Is the soul immortal? This is the common dilemma of those who chose to be fooled by the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ and Seventh Day Adventist’s cults as they continue to believe on the 18th-century old heresy of “Soul Sleep” taught by Arnobius of Sicca in his book entitled Against the Pagans (A.D. 305). The Holy Catholic Church has condemned this heresy long before the foundation of the false-prophetic but day-dreaming groups of Charles Taze Russell and Ellen G. White in the 19th century. In 1513, the Ecumenical Council of Lateran decreed: “Whereas some have dared to assert concerning the nature of the reasonable soul that it is mortal, we, with the approbation of the sacred council do condemn and reprobate all those who assert that the intellectual soul is mortal, seeing, according to the canon of Pope Clement V, that the soul is […] immortal […] and we decree that all who adhere to like erroneous assertions shall be shunned and punished as heretics.” However, in order to feed those who hunger for truth, this article will prove that the soul continues to exist after physical death using the most used book of all times, the Holy Bible.
Undoubtedly, the Sacred Scripture itself speaks nothing about Soul Sleep but absolutely refutes that heretical doctrine; for the Bible is very clear that God is God of the living, and not of the dead!
Since God is life and the source of life (cf. Genesis 1:20; Deuteronomy 30:20; John 1:4; 14:6), apart from Him is considered death (Ephesians 2:1,5). For instance, toward the end of His physical ministry on earth, Jesus was confronted by the godless liberal Sadducees who led the Jews to believe that there was no future resurrection. Once while trying to trap Him, they disingenuously inquired about the status of marriage in the after life. Of course, the Lord spotted the ploy and called them ignorant which not only sewed their mouths shut but no doubt helped seal His fate: “Have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22:31-32). Now, what does that mean? For the proponents of Soul Sleep, that means nothing. For the Lord tried to imply that the patriarchs and prophets of old, along with all the saints of history, are very much alive – not asleep – all these years (see also Luke 16:22-31; Revelation 4:4).
The Holy Bible also teaches that the soul and spirit can be separated from the body as it is written: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged 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” (Hebrews 4:12). In fact, this verse shows that the Word of God, like a cutting sword, can separate the soul and spirit from the joints and marrow (i.e. body). This is evidenced by Revelation 6:9-10 and Revelation 20:4 where the souls of those who were martyred for their faith, crying out God’s judgment against those who killed them. Now, if the soul ceases to exist after death, how can the souls of the martyrs still cry out God’s judgment? Won’t it make any sense?!
For certain, the heretics would still argue that this was after the resurrection, so they did have bodies. However, this does not account for the time when these souls were brought with Jesus from heaven to be reunited with their perfected immortal bodies that were resurrected (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). Those asleep in Christ are those who had died as believers and were in the presence of Christ in Heaven. At the moment of the resurrection, they will come with Him from Heaven to be reunited with their new celestial bodies (1 Corinthians 15:39-57; 1 Thessalonians 3:13).
Furthermore, St. Paul also refuted Soul Sleep when he taught that absence from the body is to be present with the Lord, as it is written: “Whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6, 8). Isn’t it that clear? So not to confuse his readers, the apostle said it one way, then repeated it another way — “in the body, away from the Lord, and with the Lord, away from the body”. Then, three years later this captivating thought surfaced again in his letter to the church at Philippi: “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you” (Philippians 1:23-24). Once again, to depart from earth (i.e. death) is to be with Christ. Again, there is indeed no such thing as soul sleep for those who are not bound by the fallacious teaching of religious rogues who continue to hold an eerie spell over their duped disciples.
However, the basic question could be asked then is: What really happens after death? Well, the book of Ecclesiastes is very clear on this: “Then shall the dust [out of which God made man’s body] return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return to God Who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Indeed, the spirit will return to its Creator to face its immediate judgment, as it is written: “And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). So if the soul ceases to exist after death, how can it return to God and face its immediate judgment? It is just common sense.
The existence of soul after physical death is also vividly proven by St. Stephen while suffering persecution at the hands of local Jews in Acts 7:54-60. During this event, he had a clear vision of Jesus standing on the right hand of God. As the Jews stoned him, just before he died, he called upon God, saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit.” It is clear from his words that he knew he would be with Christ when he died despite his body being dead. Again, if the Soul Sleep doctrine is true, then where did Enoch and Elijah go when God took them (Genesis 5:24; 2 Kings 2:11)? Likewise, Lazarus’ experience of being carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom in Paradise and the rich man’s torment in the flames of hell would also be a lie that the Lord told to illustrate a false doctrine (cf. Luke 16:19-31). If there are no souls alive after death, then Jesus lied to the repentant thief that he would be with Him in Paradise that day (cf. Luke 24:43). Unfortunately, those who teach that souls do not exist after death reposition punctuation marks and teach verses out of context to redefine the sacred teaching of genuine Christianity.
Moreover, the strongest contradiction of the Soul Sleep doctrine is seen in Christ’s descent to Hades. In 1 Peter 3:19, Pope St. Peter described how Jesus “preached to the spirits in prison.” If the dead were aware of nothing, then the Lord’s preaching would have been futile. In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah spoke of the condition of the dead, “Sheol underneath has become agitated at you in order to meet you on coming in […] all of them speak up and say […] Those seeing you will gaze even at you, saying […]” (Isaiah 14:9-11). These verses indicate clearly that the dead are conscious, and that there are no contradictions in the Sacred Scripture; “for God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:33). The anti-Catholics are the only ones confused. Again, St. Paul emphasized that “to be absent from the body is not to be unconscious, but rather it enables one to be home with the Lord” (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:8, Philippians 1:23). The body is just a tent, or tabernacle that does not last (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:1-4; 2 Peter 1:13), while man cannot kill the soul (cf. Matthew 10:28).
Does the soul remain conscious after death? Aside from the biblical proof texts presented earlier that reprobate the idea of Soul Sleep, consider also the following words from Christ Himself: “Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live” (John 5:25). If the soul is truly unconscious after death, then it implies that the Lord told His disciples a lie when He spoke those words. Indeed, Soul Sleeping does not exist because Christ Himself proved it and “He never told a lie” (1 Peter 2:22b); for He Himself is the Truth (cf. John 14:6).
On the other hand, the notion that the idea of the immortality of soul has just been copied from the pagan Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle is, of course, absurd because it is the Holy Bible, which already existed before them, has spoken of its reality. It is true that the Greek philosophers were able to acquire the faculty in trying to explain the principle of psyche, but it does not mean that this Christian doctrine originates from them.
Finally, the holy author of the letter to the Hebrews summarized the entire apologetics on the immortality of soul into three simple verses: “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in Heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:22-24). Is it still uncertain? What else is needed to prove that the soul is immortal?