Where Are The Dead?

By David J. Stewart

This is a subject of much controversy; BUT there is NO controversy if you believe the Bible.  This article does not need to be extremely long, because the Word of God plainly states where the dead are.  It's as simple as this my friend--the saved go to Heaven, and the unsaved go to Hell.  And let me say right now, because most articles written about the dead don't mention this--Hell is a place which burns with fire and brimstone!  Only a Hellbound Christ-rejecter would deny the eternal punishment of the damned, in lieu of the abundance of supporting Scriptures.  I've read several online articles concerning the dead, and am saddened that many of them deny the existence of eternal punishment.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The Word of God is very clear on this matter, and we would be wise to study God's Inspired Word rather than listen to the humanistic reasoning of foolish unsaved religious men. 

I recently read a blasphemous article about the dead which states ...

Having demonstrated that neither the Bible nor reason offers the slightest support to the doctrine that eternal torment is the penalty for sin, we note the fact that the various church creeds, and confessions, and hymn-books, and theological treatises, are its only supports; and that under the increasing light of our day, and the consequent emancipation of reason, belief in this horrible, fiendish doctrine of the "dark ages" is fast dying out. -SOURCE: http://www.bibletruthkeys.com/where_are_the_dead.htm

Can you imagine ... a website called "BibleTruthKeys.com" which refers to Hell as a "fiendish doctrine of the dark ages"?  What apostasy!!!  The article quotes John 3:13 in an attempt to teach that there is no afterlife ... "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven."  The author of the article in question used up 3,045 lines of HTML code in an attempt to show that "hell" only means extinction (annihilation).  What a nightmare!  One thing that I love about the Truth of God's Word is that it doesn't take an article a mile long to defend It.  You either believe the Bible or you don't--to those who believe, no explanation is necessary; to those who believe NOT, no explanation is possible.  John 3:13 means what it says, for no man had ascended into Heaven in the Old Testament--they went to Paradise.  Here is a wonderful explanation of John 3:13 by the great man of God, J. Vernon McGee ...

And now He says, "No man hath ascended up to heaven." That is the answer to those today who feel that Elijah and Enoch went to heaven when they were translated. I donít think so because up to this point the Lord Jesus says that no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven. In other words, He is saying that He is the only One who can speak about heaven because He is the only One who has ascended up to heaven. Now it is true that there are a host of folk who have gone to heaven after Christ, but in the Old Testament, when a saint of God died, one of Godís own, he went to a place that is called Paradise or Abrahamís Bosomóour Lord called it that (see Luke 16:22). It was not until after Christ died and ascended to heaven and led captivity captive that He took those who were in Paradise into the presence of God in heaven. Since then, for the child of God, it has always been "Ö absent from the body Ö present with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:8). But when Jesus was here, no other man had ascended to heaven. -SOURCE: Thru The Bible With J. Vernon McGee

For an excellent detailed explanation of Hell, please read the free online book A Biblical Examination of Hell by Pastor Max D. Younce.

The Old Testament Dead

Luke 16 is perhaps the clearest Biblical account of what happens when a person dies.  In Luke 16:22-23 we read, "And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments..."  We learn from this wonderful passage of Scripture that the believer in Christ is escorted by angels at death to a place of peace.  Tragically, we also learn that the unbeliever goes straight to a place of torment.  "Abraham's bosom" is another term for the Old Testament place called Paradise.  Hell (Hebrew: Sheol, Greek: Hades) is located inside the earth.  Hades is compartmentalized into two distinct places: Paradise and Torment.  We read in Ephesians 4:9, "Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?"  Matthew 12:40 states, "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."  When Jesus died upon the cross, He descended into the lower parts of the earth--into Paradise.  This explains why we read in 1st Samuel 28:14 that the prophet Samuel came UP out of the earth.  On the other hand, great men of God such as Evangelist John R. Rice believed that Old Testament saints went immediately to Heaven; not Paradise.  Dr. John R. Rice didn't believe in a place called Paradise.  Brother Rice quotes 2nd Kings 2:11, "...and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven."  Although both arguments are compelling, I personally lean towards the existence of a place called Paradise, simply because of the abundance of Scriptures which fit into the puzzle. 

