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September 04, 2006
First of all, since this article is concentrating on the "soul" we must define what the soul is. The soul involves our personality and emotions. Our spirit is connected with the things of God. Our spirit and soul cannot be separated and are very closely linked to one another. I will use just the word "soul" in the rest of this article but in reality it is connected with the spirit.
What does"soul sleep" mean? The Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the United Church of God (founded by Herbert Armstrong) believe that when you die, your "soul" enters a state of oblivion or unconsciousness until the resurrection day when your body and soul are resurrected. They base this doctrine on Eccl. 9:5 which states For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
They do well to take the text literally but they fail to understand the viewpoint of Ecclesiastes. There are many things in this book that seem to contradict other books in the Bible until you realize the intention of this book. The New Testament quotes many Old Testament books but it never quotes Ecclesiastes one single time. This books is written from the viewpoint of a man that excludes God from life. In effect, it is saying what's the point of doing anything since you die and everything you have done is in vain? Eat, drink, and party hardy because you may be dead tomorrow. That is how a man who does not believe in God lives. The conclusion of the book however states that man's purpose is to Fear God and keep His commandments.
Does the soul live on after death or does it go into a coma as certain groups would have you believe? The answer is in the Bible.
Paul said that We are confident, [I say], and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.I 2 Cor. 5:8 There is only one way to be absent from the body and that is to die. Upon death, your soul immediately goes to Paradise if you have a personal relationship with Christ or to Hades if you have rejected Christ. The souls in Paradise are awaiting the resurrection of their bodies as well as awaiting the Judgment seat of Christ to determine what responsibilities they will have in eternity in their new glorified bodies. The souls in Hades will be awaiting their trial at the Great White Throne judgment.
Paul goes on to say Therefore [we are] always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 2 Cor. 5:6 Paul is saying as long as we are alive on planet earth with flesh and blood bodies which are animated by our souls, we are absent from God. Flesh and blood cannot enter heaven. If you have been to any funeral home, you know the body you are looking at is an empty shell.
Peter said, For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
This is an amazing passage because it occurs between the death of Christ and His resurrection. Was the soul of Jesus in a coma while He was in the tomb? It seems that Jesus was quite busy after He died. He "preached" to the spirits in prison. What He preached was unsaid but the beings he was preaching to were alive in the days of Noah and probably perished in the flood. Their souls were certainly not asleep.
Jesus said in Matthew 22:31 and 32 But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." Jesus was saying that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were alive as He spoke to the Sadducees. The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection and that was why they were so sad - you see. (I couldn't resist). Although the bodies of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were buried their souls lived on in Paradise. Jesus said they were alive.
There are several other biblical examples that clearly reputes the theory of soul sleep but I want to conclude this article with what Jesus said to the thief who asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom and Jesus replied, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." Jesus plainly said that He was going to paradise after He died and the penitent thief would be with Him on that very same day.
Soul sleep? Bah humbug.
Copyright 2006 by Gary Goodworth
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