Time or Eternity? ™

Is Death a Sleep?

In Death on February 5, 2011 at 8:00 am

In the Bible death is spoken of as a sleep. The following texts, both from the Old and New Testaments, corroborate this:—“So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.” (1 Kings 2 : 10) This was the sleep of death, for burial followed it. “And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father.” (1 Kings 11:43) “And Hezekiah slept with his fathers.” (2 Kings 20:21) “For now shall I sleep in the dust.” (Job 7:21)  This refers to rest in death from his afflictions.  “So man lieth down, and riseth not; till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.” (Job 14:12)  Here the death of all mankind is likened to a dreamless sleep.  “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Dan. 12:2)  Here death is spoken of as a sleep, and the resurrection as an awakening out of sleep.  “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go that L may awake him out of sleep.”  “These things said He: and after that He saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep. . . . Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.” (John 1 1:11, 14)  Here Christ uses the words “sleepeth” and “dead”as synonymous, representing the same condition. “After that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present,but some are fallen asleep.” (1 Cor. 15: 6)  That is, some had died since that event. “For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised; and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.”(1 Cor. 15 : 16-18) This refers to the sleep of death. The sleep of death has such a hold upon these righteous people that if the resurrection does not occur they certainly have perished. Such a statement could not be true if they are now enjoying the rewards of heaven, according to the doctrine of natural immortality.  “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that are asleep.” (1 Cor. 15 : 20) R. V. This text finishes the argument of verses 16-18. Christ had risen from the dead, and that made the future resurrection a certainty. As Christ had risen, so those who are asleep in Jesus will be raised also, therefore have not perished. They all are sleeping until the morning of the resurrection. Then with David, who has not yet “ascended into the heavens” (Acts 2:3, 4), they will be raised to immortality and eternal life. “Behold, I show you a’mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Cor. 15 : 51-53)

“We shall not all sleep.” No, some will be alive on the earth when Christ comes, and will be translated without seeing death. It is of these the apostle here speaks. But “we shall be changed, . . . and this mortal must put on [receive the gift of] immortality” before the translation. At that same time “the dead [those who have been asleep] shall be raised incorruptible,” or immortal. The living must be changed to incorruptibility, but the righteous who sleep in the grave will be raised incorruptible. “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep.” (1Thess. 4: 13-15) Those who are asleep are dead, and the terms “asleep” and “alive” are used to represent the two conditions in which the righteous will be found when Christ comes.   One class will be the living righteous; the other, those who have died in faith. The latter will be raised from the sleep of death and will receive their reward together with the living. This reward is immortality,— everlasting life with Christ and angels, in the home Christ has gone to prepare for the faithful. See John 14 : 1-3.

“For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything”

From the foregoing, what is the natural conclusion as to the condition of those who have died? Is it not that of actual death, and their resting place the grave? And, as in perfect sleep there is absolute loss of consciousness, is it not plain that those who have died have lost all consciousness and knowledge of passing events until the morning of the resurrection? Hence the great importance of that event. “The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.” Ps. 115:17. “For in death there is no remembrance of Thee: in the grave who shall give Thee thanks?” (Ps. 6:5) How could the souls of the dead be enjoying their great reward in the presence of the Lord, as is commonly taught, and yet praise Him not? Such a thing could not be possible. Dreamless sleep in the grave is the only condition in which the righteous could be and not praise the Lord. “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything.” (Eccl. 9:5)  A living soul that could enjoy the life of heaven and still “know not any thing” is an impossibility.

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