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Life, Death and Your Soul

   John Lintz had just finished a year's study in London, England, and was looking forward to going home to Denver. This was the first time he had been away from home for such a long duration and he was eagerly awaiting the trip to the airport for the flight home. His family had always been close-knit.
   His warm thoughts of being happily reunited with his family were interrupted by the ring of the phone. At first he thought it must be one of his friends calling to wish him a bon voyage. But it was his brother calling long distance. Their father had just been in a fatal accident.
   What had begun as a joyous day for John had turned into a traumatic one. He was overcome with grief. "How could such a thing happen?" His father was the nicest of men. He was law-abiding and followed the Scriptures as best he could. Why did such a thing have to happen? Agony overcame John as he realized he would never see his father alive again.
   Even though the events depicted here are fictitious, they nevertheless occur regularly in everyday life. Whether death comes suddenly to someone we know or is the result of a long illness, death is always a sorrowful event.
   When death of a loved one occurs, our human frailty and shortcomings seem to take over. It is a natural human characteristic to fight for self-preservation. When someone dies, that fight is lost. Those who knew the deceased are saddened at the thought of the loss.

The Breath of Life
   Medical personnel say that the closest one is to death is at the time of one's birth. How fragile a time this is. A newborn baby, with umbilical cord cut, must learn to rely solely on its own organs to function properly. If one thing goes wrong, the infant's life is in danger.
   The same situation faced Adam and Eve.
And Yahweh 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.
   This is how man came into existence. Before that time, man was not alive. The chemical elements that make up a human body can be found in nature and man marvels at how wondrously Yahweh has made his body to function properly out of chemical mixtures.
   At the very time of birth the process of dying begins to take place. When a body is young and growing, its cells are produced at a rapid rate, but the cells also age and die. Our biological clock keeps ticking away.
   When the doctor first slapped us, if we needed to be slapped, we gasped for that first breath of air. If we hadn't gotten it, we would have died. This breath of life is a vital part of our existence. Without it we would no longer be a "living soul." This breath of life comes from Yahweh, as Strong's Exhaustive Concordance shows. This breath of life—our breath of life—belongs to Yahweh because Scripture says it returns to Him when we die:
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit [Hebrew ruach, "breath, force of life"] shall return unto Elohim Who gave it, Ecclesiastes 12:7.
   Numbers 27:16 says that Yahweh is the Elohim of the spirits (ruach) of all flesh.

A Living Soul
   Bakers, making a cake, take certain ingredients and mix them in the proper proportion to produce a delicious product. The final product is more than the sum of its ingredients When man became a living soul, the two necessary and vital ingredients were a body and the breath of life. The end product is much more than a physical body because a body, by itself, is not a living soul; it needs that "magical" element, the breath of life.
   A light bulb, by itself, is just glass and wire. But when a current is passed through it, it becomes a light capable of producing energy. The end product is, indeed, much more than its parts.
   So it is with man. When man becomes a living soul he has thoughts, desires, emotions. These characteristics and more are part of a living, breathing human being.
   Genesis 2:7 says that after man was created he became a living soul. The word translated soul is the Hebrew nephesh. Strong's Concordance says nephesh means a breathing creature. It is used some 754 times in the Old Testament where it refers not only to man but also to the lower animals.
And Elohim created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and Elohim saw that it was good ... And Elohim said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so, Gen. 1:21 and 24.
   Nothing about nephesh— soul— indicates or implies immortality. These lower animals require nourishment as man does. They can think as man can, but on a much simpler level. The difference is that man was made in the image of his Creator, Genesis 1:26 -27:
And Elohim said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our like-ess: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So Elohim created man in His own image, in the image of Elohim created He him; male and female created He them.
   The Greek word for soul, psuche, parallels the Hebrew word nephesh, in meaning. It basically means breath or a living being. Non-biblical Greek writers use this same word, psuche, when referring to all animals. It signifies a living creature, animal or man— not an immortal entity of man.

