|By Carlyle B. Haynes
Chapter 4— Death
is not a modification of life. Death is not a continuation of life in
changed conditions. Death is not a release into a fuller life. Death is
not life in misery. Death is not life in happiness. Death is not life at
all, in any condition, whether good or bad. To die is not to live. To die
is to stop living. Death is a complete cessation of life.
Death does not mean to go to heaven. Death does not mean to go to hell. Death does not mean to go to purgatory. Death does not mean to go anywhere. Death means an end of life.
When a person dies, he does not live somewhere else-in heaven, hell, or purgatory. He does not live at all, in any condition whatsoever. He is dead. And when a person is dead, he is not alive.
In death there is no life. The soul does not live. The spirit does not live. There is no intelligence, no consciousness, no memory. All that composed the man is gone.
Nothing that is here said is to be interpreted as meaning that there will be no future life. There will be a future life. But this future life is not a continuation of the life that now is. It is entirely a new life, another life.
And it begins, not at the time of death, but at the time of the resurrection from death.
Origin of Immortality Doctrine
In previous chapters we have seen that God alone is immortal, and man utterly mortal and finite. Notwithstanding all the Scripture adduced in support of this position, however, some persist in placing a figurative, mystical sense on the plain terms of the Bible which deal with this subject, and thus change the meaning of these terms until they teach exactly the opposite of what they say. In this way death has come to mean life.
Thus although the doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul originated with him who was a liar “from the beginning,” when Satan told our first parents, “Ye shall not surely die,” in the very face of the most positive declarations of Jehovah to the contrary, it is still being maintained by the scholarship of the church and the literature and philosophy of the world, which are giving another meaning to the words of the Bible.
Blinded by this first satanic delusion, theologians still gravely assure us that the human soul is immortal and therefore can never die; that it is indestructible and therefore can never be destroyed; that its destiny is to live forever, and therefore it will always exist. And hence, of course, they assure us that all those passages of the Bible which seem to teach that it will die, that it will be destroyed, that it will not live forever, cannot possibly mean any such thing.
And through their labored circumlocution and wordy reiteration of this perverted meaning of such Scriptural passages, the doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul has come to be accepted as a fundamental doctrine of the Christian system. But we submit that when a doctrine is in flat contradiction to the Word of God, when it brings God’s law into contempt, when it calls His wisdom, goodness, justice, and truth into question, when it brings reproach upon His character, when it belittles and misconstrues the work of Christ, and when it hinders the work and progress of the gospel of Christ, the fact that the great “father of lies” can be shown to be behind it is hardly sufficient authority for its truth.
No, the time is fully here when this stupendous delusion, “Ye shall not surely die,” should be confronted with the straight testimony of the oracles of God and driven from the Christian church. It is also high time that the believers in the Word should cease trifling with its plainest utterances and should manifest a willingness to acknowledge Him “who only hath immortality” as the only source of immortality to dying humanity.
Where Are the Dead?
Therefore, taking our stand again on the immutable rock of God’s Word, we turn away from all the wisdom of men and inquire of Him whose “word is truth” concerning the condition of man in death.
“Man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?” Job 14:10. This is the question of the ages, the answer to which is fully given in the Bible.
It has already been shown that consciousness depends on the union of the breath of life with the body, and therefore when these two are separated at death, unconsciousness must result. From this it follows that in death man is unconscious. Indeed we have the explicit testimony of the Scriptures to this fact in the statement found in Psalm 146:3,4: “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” There is no intelligence, no consciousness, in death. The ability to think has then come to an end.
Notwithstanding the fact that we have been told that when we die we will spend our time in praising the Lord, the Scripture says, “In death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?” Psalm 6:5. And, “The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.” Psalm 115:17.
The Dead Are Unconscious
That death is an absolute cessation of conscious existence is taught by the wise man in Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6: “The living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, 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 for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.”
Analyze this verse carefully. Note its brief but clear statements. “The living know” something-“that they shall die.” There is intelligence and knowledge with those who are alive; and this is just the opposite of death. “But the dead know not any thing.” There is no intelligence or knowledge in death. And “the memory of them is forgotten.” In death they do not recall the scenes of life, as the spiritualist medium seeks to teach.
