The Moment After You Die

What happens after death? Whatever you think you know can be challenged from the one source that gives the real answer.

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What happens at the moment of death? Does your soul go immediately to heaven or paradise or maybe even to hell? Do you return as another person or creature? Or do you blend into the universe, forgotten and unknown for the rest of eternity?

There are many ideas and beliefs about the moment of death. Regular Beyond Today presenter, Darris McNeely, is going to challenge everything you may have heard, comparing it with the one source that provides the truth.

Jesus said "you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Isn't it time you discovered the truth of what happens immediately after you die?

On Beyond Today, we're going to join Darris McNeely on location at the Greenlawn Cemetery in Milford, Ohio, to face the great unknown and explore what happens The Moment After You Die.

You see here a cemetery—a place of the dead. We go to cemeteries to visit the graves of families and friends. We go to mourn, to grieve and to remember.

We have so many ideas about what happens at death. What I have noticed is no matter what the idea or belief most have, it does not seem to comfort and set us free.

I once knew a lady who was afraid to live and she was afraid to die. But one day her fear of death was less and she decided to attempt suicide. She failed. While she was recovering, she told me with tears in her eyes, what she had in mind when she tried taking her life. She said she wanted to see what was on the other side. She wanted to cross over, as some describe, and finally find out the truth.

She was a Christian. She had heard what Christian churches say about death and the hereafter. She had also dabbled in the ideas of parapsychology and popular thought. She had heard of people who have near death experiences and come back to tell about it. Her overwhelming troubles and curiosity drove her to try and see the truth for herself.

What do you think she experienced? What do you think was on the other side?

Before you answer that, consider what you have always thought about the moment of death. Be willing to suspend your traditional belief for the answer that might lead to truth and freedom.

Many believe that at death there is complete annihilation. One ceases to exist. There is no life beyond in any form. Memory ceases and there is no more existence now or forever.

This is the extension of evolutionary thought, that life is nothing but a physical chemical existence with no spiritual dimension. And so, sincere atheists believe there is nothing at death.

But this not where most people are. Most people believe in something. And increasingly today, we see aspects of New Age, Buddhism and nature religion blend together to create an idea of life extending beyond the grave in some kind of mix with the elements of nature.

Listen to this excerpt of Mary Elizabeth Frye's often quoted poem, "Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep," which says the following:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am in a thousand winds that blow,

I am the softly falling snow.

I am the gentle showers of rain,

I am the fields of ripening grain.

Do not stand at my grave and cry;

I am not there. I do not die.

When Princess Diana died in that tragic Paris auto accident, tens of thousands expressed their grief by laying flowers and messages at the gates of London's Buckingham Palace.

One message seemed to speak with the voice of the dead princess: "I did not leave you at all. I am still with you. I am in the sun and in the wind. I am even in the rain. I did not die, I am with you all."

Walk through any cemetery and you will see inscriptions that echo this type of belief. Many Christians and well meaning people of faith have adopted such beliefs to relieve their grief or find comfort in the face of death.

Some adopt these ideas as variations on the mistaken belief that we have an immortal soul that escapes the physical body at death.

Remember the lady I told you about who wanted to see what was beyond this life? She was influenced by this idea of a soul that survives the body and lives beyond the grave.

Something I have noticed at funerals is people will place a letter or a poem or some favorite possession of the deceased into the casket to be buried with them. Some may do this thinking the dead will read or need the item while others just do it only out of sentiment as an aid in grieving.

I admit that when my father died, I thought for a moment to put one of my dad's favorite fishing lures into his casket with the corpse. His one love in life was bass fishing and he left behind dozens of lures used in catching the big ones. I had no illusion that he would need it in the grave. It was just a sentiment that perhaps would have helped our family laugh a bit in the grieving process. So I do understand why you might want to do this.

Now, this could be carried to an extreme. I read of one widow who was having her husband's remains cremated. She put into the coffin two cans of the spray adhesive that the dead man had used to paste on his toupee. The cans exploded in the heated oven and bent the furnace door. Not a good idea!

I'll tell you why these types of ideas find growing acceptance today. It's because there is a rejection of the false teachings of established religion about heaven and hell. Many reject the vague idea of going to heaven because they see no purpose or connection in this present life. Search the Bible for proof that we go to heaven after death and you will not find it. I know, I have studied the teaching and it's not there.

Some of you have loved ones, who have died and you sincerely believe you will see them again in heaven. But ask yourself: What are you going to do with them for all eternity? Sing? Dance? Stare at God?

Search your Bible and you will see God spends more time telling us what we should be doing now, in this life, preparing for something beyond our wildest dreams. But more about that later…

Now what about the idea of people going to hell? Well, a lot of people can't wrap their minds around this belief either. They can't reconcile the idea of a loving God consigning people to eternal torment in a fiery hell. Many have also come to think that this life is enough of a hell and they reject the teaching. Even the Catholic Church has altered its teaching about a literal hell. In 1999 Pope John Paul II stated that hell is symbolic and figurative of "the complete frustration and [the] emptiness of life without God." He added, "Rather than a physical place, hell is the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy." He said hell is "a condition resulting from attitudes and actions which people adopt in this life."

