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August 27, 2012

What Happens to Human Soul After Death?

The question about what happens to a person after death should not be a debatable issue because the Bible is clear. If studied in the contextual sense, the Bible clarifies what happens to the human soul after death. After a person dies, the human spirit breaks off and come out of the physical body. Human soul is encased inside the human spirit. The physical body goes to the grave, and the spirit returns to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Human soul is immortal. "Man goes to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the street" (Ecclesiastes 12:5). He will either spend eternity in Heaven or hell depending on his choice prior to the physical death.

Inside the human body is the human soul encased inside the human spirit. The human spirit also provides the locomotive vehicle and energy the human soul travels in the spirit realm. Every spirit has an energy source. Inside the human spirit is the location the Holy Spirit resides. Holy Spirit has baptized all those who have accepted Jesus Christ by faith. They all have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit sitting inside the human spirit. When we surrender to the Holy Spirit, he will enshroud our human spirit away from the desires of the flesh. After death, the Holy Spirit is the one that accompanies the human soul inside human spirit to Heaven. Those who have not accepted Jesus will return with their souls inside human spirit to a waiting prison. This place of the dead is beneath the earth for the Day of Judgment. A place of the dead beneath the earth is referenced throughout the Old Testament and especially throughout the Book of Psalms. However, this is not hell, but it is not a pleasant place either. It is a place of torment until the Day of Judgment. People’s soul will go to hell after the Day of Judgment and faithful Christians will go to everlasting paradise following the millennium reign of Jesus on earth. Catholics refer to this holding cell beneath the earth as purgatory. They believe a person after death still has a chance if we pray for the dead. Other Christian denominations disagree with the concept of purgatory saying, if a person does not accept Jesus before death, there is no second chance. Will God give them a second chance? I believe Jesus is the only one to settle such a family disagreement between Christians. I believe God is a merciful God. Her will temper justice with mercy. He will also judge sins. Otherwise, Jesus would never have died on the cross.

Place of the Dead Spirits

Prior to Jesus death and resurrection, there were different chambers beneath the earth. They are referred to as the place of departed human spirits. They are called Sheol or Hades. These were chambers for the righteous and other chambers for the unrighteous. Jesus made this clear in his story of Lazarus and the rich man (St. Luke 16:19-31). However, there was a Great Gulf separating paradise from a place of torment. When Jesus died, he went to these chambers beneath the earth to preach to those who have never heard the gospel (I Peter 4:6). Jesus preached in this location according to scripture for three days. After three days Jesus took the saints (the righteous) including those who accepted his message from the prison and took all of them with him to Heaven. This is one of the missions Jesus was sent to do. People tend to forget that God sent Jesus also to those in captivity beneath the ground. These souls were in prison. This is why in his mission statement; Jesus said he was sent "to set the captives free" (St. Luke 4:18). The captives were the souls of those in prison. Jesus did not go beneath the earth only for the righteous, but to set the captives free. Please, do not confuse people under the oppression of the devil on earth with those souls in captivity beneath the earth. To those being oppressed by the devil on earth Jesus said, "He has sent me to set at liberty those that are oppressed" (St. Luke 4:18).

The letter of Paul to Ephesians also confirmed this point. "When he ascended on high, he led the captives free" (Ephesians 4:8). Jesus was the one who changed the physical location of paradise from beneath the earth and took it to Heaven where God resides. Those righteous souls in paradise beneath the earth were not in captivity; they were in a pleasant place waiting for Jesus to open up Heaven after resurrection. That was why Lazarus was at the bosom of Abraham enjoying himself and the rich man was suffering in the other chamber because of his selfishness and greed. Jesus referred to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as being alive in him. For a long time, I was confused by this passage when Jesus said, "He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living" (St. Mark 12:27). Jesus was answering the question about resurrection that those who were dead in the Lord are alive in the spirit. They are not soul sleeping. Jesus confirmed this from the story of the Mt. of Transfiguration when he was speaking to Moses and Elijah (St. Matthew 17:1-3). How can the dead people who are soul sleeping be having a conversation with Jesus witnessed by the disciples? When Jesus said he is not the God of the dead, he meant that those who died in the Lord are not soul sleeping, but are alive in the Lord, just like Moses and Elijah. Amen!

