“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

5.3 Annihilation After Death

This false teaching says when the unsaved/wicked die, they go into “nothingness” – cease to exist in body and soul. This clearly contradicts the many clear teachings of the bible. Those that adhere to this are mostly “materialists” who also deny Christ and even God, but also some so-called “Christian” churches and denominations teach this also. Once again, where there is this one false teaching, other false teachings will also abound. Please see our Beyond the Tomb book for a wonderful and complete refutation of this false teaching. Scripture teaches that the spirit (still conscious) goes to be with the Lord at death for those who are saved, and for those who die in sin, their spirit is placed (still conscious also) goes to a holding place to be reserved for the day of judgment, after which they will be cast into hell for all eternity.

Furthermore, contrary to popular opinion and false teachings, you do not pass away into “nothingness” (annihilation) after death! Both the saved and the lost will be resurrected in immortal bodies! For a detailed treatment of this topic, please see another book we publish called “Beyond the Tomb”; it talks about your eternal soul and destiny in great detail and provides solid Scriptural support. A snippet from that book is given below on the ORIGIN OF MAN:

The question was once asked, “What is man?” This is a subject which should occupy our minds and be considered with much careful study. We have acquired knowledge along nearly every line of study in God’s vast creation; therefore, it is reasonable that we should know ourselves. Man’s problems are of eternal moment, for he is destined to live long after this heavens and earth have passed away (Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22; 2 Peter 3:12-13; Revelation 21:1-4). Eternal verities are his. It is not my purpose to undertake to solve this question from a scientific standpoint; I shall treat it purely from the Bible standpoint. The Word of God is the only Book that lifts the veil which separates this material world from the future and eternal state and gives us a clear view not only of the present but of the future. Its teaching is plain. It gives us a clear solution of what man is, and what his eternal destiny will be. Being a Divine revelation, its teachings can be relied upon and are perfectly safe to accept. Jesus said, “The Scriptures CANNOT BE BROKEN,” and what He said is authentic.

King David said, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Man is the crowning work of God’s creation. He stands upon the highest pedestal of all earthly creatures, on a much higher plane than the beasts which perish. “Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands” (Psalm 8:5-6).

Physically—we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” While the elements that compose the human body are practically the same as those found in the lower animals, man in his physical organism is far superior. Our body is a congeries [collection] of wonders and mysteries, so finely, delicately, and exquisitely made that its beauty, symmetry, utility, and form places us far above the other creatures about us. But man’s superiority does not lie in this alone.

Mentally—we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Man has the power to plan, think, reason, learn, and to know. This is the vital force back of every earthly achievement—the power of ideas, the might of reason. By it we have discovered the mysteries that surround us in earth and sky. A materialist once argued with me on this point and declared that he had absolutely no superior qualities above the other animals. I told him that if I believed as did he, I would go to the barn and take my place in a stall with the horses and cows. Or I would send the donkey to school and college and invite my dog and jersey cow into the office to keep books and do business. Why not? A moment’s reflection here should suffice.

Materialists deny that we possess a spiritual, conscious entity (eternal soul) separate and distinct from the body. They claim our life here and now is all there is and that when we die, we become nothingness.

Just stop and consider what the mind of man has accomplished. He ransacks [searches through] the galaxies above; tells us the number of the stars and unlocks the mysteries of the heavens. He delves into the strata of the rocks and in the stone-book [geologic record] of nature he reads the history of the ages. He blasts the rocks unshaken by ages and hurls their ponderous masses into the air as easily as a child tosses up a tennis ball. He tunnels the mountains, bridges the mighty streams, builds great ships that plow the briny deep, and circumnavigates the globe. He flies around the world and over the top of the earth like an eagle. He girdles the earth with a belt of wire, and as swift as thought flashes his messages from pole to pole, and even without the wire on the waves of the ether [air, e.g. radio, satellite] he accomplishes all this. He discovers the forces of nature, harnesses them, and starts the wheels of machinery all over the world. He is capable of intermingling with all wisdom, and of receiving continuous supplies of advanced knowledge. All this positively differentiates us from the brutes [beasts or animals, the word is not derogatory, just the language of that time] and allies us with Deity. But above all this—

Morally and spiritually—we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). The first man Adam “was made a living soul” (1 Corinthians 15:45). We are moral as well as physical beings. We stand associated with two worlds. Through our physical nature we take our place in the material world and we are affiliated with the things of earth, while through our moral and spiritual nature we are associated with the environments of the spiritual and eternal world.

Thus, we are beings accountable to God, who is the Creator of all things in heaven and in earth. These natures of ours are distinguished through a moral sense, a perception of right and wrong; and we shall never be divested of this to all eternity. We are capable of choosing the evil or the good, of understanding the difference, and this choice is our own act, making us wholly responsible. Our life here and our destiny hereafter are determined by a choice and a course, and the consequences. “To whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom you obey” (Romans 6:16). We choose our master and the service we render. We are blessed with astounding possibilities for time and eternity, and this lays upon us a fearful responsibility.

