It's time now for Bible Talk. Join our hosts Gary Gibbs and John Bradshaw, speakers for the Amazing Facts Ministry, as they now open the Bible and discuss themes that affect your life today. Stay tuned because the next 15 minutes will deepen your understanding of God's word.
John Bradshaw: Hello friends and welcome to Bible Talk. I'm John Bradshaw and with me is Gary Gibbs. Gary today we've got a subject that concerns every single person listening to this program.
Gary Gibbs: That's right John. We're going to talk about what happens when you die. That's something that impacts every one of our lives.
John: Now as we study this subject and approach this subject, I think we all know that pretty well, but I'm generalizing here, but pretty well everybody falls into, well this one main camp of belief when you talk about what happens when people die.
Gary: And what would that be?
John: Well I'll tell you, I've been to enough funerals in my time to know that the preacher more often than not is busy preaching people all the way to heaven and well, to be honest; I've never heard anyone preached all the way into hell. The popular idea presented in church, in the media, in you names it, when a person dies they go to heaven.
Gary: That's right and you even find that all around the world that you'll find that even in the Hindu cultures, they don't teach that when you die, it's necessarily the end. They have them going into another sphere until they work themselves into heaven.
John: Now that's a good idea, that death isn't the end and that there is another sphere. But as we study today what we're going to find out here is exactly what that other sphere is. What happens when you die?
In my family we had a tragedy a few years ago, and this is my extended family. I have a niece who had a baby daughter who died seven ½ weeks old.
John: You can imagine the pain, the tragedy and the wrestling with that why did our little princess die. She had a big brother who's three or four years old at the time. Brian just couldn't understand why little Jessie wouldn't play with him anymore. Why she wouldn't smile and laugh and cry or whatever anymore and at the funeral why they were putting her into the grave. As he was still asking these questions, while that tiny little coffin was being lowered into the ground, a well meaning family member came to him and said, "Well Brian it's like this. Great grandpa was getting lonely in heaven. So God took baby Jessie to keep him company up there."
That's a variation on a very common theme, a very common idea.
Gary let's get into it. What really happens when you die? Let me put it this way, when somebody dies do the automatically, necessarily go off to heaven or some other place?
Gary: You know I think, John, when you study this, you have to go back to how God created man because that is simply just the reverse of the creation. So if you go back to Genesis Chapter two is where we have the story of how God formed man. It says there in Verse 7, "and the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul."
So what God did, he took the elements of the Earth and he fashioned it into a human being, the form of a human being. But it was a lifeless being. It wasn't until God bent down and actually breathed into the nostrils of the first man that man became a living soul. Now I think that's very crucial to notice that it was the dust of the ground formed by God uniting with the Spirit, the breath of God, that man became a living soul. It doesn't necessarily say that he had an immortal soul. It says the union these two things made him a living soul.
John: So are you saying that when a person dies, the soul does not go to heaven?
Gary: Exactly that's what the Bible says. John in Ezekiel 18 Verse four it says "the soul that sins it shall die." Now how many of us have sinned John?
John: All have sinned and have come short of the glory of God.
Gary: That's right and so all of us are going to die. It doesn't say that the souls go on and live in a different spirit. It says souls die. In fact the Bible uses the word soul over 1,600 times but never does it call it the immortal soul.
John: So what you're saying is that a soul isn't something that you have. A soul is what you are.
Gary: That's right and really if you're going to break it down, because the Bible also talks in one Thessalonians five that God wants to sanctify us, spirit, soul, and body. The soul when it's the uniting of a life force of God with the body is the moral character of the man. It's who we are. It's our thoughts, feelings, and purposes. That's who we are.
Well the Bible says that when we die, all that ceases to exists until the resurrection.
John: All right, if I don't have a soul then, surely I've got a spirit. Does the Bible say that I have a spirit? And I think you've used that same word before.
Gary: I did. The Bible actually refers to the word spirit in Genesis two when it talks about God breathed the breath of life into man. That word breath is translated in other places in the Bible as spirit. It's the Hebrew word "ruah" and it means spirit or it means breath.
Now it's not talking about a part of our being that has personality. It's actually talking about the life giving force of God that makes the heart tick and the lungs move and the blood pump.
John: So let me get this straight. I don't have a soul and I don't have a spirit, but instead as a living being, I am a living soul.
Gary: That's right. Listen to this text, this one right here, John, really convinced me that when I die, my spirit won't go to heaven and be singing and existing in heaven or existing in hell, if that was the direction I would go. For example, look at Job 27 Verse 3, it says "All the while my breath is in me and the Spirit of God is in my nostrils."
And notice, it's the Spirit of God and it's in the nostrils. Have you ever heard of the Spirit of God being in your nostrils, John?
John: Back in Genesis, "God breathed into his nostrils the . . . "
Gary: ". . . Breath of life."
John: So you're saying the breath and the spirit are the same thing.
Gary: Same thing. James 2:26 says, "The body without the spirit or the breath is dead." So they're one and the same. Now watch what happens when the spirit or the breath goes back to God. Psalm 146 Verse four "His breath goes forth he returns to his Earth in that very day his thoughts perish." Now that's different than what you were taught growing up isn't it?
John: You're telling me that when a person dies nothing goes anywhere. The person dies and for them, that's it. He's not taking a trip to heaven or hell, if anywhere; he's taking a trip to the mortuary.
Gary: That's right. If you were to die and go right to heaven, your thoughts wouldn't perish that day would they?
John: Exactly right.
Gary: Now Ecclesiastes 9:5 says, "For the living know that they'll die, but the dead know nothing. Also, their love, their hatred and their envy have now perished. So they're not going to live in a higher sphere where their knowledge increases.
