The State of the Dead

Death is a subject that many find uninteresting because they do not care to discuss the matter. Many accept beliefs about death that they have heard all their lives. There is much false information that is not Scriptural.

God does not want us to be ignorant about death. He has given us much information about it in the Scriptures. It should not be something that we are reluctant to discuss because God wants us to know about it and what happens to us after death.

Many people do not realize that God rejoices in the death of His people. Shocking!! Read Psalms 116:15 and you will see that it says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Then again in Revelation 14:13, it says, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.” So, if we are the Lord’s, death is not a tragic thing.

I hope the following Scriptures will be helpful in your study of this subject.

1. If a man dies, will he live again? Job 14:14-15

If a man die, shall he live again? 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.

Job 14:14-15

Many people ask whether there is life after death. What happens after death? The Bible explains very clearly; we need not be ignorant about the subject.

We find that Job makes two statements in these verses. He says that he will wait, and he says that God will call and he will answer.

Now, this is very interesting. Where is Job going to wait and where will he be when he answers God’s call? If Job is in heaven (as so many believe) then he isn’t waiting. Also, God would not need to call him, for he would be with God already. So let us find out where Job was going to wait — the place where he will answer God when He calls.

2. Where was Job going to wait? Job 17:13

If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness.
Job 17:13

Here Job tells us very plainly where he was going to wait. He was going to wait in the grave. The grave was going to be his house, his dwelling place, until the LORD called when he would answer by coming forth. Different than what the world teaches, isn’t it? But yet this is what the Bible teaches. How can the world be so confused when the Bible is so clear?

3. Man will remain in the tomb. Job 21:30-32

That the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction? they shall be brought forth to the day of wrath.

Who shall declare his way to his face? and who shall repay him what he hath done?

Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb.

Job 21:30-32

Verse 32 plainly tells us that man will remain in the tomb. Man does not go to a hell of fire or to heaven at death. He remains in the tomb until the Resurrection and Judgment.

4. Concerning Lazarus. John 11:42-43

And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

John 11:42-43

As you read the entire chapter, you will notice that Lazarus died and was dead four days. Compared with common teaching today, Lazarus would have already been in heaven. But notice the wording Jesus used. He did not say, “Lazarus come down from heaven.” He said, “Lazarus, come forth.” He wasn’t in heaven, as so many teach today.

5. How does the Bible speak of death? 1 Thessalonians 4:13

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.
1 Thessalonians 4:13

The Bible speaks of death as a sleep, as in this verse. Now, why does the Bible compare death to sleep? There is no accounting of time in sleep. When you go to sleep at night and when you wake up in the morning, it seems just a moment has passed. So it is in death. Even though Adam has been dead for approximately 6,000 years, yet it will seem just a moment when God calls him forth from the grave.

Also, in sleep, you know nothing of what is going on around you. So it is with the dead, they know nothing of what is going on around them, as we shall see a little later. So now we can see or understand why the Bible likens death to sleep.

6. Did the people of the Old Testament know this? Psalms 17:15

As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.
Psalms 17:15

Notice that David says, “…when I awake.” He understood what death was like.

7. Those who sleep in the dust. Daniel 12:1-2

And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

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 12:1-2

Verse 2 is the verse we want to notice, and it says those who sleep in the dust of the earth. This does not say they are in hell or in heaven; they are sleeping in the dust of the earth.

8. Job’s wonderful hope. Job 19:25-26

For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:

And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:

Job 19:25-26

Even though Job knew that he would go back to the dust of the ground, someday he would come forth and see his God. He knew he would not get to see Him until the Resurrection day.

9. How many in the grave will come forth? John 5:28-29

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

This tells us that all those who are in their graves will come forth. Everyone will be given a reward. Those who have lived for the Lord a righteous life will be given eternal life. Those who refused the truth and did not obey the Lord will be rewarded with the second death. So everyone in the graves will come forth.

10. We return to the dust from which we came.

We came from the dust and we will return to the dust if we pass away before the Lord comes.

Notice the first reference states all that God takes away from us is the breath. That is all He put into the body when He created it (Genesis 2:7).

11. In the grave is no remembrance.

In the grave, we remember nothing. One can neither talk, nor remember, nor participate.

12. Our thoughts perish. Psalms 146:4-5

His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:

Psalms 146:4-5

13. The dead praise not. Psalms 115:17

The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence.
Psalms 115:17

14. The soul that sinneth, it shall die.

Our next lesson will reveal what a soul is. But these tell us that a sinful soul will die.

15. Neither does it go to heaven.

God spoke of David as a man after His own heart. He spoke favorably of David, yet the Scriptures tell us that David is not in heaven. So if David is not in heaven, then surely no one else is either. All are still in the graves (righteous and sinners) awaiting the Resurrection and the Judgment.

16. Jesus speaks very clearly. John 3:13

And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
John 3:13

Can we believe the words of Jesus when He definitively states “ man hath ascended up to heaven...”?


Contrary to the modern teaching that a person goes to heaven or hell at death, the Scriptures tell us that we merely rest in the grave until the Resurrection. There is not one verse in the whole Bible that says we go to heaven at death. Which shall we follow: “the teachings of man” or “the teachings of the Bible”?

Material from the book Answers to Your Bible Questions by Wesley Walker.

More info:

Answers to Your Bible Questions