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I would say that such a statement would arise from a belief that humans have an immortal soul that survives the death of the physical body. In the case of an individual who has placed faith in Christ for forgiveness of sin, that soul would be in God's/Christ's presence immediately upon the indvidual's death (as expressed by Paul in passages such as Philippians 1:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:8). At Christ's second coming, the individual's physical body would be resurrected and re-united with the individual's soul. One useful discussion presenting another perspective on this issue that I have come across (and that I have mentioned previously on ebible.com) has been a book titled Journey Out of Time by Arthur C. Custance, which is fully viewable online. His position (which he supports with appropriate citations from Scripture) is that, at the moment of death, believers are no longer in the earthly space-time environment, but are immediately in God's presence in their resurrected bodies in an eternal dimension where time no longer exists. To those whom the believer leaves behind on earth, the believer's body appears to be lifeless, but that is because those who are left behind are still "trapped in time".
This metaphor of sleep is only talking about the earthly body's inanimate state after death, not to the soul. Scripture assures believers of their souls' destiny at death: The Bible promises the believer in 2 Cor 5:6-8, “… to be absent from the body …[is] to be at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). You don't have to wait indefinitely! This is immediate! I am staking my whole life on it! "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."
My understanding is that when we die, the breath of life goes back to God and the body rests in the grave until the resurrection (Job 14:12; Dan 12:2). The Bible mentions the soul or spirit almost 2000 times - in none of these occasions the soul/spirit is immortal or eternal. Paul tells that God alone is immortal (1 Tim 6:16) and if God alone is immortal, no one else is. God told the first couple that disobedience would bring death (Gen 2:17). In Genesis 3, Satan appears to Adam and Eve and tells them that they will not die, instead, they will be like God – immortal (Gen 3:4, 5). And now we know that was a lie. Moreover, in the same chapter, we read how God placed cherubim to guard the tree of life so no man can eat from it and live forever (Gen 3:22-24). When we die, we lose consciousness and ‘sleep’ until the resurrection. Both OT and NT make this truth abundantly clear (Ps 6:5; 115:17; 146:4; Eccl 9:5-6). After death, our next moment of consciousness is Christ’s return. In John 5:28-29, Jesus plainly says that at His return the dead will rise from their tombs to be judged. If upon death the righteous are taken to heaven and the wicked to hell, a judgment at Christ's return makes no sense. Furthermore, in Matthew 27:52, 53 we read that when Jesus died, the tombs broke open and many saints were raised to life and later on taken to heaven (Eph 4:8). This tells me that these saints did not go to heaven upon their death, but were resting in their graves, just like David who did not go to heaven and is resting in his grave (Acts 2:29, 34).
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