From what we have learnt so far about the soul and spirit, it should follow that while dead, a person is totally unconscious. Whilst the actions of those responsible to God will be remembered by Him (Mal. 3:16; Rev. 20:12; Heb. 6:10), there is nothing in the Bible to suggest that we have any consciousness during the death state. It is hard to argue with the following clear statements concerning this.
That death is truly unconsciousness, even for the righteous, is demonstrated by the repeated pleas of God’s servants to allow their lives to be lengthened, because they knew that after death they would be unable to praise and glorify God, seeing that death was a state of unconsciousness. Hezekiah (Is. 38:17-19) and David (Ps. 6:4,5; 30:9; 39:13; 115:17) are good examples of this. Death is repeatedly referred to as a sleep or rest, both for the righteous and the wicked (Job 3:11,13,17; Dan. 12:13).
Sufficient evidence has now been produced for us to state bluntly that the popular idea of the righteous going to a state of bliss and reward in heaven straight after their death, is simply not found in the Bible. The true doctrine of death and man’s nature provides a great sense of peace. After all the traumas and pains of a man’s life, the grave is a place of total oblivion. For those who have not known the requirements of God, this oblivion will last forever. Never again will the old scores of this tragic and unfulfilled natural life be raised; the futile hopes and fears of the natural human mind will not be realised or threaten.
In Bible study, there is a system of truth to be discovered; yet, sadly, there is also a system of error in man’s religious thinking, due to inattention to the Bible. Man’s desperate efforts to soften the finality of death have led him to believe that he has an ‘immortal soul’. Once it is accepted that such an immortal element exists within man, it becomes necessary to think that it must go somewhere after death. This has led to the thought that at death there must be some difference between the fates of the righteous and the wicked. To accommodate this, it has been concluded that there must be a place for ‘good immortal souls’ to go, called Heaven, and another place for ‘bad immortal souls’ to go, called hell. We have shown earlier that an ‘immortal soul’ is a Biblical impossibility. The other false ideas inherent in the popular reasoning will now be analysed:
purpose of our analysis is not just negative; by considering these points in
detail, we believe that we will express many elements of Bible truth which
are vital parts of the true picture concerning man’s nature. And again,
we’re not alone in these conclusions: "The Bible nowhere says that we go
to heaven when we die, nor does it ever describe death in terms of going to
heaven. In the Old Testament, you went to sheol when you died". John
Robinson, Bishop of Woolwich, On Being The Church In The World
(Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1960) p. 156.