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

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The Way to Eternal Life
“The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”

The Way to Eternal Life

The constantly repeated message of the Gospel is that the way to eternal life is through the work of Christ.  Those obedient to God’s commands will spend immortality in a state of perfection – the reward for righteousness.  This being the only immortality of which the Bible speaks, it follows that the conscious eternal suffering for wrongdoing is without Biblical support.

Immortality Conditional

Immortality is conditional, and is not something which we naturally possess, as the following passages prove:




What is the Soul?

In the light of the foregoing it ought to be inconceivable that man has an ‘immortal soul’.  The Hebrew ‘Nephesh’ and Greek ‘Psuche’, which are translated ‘soul’ in the Bible are also translated as:  body, breath, creature, heart, mind, person, himself.  The ‘soul’ therefore refers to the person, body or self.

Man and Beast

There is no difference between man and animals in our fundamental nature and death:


Death of the Soul

A very basic fact is that all “living creatures” eventually die.  About a third of the words translated ‘soul’, are associated with the death and destruction of the soul.  This shows that the soul cannot be something which is immortal.  For example:


That the ‘soul’ refers to the person or body rather than some immortal spark within us is shown by the majority of verses where the word occurs.  Some examples:


This is proof that the soul does not refer to any spiritual element within man; here, ‘soul’ just means one’s physical life.

The Spirit of Man

The Hebrew (‘Ruach’) and Greek (‘Pneuma’) words for ‘spirit’ are also translated in the following ways:  life, spirit, mind, wind, breath.

God uses His spirit to preserve the natural creation.  The spirit of God within man is therefore the life force within him, as these verses demonstrate:


The spirit of life is given to us at birth, and remains as long as our body is alive.

The Removal of God’s Spirit

When God’s spirit is withdrawn from anything, it immediately perishes.  If God “should gather to Himself His spirit and His breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust” (Job 34:14-15).

When God takes away His spirit from us at death, not only does our body die, but our entire consciousness ceases.  “Do not put your trust in princes…. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish” (Psalm 146:3-4).

At death, “the dust will return to the earth as it was; and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).  When we die we ‘breathe our last’ in the sense that God’s spirit within us departs from us.  That spirit is absorbed into God’s spirit which is all around us; so at death “the spirit will return to God”.

Death is Unconsciousness

The Bible makes it clear that we have no consciousness during the death state:


Death is repeatedly referred to as a sleep or rest, both for the righteous and the wicked:  “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake”; “But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days” (Daniel 12:2, 13.  See also Job 3:11, 13, 17).

Sufficient evidence has been produced for us to bluntly state that the notion of the righteous going to a state of bliss in heaven at death, is simply not found in the Bible.


The Bible emphasizes that the reward of the righteous will be at the resurrection, at the coming of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:16).  Paul said that if there is no resurrection, then all effort to be obedient to God is pointless (1 Corinthians 15:32).  Surely he would not have reasoned like this if he believed that he would also be rewarded with his ‘soul’ going to heaven at death?  The implication is that he believed the resurrection of the body to be the only form of reward.

Christ encouraged us with the words “you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14).  At his return, Christ “will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21).  As he now has a literal bodily form, energized purely by Spirit rather than blood, so we will share a similar reward.

Our Reward – Life with an Immortal Body

At the judgment we will be rewarded for how we have lived this life in a bodily form (2 Corinthians 5:10).  The ungodly retain their present mortal body, which will then rot back to dust.  Those who have tried to overcome the mind of the flesh with that of the Spirit “will of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:8) in the form of a Spirit-filled body.

There is ample evidence that the reward of the righteous will be in a bodily form.  Once this is accepted, the vital importance of the resurrection should be apparent.  Our present body clearly ceases to exist at death; if we can only experience eternal life and immortality in a bodily form, it follows that death must be a state of unconsciousness, until such time as our body is re-created and then given God’s nature.  Our present body will then be changed to an immortal one (Philippians 3:21).

Through baptism we associate with Christ’s death and resurrection, showing we believe we too will share the reward which He received through His resurrection (Romans 6:3-5).  Through sharing His sufferings now, we will also share His reward (2 Corinthians 4:10; Romans 8:23).

This hope of a literal bodily reward has been understood by God’s people from earliest times (Isaiah 26:19).  Job knew that although his body would be eaten by worms, he would, in a bodily form, receive his reward: “my redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth:  and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25-26).


The Place of Reward:  Heaven or Earth?

The following passages show that earth, not heaven will be the location of God’s Kingdom.




The Bible teaches that hell is the grave, where all men go at death.  The Hebrew word ‘sheol’, translated ‘hell’, means ‘a covered place’.  A good translation of this word is ‘grave’.  The following examples of ‘sheol’, should torpedo the popular conception of hell as a place of fire and torment for the wicked:


Seeing that ‘hell’ is the grave, the righteous will be saved from it through their resurrection to eternal life.  The supreme example is that of Jesus, whose “soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption” (Acts 2:31 KJV) because he was resurrected.  That Christ went to ‘hell’ should be proof enough that it is not just a place where the wicked go.


What happens to sinners?

God does not impute sin to those ignorant of His word (Romans 5:13).  Those in this position will remain dead.  Those who have known God’s requirements will be resurrected and judged at Christ’s return.  If wicked, they will be punished with death and stay dead for ever (Revelation 2:11; 20:6).  It is in this sense that the punishment for sin is ‘everlasting’, in that there will be no end to their death.

It is one of God’s principles that the punishment for sin is death (Romans 6:23; 8:13; James 1:15).  Death is a state of complete unconsciousness.  Sin results in total destruction, not eternal torment.  (Matthew 21:41; 22:7; Mark 12:9; James 4:12).

Unconsciousness – the Practical meaning of Death

There can be no activity in the grave…. Therefore now is the time to live a life active to the absolute maximum in the Lord’s service (Ecclesiastes 9:10-13).  Moses pleaded with God to make time-frittering Israel see the implications of their mortality; having eloquently spoken of the tragedy of our mortality, he concludes:  “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

The tragic brevity of life means that we should quit time wasting follies.  The fact we are going to die relatively soon, and lie unconscious, drives the man who seriously believes it, to faith in the God of resurrection.  Death being like a sleep, it follows that judgment day is our next conscious experience after death. Because death is an ever more likely possibility for us, our judgment is effectively almost upon us.  And we must live with and in that knowledge.

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 ||