Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it.
The human spirit is not conscious without the human body, and it will only become conscious again when it is reunited with a body, but this time to a new spiritual body at the resurrection. Once again, the person will become a conscious living soul, but this time in an immortal body that will never die.
Unlike animals, God has created man in His own image and all people are destined to be resurrected. There is no indication in the Bible that a dead animal will be resurrected, and so it appears that an animal ceases to exist at death. However, a human being does not cease to exist at death, but simply remains unconscious or 'sleeps', with his spirit in God's safe keeping, until his resurrection.
There is a great difference between a believer's spirit and an unbeliever's spirit. A believer's spirit has been regenerated, 'born again' by the Holy Spirit through repentance and faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. This is why only God's Elect, the Bride of Christ, will be resurrected at the First Resurrection for a special salvation. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 that a believer's whole spirit and soul and body is preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The whole of the Bible consistently teaches that when a person dies he 'sleeps with his fathers'. The phrase 'slept with his fathers' occurs 36 times in the Old Testament as in 1 Kings 2:10.
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