There are those who believe that when you die you are buried, and you stay buried until Jesus comes and the dead are resurrected.  Passages such as Eccl. 9:5 say that the dead “know nothing”, “his breath goeth forth . . in that very day his thoughts perish” (Ps. 146:4), “there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (Eccl.9:10).  “The dead do not praise the Lord” (Ps. 115:17).  “The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth” (John 5:28.29).  The patriarch David is spoken of plainly as being dead and buried, in the grave:  “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us to this day . . . David is not ascended into the heavens . .” (Acts 2:29,34).

 

But what of those passages which say things like it is better to die and be with the Lord”?  Does that indicate that when we die we immediately go to be with God?  Which is it? 

 

According to Baptist theologian Dr Tony Campolo, the answer is—both!  We wait for the Second Coming of Jesus, and the promise of the resurrection.  Our dead loved ones are no longer bound by time as we know it.  For the dead, the moment of death and the moment of resurrection are one and the same—they don’t wait!

For Bible study, try the Bible Gateway 

1. ONLY GOD IS IMMORTAL
“Immortal” is only used in the Bible with reference to God:
     1 Timothy 1:17
Now unto the King eternal, IMMORTAL, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever.
     1 Timothy 6:16
Who only hath IMMORTALITY, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting.

2. MANKIND IS MORTAL, SUBJECT TO DEATH:
God made us mortal:
     Genesis 2:16, 17
16And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof THOU SHALT SURELY DIE.
     Genesis 3:22-24
22And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, LEST HE put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and LIVE FOR EVER: 23Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

MEN DO NOT NOW HAVE IMMORTALITY BUT SEEK FOR IT:

     Romans 2:7
To them who by patient continuance in well doing SEEK for glory and honour and IMMORTALITY, eternal life.
     1 Corinthians 15:53
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must PUT ON immortality.
     1 Corinthians 15:54
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
     Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

3. SATAN’S LIE ABOUT DEATH:
     Genesis 3:4
"You will NOT surely die," the serpent said to the woman.
     John 8:44
“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a LIAR and the father of lies.”

Pagan religions taught immortality of the soul, long before Christianity.  Greek philosophers Plato and Socrates’ teachings, that man was immortal, infiltrated the Christian church and eventually became doctrine.

4. GOD CALLS DEATH A “SLEEP”.
     Psalm 13:3:
Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.  Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death.
     Job 7:21:
And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away my iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.
     Daniel 12:2:
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.  (yet future)
     1 Kings 2:10:
So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.
     Daniel 12:13
So, Daniel, be faithful until the end! You will rest, and AT THE END OF TIME, you will rise from death to receive your reward.
     John 11:11-14:
11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”
12 Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.”
13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.
14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.”
      Acts 7:60: (Stoning of Stephen)
Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

5. THE DEAD SLEEP UNTIL THE RESURRECTION:
     Revelation 22:12
“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”
     Matthew 16:27
For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.
     Acts 2:29-34
“Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day…For David did not ascend into the heavens…”
     Isaiah 26:19-21
19 Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead.  
     Hebrews 11:13
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
     Hebrews 11:39-40
39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
     Job 14:10-12
10 But man dies and is laid away; Indeed he breathes his last and where is he?  
11 As water disappears from the sea, and a river becomes parched and dries up, 12 So man lies down and does not rise.  Till the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep.
     1 Corinthians 15:22-23
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.
     1 Corinthians 15:16-18
16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
 (If the dead are already in Heaven, who needs a resurrection?)
     Job 14:14-15
If a  man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. 15 Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.
     Job 17:13
If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness.
     1 Corinthians 15:51-55
51Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52In 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.
53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
     1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
     John 5:28-29
28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
     2 Timothy 4:6-8
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
     John 11:21-24
21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
     John 6:39-54
39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, … that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, 44“…No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

6. THE DEAD ARE NOT CONSCIOUS
     Ecclesiastes 9:5-6
5 For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. 6 Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun.
     Psalm 146:4
4His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
     Ecclesiastes 9:10
10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you (the whole person) are going.
     Psalm 115:17
17 The dead do not praise the LORD, nor any who go down into silence.
     Psalm 6:5
5 For in death there is no remembrance of You; in the grave who will give You thanks?