But what does God say?

In the modern day rejection of the traditional heaven and hell doctrines, we see a disbelief in the idea of a final judgment—that God will pass judgment on both righteous and unrighteous lives. The Bible clearly teaches that all humans will be judged and that judgment is final. What many are confused about is when judgment takes place and what it really means. The true God of judgment may be far different than what you have been led to believe. The truth is, God is a merciful and compassionate judge. What He has planned for you is far better than an eternity in heaven or hell.

What does the Bible say about the moment of death and what happens when the body dies? Let's look at Scripture to see.

In Psalm 146, it says "His spirit"—speaking of man—"departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish."

The book of Ecclesiastes chapter 9 says, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work [nor] device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going."

These scriptures say there is no thought, no consciousness at death. It's pretty plain.

In one of the plainest statements the apostle Paul says of the dead, "But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope."

Death is like a sleep. There is no conscious thought. There is no knowledge of the living grieving. The dead are not aware of this world or any other existence for that matter. The moment you die, your thoughts cease.

Now, some of you may be thinking right now about something Jesus said on the subject. He told the thief on the cross that he would be with Him in paradise. We'll discuss this in a minute. But first listen to this message about today's free literature offer. Beyond Today co-host, Gary Petty, will tell you more about it.

You know it's a question all of us ask at one time or another: What happens to me when I die? We have a booklet that can help you answer that question: What Happens After Death?

This booklet doesn't begin with death, but with the wonder of life. It tackles questions like: Why are human beings different than animals? And what is the purpose for your life? It is only when you understand God's purpose for creating human beings that you could begin to grasp the reality of life after death.

You can receive a free copy by calling: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632 or you can read What Happens After Death? online at .

All of our literature is provided free as a public service. Be sure to get your free copy today! And if you have an iPad you can download many of our booklets through the Apple iBook App.

And don't forget to join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter .

Well let's rejoin Darris McNeely at the Greenlawn Cemetery as he explores The Moment After You Die.

Jesus made a statement that is often misused as proof that we go to heaven the moment after we die. Here is what the gospel tells us.

As Jesus Christ hung dying, He told a convicted criminal being crucified with Him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke:23:43). Now many people think Jesus assured the man he would go to heaven with Him that very day. But is this really what Jesus meant?

A fundamental principle for sound Bible study is to carefully check the context. Notice the specific wording of the man's request: "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom" (Luke:23:42). Notice that the thief expressed no expectation of immediately going to heaven with Jesus at the moment they died.

He may have already known something about the nature of the Kingdom of God. That it would be a literal kingdom to be established on earth by the Messiah. Jesus Himself had previously given an entire parable.

He said, "...because they thought that the kingdom of God would immediately appear," in Luke 19.

Jesus also taught His disciples to pray, "Your kingdom come" (Luke:11:2). This Kingdom is the Kingdom that Jesus will establish on earth at His return, not a location in heaven to which we go when we die.

Notice also Jesus' response to the man, telling him, " will be with Me in Paradise." Understanding the nature of the biblical use of the term paradise is crucial to understanding this passage.

The Greek word here translated paradise, means an enclosed garden or a park. This same word was used in references to the Garden of Eden. Where it is used in the New Testament, it refers to the place of God's presence.

Jesus tells us, the tree of life is located in the midst of the Paradise of God in Revelation. Revelation chapter 22 explains that the tree of life is to be in the New Jerusalem. God will come from heaven with this New Jerusalem (Revelation:21:2-3) after the resurrections of the dead mentioned in Revelation 20. Only at that time will men dwell with God in this paradise.

We can see that the paradise Christ mentioned, where men will dwell with God in His Kingdom, is to be a future time.

How do we know this was Christ's meaning? Again, as noted above, Jesus plainly said He was going to be dead and buried for the following three days and nights, after which He clearly told Mary, that He had not yet ascended to heaven.

Putting together the relevant scriptures, we can see here the truth of the matter. The robber, facing imminent death while being crucified alongside Jesus (Luke:23:39-41), sought comfort and assurance. Jesus provided it, telling the man, "Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise." The paradise of which Jesus spoke wasn't heaven, but the Eden-like world to which the man would be resurrected according to God's plan.

Jesus never said nor implied that the dying man would be in paradise or heaven on that very day. Christ was encouraging him by solemnly assuring him that a time would come, in God's future Kingdom on earth, when the man would be resurrected and would see Jesus again.

And that friends, is what you will know, the moment after you die. The next conscious moment after death will be in a resurrection. This truth is taught throughout the Bible. It is what Christ taught and it is what the earliest Christians believed. You can know this truth; it will set you free from fear and sorrow.

