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The Mystery of Death
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“‘Peace . . . the message is peace.’ That’s what the producers of a pay-television séance to contact John Lennon claimed the former Beatle said when communicating with them from beyond the grave” (ninemsn.com.au April 25, 2006).

Can the dead communicate with the living? What does the Bible say?

Death like a Sleep

1. What did Jesus call death, when talking to His disciples about Lazarus who had died? John 11:11-13

“’Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. . . .’ Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.”

More than 50 times the Bible refers to death as a sleep. The term “cemetery” (Greek = “sleeping place”), first used of burial grounds by the early Christians, reflecting their belief in resurrection of the dead.

2. What did Jesus say that He was that provides hope? John 11:21-25

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”

What happens when a person dies?

To understand what death is we need to go back to see how God first made humans.

3. What two elements were used by God to make the first man into a living being? Genesis 2:7

“The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

The expression “living being” (translated “living soul” in earlier versions) refers to the whole person as a “living creature.” It applies to animals as well. The Bible presents a holistic view of humans as a spiritual and physical unity.

4. What did God say would happen to Adam and Eve if they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Genesis 2:17; Genesis 3:4

God said: “You will surely die.”

Satan said: “The will not surely die.”

Who should we believe — God or Satan?

5. Does the word ‘soul’ refer to an immortal part of humans that cannot die? Ezekiel 18:4

“The soul who sins is the one who will die.”

6. What happens to the body and “breath of life” or “the spirit” at death? Genesis 3:19; Ecclesiastes 12:7

“. . . you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are.”  “. . . the spirit returns to God who gave it.”

This principle of life is called “the spirit” or “breath of life.” These terms are used interchangeably and indicate only the element of life, not consciousness (see Job 27:3). Death is the reverse of what took place at Creation. The body returns to dust, and the principle of life returns to God.

Thoughts of the dead

7. Where do the dead go at the time of death and how much do they know?


Ecclesiastes 9:10: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” 

Ecclesiastes 9:5: “The dead know nothing”

Psalm 146:4: “. . . . their plans come to nothing.”

Psalm 6:5: “No-one remembers you [God] when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave?”

Could you imagine, as is commonly thought, people going to heaven at death, and not praising God? In truth they are asleep in death with their identity secure in God’s hands until the resurrection. If there were no resurrection, those “who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost” (1 Corinthians 15:18).

8. What is God’s view of trying to contact the dead? 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.”

God Will Not Forget Our Loved Ones!

9. What happens at the Second Coming to those who have died believing in Christ? 1 Thessalonians 4:16

“The dead in Christ will rise first.”

Believers then receive immortality (see 1 Corinthians 15:51-54).

10. Who will enjoy eternal life? John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him [Jesus] shall not perish but have eternal life.”
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Bible Discovery by Errol Webster. Reprinted with permission by SIGNS. Biblebay © 2001-2014, Westlake Village, CA.