Life After Death

Chapter 2: The Intermediate State (Part 1)

What will happen when we die? Is death the end? Or is it just a journey to a new phase of our experience. The Bible has very clear answers to these issues and tells us to live our lives in the light of them. 
 
 Many like to believe there is nothing beyond the grave for then there is little to fear. These are materialists who believe nothing exists except for this material universe. But the Bible says before this universe even existed, God IS: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). God is the eternal 

‘I AM’ existing outside of time, space and matter. God is eternal Spirit, and He has made man in His image, therefore we are at the deepest level a spirit. Man is essentially a SPIRIT, he has a SOUL and he lives in a BODY. The visible part of us is the body, and 
the invisible part of us is comprised of spirit and soul (or mind). Therefore when our body dies, we do not cease existing because our spirit-soul continues to live on. Jesus said: “Fear not them who kill the BODY, but cannot kill the SOUL” (Matthew 10:28). 
 
 1Thessalonians 5:23: “May the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely and may your whole SPIRIT, SOUL and BODY be preserved blameless at the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
 
 Hebrews 4:12 distinguishes between our soul and spirit: “the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of SOUL and SPIRIT, ...and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
 
Genesis 2:7 describes the creation of the first man: 

“The Lord formed man of the dust of the ground (his BODY) and breathed into his nostrils the breath (SPIRIT) of lifeand man became a living SOUL.” Notice that the material and immaterial parts of man are clearly distinguished. The body is dust that dies, but the spirit is made from God's breath which cannot die. When the spirit was breathed into the body they fused and the result was a living soul (personality). Therefore we would expect the spirit-soul to lives on after the death of the body. In fact physical death is simply the separation of the spirit from the body, usually because the body is no longer able to house the spirit.Physical death is the state of the body after the spirit has left it.
 
 The Bible speaks of an outward man and an inward man.
The real essential us is the man on the inside (the spirit-man). 
The outward man is the clothing of the spirit and it allows the spirit to act and express itself in this physical world. 
 
 The outward man is mortal, but the inward man is immortal: 
2 Corinthians 4:16-18: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man (body) is perishing, yet the inward man (spirit-soul) is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction (in this life), which is but for a moment(this life is so short) is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen (including our body) aretemporary, but the things which are not seen (including our spirit, our inward man) are eternal.”  
 
 The Bible teaches the Immortality of the Soul.
 Psalm 22:26: “Your heart (inner man) shall live forever.”
 
 Matthew 10:28: “Fear not them who kill the body, but can not kill the soul.” Unlike our body, our soul is not subject to death. It is not killed when our body is killed. It continues to exist. 
 
 1Peter 3:4 says that we should put on the fruit of the spirit, that our adorning should be that of: “the hidden man of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” This tells us that ‘the hidden invisible man of the heart’ is our reborn human spirit which is incorruptible and indestructible.
 
 The many promises of eternal life to believers mean that we do not cease to exist at physical death or go into some kind of ‘soul-sleep.’ 
 
 John 3:16: “whosoever believes in Him (Jesus, as the Son of God) has everlasting (eternal) life.” 
 
 John 5:24: “whosoever hears My word and believes Him 
Who sent Me has (possesses) eternal life (in his reborn spirit).”
 
 John 6:47: “He who believes in Me (Jesus) has eternal life.” 
 
 1John 2:17: “He who does the will of God lives forever.”
 
 1John 5:11-13: “God has given us eternal life and this life is 
in His Son. He who has the Son has (eternal) life, 
he who does not have the Son does not have life. 
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you might know that you have eternal life.”
 
 Proverbs 4:18: “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.”
 
 John 11:25,26: “Jesus said, I AM: 
(1) the Resurrection (for the body) and 
(2) the Life (for the spirit): 
(1) he who believes in me, though he were dead, 
yet shall he live (by the resurrection of his body), and 
(2) whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die 
 (because his spirit will have eternal life).” Clearly this is not saying that we will not ever die physically, but that we will not ever die spiritually, because when we believe in Christ we receive God’s eternal life into our spirit. This proves that our spirit continues to live on forever even after our body has died. 
 
 In Matthew 22:31,32, Jesus reminds us that God says about Himself: “I AM the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” 
 Then He says: “He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” 
In other words even though Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have died physically they are alive now and have everlasting life, for they have an eternal covenant with God that unites them so strongly that God has included them in His very Name, for He is now called: “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Luke 20:37).
 
