Now we need a little more background to further analyze the big picture against today's common beliefs.

The Bible says one thing and one thing only about "the state of the dead": They are asleep in the grave.

By God's definition, to be separated from Him is death. The state we call "dead," He calls "sleep." Why? Because He can wake us out of that state.

Every man, woman, and child who has ever lived on our planet, sleeps a dreamless sleep, and they all await one special occasion: their resurrection.

Yes, there are a few exceptions. Not everyone still remains asleep in the grave. Enoch walked with God, and God took him away. Moses was granted an early resurrection [JUDE 9], and Elijah was taken to be with the Lord without ever seeing death -- and several of the righteous came forth from their graves when Christ was resurrected. [MAT 27:52 and EPH 4:8] Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ upon the Mount of Transfiguration. [MAT 17:1-8] This event symbolized the two ways that man shall gain immortality at the second coming: the righteous dead shall be raised from their graves, and the living righteous will be "changed" without ever having seen death.

Death is not life in heaven, hell, limbo or purgatory. It is not life of any kind. Simply, non-existance. In death, the soul does not live, the spirit does not live. The words "souls" and "spirit" are used over 1600 times in the Bible, but not one time are either given any life or personality or wisdom or knowledge when separated from the body. Body plus Breath equals "soul" -- breath not referring to one's common breathing, but breath as the "divine spark of life," and when someone dies, the spirirt (breath) returns to God, not the disembodied soul.

Death is called "sleep" at least 50 times in the Bible. We are to regard it as a sound, dreamless sleep. Poking someone with a stick would be just about as useful as trying to get the attention of the ground by poking at the dirt. A person may have been in the tomb for 1,000 years, but when raised in the resurrection it will seem to him that he merely dozed off for a moment. This is why people who understand death are not afraid of it. It is almost like a leap through to the end of time.

Actually the term "sleep" for death occurs some 66 times in 17 different books of the Bible. This is clearly the Biblical term for death. Look up the rest of the texts that mention "sleep" as death. They are:

Jesus told us where the dead are in John 5:28-29, they all wait in their graves for the resurrection. Even David waits in his grave. [ACTS 2:29,34]

When a man dies, "his breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish," says Psalms 146:4. And Ecclesiastes 9:5-6,10 tells it very clearly: "The living know that they shall died, but the dead know not anything."

...This also means that they can not contact the living.

One text that many people use in their attempt to prove that people go to heaven at death instead of sleeping in the grave is Luke 23:43. These are the words of Jesus to the thief on the cross. It is amazing how one can do away with 66 clear texts of Scripture that refer to death as sleep and then use one or two obscure texts on which to build a whole theory. Examine the text:

On the surface it would seem to indicate that Jesus would meet the thief in heaven on that very day. But notice: did Jesus Himself ascend that very day? Upon His resurrection from the dead Jesus decalared:

Clearly then, on the morning of the resurrection -- three days after He said to the thief on the cross that he would be with Him in paradise that very day -- Jesus declared that He had not yet ascended to heaven. Either Jesus told a mistruth or many have misinterpreted Luke 23:43.

When the Bible was originally written there was no punctuation, no division into verses and chapters. These have all been added by men to make it easier to read and reference the Bible. Certainly we can be greateful for that. however, perhaps they have not always punctuated correctly... these translators are uninspired men, not getting the context directly from God. By changing a comma in Luke 23:43, let's notice how the text now harmonizes with the rest of the Bible:

Thus Jesus did not speak a lie. He did not promise the thief that he would be in paradise that very day, but only that he would be there when all the righteous of the ages would be there -- when Jesus comes the second time. rearranging the comma makes this text completely harmonize with the rest of the Bible. And remember, the punctuation was added by man; it was not inspired.

There are other cases where reading from the Hebrew we find by examing the grammar a case where in the Bible the word "king's" should have been written as "kings'" (plural).

Actually, the doctrine of "natural immortality" has its roots in pagan philosophy. From Genesis 3:4 we see Satan starting with "Ye shall not surely die." Note that God instructed Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit, for that day they would surely die. Eve and Adam did eat the fruit; both of them sealed their fate of death that day, Adam lived 930 years after that and then he died. He was supposed to continue partaking of the Tree of Life and continue to live forever. (Note it was the Tree of Life that continually sustained Adam and Eve, they were not immortal.)

From Oriental religions of the past, with their pantheism, pre-existance of the soul, and reincarnation. Also in the Egyptian version of the immortality of the soul, and then the delusion of the Persian dualism (eternal existance of good and evil -- neither good nor evil could defeat each other; thus both must alawys exist). From there it entered the Greek religions. If found its greatest period of acceptance and expansion during the fourth century B.C. under the pagan Greek philosopher Plato. During these years the Bible record stood almost alone in presenting man as a candidate for immortality, but not posessing it naturally. Then the Old Testament canon closed with the book of Malachi about 425 B.C. It was during this period between the writing of the Old and the New Testment, that Judaism became penetrated by the pagan teaching of the immortality of the soul.

