On the surface, the doctrine seems as “Christian” as the Pope being Catholic and the Rabbi Jewish. “Our dearly beloved Brenda ‘went home to be with the Lord,'” the minister informs his tearful congregation at Brenda Webb’s funeral. “Her suffering is over. She’s with God now.” Who dare doubt such a conclusion? Brenda Webb was a firm believer in Jesus Christ. Of course she went heaven, right?
Let’s take a closer look.
But first, another scene. It’s been a month since Brenda’s lifeless body was lowered six feet under. But for the flickering of a few eerie candles, the room is pitch dark. Madam Sophia – a psychic medium claiming an ability to contact the deceased – sits comfortably on a black sofa surrounded by a handful of bereaved relatives who weren’t churchgoers. The thick smell of incense fills the air. High above the creepy-looking house, the moon shines full. A lone dog howls in the distance. “Whom shall I bring up for you?” Madam Sophia quietly inquires. “Brenda Webb,” responds Ralph nervously, “She died recently, and we have some questions to ask her.” Suddenly, a ghost appears in their midst. “Hello Ralph,” says the spirit, “what do you want to know?” A lengthy conversation ensues between a small group of amazed relatives and a glowing entity from The Other Side who looks like Brenda Webb, talks like Brenda Webb, and acts exactly like Brenda Webb.
Sound far-fetched? Actually, it isn’t, for similar occurrences are increasingly common. Now notice carefully. In spite of their many differences of belief, there is one fundamental idea that both Brenda Webb’s pastor and Madam Sophia hold in common. Both believe that when a person dies, they’re not really dead. The “soul” soars on, somewhere…
This belief is belief in an immortal soul. Most human beings across planet Earth accept this idea, including most members of the world’s largest religions, which not only includes Roman Catholic, Protestant and Muslim, but Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan, Wiccan and Spiritualist. While these religious persuasions differ markedly in their understanding of where souls go on the day of death, they all believe that every person has an “immortal soul” that goes somewhere after one’s physical body disintegrates to dirt.
Put your hand over your pacemaker (if you have one), and get ready for a shock. This doctrine was actually the Devil’s first lie that duped Eve in the Garden of Eden. I call it, The Devil’s Door to Spiritualism.”
Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat,” declared Almighty God to Adam shortly after his creation, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16,17). Notice carefully the last four words, “you shall surely die.” The Lord didn’t tell Adam that if he ate the forbidden fruit “only your body will die,” but rather, ” you shall surely die”-meaning his entire person. God added the word, “surely,” for extra emphasis. His warning was clear. If Adam or Eve ate from the wrong tree, that was it. They would “surely die.” The word “die” means that they would be dead, not alive somewhere else.
Then came the snake. What did he say? A few verses later, the Bible reports:
Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4).
Did you catch that? It was “the serpent” that first snickered, “You will not surely die,” in direct contrast to God’s Word. Again, the Lord said, “you will surely die.” The serpent countered, “No, you won’t.” Who told the truth, God or the Devil? Sadly, Eve believed the snake and ate the fruit. Then she offered it to Adam, and he ate too (see Gen. 3:6). The result was sin, pain, and death for all humanity. Ultimately, that tiny act led to the death of Jesus Christ to fix the problem.
Sin is serious.
We should always believe what God says.
After Adam and Eve sinned, God reiterated His “You will surely die” message to the guilty pair. Notice carefully:
Then to Adam He said…”In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken, for dust you are, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:17,19).
Once again God didn’t tell Adam that merely his physical body would revert to dust, but Adam himself. “For dust you are,” the Lord clarified, “and to dust you shall return.” The word “you” takes in Adam’s entire existence. In Genesis 2:7, the Bible says that Adam was formed from dust combined with “the breath of life.” This “breath of life” was not an eerie out-of-body intelligence, but rather a spark of life that God placed into all creation, including animals (see Gen. 7:21,22 and Ps. 104:29,30). It was this combination of dust plus breath that – together – made Adam “a living soul” (Gen. 2:7, KJV). At death (which is the result of sin), “the breath of life,” also called “the spirit” that now animates man, simply “returns to God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:7). But human consciousness doesn’t continue. It ceases (see Psalm 146:4, KJV). That’s what God said.
The Bible is crystal clear that fallen man is not immortal. God “alone has immortality” (1 Tim. 6:16, NKJV, emphasis added). Fallen man must “seek for glory, honor, and immortality” (Romans 2:7, emphasis added). Only on Resurrection Day will saints “put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:53). The Bible teaching is not the instant soaring of immortal souls into outer space after the physical body is pronounced dead; but actual death, burial, and future resurrection.
Now here’s the scary part. If Christians believe that their deceased loved ones aren’t really dead, but are alive somewhere, then this makes them dangerously vulnerable to being deceived by demons impersonating their dead relatives. In other words, if Brenda Webb really did go to heaven, then why couldn’t her ghost return at Madam Sophia’s beckoning to communicate with the living? Why not? The biblical answer is not that she wouldn’t, but that she can’t. “The living know that they will die” (Eccl. 9:5), wrote Solomon, “But the dead know nothing.” Nothing. That’s why communication with the dead is impossible. “The dead…go down into silence” (see Ps. 115:17), dittoed David. They wait for “the resurrection at the last day” (see John 11:24 and John 5:28,29).
Wait a minute! you might be thinking. What about New Testament passages like “absent from the body” (2 Cor. 5:8), the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16), and Jesus Christ’s promise to the dying thief that he would join Him in Paradise (Luke 23:43)? Don’t they teach that believers go to heaven at the moment of death?
No, they don’t. Briefly, when you compare 2 Cor. 5:8 with verse 4, and then with 1 Cor. 15:51-55, it becomes very clear that Paul’s “absent from the body” statement meant that believers will be “present with the Lord” on Resurrection Day, not before (compare also with 1 Thess. 4:17). The story of the rich man and Lazarus was “a parable” (compare Luke 16:19 with Luke 19:11, 12), not an actual account, for how else can you explain Lazarus ascending into “Abraham’s bosom”? Finally, if you remove the punctuation from Luke 23:43, which was added hundreds of years after the New Testament was written, then Christ’s actual promise to the thief on the cross would be, “Truly I say to you today [right now] you will be [in the future] with Me in Paradise.” We know this is what Jesus meant because He didn’t go to Paradise that day, but into Joseph’s new tomb (see Luke 23:52,53). After rising from the dead, Christ told Mary, “I have not yet ascended to My Father” (John 20:17). Thus Jesus Himself did not go to heaven until after His resurrection.
“A lie can travel half-way around the world before truth puts its boots on,” wrote the witty Mark Twain. According to the Bible, the “immortal soul” doctrine is one of those lies. Yes, it’s popular; and yes, millions believe it; but the fact is that this doctrine was the first lie uttered to humanity by a serpent in the Garden of Eden. Unfortunately, Eve believed it, and so do most people today, including psychic mediums like Madam Sophia, and even Christian pastors.
The Bible sounds the warning that “the great dragon, the serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan… deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9, emphasis added).
Many ancient medieval churches still standing in England have one special door built into their north side called “The Devil’s Door.” Reasons vary, but one thing’s for sure. If you believe in the “immortal soul” doctrine, such a belief can easily become The Devil’s Door into Spiritualism and to being duped by Lucifer’s legions impersonating dead people (read Deut. 18:11, Job 7:9,10, and Rev. 16:14).
My advice is: let’s believe what God Almighty told Adam about sin and death.
Let’s shut The Devil’s Door.