bible refs

What Happens at Death

What happens to us at death? God has set before mankind two paths that can be taken. One leads to eternal separation from God, called the second death. The other path leads to resurrection, a new body, and eternal life with Christ. Paul tells us in Romans that we are all sinners and on the path to eternal seperation from God, the second death, which is a final and permanent state, Romans 3:23. BUT, God sent His only son to pay the penalty of sin for all who would acknowledge Him as their Saviour. When one is born again, they receive a new spirit from God above and will eventually receive a new body and live eternally with Christ, Romans 5:15. Through the offence of one, namely the sin of Adam, as many that do not accept Christ are dead.

On the other hand, as many as do accept Christ find that by His grace they receive the gift of eternal life, Ephesians 2:8-9. This means that salvation is a free gift and there is nothing we ourselves can do to earn this gift. Isaiah tells us that all our good deeds, our own righteousness is as filthy rags to God, Isaiah 64:6.

Since there are two paths that are set before mankind, Matthew 7:13-14, the broad way of many paths that leads to destruction, and the narrow one path, through Jesus Christ, that leads to heaven. When does one have to make a choice? Do we still have a choice after we first die? The answer is no, the Bible does not support such teaching, Hebrews 9:27. What happens when you die depends on what happened before you died. The first death is the separation of the body and soul and, as we shall see later, this is not a condition of unconsciousness. Our decision for Christ must come before this first death, the separation of the body and soul, Hebrews 9:27. Clearly man must make a choice before death because after death comes the judgment.

When a "believer", or one who has trusted Jesus as Savior, dies his soul goes to be with Christ. Therefore his body, without it's soul, is buried in the grave, awaiting resurrection while his spirit and soul go to be with Jesus. Jesus told the thief on the cross that he would be with Him today in paradise, Luke 23:43. So it is clear we will be with Christ as soon as we die. Paul said ". . . to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord", 2 Corinthians 5:8, Philippians 1:21-24.

When Rachael died, the Bible tells us her soul departed and she was buried. This assures us that there is a separation of the soul and the body at death. The soul will go to heaven, with the body going to the grave where it will wait for the resurrection, Genesis 35:18-19.

For a "non believer," or those who have rejected God's offer of salvation, their body goes to the grave to await resurrection and their soul is sent to hell, where it is in conscious torment (Luke 16:19-31) until resurrected for the judgment at the Great White Throne. Only the lost are at the Great White Throne Judgment and all will be cast into a lake of fire, Revelation 20:15. No place does the Bible mention that there is a catholic purgatory or a place of annihilation. If one were annihilated upon the death of their body, there would be no punishment for sin, and there would be no Great White Throne judgment; punishment and judgment are clearly explained in the Bible, Revelation 20:12. The punishment in the lake of fire is eternal and they shall be tormented day and night forever, Revelation 20:10

In the New Testament in Matthew 22:32, Jesus says "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" and that He is the God of the living, and not the dead. "I Am" is present tense and this passage was written long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were buried, meaning that all three were alive when Jesus spoke this, and are alive today. This means that when one dies, they are in the presence of God.

Judgment at Death

In Hebrews 9:27 we are plainly told that judgment comes at death. In the end time, those who were believers prior to the second coming, will have been resurrected and have their new bodies long before the resurrection of the dead. Those that do not know Christ as their Saviour will be resurrected and stand before the Great White Throne in judgment. In Revelation 20:12-13 we see that the dead stand before God. These are those who have not accepted Christ as their Saviour. Notice that they will be judged by their works. Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 64:6 that all our righteousness are as filthy rags and this tells us that our works can never be good enough to enter into heaven, or be with Christ eternally. No one with sin will be allowed into heaven. Therefore, no matter how good we are, we will not be able to get into heaven. As we have already seen, the penalty of sin is death, Romans 6:23.

Since the penalty of sin is death, and after death comes judgment, how can anyone get into heaven? Christ died on the cross to pay for the sins of any who would believe in Him and trust Him for their salvation, John 3:16. Christ paid for our sins, and then His righteousness was imputed (credited) to our account. Now, when God looks at the person that has received Christ, He no longer sees the sin which has been cast as far as the east is from the west, but sees the righteousness of Christ. Christ was sinless, Romans 4:22-5:1. We get into heaven based on the righteousness of Christ, not our own, and this is another reason why Christ is the only way to salvation.

Those who did not accept Christ as Saviour before their physical death have lost this spiritual warfare. They will stand before the Great White Throne to be judged according to their works, and as we have seen, all their works are as filthy rags. Notice in Revelation 20:12 there are books, which are the books of the works of the dead, and then there is a book which is the book of life.