These facts distinguish man from the other creatures of this lower world. And such a wonderful being could not possibly be the result of mere chance. He must be the work of an infinite, independent, all-wise Creator. Life cannot generate itself; it must come from pre-existing life. The Bible testimony on this point is clear: “Know ye not that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3). “For in him we live, and move, and have our being. … For we are also his offspring” (Acts 17:28). “Have we not all one Father? Hath not one God created us?” (Malachi 2:10). “Let us kneel before the Lord our maker” (Psalm 95:6). “The rich and poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all.” (Proverbs 22:2). “For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name” (Isaiah 54:5).

Now, the opposite of this reasonable truth is the modern materialistic teaching of [the theory of] evolution that links man to the lower forms of life and makes him a lineal descendent [direct line of ancestry] of the brute. These guessers who base their belief on what they themselves style a mere “hypothesis,” would have man come up through hundreds of millions of years from a common ancestry or blood relationship with the spider, elephant, toad, horse, lizard, cow, worm, ape, hummingbird, cat, dog, snail, monkey, giraffe, and what not. It is a thousand times easier to believe the Bible account of creation that we are “THE OFFSPRING OF GOD.” How plain and simple is the language! “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27).

Many (even some “Christians”!) do not believe in an eternal hell; others believe and teach that after death comes “nothingness” (these are the “annihilationist’s”). The Bible emphatically disagrees with both of those viewpoints, and the Bible teachings on it are clear – you were created with an eternal soul/spirit, and it will continue forever. The only unknown is its eternal destination: heaven or hell. The subject of hell is covered much more extensively in the Beyond the Tomb book; suffice it to say that hell is a real literal place that sinners will go to for all eternity, with various degrees of punishment for their deeds in this world. Here is a snippet from the book:

Jesus taught this truth in the clearest manner: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). “And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him” (Luke 12:4-5). If the body were the soul men could kill that. If by soul is meant merely the physical man, men can kill him. If by soul is simply meant physical life, man can take that from us. But here Jesus plainly taught that the soul of man is indestructible by material forces. Man can kill the body, but “he CANNOT KILL THE SOUL.” So, when the body dies the soul still lives. Then it is immortal.

This clear teaching of Christ’s announcing the separability of the soul from the body and of the fact that the death of the body does not involve the extinction of the soul, has troubled and perplexed our materialistic friends not a little, and it is surprising how much time and space they devote in their writings to explain away the force of its meaning. But with all their labor, Matthew 10:28 stands unshaken and mocks their efforts. One of their own materialistic writers, J. P. Ham, in his work Life and Death, says, “Nothing more is implied than that the soul is distinct from the body.” Good for Ham. While he denies its immortality, he admits what is fatal to the whole materialistic teaching— “the soul is distinct from the body.” And, may I add, Matthew 10:28 as clearly teaches that the soul survives the death of the body. Uriah Smith in Here and Hereafter (pp. 109-116) argues that soul here means “the life which is to come.” He quotes Matthew 16:25, “Whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” That is, we may lose our present life in martyrdom or death for Christ’s sake and gain it again in the resurrection. That would make Matthew 10:28 read, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the life which is to come in the resurrection.” This is certainly a new definition of the term soul and does not at all give a correct exegesis of this scripture.

I quote Dr. Adam Clarke: “We find that the body and the soul are distinct principles, for the body may be slain and the soul escape; and secondly, that the soul is immaterial [spirit], for the murderers of the body are not able, have it not in their power, to injure it.” The import of Christ’s words cannot be mistaken. He expressly asserts that man consists of both soul and body, and that the soul survives the death of the body and continues in a state of consciousness when separated from the body. The soul and body do not perish together at death. Jesus taught that all of us possess souls which come not under the power of men but are subject to the power of God alone. Fear him, who, when the body is killed, can cast the soul into hell, the God who has power to destroy both soul and body in hell. The term kill as it relates to the power of both man and God in both these texts has reference only to the body. For surely Christ did not teach that God will kill the soul and then cast it into hell. If so, why fear its being cast into hell? ‘Fear him, which after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell’ (Luke 12:5). To cast a dead body into hell was not Christ’s meaning, nor did He mean to cast a dead soul there either. This casting into hell as recorded in Luke 12:4-5 is after the body has been slain, hence can refer only to the soul. This proves that the soul is the conscious personality, and that after death the soul is susceptible of happiness and misery. After the death of the rich man, in Luke 16, he lifted up his eyes ‘in hell’ and cried, ‘am tormented in this flame.’”

The Bible teaches that both the saved and the lost will be raised eternally! The Bible clearly teaches that there is an eternal heaven, and an eternal hell. Beyond the Tomb goes into these subjects in much more detail. The book lays out what the Bible says about spirit, soul, man, God, heaven, hell, angels, death, what happens after death for sinners and saints, the nature of eternity, etc. That book makes a good follow-up/companion to read after this book.

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“You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” – John 8:32

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