part 1
The soul does not cease to exist after physical death, nor does it go into sleep or temporal death. (We need to discern the difference between physical death and spiritual death). The Bible clearly teaches us in the New Testament that we continue on after death.
*Soul-sleep, a wrong doctrine*, is seen as a temporary death of the soul; The Bible speaks about resurrection of the body, not about waking up of the sleeping or dead soul; the soul-sleep advocates refer to the Old Testament and obtain their doctrine from 2-3 verses alone, taken out of context, for example:
-Eccl9:5, For the living know they will die; *but the dead do not know anything*, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten.”
-Eccl12:7, “then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.”
In this second verse those that believe the doctrine of soul-sleep, they think the spirit is the breath of life from God which has no consciousness, not an entity or a person. But GOD IS A SPIRIT also (Jn4:24), therefore a person with consciousness, not an unconscious ‘breath’. God created man in His image and likeness, which means that man is a SPIRIT (but man also has a physical body which God does not – but God in Christ took on a human body Phil.2:5-9), also man as a FREE WILL just as God, while animals have instinct, also man is a MORAL creature, just as God is; man is created for FELLOWSHIP which animals don’t have, they gather and live by instinct. Man and God can love and hate.
*When Adam and Eve have sinned, that day they died spiritually*, as God had promised in Gen2:17, they did not die physically but their bodies became mortal; those that believe in soul-sleep, believe the soul goes into sleep when the body dies, therefore they can’t explain how Adam and Eve died the day they ate from the fruit. They have accepted God’s animal sacrificed for them, symbol of the future sacrifice of Jesus, so spiritually they were restored, while the body started dying slowly (aging) until died some 900 years later. God blocked them from eating of the tree of life or else their body would have become eternal in a sin nature state. At death man’s sin nature dies (or at rapture 1Thes4).
Often, the case with people who hold this soul-sleep position and refer to Ecclesiastes forget the context. The first three verses of Ecclesiastes say:
“The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. 2 “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” 3 What advantage does man have in all his work which he does *under the sun*?”
Notice that he is writing about things from a human perspective–from that which is “under the sun.” He is not providing doctrinal statements about life after death. From the human perspective, when you die, the dead don’t know anything in that the spirit returns to God who gave it. But neither one of these statements means that the soul ceases to exist. Of course the pro-soul sleep advocate will say that “the dead not knowing anything” means they don’t exist. But again, this is written from the perspective of people on earth. The dead are dead to us, because we are only aware of the material, we cant see the spiritual realm unless God reveals spiritual realities to us (Mat17:1-8, 2Kings6:17).
The Ecc3:21 also says, *”Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”* The Bible says the human spirit will go to judgment and that animals are not eternal, as only man is created in the image of God. But the Ecclesiastes begins writing as a man that knows nothing, as an unbeliever doubting God’s existence (‘upward’ speaking of heaven), and advances towards wisdom, ending the Book of Ecclesiastes with faith, or fear of God.
–Matt17:1-8 the Transfiguration– It is important to note is that *MOSES AND ELIJAH were both alive*: Elijah had been raptured, but Moses had died physically. In other words, they are not united in their resurrected bodies because the general resurrection has not yet happened. Therefore, we can clearly see that there are at least two people who are alive, after death, who are not in their physical bodies but soul-body.
–Luke16:19-31 *LAZARUS and the rich man* – We can see in the story of Lazarus and the rich man that after each have died that both were conscious and self-aware. Jesus is obviously teaching that the soul survives after death. Still, there are those who will say that this is a parable. Of course, the problem with this theory is that parables don’t have proper NAMES in them. In this case there is a specific individual named: LAZARUS. (Why Jesus does not give the name of the rich man? An explanation can be in Pr10:7 ”the name of the wicked shall perish”, so Jesus didn’t consider the rich man worthy to have his name recorded in the eternal Word of God). Also, if it were a parable, then what is Jesus saying with the illustration of consciousness after death and before the resurrection? Why would Jesus use false doctrines in a parable? The most logical answer is that Jesus was teaching us that there is soul-consciousness after death.
–2Cor5:8 – “we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be *AT HOME with the Lord*.” If soul sleep is a true doctrine, then how is it possible to be outside of the body and also be home with the Lord? It wouldn’t make any sense.
–2Cor12:1-4 – “Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago, whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows, such a man was caught up to the THIRD HEAVEN. And I know how such a man, whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows, was *caught up into PARADISE*, and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.”
In order to properly understand this section of Scripture we need to know what is meant by the term “*third heaven*.” In the Jewish theology there were three “heavens.” The first heaven deals with the atmospheric region (Deut11:17, 28:12, Judges5:4, Acts14:17). The second heaven deals with the region of outer space (Ps19:4,6;Jer.8:2, Is13:10). The third heaven is God’s dwelling place (1Kings8:30, Ps2:4, Matt5:16)
So, when Paul says that knew someone who was caught up to the third heaven, he was speaking about entering into that dwelling place of God. What is important is that it occurred either in the body or out of the body of which he did not know. If soul sleep is a true doctrine, it could not be said that such a person who is outside of his body (who had died, or to separate the soul from the body) was also with God at the same time. It just wouldn’t make any sense. Therefore, soul sleep is wrong. Soul sleep advocates do not believe soul exists on its own, they say that the soul is the life of the body and that you are your body. They deny that you are *body*+*soul*+*spirit*, as Paul mentions in 1Thes5:23.
Paul says that before salvation, the human spirit is dead, which means outside of a relationship with God: Eph2:1,5, 4:18; 1Tim5:6, someone can be alive physically but dead spiritually. Also someone can be dead physically but alive spiritually.
Ez18:20, “The soul that sins, it shall die” speaks of spiritual death therefore no relationship: no fellowship with God, not soul-sleep.
For 1900 years Christians have believed the souls of men, lost or saved, are fully conscious immediately at the point of death and remain in such a state forever. Doctrine of soul-sleep arrived in the last 150 years.
Ask yourself; “why would we want to believe God wants us to be unconscious after death, until our judgment day?” Isn’t it rather that Satan wants unbelievers to believe that there isn’t a waiting in hell until the judgment day? And again Satan wants people to believe that after the judgment the unbeliever goes back into soul-sleep, so that the thought about hell and the punishment of God is not so scary. <> That is Satan’s lie!! See our message about hell.
In Mat25:41 says, “Then the king (Jesus) will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me, you cursed ones! Go into the everlasting fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels!” *Are angels put to sleep also?* Jude6 says they are bound in chains, also 2Pet2:4, also Rev20:2,7 Satan bound in chains then released (not raised from sleep) for a short time. Men rejecting Jesus and demons have the same condemnation: hell, not soul-sleep.
…see part 2
Pastor Daniel