What is Death?
The dictionary tells us that DEATH is the extinction or cessation of life.
But many people disagree with this, saying that there is a spirit within us that lives on after death.
The Bible, God's Word, confirms the dictionary's definition, saying, "But the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten." [Eccles 9:5 NKJV]
Also the Psalms tell us of the end of the life of man: "When his breath departs he returns to his earth; on that very day his plans perish." [Psalm 146:4 RSV]
This situation came about when mankind fell from God's favour by failing to obey His commands. The sentence of death was: "In the sweat of your face shall you 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." [Gen 3:19 NKJV]
The Apostle Paul summarises the life/death situation we are all in: "...through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned." [Rom 5:12 NKJV]
The Bible doesn't tell us anything about 'immortal souls' living on, but it does tell us about the true hope of the early believers. Their true hope was of a positive belief in life beyond the grave.
These people recognised that "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day..." [1 Cor 15:3,4 NKJV]
Jesus Christ kept God's commands perfectly, and so God raised him from the grave. He became the first person to be released from the power of death. "But now Christ has risen from the dead, and has become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep." [1 Cor 15:20 NKJV]
These 1st Century believers had a clear belief and hope, because of what happened to Jesus, "For since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive." [1 Cor 15:21,22 NKJV]
Jesus was the first to rise from the grave and others can as well, "But each in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, afterwards those who are Christ's at his coming." [1 Cor 15:23 NKJV]
The Bible does not teach universal salvation from death. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life." [John 3:16 NKJV]
It is only those who 'believe' in Jesus Christ who can be related to this hope. So to escape from death we have to be 'in Christ', and that can only be done by Belief and Baptism. Then we have to look and wait patiently for his Second Coming, when Jesus will reward the faithful with everlasting life.
The Apostle Paul was one of the faithful followers of Jesus. Before his death, he spoke of his hope this way: "I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing." [2 Tim.4:7,8 RSV]
So if you want to live on after death, you must accept the only hope offered by God through his Word. Resurrection from the grave is on offer to all who accept and believe it and reject all other false ideas.