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Does death mean death, or immediate life in some other form?

   At some funerals you'll hear the minister say: "He is now up in heaven looking down at us." Do you believe him? If you do, then would you also believe him if he said, "He is now down in hell looking up at us?"
   Each of these statements is a judgment made by man. We are enjoined not to judge others, Romans 14:3. We shall be judged by the same rules we use to judge others, Matthew 7:1 - 2. The popular notions conveyed by these opening statements concerning the dead are totally unscriptural. Then why do some continually advance lies by using such erroneous statements? Either they want to comfort the mourners by the first or would use the second as a scare tactic. But what does the Bible say?
   The creation story in Genesis tells us that we are madeofdust.Theelementsthatcomposeourbodies are also found in the earth. When Yahweh "breathed into man's nostrils the breath of life," a living soul came into existence. It was not alive before that time. James 2:26 says: "For the body without the spirit is dead." Just before Yahshua the Messiah expired, as is found in Luke 23:46, He said: "Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit."
   The spirit referred to in each of these Scriptures, which is given to us from Yahweh at birth, is the force that allows us to become a living soul. Without it we are dead.
   In Luke 8:49 - 56 Yahshua overheard someone saying that a woman had died. Yahshua went into the house where the dead woman was and said: "Maid arise." Immediately this woman's spirit returned and she arose. Without the spirit she was dead; with it she was alive.
   This "breath of life" we received causes blood to be transported to all parts of our body, providing nourishment and removing impurities. But when this breath of life is removed the flow of blood ceases.
   We are forbidden to eat or drink blood because "the life of the flesh is in the blood," Leviticus 17:11, 14. This is true of all members of the animal kingdom, including man.

How Final Is Death?
   Besides the ceasing of normal body functions at death, the Scriptures tell us the following about death: the dead know nothing, Ecclesiastes 9:5,10; the dead have no thoughts, Psalms 146:4; the dead cannot love, hate or envy, Ecclesiastes 9:6; and the dead cannot work nor possess wisdom, Ecclesiastes 9:10.
Death, then, is a state of total unconsciousness. But, you might ask, what about Lazarus and the rich man or the other Scriptures indicating that dead people talk? The account of Lazarus and the rich man, given in Luke 16, is a parable used solely to convey the meaning expressed in verse 31: unless we accept the truth there is no hope of eternal life.
   The accounts in the Scriptures indicating that the dead speak are as symbolic in nature as the accounts like Judges 9 where different forms of vegetation are speaking.
   The Bible never says one thing and then contradicts itself later. The dead are dead. The first irrefutable action that takes place upon death is that the spirit ― the breath of life ― returns to Yahweh Who gave it to us, Ecclesiastes 12:7. All body and mind functions stop. We do not live again until the resurrection. If we didn't really die, but floated off like spirits, there would be no need of a resurrection, would there? Yet the Bible promises a resurrection from the dead, John 5:28 - 29.
   The version of Lazarus and the rich man, given in Luke 16:19 - 31, also brings out another important fact. Some religions and denominations believe in baptism for the dead as well as in performing righteous acts for the dead so that the dead person's heart can be made pure. However, in Luke 16:26, we read that nothing can be done for a dead person to change his or her final judgment ― either everlasting life or damnation.
   After one dies that person's future status cannot be changed by anyone. Yahshua judges us on what we do, and not on what others do for us (See Prov. 24:2; Matt. 16:27; and Rev. 20:13). Paul equates death to falling asleep, being unconscious of what is going on around us.
   The Scriptures say that when death occurs the dead go to the grave and not to heaven or to hell or to a state in which their hearts are purified. Why? In 1 Corinthians 15:17 - 18, we read that if Yahshua had not been raised from the dead all would perish. Paul wrote in Hebrews 11:39 that even our illustrious forefathers, Abel, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, died "not yet receiving the promise."
   So why do some people believe something else occurs between death and the resurrection? They perhaps want to believe it just as much as Adam and Eve did when the father of all liars, Satan, told Eve, "You shall not surely die," Genesis 3:4.

Born to Die, For Now
   The second irrefutable fact about death is that nothing else occurs to us between death and the resurrection. No one, including ourselves, can do anything to alter our future status. This definitely rules out man's having an immortal soul. Man was born mortal and remains mortal until he dies, or until the Messiah returns. The account given in 1 Corinthians 15 tells us that mortal shall be made immortal and "corruption shall put on incorruption" ― when Yahshua returns to set up His Kingdom and not before.
   As Genesis 2:7 says, we are formed from the dust of the earth. When we are born, the process of dying begins. Cells in our body die but are replaced by new ones. When we die, this process stops. When all the cells die, our body decomposes back to its original state ― that of dust ― as Ecclesiastes 12:7 indicates.
This is the third irrefutable fact that occurs when someone dies ― his body returns to the earth.
   The final irrefutable fact about death concerns what occurs at the time Yahshua returns for judgment. Hebrews 9:27 reads: "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." Yahweh has given to Yahshua the Savior the task of judging all mankind, John 5:22. We shall all stand before the judgment seat of the Messiah (Romans 14:10) to receive either the resurrection unto everlasting life or unto everlasting damnation. See John 5:28 - 29 and Daniel 12:2.
   One of man's basic instincts is self-preservation. Man wants to hold onto life until it is impossible to do so. Because of this he tends to fear death. No one really knows how he or she will handle the situation until it happens.
   Because we do not know when we shall die, all we can do now is set our lives aright and have faith and assurance that when Yahshua returns He will say unto us: "Well done, good and faithful servant ... enter into the joy of your Master," Matthew 25:21.
   Prepare for a resurrection to life by following Biblical precepts. That is man's only hope for life.

-Elder Roger G. Meyer

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