Unbodily Conscious

Death presents an immediate problem, the body is here but “you” are gone. There is no denying that in death the body remains very much on the earth. We have abundant empirical evidence this is true. If you do not believe me one afternoon touring your local funeral home or cemetery should do the trick. Yet while the body is very much here, where does the rest of “you” go? When I say the rest of “you”, I mean the conscious you, the “you, you.”

Those that hold to strictly materialist positions would say that the body in the casket is “you.” Because you are simply a material body death reduces you to little more than decomposing matter. Death means you no longer exist, you are no longer conscious. The Bible presents a much different picture of man and death. The Bible teaches that man is more than just a body. In creation he became something far different from simply a creature. Not only does the fact that God breathed into him the breath of life suggest this, but also the implications of his sin bear this out as well (Gen. 1 - 3). Man is not a something, he is someone. Because he is someone and not simply something this makes man’s death different from any other creature.

The Bible does not deny that the body left behind in the casket was yours, but at the same time the Scriptures teach us that “you” go somewhere else, away from this world, in death. The Bible teaches that those who are redeemed by Jesus Christ enter into the presence of the Lord in death (2 Cor. 5:8, Phil 1:23). The Bible also teaches that those who are not redeemed by Jesus Christ enter into punishment upon death (Luke 16 story of the Rich Man and Lazarus; Rev. 20:13 where death and hades give up the dead who are already in them). Every person, whether saved or lost, enters consciously into a place upon death. The redeemed experience blessing after death. The lost experience punishment after death. For both parties, fully conscious after death, the body remains very much in the funeral home or in the grave.

This problem of the body separated from the “you”, the spirit, will be resolved in the resurrection. The Bible teaches that the bodies of the saved and the lost will be resurrected and every living spirit will be reunited with his or her body. I will write more fully on this topic next week. For now, we ask, what are the implications of being “unbodily” conscious after death? It simply means that the canonical Scriptures do not allow for the teachings of purgatory or soul sleep. Purgatory is the idea that upon death a person enters into a time of temporal punishment as a means to fully atone for their sin. Soul sleep is the teaching that upon death people enter into unconsciousness until the time of the resurrection. If time allows (as I am speaking at a youth conference this week), I will write on these topics tomorrow.


Popular Posts