When Jesus came preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, He came among Jews who believed in the Old Testament scriptures. They believed that the dead would be resurrected at a distant time when God would make judgment and remake the world. The dead would be brought back to life in visible bodies.

That is what Martha understood Christ to be saying when they talked at the tomb of her dead brother Lazarus.

She said: "I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." (John:11:24)

Christ taught the resurrection from the dead. The Jews came back to Him with a trick question. In His answer, Jesus affirmed the truth of this fundamental biblical teaching.

In Matthew 22 (verses 22-33), it says, "The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, saying: ‘Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.'

"Jesus answered and said to them, ‘You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like [the] angels of God in heaven. But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?" God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.' And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching."

Here Christ speaks of the resurrection as a future event with a certainty and in some detail.

Christ speaks of a reward for the people of God at the time of the resurrection, speaking of being "repaid at the resurrection of the just" (Luke:14:14).

The teaching of your Bible and the hope of all the dead is the resurrection. A bodily resurrection at a future time when all things would become new and a great restoration of all things would occur.

This belief in the resurrection is what fueled the apostles and the early Church with fire and determination to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. The apostles saw the resurrected Christ and knew the reality that death had been conquered.

They knew no fear.

Christ had told them, be not afraid. They saw His resurrection and knew death, the greatest of enemies, had been defeated. Their lives were transformed. They were changed men and women.

This same change can come to you with this understanding of what happens at death. The truth of the resurrection can change your life.


By understanding that God will resurrect the dead for a far greater purpose than can be imagined by the false teaching of heaven or hell. The truth of the resurrection changes your life! When you get the truth about death right, then the life we have, now becomes all the more important.

Death, both as a fascination and question, is a part of the cultural air we breathe.


"What do you think happens when we die?"

Darris McNeely:

Movies like Hereafter , speculate about the afterlife. But as we have seen, once we settle the matter of what happens at death, we can turn our attention to the healthy aspect of living with purpose and meaning today in this life.

The resurrection fits into God's plan to bring the dead back to life for a potential role in His Kingdom, which will be on this earth, not in heaven. When Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God, He was not speaking of a place to which one escapes when this life ends. He was speaking of God's rule coming to this earth and replacing the kingdoms of this world. He was speaking of God coming here, not humans going to heaven.

Now what does this mean for you? It means living a righteous, hard working life now, in the present, in preparation for the world to come. It means understanding God's true purpose for all human life. Get this truth right and it is the key to a successful purpose filled life, now, today!

The apostle Paul says at the end of 1 Corinthians 15 (verse 58), the resurrection chapter of the Bible: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."

What we do in this life will not be lost in the resurrection.

So where does this leave us? We have seen that at the moment of our death, the Bible teaches that thoughts and consciousness cease. There is no knowledge of anything in and beyond the grave. Death is like a sleep from which one awakes in a resurrection. We will not be in heaven or a hell. We will be on this earth in a far different world than what we now have.

With this knowledge of a resurrection, we do not have to fear the unknown. The future life is secure in God's hands, but it leaves us with a choice; a choice as to how we live today. This program is called Beyond Today . While we focus on the world to come, beyond today's problem plagued world, we also provide you the tools and the knowledge to live a happy, productive and successful life today.

You do not need to fear death and the future. God says it is secure. He wants you to make the right choice today in your life.

Now we're going to discuss more details of this subject. I'll join you later, after I send you back to our studio with Beyond Today co-host, Gary Petty, for some final comments.

When you order your free copy of What Happens After Death? we will also send you a subscription to The Good News magazine. In The Good News we not only tackle life's most important questions, but we give hopeful solutions to life's daily problems. We'll help you understand the confusion of world events and explore the Bible as God's answer book for your life.

You can receive a free copy by calling: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or you can read What Happens After Death? online at .

All of our literature is provided free as a public service. Be sure to get your free copy today. And if you have an iPad, you can download many of our booklets through the Apple iBook App.

Well Darris McNeely, has joined me here in the studio where we will continue to discuss The Moment After You Die.

Now Darris, course most people have some belief of what happens after death--no matter what the religious background is--but what's missing in what most people actually understand about the life after death?

Darris McNeely:

I think Gary what is missing most with people is a hope. We live in desire of hope. We want a future. And it must be a sure hope that really does satisfy. And that seems to be what is missing, even though people, feel they have certain beliefs about what happens at death and the moment you die. But, for so many, as we talk, as we express ourselves and as we look around, it's evident that even what people believe doesn't always provide that sure hope.

And when you really do look at the Scriptures and understand what the truth of the resurrection, of the body that is clearly spoken of in the Scriptures—what it explains what it means. Then, you have your, your anchor in that sure hope that no other explanation, no other philosophy, no other idea from any other religion or philosophy or idea can really provide, other than what the Scriptures show us to be the resurrection from the dead, as it tells.

Gary Petty:

You know, of course both you and I are pastors...

