Denial of Soul Sleep
There is a belief system that says that when a child of God dies that it
is not just the body that dies, but that the soul dies also. This belief
system advocates that in the resurrection there is not only a
resurrection of the body, but of the soul also. This is known as soul
sleep. The idea is that the soul sleeps in the grave until the
resurrection. This belief system would have the person who dies have no
conscience existence until the resurrection. Does the bible teach this
or does it teach that the soul and spirit go to heaven at the death of
The first examples
of what happens at death are given us in the Old Testament:
1. Gen. 25:8 "Then
Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and
full of years; and was gathered to his people."
2. Gen. 25:17 "And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an
hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died;
and was gathered unto his people."
3. Gen. 35:29 "And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered
unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob
4. Deu. 32:50 "And die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be
gathered unto thy people; as Aaron thy brother died in mount Hor, and
was gathered unto his people:"
In the above we have
the death of Abraham, of Ishmael, of Isaac, and of Moses with a
reference to the death of Aaron. In each of the above, we read where the
individual "died" and was then "gathered to his people." This involves
two actions. In the case of Isaac we read of a third action: he was
buried. Now if the soul sleeps with the body, then what is meant by the
phrase "was gathered to his people?" Now we read where Abraham was
buried next to Sarah, but that hardly qualifies as "being gathered to
his people," with people being a plural. Moreover, we know that Moses
was buried alone with no one else around him. So the grave cannot be the
gathering spot. The body of each of the above was buried and remains in
the grave unto this day. However, there is something that was "gathered
to his people" in the each of the above examples. As we continue in our
studies of this subject we will see that it is the soul that is
"gathered to his people." The gathering spot is paradise which is
The scriptures teach
that at the death of God's people it is only the body that dies: James
2:26 "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works
is dead also." When the spirit and soul leaves the body, the body dies.
There is no verse that teaches that the spirit and soul dies.
Next, we have some New Testament examples of a couple of people who died
and what happened to their souls at death:
1. The first example
is that of our Lord: Luke 23:46 "And when Jesus had cried with a loud
voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having
said thus, he gave up the ghost." Therefore, at the death of Jesus'
body, the spirit and soul (ghost) of Jesus went into the hands of the
Father. The body of Jesus died and was buried, but his soul and spirit
lived on with the Father.
2. The second example is that of the thief on the cross: Luke 23:43 "And
Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with
me in paradise." Now the Lord meant exactly what he said or he lied. We
know that Jesus could not lie, so he meant exactly what he said. The
body of the thief died and was buried. In contrast the soul and the
spirit of the thief were present with the Lord in paradise. This means
also that, even thou the body of Jesus died and laid in the grave for
three days, yet his soul and spirit was in paradise, because he told the
thief, "To day shalt thou be with me in paradise." So in the very day
that both our Lord and the thief died, they were together in paradise.
They both died before sundown, which was the start of the next day, and
thus at their deaths their souls and spirits went immediately into the
presence of God in paradise. I know of no other logical conclusion one
can draw from this without doing great harm to the plain meaning of what
When a person is
born again, he is born of an incorruptible nature in the inner man: 1
Pet. 1:23 "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of
incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."
Since we are born again of an incorruptible seed, then what we have as a
result of the new birth must be incorruptible. If our soul and spirit
were to sleep in the grave, then that would be a corruption to what they
were before death. Thus, the inner man does not die.
That the inner man
does not die is evidenced by the following statements concerning eternal
1. John 11:26 "And
whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou
2. John 3:36 "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he
that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God
abideth on him."
3. John 5:24 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word,
and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not
come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."
4. John 6:47 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me
hath everlasting life."
All four references above set forth the principle that the believer in
Jesus has everlasting life and shall never die. Now the body does not
now have everlasting life and will die and be buried in the grave.
However, the soul and the spirit have everlasting life and shall never
die. This utterly refutes the idea of soul sleep. How can the soul have
everlasting life and at the same time die and sleep in the dust? The
answer is that this is impossible.
Moreover, we are
given the example of the parable (?) of the rich man and Lazarus: Luke
16:22 "And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the
angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;" In
this parable, both the beggar and Abraham were living after the death of
the body in heaven. The individual consists of body, soul, and spirit.
If the body is dead, then that leaves the soul and spirit, which compose
the inner man of the child of God. This inner man is what lives on in
heaven after the death of the body.
Man can kill the
body, but he has no power to kill the soul: Mat.10:28 "And fear not them
which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear
him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Man cannot
kill the soul. Only God has the ability to destroy both the soul and
body in hell. However, He does not destroy the soul and body of the
elect family of God. Therefore, at death of the body, the souls of the
children of God live on with God in paradise.
following verses show us that we have eternal life in the soul even when
our body is corrupting itself toward the grave:
1. 1 Tim 6:19
"Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to
come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." Can we lay hold of
something if we don't have that something? We can lay hold on eternal
life because we already have eternal life in the soul and spirit.
