1. Didn't the thief on the cross go to paradise with Christ the day He died?
No. In fact, on Sunday morning Jesus said to Mary, "I am not yet ascended to my Father." John 20:17. This shows that Christ did not go to heaven at death. Also note that the punctuation of the Bible is not inspired, but was added by men. The comma in Luke 23:43 should be placed after the words "to day" rather than before, so the passage should read, "Verily I say unto thee to day, shalt thou be with me in paradise." Or, "I'm telling you today--when it seems that I can save no one, when I myself am being crucified as a criminal--I give you the assurance today that you will be with me in paradise." Christ's kingdom is set up at His second coming (Matthew 25:31), and all the righteous of all ages will enter it at that time (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17) and not at death.
2. Doesn't the Bible speak of the "undying," "immortal" soul?
No, the undying, immortal soul is not mentioned in the Bible. The word "immortal" is found only once in the Bible, and it is in reference to God (1 Timothy 1:17).
3. At death the body returns to dust and the spirit (or breath) returns to God. But where does the soul go?
It goes nowhere. Instead, it simply ceases to exist. Two things must be combined to make a soul: body and breath. When the breath departs, the soul ceases to exist because it is a combination of two things. When you turn off a light, where does the light go? It doesn't go anywhere. It just ceases to exist. Two things must combine to make a light: a bulb and electricity. Without the combination, a light is impossible. So with the soul; unless body and breath are combined, there can be no soul. There is no such thing as a disembodied soul.
4. Does the word "soul" ever mean anything other than a living being?
Yes, it may mean also (1) life itself, or (2) the mind, or intellect. No matter which meaning is intended, the soul is still a combination of two things (body and breath), and it ceases to exist at death.
5. Can you explain John 11:26, which says, "And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die"?
This refers not to the first death, which all people die (Hebrews 9:27), but to the second death, which only the wicked die and from which there is no resurrection (Revelation 2:11; 21:8).
6. Matthew 10:28 says, "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul." Doesn't this prove that the soul is undying?
No, it proves the opposite. The last half of the same verse proves that souls do die. It says, "But rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." The word "soul" here means life and refers to eternal life, which is a gift (Romans 6:23) that will be given to the righteous at the last day (John 6:54). No one can take away the eternal life that God bestows. (See also Luke 12:4, 5.)
7. Doesn't 1 Peter 4:6 say the gospel was preached to dead people?
No, it says the gospel "was" preached to those who "are" dead. They are dead now, but the gospel "was" preached to them while they were yet living.
8. What about the souls crying out from under the altar in Revelation 6:9, 10? Doesn't this show that souls do not die?
No. This cry was figurative, as was the cry of Abel's blood (Genesis 4:10). The word "soul" here means people (or living beings) who had been slain for their faith. Surely no one believes that souls who die literally lie under the altar, nor do people believe that the righteous beg God to punish their enemies. Rather, the righteous beg for mercy for their enemies, as Christ did on the cross (Luke 23:34).
9. Doesn't the Bible say Christ went and preached to lost souls in hell between His crucifixion and resurrection?
No, the Bible passage in question is 1 Peter 3:18-20. The preaching was done "by the Spirit" (verse 18) in Noah's day--to people who were then living (verses 19, 20). The "spirits in prison" refers to people whose lives were in bondage to Satan. (See Psalms 142:7; Isaiah 42:6, 7; 61:1; and Luke 4:18.)