There is one verse that describes a spirit going to heaven when we die:

… and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 12:7)

This is an allusion back to Genesis 2:7 and the creation of Adam.

He was made from dust and God breathed into him the “breath of life” to make him a living person. The word “breath” is the same as the word “spirit” in Hebrew. When we die, the life-force that keeps us alive returns to God. He keeps all things alive by his power or spirit. This is not a conscious part of us, it is simply the power of God that keeps us alive. Psalm 104:29-30 says much the same thing about animals.

There is nothing in scripture about us having any kind of consciousness while dead (apart from a few highly allegorical poems in the prophets). In fact, several verses teach quite clearly that there is no consciousness in death. See Ecclesiastes 9:5; Psalm 6:5; 115:17.

The Bible does describe the hope of life after death, but it is on earth and not in heaven, and it happens when Jesus returns, not the moment we die.

See After death what? for more information.

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  • Kim Green

    who do you think the army of 10s of thousands that come back to earth with Jesus on white horses to fight against satan and his army are?

    • Rob J Hyndman

      I assume you are referring to Revelation 19:14 which is the only verse in the Bible that refers to an army on white horses. However, it says nothing about the riders coming “back to earth”. It simply says they are the “armies of heaven”. Most likely, these are angels. Of course, being in Revelation, we should not take the description too literally.

  • Terry Cook

    There is no scripture that says there is no consciousness after death. Ecclesiastes 9:5 does not mean that dead people have no sense of awareness, but it is talking about death. You are trying to interpret Ecclesiastes 9:5, Psalm 6:5, and Psalm 115:17 spiritually, when these scriptures are referring to the actual dead bodies, their physical bodies. Ecclesiastes 9:5, the bodies of the dead will know nothing, Psalm 6:5, a dead body is not able to praise God, Psalm 115:17, also, a dead body can not praise God. These scriptures do not refer to the spirit of the body, but the physical body itself. Hope this helps.

    • Jonathan Morgan

      If the Psalmist’s spirit would still be able to praise God, why would he ask God to save his life because his body would not be able to praise God? Similarly in Isaiah 38:18, where Hezekiah praises God after recovering from illness because the living thank God and the dead do not. The contrast seems to be between living and dead, not between being living and a dead body (but having some unspecified living spirit still praising God). While it is true that these scriptures speak of the physical body, what leads you to think that the spirit of the body is some separate part which is still living?

    • swamplady

      Terry you are wrong. John 11:23-26 says “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die’”

      • Jonathan Morgan

        John 11 is the account of Lazarus’ death and resurrection. Why would Jesus raise Lazarus to come back to earthly life if he was then alive and in heaven? Anyway, clearly Lazarus did die – John says so in the same chapter.

        • swamplady

          (John 11:23-26). Martha believed that her brother would rise on the last day of the earth’s existence, which the Bible refers to as Judgment Day. Jesus further comforts her by pointing out that Lazarus would not have to wait that long to experience the joys of eternal life. “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Our soul goes to be with Christ immediately when we die. In that sense, we will never die, even though our body remains here until Judgment Day.

  • Terrell Satterthwaite

    I agree with Terry Cook, the scriptures that Rob is referring to is talking about physically dead bodies that had no heart beat, no consciousness and no blood flowing, real 100% dead. But our souls will live forever in heaven or hell. Our souls is our real selves, it’s that part of us that lives in the house call the body. The body will eventually rott away but the our souls are eternal.

    • Jonathan Morgan

      This does not seem to me to match the facts presented in the Bible. As I read it, the life is the combination of dust with God’s spirit/breath from the very beginning. When we cease to breathe, we cease to live and so the dead body turns to dust again. Nothing is said about an ever-living soul there (remember, the spirit is God’s spirit, the breath: nothing is said about it being a soul specific to that person).

    • ez

      20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. (Eze 18:20 KJV)

      11 Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction?
      12 Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
      (Psa 88:11-12 KJV)

    • swamplady

      You are right, but Terry was confusing.

