Satan declared to Adam, “Ye shall not surely die,” and ever since that day the evil one has confused the issues of life and death. The declaration that “ye shall not surely die” was immediately followed by “ye shall be as gods.” Ever since that day, human religion has declared that the soul of man is immortal, even though the Bible declares that God alone possesses immortality. Humans took Satan’s natural immortality bait and swallowed it hook, line, and sinker, for they believe they are like God, possessing natural immortality.
As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive, declared Paul. Notice Paul did not say they are KEPT ALIVE, for death is not living in any way, shape, or form. Immortality is a gift given to human beings in the resurrection.
The earliest civilizations incorporated Satan’s lie into their theology. Ancient Egypt was fascinated with death, and their lives focused on that great event. They invented an elaborate mummification system based on their belief in the Ka, their version of an immortal soul. They believed that when a person died, the ka survived. The ka is shaped like a human and required provision in the afterlife, and they preserved the body because they thought it was essential to the ka. As a result, the souls who could afford the price of mummification have a shot at immortality at the final judgment, but the poor were out of luck.
Preparations for the afterlife begin long before death. A tomb must be constructed, and its stock of after-life necessities filled. The wealthy could hire ka-priests to perform certain functions for their benefactor. These rich dead were considered mediators between the living relatives and the tribunal of the gods, especially Osiris, the god of the underworld. Additionally, families could write letters to their dead relatives and deposit them in the tomb. The most remarkable monuments to the Egyptian afterlife beliefs and rituals are the pyramids. Khufu’s pyramid required countless laborers working twenty years piling some 2,300,000 blocks of granite. East of this massive structure stood a temple where priests performed rites on his behalf.
The Hebrews and the Egyptians approached death entirely differently. The Egyptians were concerned about where a person went when he died. But Job asked, “If a man die, shall he live again” (King James Bible, 2020, Job 14:14)? The Egyptians looked for an afterlife, but the Hebrews looked for resurrection. As a result, Job had faith in a Redeemer from death, but the Egyptians had no redeemer, only gods who offered no salvation from the wages of sin. The Hebrews, because of their faith in the resurrection, did not embalm their dead but buried them immediately. In the book of Genesis, chapter 50, Moses goes out of his way to describe the mummification process because Israelites never embalmed, which is why he provides a parenthetical explanation. Additionally, Job had no fear of decay, as the Egyptians did with their embalming techniques. For he declared, “And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God” (King James Bible, 2020, Job 19:26). Job solves the Egyptian fear of death and decomposition with this one verse. Job says decay is inevitable but so too is resurrection. Resurrection, not the afterlife, is the Biblical hope.
Otis Sellers correctly declares “There is no detachable part of man that survives physical death. The Bible states nothing of the immortality of a detached and independent soul, or of our future state as one of disembodied blessedness. The idea that the soul is a detachable part or substance, capable of existing independently of the body, is an idea adopted from Greek philosophy and incorporated into Christian thought by the so-called church fathers. This started in the third century and was fully developed by the thirteenth century. The Reformation did nothing to clear this up; so today in Reformed Theology, we find a mixture of Greek and Biblical ideas, with the Greek ideas predominating. And so for centuries, Platonic philosophy has propagated under the Christian label. The principle of death (Gk.-thanatos) is a return to the former state. The body returns to the dust and the spirit (breath of life) returns to God who gave it (Eccl. 12:7). At death, no part of man or the man as a whole enters into any new, strange, or unknown condition. The man came from the soil, and he returns to it. The spirit (breath of life) came from God, and at death, it will return to the One Who gave it. And there is nothing that can bring man back from this condition except the experience of resurrection, worked by the One Who is Himself the Resurrection and the Life.”
Finally, God declares that death is an enemy – NOT A FRIEND. Death is not a gateway to heaven, it’s not the Kingdom of God, and it’s not a chariot ride to glory. It is an enemy that God will abolish. Stand for the gospel of the resurrection, which distinguishes the Biblical Christian faith from every pagan religion. Even if the Greeks mock it, like they did when Paul proclaimed it, don’t let that bother you. Greek wisdom is foolishness with God. Our message is one of life and resurrection, and it is God’s wisdom and power.