The First Lie Ever Told
   In the first few chapters of Genesis, we are told the story of the creation. In chapters 2 and 3, we read that the Garden of Eden contained two very important trees: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. Both were pleasing to the eye and had good food,
   And out of the ground made Yahweh Elohim to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Genesis 2:9.
   In Genesis 2:17, however, the first human beings, Adam and Eve, were told not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, "for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die." In Hebrew this means "dying you shall die."
   In other words, the slow process of death would take over and they would eventually die in time.
   Parents, have you ever instructed your children not to do something? What usually happens? The child does it anyway because it is a natural human characteristic to find out the consequences. The same thing was true of Adam and Eve.
   Satan, as the great deceiver, fooled mankind from the beginning into believing lies. Adam and Eve were instructed not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. In Genesis 3:4 we read of Satan's telling Eve, "You shall not surely die." In Hebrew this means "dying you shall not die." This was a complete contradiction and a perverse lie.

Removal from Eden and Life
   Believing that Satan's lie was not a lie, Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Because of this disobedience to Yahweh's commandment, Adam and Eve discovered they were naked. They knew the difference between good and evil,
And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons, Genesis 3:7.
   Because of their defiance of Yahweh's commandment, Yahweh had to forcibly remove them from the Garden of Eden. Why? So Adam and Eve could not partake of the tree of life,
And Yahweh Elohim said, Behold, the man is become as one of Us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever, Genesis 3:22.
   Because of this disobedience to Yahweh's commandment, Yahweh also placed a heavy burden on the first humans, and on us, as we read in Genesis 3:22-24 of the reason they were driven from the Garden of Eden:
And Yahweh Elohim said: “Behold, the man is become as one of Us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever:” Therefore Yahweh Elohim sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the Garden of Eden, cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life.
   We now see the consequences of the first sin. Man was sent from the Garden of Eden so he could not eat of the tree of life and live forever.
   The phrase, "to keep the way of the tree of life," means to preserve it for a future time. That future time can be found in Revelation 22:2 and 14,
In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations ... Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
   Because of man's original sin, we are all destined to die a physical death unless we are alive when
   Yahshua returns to claim His own,
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of Yahweh; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality, 1 Corinthians 15:50-53.
   In Ecclesiastes 3:2 we are told that there is a time to be born and a time to die. Each of us must consider dying. We have no options concerning death. Death is inevitable. Paul wrote,
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment, Hebrews 9:27.
   We are all destined to die a physical death:
What is he that lives and shall not see death? Shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? (Psalm 89:48).

Innate Immortality a Superstition
   Life begins at conception. This life causes our heart to beat and to circulate blood throughout our system, providing nourishment to the cells and removing impurities. But when we die this life is removed and the flow of blood ceases.
   Because blood is so essential to sustaining life, we are forbidden to eat or drink it:
For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off, Leviticus 17:14.
   And when man dies, he must relinquish this breath of life:
But man dies, and wastes away: yes, man gives up the spirit [breath of life], and where is he? (Job 14:10).
   This is a big question: “Where is man when he dies?” Man has misunderstood and misconstrued the answer to this question, as is seen in many mythological deities and modern-day religious beliefs. The Greeks and the Scandinavians, as well as the American Indians, all have their own pagan notions as to what happens to a person upon death and beyond.
   Some modern-day religions teach of a place the dead go to where they remain so those that are alive may, through prayers, supplications, and good deeds, cause the dead to become more perfect and, as the result, be allowed to enter heaven.
   Scriptures will bear out that this is the result of Satan's lie,
"You shall not surely die," Genesis 3:4.
   Mankind shares one thing with all members of the animal kingdom—the breath of life:
For that which befalls the sons of men befalls beasts; even one thing befalls them: as the one dies, so dies the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man has 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.
   What happens to the breath of life of a man at death?
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit (ruach) shall return to Elohim Who gave it, Ecclesiastes 12:7.
   In Luke 8:49-56 Yahshua overheard someone saying that a woman was dead. After He went into the house where this dead woman was and said, "Maid arise," we read that this woman's spirit (pneuma) returned again and she arose. Without the spirit she was dead but with it she was alive. Her "soul" was not hovering above, watching what was happening.
   As we have seen, when the body and the breath were combined, man became a living soul. When one dies, that breath is removed and returns unto Yahweh. The body and the spirit (breath) are separate entities and the body without the spirit is dead.