Darris McNeely:


Gary Petty:

... and we have done many, many funerals. I'm amazed how many people come up to me after a funeral and say: Wow! That was so encouraging. That was so hopeful. When they finally realize what the Bible actually teaches. Now when we look at religion today, even in United States, many people are mixing ideas together; New Age ideas, reincarnation ideas.

Darris McNeely:


Gary Petty:

Why is it that the traditional teaching about heaven and hell is not holding up?

Darris McNeely:

Well, the idea of hell doesn't hold up because, as I said in the program out there in the cemetery, people feel like they're living a hell today! Of a, you know, their life is created, you know, so many problems or so many stresses and they can't image of a just, merciful God providing a place of eternal torment. Now we've covered that before in other programs here but that doesn't satisfy.

And even the idea of a heaven, as I find with people, does not satisfy. And as you say, I've done many funerals for individuals and sat and talked at the bedside of many people with differing beliefs and listened to their stories. And they talk of heaven but there's still certain fears. There's uncertainties because even the idea of heaven as it is traditionally taught and believed is so ill-defined, as to really be devoid of that hope, again that sure hope, that we need to understand what happens after we die. But also, how to live our life today. And that's where again, understanding the resurrection, that God is going to bring back to life the dead for a far greater purpose, is what satisfies beyond anything that one can really anchor their life in.

Gary Petty:

But I find a lot of people say if my loved one's in heaven, why can't they contact me? Why can't I contact that person?

Darris McNeely:

Well and that's what leads to people to trying to do so, in various means or even looking to signs.

Gary Petty:


Darris McNeely:

That they have had a contact or some indication from someone that they're okay or has been watching over their life, and again it's sought to reassure us, but it doesn't really give us the anchor that we need in our own life. You know, at the beginning of the program out in the cemetery, I talked about the fact we go into the cemeteries for various reasons, to remember, to mourn. It is a place of the dead. But is also, the Bible talks about that being a place to learn. And when we go there, for whatever reason, it should be, in a sense, ultimately to bring us back to understanding that, listen we go on with our life, but let's go on with meaning.

Gary Petty:


Darris McNeely:

Let's live our lives with purpose. And let's come to understand the godly purpose for human life and get that understanding because that then will prepare us for the eternity that God does have in mind for everyone who has ever lived, when they accept and understand the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God.

Gary Petty:

What is it like in the resurrection? What does the Bible say? I think of 1 Corinthians 15. It talks about the resurrection. How does it describe the resurrection? What will it be like when people are actually brought up out of the ground and brought to life again?

Darris McNeely:

Well the Scriptures, there in 1 Corinthians 15 talk about a bodily resurrection. There is going to be an awareness by those resurrected of who they were, what family they were a part of. It will not be with the suffering with which they lived or died. It is going to be with a different body and a healed life. But they will know, and they will understand, not only where they came from and who they were, but what they can become. So it is a, it is a bodily resurrection. It's not something that's ethereal and vague. It is what Paul describes there in terms of a body that is sewn and then will be raised incorruptible.

Gary Petty:

And what an understanding to be resurrected and know there is a God. There is a Creator.

Darris McNeely:

The true God.

Gary Petty:

The true God.

Darris McNeely:

The true God.

Gary Petty:

Right. That keeps us from these, you know, all these different ideas keep us from God. Even searching for our loved ones by being able to contact them. When you think about it, it keeps us from searching for God, who is the only answer that we really have.

Darris McNeely:

It really deceives us and becomes something that is another barrier between our understanding of the true God of creation, the God of the Bible, the God of life and the God of Jesus Christ.

Gary Petty:

And remember, you can receive your copy of What Happens After Death? and your free subscription to The Good News magazine by calling: 1-888-886-8632. Now write this down: 1-888-886-8632. Or you can read What Happens After Death? online at . Now if you go to , you can explore Beyond Today programs on a wide variety of topics.

On this program we have learned what happens the moment you die. We have learned that what you may think happens, doesn't. We have learned the truth about a resurrection from the dead, by the power of God in His name.

Benjamin Franklin wrote this epitaph for himself many years ago:

The body of

B. Franklin, Printer

(Like the Cover of an Old Book

Its Contents torn Out

And Stript of its Lettering and Gilding)

Lies Here, Food for Worms.

But the Work shall not be Lost;

For it will (as he Believ'd) Appear once More

In a New and More Elegant Edition

Revised and Corrected

By the Author.

Wise old Ben Franklin was closer to the truth than he may have realized.

The hope of the dead is the resurrection. At the moment of death, the body sleeps in waiting that event. This is the truth, and it can set you free from fear, guilt and worry.

The moment you die is not the end of it all. God will bring you back in a resurrection. Understand this truth and it makes all the difference. It gets your life on track for success today, right now! Get this question answered and then get on with the living.

For Beyond Today , I'm Gary Petty. Thanks for watching.

