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Death then what?

What happens at death? How final is it?
Is there life after death?
It's time we understand.


NO MATTER who you are — whether the young girl down the street, the fellow on the block, the butcher or mailman, carpenter, maintenance man or secretary — sooner, or later, you are going to die!

You may be beautiful, handsome, healthy, young or strong, but eventual death remains a fact of your life.

It is inescapable. Whether you live out a natural life span, or whether your life is cut short by some tragic accident, incident or disease, this physical life ends in death.


Physical Life Is Limited

King Solomon made it plain: "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die . . . "(Ecclesiastes 3:12).

From the moment of birth physical life is limited. Do you know why? Basic human life-supporting cells divide just so many times. They always reach a divisioning limit. Cells deteriorate, tissues deteriorate, organs deteriorate, the body deteriorates. That deterioration ends inevitably in death.

Proper health measures, including a healthful diet and the elimination of disease, may prolong life substantially. But the natural aging processes do not stop. Beauty techniques such as plastic surgery, skin stretching, the lavish use of cosmetics and hair dyes may give a more youthful appearance for a time. They are oh so temporary. The inner process of aging, leading to certain death, relentlessly continues.

No amount of wishful thinking or physical measures help. All of man's technology and scientific research, coupled with all of the money in the world, can't alter the fact that humans die!

The pressing question then is:

What happens after death? Is there hope? Is there meaning to life?


The Age-old Question

Throughout the ages, as far back as recorded time, men have been concerned about death and what happens afterward. Is there life after death?

The ancient Egyptians were concerned about death. Their attempts to solve the enigma of a life after death reached monumental proportions. Pharaohs' burial tombs were filled with treasures, and life's various paraphernalia; sometimes including, in the early period, an entourage of servants, killed and entombed to serve the pharaoh in a fancied state of existence after death.

Every group of people and every civilization that's ever existed, down to and including our modern age, has pondered about a life after death. Almost everybody has an opinion on the subject. There are about as many ideas about it as people to give them.

Why this confusion? Where is the source that can make the answer plain?


What People Believe

Said one young man, when asked if he believed in an afterlife, "I believe my inner being will be transmitted to different planes of existence as I approach perfection."

A Latin mother's quick response when asked the same question was, "Of course there's an afterlife. It's in heaven — otherwise what's the sense of living?"

Answered a young black man in his early twenties, "I don't think there is any life after death because you don't really die — your body dies, but your soul lives on."

Said another man, "I believe in a spiritual afterlife, that you have a soul and that the soul goes to a hereafter. But as to where the hereafter is, I'm not sure."

The fact is, most people in the non-communist world believe in some kind of life after death. But — how do they know?

Isn't it time to understand the truth about death and what happens after death. There is only one reliable source available for discovering the truth about death. That source is the Creator's revelation to man of essential knowledge without which man cannot know why he is here, or where he is going. We call that revelation the Holy Bible. But what it says probably is not what you think it says. Most people would be surprised to discover what the Bible reveals about life after death!


An Immortal Soul?

Contrary to popular belief, the Bible nowhere mentions an "immortal soul"! Astounding, but true! From the very first word in Genesis 1:1, to the last word in Revelation 22:21, you will not find the words immortal soul applied to man, or that man has an immortal soul.

The Bible says man is a living soul, "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7) — not an immortal soul! Did you carefully notice it? Man is a living soul.

Nowhere does the Bible say man has an immortal soul. The very Hebrew word for soul — nephesh — is the same word used of lower life forms, beasts and creeping things. It is even used to express the thought of a dead body — a dead nephesh.

But, you ask, is there a verse in the Bible that says the soul can die? Absolutely! Read it: "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4, 20), not live on! Man is a soul. Man sins. So man, a living soul, dies.

The immortal soul idea came right out of ancient Egypt, and Babylonia. It was enshrined in philosophy by Greek thought, especially by. Plato.

Notice what the Jewish Encyclopedia says about it: "The belief that the soul continues its existence after the dissolution of the body is . . . speculation nowhere expressly taught in Holy Scripture. . . . The belief in the immortality of the soul came to the Jews from contact with Greek thought and chiefly through the philosophy of Plato, its principal exponent, who was led to it through Orphic and Eleusinian mysteries in which Babylonian and Egyptian views were strangely blended" ("Immortality of the Soul," Vol. VI, pp. 564, 566).


Does Death Mean Death?

You have heard the argument — death does not mean death but life in another state. The Bible reveals that when you die, you are dead — dead all over! You don't waft up to heaven if you've been good. You don't sink down to hell, or some intermediate place, if you've been bad. The supposed heaven and hell for immortal souls is another one of man's pictured fantasies. According to the Bible, the dead don't hear anything, see anything, think anything or know anything. The dead have absolutely no awareness, no anxieties of any kind. Read it for yourself: "For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished . . . " (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6).

At the moment of death, life ceases, along with thinking processes, and thought. "His breath goeth forth," says God about man, "he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish" (Psalms 146:4).

The Bible's message is unclouded. Death is death beyond any shadow of a doubt. We're even warned to make the most of life while we have the opportunity: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest" (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

When we die we go the way of all flesh, and in that respect there is no difference between man and animals: "For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again" (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20). Of course, man, composed of the dust of the ground, returns to dust. The man that returns to dust is the soul that once lived. It is therefore the soul that disintegrates into dust! So says your Bible.

For those who want to cling to the cherished belief in floating off to heaven after death, listen to the apostle Peter's response. If anyone deserved to go to heaven, it would certainly be someone after God's own heart. David was such a man (Acts 13:22). But Peter was inspired to say, David "is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day" (Acts 2:29), and that further, "David is not ascended into the heavens" (Acts 2:34).

Too, Jesus himself said that "no man hath ascended up to heaven" (John 3:13).

There can be no doubt. Death is the end of this physical life, this present chemical existence.

But, does that mean we can do our own thing without fear of consequences — eat, drink, and be merry now because tomorrow we die?

Positively not!

Here's why.