Dust We Are
   For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also, James 2:26.
   This spirit is that force that allows us to become and remain living beings. Without it, we are dead. What happens when this spirit is removed? Psalm 104:29 says it well:
You hide Your face, they are troubled: You take away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.
   The Hebrew word sheol means grave, but translators translated it hell in many places. All living things, when they die, go to the grave:
They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shall cover them, Job 21:26.
All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust, Job 34:15.

How Dead Is Dead?
   That spirit of life—the breath of life—given to us when we are born, causes the body to become a separate, living soul, as Genesis 2:7 says. When the spirit is removed at death all of the body functions cease to work.
   Scriptures also tell us that other important functions cease to work at the time of death. Read the following and see whether a person's thought processes continue after death, as is the common notion.
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; neither have they any more a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun, Ecclesiastes 9:5-6.
Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you go, Ecclesiastes9:10.
Behold therefore, I will gather you unto your fathers, and you shall be gathered into your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the evil I will bring upon this place, 2 Kings 22:20.
His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish, Psalm146:4.
There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest, Job 3:17.
   In these verses we read that the dead know nothing, have no thoughts, cannot love, hate or show envy. They also cannot work, have no wisdom, nor can they see. Death is also described as a place where the wicked cease from troubling or worrying.
   Hebrews 9:27 states that nothing occurs between death and the judgment:
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.
   Therefore, the Scriptures plainly tell us that death must be a state of total unconsciousness, of being completely unaware of what is going on and not being able to do anything about it.
   All we can expect when we die is to be awakened for life or judgment at the resurrection. If we were immortal and continued living in some state after death, there would be no need of a resurrection, John 6:40.
   But, you might ask, what about Lazarus and the rich man or the instance in which the Scriptures indicate that dead people talk?

Lazarus and the Rich Man
   The account of Lazarus and the rich man given in Luke 16 is a parable used solely to convey the meaning expressed in verse 31: unless we accept the truth, there is no hope.
   The accounts in the Scriptures indicating that the dead speak are as symbolic in nature as is the account in Judges 9, where different forms of vegetation speak.
   The story of Lazarus and the rich man does bring out one important fact. Some religions believe in baptism for the dead or in performing righteous acts for the dead so that the dead person's heart can be made pure. Yet, in Luke 16:26 we read that nothing can be done for a dead person to change his final judgment:
And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
   Thus, when one dies, no one can do anything more for him and the dead cannot do anything more for himself. The dead person's future status cannot be changed by anyone through any means.

Death—Asleep in the Grave
   To show further that death brings on a state of complete unconsciousness, examine Paul's statement in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14:
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Yahshua died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Yah-hua will Yahweh bring with Him.
   Job 14:11-12 tells us the same thing:
As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decays and dries up: so man lies down, and rises not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.
   The Scriptures say that when death occurs the dead go to the grave and not to heaven or to hell or to a place where their hearts can be made pure. Death brings on a state that parallels unconscious sleep. And the dead remain asleep until they are resurrected — that time when we shall all receive what we deserve:
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works, Matthew 16:27.
   The fact that Yahshua has not yet returned to reward His people is borne out by Hebrews 11:39, which indicates that some of our illustrious forefathers like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have yet to receive these promises.
And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise.
   They are not now in heaven and never were.

