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The Place of the Dead

Updated on November 3, 2015

The Place of the Dead

Where are the dead? Many ideas exist concerning the whereabouts of those who have passed on from this life. But we know there is only one truth, and the truth usually makes sense. When we think about death, there are basically two schools of thought. One is that death is the end of life for eternity, and the other is that death is a steppingstone to another form of life.

Is death the end of life for eternity? We know that the body dies, but after that does any part of us live on? Some believe that if you die, that's it; there is nothing after that. But that really doesn't give a purpose to each of our lives; and each of us does have a God-given purpose.

Those who believe in nothing after death are not likely to believe in God. But common sense tells us that God has always existed and that He creates human beings. So the truth is that life itself did not have a beginning and will not end.

Being born and just living until we die doesn't make sense. Our purpose is to be happy; but can we really be happy if we believe that death is the end of life for eternity? We live in a world where life is fragile and temporary. We have a few moments of happiness, but as we get older these moments become fewer until only the memories of them remain. Many have relied on wealth and fame, but these can only become a legacy for others.

The truth is that life does not have to end for us after our physical death. So where do we go after we die? Those who believe in God know that the Bible is God's Word that contains the truth about the hereafter. The first biblical reference to death can be found in the following verse:

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat; for in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die.

(Genesis, Chapter 2, Verse 17)

This implies that the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, were created to be immortal, but that their immortality was contingent upon not eating from a certain tree. But they did eat of the tree and they eventually died. Their physical bodies died, but did their spirits or souls live on? Many people believe that our souls are immortal and live on after physical death. A biblical reference to the soul can be found in the following verse:

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

(Genesis, Chapter 2, Verse 7)

This tells us that the soul is a combination of the body and the breath of life from God. Therefore, when the body dies, we stop breathing and the soul dies. So why do so many believe that a person's soul lives on in some form after he or she dies? Another biblical reference to death can be found in the following verses:

The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but from the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden God has said, 'You shall not eat it, and you shall not touch it, or you will die.' " And the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die; for God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil."

(Genesis, Chapter 3, Verses 2 through 5)

The woman was Eve and the one speaking to her was actually Satan, the Devil, in the guise of a serpent. He tempted her to eat the forbidden fruit and she did eat it. She gave some to Adam and he also ate it. They eventually grew old and died, and all their descendants have died or will die. Satan, however, continues to perpetrate the lie that we really don't die. This lie comes in many forms, and has caused many false beliefs concerning the place of the dead.

One false belief concerning what happens to people after they die is reincarnation. This is the belief that a person's soul enters a new body after that person dies. But reincarnation doesn't make make sense because it would keep the world population about the same instead of increasing rapidly.

Many believe that after death a person's spirit or soul then becomes a ghost. This ghost would then move around, haunting different places until it "crosses over" to the other side. Satan is behind this idea, causing ghostly events to occur so that people will believe in ghosts.

Another false belief concerning the hereafter is that the souls of wicked people who die go to a place called Hell; this is where they must endure the eternal punishment of pain caused by fire. Some even believe that Satan and his demons are there, tormenting the souls of these wicked people. Many envision Satan with horns and carrying a pitchfork. Even if a place like that existed, God would not have anyone go there before Judgment Day, which has not occurred yet.

The truth about Hell is that it is merely any place where a dead body ends up temporarily. It could be a place such as a grave site, or in the sea, or in a crematory where it is burned to ashes. These ashes are usually either scattered somewhere or placed in an urn.

Many believe that the souls of good people who die go to Heaven; then these souls can look down and observe people on earth. Some believe that these souls must wait outside of the pearly gates of Heaven, waiting for their name to be called before they can enter. And, after that, some even believe that these souls get wings and end up flying around in Heaven or playing the harp. But the Bible tells us that angels have wings, and never indicates that in the future human beings will have wings.

Another biblical reference to the soul can be found in the following verses:

When Jesus opened the fifth seal, I, John, saw under the altar the souls of those who had been killed for the word of God and for the testimony they had held. They called out in a loud voice, asking, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until you judge those who live on the earth and avenge our blood?" Then each of them was given a white robe; and they were told to wait for a while, until their fellow servants and brothers in Christ were killed as they were and prophecy is fulfilled.

(Revelation, Chapter 6, Verses 9 through 11)

Although these souls under the altar had been killed, they were alive. Were they an invisible part of human beings who had died and gone to Heaven? No, this was a prophetic scene that John saw, and has not happened yet. Besides, they could speak and each was given a white robe to wear, which wouldn't make sense if they were invisible. These "souls" were alive and had bodies. Therefore, they are Christians who will be resurrected from their graves, and go to Heaven sometime in the future.

With all the different beliefs regarding the dead, many could be confused about what is next after this life. The truth is that after we die, our bodies are no longer a living soul. The soul is the body and it can be living or dead, depending on whether or not it is sustained by the breath of life from God. When we die, our souls die; the breath of life returns to God and our bodies are in a "resting place" of the dead.

What is next? The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ will return someday and gather all Christians, living and dead, to go to Heaven. Christians who have died will be resurrected at that time. This future event is called the "Rapture", and a biblical reference to this event can be found in the following verses:

The Lord himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain 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.

(1 Thessalonians, Chapter 4, Verses 16 and 17)

What happens to those who die and are not Christians? Their bodies must remain in their "resting places" until Judgment Day. A biblical reference to this future event can be found in the following prophetic verses:

Then I, John, saw a great white throne and He who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heavens fled, and there was no place for them. I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. The dead were judged according to what they had done, which had been recorded in the books.

The sea gave up all the dead that were in it, and death and hell gave up all the dead that were in them; and each person was judged according to what he or she had done. Then death and hell were thrown into the Lake of Fire, which is the second death. And whoever's name was not found in the Book of Life was thrown into the Lake of Fire.

(Revelation, Chapter 20, Verses 11 through 15)

So there we have the truth; the dead are unknowingly in their resting place, waiting to be resurrected either to eternal life in a new world, or judgment and destruction in the Lake of Fire. We can be saved from this destruction by believing in and accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Jesus died for our sins. In the Bible we can find many references to this, including the following verses:

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

(Romans, Chapter 6, Verse 23)

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life.

(John, Chapter 3, Verse 16)

If human beings had an immortal soul, their soul would not need to be saved from death and destruction; and God would not need to give them eternal life. But our sinful nature makes us imperfect, which in turn makes us mortal. Therefore, we eventually die and end up in a temporary place of the dead; we could wake up to eternal happiness, or we could wake up to judgment and destruction in the Lake of Fire.

So, in the end, there will be a wonderful place for those who receive eternal life; this will be a place of the living. But for those who do not receive eternal life, there will be destruction in the Lake of Fire; this will be a permanent place of the dead.

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