     Isaiah 38:18-19
18 For Sheol cannot thank You, death cannot praise You; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your truth. 19 The living, the living man, he shall praise You, as I do this day…
     Psalm 146:2
While I live I will praise the LORD; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
     Psalm 88:10-12
10 Will You work wonders for the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise You?   Selah11 Shall Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave? Or Your faithfulness in the place of destruction?  12 Shall Your wonders be known in the dark?  And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
The dead do not come back to haunt:
     Job 7:10
The dead “shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more.”

7. “SOUL” (We now know about the body; what are the ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’?)
     1 Thessalonians 5:23
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
            SOUL = nephesh (Hebrew) = (Greek)     = psuche  
person/being/life/creature
     Genesis 2:7
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.  
(King James version.  Translated “being” in other translations.)
     Leviticus 5:2
2Or if a soul touch any unclean thing...he also shall be unclean, and guilty.
22:6 The soul which hath touched any such shall be unclean ...unless he wash his flesh with water.
7:18 ...and the soul that eateth of it shall bear his iniquity.
20But the soul that eateth of the flesh of the sacrifice ...having his uncleanness upon him, even that soul shall be cut off from his people.
21...the soul that shall touch any unclean thing... and eat of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings... even that soul shall be cut off from his people.
25For whosoever eateth the fat of the beast...even the soul that eateth it shall be cut off from his people.
17:12... No soul of you shall eat blood,
14 15 ... every soul that eateth that which died of itself, ...he shall both wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even: then shall he be clean.
(‘Souls’ can evidently touch, wash, eat, and bathe—because they are people.)
     Ezekiel 18:4
“Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; the soul who sins shall die.”
(Souls can die.)
     Joshua 10:28
28 ...he utterly destroyed, them, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain:
30 ...and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain in it;
32 ...all the souls that were therein,
35... and all the souls that were therein he utterly destroyed that day,
37... and all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining, according ... destroyed it utterly, and all the souls that were therein.
39 ... and utterly destroyed all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining...
11:11 And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them...
     Matthew 16:25
25For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.  26For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
(Matthew wrote ‘psuche’ four times; it was translated ‘life’ twice and ‘soul’ twice.)
     1 Peter 3:20
Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
(Modern translations use ‘lives’ or ‘persons’.)  “Nephesh chayyah” meaning “living soul” is also applied to animals:
     Genesis 1:21
21 And God created great whales, and every living creature [living soul] that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.  24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature [living soul] after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
2:19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature [living soul], that was the name thereof.
(This shows that although man is elevated above the beasts, it is NOT on the basis of unscriptural fiction of having a soul, for animals are souls, or creatures, too.)

8. “SPIRIT”
     Ecclesiastes 3:19-21
(‘Breath’ often translated ‘Spirit’ from Hebrew ‘ruach’ or Greek ‘pneuma’.  Meaning ‘breath’, ‘ghost’, or ‘wind’.)
19  For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath (ruach); so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. 20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.  21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?
(Last verse should be translated: Who knows if the spirit (ruach)  of man rises upward and if the spirit (ruach)  of the animal goes down into the earth?" or, “Who can be sure that the human spirit (breath) goes up to God and that the spirit of an animal (breath) goes down into the ground?”)

     Psalm 104:29-30
29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.  30 Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.
(Spirit = Breath.  ALL men undergo the same process, no distinction between good and bad.)
     Ecclesiastes 12:7
7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit (breath) shall return unto God who gave it.
     Luke 23:46
46And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
Cannot be a conscious entity, because three days later Jesus said:
     John 20:17
“Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father…”
So:     DUST plus BREATH/SPIRIT equals LIFE, a LIVING SOUL/CREATURE
and DUST minus BREATH/SPIRIT equals DEATH, a DEAD SOUL/CREATURE.

9. PAUL VERSUS PLATO
Socrates taught by oral method and left nothing in writing.  Plato’s pen spoke for him.  Socrates spoke of “the familiar oracle within me” and told how he followed the promptings of this oracle in his daily life.  

GOD commanded: “A man also or a woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death,” Leviticus 20:27 for He knows the so-called “familiar spirit” is that of a demon.

When Socrates was facing death he said, “I may and must pray to the gods to prosper my journey from this to that other world.”  He was referring to the pagan gods of polytheistic Greece.  