This explanation is confirmed by the story in the Old Testament when Saul consulted the Medium of En-Dor. The Medium called the spirit of Samuel after Samuel had died. Saul wanted to know his fate in the battle ahead of him. The Medium said, "I saw a spirit ascending out of the earth" (I Samuel 28:13). This is another solid evidence that paradise was beneath the earth before the resurrection of Jesus. In the subsequent conversation, the Medium described Samuel’s spirit and Saul knew it was Samuel. Saul therefore bowed to the ground to respect Samuel’s spirit. In that conversation between Saul and the spirit of Samuel, Samuel predicted to Saul the Philistines would defeat Israel. Saul and his children would die in the war. However, Samuel gave Saul one good news. Samuel told Saul that his spirit and that of his sons would be with him in paradise. "And tomorrow, you and your sons will be with me" (I Samuel 28:19).

Conscious Human Spirits After Death

As we are beginning to understand more of the mysteries of the Holy Bible, those that are dead are not unconscious in the grave. They are alive in the spirit even though their bodies are dead in the graves. Some Christians misinterpret "sleep in the Lord" as soul sleep. Human soul does not sleep after death. He is either arrested and sent to prison, or the Holy Spirit will carry him to Heaven. "Absent in the body is present with the Lord" (II Corinthians 5:8). From the Old Testament the word "sleep" was used to define the physical death of the body. David slept with his father, or Solomon slept with his fathers, meant they died and their bodies were buried in the grave. It does not refer to the human spirit, or soul after death. Jesus made this point clearer when he told his disciples that Lazarus was sleeping. Meaning Lazarus was physically dead. His disciples were joking that if Lazarus was actually sleeping he should be okay. Jesus immediately corrected them and said, "Lazarus is dead" (St. John 11:14). Even the Bible explained the term Jesus used from the Old Testament. "However, Jesus spoke of Lazarus death, but they thought that he was speaking about taking rest in sleep" (St. John 11:13).

Jesus made the correction here with his disciples that when he used the word sleep, he meant the death of Lazarus physical body. This was where some Christians got the word soul sleep from because the word "sleep" was used to refer to death throughout the Bible. But it does not define the state of the human spirit and soul after death.

Soul Journey After Death

When death takes place, the silver cord that attaches the human spirit to the physical body snaps and breaks. Once the silver cord is detached from the physical body, death is irreversible. The human soul that is encased inside the human spirit is set free. The final spiritual ascension will take place as the Holy Spirit accompanies the human spirit to Heaven. Human body cannot die with the human spirit trapped inside. Without the human spirit, the physical body dies. Jesus explained this when he said in many words that the physical body cannot live by itself, the energy of life comes from the spirit. "It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (St. John 6:63). Although Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit here, but the same is true for the human spirit that the energy of life comes from the spirit. When God created man, the physical body could do nothing until God breathed life into the physical body. "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 being" (Genesis 2:7).

Without God breathing the human spirit into the physical body he created, the physical body would have remained without life. People tend to make this big mistake that the person we see in the physical, is who we are. This is an error. The physical body we see is the house the human spirit lives inside. The real person is not the physical being. Physical image is the false representation of who we are. The real person is the human soul that lives inside the human spirit. Neither the human body nor the human spirit will face judgment. The only person facing judgment is the human soul. The Bible said, "The soul that sins shall die" (Ezekiel 18:20). After death, the human soul is set free, and is taken to Heaven inside the human spirit accompanied by the Holy Spirit. If you already have the attachment of the Holy Spirit, paradise belongs to you. Otherwise, you will be led to a place of torment pending the Day of Judgment.

