Where are the Dead –
According to the Bible?

INTRODUCTION

It is safe to say that virtually everyone has given some thought to death or life after death. Death is the one absolute all must agree will someday befall each one. There has never been a culture on earth that did not hold to some belief in life after death. A rejection of the idea of the soul surviving the death of the body is very new. Those few who believe in a godless universe feel sure that death ends all existence and, therefore, any possibility of continued life elsewhere.

By far the majority of people today believe in a life beyond the grave. On what do they base this idea? Many would point to what they have been taught about the Bible. Really, there are two basic ideas about life beyond the grave. The first may be called circular or cyclic and is popular in the East and among ancient tribal peoples of the Americas, Africa, India and Oceania. It is the idea that after death the soul transmigrates to another level in the grand cycle of life, returning as some other life form. The second is what we will call linear and is that belief in an A to Z1 view of the after-life. It is the Hebrew idea that something began at “A” and will follow its logical progression to “Z”. Or, Alpha to Omega.
1 A TO Z. Hebrew Aleph to Taw

This religious view has also manifested itself in a philosophical comprehension of the universe with one group believing the cosmos has always existed and is continual evolution, while others believe it began with the Big Bang at some moment in creation. The later view seems to be gaining more and more credibility as science learns more.

Very few persons will welcome the view present in this commentary Where are the Dead? According to the Bible. It will be a radical departure from the traditional view held by virtually all Christian sects in the world today. Why can we predict this? It is because the notion of soul immortality, that is the survival of the body’s death in an after-life has become so well entrenched into the average thinking that it is now difficult to reject. For example, take the case of the mother who lost her three sons to the brutal murder by her estranged husband. This mother draws enormous comfort that her children are now “angels,” and they as heavenly spirits can now help living persons in need. Nothing will change this mother’s view. Everyone is free to express whatever hope they possess. However, it is another matter to state that this “hope” comes from the Bible.

This general view is fostered by the print and electronic media. It is almost a universal belief and manifests itself in so much of the talk about Near-Death experiences. (NDE) This subject will be addressed later, but, let us state up front that one of the authors of this work has had a “near-death experience” and has quite a different story to relate.

Where are the Dead? Really, according to the world’s oldest book, the Bible – that book upon which billions of persons base their belief in an after life? What is the “soul” – according to the Bible? What is “hell” – according to the Bible? Are some of your dead loved ones being tortured in a “hell-fire” – according to the Bible? Are the dead in heaven – according to the Bible? Have the dead gone to heaven already – according to the Bible? What is the “resurrection” – according to the Bible? When will the “resurrection” occur – according to the Bible? Will you be willing to accept the Bible’s answer? Or, are you just someone who would be interested in a Biblical view not influenced by the thousands of sects of Christendom? And, what about the so-called “near-death experiences” so popular in the press and with the reading public throughout the world?

Since we already know that virtually all of the churches or religious organizations called “Christian” will reject the views presented here, we wish to state our propositions early and then proceed to examine the Bible and establish the evidence for our proposal. There are three proposals we believe the Bible will uphold:

  • ONLY TWO HEAVENLY BEINGS POSSESS “IMMORTALITY”
  • ONLY ONE PERSON HAS BEEN RESURRECTED TO HEAVEN
  • ALL PERSONS WILL BE RESURRECTED IN THE FUTURE
  • “CHRISTIANS” WILL RISE AT THE RETURN OF CHRIST
  • ALL OTHERS WILL RISE AT THE END OF THIS 1,000-YEAR REIGN

If these propositions are so repugnant to you, then no doubt you will read no further. On the other hand, do you like it when someone lies to you? What is your reaction in everyday life when someone takes advantage of you by not telling you the truth? Or, withhold the truth from you? You feel cheated and used. What will you do if some honest person points this out to you? Reject the truthful person? Or, reject the liars and deceivers? What if the whole notion of immortal life beyond the grave, or some grand re-cycling of souls into other life-forms, was a lie fostered by an Arch Deceiver? Will you show the same rejection that you would in every day matters of life when someone takes advantage of you? We think you will.

We think you will also become very happy when you know exactly what the Bible says when that most sacred Book is allowed to speak for itself, unbiased, and neutral to the influence of millenniums of tradition, East or West. This is an answer without an agenda. There is no “religion” to join. No money is asked. There is no tyrannical authority which seeks to control you. It is simply a matter of what is the truth: Where are the Dead? According to the Bible.

Nazarene Commentary 2000

Mark Heber Miller

2000 All Rights Reserved