Denial of Soul Sleep
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."
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 heaven.
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 Jesus said.
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 life:
1. John 11:26 "And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?"
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.
Moreover, the 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.
Completeness of the Scriptures
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 error.
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 Lord.
Another consequence 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
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.
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:
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
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 scripture.
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 writing.