When Dead Means Dead
“A live dog is better off than a dead lion. For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they anymore have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten.”—Ecclesiastes 9:4, 5.
MANY people have some vague belief about a soul living on after death or going through cycles of reincarnation. Some even believe that one can return from a death experience. Thomas Lynch, a mortician, was recently asked his thoughts on the afterlife question. He said: “Those people who see tunnels of light and so on didn’t come back from the dead—they just went beyond our ability to measure their vital signs. Because ‘dead’ is what you are when you don’t come back.”—The New York Times Magazine.
The Bible has had it right for millenniums. “A live dog is better off than a dead lion. For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they anymore have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten.” (Ecclesiastes 9:4, 5) A short walk around any ancient graveyard will soon confirm that truth.
Does that mean there is absolutely no hope for the dead? The Bible certainly offers no basis for belief in an immortal soul that survives death. (Genesis 2:7; Ezekiel 18:4, 20) However, Jesus Christ did preach about resurrection to life on a restored paradise earth. His Jewish follower Martha, whose brother, Lazarus, had just died, believed in the resurrection, for she said of Lazarus: “I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.” (John 11:24) To this, Jesus answered: “I am the resurrection and the life. He that exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life; and everyone that is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25, 26) Earlier, he had said: “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.” But notice, Jesus made no mention of an immortal soul!—John 5:28, 29; Luke 23:43.
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“‘Dead’ is what you are when you don’t come back.” Thomas Lynch, mortician