The dead are judged out of the books containing their deeds on earth. If judged according to our works we are all guilty, Romans 2:12-15. Note that these resurrected dead people were the lost, unbelievers, and judged out of the books containing their works. If their name is in the one of the books of works. it is not in the book of life. Those in the book of life have their sins paid for, never to be remembered again, and do not stand in the Great White Throne judgment, because their sin has already been judged on the cross. The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:2 that the saints (believers) shall judge the world and Daniel 7:22 tells us that judgment was given to the saints and don't overlook Jude 1:14-15. Those judged out of the book "s" are judged according to their works and will be given degrees of punishment according to their works.

How will those who accepted Christ as their Saviour be judged? They will be judged and rewarded, or have loss of rewards, according to the works they have done for Christ since they accepted Him as their Saviour. As we have already seen, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to those who accept Him as their Saviour. Their sins have already been judged and paid for at the cross Romans 14:10. The passage here tells us that all Christians will stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

We are told in 2 Corinthians 5:10 about appearing before the judgment seat of Christ and for what reason we will be there. At the judgment seat of Christ, judgment results in rewards or losses of rewards, not salvation. The rewards and loses are explained in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15. The foundation to be built upon here is Jesus Chris,t as indicated in the previous verses. This is speaking of those who have been saved and are building on the foundation of Christ. When a person is saved they are saved to do good works, they are not saved by their works, Ephesians 2:8-10

Does Anyone Deserve Death

There are some who claim eternal punishment isn't something a good God would do, and therefore we do not deserve hell. To be good, God must punish evil. Therefore, annihilation isn't a possibility. The lake of fire was prepared for the devil and his angels and it is an everlasting place. Angels were created with everlasting life and must not only be punished for their evil deeds, but contained everlastingly in a place separate from God's people and His Holy Angels. At the Great White Throne Judgment those who have rebelled against God are cast into a lake of fire which burns forever. For their disobedience toward God they obviously deserve hell.

Will there be people in hell who do not deserve to be there? The answer is no. God has made it clear that He does not want to lose anyone, but the choice is up to each individual, 2 Peter 3:9. Is there anyone that doesn't deserve hell? We can see in Romans 3:23 that all mankind has sinned, and in Romans 6:23, that the wages of sin is death. The death that is mentioned here is not our physical death, which is the first death, but is the second death in which the lost are cast into a lake of fire, Revelation 20:14, Revelation 21:8

God isn't the one who makes the decision as to whether we deserve hell or are unworthy of everlasting life, it is each individual, Acts 13:46. Mankind was created with a free will, otherwise everyone would be robots. It has been made known to all that they have a choice and it is their choice, heaven or hell, and not God's choice. If someone chooses to reject God's offer of salvation through His Son then they have made a choice to remain in the kingdom of Satan and eventually be cast into a lake of fire.

Obviously, if you ignore the word of God and push it away, you have made the decision as to your eternal destiny. Paul and Barnabas make it clear that if you put the word of God aside from you, and have chosen not to accept Jesus and follow His teaching, then you have judged yourself unworthy of everlasting life. But, then comes most people saying that they are a good person, don't do anything bad, so why would God punish me? This is a person who is self deceived because no one is good, Romans 3:10-12; Romans 3:23.

God gave His Son as a sacrifice so that He might be just and the justifier of those who obey Christ, Hebrews 5:8-9. Those who turn away from this sacrifice and reject God's offer must be punished. God has made a way for all men to gain entrance into heaven and eternal life in Christ. Those who reject this offer are unworthy of everlasting life, and have elected hell. God would not be good or just if He failed to punish disobedience.

What About Soul Sleep

There are a few denominations that believe in soul sleep, which is a false teaching. Soul sleep means that when we die our body and soul sleep in the grave until the resurrection. This would mean that the dead are not conscious at all, and therefore, no believers are yet in heaven or in hell. The fact that a believers soul goes immediately into God's presence means that this doctrine of soul sleep isn't correct. There are some occurrences in the Bible that speak of the state of death as sleep, or falling asleep. Sleep never means that one is unconscious. Our death is a separation of the body and the spirit, James 2:26, still conscious and the spirit and soul either go to heaven or hell at death, Hebrews 9:27.

One of the verses used to defend soul sleep is Ecclesiastes 9:5. Does the author really teach soul sleep here? No. Mankind is not composed of body alone, and if part of it goes to heaven, then the entire composition of man is not in the grave, Ecclesiastes 12:7. In these verses, and many other verses, it is clear that they are to be understood as being from the perspective of life in this world, without God. One example is Psalm 115:17 which says the dead do not praise God, neither any that go down into silence. However, we must keep reading to the next verse, Psalm 115:18 is speaking of those that believe and says that we will bless the Lord forever. We must keep the context of any verse in focus.

Soul sleep or consciousness? If mankind is in an unconscious, soul asleep in a grave in the earth, one must do something with Revelation 6:9-10. This verse takes place before the end, and before the resurrection. If there were souls under the altar crying out in loud voices, they certainly couldn't be in a grave in an unconscious sleep.

