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Someone Cares Series
Information Brochure No. 15

Where Are the Dead?


If, as some teach, the dead are already in heaven with Jesus, why are they resurrected at His second coming? Why did Jesus tell the disciples they would be with Him again when He returned instead of when they died (John 14:3)? Why does God forbid us to consult with our departed loved ones, if they are alive and can talk to us? In this lesson we will learn the answers to these important questions.

1. What does God say about consulting spiritualists and the supposed spirits of the dead?

Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 19:31).

The work of dealing with familiar spirits was pronounced an abomination to the Lord and was solemnly forbidden under penalty of death. The very name of witchcraft is now held in contempt. The claim that men can hold intercourse with evil spirits is regarded as a fable of the dark ages. But spiritualism, which numbers its converts by hundreds of thousands, yea, by millions, which has made its way into scientific circles, which has invaded churches, and has found favor in legislative bodies and even in the courts of kings—this mammoth deception is but a revival, in a new disguise, of the witchcraft condemned and prohibited of old.

If there were no other evidences of the real character of spiritualism, it should be enough for the Christian that the spirits make no difference between righteousness and sin.

2. Where does the spirit go at death?

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

At death, the body which was made from the ground returns to the ground and the spirit or breath returns to God who gave it.

3. Is this spirit, that returns to God, conscious?

For 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 (Ecclesiastes 9:5).

At death the thoughts perish, the mind no longer functions because the heart beat ceases and oxygen no longer is received by the brain in order for it to function. As a result, the dead do not know anything.

4. What did Jesus call death?

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 (John 11:11-14).

Death is looked upon by Christ as sleep—silence, darkness, sleep. He speaks of it as if it were of little moment. Whosoever liveth and believeth in Me, He says, shall never die. And to the believing one death is but a small matter. With Him, to die is but to sleep.

5. What did David call death?

Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; (Psalm 13:3).

Writers of the Old Testament also called death, sleep. It is a state of unconsciousness in which we are unaware of what is going on.

6. Is there any memory in this sleep of death?

For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? (Psalm 6:5).For 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. ... Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10).

In death we will not remember God and in death no one will give thanks to God. Popular theology represents the righteous dead as in heaven, entered into bliss, and praising God with an immortal tongue, but Hezekiah could see no glorious prospect in death (Isaiah 38:18, 19). These words agree with the testimony of the Psalmist, David.

7. Did David go to heaven when he died?

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. ... For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, (Acts 2:29, 34).

Peter on the day of Pentecost declared that the patriarch David is both dead and buried and his sepulchre (tomb) is with us today. For David is not ascended into the heavens. The fact that David remains in the grave until the resurrection proves that the righteous do not go to heaven at death. If for four thousand years the righteous had gone directly to heaven at death, how could Paul have said that if there is no resurrection, they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. No resurrection would be necessary.

8. Where will the dead be when Jesus resurrects them at His second coming?

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (John 5:28, 29).

At the general resurrection of the just, at the second appearing of Christ in the clouds of heaven, the dead that are in their graves shall hear His voice and come forth to life. Not only the earth but the heavens themselves, shall be shaken. A few graves were opened at the resurrection of Christ, but at His second coming all the precious dead, from righteous Abel to the last saint that died, shall awake to glorious immortal life.

9. When do the dead go to heaven or hell?

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: ... Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: (Matthew 25:31-34, 41)

It is when Jesus comes that the righteous are separated from the unrighteous. We have seen from the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:51-53; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17) that when the Son of man comes the righteous dead are raised incorruptible, and the righteous living are changed. By this great change they are prepared to receive the kingdom of God. Man in his present state is mortal, corruptible, but the kingdom of God will be incorruptible, enduring forever. Therefore man in his present state cannot enter into the kingdom of God. But when Jesus comes He confers immortality upon His people; then He calls them to inherit the kingdom of which they have hither to been only heirs.

10. When did the Thief on the cross look forward to being with Jesus? Did Jesus assure him of salvation that very day?

And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise (Luke 23:42, 43).

The punctuation in the Bible was supplied by the translators, for there was no punctuation in the original Greek. The comma should go after the word to-day, (truly I say unto you today, you will be with Me in Paradise), for Jesus Himself did not go to heaven that day.

To the last of His work Christ is a sin-pardoner. At deepest midnight as the Star of Bethlehem was about to sink into oblivion, lo there shines amid the moral darkness with distinct brightness the faith of a dying sinner as he lays hold upon the dying Saviour. The thief asked in faith, in penitence, in contrition. He asked in earnestness as if he fully realized that Jesus could save him if He would. And the hope in his voice was mingled with anguish as he realized that if He did not, he would be lost.

11. Jesus often illustrated truth with parables which, like prophecies, use symbols. Yet some have rejected the very truth Jesus so plainly taught about death by taking literally some of the symbols in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16). What did Jesus say would happen to those who try to understand parables without having (or knowing) what the rest of the Bible says on a subject?

And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand (Matthew 13:10-13).

Jesus spoke in parables that He might teach a deeper spiritual principle. It is given to the honest in heart to know the mysteries of the kingdom, but to those who have no desire to learn and understand it is not given. In other words, they could not discern and understand the deep truths He desired to teach.

The great Teacher brought His hearers in contact with nature that they might listen to the voice which speaks in all created things; and as their hearts became tender and their minds receptive, He helped them to interpret the spiritual teaching of the scenes upon which their eyes rested. The parables, by means of which He loved to teach lessons of truth, show how open His spirit was to the influences of nature and how He delighted to gather the spiritual teaching from the surroundings of daily life.

12. What was the devil's first lie?

But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: (Genesis 3:3, 4).

Had Eve refrained from entering into argument with the tempter she would have been safe; but she ventured to parley with him and fell victim to his wiles. It is thus that many are still overcome. They doubt and argue concerning the requirements of God; instead of obeying the divine commands they accept human theories, which but disguise the devices of Satan. Ye shall not surely die, was a lie told to Eve and Adam, for God said, The soul that sinneth, it shall die (Ezekiel 18:20).

Immortality, which was promised to man on condition of obedience, had been forfeited by transgression. Only through Christ can immortality be obtained.

13. With what promise did Paul tell us to comfort one another when death occurs?

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 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).

Amid the reeling of the earth, the flash of lightning, and the roar of thunder, the voice of the Son of God calls forth the sleeping saints. He looks upon the graves of the righteous, then, raising His hands to heaven, He cries: Awake, awake, awake, ye that sleep in the dust, and arise! Throughout the length and breadth of the earth the dead shall hear that voice, and they that hear shall live. And the whole earth shall ring with the tread of the exceeding great army of every nation, kindred, tongue and people. From the prison house of death they come, clothed with immortal glory, crying: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory (1 Corinthians 15:55). And the living righteous and the risen saints unite their voices in a long, glad shout of victory.


Isn't God's way really the best? Instead of floating around somewhere after death, a person sleeps until he is bodily resurrected as Jesus was. And, since he in unconscious, the resurrection is the next instant to him! Instead of a dying baby going to a strange place alone, the next thing he knows is his mother's smiling kiss! The parents will take up the raising of their departed child right where it left off! Will you accept Jesus' assurance that we will all go to heaven together, at the same time, after the resurrection?

Page created: 7/26/98 Updated: 11/24/2006
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