Will I Still Be Me After Death?
by Daniel A. Brown
There are two kinds of death—spiritual and natural. Death is not a state of oblivion or non-existence; it is, rather, a separation from the life that was meant to be. Spiritual death cuts people off from relationship with God in the spirit realm, and our physical death will cut us off from relationship with the people we love here on earth. Death is the state we are in after we have been cut off from the life we would have had, and from the people who love us.
Physical objects can exist in different states on earth. Most of us learned years ago in Science class that physical matter can exist in three states—solid, liquid and gas—without altering its fundamental organic composition. H2O is a good example. It can be steam, water, or ice. Water freezes to become ice; it boils to become steam. Steam will not quench thirst, water will not reduce swelling and ice cannot help remove wallpaper. Each physical state has its own qualities, but each of them is H2O. When we die physically, we merely change states. Our metamorphosis takes us from one form to another, from one dimension to another. Though we change states, we remain essentially who we are.
Our reborn spirit already exists in us in the same manner that it will exist after our bodies die. Even now our spirit inhabits the dimension to which we will be fully translated upon death. Though we are not that cognizant of our spirit in the present earthly life, and though our spirit will have a new body in Heaven, it is fundamentally as it will be after death. We will simply be more conscious of it in Heaven. As we learned earlier, our soul is comprised of our thoughts, emotions, will-power and consciousness. Our awareness of the world around us, as well as of our inner selves, comes from our soul. The good news is that our personalities will be "refined" like gold from base ore, but who we are before we die is who we will be after we die. So, our souls/spirits remain intact and essentially the same.
This is why birth is such an excellent analogy for death. As surely as a newborn baby dies from the womb-world into this world, so will our passing from life on earth be a rebirth into another. Jesus said, "You must be born again." (John 3:3) Babies do not cease to exist when they pass down the birth canal, but they no longer live in the womb. Until we grasp this basic truth—that death is changed existence—we will stumble over what the Bible tells us about life after death. Our conscious existence will be extended, not exterminated. Our state will be transformed, and we will shift dimensions, but we will not lose our identity:
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.1 Corinthians 15:51-53
In our life after death, we will not become new (different) people. We will be ourselves, with the same fundamental qualities of personhood that we have now—minus any wrongs, distortions, wounding or bondage. God calls Himself "I AM" (Exodus 3:14) If this quality of being and remaining the same is so central to God's identity, then it makes sense that His children, made in His image, will also always be who they are. When the offspring of "I AM THAT I AM" transition from the earthly plane to the heavenly dimension, their identities are not going to be "I AM DIFFERENT THAN I WAS."
We are like expensive antique bureaus finely detailed and handcrafted by a famous wood worker many years ago. Since our creation, though, we have been gouged by many things; we have been spilled upon, burnt by hot wax, water-stained and repainted in garish colors. Our hinges are loose, the drawers do not slide like they used to, and one of our edges has been stripped of its molding. When such antique pieces get restored and refinished, they are not fundamentally altered; rather, they are renewed to what they have always been despite the wear and tear.
The human soul/spirit is not immortal in the sense that it is not subject to death. Neither does the human soul/spirit exist as an eternal entity on its own. Only God, who has neither beginning nor end, is truly immortal and eternal. (1 Timothy 6:15-16) He is never subject to death, change or dependence on anything outside of Himself. The human soul/spirit does not have an eternal nature of its own. He grants us eternal life, but we always depend on Him for our life in eternity, which is why Paul exclaims:
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.1 Timothy 1:17
We will retain our original God-given personality and character when we rise from the dead. Everyone will live after death—either experiencing eternal death (separation from God and His life) in Hell, or eternal life in Heaven. We will all rise again, and though different eternities await us depending on how we respond to Jesus Christ, we will exist forever—either with God or without Him.
By Daniel A. Brown, Ph.D. From www.coastlands.org. Used with permission of the author.
Prepared for the Pneuma Foundation website by Todd H.