What Happens When A Person Dies?
We get shrunk back when we, at the first, hear a child ask “What does it mean to die?” We have difficulties to speak or even to think of the death of our beloved one. The death is a common enemy of all the people everywhere.
What are the answers to the difficult questions relating to death? Does life go on after one’s death? Will we again see our beloved ones that are dead?
- 1. FEARLESSLY CONFRONTING DEATH
All of us, in certain moments, maybe shortly after the death of our deceased friend or our beloved one, feel our hearts empty_ a loneliness feeling upon us, filling us with the sorrow of the ending of life.
With regard to an important subject, full of emotions, where can we learn the truth, pertaining to what happens when we die?
Fortunately, part of the mission of Christ, here on earth, was to deliver them
“who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:15). In the Bible, Jesus presents comforting messages, and clearly gives answers to all our questions related to the death and the future life.
- 2. THE WAY IN WHICH WE WERE CREATED BY GOD
For us to understand the truth relating to death in Bible, we need, of course, to start from the beginning, for us to see how we were created by the creator God.
“And the LORD GOD formed man [‘adam’, hebrew] of the DUST OF THE GROUND [‘adamah’], and breathed into his nostrils THE BREATH OF LIFE; and man became A LIVING SOUL [‘SOUL’, hebrew]”. Genesis 2:7 (otherwise all the biblical texts of the series BIBLICAL DESCOVERY are of the New International Version of the Bible [NIV].).
At creation, God formed Adam of “the dust of the ground”. He already had brain in his head to think; blood in his veins to circulate. Then, God breathed in his nostrils “the breath of life”, and Adam became “a living soul”. Note carefully that the Bible did not say that Adam received a soul; instead, it says “the man became a living soul”. When God gave the breath of life to Adam, the life started to flow from God. Joining the body to the “breath of life” turned Adam into “a living being”, “a living soul”. So, we could write the fundamental equation of the human being this way:
“Dust of the ground”+ “breath of life”= “a living soul”
Body without Life + Breath of God= Living Being.
Each one of us has one body and one rational mind. As long as we continue to breath we will ever be living beings, living soul.
- 3. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A PERSON DIES?
When death hits upon a living being, there is a reversing of the creative process described in Genesis 2:7:
“Then shall the dust return to earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it”. Ecclesiastes 12:7
The Bible frequently uses the Hebrew word “breath” and “spirit” alternatively. When the people die, the body becomes “dust” and the “spirit” (the “breath of life”) returns to God, whose source He was. What happens to the soul?
“As I live, saith the Lord,…behold, all souls are mine;…the soul that sinneth, it shall die’’. Ezekiel 18:3, 4; Holy Bible KJV 1611
The soul does die! It is not immortal; it may perish.
The equation from Genesis 2:7, on how were made by God, it shows up the opposite in death.
“Dust of the Ground” –“Breath of Life”= “A Dead Soul”
“A Dead Body” – “Breath of God”= “A Dead Person/soul”
Death is an end of life. The body gets rotten and then it turned into dust
Death is the ceasing of life. The body falls into pieces turns into dust, the breath, or spirit, returns to God. We are a living soul, but in death, we turn into a dead body, a dead soul, a dead being. As a matter of fact, the dead are no longer conscious of anything. When God takes back the breath of life that He has given us, our soul dies. Yet, as we will see later this very lesson, we have hope with Christ.
- 4. HOW MUCH DOES A DEAD PERSON KNOW?
After death, the brain goes numbed; it no longer has capacity to know and recall something. All the human emotions cease.
“Also their love, their hatred, and their envy, is now perished;…”. Ecclesiastes 9:6
A dead person is no longer conscious. So, they do not perceive anything happening. They truly have no contact with the living:
“For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing”. Ecclesiastes 9:5
The death is a state of sleep without any dream; in fact, the Bible calls the death “sleep” 54 times. Jesus taught that death is like a sleep. He said to his disciples:
“Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may wake him up out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit, Jesus spake of his death: but they thought he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead”. John 11:11-14
Lazarus was dead for four days when Jesus came. Yet, when he went to the tomb, Jesus proved how easier it is for God to raise a person from dead than it is for us to wake up a person from sleep.
It is very comforting to know that our beloved ones that are dead are “sleeping”, resting in peace, with their trust put in the Lord Jesus. The tunnel of death that we shall, one day, travel is a peaceful sleep and an absolute peace.
- 5. HAS GOD EVER FORGOTTEN ABOUT THOSE WHO SLEEP A DEEP SLEEP IN DEATH?
The death’s sleep is not the end of the story. At the tomb, Jesus told Mary, the sister of Lazarus:
“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live”. John 11:25
Those who die “in Christ” sleep in the grave, but they still have a brilliant future. He that even counts the hairs of our head and that keeps us in the palm of His hand, will never forget us. We may die and return to dust but registry of our individuality remains clear in very mind of God. And when Jesus comes, he will awaken the righteous sleeping a deep sleep in death, in like manner that he did to Lazarus.
