Many people have reported experiences where a dead person they know “spoke” to them, and they consider this “proof” that the dead are not really dead, but alive in another form. Any such experiences are caused by spirits to reinforce the first lie ever told (by Satan): “Thou shalt not surely die”, or are experienced through mental hallucination. Let me explain.
“Soul sleep” is a non-biblical term assigned to those who believe the dead are “sleeping” until resurrection. The reason “soul sleep” is not an accurate descriptive phrase is because of how the word “sleep” is used in relation to death in the Word of God. The soul is not sleeping in any way but figuratively, because it no longer exists.
Jesus explains it very clearly.
John 11:11-14 — These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
13Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
We see that Lazarus was indeed “dead” (literally) but Jesus said he was “sleeping” (figuratively). The word “sleep” is used over 500 times in the Word of God to describe the state of the dead. The reason it is used is because, although the person is stone-cold dead (having no life whatsoever), God is going to raise the dead. To Him they are (figuratively) sleeping because He will “wake” them (figuratively) out of their death state by raising them from the dead.
Without resurrection there is no life after death.
That is a Biblical truth testified throughout the Scriptures. Consider these references:
Adam: “YOU shall surely die” — Genesis 2:17 — not “your body will die”
David: — Acts 2:29 — David’s sepulcher is with us to this day. He has not ascended into heaven…
Jesus was risen from the dead — I Corinthians 15:20 — and became the FIRST FRUITS of them that SLEPT (then he is the first person to be permanently risen from the dead)
When Christ returns to meet the church in the air — I Thessalonians 4:15-18 — at that event, the dead are referred to as “those who sleep in Jesus” and, “the dead in Christ shall rise first…” They are still dead until that event.
When the former (wrongly translated “first”) resurrection occurs — Revelation 20:4 — the righteous dead from Israel all the way back to Abraham in whose loins Jacob resided are raised; they remain dead until that event (see David above).
The “rest of the dead” — Revelation 20:5 — (which excludes Christians who will have already been taken up, and the righteous of Israel who will have been raised at the resurrection of the Just) “live not again until the thousand years are expired.” That means they will stay dead until that event.
Jesus is the only one with immortal life now:
I Timothy 6:14-16 — That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:
15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
These references prove that without resurrection there is no life after death.
“Sheol” in the Hebrew is equivalent to “hades” in the Greek. Acts 2:25-28 quotes Psalm 16:8-11; it uses “hades” for “sheol.” Look at every usage of Sheol and you will find it is not a fiery “hell” as people imagine from all the false teaching. It’s the “place of the dead” in a figurative sense because nobody is really there, spiritually or physically. It’s a nice way of saying God remembers them and will “wake them” at one of the coming resurrections.
To be clear, God breathed “the breath of life” into Adam’s physical body and Adam “became a living soul.”
Genesis 2:7 — And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
The person is a “living soul” until death, and then becomes a “dead soul.”
The spirit of man gives life to the flesh and produces the phenomenon of a living being, or a living “soul.” The person him or herself is a “soul” whether a living one (while alive) or a dead one (when dead.)
The Biblical definition of “death” is “the cessation of life resulting in the absence of life.” The OPPOSITE of life is death. One cannot be dead and alive at the same time except in a figurative sense (dead to God while in unbelief).
When man dies, the spirit (of man, see I Corinthians 2:11) returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7). That is the “life force” of man that “knows the things of man” but not “the things of God.” Since the body has no life to sustain it, the body disintegrates and returns to dust.
Genesis 3:19 — In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground: for out of it wast thou taken, for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
The “soul” — the living being — which is produced when the spirit of man animates the flesh, dies because no “life” is there to support it. It doesn’t “go” anywhere but figuratively to “hades” — in reality it simply ceases to exist except “in the mind of God.”
In resurrection, the spirit of man is returned to the body and the soul is again produced from that fusion.
Luke 8:52-55– And all were weeping and bewailing her; but he said, “Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.”
53 And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead.
54 But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.”
55 And her spirit returned, and she got up at once; and he directed that something should be given her to eat.
56 And her parents were amazed;
Again, Jesus equites “death” with “sleeping.” Notice her spirit (the spirit of man) returned to her and then she “woke up.”
Jesus was in “hell” (hades) 3 days/nights unconscious, dead, figuratively “sleeping” until he was resurrected. He was not speaking to spirits in prison because (1) human spirits are only said to go back to God, nowhere else (2) he was dead. That’s the whole point of Jesus’ resurrection — the first who was permanently raised from the dead. He had to be “dead” to be raised from the dead. The verse about Jesus preaching to the spirits in prison refers to spiritual beings that caused the degradation at the time of Noah’s flood — they are in prison “in chains” until the judgment to come. Jesus spoke to them after he was “made alive by the spirit of holiness” (permanently raised from the dead).
Any experience that contradicts the written Word has to have a different source than the author of the Word. We compare things that happen with the Word of God to test what “spirit” they are from.
I suggest you read and study my book, “What the Word of God Says About Life, Death and Life Beyond Death” to learn more about this subject so you can believe and speak what the Word of God says.