What Happens When a Person Dies?

At death the reverse of the creative process described in Genesis 2:7 takes place:

“And the DUST returns to the ground it came from, and the SPIRIT [BREATH OF LIFE] returns to God who gave it.”
Ecclesiastes 12:7.

The Bible often uses the Hebrew words for “breath” and “spirit” interchangeably. When people die, their body becomes “dust” and the “spirit” or “breath of life” returns to God, its source. But what happens to the soul?

“As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, . . . every LIVING SOUL belongs to me. . . . THE SOUL WHO SINS IS THE ONE WHO WILL DIE.”
—Ezekiel 18:3-4.

The soul dies! It is not now immortal—it can perish. The previous two scriptures show that the equation derived from Genesis 2:7, when God made us, reverses itself at death.

“Dust of Earth” — “Breath of Life” = “A Dead Soul”
Lifeless Body — Breath from God = A Dead Being

(Think of the — as an equivalent to “without.”)

Death is the cessation of life, a blackout of spirit, soul, and body. The body disintegrates to dust, and the breath, or spirit, goes back to God. We are living beings in life, a living soul, but in death only a corpse, a dead soul. When God takes back the breath of life He gave to us, our soul dies.

But thank God, the story doesn’t end here. With Christ there is hope. But before entering into a discussion of that hope, let’s first examine the question: