Study 4: God and Death
The Nature of Man | The Soul | The Spirit | Death Is Unconsciousness | The Resurrection | The Judgment | The Place of Reward: Heaven or Earth? | Responsibility To God | Hell | Digressions (Purgatory, Ghosts And Reincarnation, With What Nature Are We Raised?, The "Rapture") | Questions

4.4 Death Is Unconsciousness

From what we have learnt so far about the soul and spirit, it should follow that while dead a person is totally unconscious. Whilst the actions of those responsible to God will be remembered by Him (Mal. 3:16; Rev. 20:12; Heb. 6:10), there is nothing in the Bible to suggest that we have any consciousness during the death state. It is hard to argue with the following clear statements concerning this:

"(Man's) breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day (moment) his thoughts perish" (Ps. 146:4).

"The dead know not anything...their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished" (Ecc. 9:5,6). There is no "wisdom in the grave" (Ecc. 9:10) - no thinking and therefore no consciousness.

Job says that on death, he would be "as though he had not been" (Job 10:18); he saw death as the oblivion, unconscious-ness and total lack of existence which we had before we were born.

Man dies as the animals do (Ecc. 3:18); if man consciously survives death somewhere, so must they, yet both Scripture and science are silent about this.

God "remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more" (Ps. 103:14-16).

That death is truly unconsciousness, even for the righteous, is demonstrated by the repeated pleas of God's servants to allow their lives to be lengthened, because they knew that after death they would be unable to praise and glorify God, seeing that death was a state of unconsciousness. Hezekiah (Isa. 38:17-19) and David (Ps. 6:4,5; 30:9; 39:13; 115:17) are good examples of this. Death is repeatedly referred to as a sleep or rest, both for the righteous and the wicked (Job 3:11,13,17; Dan. 12:13).

Sufficient evidence has now been produced for us to bluntly state that the popular notion of the righteous going to a state of bliss and reward in heaven straight after their death, is simply not found in the Bible. The true doctrine of death and man's nature provides a great sense of peace. After all the traumas and pains of a man's life, the grave is a place of total oblivion. For those who have not known the requirements of God, this oblivion will last for ever. Never again will the old scores of this tragic and unfulfilled natural life be raised; the futile hopes and fears of the natural human mind will not be realized or threaten.

In Bible study, there is a system of truth to be discovered; yet, sadly, there is also a system of error in man's religious thinking, due to inattention to the Bible. Man's desperate efforts to soften the finality of death have led him to believe that he has an 'immortal soul'. Once it is accepted that such an immortal element exists within man, it becomes necessary to think that it must go somewhere after death. This has led to the thought that at death there must be some difference between the fates of the righteous and the wicked. To accommodate this, it has been concluded that there must be a place for 'good immortal souls' to go, called Heaven, and another place for 'bad immortal souls' to go, called hell. We have shown earlier that an 'immortal soul' is a Biblical impossibility. The other false ideas inherent in the popular reasoning will now be analysed:-

  1. That the reward for our lives is given at death in the form of our 'immortal soul' being assigned to a certain place.
  2. That the separation between righteous and wicked occurs at death.
  3. That the reward for the righteous is to go to heaven.
  4. That if everyone has an 'immortal soul', then everyone must go to either heaven or hell.
  5. That the wicked 'souls' will go to a place of punishment called hell.

The purpose of our analysis is not just negative; by considering these points in detail, we believe that we will express many elements of Bible truth which are vital parts of the true picture concerning man's nature.