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What Happens At Death?

by Stephen Wiggins

One of the most intriguing topics within God's word pertains to physical death. What happens when a person dies? Where does that person go? Unless we know what a human being is we are not in position to know what happens when one dies. A human is a composite being. He is a dual being, composed of both body and spirit. The physical body is derived from the dust of the ground and back to the dust it shall ultimately return (Gen. 2:7; 3:19). The spirit or soul is that imperishable aspect of the human being that was created in the very image of God. (Gen. 1:26; Matt. 10:28).

Death is defined in the Bible as that which happens when the body and soul are separated. James states that "the body apart from the spirit is dead" (James 2:26). The basic meaning of death, then, is "separation." Never does the Bible use death in the sense of extinction, annihilation, or cessation of one's existence. It is simply and solely separation -- separation of the body (the flesh) and the spirit (the immortal entity). Thus, physical death is the condition subsisting when the spirit is no longer in the body. It must be further appreciated that it is the physical "body" that is said to be "dead" and not the soul of man.

According to the atheist when one dies as far as anyone ever goes is the cemetery. The end of all things is the grave. For the one who believes the Bible as God's word, however, death is merely a transition from this earthly realm to one that is wholly spiritual in nature. At death the spirit departs the body and goes back to God who gave it (Eccl. 12:7). Eventually the soul will be reunited with a resurrected "incorruptible" body and every person will be assigned their eternal abode -- heaven or hell (John 5:28-29). It is too late to alter one's eternal destiny after death. The time to be a dedicated, devoted child of God is now while you are still among the living. One apostle says, "Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Rev. 2:10). Every person now living on earth will eventually die, unless the Lord returns first. What one must do, then, is live faithfully as a Christian by doing daily God's divine will. This will determine whether we die "in the Lord" or "in your sins" (John 8:24; Rev. 14:13).

"...upon this rock I will build My church..." Matt.16:18

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