Human Soul is Conscious After Death

Jesus told the thief next to him while on the cross, "Today thou shall meet me in paradise" (St. Luke 23:43). How can Jesus meet a person in paradise if the soul of the person is sleeping after death? Jesus while dying on the cross, he said, "Father, into your hand I commit my spirit" (St. Luke 23:46). Meaning, Jesus’ spirit was getting ready to come out of the physical body that was dying. Some theologians said Jesus died in the spirit on the cross. This is an absolute nonsense! Jesus only died in the body and his spirit came out as he journeyed into the chambers beneath the earth. Even Jesus himself said, "As Jonah was in the belly of a whale for three days and three nights, so the son of man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three night" (St. Matthew 12:40). How could Jesus be dead in the spirit and be traveling in the spirit at the same time? When Stephen was being stoned to death he looked up to Heaven and said, "Lord Jesus, receives my spirit" (Acts 7:59). "And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:7). This implies that the human physical body has a separate destination compared to the human spirit with another destination. "Then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the Day of Judgment" (II Peter 2:9). There is no doubt that those spirits in the holding cell beneath the earth chambers may be uncomfortable for now. On the Day of Judgment, the gates of hell will open up to welcome them. What a tragic end for non-believers! "Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord …….. absent from the body and to be present with the Lord" (II Corinthians 5:6-8).

Consequently in view of all these verses from the Bible, there is no way anybody’s spirit is soul sleeping in the grave. Those who have died may either be with Jesus or waiting judgment in the holding cell beneath the earth. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. Some people who die accidentally before their assigned time will wonder as a spirit until their time. People have referred to these people as non-believers who died before their time. They become wondering spirits until their assigned date to die. Wondering spirit is very typical of people who committed suicide. Other wondering spirits are non-believers who were captured by spirit manipulators on earth for witchcraft, or used for demonic services, until they are able to break free. I do not want to discuss about witchcraft, because this is not an area of my interest. I already believe that no power formed against the children of God will prosper. I’m heavily guarded by my guardian angels with many powerful arsenals from Heaven. I have just added this part for completeness sake. We should understand that not all ghosts are demonic spirits. I have had encounters with human spirits immediately after their physical death.

Late in 2011, I had a dream about my younger sister who died almost 37 years ago. I have never had any dream about her since she died. However, on the day she died, her spirit contacted me in the U.S. As soon as I received the message from the spirit realm without anybody telling me anything, I immediately called home. While I was on the phone waiting for my mother to come to the phone, my older brother told me that my sister just died. After 37 years, I was very worried when I saw her again in my dream. In that dream, I knew she was dead. I told her to go back where she came from. I was hesitant to talk to her. She just looked at me with sadness on her face, and said nothing. Then she left. I was worried for a couple of days because I did not know the reason for such dream, or for her visit. I knew it was a revelatory dream about something. I just prayed to the Lord to reveal the purpose of that dream to me. A couple of weeks later, I received a message from home that my younger brother had died. She must have come to announce the death of her brother.

Death should not Scare Christians

Christians are those who have accepted Christ. They have nothing to worry about. Dying is like coming from one house and entering another one in great jubilation and on their way to Heaven. There is nothing called soul sleeping. Heaven is a place of rest, but it is not a place to remain unconscious. Otherwise, the rich man could never have seen Lazarus having a wonderful time in Heaven with Abraham. When people die, they are more alive in the spirit realm than in the physical. Based on my personal experiences, I have had about eight people including close relatives and friends who either communicated with me immediately after their death, or I saw them in spirit transition after death. If you have accepted Jesus as your savior, final spiritual ascension out of the body is a very joyful experience.

Those who refused to believe in Jesus are doomed! Nobody has ever seen the wind, but we feel its effects when it blows things away, or give us fresh air. Regardless to whether people want to believe in the wind or not, it does not change the fact that it is an invisible existence. Similarly, both Heaven and hell are real. Why take a chance and spend eternity in a very uncomfortable place. You have a simple choice to accept Jesus and spend eternity beholding the glory of Heavens with Jesus in paradise. The Disneyland on earth is nothing compared to the magnificent beauty of the Disneyland of Heaven. After the life on earth is over, only a fool will take a chance and go to hell! Heaven is said to be a very beautiful place. You can only gain access only through Jesus and nobody else.

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. Nobody comes to the Father but through me" (St. John 14:6). You better believe it! Otherwise, you’re doomed!

By Yinka Vidal, author, Closer Walk With Jesus.