Hey Ron! When we were last visiting, you asked me my opinion on what happens to a person when they die. I gave you my brief opinion and told you I would get back to you with scripture on why I believe what I believe. I bet you thought I forgot! I haven’t and I apologize it has taken me so long to write to you. I stay busier than I prefer.
I know many people believe that when a person dies, the soul remains with the physical body until the time of the bodily resurrection when Christ returns. During this time of “sleep” the person is not aware, or conscious, of their condition or state. The soul resides in the memory of God until it is made alive again. This belief is referred to as “soul sleep.” If I’m not mistaken, Seventh Day Adventists teach/believe in soul sleep. Interesting enough, after some research, I learned that the Jehovah Witnesses believe in a different type of soul sleep. They believe that both the body and soul cease to exist after death and that the soul is made alive in the bodily resurrection.
To my understanding, both use the following scriptures to support their beliefs:
Ecclesiastes 9:5 “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten.”
Ecclesiastes 12:7 “Then shall the dust return to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”
The older I am getting, the more I realize how important it is to look at the context of which scripture is written. We must know who the writer is and who he is speaking to, and understand the history and culture of the time it was written. The author of Ecclesiastes is King Solomon (Ecclesiastes 1:1) and he is speaking from a human, earthly perspective. Throughout the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon is examining man’s capabilities and limitations. I believe these verses are not referring to doctrinal statements such as life after death. It is the New Testament that we find clear teaching about the condition of the soul after death.
I do not believe in soul sleep. As I mentioned the day of our discussion, I do believe when a person dies, the soul immediately goes to heaven or hell. When thinking of this subject, I immediately think of New Testament scriptures written by Apostle Paul. Paul, who taught so clear on Christ’s death on the cross being for our sins and Christ’s resurrection giving us eternal life, speaks often of our physical death and resurrection of the soul. Look at the 3 verses below written by Apostle Paul.
1. 2 Corinthians 5:8 “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”
He doesn’t say: to be absent from the body, and [someday] be present with the Lord. I think Paul is clearing saying when he dies, he will go and be with the Lord. (Please note that Paul was writing to the church of Corinth which had many false teachers who were challenging Paul’s integrity and authority as an...