S. Mara Gd

S. Mara Gd's picture

I lost my husband 24 days ago. We were married for 42 yrs, had a very close and loving relationship. We had no children. I was his princess and he was my whole life. He died fighting CA for only 2 months at 67. I never left his side during the last two months, and the memory of those bitter sweet days are ever in my mind's eyes. I miss him so much. I sleep with the last clothes he wore when he died, just to feel close to him. I am still crying everyday, feeling so meaningless without him.
After his death I often detect a smell exactly like in the hospital ICU where my husband was the last week of his life. It is a very specific smell and it comes and goes around me. Whenever I was crying, this smell would be beside me. Also when I am driving to the market, suddenly this smell appears next to me. Even when I go to church or when I am praying at home.
I always thought it was my husband and he was visiting me. I felt comforted whenever I smelled "him", like I was not alone. Some friends say the dead still return home to their loved ones during the first 49 days. But if the bible says the dead do not exist anymore until resurrection, then where does this smell come from? Who is this smell? I am sure I am not making it up, I really smell it! Please enlight me. Thank you.

Scott Hoefker

Scott Hoefker's picture

Hello Mrs. Mara.

I sincerely am saddened to hear of your loss. Similar to the God plane relationship, we can have very real, bonding, close relationship with others, esp. with our mates.
When we lose a loved one, esp. after years of friendship, and/or marriage it leaves a hole that is very hard to fill again.

Yes, you will see and be able to enjoy the relationship with your husband again, but at a time where he will no longer suffer, nor will you as the limitations we have with human bodies are most difficult, and will be removed in the future.

The brain, and senses are very capable, esp. after a long term relationship, to create in a reminiscent state things like you describe, similar to reality, as to ponder on the time spent together.

The smell you speak of no doubt is very real to you...however, we know from scripture that indeed the dead, as they sleep, awaiting the resurrection, know nothing, and do not come back to us to somehow connect with us as you mention.

Fond memories, smells, songs, places, other people can often trigger these responses and reactions.

The grieving process you are going through is different for all of us. Some last days, weeks, months, many for the rest of their lives.

Be encouraged to know that God fully understands, your loss, in fact calls it a "sting,and pain" in scripture...that will eventually no longer exist when He returns.

I'll certainly pray that God gives you His Comforter, and walks with you during this very difficult time.

Heather Disher

Heather Disher's picture

Hi S. Mara Gd,

I am very sorry for your loss, I know that watching my father grieve for my mother was I think the most painful part of her passing. My mom died of cancer after a grueling two years when I was twelve years old. I can think of several times when I was the most sad and it would accompanied by a smell or triggered by one in some way.

When I went to college, psychology was a big part of my program. I learned that the amygdala is a part of your brain that is responsible for memories, especially strongly emotional memories. This part of your brain is right beside your olfactory center-where scents are processed. For this reason, it is not uncommon for highly emotional memories to be associated with a smell, or for smells to trigger highly emotional (or nostalgic) memories. Smells and emotional memories are deeply intertwined in your mind. Think of maybe the smell of baking bread or a certain flower that can take you back in a powerful way to a time that you smelled that scent. If you search "memory and smell" on the internet, you will find many articles, videos, and scholarly papers about this phenomenon.

It seems likely that at such an emotional time, you are exploring your memories of your husband, and that when you do, there is an accompanying smell sensation. Or conversely, that when you experience a smell that you identify with him, it triggers a powerful memory of him. I am sure you are not making it up! Maybe you could use this to help you (as you already are by sleeping with his clothes) by finding scents that have more positive associations from earlier in your life together?

Murphy Green

Murphy Green's picture

I just finished reviewing this programs and I found it to be very eduacational and enlightening. However, Jesus tells us in the 16th chapter of Luke's gospel about a certain rich man and a beggar named Lazarus and what happened after they died. Please help me understand what is Jesus saying happens in this situation?

Larry Walker

Larry Walker's picture

Many people misunderstand this parable.

Two fundamental rules of good biblical scholarship will help us to understand a difficult scripture almost every time. First, look at the immediate context. Second, look at the broader context of the entire Scripture. By contrast, attempting to understand a difficult passage by human reasoning is bad scholarship. Let’s apply the proper rules systematically to the parable.

The immediate context (the verses before and after the parable) doesn’t provide us with any further information, so let’s go on to the second rule. Jesus said, “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). He meant that every section of the Bible on any given subject must be in agreement with every other section that addresses the same topic. What does the Bible say about the state of the dead? A single phrase in Ecclesiastes 9:5 summarizes the Bible’s teaching about the state of the dead: “The dead know nothing.”

Reading this parable to mean that the dead are conscious in an ever-burning hell or in heaven would be a clear contradiction with the broader context of the entire Bible. Indeed, it would be a misinterpretation.

However, if we take it at face value, it is in complete harmony with the rest of the Bible. Jesus’ straightforward point is that it is too late to change one’s behavior and character after death. His point is that we must live in a godly manner when we are alive, just as the man Lazarus did in the story.

