Soul Sleep, is it true?


I got into a discussion with a Seventh Day Adventist and I had some question's about some of the things that she said. I have been under the impression that after Jesus died Christian's went to Heaven when they died. She was telling me that the soul is simply asleep. She used the verse from 1 Thessalonians where it says the "dead in Christ will rise first," I have wondered about this for a long time. Were those dead not in heaven to begin with? It also says something similair in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53. Does it mean ALL dead Christians? If they were Christian's and already in Heaven why would Christ need to resurrect them, and what exactly would he be resurrecting? She also cited a verse in Ecclesiastes 9: 6 that says "Whatever they did in their lifetime-loving, hating, envying-is all long gone. THey no longer have a part in anything here on earth." I took that to mean simply that once you are dead that you can't go back and change what you "loved hated and envied," that it was irreversible and done, but she said it defended her point. She also made several references to vs that say we do not die but rather are "asleep in Christ." I am not sure exactly what the meaning of "sleep" is and if what I believe is true that all Christian's go to heaven it cannot mean what she thinks.

Please respond ASAP, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks and God Bless

My response is in Green:

This is a popular belief now days, not only with the Seventh Day Adventist but others who don't truly know their Bible. It isn't true and I will show you that, from two different angles. First to believe that a Christian sleeps instead of goes to be with Christ you have to ignore too may other passages which I will quote here:

Philip. 1:21-24 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. [22] If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! [23] I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; [24] but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. [NIV]

Depart and be with Christ, not asleep...

Luke 16:19-24 "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. [20] At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores [21] and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. [22] "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. [23] In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. [24] So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' [NIV]

I only quoted a small part of this story that Jesus told, but it is enough to show what happened to both the believer and the unbeliever, neither of them slept. Now you will notice that the believer didn't go straight to heaven, but that is simple to explain. Our sins kept us from the presence of the Father, until Jesus paid for them on the cross. That is why it says this:

Ephes. 4:8 This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." [NIV]

Who were the captives? Simple the believers who had died before He paid for their sins and He then took them to heaven with Him.

Rev. 6:9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. [NIV]

This passage comes from Revelation and John is seeing events in heaven, so these souls were in heaven under the altar not asleep.

There are more but that is enough to make the point. Now let me address point two and that is why it says that believers sleep and why we will need to be resurrected. First you have to remember that we were created in the image of God. Most people miss what that means, they seem to think that means that God has hands, arms, a nose, eyes, etc... but God is a spirit and doesn't have those things. He is however a triune being and He created us as triune being. What that means is that we are three in one just as God is three in one. He is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We were created like that also, there are three parts to us and yet we are one being. Let me start with the animals, which were not created in God's image.

An animal is a physical body and a soul. When I refer to soul, I mean the personality, what makes them who they are. That is all they are, they have no spirit, when they die it is over they cease to exist. We on the other hand have a physical body, a soul and a spirit. The soul is roughly equivalent to the Father in the Godhead, the physical body is the Son, and our spirit is equivalent to the Holy Spirit, that is why we are said to have been created in the image of God. All three parts make one being, one person. Now let me show you some more:

2 Cor. 5:1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. [NIV]

What is this tent the Paul is speaking about? It is our physical body. What is the heavenly house that he is speaking about? It is our resurrected body.

1 Cor. 15:50-54 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. [51] Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- [52] in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. [53] For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. [54] When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." [NIV]

Our flesh is corrupt it happened during the fall in the Garden of Eden, it can't inherit the kingdom of God, so it has to be changed. That is why when we die, we separate from our bodies, but when Jesus comes back He will raise our bodies and change them into our heavenly houses or bodies. Paul tells us that if we happen to still be alive when Christ returns we will be changed without dying, but we must still be changed.

So when the Bible speaks of a believer sleeping, it is speaking of his physical body, but he is no longer in that body, yet he will again be in a physical body when Christ resurrects it and we again become a triune being.

Think about this, the Bible clearly states that Jesus went to Hades to preach to the dead the three days His body was in the grave, His body was still there but He wasn't. On the third day, He was resurrected and become the ‘first fruits' of the resurrection. So if Jesus didn't stay in His body when He died why would we stay in ours? His body was asleep waiting for His resurrection just like ours will be. Let me show you the passages that confirm what I am saying:

1 Peter 3:18-22 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, [19] through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison [20] who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, [21] and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, [22] who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand--with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. [NIV]

See He wasn't asleep in the grave and we won't be either, yet it could be said that His body was asleep and so will ours be waiting on a resurrection and a perfection so that we will live as a body, soul and spirit for all eternity.

I could go further, but I need to keep this short, well shorter anyway. I hope that helps.



E-Mail Ralph (whose comments are in green)

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