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What happens to the soul and spirit after death? 

Today's Question: I want to express my appreciations for your inspiring articles.  Please, I need to ask this question that I can't seems to get clear in my mind. When a righteous person dies where does the soul and spirit go? Are they the same? How come they are going to rise again at the resurrection when they should already have been with the Lord?


Bible Answer: Glad you liked my articles. The soul goes to heaven at death if you are saved. The soul is the real conscious self. Paul calls death his departure from his body and the earth: "I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far" (Philippians 1:23). Make no mistake about this: there is no such thing as soul sleep. There are some that teach that the soul sleeps in the earth until the resurrection. This passage, however, proves that the real self--the soul--goes to be with the Lord upon death.

            Jesus gave a parable about the rich man and Lazarus. In it He mentions that when Lazarus died, "angels carried him to Abraham's side" (Luke 16:22). Jesus described Lazarus departed state as being "comforted here" (v 25) in Abraham's side. Yet, he described the rich man as being "in agony" (v 25). The rich man was fully conscious of himself including his family still on earth and he remembered well his former life. The story clearly shows that the soul in the afterlife is filled with memory and self awareness. 

            The book of revelation describes the souls that were beheaded for the sake Christ as standing before the throne of God worshipping and praising the Lord. (see Revelation 7:13-17 and 20:4).

            The reason the Bible speaks of the Christian death as "fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:18) is to show that death is not permanent. When someone sleeps, they will wake up. It is not the soul that sleeps, but only the body. Just as the body may lie down in sleep while the soul is very awake with dreams, so the body may be dead, but the soul is alive with God in heaven.

            Now concerning your other question about the difference between the soul and spirit. The spirit is the God-side to yourself that when joined with the body produces the soul.  The soul is the product of the union of the human spirit with the body. They are different in terms of their earthly function (soul gives personality, spirit gives godly character); however, it seems that upon death, the Bible gives no distinction between the soul and spirit. They may become forged together to become one and the same. Paul writes about a brother who was being judge in the body so that "his spirit [can be] saved on the day of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 5:5). Whether one uses soul or spirit after death is not important. I think there is no distinction in the afterlife.

Other related article:

Where do we go when we die?


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