|EXPLORING CHRISTIANITY - LIFE AFTER DEATH||
LIFE AFTER DEATHChristianity's Hope & Challenge.
Between death and resurrection
What happens to us between the death of our present bodies and the resurrection of the new? There are those who have taken the word “sleep”, used fourteen times for the death of believers in the New Testament,  to imply that we have no conscious existence during this period. My own view is that the “sleep” refers to the bodily existence rather than the conscious existence of the soul or personality. Though not a life or death issue, there are at least six passages which to me strongly imply a continued conscious existence in the presence of Christ, at least for believers.
God allowed Peter, Andrew and John to have a vision of Moses and Elijah, both very much alive, talking with Jesus (Matthew 17:3). This picture is reinforced by the fact that Elijah was taken to heaven without going through the process of physical death (2 Kings 2:11) as was Enoch (Genesis 5:24). Similarly, Jesus declared that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were still living as, “He is not God of the dead but of the living” (Matthew 22:32).
Jesus said to the dying thief, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Would there have been much point in Jesus declaring the man would be “with him” if he was not going to be conscious of that glorious fact? As the great evangelist D. L. Moody picturesquely imagined it, I can see the two of them walking arm in arm down the streets of the eternal city!
When facing possible execution in prison, Paul declares that if he had the choice between life and death he would prefer to be “with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body” (Philippians 1:23, 24). Would it have been “better by far” if he had not been aware of it?
Similarly, Paul declared to the Corinthian believers, “We…would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).
The writer of Hebrews speaks of “the spirit of righteous [people] made perfect” (Hebrews 12:23). There is no mention of the body here and it seems to imply an intermediary state.
The writer of Revelation pictures the martyrs who have been sacrificed on the altar crying out for justice, and then continues, “Then each of those who had been killed was given a white robe and told to rest for a little while. They had to wait until the complete number of the Lord’s other servants and followers would be killed” (Revelation 6:11). The white robe no doubt symbolises righteousness, holiness and festivity. Though we need to be careful in building our doctrine on the symbolic pictures of Revelation, and it is important to note that it is the blood, not the martyrs themselves, that cries out for justice (see Genesis 4:10), the implication here is very strong for continued conscious existence between death, and resurrection and the final judgement. Dr. H. Bavinck, in his Gereformeerde Dogmatiek, commented on this passage, “They have a past which they remember, a present in which they live, and a future which they are approaching.
 Matthew 27:52; John 11:11; Acts 7:60; 13:36; 1 Corinthians 11:30; 15:6, 18, 20, 51; 1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14, 15; 5:10; 2 Peter 3:4.
Part 1: Exploring the territory
Part 2: The Christian view of life after death
Between death and resurrection