Your question actually blends two different things. You are including the soul in regards tot he topic of life after death. The differentiation of the soul, spirit and body is a topic all of its own. The question you are primarily seeking an answer to is what happens to the living after they die. Do they cease to exist, go into a form of sleep or live in a conscious state. I will give 3 examples from Scripture:
1. The account of "The rich man and Lazarus."
2. The souls under the alter in heaven.
3. The account of what we call "The Mount of Transfiguration."
In all three we find conscious life after physical death.
could you write the verse here? I have wanted to know the answer to this question. I lost my daughter in 1996 and ever sense i too wondered what happens to the body when someone dies. I too have heard 2 diff. explanations. 1 being the body is asleep in the grave until Jesus returns. 2 being you will go right to Heaven if your saved. 2 is because what jesus said to the thief on the cross Today you will be with me in Paradise meaning he went right to heaven not in a grave. with 1 you read diff stuff about it in the bible as being raised from the grave so forth. so its confusing and people tend to just believe what they feel is more comforting . I like to think we go to heaven right away but if so how would they rise from the grave when Jesus comes? the bible says something about that as well. i have read it but can't remember were i'm not good at remembering verse placements. thank you!
2 Cor 5:8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. - Here Paul is speaking saying that when we die, we'll be absent from these earthly bodies but be present with the Lord.
yes, I remember that verse now. but what about the part saying we will rise from the grave? others have ask me this " if you go right to heaven when you die, then how will we be raised from the grave when Jesus comes back" knowing you may already be in Heaven like you say? and I don't know what to say about that really? because it says in the bible about when Jesus comes back and the end of time and those in the grave will rise up so I'm not sure about that is all. do you know or whats your take on it any verses about it? thanks
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I believe that when we die our souls go to either heaven or hell.
The flesh dies and is destroyed at death, but the soul is eternal.
When the scriptures say we are resurrected they are not talking about our souls.
The scriptures are talking about our fleshly bodies.
To be absent from the body (flesh) is to be present with the Lord.
The unsaved go to hell when their bodies die.
We exist having different parts, some spiritual and some physical.
Spiritually, we have a mind, a soul, and a human spirit.
Physically, we have all our parts, including the heart and brain and lungs.
All our spiritual parts go to be either in Heaven or hell when we die.
THE FIRST RESURRECTION IS THE RESURRECTION OF OUR FLESHLY BODIES.
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The question you asked has already been answered by the respondents to this discussion, but I will try to simply place the order of these things in a chronological order that hopefully helps you.
1. We are body, soul and spirit. The soul and spirit are intertwine in such a way that only God's word is able to penetrate even to dividing soul and spirit. The words soul and spirit are interchangeable as well, which adds to the mix up of terms.
From a web article: [The word translated "spirit" is the Greek word "pneuma" which means "a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or breeze" which by analogy refers to a human "spirit" the rational "soul." The word translated "soul" in the verse is the Greek word "psuche" which means "breath" and by implication "spirit." So the use of the two words does not indicate that the immaterial part of man could be divided, but rather are used simply for emphasis.] End of article.
Because the words can be use interchangeably some people chose to say we are not 3 parts, but simply Body and soul/spirit, a two part creature. It is not a big deal either way in my mind, but some argue away in such matters. I personally do see a scripturally based distinction between the Soul and Spirit, which in my minds calls for a 3 parts human.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
1 Thess 5
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
2. When we die we do not seize to be in consciousness or even in body. There is a body for the spirit/soul, it is not a physical body, but a body none the less, see 1 Cor 15.
We are conscious in hell or in paradise awaiting the resurrection of the dead after we died. On the day of resurrection God will bring back all the body's of the people that died (this is no challenge to the God that holds what to us is an infinite universe on the palm of his hand), regardless if they are but dust or got eaten by a shark, it doesn't matter, God will bring back the bodies and reunite the spirit/soul to it for judgement. Believers will get glorified bodies and unbelievers will be cast into the lake of fire.
3. There are absolutely no lingering spirits/souls hanging around the earth. All the sittings that are commonly described as ghosts are simply demons impersonating people to keep humanity confused.
Hope that helps and not confuse you more. :)