 Luke 20:38: “He is not a God of the dead, but of the living, for all live unto Him (including those who have died physically).” Moses appearing at the Mount of Transfiguration living past his death, before the resurrection is further proof of life continuing after death (Matthew 17:3).
 
 The Bible teaches that we will go through 3 States or Phases of existence: 
(1) THIS LIFE, our spirit living in a mortal body. 

(2) The INTERMEDIATE STATE, when our spirit leaves our body at death. We continue to exist, but as a disembodied spirit.
(3) The ETERNAL STATE in which we will be a spirit united to and living in an immortal resurrection body.
 
 

 

SOUL SLEEP OR BODY SLEEP? 
The Bible does NOT teach SOUL-SLEEP at death. Some groups who claim to believe the Bible teach soul-sleep, that we will not experience any intermediate state because the soul cannot exist apart from the body. Thus at death the soul sleeps, it is unconscious awaiting the resurrection day. Now it is true that the Bible speaks of believers who die as ‘asleep' (John 11:11-14). But this refers to his body, not to his soul. His body is ‘as it were’ sleeping, passively waiting for the Lord to raise it up again. When one uses the word ‘death’ it gives the impression of permanence. So the language of ‘sleep’ is used to emphasise that physical death is just temporary and that his body will awake and arise on the resurrection morning. As we consider the many other scriptures it becomes abundantly clear that Bible does not teach SOUL-SLEEP. 


In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus Himself taught clearly that our soul will live beyond death and described in detail what will happen to us (what the Intermediate State is like for believers and unbelievers).

v19: “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 
v20,21: But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, 
full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed 
with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 

v22: So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s Bosom (Paradise). 

The rich man also died and was buried 
(no mention of angels). 

v23: And being in Torments, IN HADES, he lifted up his eyes 
and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his Bosom. 

v24: “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 

v25: But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 

v26: And besides all this, between us and you there is a great Gulf fixed (the Abyss - the jail for demons and fallen angels), 
so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us (our destiny is fixed at death).” 

v27-28: “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them lest they also come to this place of torment’ 

v29-31: “Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ v30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham (your natural birth does not qualify you for heaven); 
but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 
But he said to him ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.” 

*Note that after death there are 2 possible destinies for your soul: Abraham’s Bosom and Torments, and they are fixed forever. Believers like Lazarus went to Abraham’s Bosom (also called Paradise) whilst unbelievers like the rich man went to Torments. They cannot move from one to the other: “between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us” (v26).  

*Notice all the words describing his conscious experience after death - he saw, he willed, he heard, he desired, he felt heat, thirst and torment, he talked and felt concern concerned for his family. Also Lazarus and Abraham were conscious felt comforted in Paradise. This totally contradicts the idea of soul-sleep. 

Now this passage of scripture is embarrassing to those who teach soul-sleep, and so they try to explaining it away as a Parable, but this is weak. First of all, Jesus never said He was telling a Parable. He started by saying: “There was a certain rich man” (v19). So we have to assume He was telling a true story. Jesus told this as a true story and we have no right to deny it happened or could have happened. Secondly, even if it was a parable, it changes nothing for parables are reality-based, not mythical stories. They always true to life (like the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son), teaching spiritual truths by comparing them to natural realities. Therefore if souls do not consciously exist after death, then in Luke 16, Jesus is deceiving us about life after death, which is absurd.

Where do people go after death? 
Luke 16 describes both men go to a place called HADES (v23) in the Greek, which is equivalent to the Hebrew word SHEOL. HADES and SHEOL are the Greek and Hebrew names for the invisible realm under the earth where departed spirits go until the time for their resurrection and final judgement. This is a place of confinement where departed spirits must wait for the time for their resurrection and final judgement, when they will be sentenced by God and released into their final and eternal state.

Jesus said that He would go to Hades upon His death, for He said that He would be: “3 days and 3 nights in the HEART of the EARTH” (Matthew 12:39-40). He also told the thief on the Cross that he would soon be with Him in Paradise (which was then in Hades). Paul said in Ephesians 4:8-10 that before Jesus ascended on high He descended to the lowest parts of the earth (in Hades). 

Luke 16 also shows that Hades has at least 3 compartments: Paradise, Torments and the Abyss.