2. 1 John 3:15 "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know
that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him." This teaches us that
we have a murderous nature in the outer man, but that we have eternal
life in the inner man.
3. 1 John 5:11 "And this is the record, that God hath given to us
eternal life, and this life is in his Son." There is a difference
between the words "hath" and "will." God hath given us eternal life in
the inner man, and he will give us eternal life in the body at the
4. 1 John 5:13 "These things have I written unto you that believe on the
name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and
that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." John said he wrote
these things that we may know that we already have eternal life. This
eternal life is in the inner man.
5. John 10:28 "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never
perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." Again, there
is a difference between "I give" and "I will give." One is in the
present and one is in the future. During our life time on earth we are
given eternal life in the inner man. At the resurrection we will be
given eternal life in the body. When the body dies, that which is
eternal goes into the very presence of God in paradise.
Completeness of the Scriptures
According to 2 Tim. 3:16, 17, "All scripture is given by inspiration of
God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for
instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect,
thoroughly furnished unto all good works." The word perfect means mature
or complete. The words perfect and thoroughly furnished indicate that
the scriptures completely furnish the child of God with everything that
is needed to perform all good works. In order words there is nothing
lacking in the scriptures for the child of God. Couple this with the
fact that Ps. 12:6 teaches that the scriptures are preserved of God in a
completely pure state: "The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver
tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them,
O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever. There
are no errors in the scripture and they completely furnish us for
everything that we need to worship and serve God and to live lives that
are acceptable unto God.
What are the
consequences of this scriptural completeness for the child of God.
First, everything that is needed for worship is included in the
scriptures. If it is not in the scriptures we are not to include it in
our worship services. Adding to what God has given us is a serious
God gave the pattern
of Old Testament worship to Moses and the children of Israel. God told
Moses to "make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the
mount." They were not to deviate from that pattern, nor were they to add
to that pattern. On one occasion two of the sons of Aaron who were
priests added to that pattern: Lev. 10:1 "And Nadab and Abihu, the sons
of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put
incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he
commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured
them, and they died before the Lord." They were to offer fire from off
the altar in their censers, but instead they offered strange fire, which
God had not commanded them. God was not pleased with their adding to his
words and destroyed them. That should certainly teach us that we are to
follow God's pattern and teaching and not alter it or add to it.
On another occasion,
King David thought to bring the ark of the covenant up to Jerusalem from
the house of Abinadab after that it had fallen into enemy hands and
later came back to Israel and was kept in Abinadab's house for a period
of time. 2 Sam. 6:1-7, "Again, David gathered together all the chosen
men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose, and went with all the
people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence
the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the LORD of hosts
that dwelleth between the cherubims. And they set the ark of God upon a
new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah:
and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart. And they
brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah,
accompanying the ark of God: and Ahio went before the ark. And David and
all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of
instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on
timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals. And when they came to Nachon's
threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took
hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the LORD was kindled
against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died
by the ark of God." Man's hands were not to touch the ark of the
covenant and the Levites were to bear the ark by the staves through the
rings on the side of the ark. Uzzah had violated God's teaching by
putting his hands to the ark. In 1 Chr. 15:12, 13, David said, "And he
said unto them, Ye are the chief of the fathers of the Levites: sanctify
yourselves, both ye and your brethren, that ye may bring up the ark of
the Lord God of Israel unto the place that I have prepared for it. For
because ye did it not at the first, the Lord our God made a breach upon
us, for that we sought him not after the due order." There is a due
order to the worship and service of God. We should seek that order and
follow that which the Lord has taught us.
There is a warning
given to those who would add to or take away from the word of God. Rev.
22:18, 19 " For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the
prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall
add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man
shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall
take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city,
and from the things which are written in this book." It is a serious
thing for God's people to add to or take away from the words of the
of the completeness of God's word is that we don't have to go outside
the scriptures to interpret the scriptures. This principle is
particularly applicable in the book of Revelations. According to Rev.
1:1 the book of Revelations is written in sign language. Many people try
to interpret the signs in Revelations based on their knowledge of
historical events or based on what they imagine those signs might mean.
Many books have been written based on this manner of interpretation of
this book. This is contrary to principle of the completeness of God's
word. The signs in Revelations and in the books of the prophets are to
be interpreted by the scriptures themselves. We are to compare spiritual
things with spiritual, that is, we are to compare scripture with
scripture for our interpretation of scripture.
