A somber mood lingers… one less life on earth begins their journey. The black hearse pulls up to the curb. As it latches closed, it makes a distinctive noise only heard by those who no longer exist. The driver waits for the breezeway gates to slowly open. In a dignified pause, the inherited remain to honor what’s left of an era.
So, the journey begins across a herringbone walkway. Winding along the cobblestones of the cemetery, it’s a poetic view. Memories of many others, awaiting their turn to be eternal with God, lie in peace. The limousine turns in through a wrought-iron fence where Wye oaks litter the lawn. Families follow in due respect, honoring protocol.
Pallbearers stand in line behind the hearse. The coffin is guided respectfully along a path of boxwoods to the final resting plot. It is empty of a body and soul which will soon return to dust. One day, God will make His grand entrance to take them home – away from the cold and damp, pain and suffering. But for now, they wait on the last ride to heaven’s gates.
What Does the Bible Say About Death?
“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Are you going straight to heaven or to the burning inferno after your funeral? Well, neither answer is accurate… at least not yet. The Christian Bible, in over fifty verses, compares death to a state of sleeping, a state of unconsciousness. One such verse is:
For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten.
But many believers think the soul is an immortal entity which continues living after death. This is a pagan belief initiated by the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, and Greek philosophers. Then, the two Jewish sects, the Essenes and the Pharisees, adopted the same theory. The Jewish Encyclopedia states:
“The belief in the immortality of the soul came to the Jews from contact with Greek thought and chiefly through the philosophy of Plato.”
Later, Christianity absorbed Plato’s same hypothesis that our soul is in a better place than living in this fallen world. It certainly gives us hope, especially if we’re masked as an evildoer. But, according to the Living Bible, a soul living after death is incorrect. Let me explain why this not so and the answer is found in the Bible.
In the beginning, God formed man by dust and breathed into his nostrils to become a living entity. However, when death occurs, the body dies (returning to dust) and the soul ceases. If it lived on, this would make us immortal, and the Bible clearly states only God is never-ending.
1 Timothy 6:16
“…who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion.”
It’s a marvelous Lord we serve for He promises us eternal life if we righteously serve Him while on earth. But, as deceased bodies, we remain in the grave, asleep, until the trumpets of the Lord sound and judgment day arrives for all believers. We will receive immortality when Jesus comes to take us to paradise.
But, those who fall short of living in God’s word will be raised to life in a separate resurrection called the “resurrection of condemnation.” I can only imagine how many will live to see this day.
Many unpleasant questions arise about death. As believers, though, we can be self-assured knowing God is preparing a better place for us, known as paradise in the Bible, for all who loves, praises and believes in Him, regardless of religion. He will perfect our hearts in holiness, and we will live on in His perfect grace and beauty. We will swallow death up in victory as we take the last ride!
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