There is a rumor going around that when Christians die, they go into a state sometimes called “soul sleep”, almost a sci-fi type suspended animation thing. The idea undoubtedly comes from Paul’s description of believers’ death as “sleep” in 1 Corinthians 11, 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4. Jehovah’s Witnesses teach soul sleep, along with Seventh Day Adventists.
But make no mistake…it’s not true. When Paul speaks of the believer’s sleep, he is surely just describing what the body looks like.
And here’s how we know this: After the Lord received wonderful moral support from the famous “thief on the cross”, and this was followed by the man’s plea to “remember me when you come into your kingdom,” consider what Jesus promised him…
“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43 (ESV)
Not, “I’ll see you in a couple thousand years” but…today. I’m not sure what the JW’s say to this clear teaching. Maybe they think that only the thief makes it to heaven right away and the rest of us poor lunks have to wait. If so, that’s some serious one-on-one time that Mr. Thief gets with the Lord.
But we know they are wrong, not only because of the passage in Luke, but also in light of Paul’s teaching in 2 Corinthians 5…
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (ESV)
Here Paul refers to death as being “away from the body” and says that when we are in that situation, we are “at home with the Lord.” No suspended animation, no soul sleep, just Jesus.
This means that one moment after we die, because of God’s glorious grace, we will be with Him. We will, in the famous words of President Ronald Reagan, “slip the surly bonds of earth…to touch the face of God.”
For Monday, August 3rd: Luke 24