Author: Ron Graham
In this study, we consider another true idea about the spirit or soul of man, namely that it is not subject to physical death.
The Scriptures show us that whilst our mortal bodies die, our souls are immortal. They survive physical death and continue to live apart from this world and the body which perishes. The body without the spirit is dead (James 2:26) but the spirit without the body is not dead.
The preacher in Ecclesiastes, examined the nature of man. He concluded that man is like the beasts. Man is made of dust, and returns to the dust of the earth (Ecclesiastes 3:18-22). This is true, but it is not all the truth.
The preacher also concluded that man is related to God and responsible to God. He should fear and remember God, and keep his commandments —something which he nowhere says about the beasts. He says that man will be judged by God. Can God judge dust after it has returned to the earth as it was? No, but he can judge the part of man that returns to him (Ecclesiastes 12:5-14).
Notice in verse 5, that the preacher says that "man goes to his eternal home" . A grave is only a temporary home until the body returns to dust. It is not an eternal home. So unless the preacher is uttering meaningless words, there must be a part of man that survives physical death and is eternal.
When Moses wrote about Abraham's death, he said that "Abraham was gathered to his fathers" (Genesis 25:8-9). This could not refer to the burial of his body, because he was buried "facing Mamre" whist his ancestors lay buried far away in Haran and Ur. So if Abraham's body was not gathered to his ancestors, yet Abraham was, then Abraham's body was not Abraham himself. If the spirit of Abraham departed to join the spirits of his ancestors, then what Moses said makes sense.
Along the same lines, Jesus stated that Abraham was living long after his body died, and used the scripture "I am the God of Abraham..." to prove it (Matthew 22:32).
Jesus told one of the thieves crucified with him, "Today you shall be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43). This cannot be explained sensibly, unless Jesus and the thief were going to survive the death of their physical bodies and be together as departed souls in a paradise apart from their dead bodies.
Jesus Christ made the matter black and white when he made this statement: "Do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul, but rather fear him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell" (Matthew 10:28).
Paul also made a clear statement of belief that the spirit survives physical death. "Though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2Corinthians 4:16-18).