  • michael

    1Th_5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    Heb_4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
    :19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;
    Jas 5:20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

    I know the word states that our spirit (if born again) will go to heaven this is not our soul.
    1Co_15:42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
    1Co_15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
    1Co_15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
    1Co_15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
    When we die (those born again) our souls which is connected to our flesh here on earth will not go to heaven. Our souls were in control before salvation manifesting in the flesh condeming us.Even as beleivers we can let our soulful desires rule our bodies and this explains why we don’t see all of God’s provisions in our lives. For this is why we renew our mind with the word so our soul will line up with our spirit and this will manifest in our flesh.
    3Jn_1:2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
    This is a awesome promise…..If our focus is on the things of God through His word we will be prosperous and healthy

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kenneth-Rucker/100000272695225 Kenneth Rucker

    To be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord. The very moment that we breathe our very last breath on earth, we will be ushered into the very presence of God. The Bible is very clear on this matter. Having no consious is refers to the dead body. Once the spirit and soul has left the physical body as it is being viewed by the individual after the person referred to has passed away. From the physical person point of view the physical body that is looked at is physically dead. But from the Lord’s point of the view the person that has left the body is very much live in the presence of God, with only their soul and their spirit, waiting to be reunited with a brand new body. And this is only if they are truly saved.  

  • Tseacrist

    I understand this is a touchy subject, but there is life after death. God promises us eternal life, the Bible teaches us that our promise is in the new heaven and new earth (2 Peter 3:13). This promise was never for the present heaven or the present earth (Hebrews 11:8-40). Jesus makes an important statement in John 7:33-34; Jesus tells the disciples that for a little while he will be with them. Then Jesus says that he’s going to the one who sent him; God is the one who sent Jesus (John 3:16-17). The Bible also teaches us that God is in heaven (Matthew 6:9). Then in John 7:34 Jesus says to the disciples that they will seek him but will not find him; and where Jesus is at they can not come. Now we just study and saw how Jesus is going to heaven to be with God after his death and resurrection; but why would Jesus tell the disciples that they could not come where he is at. Would Jesus lie? No, lets look at the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus; when Jesus died he was dead for three days (Matthew 12:40). On the third day Jesus rose from the dead, and then had a conversation with Mary in John 20:17; Jesus tells Mary not to touch him because he has not yet ascended to God. 2 Corinthians 5:1 talks about receiving a body that is made without hands, Mark 14:58 tells us that Jesus to will receive his body made without hands. But notice when Mark 14:58 say Jesus will receive this heavenly body; it’s on the third day after his resurrection. 2 Corinthians 5:4 tells us that we will be clothed with our heavenly body when mortality is swallowed up; 1 Corinthians 15:54 tells us that mortality will be swallowed up at the time when Christ returns and the dead rises (read entire 1 Corinthians 15:35-58). Job tells us in Job 14:12-14 that God will hid him in the grave until his appointed time, but notice in verses 14 Job says he will wait in his grave until his change. What change do you think Job is referring to, the change the dead in Christ receive at Jesus’ return (1 Corinthians 15:35-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18). Also look at Job 14:15, and look at where Job says that God will call him, and he will answer him; this is also the same thing Jesus said in John 5:25. Job tells us that he will wait for this change in his grave, not in heaven. Job tells us in 19:25-26 that his Redeemer lives, and Job knows that his Redeemer will stand on earth in the latter days; Job also tells us that even though the worms destroy his body, he will see his God in his flesh. Now Job died years before Jesus was born, and there is no verse that tells us Job rose from the dead during the life of Christ; so it’s safe to say that Job was referring to the second coming of Jesus. Job tells us that he will see God in his flesh, not in his spirit. Let’s think about it for a second; if we indeed go to heaven right after death and this is where we will live with God forever, then what is the purpose of the resurrection? Or if Jesus is the only way to the Father (John 14:6), then where are all the saints that died before Christ came? If we continue to live after this body dies then wouldn’t that make us immortal, but according to 1 Timothy 1:17 and 6:15-16 God is the only immortal one. The purpose of the second coming is for Jesus to come and get God’s people, the dead and the living; so we can live forever with God in the New earth.

  • swamplady

    When we die our souls go to heaven and our bodies in the ground. If we die rejecting God, with mortal sins and with no remorse then we have damned ourselves to hell and that is where those souls go.

    • Jonathan Morgan

      Verses to support this?

      How do you explain the verses cited in this answer about the dead being unconscious? And where does the resurrection of 1 Cor 15 (and elsewhere) fit in?

      • swamplady

        All life and memory and thoughts ceased at death and man went back to the ground, from which he was created in the first place and the breath of life given to him at his birth, went back to God who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 12:7) “The living know that they shall die but the dead know not anything” (Ecc 9:5) “The Spirit ( Heb ruwach= breath) shall return to God who gave it” (Ecc. 12:7) He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die’” (John 11:23-26). This can be a confusing subject, but I believe that the soul goes to heaven when we die. We are judged then and if we are sinners the soul goes to hell and the body is left in the ground. If you need more info, let me know.