The rich man and Lazarus went to two different places, but both went to Hades under the earth. This is clear from the fact that they could see each other and even communicate clearly. They were in the same same realm (Hades) but were separated by an abyss. Thus believers and unbelievers went to 2 different departments of Hades:

(1) Believers went to a place of comfort called Abraham's Bosom
. Abraham is the father of all true believers, so he is the father over this realm which is named after him. This place was also called: Paradise, which means: “The Palace Gardens of the King.” 

Jesus said to the believing thief on the Cross: “You will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). He was assuring him that as a believer he had been saved from going to Torments. Notice that before the death and resurrection of Christ it was not possible for believers’ spirits to go to heaven upon death because they were not born-again. However because they had received the mercy and forgiveness of God they were in the blessing of Paradise rather than under the judgement of Torments.

(2) Unbelievers go to another compartment of Hades (under the earth) called Torments. It is the Palace Dungeon, the holding-cell for those under the condemnation of the King, where they await their final sentencing and assignment to their final place of confinement and punishment - the Lake of Fire (Gehenna). Torments was below Paradise as the people in Torments had to look up to see those in Paradise: “being in Torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off (in Paradise), and Lazarus in his bosom” (Luke 16:23).

(3) There was also a great Gulf fixed between Paradise and Torments, called the Abyss or the Bottomless Pit, which is the place of imprisonment for fallen angels and demons.

Isaiah 14:9-11 also describes departed souls arriving in Hades-
Sheol and confirms that are conscious. It describes antichrist’s arrival in Hell (Hades): “Hell (Hades-Sheol) from beneath is excited about you (the king of Babylon - the Antichrist, see v4) to meet you at your coming; it stirs up the dead for you, all the chief ones of the earth. It has raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. They all shall speak and say to you: ‘Have you also become as weak as we? Have you become like us? Your pomp is brought down to Sheol (Hades), and the sound of your stringed instruments; the maggot is spread under you, and worms cover you.” 

*Before the Cross
, Paradise was under the earth within Hades, and that was where all believers went upon death. But when Christ rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven, He took Paradise (with all the believers) with Him. He relocated all the believers in Paradise to Heaven (Ephesians 4:8-11) because He had opened a new and living way for them through His blood . He had made it possible for them to be born-again and become New Creations, the righteousness of God in Christ who are able to go straight into God’s Presence in Heaven. Thus He brought many sons to glory even on the day of His resurrection. We will see more on this later in the book.

This is confirmed in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4
: “I know a man in Christ who (died) 14 years ago (see Acts 14:18,19 for when this happened) —whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows —such a one was caught UP to the THIRD HEAVEN - he was caught UP into PARADISE and heard inexpressible words.” 

This man was Paul himself who 14 years before had been stoned to death and left his body and went to heaven in his spirit, before returning when the brethren prayed for him (Acts 14:18,19). Notice that when his spirit left his body he was still conscious. Notice also that he did not go down to Hades, but UP to the 3rd Heaven. He went UP through the 1st Heaven (the atmosphere), then UP through the 2nd Heaven (outer space) into the 3rd Heaven, where he entered into PARADISE. So Paradise, where all believers go at death, is no longer under the earth in Hades, but in Heaven above, where the New Jerusalem is, and where our Lord Jesus Christ Himself is at the right hand of God. This means that if you have put all your faith in Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection for you, then when you die you will go straight up into Heaven, into the very Presence of the Lord. Praise God! 

Are you ready for death? Jesus has paid the price with His blood for you to be delivered from the torments of Hell, and be with Him forever in Paradise, in the Kingdom of God. He has opened up the way for you to enter into Heaven’s glory where He has prepared a place for you. But you have to say ‘YES’ to His offer of salvation and receive Him by faith into your heart as your Lord and Saviour. When you do this, He will come into your heart and life by His Spirit and empower you to live a life pleasing to Him.

How can you be ready for death and be sure of going to heaven?
First, make sure you are going to the right destination by receiving Christ as your Lord and Saviour! 
1. Put all your trust in Christ for your salvation and eternal life. 
2. Life a changed life that proves your faith in Christ is genuine.

If you have not yet put all your trust in Jesus for your salvation and eternal life in heaven, I want you to do it now, by praying with me now, repeat the words after me and say them from your heart to God. Let us pray.

*Pray Sinner’s Prayer.

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