It was Athenagoras, about 188 A.D., who became the first Christian Father to use the term "immortal soul." A few years later, Tertullian, who died in 240 A.D., further devloped the doctrine of the immortality of the soul into a system, adding the deadful corollary of eternal torment. His argument was that since all souls are immortal, the punishment of the wicked must also be eternal. So he stressed a sacred fire that never consumes, but renews as it burns, eternally killing, but never terminating.

The doctrine of natural immortality and eternal torment was further popularized by Jerome and Augustine. In fact, Augustine added such a great prestige to the doctrine that it became the predominant faith of the church for over 1,000 years. When the Reformation began, some of the reformers, such as Martin Luther, recognized the origin of the teaching of natural immortality, but through the influence of John Calvin and others, the bulk of the Protestant reformers continued to hold to the pagan teaching of the immortality of the soul and eternal torment of the wicked.

From the Methodist-Congregationalist clergyman, Amos Phelps (1805-1874): "This doctrine [of natural immortality] can be traced through the muddy channels of a corrupted Christianity, a perverted Judaism, and pagan philosophy, and a superstitious idolatry, to the great instigator of mischief in the garden of Eden. The Protestants borrow it from the Catholics, the Catholics from the Pharisees, the Pharisees from the pagans, and the pagans from the old serpent who first preached the doctrine amind the lowly boweks of Paradise to an audience all too willing to hear and heed the new and fascinating theology: 'Ye shall not surely die.'" ["The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers" by LeRoy E. Froom]

Believing that man's consciousness survives death, and that spirits of the dead can minister to the living, we see the growth of ...modern spirtualism! Seances, Ouija boards, supposedly able to contact relatives who've "passed on"... Here has been a channel regarded as sacred, through which Satan works to accomplish his purposes. The fallen angels do his bidding and appear as messengers from the spirit world, having the ability to resemble departed friends or loved ones... They claim to be happy in heaven, and thus is spread the error that there's no difference between righteous and the wicked. And, as confidence is gained, they present doctrines that directly undermine faith in the scriptures.

In the 1980's with excellent TV coverage, these spirits seem to have decided to "lay low." Back in the '30s and '40s, you had an abundance of seances -- today, the accent seems to be on mediums that let disembodied entities dictate and write books in which all sorts of "eternal truths" and amazing revelations are expounded upon with only the most "reverent" and "benign" intentions.

With the introduction of the recent New Age movement, it is now common to see channeling and spirtual hotlines on television. Such a growing acceptance has occured that there are television shows dedicated to ghost chasing. Every once in a while 'live footage' shows something moving, floating, and scientific instruments going wild recording heat, cold, magnetic fields, power discharges, unexplained forces, etc. Preparation for something phonominal appearing seems to be the path, where if something appeared instantly, people would reject it.

Yes, these disembodied and extremely intelligent entities only wish to "help," and do "good," to impart "wonderful truths" to us. The next thing they insist upon is that reincarnation is "true."

These fallen angels have been able to "target" certain individuals, to have amazing events and "coincidences" take place in their lives that win these people over to believing in occult philosophies. But the Bible directly forbids dealing with familiar spirts, it was called "an abomination to the Lord." This includes having contact with witchcraft, sorcerers, mediums, astrologers, palmists, psychic healers, etc. [LEV 19:31, 20:6, 20:27; 1 COR 10:20; EPH 5:11; ISA 8:19-20, 5:20; 2 THE 2:10-11]

There's currently a world-famous actress that has become the major "spokesperson" for reincarnation, and she claims that committing adultery is permissible because, if the attraction between those two people is strong, they were already lovers in a "previous life." And being gay is "okay" because that person just didn't overcome all their prior sexuality from their previous life. And, finally, reincarnation offers the ultimate boast: each and all of us survive eternally, and live life after life after life, "no matter what."

Spiritualism is Satan's masterpiece of deception, and its fullfillment is to be reached in the last remnant of time. Said the prophet, "I saw three unclean spirits like frogs;... they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of the great day of God almighty." [REV 16:13-14]

Now, there are some church groups that have taken upon themselves the gift of tongues. This gift of the spirit was given to Christ's disciples so they could communicate to foreigners in their own languages -- but, today people use it to glorify themselves and give them a feeling of being filled with the spirit. It comes out as gibberish that has to be "interpreted" by another who opens himself to the same "gift." This is dangerous. People just "let" another entity take them over... control them... speak unknown words that supposedly flatters God. This is not Good. A person should never "give in" to be dominated by another, wether it be through hypnotism, or being a medium, or to "speak in tongues." All of this is very dangerous.

The matter of speaking in tongues is often confused. The mention above shows how people of today treat it as magical gibberish. The real thing was meant for communication.

Another thing done backwards is the laying on of hands. We see people slap their hands to someone's forehead and scream "be healed." Signs and wonders weren't meant to be "what the show was about," it was sharing the message about the truth that was what was important. The signs, wonders, and prophecies are supposed to be confirmations of the truth. Miracles are never done to bring fame and fortune to the healer, but simply to glorify God. Back in Biblical days, healing was done with prayers said first and hands gently touching the person afterwards.

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See Also: DEATH THE ULTIMATE MYSTERY See Also: CONSTRUCTING A SOUL Related Topic: Thief on The Cross