Plato taught that:
Man is a dualistic being composed of body and soul, and that the soul was weighed down by the body, which is of little significance.   
Death is a friend that liberates the soul:
“Those of us who think that death is evil are in error.”
“Will he who is about to die not depart with JOY?  Surely he will.”
“Isn’t death the release of the soul from the chains of the body?  And what is that which is termed death but this very separation and release of the soul from the body?”
 “Being dead is an attainment of this separation when the soul exists in herself.”
The soul is immortal and imperishable.
Independent of our bodies, “our souls EXIST in the world below…and that the souls of the dead are in existence.”
“our souls must have existed before they were in the form of man—without bodies, and must have had intelligence…Our souls must have had a prior existence…Our souls must have existed before we were born.”
“The soul is in the very likeness of the divine, and immortal, indissoluble.”
“When the man is dead, the soul dies not with him.”
“Then the soul is IMMORTAL?  Yes, he said.  And may we say this is proven?  Yes, abundantly proven.”
“Beyond question, the soul is IMMORTAL, and IMPERISHABLE, and our souls will truly exist in another world!”
These ideas crept into the church when Greeks and Romans “converted” to Christianity but still clung to their pagan beliefs.  Ignorant of the Scriptures, people eventually accepted these teachings as Biblical, and the Church carried them to all the world.  The once-pure Christian faith combined Scripture and man-made traditions.  Satan, twisting every truth in Scripture, led men to call evil good and good evil.


     But GOD says,
     Isaiah 5:20.  “Woe to them who call evil good and good evil; that put darkness for light and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”  
     Perhaps Satan’s most successful perversion of truth is the unscriptural doctrine of the immortal soul, which transforms DEATH—the very curse God gave for sin—into a BLESSING, a portal to Paradise!
     Paul taught that GOD created all things “good”, the body included.  He told us to care for it as His “temple” and that Death is a terrible intruder.  
     1 Cor. 15:26. “The last ENEMY to be destroyed is DEATH.”  

10. THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH.
     Genesis 3:22-24
22 And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." 23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
     If man were immortal, what need would there be for the Tree of Life?  God deliberately separated Adam and Eve from the Tree of life to ensure He wouldn’t have immortal sinners.  That proves man was not immortal BEFORE he sinned!  If man was not immortal before he sinned, why would one assume he is immortal AFTER he sinned?  
It doesn’t help to argue that it was only man’s body that died, for it was not just Adam’s body that sinned – it was his mind, heart and will, his innermost being, that rebelled against God.  It was the WHOLE MAN that sinned, so the WHOLE MAN died, not just his body.
     Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is DEATH.”

11. GOD FORBIDS SPIRITUALISM:
Spiritualism or spiritism: “The belief that the dead survive as spirits that can communicate with the living, especially with the help of a third party called a medium.” And a witch is a “woman supposedly having supernatural power by a compact with evil spirits.” Websters Dictionary
     God says:
     Exodus 22:18: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”
     Deuteronomy 18:10-12: “Let no one be found among you…who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.  Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.”
     Leviticus 19:31: Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.
     Isaiah 8:19: When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?
     Leviticus 20:6:  I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them, and I will cut him off from his people.
     Leviticus 20:27:  A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.
God wants to protect us from evil spirits:
     Psalm 84:11:  For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
     2 Corinthians 11:3, 14:  But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.  And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.

12. WHAT ABOUT NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES?
A.  Many of these so-called scientists are actually Spiritists.  (eg Raymond Moody and Elizabeth Kubler-Ross)
B.  Precisely when IS death?  CLINICAL death doesn’t always equal ACTUAL death; the patient may be still alive.
C.  OBE’s (out of body experiences) are often induced by drugs.  Very similar experiences to those described in NDE’s (near death experiences).  Altered psychochemistry can create fantastic illusions.  And carbon dioxide narcosis produces central nervous effects similar to those of hallucinogens.  So what is remembered is the DYING experience, not DEATH itself.
D.  “Salvation for all—beliefs don’t matter!”  According to NDE’s, everyone goes to the same place.  Those who relate experiences all feel the same way, regardless of their relationship to Christ.  All are equally welcomed by the “being of light”.  There seems to be no final judgment.  But if we take God’s word as our guide, we will not be deceived by the occult.  In the end we believe what we choose to believe—Christianity or Paganism, Paul or Plato, God or the Devil.

