts written by Paul, we must seek to understand what he means by "absent from the body, and present with the Lord."

In Col 2:5, Paul writes to the Colossians, "For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in spirit, joying and beholding your good order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ."

Clearly, this is an expression that Paul is using to tell the Colossians that his thoughts are with them, even though he can't be there in person. He is not saying that his spirit has left his body and is "wafting" over to the Colossians.

In 1 Cor. 5:3, he uses an almost identical phrase as he chides the Corinthians for having fornicators in their midst. "And you are proud and have not mourned, that he that has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that has done this deed."

Again, Paul is speaking of being with the Corinthians in his thoughts but not actually being with them in person.

This, obviously, is an expression that Paul used often.

Now let's carefully dissect this passage: (2 Cor 5:1-8)

Vs 1: For we know that if our earthly house (physical body) of this tabernacle (tent) were destroyed, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Vs 2: For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.

Vs 3: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.

Vs 4: For we that are in this tabernacle (tent) do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

Vs 5: Now he that has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given unto us the earnest (down payment) of the spirit.

Vs 6: Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

Vs 7: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

Vs 8: We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Explanation: There are THREE conditions in this passage

1) Clothed with a temporary earthly body (denoted by the term "tabernacle")

2) Clothed with our permanent celestial body (denoted by the term "house from heaven" (vs 2)

3) Unclothed - naked (vs 3), an intermediate condition, which is not desirable which could well mean the state of death, a state of sleep, unconsciousness, awaiting the resurrection. Whenever Jesus mentioned death and disease, He described them as from Satan, and an ENEMY from which Jesus came to DELIVER US!

In addition, there is nothing in this passage to suggest that when Paul is absent from his temporary physical body that he will be IMMEDIATELY with the Lord.

Also remember that In all of his other texts, Paul describes human beings as mortal, NOT immortal.

B) Phil 1;21,23. Doesn't Paul imply that an individual goes directly to heaven at death by stating that he "desires to depart and be with Christ" and "death is gain"?

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose, I know not.

For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:"

The Bible does not contradict itself. Paul doesn't state one thing in one place and another someplace else. The apostle is clear. At the Second Coming of Jesus, the righteous dead are resurrected to receive their eternal reward (See 1 Thess. 4:16,17, 1 Cor 15:51-54)

Paul said "I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me AT THAT DAY..." 2 Tim 4:7,8. Paul looked forward to his crown of righteousness which he would get when Jesus comes.

Death, indeed, was gain for Paul. It meant freedom from the pain of a weary body, deliverance from the bondage of a Roman prison, and security from the temptation of Satan.

Also, Paul had, during his ministry, been beaten repeatedly, he had been stoned, imprisoned, shipwrecked and constantly hounded by the Jews who were plotting to kill him. Death would be a sweet relief, a sleep with no conscious passage of time for him. The next event he would experience after closing his eyes in the sleep of death would be to arise at the resurrection and "depart and be with Christ."

The passage in Phil1:21,23 does not state that Paul would immediately be with Christ when He died. Everything else Paul wrote would deny that interpretation.

C) The parable of the rich man and Lazarus. In this parable, the rich man goes immediately to hell and Lazarus goes to heaven. How does one explain this parable if the dead are sleeping. (Luke 16:19-31)?

It is important to note that this is a parable. It is the fifth in a series of five parts of a parable beginning with the parable of the lost sheep, Luke 15:3, where this is identified as a parable. (Remember, verses and chapters were added hundreds of years AFTER the Bible was written, and they were designated by uninspired translators, not by inspired Bible writers.)

The five parts of this parable are: the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost boy (prodigal son), the unjust steward and the rich man and Lazarus. Each part of the parable is designed to teach a different aspect of the same theme.

Two groups of individuals are the objects of this 5 part parable. On one hand are the Pharisaic aristocrats. On the other hand are the "tribute collectors and sinners", downtrodden and despised, the objects of contempt and loathing from the Pharisees.

In the first part of the parable, the "tribute collector and sinner" are the principal subjects. In the second, the sinner alone is seen. The fourth section parallels the second inasmuch as there the Pharisaic class is also seen by itself without any reference to their group. As the lost piece of silver demonstrated the utter helplessness of the sinner, so in the case of the Unjust Steward, the true character of the Pharisee is vividly portrayed.

The third and fifth sections of the parable group together both of the classes mentioned, and bring to a climax the great disparity which existed between them.

Jesus was using stories familiar to many in His audience. They were stories, parables, illustrations only. The story of the Rich man and Lazarus demonstrates clearly that it is a story only, and not fact. People do not actually have conversations between heaven and hell. Abraham must have had a very large bosom to contain all the individuals who go there. Do people from heaven actually visit people in hell? How could a finger tip, dipped in water, cool the tongue of a person who was being tormented in the middle of a fire?

D) What does Rev 6:9-11 mean when it describes the souls under the alter crying with a loud voice saying "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood?"

Personification is commonly used in the Bible to describe situations with symbolic language. After Cain killed Abel, the Lord said to Cain, "The voice of your brother's blood cries to me from the ground" ( Gen 4:10). Obviously, Abel's blood was not really speaking. According to Heb 12:24, "The blood of Jesus speaks better things than that of Abel." Again this is symbolic.