We bring together all of the scriptures about the afterlife in our booklets Heaven and Hell—What Does the Bible Really Teach? and What Happens After Death? They also contain further background information about this parable. Let us know if you would like us to send you copies of these booklets. Or you can find them online at the literature library of our Web site at


triciabrown's picture

In August of 2005 I moved into my Great Grandmothers house. It was about a year after her death. She hadnt lived in the house for several years cause she needed round the clock help so my grandmother took her in. Her house was then used by one of her nephews until her passing when the house was willed to be sold. The man who bought the house repaired it and made some small changes to it and then rented it to me. I wasnt very close to my grandmother altho I loved her very much I didnt really spend countless hours listening to her or anything. My bedroom was her room at one time and some nights I would smell talic powder on one side and on the other I would smell a not so pleasant smell. This didnt happen every night but it did happen often. After about a year I finally described the smells to my grandmother and she told me that my great grandmother wore a type of powder that resembled my description and my great grandfather had a smell to him cause of a type of gum disease. For the longest time even tho I know the dead knows nothing I thought it was my great grandparents laying with me at nights and I found comfort in this. After 5 yrs I decided to move my family was growing and I needed more room. As I was packing my sons room I removed all the items on his shelf to a box and made sure to get on my tippy toes and look and feel for any left items. We soon got into a conversation about other things. Later we went to leave the room and my son said whats that up there? And I looked and sitting there on the shelf was my sons baptism record. He has lost that some time ago and had been searching for it and we couldnt believe that it was there and I KNOW I cleared that self off. That night when I was sleeping I was awoken by a harsh shaking of the bed. It scared me so bad that I had a hard time falling back to sleep. After I started to dose off again it happened again only more violently and that time I never got back to sleep. The next day we moved and I never looked back. However I have thought alot about that event that happened and this is what I concluded: Satan decieves the whole world. While I thought I was being watched out for by my great grandparents they were actually in the grave sleeping. Satan came posed as someone I loved very much and tricked me into believeing (altho I knew better) that people exist still after death. It caused me to believe in the very moral of false christianity thus taking me away from God. Remember that Satan comes as an angel of light, as does his demons. If he would have came to me as the evil being he is then I surely wouldnt have been fooled by him, but by coming as an angel of light he was able to fool me for many years.


sandradee73's picture

I had the very same question as Murphy, so thank you for the further info. But I also wonder about the passage in Samuel (don't know exact reference) where the witch of Endor, at the request of King Saul, summons Samuel from the dead. How does that fit into this video teaching? Also, when Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus during the transfiguration? How does this relate to the teaching? Thank you for your feedback.


donaldswenson's picture

Can any human being actually enunciate 'truth' with a capital T. If not, what does this mean for our communication? D

Larry Walker

Larry Walker's picture

Does 1 Samuel 28 mean that the dead Samuel appeared to King Saul?
Consider that even in life Samuel broke off communication with Saul after his flagrant misbehavior regarding King Agag and the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15). Because of his disobedience, God stopped advising Saul through Samuel. More importantly, the Bible reveals, “the dead know nothing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5), that they have no conscious thought. Speaking of the nature of the dead, Psalm 146:4 says, “His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish.” It is impossible for the dead to communicate with the living.
Saul believed that what he saw was Samuel, because that is what he asked the medium (witch) to conjure up for him (1 Samuel 28:11). The scripture simply records what Saul thought that he saw and heard. That’s not to say that Saul and the medium didn’t hear or see anything, for a demon spirit likely appeared to them with the message that Saul assumed had come from God. Saul was willing to go to great lengths to secure God’s favor and help—short of actually repenting of his sins. Even going to a medium or witch was a sin. Practicing witchcraft, including any attempt to contact the dead, was forbidden by God’s law (Deuteronomy 18:10-11).
The transfiguration recorded in Matthew 17 was a vision of the future, not the resurrection of two men long dead. Verses 2-8 describe the vision, which followed Christ’s promise in Matthew 16:28 that some would “not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” Mark 9:1 records Christ’s words a little differently: “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.”
Elijah and Moses were present only in vision, symbolizing two major facets of the coming Kingdom: (1) the Church, represented by Elijah, who was both a prophet and an educator in the Old Testament congregation; (2) the government, represented by Moses, through whom God chose to give and administer His laws to physical Israel.


donaldswenson's picture

Larry: The issue for me is 'consciousness'. What is 'consciousness'? If my/your 'consciousness' is spirit, then we are not our body/brain. This also means that we are really eternal after the body decays. The idea that I die when my body/brain decays appears to be a myth.


sandradee73's picture

Thank you, Larry, that was very helpful. I will go back to read those sections with this bit of insight you have shared. Much appreciated.

Larry Walker

Larry Walker's picture

Donald, the Bible clearly teaches that man is not immortal.

1 Timothy 6:14-16 "...our Lord Jesus Christ ... the King of kings and Lord of lords... who alone has immortality.

2 Timothy 1:10 "...our Savior Jesus Christ ... has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

1 Corinthians 15:53 (NRSV)"...this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

Romans 2:7 (NRSV) to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life...