In addition, the
scriptures give us everything that we need for our personal
discipleship. In Matt. 7:24-27 we read, " Therefore whosoever heareth
these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man,
which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the
floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell
not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these
sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish
man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and
the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it
fell: and great was the fall of it." The foundation of our lives is to
be built on the scriptures. We are to live according to thus sayeth the
Lord. There is nothing lacking in the scriptures that makes it necessary
to go outside the scriptures to know how to live godly, upright lives.
Rules For Bible Study
A study of the scriptures is a most noble undertaking. It was said of
the Bereans in Acts 17:11, "These were more noble than those in
Thessalonica, in that they received the word will all readiness of mind,
and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." As we
begin a study of the scriptures it is important that we know that there
are rules or principles the scriptures give us to study by. By using
these rules or principles we will come to increase our knowledge of the
scriptures and be able to correct any errors in our own knowledge base
as well as discuss and reason biblically any differences of
understanding we may encounter with our fellow Christian travelers.
The bible sets forth
the following rules and principles to study by:
1. II Tim. 3:16,
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for
doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good
works." This passage teaches us several lessons:
A. All good works
are taught in the scriptures.
B. The scriptures are a thorough furnisher unto all "good works." We
need not go outside the scripture to be thoroughly furnished in our
instruction about any or all good works. In contrast, those things that
are taught as good works, but not found in the scriptures are, in fact,
"not" good works to be observed by us.
C. The purpose of the scripture is to mature (perfect) the man of God
(those born of God).
D. All verses and passages of scripture, both in the old and new
testament will fit into one or more of the four listed categories
doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in
righteousness. Paul's own writings and the order they are given unto us
in the bible illustrate this lesson: Romans is primarily a book of
doctrine, I & II Corinthians are primarily books of reproof, Galatians
is primarily a book of correction, and Ephesians thru Philemon are
primarily books dealing with instruction in righteousness.
E. Last, but not least, the bible is inspired of God.
2. John 5:39, the
Lord said, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal
life: and they are they which testify of me." This verse teaches us:
A. The old and new testament scriptures are a continual testimony of
B. We are to search the scriptures for that testimony of Jesus.
3. II Tim. 2:15,
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to
be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." This scripture teaches
A. Our study is not to approve us before others, but to be approved unto
God. As workmen in the kingdom of God, we are to study that we might not
be ashamed because of unskillful use of the scriptures.
B. We must rightly divide the word of truth. That doesn't say that we
are to divide truth from error. For there is no error in God's word. We
are to make the proper application of God's word. A text, out of
context, is a pretext. Our application of the text must fit the context
in which it is written. Furthermore, many subjects have multiple
applications. As an example, the subject of justification can be greatly
confusing until you realize the bible teaches three courtrooms. For
instance, the bible teaches in the courtroom of glory we are justified
by grace thru the shed blood of Jesus. In the courtroom of our minds, we
are justified by our faith in the blood of Jesus, and in the courtroom
of public opinion we are justified by our works. Until we rightly
"divide" the subject of justification we will be in a state of confusion
on this or any other subject.
4. II Pet. 1:20,
"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private
interpretation." Too often people want to put their private
interpretations on the scripture. This is often done by going outside
the scripture to interpret things in the scriptures. If someone goes
outside the scripture to interpret the scripture then he has a "private"
interpretation. Regardless of the claims of some that they have a
special revelation from God, the bible clearly teaches us that their
claims are false.
5. I Cor. 2:13,
"Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches,
but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with
spiritual." This informs us that the Holy Ghost teaches us the
understanding of His word by comparing
scripture (spiritual things) with scripture. In other words, the
scripture, by the unlocking of the Holy Spirit is its own interpreter.
6. John 10:35,
"...and the scripture cannot be broken." Scriptures do not contradict
(break) themselves. There cannot be a situation where the scripture
teaches one thing and then, elsewhere, teaches something which
contradicts the previous scripture. The problem is in our understanding
of what is being taught. We should seek to reconcile those scripture
which appear to contradict themselves. Often this is done by changing
our mind about what the scripture teach. The previous rule of
interpreting scripture by using other scripture also applies here.
7. Isa. 28:9, 10,
"Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand
doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the
breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line
upon line; here a little and there a little." Studying and learning the
scriptures is compared to the natural growth process. When we learn the
basic precepts, then we build upon those basic precepts. Some precepts
cannot be adequately learned until a good foundation has been laid.
Furthermore, as in life, we learn "here a little, there a little."
Learning is a lifetime process and our study of the scriptures should be
for the rest of our lives. Almost any bible subject is taught throughout
the bible (here a little, there a little). Indirectly, this warns us
against forming hard concrete opinions based on a single verse of
8. Rom. 9:17, "For
the scripture saith unto Pharaoh..." Here Paul equates what God said to
what the scripture said. Some have said, "I pay more attention to the
red writing because that is what Jesus said." All scripture is the word
of God. The black writing is just as much the word of God as the red