What Happens After Death?
Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8)
Question 36: What benefits do believers receive from Christ at their death?
Answer: The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, (Heb 12:23) and do immediately pass into glory, (Phil 1:23; 2 Cor 5:8; Lk 23:43) and their bodies, being still united to Christ, (1 Thes 4:14) do rest in their graves (Is 57:2) till the resurrection. (Job 19:26)
Throughout church history there has been some debate as to what happens to the souls of believes at the moment of death. Specifically, the debate has surrounded what has come to be known as the doctrine of the Soul-Sleep. That is, there are some who have argued that after death and before our souls are re-united with our glorified bodies, we remain in a state of unconscious existence, a sort of soul sleep until Christ returns and resurrects our bodies. However, there are several reasons to believe that this is not the case. First, when Jesus tells the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16, he clearly implies that both the rich man and Lazarus are consciously aware of their existence. To be sure, we do not know if Jesus is describing a literal event or if this is just an analogy. But if it is an analogy, it would seem misleading for Jesus to make an analogous comparison using non-factual information. Second, from all the descriptions Jesus gives regarding hell, it would seem that those who go there exist in a state of conscious torment (Matt 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Lk 13:28). It stands to reason that if this is true of those who go to hell, it must be true of those who go to heaven. And third, per Revelation 6:9-10, the souls of the saints who have died are consciously aware of their existence as they cry out to the Lord, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Thus, at the moment of death, the souls of believers enter into the glorious presence of our God and King and experience joy and bliss beyond human comprehension.
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