Harry Holland - Where are the Dead? - 1940

There is a question that is asked over and over again, and is often left unanswered. Where are the dead, from death until the resurrection? There are lots of tracts, lots of literature, lots of theories abroad in the world along this line. Millions if Catholics think of souls in purgatory. Millions of people think they are in Hell. Others say the dead are annihilated. Others say the dead don't know the resurrection. It is a great effort to confuse the minds of people, even God's children might be confused.

Let us get to the question from the Bible's standpoint. It makes clear about the unsaved and the saved and leaves no doubt in the mind as to where they are. It is a big help to understand these things, because of the conflicting influences that are in the world. It is what the Bible says that counts; we will all have to come to this eventually; we will all have to believe the teachings of God some day. Why not believe it now? What God has said will stand whether believed by men and women or not. God answers the question definitely and in no uncertain sound, if we get down to it and believe it. Let us look at Ecclesiastes 12. This chapter deals with death. It deals with people who pass from time into Eternity. All these speak of the end of human life:
Man goes to his long home;
Mourners go about the streets;
Silver cord is loosed;
Golden bowl is broken at the fountain;
Wheel is broken at the cistern;

It is a day that we all have to face. There is nothing certain about life, but there is a tremendous certainty about death. V.7---Read what happens at death, the body goes back to dust, the spirit goes back to the God who gave it. The reason that there is so much confusion as to what happens after death, until the resurrection, is that people don't keep in their minds these two sides. What part goes to the dust,? The natural body. What part goes to God? The spirit. Keep these two sides clearly in your mind.

Now look at Ecclesiastes 9:10, "There is no work or device nor knowledge, nor wisdom where thou goest." It wouldn't take a lot of human intelligence to convey to our minds what is meant by that verse. Connect it with the one in Ecclesiastes 12:7 that we have been speaking of and remember the body, is in the dust, where there is no work, etc. This deals with the physical body. Now look at 3:19-20, "For that which befalleth beasts, as one dieth, so dieth the other, all are of the dust and all go to dust again. Verse 21, "spirit of man goeth upward, spirit of beast goeth downward to the earth." This draws a tremendous line of distinction between man and beast. Keep this in mind--no work no device, etc. in the grave where thou goest. In mine no work, no device, etc, in the grave where thou goest. Now, let us read Revelations 6:9, "I saw under the altar, the souls of those who were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held." See here what people are doing in in connection with the Spirit going back to God, "Father into Thy hands do I commit My Spirit." Acts 8:2, we read that devout men carried his body to burial, Jesus and Stephen saw the the truth clearly, that we have been talking about. Now what did Paul say. Philemon 1:23, "I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ which is far better." Where does he tell us the spirit of man goes when he dies---a place far better than on the earth--"to be with Christ." But he felt it needful to remain, for the sake of helping others. In the light of these three testimonies - Jesus, Stephen and Paul - isn't it in perfect harmony with what the Old Testament spoke about death in the grave, where the body is, there is no work, etc. It is an awful contradictory teaching that body and spirit are both in the grave until the resurrection.

Let as look again at Revelations 6:9. The souls of those who were slain. What kind of a testimony did they hold? What did John say in Revelations 1:27, the testimony at Jesus Christ. They held the testimony that Jesus Christ bore in this world and bore to all His people. They were slain for the word of God and the testimony which they held. They were dead in Christ and they were resting. Chapter 14:13 tells us "to the blessed dead who die in the Lord." What are they doing? "Resting from their labors and their works do follow them." Do you think that when you and I die, that is the end of it all? No, think of what it says in Hebrews 11, "Abel being dead yet speaketh." You and I might be dead for years, but if we have that testimony, it will still live. The question may be asked." Is it necessary to have the Judgement?" "Would it be possible for people to get their full reward at death?" No! Abel's life still speaks, could Paul have his full reward? Could John have his full reward? No! Their lives are still speaking and their lives and testimonies are still influencing others, Remember we are speaking of the dead in Christ. In Revelations 6:9, where were the souls? Under the altar. There had been a day and a time when they bad been on that altar. If their lives hadn't been consumed on that altar they wouldn't be under it. This natural sacrifice would make it clear in our minds how these souls got under the altar. I would like to leave this life on that altar, until there was nothing left but the ashes. My body given as a living sacrifice, found under the altar, because I stayed on the altar.

The souls in Revelations 6:9 were given white robes. They were clothed in righteousness, and they were resting for a season, until other lives were sacrificed. These died in Christ, and their spirit had gone back to God, and they were resting from their labor. Remember Matthew 10:28,-"Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul, but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell." Don't fear those who would kill the body, that is the worst they can do. The Spirit would go back to God to rest. Fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in Hell.