And their love has ceased. While in life the love of a mother may have centered in an only child, yet when she dies, her love “is now perished”; nor does she, or her spirit, return to hover over the object of her affections, for in death there is no love. Nor does hatred continue in death. Hatred also perishes there, as do envy and strife.
And with anything that is transpiring in all the earth the dead have nothing at all to do. “Neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.” They are unconscious of all that is taking place.
How impossible it would be for any of God’s people ever to be deluded by the lying claims of Spiritualism if these plain statements of truth were believed!
How impossible for any to be deceived by so-called spirits of the dead if the great truth of man’s unconsciousness in death, so plainly stated in this passage, were confidently accepted!
Nothing is known by the dead of the passing of the years or of the condition and circumstances of loved ones. “His [the dead man’s] sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.” Job 14:21.
Death a Sleep
In the Bible death is given a name which stands for unconsciousness. It is called a “sleep.” Psalm 13:3 says, “Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.” Death is a period of unconsciousness, a sleep, from which all will be awakened at the resurrection.
Christ agrees with David that death is a sleep. In John 11:11-14 we have this record: “These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.” Paul agrees with both David and Christ that death is a sleep. In 1 Corinthians 15:6 he says, “After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.” And in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 he says: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that’ ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”
Daniel agrees with David, Christ, and Paul that death is a sleep. He speaks of the dead as follows: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:2. At death, then, one lies down to sleep; at the resurrection he is awakened.
Between death and the resurrection he is asleep. Luke agrees with these other inspired writers that death is a sleep. In recording the death of Stephen in Acts 7:60, he says, “And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”
David, the man after God’s own heart, instead of being at the present time in heaven, as the theory of the immortality of the soul would teach, is in his grave sleeping. This is clearly stated by Paul in a sermon at Antioch in Pisidia as recorded by Luke in Acts 13:36: “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers [in the grave], and saw corruption.”
David Not in Heaven
Peter declares explicitly that David has not gone to heaven. In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, in Acts 2:34, he says, “For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand.” In the twenty-ninth verse he also tells us plainly where David now is: “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.”
The process of dying is not death. The loss of purity is not death. The loss of joy is not death. The loss of heaven is not death. That is, it is none of these things which is meant in the Scriptures when death is spoken of. Nothing but the loss of life constitutes death. This will be seen in a passage found in Job 7:21: “And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.” Surely no more forceful expression could possibly be used to show an utter cessation of existence than this. In death “I shall not be.”
In the fourteenth chapter of Job this question of death is discussed, and the conclusions there set forth are worthy of our study. In the seventh verse Job declares that “there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.” And then man is contrasted with the tree: “But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?” Job answers his own question by saying, “As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: so man lieth down, and riseth not: till the, heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.”
From this it is plain that until the day of the resurrection, the day when the heavens shall depart as a scroll (Revelation 6:14)) those who are dead will continue in unconscious sleep.
Job then exclaims, “O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!” Notice the expressions “Hide me in the grave, ” “keep me secret.” They are descriptive of death.
The Coming Change
Having answered this question, Job now propounds another: “If a man die, shall he live again?” And again he replies, “All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.”
Attention is directed to the expression, “All the days of my appointed time will I wait.” In what place he would wait we are told in Job 17:13, “If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness.”
This change for which Job waits in the grave is that spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:5l-54: “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 lust 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. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”
The change for which Job still waits is that from “corruptible” to “incorruption.” While he waits for this change, the grave is his house. This change will not be accomplished at death, as many are teaching, but “at the last trump,” when “the dead shall be raised incorruptible.”
This same blessed awakening from the tomb is spoken of in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-l 7: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” And then Paul shows that they are not in heaven, but in their graves awaiting the resurrection. “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [“precede,” Revised Version] them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
This was the time to which Paul was looking for his reward, not to death. He declares in 2 Timothy 4:8, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me,” not at death, but “at that day [the day of judgment]: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
Death is an enemy of the human race, not a friend. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” 1 Corinthians 15:26. Let us fix our eyes and center our hopes on that great hope of the church, the resurrection from the dead, as the fulfillment of all our joys, and the entrance into that Iife everlasting which the gospel of Christ holds out to every repentant sinner.
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