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope…For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words”. 1 Thessalonians 4:13, 16-18
On the resurrection day, the tunnel of death will be more like a short rest. The dead know nothing of what is happening. Those who accepted Christ as their personal Saviour, will awakened from the sleep by his marvellous voice from heavens.
Not only is there hope of resurrection: but also is there a hope for a heavenly home in which “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Those who love God need not be afraid of death. Besides death, there is an eternity of life with God. Jesus has “the keys of death” (Revelation 1:18). Without Christ, the death would be the only hand street that would end up in a total state of forgetfulness. But in Christ there is a glorious hope.
- 6. ARE WE IMMORTAL BEINGS?
When God created Adam and Eve, they were created mortal beings, that is, subject to death. If they remained obedient to God, they wouldn’t have died. But, when they sinned, they broke off their right to life. Due to disobedience, they were subject to death. Their sin affected the whole human race, and since everyone has sinned, all of us are mortal, subject to death (Rom. 5:12). And, throughout the Bible, there is no writ that says that after death the human soul goes on living.
The Bible never describes the soul as immortal, that is, not subject to death. The Greek and Hebrew words for “soul”, “spirit”, and “breath of life” come 1.700 times in the Bible. Yet, never is the soul, the spirit, and the breath of life said to be immortal! Only the Lord actually possesses immortality.
“God…is…who only hath immortality”. 1st Timothy 6:15, 16
The scriptures make it clear that people in this life are mortal: subject to death. But when Jesus returns, our nature will have a radical change.
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, this mortal must put on immortality”. 1st Corinthians 15:51-53
As human beings, we are not immortal. But the great hope for the Christian is that we will become immortal on Jesus’ second coming to this earth. The certainty for the hope of the immortality was demonstrated when Jesus broke out of his tomb and:
“Is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.” 2nd Timothy 1:10
The perspective of God about the human destiny is clear: eternal death for those who rejected Christ and held onto their sins, or the gift of immortality when Jesus comes to get those who accepted Him as Lord and Saviour.
- 7. CONFRONTING THE DEATH OF ONE’S BELOVED ONE
The fears that we, naturally, fight when going through the valley of death, become so dolorous when somebody, whom we love, dies.
The loneliness and the feeling of loss can be dominant. The only solution to the anguish, which is caused by the separation of a beloved one, is the comfort that only Christ can give. Bear in mind that our beloved ones are sleeping and that our beloved ones that are resting will be raised from the dead by Jesus in “resurrection to life” when he comes.
God is planning some wonderful meetings. The children will be given back to their parents, husbands and wives will be given into tender and warm hugs. The cruel separations of life will be put to an end. “The death is swallowed up in victory”. (1 Corinthians 15:54)
Other people find dolorous the separation of their beloved ones that are dead that they try to make contact with them through spiritualist mediums or people of this New Age who call themselves communication channel with the spirits. The Bible gives us a very special warning about trying to relieve the pain of death in like manner:
“And they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? For the living to the dead?” Isaiah 8:19
In fact, why? The Bible clearly reveals that the dead know nothing. And the true solution to the anguish, which is caused by the separation of a beloved one, is the comfort that only Christ can give. Spending time in communication with Christ is the healthiest way to grow through hard times. Remember, whatever knowing upon the dead is only through the sound of the second coming of Christ raising the dead!
- 8. FEARLESSLY CONFRONTING DEATH
Death robs us of everything. But, one thing, it cannot steal from us, is the trust in Christ, and Christ can put everything back its very place. Not ever will death reign in this world. The devil, the wicked, the death, and tomb will perish in the “lake of fire” which is “the second death” (Rev. 20:14)
Here are four simple suggestions for confronting death fearlessly:
(1) Live trusting really in the hope that Christ gives, and you will be prepared to die at any time.
(2) Through the power of the Holy Spirit, be obedient to the commandments of God, and you will be prepared for the second coming, through which you will never ever die.
(3) Think of death as a short time of sleep from which you will be woken up by the voice of Jesus when he comes the second time.
(4) Appreciate the certainty that Jesus gives us that we will have a heavenly home with him for the whole eternity.
The biblical truth sets a person free from the fear of death because it reveals Jesus, the only one whom even death cannot defeat. When Jesus enter our life, he makes our heart burst with peace:
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you…let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”. John 14:27
Jesus also helps us on how to deal with the tragedy of losing a very special person. Jesus walked through the “valley of death”; He knows the deep darkness that we are to go through.
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through DEATH he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and DELIVER THEM WHO THROUGH FEAR OF DEATH WERE ALL THEIR LIFETIME SUBJECT TO BONDAGE”. Hebrew 2:14, 15
In Christ, we have the hope of life even after death. He is “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25), and he promises “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19). Christ is the only hope for the life after death. And when he returns, he will give us the immortality. Never more will we live under the shadow of death, for we will have eternal life. Have you discovered in your life the reality of that great hope that can help us in hard time? If you have never accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, why do you not accept him now?
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