13.    THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS:
     Luke 16:19-31:
19 "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'
25 "But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.
27 "He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'
29 "Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'
30 " 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'
31 "He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' "

Is this story LITERAL or a PARABLE?  Jesus often used parables.  
Bodily parts are mentioned—the rich man had a tongue and eyes, wanted Lazarus to dip his finger in water.  Can’t be literal—the body was in the grave.
Heaven and Hell are right next to each other here—is this realistic?  Can’t be literal.
Is Abraham’s bosom (another body part) able to hold all the saints who supposedly ascend to it?  Can’t be literal.
Jesus actually took this story from the Pharisees’ own writings.  (Written by Flavius Josephus).  He met them on their own ground.  Although they were custodians of God’s Word, pagan beliefs had infiltrated their religion also.  His words “though one rose from the dead,” remained to haunt them after Lazarus’ resurrection, also after His own resurrection.
The story has prayers to the human!  “Father Abraham, have mercy on me.”  But only God can save.  Can’t be literal.

The Bible is not always literal.  Parables may teach vital lessons but should not be taken literally.  For example the parable of talking trees:
     Judges 9:8-15: 8The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us.  9But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?   10And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us.  11But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees?  12Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us.  13And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?  14Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us.  15And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.

The parable of Lazarus and the rich man was the last in a series of parables told to the Pharisees, all beginning with, “A certain man…”
Parables are not always labelled as such.
The timing is fictitious—Paul spoke of a judgment not now but in the FUTURE, many years after the parable was spoken by Jesus.  And Abraham had NOT ASCENDED to heaven:
Hebrews 11:8, 13, 39-40:  By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.  13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.  And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise.  40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

14.  THE THIEF ON THE CROSS:
     Luke 23:42-43
42And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.  43And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Punctuation is not inspired.  Punctuation was added in the time of the Reformation (around 1500 AD).  Correct punctuation reads like this:
     Luke 23:42-43
42And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.  43And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in paradise.

How do we know the comma should be positioned this way, and that Jesus did not meet the thief in Paradise after He died?  
Jesus did not go to heaven that day:  (“Paradise” means “heaven”):
     Rev:2:7: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”
     2 Corinthians 12:2-4 “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.  3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”)
If Jesus had gone to heaven as soon as He had died, He could not have said to Mary what He did early Sunday morning:
     John 20:17: “Touch Me not, for I am not yet ascended to My Father.”
The thief did not die that day and he did not expect to, for crucifixion was a long painful death.  
     Mark 15:44 “Pilate was surprised to hear that he [Jesus] was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died.”  
     The Jews did not want the prisoners to remain on the cross during the Sabbath, so they had the soldiers break the legs of the thieves so they could not escape after being taken down from the cross. They would have continued to live for several days.   Broken legs do not kill a person!
HOW COULD A DEAD CHRIST MEET A LIVING THIEF IN HEAVEN WHEN NEITHER OF THEM WENT THERE THAT DAY?

15.     “SPIRITS IN PRISON”  
     1 Peter 3:18-20 “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, 19 through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison 20 who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,”
When was this preaching done?
 “Long ago…in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.”
How was this preaching done?
“By the Spirit” (through the ministry of Noah, who preached for 120 years to the doomed antediluvians while he worked on the ark).
Why was this preaching done?
Not to offer disembodied spirits a second chance ! 
(Hebrews 9:27:  “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment”)
 but to warn the wicked living in Noah’s day a chance to repent.
Genesis 6:3: “My Spirit shall not always strive with man…yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.”  
God’s Spirit patiently preached through Noah, a “preacher of righteousness” waiting 120 years before finally destroying those who would not listen.
Must “Spirits” mean disembodied spirits of the dead?
When Moses called God, “The God of the spirits of all flesh,” (Numbers 27:15-17) he was praying for a leader among the living to take his place!  “Spirit” here is “pneuma” meaning “wind”, “breath.”  So these “spirits” can be considered living people, just as “souls” can be considered living people.

What is the Prison House?
Luke 4:17-21 “The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."  
He was talking to the living, not the dead!
     