As you can see, there are two schools of thought here.  Many great men of God hold to one of these two views.  Jack T. Chick and Oliver B. Greene believe in an Old Testament Paradise.  I personally would not argue the issue with anyone, because it is NOT a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith.  Whether you believe Old Testament saints went to Heaven or Paradise--either way you still believe in eternal life.  However, the doctrines of eternal punishment and eternal life, ARE fundamental doctrines of the Biblical faith.  If life were to cease at death, then there would be no reason for Jesus Christ to have died upon the cross for our sins.  If there is no Hell, then there is no penalty for sin--so why get saved?  As you can clearly see, the doctrines of eternal punishment for the wicked, and eternal life for the righteous are critically important to the Christian faith.  Please read, The Truth About Hell.  Also, here is a wonderful Real Audio series of Bible Studies on "Heaven" by Pastor Jack Schaap:  1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10    11

Bible students who hold to the Paradise view believe that Christ took all of the Old Testament saints to Heaven during the 3-days He was in the grave.  Thus, whether you believe in an Old Testament Paradise or not, we all believe that the Old Testament saints are in Heaven today with the Lord.

Where Do The Dead Go Today?

Unbelievers who die today still go to the place of Torment, in Hell (Hades).  We know this because of what Revelation 20:12-13 teaches, "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works."  So at The Great White Throne of Judgment, the DEAD will be delivered up from Hell.  The word "hell" here in Revelation 20:13 is in fact the Greek, "Hades."  The unsaved dead are presently awaiting judgment in Hades.  They will be judged in Revelation 20:11-15, and then cast into the Lake of Fire (Gehenna) to be tormented eternally. 

Born again believers today go straight to Heaven when they die.  I believe Luke 16:22 clearly teaches that we will be escorted by angels to Heaven's gates.  I believe we will be greeted by other saints as we arrive to Heaven.  We read in Luke 15:10, "Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."  If it's not the angels rejoicing, then who is it?  Christians!  Hebrews 12:1 declares, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses..."  I believe that the same saints which rejoice in Heaven over one sinner that repents and gets saved, also jubilantly greet newcomers into Heaven's pearly gates.  It is clear from the Scriptures that the death of a Christian is a blessed event in Heaven, "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints" (Psalm 116:15).  Why precious?  Because the Lord gets to meet and speak with us face to face for the first time.  If the death of a Christian is precious to the Lord, then you can rest assured that it is also precious to the inhabitants of Heaven.  Death for the believer is actually a graduation from this old earthly life into a new celestial life with the Lord.  The Apostle Paul speaks positively concerning the death of a believer in 1st 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."  The unbeliever dies and goes to Hell without hope--his family and friends have every reason to mourn and sorrow.  However, the Christian goes to be with the Lord (2nd Corinthians 5:8), and that is something to have a celebration over. 

The Lake of Fire

Lest you should have any doubts as to where the unsaved go, we read in 2nd Thessalonians 1:8 ... "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord..."  There you have it ... flaming fire, vengeance, punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord--who would want to go to such a horrible place?  Yet, most of the people in this world are going to Hell when they die.  2nd Peter 3:9 tells us that God is NOT willing for ANY to perish, but for all to come to repentance.  No one goes to Hell who doesn't choose to go there.  God is a Just God!

The Word of God plainly teaches that there is a second death.  There is NO mention in the Bible of a place called "Purgatory."  In fact, purgatory is an INVENTION of the Catholic Church, first established by Gregory the Great in 593 A.D.  If you hear someone teaching that the Bible doesn't teach eternal damnation and punishment--they are lying!  Even the Old Testament, in Isaiah 66:24 WARNS of Hell, "And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh."  Neither shall their fire be quenched!!!  "That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2nd Thessalonians 2:12). 

 "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." -Revelation 20:14-15

Ye Must Be Born Again!