Believe it or not, some churches teach that faithful Christians don’t go directly to heaven but sleep in the grave. Some Bible verses seem to teach that doctrine.
One verse which seems to say that our soul sleeps is Daniel 12:2 (KJV) which says, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
What these preachers of soul sleep don’t realize is that sleep is a metaphor for death. We see this clearly explained in John 11:11-15 (KJV). “These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, ‘Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.’ Then said his disciples, ‘Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.’ Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.'”
The Apostle Paul wrote that we don’t sleep but our spiritual selves are awake in heaven. 2 Corinthians 5:8 (KJV) says, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”
Furthermore, John saw in his vision on the isle of Patmos that believers are in heaven under God’s throne. Revelation 6:9-11 (KJV) plainly shows this to be true. “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?’ And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”
Also, Paul knew he would be with his Lord at death. Philippians 1:23 (KJV) plainly states, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:”
These verses alone show that we don’t become unconscious but we go to be with the Lord at death. Martyrs throughout the church’s history have held onto this blessed hope. They never felt that they’d just go to sleep like the soul sleep believers think.
I’ll be writing more about our eternal destination in my next book called You Think You’re Going to Heaven? Since there’s no “do over” when we die, each one of us must make sure we’ll be in the presence of Christ forever. Otherwise, the only other destination for us is hell.