John: Now, I do not expect you to be telling us today that when a person dies, that's it, blackness forever. You've got to have something up your sleeve. You've got to be prepared to say, now, OK, they don't go to heaven or hell straight way, but...So, give me the 'but'. What happens to a person, according to the Bible, when they die?
Gary: That's the good new of Christianity. Death is not the end. Death is just a brief interlude. The Bible says in Psalm 13, verse three, that death is a sleep. Consider and hear me oh Lord my God, enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep, the sleep of death. And, you know, there are over 50 times in the Bible when it talks about death as a sleep. In First Kings two, verse one: Now the days of David drew near that he should die. So David rested with his fathers and was buried in the city of David. And then you go and read in Acts chapter 2, it says that David was sleeping in the grave. He was dead and buried and still in their in the grave in Jesus' day.
John: Maybe this is metaphorical? Maybe it means the body sleeps while the soul goes somewhere else?
Gary: That can't be that way. Because it says that in that very day his thoughts perish. All of his emotions end, his love, his hatred, his envy. They all perish, They all cease to exist that very day.
John: And if I'm hearing you correctly, you cannot have the body going one way and the soul going another, because the soul, according to the biblical definition, is the union of body and breath.
Gary: That does not exist outside of that union.
John: OK, so you're saying, then, very clearly then, that death, is a...
Gary: ...restful sleep.
John: Alright. That's not what I was told as a child and I'm wanting you to show that to me in the Bible.
Gary: It's not what I was told either. But, it's what the Bible says, and I had to adjust my thinking when I started reading the Bible for what the Bible says.
John: Alright, I want you to show it to us in the Bible.
Gary: OK. John 11, verse 11 - a classic example of this. Jesus' best friend Lazarus falls ill, he's sick. His relatives come to Jesus and they say, Lazarus, your friend, is ill and we need you to come and heal him. And Jesus tells the disciples, our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may awaken him. In John 11, verse 11. And later his disciples are saying, well Lord, if he is sleeping, then he must be recovering. So, why don't we just let him sleep, and we don't have to make that long journey back there.
John: I'm guessing they were thinking, here's a guy who'd been ill, desperately sick. Now he's getting some sleep, this is good.
Gary: Exactly. But verse 13 says, however, Jesus spoke about death but they thought that he was talking about taking rest in sleep. Now, Jesus clarifies it. Verse 14: Then, Jesus said to them plainly, Lazarus is dead. So, Jesus used the metaphor of sleep to describe death.
John: Now, in this story, you go a little further on in John, chapter 11, and you've got the raising of Lazarus from the dead. To use your words, I guess that's the wakening him up out of his sleep. Have a look at that and see whether that sheds some light on this, whether that explains it any further.
Gary: And that's what I was referring to earlier. This is the good news of Christianity is death is not the end. You know when Jesus went to the tomb there where Lazarus was, Mary and Martha were there weeping and Martha was just heartbroken. And Jesus tried to comfort her, he said, your brother will rise again. And Martha said to him, in verse 24 of John 11, I know he will rise again at the resurrection at the last day.
John: Now, if she had had the idea, as so many people do today, that someone dies that they go straight to heaven or perhaps straight to hell, she surely wouldn't have made that statement, I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day. She might have said, oh Jesus, I'm so happy, because now he's in heaven praising the Lord.
Gary: But instead of being comforted with that, she was weeping and her faith looked forward to the resurrection day at the end of time. And that's where she found her comfort. But Jesus, then, turns the table right there. He wants to demonstrate to her that, yes, indeed, he will rise at the last day, and all those who sleep in Jesus will rise, because Jesus has the power. And, so Jesus right then resurrects Lazarus to demonstrate he has the power to bring us back to life.
John: And that's got to be comforting. The hope for Christians is that death isn't the end. There's going to be a resurrection, a great getting up morning. Christ is going to call, Lazarus come forth. It's going to be replicated millions and millions of times around the world, as those who've died in faith in Jesus Christ hear their names called and they're raised too.
Gary: Oh, it's going to be a wonderful time. And we can have that comfort that until the resurrection morning our loved ones are simply resting in the peaceful sleep of death. They're not tormented by looking down at the trials and the tribulations that we're going through on planet Earth. They're just resting and the last thought they had when they died will just continue when they're resurrected. In fact, it'll be changed because they'll see Jesus coming in the clouds of glory, so it'll be a happy, joyous thought.
John: Let's review where we've been today in Bible Talk. We've discovered that human beings do not possess a soul, rather a human being is...
Gary: ...a living soul.
John: And when a person dies, instead of going straight to heaven or hell or purgatory, or instead of it being the end, death is rather...
Gary: ...a restful peaceful sleep.
John: And thank God that we can have encouragement [theme music of programme begins in background] , we can assurance to know that it's not the end, because Jesus as he said to Martha is the...
Gary: Resurrection and the life.
John: Friends, thank God, for the hope we have in Jesus, the resurrection and the life. Join us again next time. We'll discuss this more on Bible Talk.
[theme music at full volume]
[different music begins]
Recording: If you'd like more information on what we've been studying today, we have a comprehensive Bible study guide we'd love to share with you that's absolutely free. This study includes many of the texts we've just discussed and expands on the subject, including information you'll want to know.
To receive this free, informative Bible study guide, simply call, write or email and ask BT110: Are the Dead Really Dead? The toll-free number is eight- six-six-BIBLESAYS, that's eight, six-six-two-four-two-five-three-seven-two. You can write to us at Bible Talk, PO Box one-zero-five-eight, Roseville, California, nine-five-six-seven-eight, or email us at email@example.com.
Bible Talk has been produced in association with Amazing Facts in the studios of Life Talk radio.