Our Future Dead Soul
   The lie which Satan presented to Eve, "dying you shall not die," has led to much confusion as to what the Scriptures mean when they refer to the soul. We have already seen that when the breath of life was put into the body, man became a living soul. We have also seen that when this breath of life is removed from the living soul, the soul no longer exists as it once did.
   Numerous Bible scholars agree that modern-day usage of the word soul comes from Greek philosophy—pagan religious thought. The Greek philosopher Plato quoted Socrates as saying,
   "The soul (at death) ... departs to the invisible world — to the divine and immortal and rational: thither arriving, she lives in bliss and is released from the error and folly of men. . . and forever dwells in company of the gods." Phaedo, vol. 2, pp. 73, 103.
   These ideas conveyed through Socrates are quite opposite to what the Scriptures indicate. In Ezekiel 18:4 we read,
Behold, all souls are Mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is Mine: the soul that sins, it shall die.
   Moreover, Yahshua told the disciples in Matthew 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 Gehenna.
   Man became a living soul. Thus, he does not have a soul. Both body and soul can be destroyed in the lake of fire, if we believe the Scriptures.

Death—the Penalty of Sin
   More proof that death is like being asleep is found in Hebrews 9:27,
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.
   Yahweh has given Yahshua the task of judging all mankind:
For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son, John 5:22.
   When we die, time will stand still for us until we are awakened to stand before the judgment seat of Yahshua.
But why do you judge [Greek, condemn] your brother? Or why do you set at nought your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of the Messiah, Romans 14:10.
   At that time we shall receive our reward, everlasting life or everlasting death—spiritual death, forever separated from Yahweh:
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before Yahweh; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell [hades] delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell [hades] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire, Revelation 20:12-15.

Immortality ls a Gift
   The two words, soul and immortal, do not appear together in the same verse anywhere in the Scriptures. Further, the words immortal and immortality appear only in the New Testament Scriptures, even though the thought is conveyed by some Old Testament Scriptures. In Luke 12:5 Yahshua reaffirms Yahweh's power concerning the body and the soul:
But I will forewarn you Whom you shall fear: fear Him, which after He has killed has power to cast into hell [gehenna]: yea, I say unto you, fear Him.
   If the soul be cast into the lake of fire for destruction, how can it be immortal?
   All of the Scriptures agree that Yahweh, as the source of life, is not subject to death; hence, He is immortal. Man lost his chance for immortality in the Garden of Eden when he believed Satan's lie and sinned. Because of this, the death sentence was passed down unto all mankind. However, Yahweh still wants us to obtain that status. Yahweh therefore sent us His Son.
For the Messiah also has once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to Yahweh, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the spirit, 1 Peter 3:18.
   Just as it was in the beginning for Adam and Eve, to receive immortality requires obedience to His way of life.
To them who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory and honor and immortality, life everlasting, Romans 2:7.
   Scriptures show that man does not have an immortal soul; he must seek immortality, as immortality is a gift from Yahweh. At this time we do have the hope of receiving this gift because of Yahshua's death and resurrection, and look forward to Yahshua's return:
For Yahshua Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of Yahweh; and the dead in Messiah shall rise first: then we which are alive, and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet Yahshua in the air: and so shall we ever be with Him, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the Mighty One, our Savior Yahshua the Messiah, Titus 2:13.
   Immortality is given only to those who are, and who remain, faithful to the end.

Prepare Now, in This Life
   Self-preservation is one of man's strongest urges. Humans want to hold onto life as long as possible. And because of man's gullibility, he wants to believe the lie propagated by the father of all liars, Satan, that we have an immortal soul. But if we truly study and believe in the Scriptures, we will know this is not true.
   We know that we shall die, but not when. It could happen at any time, even in our sleep. And when we do die we lose everything. That includes our souls. As Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:7,
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
   What we must do at this time is set our lives aright, be in tune with our Heavenly Family and with the words given to us in the Bible. If we do this, and have faith and assurance in the Scriptures, then Matthew 25:21 can be our comfort:
Well done good and faithful servant ... .enter into the joy of your Master.
   If we are one and remain of His, Yahweh will resurrect us to everlasting life.

-Elder Roger G. Meyer

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