Bible Basics (5th edition): A study manual revealing the joy and peace of true Christianity

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4.4 Death is Unconsciousness

From what we have learnt so far about the soul and spirit, it should follow that while dead, a person is totally unconscious. Whilst the actions of those responsible to God will be remembered by Him (Mal. 3:16; Rev. 20:12; Heb. 6:10), there is nothing in the Bible to suggest that we have any consciousness during the death state. It is hard to argue with the following clear statements concerning this.

§         “(Man’s) spirit (breath K.J.V.) departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day (moment) his plans perish” (Ps. 146:4).

§         “The dead know nothing...their love, their hatred, and their envy is now perished” (Ecc. 9:5,6). There is no “wisdom in the grave” (Ecc. 9:10) - no thinking and therefore no consciousness.

§         Job says that on death, he would be “as though he had not been” (Job 10:18-19); he saw death as the oblivion, unconsciousness and total lack of existence which we had before we were born.

§         Man dies as the animals do (Ecc. 3:19); if man consciously survives death somewhere, so must they, yet both Scripture and science are silent about this.

§         God “remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he is gone, and its place remembers it no more” (Ps. 103:14-16).

That death is truly unconsciousness, even for the righteous, is demonstrated by the repeated pleas of God’s servants to allow their lives to be lengthened, because they knew that after death they would be unable to praise and glorify God, seeing that death was a state of unconsciousness. Hezekiah (Is. 38:17-19) and David (Ps. 6:4,5; 30:9; 39:13; 115:17) are good examples of this. Death is repeatedly referred to as a sleep or rest, both for the righteous and the wicked (Job 3:11,13,17; Dan. 12:13).

Sufficient evidence has now been produced for us to state bluntly that the popular idea of the righteous going to a state of bliss and reward in heaven straight after their death, is simply not found in the Bible. The true doctrine of death and man’s nature provides a great sense of peace. After all the traumas and pains of a man’s life, the grave is a place of total oblivion. For those who have not known the requirements of God, this oblivion will last forever. Never again will the old scores of this tragic and unfulfilled natural life be raised; the futile hopes and fears of the natural human mind will not be realised or threaten.

In Bible study, there is a system of truth to be discovered; yet, sadly, there is also a system of error in man’s religious thinking, due to inattention to the Bible. Man’s desperate efforts to soften the finality of death have led him to believe that he has an ‘immortal soul’. Once it is accepted that such an immortal element exists within man, it becomes necessary to think that it must go somewhere after death. This has led to the thought that at death there must be some difference between the fates of the righteous and the wicked. To accommodate this, it has been concluded that there must be a place for ‘good immortal souls’ to go, called Heaven, and another place for ‘bad immortal souls’ to go, called hell. We have shown earlier that an ‘immortal soul’ is a Biblical impossibility. The other false ideas inherent in the popular reasoning will now be analysed.

1. That the reward for our lives is given at death in the form of our ‘immortal soul’ being assigned to a certain place.

2. That the separation between righteous and wicked occurs at death.

3. That the reward for the righteous is to go to heaven.

4. That if everyone has an ‘immortal soul’, then everyone must go to either heaven or hell.

5. That the wicked ‘souls’ will go to a place of punishment called hell.

The purpose of our analysis is not just negative; by considering these points in detail, we believe that we will express many elements of Bible truth which are vital parts of the true picture concerning man’s nature. And again, we’re not alone in these conclusions:

"The Bible nowhere says that we go to heaven when we die, nor does it ever describe death in terms of going to heaven. In the Old Testament, you went to sheol when you died". John Robinson, Bishop of Woolwich, On Being The Church In The World (Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1960) p. 156.

"Of a natural 'immortality of the soul' in the sense which our thought has inherited from Plato, Paul knows nothing. The race of Adam is doomed to death; life must be the gift of God". C.H. Dodd, The Epistle Of Paul To The Romans (London: Fontana, 1959) p. 141.