Furthermore, Psalm 146:4 states that when a man dies, "His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; In that very day his thoughts perish.

The Bible nowhere says that man is immortal, but rather must be given eternal life.


donaldswenson's picture

If I am body, brain, and mind, and if my mind is equivalent to my consciousness...then it would seem that my life is non-material. If non-material, then it would seem that life is eternal or of spirit nature. We really don't need scripture to derive this conclusion. D

Steven Britt

Steven Britt's picture


If that's the case, then was God lying when He told Adam and Eve that they would "surely die" if they ate from the tree of knowledge? God claims that He is able to destroy both body and soul (Matthew 10:28), and indicates that He will do so to the wicked that don't repent.


sandradee73's picture

Donald, I would respectfully ask what you need Scripture for, if not to teach you how the Creator has made you and how He desires you to live? Can you know all you need to know without Scripture?


donaldswenson's picture

I would agree that scripture is important. But scripture is based on reality. Reality always is the final basis for what is 'true'...would you not agree with this? If we are both spiritual persons, then we don't die. Would you disagree with this? D


sandradee73's picture

Satan told Adam and Eve that they would not surely die if they transgressed God's commandment. And yet we know that he is a liar and the father of lies. Indeed, they did die. Not only spiritually but also physically. Are we going to believe the father of lies, or are we going to believe the only wise God who made us and authored the Scriptures for our instruction? If we do not die, then we have no need of the resurrection. And if we have no need of the resurrection, then Jesus did not rise from the grave. And if Jesus did not rise from the grave, then our faith is in vain. We are still dead in our sins. (1 Cor 15) We need to be careful not to redefine the terms that Scripture gives us. Otherwise, we can make Scripture mean whatever we want it to mean. Then how do we know what is true and what is false? We would be hopelessly lost, not knowing our right hand from our left. Relying on other hopelessly flawed humans to tell us what is right and wrong. I put no confidence in humanity or its tendency to define and re-define reality for us. Mankind has been doing so since the fall. God defines for us what is real and true. May we not be so proud and blind as to believe that we can know what is real and true apart from the God who is the ultimate reality. "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen."

Larry Walker

Larry Walker's picture

According to Jesus Christ, God's word is the source of truth (John 17:17). Similarly, Isaiah 8:20 states, "To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."

Not sure what Donald means by reality, but just because something is real doesn't mean it is a source of truth. Satan is real, but "there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it" (John 8:44), again quoting Jesus Christ.

As for the claim that spiritual persons don't die, that also contradicts the scriptures. According to Hebrews 9:27, "man is destined to die once" (NIV). 1 Corinthians 15:22 states, "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive."

That is reality according to the Word of God.


donaldswenson's picture

Larry, et al: God's WORD is TRUTH is a statement that I agree with.

However, my reading 'words' in a book called the BIBLE does not automatically transfer to TRUTH. I listen to hundreds of pastors and bible authorities who claim they can discern absolute TRUTH from reading 'words' in a book called BIBLE, yet they all differ in their interpretations. Who is the FINAL authority on the issue of TRUTH? Can man discern absolute TRUTH? Is man infallible? Is man without flaws? I don't think so!!!

God is not personally talking to us on this planet (in person). So to claim infallible interpretation reveals the character of a person (and this character is flawed and imperfect)...including myself. D


donaldswenson's picture

What we need to understand is reality. Just reading scripture does not necessarily bring one into touch with reality. I have many friends who read scripture and are deceived. Deception is prevalent in realtime (now). So reading words in scripture may lead to deception and confusion. This does not mean that scripture is bad or invalid for getting closer to reality. We all desire to get closer to reality. And reality is getting closer to God. God is reality. God is truth. You and I, however, are flawed human beings. We need to recognize our flawed human nature. We all need to think as individuals and recognize that we are incapable of perfect truth or perfect understanding. This recognition makes us human and real. Pretending to know absolute truth is playing into the hands of Satan. Satan is the Great Deceiver. To claim to know truth is to play God. Think it through!


mlp67's picture

Thankyou. This video has made alot of sense to me and given me real clarity of thought on this topic.