John 8:32:  “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Jesus was addressing living sinners.
      Isaiah 42:1, 6, 7:  "Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. 6 “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, 7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”
Gentiles here may be sinners, but not dead!
Peter intended “prison” to mean prison house of sin, not death:
     2 Peter 2:18-19  “For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.”
Was Jesus alive or dead during His time in the tomb?
He was not resurrected until the first day of the week:
Revelation 1:18  18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.
He said “I was dead”.  Not, “My body was dead”.

16.  SAUL and the WITCH of ENDOR:
Supernatural occurrence, but was it GENUINE (of God) or COUNTERFEIT (of Satan)?
(1)  God Himself would no longer communicate with Saul:  
     1 Samuel 28:6  “And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets.”
(2)  Samuel would no longer communicate with Saul:  
     1 Samuel 15:35  “And Samuel went no more to see Saul until the day of his death.”
(3)  Saul was on forbidden ground.
     Exodus 22:18  “You shall not permit a sorceress to live.”
     Leviticus 19:31 “Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your GOD.”  
     Leviticus 20:27  “A man or woman who is a medium, or who has familiar spirits, shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones.  Their blood shall be upon them.”  
     Deuteronomy 18:10-12  “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practises witchcraft. Or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, pr one who calls up the dead.  For all these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your GOD drives them out before you.”
     1 Samuel 28:8  “Saul disguised himself and put on other clothes and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night.  And he said, “Please conduct a séance for me, and bring up for me the one I shall name to you.”  
     Would God honour the practice He had previously condemned?  Would he speak through a dead prophet when He had refused to speak to Saul through a living prophet?  And in response to the incantations of a witch?!
(4)  Saul saw nothing but was deceived.  He asked the witch what she saw, and when she said “an old man coming up…covered with a mantle,” Saul jumped to the conclusion that it was Samuel.
(5)  The pretended prophet accepted worship!  When Saul stooped with his face to the ground, if the spirit had really been Samuel it would have refused worship.  Neither Samuel nor an angel would have consented to this, but an evil spirit would welcome it.  
(6)  The spirit also lied, saying,
     1 Samuel 28: 19 “Tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me (that is, dead)”.  
However Saul died several days later, and only three of his sons died in the battle.  
(7)  Samuel came from the wrong direction!  And “Samuel” said, “Tomorrow you will be with me.”  If the good go to Heaven, surely Samuel must have come down, and Saul being evil, would not be “with Samuel.”  This is how the Bible describes a witch’s familiar spirit:  
     Isaiah 29:4 “Brought low, you will speak from the ground; your speech will mumble out of the dust.  Your voice will come ghostlike from the earth; out of the dust your speech will whisper.”  
If the spirit medium had the power to really “disturb” Samuel, then death must be miserable if even the saints are under the power of mediums, to call them at any moment whenever they decide to have a séance!
(8)  The reason for Saul’s death.  God tells us:
     1 Chronicles 10:13  ”Saul died because he was unfaithful to the LORD; he did not keep the word of the LORD and even consulted a medium for guidance.”  
So it could NOT have been Samuel who appeared to the witch, or God would have participated in the wickedness which cost Saul his life!

17.  ABSENT FROM THE BODY, PRESENT WITH THE LORD.
Paul never taught the immortal soul, or consciousness in death, or that death is the doorway to life.  But some of his writings are “hard to understand.”
     2 Peter 3:15-16 “Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
     2 Corinthians 5:1-9 “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. [Two houses mentioned, one on earth, one in heaven.  Contrasts earthly body with heavenly body.]  2Meanwhile we groan [in our temporal earthly body], longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling [to be given our everlasting body], 3because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked [without any body—dead!]. 4For while we are in this tent [with this earthly temporal body], we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed [dead] but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling [immortal body], so that what is mortal [this mortal being] may be swallowed up by life [immortal life in a new building from God]. 5Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 6Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body [not yet clothed with our immortal body] we are away from the Lord [not in God’s presence, because we do not have our immortal body]. 7We live by faith, not by sight [I look forward in faith to receiving my immortal body; it is by faith that I look forward to Christ’s second coming and the Resurrection]. 8We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body [temporal, earthly body] and at home with the Lord [how? In my heavenly, immortal body!]. 9So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body [present with the Lord in our immortal body] or absent [from God, still in our earthly body].”
     This passage does NOT say anything about being absent from the body and present with the Lord immediately or in a spirit form when I die.  This reads something into the text that is not there!
     Paul is contrasting two types of body – the earthly “decaying” body (2 Cor. 4:16) which will someday be “dissolved” (2 Cor. 5:1), with a new immortal body that never grows old.
     In 2 Cor 5:8 Paul says he is well pleased to be with the Lord.  But if the state of being “unclothed” or “naked” (verse 3) in death is what Paul did NOT desire, then we can safely conclude that these two states are mutually exclusive: that in DEATH the Christian is NOT present with the Lord!
“For we who are in this tent (mortal body) GROAN, being burdened, NOT because we want to be UNCLOTHED (that is, dead) but FURTHER CLOTHED, that MORTALITY MAY BE SWALLOWED UP BY LIFE.”
     (He is talking about a time when we’ll se the swallowing up of earthliness, being clothed upon by our immortal body in heaven.)
     1 Corinthians 15:51-54   “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."  Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?"
We are not present with the Lord AT death or during the period of death, but when Jesus returns to change our bodies into glorious immortal bodies and take us home to be with Him.
     Romans 8:22-23  “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
     Philippians 3:20-21  “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
When?  At His coming:
     1 Thessalonians 4:17  “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And SO [by this means, or, in this way] we will be with the Lord forever.”