Now let us read Jude 6v, "the angels which kept not their first estate He hath reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness unto the Judgment of that great day." Also II Peter 2:4-9, "To reserve the unjust until the day of Judgment, to be Punished." In these two verses the same language is used in connection with men and angels, that do not do the will of God. What are the unsaved doing? Reserved in chains, suffering a great deal while awaiting Judgment. Does a prisoner that is guilty suffer waiting his sentence? Yes, he does indeed if he is honest. Unsaved people suffer in eternity a lot of remorse of conscience for the way in which they have lived out of Christ. This tells about the unsaved dead. They don't rest from their labors, their works follow them too. Do you think you would have any difficulty in understanding Luke 16:19? There are two sides - this side we read of the condition before death. If Jesus was telling the same story today, He would speak of the man who clothed in broadcloth and fine linen - the clothing of the priesthood…Exodus 28.. Anna and Caiaphas, the high priests, in Jesus day, were clothed like this. Then what happened? The beggar died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. What part went to the grave? The body. We ought to have no confusion in our minds about this. We have no evidence other than the Bible. Now where are the dead in Christ? We read of a great gulf being fixed in Luke l6-26. What was the gulf? The gulf of nature. There is a gulf between plant and animal life, and there is a gulf between the human and the divine. The rich man missed it in time, and he missed it in eternity. The sacrifice of Christ on Calvary has bridged that gulf, that is fixed in eternity. "If we accept Him now, the Sacrifice avails for us and we will be found on the right side of the gulf." Remember this in line with Jude and Peter. The unsaved dead are reserved until the day of judgement. Reserved in everlasting chains to be punished, isn't that what the rich man is experiencing.

Matthew 25, Jude 9, Peter, Luke 12, All these scriptures that we have been talking about speak of everlasting punishment. That man in Christ stayed on the altar sacrificing; he is on Christ's bosom; a type of resting from his labors and his works will follow him.

Now let us read John 5:25. This is not talking about physical death, but "spiritual death." The dead in trespass and sins, who can hear the gospel now. It deals with physical death farther on in the chapter. I think of things being alive or dead relative to other things.

We look at a tree and say it is living, but if we brought an animal along, full of animal life. We say the tree is dead to that life activity. An animal may be full of life, we say it is living, but put it along side of a human being, and it is dead, to that human life. Let us go further. People mentally, morally, physically, alive to business propositions, social contacts, but you bring a child of God and put him alongside of them and they are dead to all that know and lives for, dead to all that is in the Kingdom above. An unsaved person may have intelligence, they may have everything that human nature can endow them ,but friend, they are dead in their relationship to God, if they are out of Christ, without a Savior.

Paul in writing to the Ephesians said, "You were dead in trespasses sins." They were dead in their relationship to God. Isn't that true today? But God has given power to His Son Jesus, to give life to us so we can be in the right relationship to God. John 5:28, this is entirely in the future. At that time the Christians living in the world will be changed, in a moment of time, so shall they ever be with the Lord.

Then it speaks of the resurrection of damnation: Of those who are "out of Christ." There is a space of 1,000 years between these two resurrections. The resurrection of life, first resurrection, all the dead in Christ rise to be with the lord, with Him, when He comes to reign. Revelations 5:9, "A people out of every kindred, and tongue, people and nation, and we shall reign upon the earth."

God does not lie. He is not confused. Those who have done good will rise at the resurrection of the just. The dead "out of Christ" do not rise for 1,000 years, until the resurrection of Damnation. Now see II Corinthians 15:22, "In Adam all die," in "Christ all are alive" there is no other way, only in Christ. Verse 23, they that are in Christ at His coming . Verse 24, then cometh the end. When He shall have delivered up the Kingdom of God the Father, when He shall have put down all the rule and authority and power, 1,000 years will be necessary for Christ to put all things right, to put down all power and authority. It will be a big work and it will take some power to do it.

Verse 26, "The last enemy to be destroyed is death." What will Christians be doing during the Millenium? It says that all things are going to be subdued unto Christ. It won't be a day or a year. Then Christ will hand over the Kingdom to the Father. Verse 29, when you and I and Paul were baptized we were baptized for One that had died. If Jesus had never died, there would be no symbol. Because He died and rose again, we believe we too die to the old life and rise again in newness of life.

That is the Truth He is bringing out in verses 26-52. This corruptible must put on incorruption. Death is swallowed up in victory, what victory? The victory of Christ. Only through the lordship of Christ can we be victors, Isaiah 9:6. We are to take these lives of ours and lay them on the shoulder of another as in Luke 15. When the government of life was on the shoulders of another, it was brought back to the fold. "Of the increase of this government there is no end." No end, when Christ gets control of our lives in time or in Eternity. Let us put the government of our lives on the shoulders of our Lord Jesus Christ