Jehovah`s Witness/What Happens after We Die
QUESTION: Hi Carol, I am having difficulty believing that when we die, we don't exist any more. I have always believed that there is a duplicate of our physical body which is an Astral body or Spirit body.
There is so much evidence regarding an immortal part of us, in research, in Spiritualism and in other Religions that I am disbelieving what the Bible says and the way the JWs interpret it.
I understand your question. The answer to this question affects all of us, as at some time we will all face the issue of death in this system. So isn't it interesting to note that probably no other issue has been as confusing as what happens after death. For thousands of years, brilliant minds in every civilization have pondered this question. And you are correct that many religions teach that we have life after death. But, we can only concern ourselves what the Bible teaches. Some argue that on the subjects of death and the afterlife, the Bible is just as confusing. To be fair, however, we must face the fact that the confusion is caused by the many religions that muddy the Bible teachings with fallacies and legends. When you ignore the traditions and myths and stick to what the Bible actually says, you discover a teaching that makes sense and offers so much hope.
For example, the two quotes from King Solomon make it clear that the dead—both humans and animals—are conscious of nothing at all. Hence, according to the Bible, there is no activity, feeling, emotion, or thought in death.—Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10.
Is this hard to believe? Let’s think about this: What is the condition of a human before coming to life? Where were you before those cells from your parents merged to become the living person that you are? If humans possess an invisible entity that survives death, where does that entity reside before conception? The truth is, you have no prehuman existence to remember. Before you were conceived, you did not exist. It is that simple.
So it is logical to conclude that when we die, our consciousness returns to exactly the same state it was before we were alive. It is as God told Adam after he disobeyed: “For dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19) In that sense, humans are no different from animals. Regarding the condition of the dead, it is just as the Bible says: “There is no superiority of the man over the beast.”—Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20. But does this mean that human life is limited to merely a few decades followed by an eternity of nothingness? Or is there some hope for the dead?
The death of strangers may appear to be a normal aspect of life. Still, when it comes to the death of a loved one or to our own death, there is nothing normal about it. This is because humans have a deep-seated natural desire to live. We also possess a keen sense of time and a perception of eternity. King Solomon wrote that God “has planted eternity in men’s hearts.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, The Amplified Bible) Under normal circumstances we want to keep living indefinitely. We want life with no expiration date. The fact that we have an inborn desire to live and an enormous capacity to learn leads to a logical conclusion: Humans are designed to live much longer than a mere 70 or 80 years. This, in turn, leads us to another conclusion: There must be a Designer, a Creator, a God. If, in fact, God created us with the capacity to live forever, why do we die? And what happens after death? Is it God’s purpose to bring the dead back to life? It would seem logical that a wise and powerful God would provide us with answers to these questions, and he has. Consider the following:
▪ Death was not part of God’s original purpose for mankind. The first mention of death in the Bible indicates that dying was not what God originally intended for humans. The Bible account of Genesis explains that to allow the first human couple, Adam and Eve, opportunity to manifest their love and loyalty, God placed a simple test upon them. It consisted of a prohibition against eating from one particular tree. God said: “In the day you eat from it you will positively die.” (Genesis 2:17) Adam and Eve would die only if they rebelled, thus failing the test. The Bible account reveals that they proved disloyal to God, and therefore they died. In this way, imperfection and death were introduced into the human family.
▪ The Bible compares death to sleep. It speaks of ‘falling asleep in death.’ (Psalm 13:3) Prior to resurrecting his friend Lazarus, Jesus explained to his apostles: “Lazarus our friend has gone to rest, but I am journeying there to awaken him from sleep.” And Jesus did just that! The Bible says that when he called, “the man [Lazarus] that had been dead came out” from the “memorial tomb”—fully alive once again!—John 11:11, 38-44.
Why did Jesus speak of death as a sleep? Because a sleeping person is inactive. During deep sleep, there is no consciousness of surroundings or of the passing of time. There is no pain or suffering. Similarly, in death there is no activity or consciousness. But the comparison goes further. With sleep, one expects to wake up. And that is exactly the hope that the Bible offers for the dead.
The Creator himself promises: “From the hand of Sheol [the common grave] I shall redeem them; from death I shall recover them. Where are your stings, O Death? Where is your destructiveness, O Sheol?” (Hosea 13:14) Another Bible prophecy states that God “will actually swallow up death forever, and the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will certainly wipe the tears from all faces.” (Isaiah 25:8) This process of bringing dead ones back to life is called resurrection.
▪ Where will resurrected ones live? As discussed earlier, mankind has a natural desire to live continuously. Where would you want to live forever? Would you be satisfied knowing that after death you would keep on living as part of an abstract universal life force, as some religions teach? Would you desire to continue your existence as a different person, with no memories of who you were before dying? Does it appeal to you to come back to life as an animal or a tree? Given the choice, would you really want to live in a world devoid of all human experience and earthly joys?
Under ideal conditions, would you not love to live on a paradise earth? The hope offered in the Bible is exactly that, namely, to live forever right here on earth. God created the earth for that purpose—to be inhabited by those who will love and serve him forever in happiness. That is why the Bible says: “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.”—Psalm 37:29; Isaiah 45:18; 65:21-24.
▪ When will the resurrection take place? The fact that death is compared to sleep indicates that the resurrection does not usually take place immediately after death. A period of “sleeping” takes place between the time of death and the resurrection. In the Bible, a man named Job raised the question: “If an able-bodied man dies can he live again?” Then he answered: “I shall wait [in the grave] until my relief comes. [God] will call, and I myself shall answer.” (Job 14:14, 15) What a joy it will be when that time arrives and the dead are reunited with their loved ones!
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QUESTION: Hi Carol, I have another question. A Family friend had passed away.
This friend lived in our home.
That night after this friends death, my Mother heard knocking on her walls and doors that she knew she had shut, were open.
My Mother told him to stop making these knocking noises because she wants to sleep. They stopped and never occurred again.
How do you explain this incident? Another Greek Orthodox friend of my Mothers who says that he has visions and he can see past the physical realm, said to my Mother that at the Funeral he saw the dead friend standing next to the coffin, saying that he shouldn't have blasphemed against Christ etc, he was an Atheist, but after death he realised that he should have listened to my Mother and gone to Church to receive Holy Communion. I don't know how this can be explained, if when we die we are unconscious and we don't have an immortal Soul??
Many people are comforted by visions or speaking with those who claim to be able to contact their dead loved ones... but again if our soul does not survive past death then what did your Mother's friend see? Again we always want to lean on Jehovah's word as our source. It states that ‘Satan tries to make himself look like a good angel, and his servants do the same.’ (2 Corinthians 11:14, 15)
One way that the demons mislead people is by encouraging them to inquire of the dead. People grieving over the death of a loved one are often deceived by wrong ideas about those who have died. A spirit medium may give special information or may speak in a voice that seems to be that of a dead person. As a result, many people become convinced that the dead are really alive and that contacting them will help the living to endure their grief. But any such “comfort” is really false as well as dangerous. Why? Because the demons can imitate the voice of a dead person and give a spirit medium information about the one who died. (1 Samuel 28:3-19) Moreover, as explained in the previous question you asked, the dead have ceased to exist. (Psalm 115:17) So “anyone who inquires of the dead” has been misled by wicked spirits and is acting contrary to the will of God. (Deuteronomy 18:10, 11; Isaiah 8:19)