18.  PAUL’S DESIRE TO DEPART AND TO BE WITH CHRIST.
     Philippians 1:20-24  “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two.  I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.”
This does NOT say that Paul would be with Christ as a disembodied spirit.  
     Verse 20: Paul wants Christ always, in every situation, to be exalted.
     Verse 21: Paul was in prison when he wrote this.  Therefore of course for him death would be gain!  No more troubles.
     Verse 22: Paul would like to see the fruits of his labours, but was not sure which of these two alternatives – life or death – he would choose.
     Verse 23: Departing and being with Christ are not achieved at the same moment.  Could be interpreted that first, he would die and be at rest in the grave.  Then, seemingly at the next instant for him, he would be with Christ AT HIS COMING.  Or, could be interpreted than he would like to be translated, “to depart and be with Christ, which is far better,” without seeing death!
TWO avenues to heaven:
     1.  Translation (those like Enoch and Elijah, very few).
     2.  Resurrection, when Jesus comes.
The Greek word for “depart” is the same used in Paul’s final letter, before his execution.  Here he is clear about the time frame:
     2 Timothy 4:6-8 “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure [death by execution]. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is IN STORE for me [not for me now but at some future time] the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me ON THAT DAY [the glorious day of Christ’s return]—and not ONLY to me, but also to all who have longed for his APPEARING [when Christ appears at His return].”
Paul gives ample evidence of his belief in WHEN the Christian goes to be with Christ.
     Rom 8:23  It’s at “the redemption of our body.”  
     1 Cor. 5:5  It’s at “the day of the Lord Jesus Christ”.  
     1 Cor 15:51-55  It’s at “the last trump” when “death is swallowed up in victory”.  
     2 Cor. 5:2-4 It’s when we’re “clothed upon with our house…from heaven” and “mortality…is swallowed up of life.”  
     Col. 3:4 It’s “when Christ, who is our life, shall appear.”  
     1 Thess. 4:16 It’s when “the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout…and the dead in Christ shall rise.”  
     2 Thess. 2:1 It’s “at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  
     2 Tim. 4:8  It’s “at that day…of Christ’s appearing.”  
Separate events MAY be coupled:
     Isa 61:1-2, quoted by Jesus in Luke 4:17-19.  He read the ancient scriptures: “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” And stopped there.  The verse goes on to say, “and the day of vengeance of our God.”  The two events are separated by time.  
Paul’s dilemma is another clue:
If death was a portal leading immediately to the presence of God, there would be no dilemma.  If as he says, he wants to be with Christ above all else, death would have been the obvious choice.  But he KNEW that “the dead know not anything” (Eccl. 9:5) and other words of his show that he understood his meeting with Christ would be at the last day:
     1 Thess 4:13-18  “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.”

Jesus spoke to His disciples thus:
     John 14:2-3  “I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am there ye may be also.”
     This clearly implies that:
We are not to be with Him until He comes for us!
WE don’t go to HIM, HE comes for US!
Why would Jesus need to make a return trip to get us if we are already there with Him?

More information from the BIBLE about death

 

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