Take a look at Psalms 116:3, The Psalmist describes a time in his life like being in Sheol. This represents the state of punishment for lost people, immediately after the first death, the separation of the soul and body. He noted that there was pain, trouble, and sorrow. One cannot be asleep and experience pain, trouble and sorrow. Therefore, there is no soul sleep, and we will be conscious either in heaven as a believer or in hell as an unbeliever.

Does the soul stay with the body at death and enter the grave with the body in an unconscious sleep as taught by soul sleep, Genesis 35:18? This verse is teaching that the soul separates from the body at death, and if separated, it goes someplace other than the grave, to heaven if the person accepted the work of Christ, and to a place called hell if the person did not accept Christ.

If when one dies, and the soul dies and goes to the grave with the body, then one can never be absent from the body. Yet the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:6-9 that he would rather be absent from the body and be present with the Lord.

If the soul dies and is in the grave, then, according to the Matthew 10:28, it takes more than just the death of the body, one must also be able to kill the soul. Mankind and disease can kill our body, but not our soul. Matthew could not have written this verse if mankind were entirely mortal.

Christ said that if one is alive and believes in Him they shall never die. If body and soul die and stay in the grave until resurrection day then Jesus lied! That isn't possible, John 11:25-26.

Let's take a look at 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16. Here the word sleep is a metaphor for death which compares death to sleep. In the New Testament sleep is used only for believers, and is used to show what death is like. One who is asleep doesn't expect to remain asleep, they expect to arise at some point in time, and so the dead person continues to exist, expecting the resurrection of the body which is in the grave. The person who is asleep may have dreams but the dead person who is asleep in Christ will be present, soul and spirit, with God.

In Luke 16:19-31 we find the story of hell that Jesus told. This also indicates that the soul continues in existence after death and before the resurrection. The rich man died and immediately opened his eyes in hell. He recognized where he was, and that he was thirsty. He asked for a sip of water, and was told it was not possible. Then too, Jesus told the dying thief on the cross that he would be with Him today in paradise, Luke 23:43. Also see Acts 7:59; Matthew 10:28; and Revelation 6:9; Revelation 20:9.

Paul taught a separation of the soul and the body. He said he was torn between his desire to remain on earth in his body and his desire to depart and be with Christ, Philippians 1:23. Clearly, Christians are immediately with Christ after death. Again in 2 Corinthians 5:1-8 Paul indicates that to be away from the body is to be at home with the Lord.

The entire chapter of Hebrews 11 is called the chapter of faith. Paul spends an entire chapter telling us about faith and then, in Hebrews 12:1 he reminds us of the cloud of witnesses we are surrounded by. This implies that believers who have died and gone on to heaven are aware of what is going on here on this earth.

In the New Testament, in Matthew 22:32 Jesus says "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" and that He is the God of the living and not the dead. "I Am" is present tense and this passage was written long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were buried, meaning that all three were alive when Jesus spoke this, and are alive today.

Alive in Hell or Annihiliation

Some object to an eternal punishment, and deny the Bible teaches such. If one is to live in heaven, forever and forever, the same words are used to describe punishment in hell. So if one is to live in heaven forever and forever, the same definition must be applied to those who are punished in hell. The Bible tells us that, at the Great White Throne judgment, death, hell, and those who did not have their names written in the book of life, were cast into the lake of fire, Revelation 20:14-15. This everlasting fire was prepared for the devil and his angels, not mankind, but lost mankind will be placed there with the fallen angels, Matthew 25:41, because, like Satan, of their rebellion against God, and their refusal to accept God's provision for sin, the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. Punishment implies consciousness so it isn't possible for one to be annihilated and be punished.

Angels were created a little higher than man, and some people feel that God would not punish angels forever. It must be remembered that angels were created with everlasting life, Luke 20:36. If angels can die, then mankind can never have everlasting life. All angels were created with everlasting life, so it would be against the nature of God to destroy them in a lake of fire. If God destroys the angels, then the angels were not created with everlasting life and there is a conflict in the Bible. There is no conflict.

Since the fallen angels are evil, disobedient angels who live forever, what does God do with them in the end? God created them with everlasting life, and therefore He must hold them forever, without destruction, and to be just He must punish them. Therefore, He prepared a place especially for them to contain and punish them. The lost will join the the angels in the lake of fire after the Great White Throne judgment, Revelation 20:15.

Jesus also gives the length of punishment as everlasting, Matthew 25:46. If the word everlasting punishment doesn't mean everlasting, then we can never have the everlasting life that was promised to those who believe. The truth is, that everlasting means everlasting, so there is no conflict in the Bible.

