1. At death what leaves man and returns to God?
“Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it,” Ecclesiastes 12:7.
NOTE: The statement is made, “To God who gave it,” and it is now our duty to find what God gave man in the beginning. If we are successful in finding this from the standpoint of the Bible, it will be very easy to locate what this spirit is, that returns to God.
2. From what was man composed in the beginning?
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground,” Genesis 2:7.
3. After man had been composed from the dust of the ground, what did God place within him to bring life?
“And breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul,” verse 7.
NOTE: In this verse we have located what God gave man in the beginning. Since this is what God gave man in the beginning, and the only thing He did give him, it is very reasonable to conclude that this is what leaves man at death, and it is termed breath and spirit throughout the Bible.
4. Let us hear the Psalmist on this same thought.
“Thou hidest Thy face, they are troubled: Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust,” Psalm 104:29.
5. What thought does he express in another place?
“His breath goes forth, he returneth to his earth,” Psalm 146:4.
6. Then, what becomes of the thoughts of man?
“In that very day his thoughts perish,” same verse.
7. Does the beast have the same breath or spirit as man?
“For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity,” Ecclesiastes 3:19.
8. After this spirit or breath leaves man, what do they know?
“For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten,” Ecclesiastes 9:5.
9. What becomes of their love, hatred, and envy?
“Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun,” Ecclesiastes 9:6.
10. What is said to be in the nostrils of both man and beast?
“All in whose nostrils was the breath of [Margin, spirit of] life, of all that was in the dry land died,” Genesis 7:22.
11. How does Job express the same thought?
“All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God [Margin, the breath which God gave him] is in my nostrils,” Job 27:3.
12. Without what does James say the body is dead?
“For as the body without the spirit [Margin, breath] is dead, so faith without works is dead also,” James 2:26.
NOTE: By these readings we find breath and spirit to be used interchangeably, meaning one and the same thing, when used in connection with what God gave to man in the beginning. They are consistently used this way in both Old and New Testaments.