When I finally started studying God’s Word, and the Holy Spirit began to lead me into a study of Bible prophecy, I started making discoveries about the future that ministered great hope to my spirit. I had just discovered God’s marvelous promises for the future that are designed to give us hope in the present.
The Fallacy of Soul Sleep
The first discovery I made concerned “soul sleep.” I found out it is an unbiblical concept. It is true that when we die, our bodies “sleep” metaphorically, but the spirits of the dead never lose their consciousness.
Jesus clearly taught this in His story about the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). When they died, their spirits went to Hades. The rich man’s spirit went to a compartment in Hades called “Torments.” The spirit of Lazarus went to a compartment named “Abraham’s bosom.” On the Cross, Jesus referred to Abraham’s bosom as “Paradise” (Luke 23:43). The two compartments were separated by a “great chasm” which could not be crossed.
In Jesus’ story both men are pictured as fully conscious. They even carry on a conversation with each other. Their souls are not asleep.
Further evidence of consciousness after death can be found in Revelation 7. John has been taken up to Heaven and is being given a tour of the throne room of God. He sees “a great multitude… from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues,” standing before the throne of God “clothed in white robes” and waving palm branches in worship (Revelation 7:9). They are fully conscious as they sing, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb” (Revelation 7:10).
John wants to know the identity of these people. He is told that they are martyrs for Christ coming out of the “great tribulation” (Revelation 7:14).
Here are two scenes in Scripture of people after death who are fully conscious.
The Apostle Paul affirmed consciousness after death. In 2 Corinthians 5:8 he wrote that he would prefer to be “absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” He repeated this sentiment in his Philippian letter where he wrote, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). He elaborated on the meaning of this statement by adding that his desire was “to depart and be with Christ” (Philippians 1:23). Paul had no concept of lying comatose in a grave for eons of time. Upon death, he expected to be with the Lord immediately.
17 CommentsLeave a Comment
Dr. Reagan, thank you so much for posting these articles on hope. It is so comforting to know that truly in all things our God does give us hope!
Also remember Jesus telling one of the men who was crucified with Him that “today” you will be with me in Paradise.
At the same time, I bring up the following question. In the New Testament there was the little girl that died and then was raised from the dead. Didn’t Jesus say she’s not dead, just sleeping? What did He mean by “sleeping”. And if she was immediately conscious in Hades after she died, did she leave Hades and go back into her mortal body? If so, did she have a memory of being in Hades? Could one go to Hades and then return to Earth? These are not challenges, just questions of curiosity.
You can put Lazarus on that list, too, Billy. And all the people whose graves were opened during the resurrection.
I think they did remember their experience, and that’s why Jesus wept at the raising of Lazarus. He knew that He was bringing Lazarus back from the time of his life.
Billy, they wouldn’t have gone to Hades, but rather Sheol which had two sections to it at that time – Abraham’s bosom or the side for the righteous, and Hades or the side for the unrighteous. I would assume that both the little girl and Lazarus were in Abraham’s bosom – along with all of those that were raised from the dead at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion.
Good insight Son of Thunder. I love it soooo much when folks like you think outside the box. This makes so much sense. Also, the thought would be then, could Lazarus have communicated with Jesus, and beg to stay where he was?
Just for fun.
I don’t think Lazarus would have begged as there is no sorrow or tears in heaven. But I’m sure it broke the Lord’s heart to tear Lazarus away from paradise.
Yshua, I was basing my statement on Dr. Reagan saying in his blog post “Jesus clearly taught this in His story about the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). When they died, their spirits went to Hades.” Note “their” and “spirts” as in plural. Perhaps someone can clarify for me.
Thunder, hmmmmm…. Though I’m not sure I agree with you speculation on why Jesus wept it definitely gives one pause for consideration.
Also, can anyone weigh in on Jesus saying the girl was sleeping. What did that mean? Or in that case, wherever the word sleep appears in the Bible in reference to death…what exactly does that sleep mean?
