The Bible says death is like a sleep from which believers will be awakened at the resurrection by Jesus the Lifegiver. Jesus called it a sleep when talking to the disciples about Lazarus (John 11:11-14). He called it a sleep when speaking of the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:39). The apostle Paul called death a sleep in 1 Corinthians 15:20, 51-55 and 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17.
The idea that the soul is immortal does not come from the Bible. The Bible teaches that when God created Adam He formed him from the dust and breathed into his body the breath of life. God is the source of life. He put that spark of life in Adam at creation. It doesn’t say God put a soul IN man, but that when the breath of God was added to the dust man BECAME a living soul (Genesis 2:7).
Where did the idea come from that we go to heaven or hell at death? Soon after the death of the last of the apostles, the early church fathers began to accept the philosophy of Plato, who believed in the immortality of the soul. Plato lived about 450 years before Christ. He introduced the idea that the body and the soul are separate, the body is evil and the soul is good. Things the body enjoys should be avoided–enjoyment of food, of sex, anything that gave pleasure to the body was considered evil.
Just as Christians in our day have accepted the teachings of evolution, Christians in that day, instead of tying their beliefs to what the Bible says, accepted the teachings of the Greek philosophers in this concept of the immortality of the soul. This led to the idea of an eternally burning hell. If the soul cannot die, then nothing can kill it, not even hell.
What does the Bible say? 1 Timothy 1:17 and 1 Timothy 6:16 say that only God is immortal.
Life is a gift from God, given to Adam and Eve in the beginning. Genesis 1:27,28; Gen. 2:7,18.
Death is the result of sin. “And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.'” Genesis 2:16,17 (NIV).
“The soul who sins is the one who will die.” Ezekiel 18:4. Since all have sinned (Romans 3:23), all are condemned to death. Our only hope of life eternal is to turn to Jesus who promises eternal life to all who believe in Him. ‘‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NIV).