Do We "Go to Sleep" When We Die?

“Soon you will read in the newspaper that I am dead. Don’t believe it for a moment. I will be more alive than ever before.” —D.L. Moody

Ecclesiastes 12:7 says, “The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” Regardless of how literally or figuratively it can be interpreted, the natural understanding of Christ’s story of the rich man and Lazarus is that at death, the human spirit goes either to Heaven or Hell, one a places of conscious happiness, the other of conscious misery (Luke 16:19-31). Other passages that aren’t parables seem to make this very clear, including Luke 23:39-43, 2 Corinthians 5:8 and Philippians 1:23.

However, while I believe this, as I develop in my book Heaven and this brief article, the fact remains that some sincere Christians believe in “soul sleep,” the idea that when we die we lose consciousness until the resurrection. I’ve received many letters from people who argue this coherently and passionately, and cite Scripture to support their position.  In the following video, [former] EPM staffer Julia (Stager) Mayo offers the finest and most complete summary of the pros and cons of soul sleep that I’ve ever seen. She concisely, clearly and carefully examines what the Bible has to say. All in less than five minutes!

I highly recommend that you not only watch this video, but consider showing it to friends, family, your Bible study group or playing it for your church or class and/or drawing attention to it in social media. In my opinion, you may never hear a better explanation than this one:

While teaching a college class on Heaven, I briefly commented on the meaning of Philippians 1:23 and the question of soul sleep.

For more, see Randy’s book Heaven. You can also browse our resources on Heaven and additional books,

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Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries