Let The Dead Rest In Peace
Why won’t people let the dead be dead and rest in peace? Many families, theologians, many denominations, Bible students/readers, and some here in CD who are still trumpeting the dead are not dead. They say a part of the departed lives on. A dead person goes on directly to heaven, “hell” or purgatory, in preparation for heaven. None of these things are true or biblical. They sound good but give love ones false hope and misrepresents what the Bible teaches. Death is the result of sin (“missing the mark,” rebellion against God, thinking to know better than God, etc.). 1 John 3:4 says sin is an illegal act. A transgression. A crime. Mistrust of God is the foundation of sin. We transgress because we think we know better. From Lucifer to Adam and Eve, they have sinned, which leads to death.
Genesis gives five specific texts that mention the idea of death (Gen 2:17; 3: 3–4, 19, 21–22). They show:
- The fall of man—the forewarning (2:17)
- The denial of the warning (3:3–4).
- The consequences of sin (3:19, 21–22; See Kaiser)
I don’t think many people understand the true nature of death:
- It is a loss of life and consciousness or biological cessation.
- Death is actual, and the surviving love ones are hurt.
- Death is the cessation of life.
- It’s a body without breath.
- It’s a reversal of creation.
- Death is an unconscious and dreamless sleep.
- Man is the created. He is mortal (subject to death). God is immortal. All man does by way of character development must be done while they are alive. Heaven. Heaven is a place where the righteous go at the Second Coming.
It behooves one to understand the origin of man to better grasp the realities of death:
- He does NOT have a soul but became and IS a soul. Man is capable of relationship (Gen 1:26, 28; 2:18, 24, 25) and can sleep (Gen 2:21).
- Human beings are not a dichotomy but a unity of dust of the ground and the breath of life (I will illustrate later).
- Man is flesh (Gen 2:21, 23; 6:3,13,17). He has the following:
- Ribs (Gen 2:21, 22)
- Bones (Gen 2:23)
- Blood (Gen 9:5–6)
- Nostrils (Gen 2:7)
- A face (Gen 4:5)
- A heart or mind (Gen 6:5)
- The power of contrary choice (Gen 1:16, 17).
A Soul is a Living Person, for example, a light bulb. It can represent our body. The electricity is like the breath of God. Together, they make up energized light that sheds its brightness around it. Likewise, our body, without God’s breath, is dark. We are alive because God puts life into us.
Living Brain (Mind). Consciousness, feelings, love, hate, envy, knowledge, wisdom, understanding, reasoning, thoughts.
Body (dust) + Breath from God (Spirit) = Living Soul (living being, nephesh)
- A soul is simply a person who can breathe. It is not the breath only. Without the breath of God, the dust would not be conscious. And without the dust, the breath would not be conscious. It takes a combination of both to produce a living creature.
- If life is the combination of dust and the breath from God, then what is death? It is described as the opposite process. In contrast, Spirit Returns to God. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the Spirit (ruwach) shall return unto God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12: 7).
Body Returns to Earth. Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goes forth, and he returns to his earth; in that very day, his thoughts perish (Psalm 146: 3 -4).
Back to use our bulb illustration
DUST - BREATH FROM GOD = DEATH SLEEP
When the electricity is turned off, the light goes out. When God takes back His life-giving breath, we die. This breath has no independent consciousness on its own to exist as an intelligent entity without a physical body.
- Light Bulb - Electricity = Darkness
- Body (dust) - Breath from God (spirit) = Dead body
- Dead Brain - Mind. No consciousness, no feelings, no love, no hate, no knowledge.
- The Sleep Of Death. The Bible describes death as an unconscious sleep in which we have no memory, actions, or living contact. We are not in heaven praising God or in hell writhing in pain. Death is a place where we wait until the resurrection.
The Bible is clear. Here are samples of clear passages concern the truth about the dead:
- The Dead Are Unconscious. “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, 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 anything that is done under the sun.”
- No Intelligent Contact. ...” Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you go” (Ecclesiastes 9: 5- 6, 10).
- The Dead Have No Memory. “Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for your mercies’ sake. For in death there is no remembrance of you: in the grave who shall give you thanks?” (Psalm 6: 4 - 5)
- The Dead Are Not Aware Of God. Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction? Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? (Psalm 88: 11-12)
- Sleep. The Bible describes it as sleep because we will all awake from it.
- He said unto them, Leave, for the girl is not dead, but sleeps. And they laughed him to scorn (Matt. 9: 24).
- And when he came in, he says to them, Why make you this ado, and weep? The child is not dead but sleeps (Mark 5: 39).
- And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleeps (Luke 8: 52).
- Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death (Psalm 13: 3).
- Lazarus. “These things said he: and after that, he says unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleeps, he shall do well. However, Jesus spoke 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. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent you may believe; nevertheless, let us go unto him. ...” Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if you had been here, my brother had not died” (John 11: 11 - 15, 21).
Serious and responsible stewards of the Word must stop acting like religious charlatans peddling their feel-goods theology as a legitimate side hustle. Our spiritual leaders must be more accountable and forthcoming. They must stop selling the spiritual dope: Living on in another form, going straight to heaven, or purgatory. Administra God’s Word and stop giving false hope. Death is unconscious sleep is biblical truth and not debatable!
Too many of the groups mentioned above bought into the reinterpretation of Scripture through Greek philosophy. Like lap dogs, they consumed incorporating into Christianity the alien elements of “a timeless, impassive deity and an immortal human soul.” To do so inevitably prepares the way for the unbiblical teachings of purgatory, the eternal torment of the wicked, and the possibility of mediation by Mary and the saints.
Even history reflects Anabaptist martyr Michael Sattler who testified at his trial in 1527 that Mary could not function as an intercessor, “for she must with us await the judgment.” Besides him, others like Conrad Grebel, Leonhard Schiemer, Dirk Phillips, and many lesser-known sixteenth-century Anabaptists shared the view that the dead are “sleeping.” This sleep is unconscious until a premillennial bodily resurrection.
So, I appeal to all, keep studying, but let the dead rest in peace. The grave is where the deceased is until Jesus returns. This is not the last word, but a good word spoken for truth.
- Walter C. Kaiser, “The Literary Form of Genesis 1–11,” in New Perspectives on the Old Testament, ed. J. Barton (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1970), 61.
- Murray, Stuart. The Naked Anabaptist: The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith. Third Way Collection. Foreword Gregory A. Boyd. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2010.
- Thomas N. Finger, A Contemporary Anabaptist Theology [Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2004], 518-519)