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The Errors in the Doctrine of Soul Sleep

 

 

 

 

 

"And how shall they preach, except they be sent?"  Romans 10:15a

 

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What happens at death of the wicked; what happens at death of the righteous? Soul sleep believes that there is no activity or consciousness of with righteous or wicked at death to the body. Everyone knows the scripture: (James 2:26). “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” The body is dead, not the spirit; for the spirit goes on to a destination depending on whether the person is in Christ or separated from Christ.

 

dead, death = “muwth” means to die, kill, to lose one’s life; used of physical death with reference to man and beast.[1]

 

There are three dimensions to death:

 

1

PHYSICAL DEATH

the body goes back to dust from where it came

 

 

2

SPIRITUAL DEATH

cessation from communion with God; i.e., separation from God due to sin that brought forth death

 

 

3

ETERNAL DEATH

when man does not desire the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and ultimately is cast into hell (Gehenna) in eternal separation from God

 

Does the body have consciousness after death? No, for the brain as the organ for the soul is dead, having no spirit to animate the body of flesh.

 

Does the soul/spirit have consciousness after death? Yes, for the soul/spirit of man does not go back to dust, for neither soul nor spirit come from dust, but from God.

 

For the righteous, the inner man which is fashioned after Christ Jesus lives forever, is incorruptible and cannot die. “But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” (1 Peter 3:4). The inward man is the spirit of the man that is immortal. “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man.” (Romans 7:22).

 

The inward man knows through the spirit, not the intellectual natural thinking of the mind: “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:11). The real person is not the fleshly outward appearance of the body, but is the inward man. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16). This inward man which is immortal is strengthened by the Holy Ghost: “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.” (Ephesians 3:16).

 

The soul is immortal as Jesus spoke in the following: “And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear; Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.” (Luke 12:5). Man cannot but kill the body, for the soul only can God cast into hell (Gehenna) where everlasting shame and contempt is.

 

Consciousness of the soul is present after the death of the body proved by Lazarus and the rich man; both for the righteous as well as the wicked.

 

“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst  thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house; for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.”

(Luke 16:22-28)

 

Both the righteous and the wicked had consciousness as to where they were and what they were experiencing. Man is a spirit referred to as the inner man or spirit man of the person; man is a spirit being having an earthly experience created to be a spiritual man rather than a carnal man living through the senses of the flesh. The real you is the inner man that is eternal and is going to be with Jesus at death; that is, if you are righteous; or to be separated from Jesus if you are wicked.  

 

For the wicked, hell will meet them at their coming, not the grave, but a state of torment prior to the everlasting lake of fire known as Gehenna.

 

“Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth: it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? Art thou become like unto us? Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.”

(Isaiah 14:9-12)

 

Hell as the grave or tomb is not shaken with an earthquake to meet the wicked person when he dies, but these are the wicked dead souls that are stirred to meet the newcomer. They carry on conversations, are weak, their pride as well as music is brought there also. Worms are figurative of man’s undying consciousness in the soul/spirit of the person.

 

“And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.” (Isaiah 66:24). And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better to thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut if off: if is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched. Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.”

(Mark 9:43-50)

 

There are two resurrections that take place at different times. This is the resurrection of the unjust as they burn forever in a lake of fire that is forever. Jesus warns to have salt within ourselves, the life of God that preserves and seasons all things in and through the Holy Ghost in the bride of Christ, the church.

 

There is consciousness of the saints that are in heaven with Jesus:

 

“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”

(Revelation 6:9-11)

 

These saints were killed for the Word of God and yet had consciousness knowing where they were located. They could think, talk, reason, and were comforted. They could also hear from the Lord as they knew the outcome of events concerning their fellowservants and brethren that would be killed also, just like them.

 

 To understand the term eternal life given to the believer, one has to understand the Essence of Jesus. To be one with the Lord Jesus is to have life abiding in the individual believer, now; that is, at present, not something that someone is going to receive one day. To believe in Jesus is to never die. Of course this is not speaking of natural physical death to the body, but that there will never be death to the soul/spirit of the believer.

 

Death is the Greek “thanatos” meaning “separation", the soul (spiritual part of man) from the body (the material part), the latter ceasing to function and turning to dust.[2]

 

Death therefore is the opposite of life; it never denotes nonexistence, as spiritual life is conscious existence in communion with God in one’s human spirit, so death spiritually is conscious existence without communion with God, or one’s spiritual consciousness separated from God. This is reference to when Jesus says, “let the dead bury the dead”. Revelation of Jesus is always required in the life of God that He has given to His body by faith. Jesus stated the same in the Gospel of John.