This passage communicates that God has not forgotten His faithful martyrs through the centuries. Their blood symbolically cries out for God to bring justice upon their persecutors and to reward the faithful ones with eternity.

E) Is the soul immortal?

The Bible uses the word "soul" approximately 1600 times, but NEVER ONCE does it use the expression "immortal soul." The word mortal means subject to death. The word immortal means - not subject to death.

The Bible plainly states "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." (Ezek 18:4) It does NOT say "The soul that sinneth, it shall continue to live, but in a different form."

God told Adam and Eve that if they ate of the tree of knowledge they would die. Satan contradicted God and said "Ye shall NOT surely die." ( Gen 3:4)

If a person doesn't really die, but just changes form, then, in the Garden of Eden, Satan was right and God was lying! But the Bible says "It is impossible for God to lie."

F) If the dead are asleep, how could the Witch of Endor bring the prophet Samuel back from the dead to speak to King Saul (1 Sam 28:15)?

Please note three important facts:

1) Throughout the Old Testament, God commanded that spiritualists be driven out of the land of Israel and be put to death. The Bible unmasks all spiritualism as the work of demonic, satanic forces (Deut 18:10-15, Isa 47:13,14).

2) Saul had previously rejected the prophet Samuel's counsel. The specific reason Saul inquired of the Witch of Endor was because he had first inquired of the Lord but received no answer. What Saul saw was NOT Samuel. The Bible declares the witch saw "gods ascending out of the earth" vs 13, and Saul "perceived" he saw Samuel (1 Samuel 28:14). Satan and his evil angels can masquerade as dead loved ones imitating both their forms and voices (Rev 16:14).

In addition, Samuel, a favored prophet of the Lord, would have certainly gone to heaven, if the soul is immortal. So why was he coming up "out of the earth"?

3) The ultimate result of Saul's visit to the Witch of Endor was not repentance, confession of sin and life, but despair, discouragement and death. (1Sam. 28:16,20,21, 31:3,4,9,10) Saul was deceived by Satan and surrendered his soul to demons.

G) Why does the Bible say that necromancy is an ABOMINATION to God? (Deut 18:11)

Necromancy is defined as communication with the dead. If dead people go immediately to heaven in spirit form, why would God call it an abomination for our dead relatives to come back in spirit form and talk to us?

Answer: Because our dead relatives are in the grave. And these "spirits" are demons masquerading in the form of dead loved ones. These beings are appearing to Christians in the form of their dead relatives. They can then tell Christians all sorts of falsehoods about heaven, God and other doctrines, and these Christians will believe it because they think it is coming from their dead loved ones whom they trust.

What does this say about the Mary apparitions? "Mary" is supposedly appearing in many places around the world, and giving messages to people. This is necromancy and the Bible says it is an abomination, because it ISN'T REALLY Mary. It is a demon impersonating her.

H) What does Peter mean when he talks about Christ preaching to the "spirits in prison" (1 Peter 3:19)?

In order to understand this text, we must read the entire passage (1 Peter 3:18-22). Verse 18 reveals that Jesus, the divine Son of God who was crucified for our sins, was "made alive" through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Verse 19 makes a transition and declares that it was by this same Holy Spirit that Christ spoke to the spirits in prison. When did He preach to these spirits in prison and who are the spirits in prison? Verse 20 tells us. In the days of Noah, the hearts of men and women were evil continually. They were in bondage to evil. They were "in prison."

Notice, it does NOT say these persons were in the grave, nor in hell.

When Jesus read His Messianic mission to those in the synagogue in Nazareth, He read from Isa. 61:1 where He said He was "sent to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound."

Clearly His mission was to speak to "the spirits in prison." The resurrection of Jesus "spoke" volumes to those in bondage to sin, about Redemption and Eternal Life available because of Jesus' sacrifice.

I) Where was Jesus' body when He was resurrected?

When Jesus was crucified and resurrected, He was 'wearing' His body. He didn't leave it in the tomb, where many Christians believe the body is left when the "spirit" goes to heaven. But when the women came to the tomb, the tomb was EMPTY! No body was found there.

And this was even BEFORE Jesus had ascended to heaven. He told Mary, "Do not detain me, I have not yet ascended to My Father." In addition, it was obvious that He was not in "spirit" form because Mary grabbed ahold of His feet. Later on Thomas touched Him - His hands and His side, and Jesus ate food to prove that He was not a "spirit."

J) What does Jesus, Himself, say about the state of death?

When Lazarus became ill, his sisters, Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus asking Him to come at once. But Jesus stayed where He was for two more days, then He told His disciples that He was going to Judea to see Lazarus.

Jesus said to His disciples, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps; but I go, that I may awaken him out of sleep." The disciples responded, "Lord, if he sleeps, 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." John 11:1-14

Here, Jesus Himself, designates death as a sleep.

In addition, when Lazarus was resurrected, he had been in the tomb 4 days, certainly long enough to go to heaven, if that is where righteous dead people go immediately. But when Lazarus was resurrected, no mention is made of him having been to heaven, nor did he make any mention of it.