Sonya's picture

Hi, Thank-you so much for this video, if I could mendition your names "Davis McNeely" and "Gary Petty" I have learned something that I truly believe was true about "The Moment after you Die" cause it happen to me,and I had no one to back me up on this until I saw your video.So, well explained,which makes it easy to understand.Well, Like I said,it happen to me.When one dies,is truly just a sleep,nothing to remember,nothing of existence.I will explain how I feel this is so true.In my early 20"s ,I say about 23 yrs.old or 24 ,My marriage was breaking up,I had 2 little babies, 1 yr.old and the other 3 yrs.old.,I did not know what to do,Took some medication from Doctor ,for my being nervous and could'nt sleep.I landed in the hospital.The doctor that took care of me,Told me that I was dead for at least 1 to 2 minutes,my heart had stopped,but somehow they got my heart pumping again.When,I was brought to the hospital,He said I had a 50 by 50 chance to survive ,cause the pills mixed together were very strong,Well, anyway ,when I woke up,I did not know where I was,No memory of nothing,just kind not existence.But of cause glad to be alife for the sake of my little boys.Which are now grown and very sucessful and since then, it has been a blessing.I will keep on reading on all these wonderful stories and learn more from your blookets and your video's.Again ,Thank-you and My Blessings to you both.P.S. My comment to the lady that smells her husband aroma and feels he is there with her sometimes,it is o.k. to feel this way,cause he lives on in her memory,and it is some kind of comfort,I know too ,cause my Mother also passed away,12 yrs. ago,and when I look at her foto,I cannot believe she is gone,I see her in my dreams since she died,that it seems so real,but again that will be another story.So,We keep our love ones memory always close to our hearts and mind with much happiness for the time spended together.Thats it for now.


lovejesus's picture

the body on earth is dead, the brain is dead. No one says a thing about our soul??? the word says, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, I must say I totally disagree. The dead in Christ are those that died w/out hearing the word. The book of Revelation makes it clear there are souls in Heaven during the tribulation.


jccole's picture

To be able to distinguish between your mind, body, and soul is the first step to awakening. You can only do so by searching within. Otherwise, your mind will only understand this as a concept. That said, there is a difference between understanding something as a concept and then something as a realization.

Ivan Veller

Ivan Veller's picture

Hi Jc. Cole,

You may be interested in our explanation of 1 Thessalonians:5:23--"Now 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" (1 Thessalonians:5:23).

"What does Paul mean by the phrase 'spirit, soul, and body'? By 'spirit' (pneuma), Paul means the non-material component that is joined to the physical human brain to form the human mind. This spirit is not conscious of itself. Rather, it gives the brain the ability to reason, create and analyze our existence (see also Job:32:8; 1 Corinthians:2:11). By 'soul' (psuche), Paul means the person's physical being with its consciousness. By 'body' (soma), Paul means a physical body of flesh. In short, Paul wished for the whole person, including the mind, vitality of conscious life and physical body, to be sanctified and blameless":


2balite's picture

The world desperately needs this good news. I will post it to my facebook page.

When I lost my son over two years ago, I was filled with confusion, anger, denial as he took his own life from having serious issues with PSTD. He was raised in the church by me, he had a big heart. He was also trying to appease his biological father and joined the military. When he left the war, the war never left his mind. I was angry because I had him blessed at 4 years old, thinking he would always be protected by God. I learned as I healed that is not how it works. When I finally gained the wonderful peace of mind that surpasses all understanding, I am confident of the promise that I will see him again.


Marcus5221's picture

Appreciate the clear and concise method used to explain the subject matter and the way the presentation instills "hope" to those who have suffered loss or who worry about the loss of a loved one or their own death!


Marcus5221's picture

Appreciate the clear and concise method used to explain the subject matter and the way the presentation instills "hope" to those who have suffered loss or who worry about the loss of a loved one or their own death!


riclemons's picture

If I'm understanding correctly, this teaching is of "soul sleep". However, how do we reconcile this with 1 Peter:3:18 that says Jesus went and preached to the imprisoned souls? These souls were dead. Clearly, they were conscious as Jesus preached to them.

Sabrina Peabody

Sabrina Peabody's picture

Hi there riclemons,

There is a really good Bible FAQ about your question that I think may help. It can be accessed at


Skip's picture

Hello riclemons,
All you have to do is clik on the above address that Sabrina sent you & viola! the answer to your question appears.
Christ preached to "spirits" not "souls." There is a big difference.


MyJourneywithSpiritWorld's picture

My fiance passed away suddenly 4 months ago 2nd april 2013 the poem it was said in video was said at his funeral. I believe there is life after death. x x


TaosGuy's picture

After reading most of the above comments I will say, "There is no God!"

John Michael


TaosGuy's picture

Would someone please explain to me the difference between Spirit and Soul?

John Michael

Malachi 3_16-18

Malachi 3_16-18's picture

Hi John Michael,

I am assuming you mean the spirit in man (not the Holy Spirit), versus the soul.

The soul is simply a living being. When God breathed life into man, man became a "living soul" (Gen:2:7). The soul is not spirit, because it can die (Ezek:18:4, 20). In the book of Acts and other places in the Bible, the term "souls" was used to refer simply to "persons" (Acts:2:41).

The spirit, however, is a non-physical compoent put into humans by God at the beginning of their lives (1 Cor:2:11), and taken back by Him when they die (Eccl 3:21). This spirit is something that sets us apart from the animals, and imparts intellect, personality,etc. to a person. It is only because we have this spirit that we are able to receive and use God's Spirit when He calls us (Job:32:8), and thus understand the "deep things of God" (1 Cor:2:10).

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