 

When Lazarus died, Jesus stated to Martha, “Thy brother shall live again.” (John 11:23b). “Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (John 11:24). Jesus did not say Amen, and let it go at this particular revelation of the resurrection of the body. Jesus addressed the soul/spirit of the man/woman that is alive in God as it will never die in the following verses of scripture.

 

“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”

(John 11:25,26)

 

We were all dead, excommunicated from the fellow citizens of Israel and from the household of faith, but now we are brought nigh by the blood of Jesus. We were not dragging around a dead body, but were separated in soul/spirit from God as Spirit, being dead while we were living in the world unto the flesh. If we live in Jesus and believe in Jesus, doing those things that are pleasing to him, we shall never die; that is, never be separated from God in our soul/spirit from Him.

 

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, that everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation: but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.”

(John 5:24,25)

 

Volumes can be written on the above verses of scripture as to the Revelation of Jesus in going from faith to faith, and from glory to glory; but suffice it to say now that he/she that believes and lives the God-life through the Spirit will never die; that is, be separated from God in his/her soul/spirit, for God will never leave us nor forsake us, even to the end of the world. The death caused by sin has been swallowed up in life by Christ Jesus, and we shall never die, not in physical body, but in soul/spirit by faith having communion with the Spirit of God.  

 

Paul talked of the distinction between the soul and the body, for while we are in the body of flesh, we live by faith. But to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord; not in body, but in soul/spirit.

 

“For we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

(2 Corinthians 5:8)

 

The souls/spirits of just men made perfect are in heaven now in the presence of Jesus, while the church and assembly of the firstborn are now, at present, made to sit in this same heavenly place by faith in Christ Jesus.

 

“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”

(Hebrews 12:22-24)

 

Another example that disproves soul sleep is that Moses and Elijah both appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Moses had not been resurrected as yet, for the first resurrection has not taken place, but he was present in soul/spirit on the mountain in the Feast of Tabernacles.

 

There is an account for both the living and the dead; the quick and the dead, since the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been preached and heard by all in the earth; for this is the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

 

“Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”

(1 Peter 4:5,6)

 

The dead have the Gospel preached to them as well as do the righteous. The reason is that God has given to all alike the opportunity to believe in Jesus and live accordingly. The above verses of scripture state that the dead are judged according to men in the flesh; that is, the ones that never crucified the flesh with the affections and the lusts and are therefore lost. However, this does not disannul the truth that man will live forever in his soul/spirit: “but live according to God in the spirit.” They do not have eternal life; that is, that their mortal bodies will attain to the first resurrection over which the second death (eternal separation from God in a lake of fire called Gehenna) will have no power; but that they still have an immortal soul/spirit that will live according to God.

 

The just or righteous and holy believers abide forever with God.

 

“And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

(1 John 2:17)

 

In summation: Death is separation from God as truth. Physical death means very little, for the believer has passed from death unto life, and will never die; his/her spirit being ever present with the Lord. Death never means never existing or sleeping; never extinction until a future resurrection of the just and unjust, for both are held in comfort or in torment depending on where the tree falls; whether in God or separated from God. The doctrine of annihilation being burned up and never existing again is false, since the worm dies not and the fire is not quenched. The body only dies and goes back to dust from whence it came, while the soul/spirit does not go to the dust, but to the appropriate place according to one’s life in judgment; that is, to be present with the Lord, or in Hades being tormented until the final second death is pronounced and executed by the Lord at the white throne judgment. The soul/spirit is immortal with eternal life if in God; or dead in trespasses and sins; and will continue in consciousness whether in heaven or hell. The choice of life and death is ever present in this age; chose life that ye may live. Who would choose death knowing these truths?

 

It is this writer’s belief that God is life, and those that are in God never separate from Him, not in soul sleep where are unconsciousness, silence, and inactivity, being in an idle state of being, in non-existence until a further date or time; for life is always moving as the light, never static nor stagnant. To enter into life is to be in communion with our God and Saviour Jesus Christ who does not sleep or slumber; neither do His saints.

 

Dennis A. Beard

 


[1] Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance  Hebrew and Aramaic Dictionary 4191

 

[2] Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance   Greek Dictionary of the New Testament  2288

 

 

 

    

 

 

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