Muhammad Ali (1942-2016), an American former heavyweight champion boxer and one of the famous sporting figures of the 20th century, died last Friday at a Phoenix-area hospital. He had been suffering from a respiratory illness, a condition that was complicated by Parkinson’s disease. After a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Muhammad Ali passed away at the age of 74.
Cassius Marcellus clay was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to middle-class parents. He became an Olympic gold medalist and the first fighter to capture the heavyweight title three times. Ali’s had controversial views on the issues of race, religion and politics during his career and he often proclaimed himself “The Greatest.” Although, Parkinson’s syndrome severely impaired Ali’s motor skills and speech, he remained active as a humanitarian.
Whenever people contemplate the death of a person they often wonder: where do the dead go?
The Bible reveals that the dead sleep in their graves to await the Resurrection Day. Jesus said, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28, 29). The Bible speaks of death as a state of sleep (1 Thessalonians 4:13; 1 Corinthians 15:18,20; John 11:11-14). Thus, the dead don’t go to heaven or hell at death they simply sleep in their graves till the Resurrection.
The Bible is clear. After death a person: returns to dust (Psalms 104:29), knows nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5), possesses no mental powers (Psalms 146:4), has nothing to do with anything on earth (Ecclesiastes 9:6), does not live (2 Kings 20:1), waits in the grave (Job 17:13), and continues not (Job 14:1, 2) until the Day of the Resurrection. Was Lazarus, whom Jesus loved, in heaven when the Savior resurrected him (John 11)? If Lazarus was not sleeping, then calling him to life was really robbing him of the bliss of heaven.
The apostle Peter plainly stated that David the prophet is dead and buried–not alive in heaven “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre [tomb] is with us unto this day… For David is not ascended into the heavens” (Acts 2:29,34). No human being has yet ascended into heaven (John 3:13), except the ones that received special resurrections and translations. People do not go either to heaven or hell at death. They simply sleep till the Resurrection.
Also, Paul confirmed that the dead in Christ will be resurrected when Christ returns a second time to this earth. “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). “We shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, … and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51-51).
And Jesus assured that the rewards and punishments are given only at the resurrection in the second coming not at death. “…thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14). This means that none of the righteous dead have gone to heaven so far. All he dead are waiting in their graves for the judgment at the end of the world. “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works” (Matthew 16:27).
Satan invented the teaching that the dead are alive to deceive the living. Communication with spirits of the dead or the undying souls are all inventions of Satan to make people believe that when you die you are not really dead. What is really appearing to the living is the “spirits of devils, working miracles” (Revelation 16:14). These evil spirit pose as spirits of the dead and lead the living away from God’s truth (Matthew 24:24). Therefore, the believers should let the Word of God be their guide instead of their senses.