10 Things You Should Know about the Intermediate State of Death

10. Biblically, “soul sleep” is also ruled out.

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What does all this mean for the doctrine of soul sleep, or psychopannychia, which asserts that Christians at death enter a state of complete unconsciousness, to be “awakened” at Christ’s return? It, too, is eliminated. What, then, does the New Testament mean when it refers to death as “sleep” (see Matthew 27:52; Luke 8:52; John 11:11-13; Acts 7:60; 1 Corinthians 7:39; 1 Corinthians 11:30; 1 Corinthians 15:6, 18; 1 Thessalonians 4:13)?

Several things come to mind. For example, sleep implies rest from earthly toil, the cessation of activity in this realm. Thus one is asleep to this world, but alive and very much “awake” in the next. The imagery of sleep is also used to describe death because the body does sleep, in a manner of speaking. In other words, the body is at rest, without activity or life. But nowhere does the Bible say that the “soul” or “spirit” sleeps or is unconscious. Finally, sleep is used to illustrate that the pain of death as a penalty for sin is gone for the Christian. Death for the believer, rather than something to be feared, is like dozing off for a nap (see Luke 16:19-31; Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 12:26-27; Revelations 6:9-11).

This article originally appeared on SamStorms.com. Used with permission.

Sam Storms is an Amillennial, Calvinistic, charismatic, credo-baptistic, complementarian, Christian Hedonist who loves his wife of 44 years, his two daughters, his four grandchildren, books, baseball, movies, and all things Oklahoma University. In 2008 Sam became Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sam is on the Board of Directors of both Desiring God and Bethlehem College & Seminary, and also serves as a member of the Council of The Gospel Coalition. Sam is President-Elect of the Evangelical Theological Society.

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