If indeed the righteous dead go immediately to heaven, wouldn't it be cruel of Jesus to bring Lazarus back down to earth again, to live in this sinful world, and then die another death --- when he could have been in heaven all that time?

The obvious conclusion is that Lazarus had been in the grave all along, and had NEVER been to heaven, because when a person dies, he is asleep and knows nothing until the resurrection. The righteous will be resurrected at the first resurrection - - - when Jesus comes. And the wicked will be resurrected at the second resurrection, after the 1000 year millennium. (Rev 20:4-6)

K) What does the word "soul" mean?

The word "soul" in the Bible is used approximately 1600 times. It is used in referring to fish, animals, birds, and man. It means any creature that has the 5 senses: sight, smell, touch, hearing and tasting. It is never applied to plants (they cannot move) nor to inanimate objects that are not alive.

The word "soulish" is used often in the Bible. It is frequently mistranslated as "natural" (i.e. the "natural" man) when in fact, it should be the "soulish" man, meaning one who lives by sense knowledge (knowledge acquired through the senses), rather than by faith in God.

L) Aren't the "spirit" and the "soul" separate entities from the body?

In Genesis 2:7, it says "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."

Therefore: dust + breath = soul. This is what happened in creation.

In Eccl 12:7 we see the reverse - what happens in death.

"Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit (breath) shall return unto God who gave it."

The soul then just ceases to exist.

Jesus described death as a sleep, an unconscious state where you are not aware of anything.

Think about this: You are driving along and a huge truck and trailer hits your car. You are severely injured and unconscious. You are taken to the hospital unconscious. YOU DON'T KNOW ANYTHING. YOU ARE NOT AWARE OF ANYTHING.

Then you die. NOW - YOU KNOW EVERYTHING!??

It doesn't make any sense. And it's NOT Biblical.

M) If we immediately go to heaven or hell when we die, why do we need a judgment? Hasn't the decision already been made by God at the moment we die as to whether we are righteous or unrighteous?

There are numerous texts that speak of the judgment: Heb 9:27, Heb 10:26,27, James 2:13, 2 Peter 3:7, Jude 6, Jude 14,15, Rev 14:7. If the people who have died have already gone either to heaven or hell - - - and then the judgment occurs, would it be possible that they were actually sent to the wrong place? And some who were in heaven, must now go to hell and vice versa? Could God have made a mistake?

But God doesn't make mistakes, so what need is there for a judgment if God's decision has already been made at the time of death and each person has gone to his proper reward?

N) Why does the Bible so frequently speak of the joy of the resurrection, if everybody has already gone to one place or the other?

Many Christians believe that when a person dies, the body stays in the grave but the "soul" or "spirit" goes wafting back to heaven. They believe this "spirit" wafts around in heaven until Jesus' Second Coming, then it comes back down and climbs into its body for the resurrection.

Question: If the "spirit" has been doing just fine in heaven all this time, why does it need a body at the time of Jesus' Second Coming - - - or, for that matter, why does the "spirit" need a body at any time?

This idea of the "spirit" climbing back into a body in the grave is ludicrous. The Bible frequently speaks of the JOY of the resurrection, because those who have been asleep in their graves will be resurrected to eternal life and will be reunited with their loved ones.

In Conclusion:

After looking at ALL the evidence, ALL the texts regarding "Death" in the Bible, it is clear that death is a sleep, a state of lack of consciousness, as Jesus Himself so PLAINLY stated, and that the dead remain in the grave until either the First Resurrection which occurs at the Second Coming of Jesus, or the Second Resurrection, which occurs after the 1000 year Millennium.

Why is this SO IMPORTANT?

If you believe that good people go to heaven when they die, then when they appear to you or to others after they are dead, with messages from God or from Heaven, you will believe them. But the Bible says it is an abomination to communicate with the dead.

Deut 18:11 says, "There shall not be found among you anyone that makes his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that uses divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord."

divination: one who tries to foretell the future or explores the occult
observer of times: astrologer
enchanter: a sorcerer or witch
charmer: one who casts spells
consulter with familiar spirits: a spiritualist or a witch
wizard: a magician or sorcerer
necromancer: one who claims to foretell the future by alleged communication with the dead

But why would God declare it to be an abomination for us to talk to our dead relatives who are supposedly in heaven? Because our dead relatives are in the GRAVE, and NOT in heaven. So any beings who are impersonating our dead relatives, or any other dead person, such as the "Mary apparitions" are evil spirits (evil angels) who can exactly impersonate our dead loved ones or anyone else who has died.

Spiritualism, the belief that the dead survive as spirits which can communicate with the living, is now pervasive in this country and in the world. It is becoming "trendy" to be a witch. Beautiful witches are the focus of television shows. The enormously popular Harry Potter books are teaching witchcraft, casting of spells, paganism and spiritualism to children.

This is a VERY DANGEROUS phenomenon and opens up children and adults who deal with psychics, astrologers, fortune tellers, seances, Ouija boards, and any other type of spiritualism, to actual possession by satanic demons.

Please see the study on Spiritism.

© Lorraine Day, M.D. 2006. All Rights Reserved.
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