Since there is “no place” referred in the Bible where someone can go and wait to be raised from the dead, I believe that Jesus was using the word sleep for the people around him to understand. This was also really early in his ministry so He was probably shield the deep truths of who He was.
To add to this belief, remember that an untold number of saints were raised from the dead the day of the resurrection (Matthew 27:52-53) Were they just sleeping? Can’t be so. Now back to Lazarus and the girl, the Bible is silent on if either one talked about their death experience. I would argue that if they did it would have been recorded somehow.
They were either commanded not to share (and really obeyed) or their memories were blocked of their “time away.” I might lean towards, they obeyed Jesus’ command to keep silent, unlike the blind man.
For more info on soul sleep, check out Dr. Reagan’s article What Happens When You Die?.
After Christ’s resurrection, saints (believers) are said to “fall asleep” rather than die. (See Acts 7:60, I Cor. 15:6, I Cor. 15:18, I cor. 15: 20 to name just a few).
Post-resurrection, this is because we have already died–Rom. 6:3-6; therefore, we cannot die again. Also, we have Eternal Life living inside of us–that is, Jesus Christ (see I John 1:1-2, 5:11-12 and 5: 20). When Jesus died, we died spiritually (our old Adamic nature, our sin nature died [sorry, don’t agree with you there, Dr. Reagan]), and now our very LIFE is Christ’s life!
So when the new testament says that saints have “fallen asleep,” it means something other than the death that happens to nonbelievers.
Billy, the body in effect metaphorically sleeps because one day it is going to be resurrected and put back together with the spirit. So, in part, the little girl and Lazarus were asleep, that is, just their bodies were.
The Bible teaches to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. So we will immediately be in the presence of Christ upon death. Peter talked about his own upcoming death in 2 Peter, and he said that he must shortly take off the “tent of this body”. And so the idea is that the body that we wear is literally just a shell. It is not the real us at all, when we die the genuine person – the spirit being – goes immediately to be with Christ. And that’s why Paul said it’s far better to go and be with Christ and to be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord.
Dr. Reagan, Thank you! And praise the Lord!
Your timely article greatly encouraged me. Yesterday, the same day you posted it, I started to read the book: “Shocked by the Bible” by Joe Kovacs. It threw me for a loop. At first, I thought it might be an interesting way to encourage folks to actually read the Bible. All I can say now is, “Buyer beware!!!”.
“Shocked by the Bible” does contain some very interesting and correct information, but it also contains the unbiblical concept of “soul sleep”. After I read Joe Kovac’s chapter on soul sleep I was troubled. Soul sleep has to be one of the most depressing, frightening, and disturbing concepts I’ve ever heard in my life. Thankfully, your article quickly pointed me back to the many Bible verses Joe missed or took out of context. “Shocked by the Bible” now resides in my trash can. Thanks again!
I’ve read bits an pieces of Shocked by the Bible on World Net Daily and Joe Kovacs stated that Enoch was not take and he actually died. He takes this from Hebrews 11, but completely messes up the context of the verse.
To prove his point he uses verse 13:
13All these people were still living by faith when they died.
The problem is that the author wasn’t lumping Enoch into these people from verse 13. He was speaking of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Sarah. The author had already dealt with Enoch in verse 5:
5By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.
So, the problem here is either Mr. Kovacs did not read all of chapter 11, or he purposely left details out of scripture to skew the readers opinion of Enoch…
Thanks for the warning on “Shocked.” I was thinking of buying a copy….
I don’t know which is worse: the concept of “soul sleep” or purgatory. They both seem pretty depressing and hopeless.
Spoely ~ Or quite possibly…the reason that Lazarus and the girl did not speak of their deaths after being brought back is because of the same kind of disbelief and redicule one receives now, when they speak of NDE’s. Just a thought ~ Buggg
That may be, Buggg, but I think it more likely they were told to not say anything. Remember Paul was taken to the 3rd heaven and wasn’t allowed to tell what he saw.
Even John only saw the heavenly Temple and gave rudimentary description of the New Jerusalem, with very little detail of what was going on in that City.
I could be wrong, as it’s only a hunch.
Yeah, that could be Thunder.