A study of Eternal Life must naturally begin with the death of the human individual, for it is at this time that he begins his eternal life. There is a feeling that comes into our minds that Eternal Life is for the saved Christian only, and we don’t think about the other individuals in relation to their eternal life. There are some sects in the Christian church who believe that the life of the sinner is annihilated at his death. We have good reason to believe, however, that God does not annihilate anything that He creates. We know that the burning of wood does not destroy anything, but merely changes the wood into ashes and smoke. An Atomic explosion also does not destroy anything, but merely changes its form. There is good reason to believe then, that death does not destroy anything, and the Bible contains some indications of what physical death is.
In Matthew and Luke, it is spoken of as the death of the body, as distinguished from the death of the soul. In other passages, it is spoken of as the termination of the animal life, or as the loss of this animal life. And it is also represented as the separation of the body and the soul. Death is not a cessation of existence, but a severance of the natural relations of life. Life and Death are not opposed to each other as existence is opposed to non-existence, but are opposites only as different modes of existence.
It is impossible to say exactly just what death is. We commonly speak of it as the cessation of life, but then just what is life? We cannot answer that question, because we do not know what life is in its essential being. We only know what it is in its relation to other things and in its actions. Experience has taught us that when these relations are severed, and actions cease, death enters. We can say, that at least we know that death means a break in the natural relations of life.
Now if a man has died, the question immediately arises, what becomes of the soul? When the body died, did the soul die also? Or does it continue to live and exist after the death of the body? It has always been the firm conviction of the Church of Jesus Christ that the soul continues to live even after its separation from the body.
There has been some criticism of the Christians’ belief in eternal life, that the Old Testament does not teach such a thing. It is true that the Old Testament does not speak specifically of life after death, the Old Testament clearly assumes the life after death, and treats this much as it does the existence of God… that they are both indisputable facts. Life after death is clearly taught in passages which frequently warn against consulting with the dead and familiar spirits. The Scripture nowhere says that it is impossible to consult with the dead, it merely warns against it. Life after death is also taught in passages which speak of the believer’s enjoyment in communion with God after death.