Bible Basics: Contents

Part 1: "The things concerning the Kingdom of God" Study 1: God 1.1  The Existence Of God || 1.2  The Personality Of God || Belief In Practice 1: Knowing God || 1.3  God's Name And Character || Belief In Practice 2: Grace (John Parkes) || Belief In Practice 3: The All Seeing God || Belief In Practice 4: God Is Omnipotent || Belief In Practice 5: Responding To The One God || 1.4     The Angels || Belief In Practice 6: God As Creator || Digression 1: God Manifestation || Digression 2:  Why The Trinity Was Accepted || Study 1: Questions Study 2: The Spirit Of God 2.1  Definition || 2.2  Inspiration || 2.3  Gifts Of The Holy Spirit || 2.4  The Withdrawal Of The Gifts || 2.5  The Bible The Only Authority || Digression 3: Is The Holy Spirit A Person? || Digression 4: The Principle Of Personification || Belief In Practice 7: The Implications Of Inspiration || Study 2: Questions Study 3: The Promises Of God 3.1  Introduction || 3.2  The Promise In Eden || 3.3  The Promise To Noah || 3.4  The Promise To Abraham || 3.5  The Promise To David || Belief In Practice 8: Covenant Relationship With God || Study 3: Questions Study 4: God And Death 4.1  The Nature Of Man || 4.2  The Soul || 4.3  The Spirit || 4.4  Death Is Unconsciousness || 4.5  The Resurrection || 4.6  The Judgment || Belief In Practice 9: Judgment Now || 4.7  The Place Of Reward: Heaven Or Earth?|| 4.8  Responsibility To God || 4.9  Hell || Digression 5: Purgatory || Digression 6: Ghosts And Reincarnation || Digression 7: The 'Rapture' || Belief In Practice 10: The Motivational Power Of Understanding Death || Study 4: Questions Study 5: The Kingdom Of God 5.1  Defining The Kingdom || 5.2  The Kingdom Is Not Now Established || 5.3  The Kingdom Of God In The Past || 5.4  The Kingdom Of God In The Future || 5.5  The Millennium || Digression 8: The Kingdom Of God Now (Graham Bacon) || Belief In Practice 11: What The Kingdom Of God Means Today || Study 5: QuestionsStudy 6: God And Evil 6.1  God And Evil || 6.2  The Devil And Satan || 6.3  Demons || Digression 9: The Implications And Origin Of The Belief In A Personal Satan || Digression 10: Witchcraft || Digression 11: What Happened In Eden? || Digression 12: Lucifer || Belief In Practice 12: Battle For The Mind || Study 6: Questions

Part 2: "The things concerning...the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 8:12) Study 7: The Origin Of Jesus. 7.1  Old Testament Prophecies Of Jesus || 7.2  The Virgin Birth || 7.3  Christ's Place In God's Plan || 7.4  "In the beginning was the word" || Digression 13: Jesus The Son Of God (Michael Gates) || Digression 14: Did Jesus Create The Earth? || Belief In Practice 13: Jesus Didn’t Pre-exist: And So What? || Study 7: Questions Study 8: The Nature Of Jesus 8.1  Introduction || 8.2  Differences Between God And Jesus || 8.3  The Nature Of Jesus || 8.4  The Humanity Of Jesus || 8.5  The Relationship Of God With Jesus || Belief In Practice 14: The Real Christ || Digression 15: How The Real Christ Was Lost || Digression 16: The Divine Side Of Jesus || Study 8: Questions Study 9: The Work Of Jesus 9.1  The Victory Of Jesus || 9.2  The Blood Of Jesus || 9.3  Jesus As Our Representative || 9.4  Jesus And The Law Of Moses || 9.5  The Sabbath || Digression 17 The Crucifix || Digression 18: Was Jesus Born On Dec. 25th? || Belief In Practice 15: The Meaning Of Christ’s Resurrection For Us || Belief In Practice 16: Christ Died For Me- So What Should I Do? || Belief In Practice 17: The Real Cross || Belief In Practice 18: The Inspiration Of The Cross || Study 9: Questions || Study 10: Baptism Into Jesus 10.1  The Vital Importance Of Baptism || 10.2  How Should We Be Baptized? || 10.3  The Meaning Of Baptism || 10.4  Baptism And Salvation || Digression 19: Re-baptism || Digression 20 The Thief On The Cross || Belief In Practice 19: The Certainty Of Salvation || Study 10: Questions Study 11: Life In Christ 11.1  Introduction || 11.2  Holiness || 11.2.1  The Use Of Force || 11.2.2  Politics || 11.2.3  Worldly Pleasures || 11.3  Practical Christian Life || 11.3.1  Bible Study || 11.3.2  Prayer || 11.3.3  Preaching || 11.3.4  Ecclesial Life || 11.3.5  The Breaking Of Bread || 11.4  Marriage || 11.5  Fellowship || Study 11: Questions ||