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Q. What Becomes Of The Body, Soul, And Spirit Between The Time Of Death And The Resurrection?

I have read your on-line articles on body, soul, and spirit; however, I do not believe that you explicitly state what happens to the soul and spirit upon death until the resurrection. I am just trying to picture in my mind where these two reside/rest awaiting the resurrection. I would prefer Book, chapter, and verse(s) that validate your understanding. These concepts have been bothering me for some time.

Answer

I don’t think this is a bad question, though I must confess at the outset that I’m not going to try to answer it – for one simple reason: I don’t think the Bible gives us a clear answer.

These Scriptures that come to mind:

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. (Deut. 29:29 NAU)

As for me, I heard but could not understand; so I said, “My lord, what will be the outcome of these events?” 9 He said, “Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time. 10 “Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand. 11 “From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. 12 “How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days! 13 “But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age.” (Dan. 12:8-13 NAU)

Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. (Jn. 20:30-31 NAU)

God has not chosen to answer many of our questions. (In my opinion, we will have plenty of time in heaven to address those questions with the ultimate Teacher.) If the Bible does not give us a clear and straightforward answer, then I think we must, by faith, rest in what we are told, and particularly trust in the promises and the character of God.

I think that there is a very good reason why a text like Deuteronomy 29:29 is given to us. It’s relevance may be seen in God’s words to the Israelites early in the Book of Deuteronomy:

“When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, 30 beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?’ (Deut. 12:29-30 NAU)

Curiosity can be a dangerous thing, particularly when it causes us to focus on what we do not know (what God has not said), rather than on what we do know (what God has said). The Israelites could easily have been tempted to wonder just how their enemies worshipped their gods, and how a particular idol or sacred image played a part in that worship (my opinion is that many of the worship objects of the Canaanites were pornographic and sexually seductive in nature, as we know how corrupt their religion was, necessitating the wiping out of the entire population).

Curiosity can also be aroused by what God has not said that we might like to know. This can become a very dangerous pursuit. A neighbor once told me of a book that he was reading – not the Bible! He said that what he liked most about it was that it “filled in the gaps that were left by the Bible.” The cults capitalize on those areas where God has chosen to be silent. Rather than heeding the words of Deuteronomy 29:29 they have set their focus on what God has left alone. And in so doing they have turned from God’s revealed Word to speculation (see Romans 1:21; 2 Corinthians 10:5; 1 Timothy 1:4; 2 Timothy 2:23).

As I look at the passages which deal with death and the hereafter, particularly in the New Testament, I do not find the terms “soul” and “spirit” to be prominent in the passage. Some of the passages which come to mind are Luke 23:43; John 5:24-29; 1 Corinthians 15; 2 Corinthians 4 and 5; and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. What we do know is that when we die we will be “with the Lord” (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:6-9; Philippians 1:23-24).

So here are some questions which may help all of us to discern how deeply to inquire into spiritual matters of interest to us.

  • What is it that makes this subject and this potential study so important? What does this inquiry keep me from that is more important?
  • How clearly and how often has the Bible addressed this matter? If neither clearly nor repeatedly, why am I so interested in it?
  • How vital is such an inquiry to my primary responsibilities as a Christian (such as living a godly life, worship, and making disciples)? Will knowing this change me or my behavior?
  • What does the Bible say clearly and repeatedly on this subject (if, indeed, it does), and what does the Bible say we are to do about it? In other words, what is the practical application? What am I to do with what I learn from my study?
  • If trusted Bible students differ greatly on this subject, or don’t mention it at all, does this not tell us that there is a mystery here, perhaps one that is something God has not revealed, and thus Deuteronomy 29:29 should be applied?
  • Is this an area where the cults capitalize, “filling in the blanks” of the Bible, as it were?
  • So what does God’s Word say clearly about this matter?

Related Topics: Resurrection, Teaching the Bible

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