Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.
Our soul/spirit never dies. First Thessalonians 4:14. Paul said, absent from the body, present with the Lord. Our soul/spirit goes straight to heaven at the physical death of the believer. John 3:18. Unbelievers, those without the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 1:13, and Romans 8:9 are sent to hell. At the rapture of the church, the body of believers, the resurrected bodies of the saints in heaven will be raised first, and then those of us that remain will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. First Corinthians 15:51:53
Sleep is the most frequent metaphor used by the Bible for death. Regardless if a person dies in a saved or lost state, the departed are asleep, in a temporary unconsciousness while awaiting the resurrection (Daniel 12:2; John 5:28, 29; 11:11-14; 1 Cor 15:51-54;1 Thess 4:13-17). The OT talks about David, Solomon, and all the kings (regardless if they were godly or evil kings) as sleeping with their forefathers (1 Kings 2:10; 11:43; 14:20, 31; 15:8; 2 Chron 21:1; 26:23; etc.). David says that the dead go down in silence, not up in heaven or in hell (Ps 115:17; 146:4). Job, David, and Jeremiah all refer to death as a sleep (Job 14:10-12; Ps 13:3; Jer 51:39, 57). Solomon tells that beast as well as humans end up in the grave where there is no awareness for those who die (Eccl 3:19-21; 9:5, 6, 10). Peter said that David (a man after God’s heart) is not in heaven with God but rests in his grave awaiting the resurrection of the saints (Acts 2:29,34). In my opinion, the Bible makes it abundantly clear that the dead are resting in an unconscious state in their graves until the Last Day. "Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment." John 5:8, 29
Philippians 1:23 says, "Having a desire to depart and to be with Christ; which is far better." The sense is, that Paul would have preferred to die, and to go to heaven; rather than to remain in a world of sin and trial. 2 Cor 5:8 says, "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord] Our confidence is not even perturbed nor disturbed by death, though it is not (2 Corinthians 5:4) death in itself that we seek. There is no such thing as soul-sleep.
By my reading of relevant Bible passages, although the final, eternal separation of the saved and the lost will not occur until the bodily resurrection and judgment at the close of present age when Jesus returns, each individual's soul is judged at the moment of death (Hebrews 9:27) on the basis of faith in Christ (or lack thereof), and consigned to either a place of blessing (Paradise) or a place of torment (Hades)(2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:23; Luke 16:19-31). At the time of Christ's return, the bodies of both the saved and the lost will be resurrected in an everlasting form and reunited with their souls. Those whose souls had been in Paradise will then eternally inhabit the new earth described in Revelation 20:11-15 and Matthew 25:31-46, while those whose souls had been in Hades will be eternally consigned to the fire described in those same passages.
One day the Holy Spirit recommended that I read a short book called "The Order of Time" by Carlo Rovelli (a physicist). It's really fascinating stuff! It's written at the level of a layperson. The only equation in the whole book is there only "[for illustrative purposes.]" The book goes into this idea that, while we experience time as "flowing" the same for all of us, that's not the reality. Even though you are not in a spaceship travelling at a significant speed relative to the person sitting across from you sipping coffee, time for the two of you does not flow the same. It is very close, though, and more than close enough for a shared experience. Let no one say that subjective experience isn't a perfectly valid way to look at the nature of reality! God designs with our experience in mind! Subjectively, the sun does go 'round the Earth. Subjectively, the Earth is experienced as flat when viewed from the height of our shoulders (but now, bend down and see a large, calm lake occlude the opposing shoreline). We want to understand every little thing--the orbits of planets, the nature of time--and God wants us to understand much also, but eventually the implementation details will boggle our minds. How could they not? God is bigger than us, His creativity is infinite, and He wills into being as much as he delights. And best of all, He will never change (Malachi 3:6). So, what does this mean for this thread's question? Some Bible authors seemed to prophetically hint that death is sleep (e.g., Daniel 12:2), and that we will all sleep until the right time. Others seemed to hint that Heaven and Hell will be an immediate reality upon departing this life (2 Cor 5:4). How can we reconcile this? Well, what if the first authors spoke from the perspective of those still on Earth? To them, it would seem like the dearly departed are "on pause"--asleep. And what if the second spoke from the perspective of those experiencing departure from this life? Even if you "slept" (which I don't believe to be the case) your experience would still be of meeting God immediately. In short, I've come to conclude that the Apostles will arrive in Heaven at the same time as our great, great grandchildren... and us. It's hard to understand, but is it really any different from understanding how God could love every single person sitting in a packed stadium, much less on a whole planet? When I pray, the Lord grants me understanding and wisdom and strips away dogma and fear. As a result, I've come to believe some wonderful things about the nature of Heaven. I hope you will pray and ask for the same things from our everlasting God and Father. It was a tough but wonderful lesson for me. All through my 20s, I just thought I was supposed to be content with a vague, foggy idea of Heaven. Don't miss out on understanding, now, whatever the Lord is willing to grant you. God bless!
All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.
A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.