Is “soul sleep” biblical? Can you tell me the Bible verses that are said to confirm, and the ones that object to this doctrine?
“Soul Sleep” is an error taught by the Seventh Day Adventist cult. They teach that the soul sleeps in the grave, and they do not believe in an eternal hell for the unsaved.
They use verses out of context like Ecclesiastes 3:19,20, “For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.”
The context of those verses is the body — not the soul. It is THE BODY of people and of animals that decays and returns back to the dust. But if they would have quoted the next verse, then the truth would have been know. Verse 21 says, “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” Man does NOT cease to exist at death — he must one day answer to God; but the animals do cease to exist at death.
When an unsaved person dies, he does not cease to exist, but immediately finds himself in the torment of hell. Luke 16:22-24 says, “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: THE RICH MAN ALSO DIED, AND WAS BURIED; AND IN HELL HE LIFT UP HIS EYES, BEING IN TORMENTS, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.”
The lost person stays in hell until the resurrection day of the lost, when they will be brought before the Great White Throne Judgment, and then cast into the lake of fire for all of eternity. Revelation 20:11-15 says, “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. AND I SAW THE DEAD, SMALL AND GREAT, STAND BEFORE GOD; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and DEATH AND HELL DELIVERED UP THE DEAD which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. AND WHOSOEVER WAS NOT FOUND WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF LIFE WAS CAST INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE”.
The lost person is in conscious torment the moment that he or she dies. At the Great White Throne Judgment, the lost are judged according to their works, and then cast into the lake of fire. It is not a judgment about salvation, because they are already lost. It is a judgment about the degree of punishment which they deserve for all of eternity. Please see the Bible Course booklet on the subject of Hell, located on this Web Site, for further information.
When it comes to the saved person, he or she is immediately with the Lord when death occurs. II Corinthians 5:8 says, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be ABSENT FROM THE BODY, and to be PRESENT WITH THE LORD.”
The above verse clearly shows that the Christian’s soul does not sleep in the grave with his or her body. It says, “ABSENT FROM THE BODY.” At death, the Christian’s soul or spirit is not with the body, but PRESENT WITH THE LORD.
To the repentant thief on the cross, Jesus said, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” We know that Jesus’ body would remain in the grave for 3 days and 3 nights, but Jesus would not be with His body — He would be in paradise, and the thief (whose body would also still be in the grave) would be there in paradise with Jesus. The Bible clearly tells us what and where paradise is. II Corinthians 12:1-4 says, “It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one CAUGHT UP TO THE THIRD HEAVEN. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was CAUGHT UP INTO PARADISE, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” The Bible is very clear that PARADISE and HEAVEN are the SAME PLACE. When Jesus and the thief died that day, they were immediately in heaven — just like with every Christian who dies.