For those who would like for hell and the lake of fire to be annihilation so they won't be punished for their sins, there is another problem. Since the Bible speaks of two deaths, how can a person be annihilated two times? Biblically speaking, when one who has rejected Jesus dies physically, they are held in hell, a place of punishment until they stand before the Great White throne. Then they are cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death - an everlasting punishment and everlasting separation from God. If being cast into hell means annihilation, then there can be no judgment for the second death, since that person has already been annihilated. The Bible speaks of punishment for sins, but annihilation means there can be no punishment for sin. One who is annihilated cannot be punished after annihilation.

In the book of Matthew, the fallen angels cried out to Jesus, "art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" This indicates the fallen angels were aware there is no means of salvation for them, and that instead of annihilation they will be tormented, Matthew 8:29.

Can We Contact The Dead

Should we attempt to contact our dead relatives or friends? The short answer is no, but God has lots to say about the effort to make contact with the dead. God lets us know in His Bible that it is not possible for us to contact the dead, and goes on to explain the great spiritual dangers that are lurking for anyone who attempts to do so.

What are these spirit beings that mediums, channelers, psychics, and others are contacting? Making contact with a spirit is to make contact with a disembodied being. The Bible says that being is a familiar spirit, a demon. People have a desire to contact their dead friends or relatives for various reasons and looking for information on the future. They end up contacting a familiar spirit who has known the person in question all their life, and misleads and lies.

Channelers make contact with spirit beings other than the dead such as fallen angels, enlightened beings or advanced spiritual beings. They allow the spirit to speak through them and relay the message to the person involved. The channelers, and others who contact the dead, work through what the Bible calls familiar spirits. These will be explained shortly.

What does God have to say about contact the dead? It is prohibited, Deuteronomy 18:10-14. This shows us that we should never inquire of a wizard, a witch (sorceress) soothsayer, astrologer, or a fortune teller, or actually, that we should not deal with anyone who consults with familiar spirits. Let's take a look at the biblical meaning of these words.

Divination - is an act of obtaining secret knowledge, and especially a knowledge of the future. It means to give false prophecy, or to seek to determine the will of the gods by examining and interpreting omens, Ezekiel 21:21.

Observer of Times - is one who foretells the future by observing the times, Leviticus 19:26; 2 Chronicles 33:6.

Enchanter - is one who tells the future based on signs or omens. This could be a palm reader, a fortune teller or an astrologer who proclaims to tell the future by the movement of the stars, 2 Chronicles 33:6.

A Witch - is one who summons a spirit by magical power, one who practices magical incantations. A witch is also referred to as a sorceress. God's instruction in Exodus 22:18 was to not suffer a witch to live.

A Charmer - is one who casts spells through chanting, or one who ties knots, who binds other people by magic mutterings.

A consulter with familiar spirits - is one who professes to call up the dead to answer questions such as a psychic or medium, a fortune teller, a seance leader, sorcerer, necromancer, witch, wizard, enchanter etc. A consulter is one who contains the demon summoned up. This demon spirit that is summoned up is a spirit that is familiar with the dead person, having been with them during their life. These spirits are evil, they are the fallen angels of the Bible, Leviticus 19:31, Leviticus 20:27.

Wizard - is used of those pretending to be wise in supernatural power or intelligence and is the masculine of witch, Leviticus 20:5-6, Leviticus 20:27.

Necromancer - is one who inquires of the dead. This is a consulter that attempts to contact the dead for advice or information on the future, or help in manipulation. It was a necromancer that contacted Samuel, 1 Samuel 28:7. Samuel's spirit came forth when summoned but his spirit came forth not by the power of the devil nor the incantations of the woman with the familiar spirit. That the actual spirit of Samuel came forth instead of a familiar spirit was a total surprise to her, 1 Samuel 28:12. God did not hold the woman responsible in this incident but he did hold Saul responsible for consulting the woman with a familiar spirit, 1 Chronicles 10:13-14.

Some occult magic is often fraudulent and is just deceitful illusion. Other instances of occult magic are the manifestation of demonic powers, or the result of demon possession. Many of the instances of people having familiar spirits include things that are against the doctrine of Christians. If one follows the path of magic arts, they are on the wrong path, and on a path that leads away from God and to an everlasting lake of fire. This is the purpose of the misleading doctrines taught by these demons, 2 Corinthians 11:13-14, Isaiah 8:19.

God has obviously condemned seeking information from those who deal with familiar spirits. These are evil and provide an avenue for entrance of demons into a persons life. Divination, transcendental meditation, visualization, necromancy, witchcraft all provide an entrance in our life and are to be avoided. God will provide all that we need, and has also provided a way to deal with the devil and his demons. He has given the believer the armor of God. This is spiritual armor for a spiritual warfare, Ephesians 6:11-18


Romans 10:9-10
Romans 10:13

Romans 10:9-10
Romans 10:13

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