Belief in a post-mortem afterlife, where deceased Believers wait in Heaven in the presence of the Lord until the time of resurrection, has come under considerable attack in the past century, primarily from theological liberals, but now even from some purported theological conservatives. Even in our own Messianic movement, the idea that “going to Heaven when you die” is not a Biblical teaching, has gained much ground in various sectors, even though there has been little detailed engagement with the ramifications of such a view.
Make no mistake about it: eternal punishment is a very serious issue that is to drive people to tears and lamentation, as they are to consider their own very serious mortal and sinful limitations in view of a perfect Creator God. Those who do not respond to the message of the good news of salvation in Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), by receiving Him into their hearts, will be severely penalized for it.
Is it not true that the idea of an intermediate afterlife in Heaven or Hell is predicated on dualism? Is it not true that dualism was a philosophical view that originated with the Greeks, and not with Scripture?
Is it not true that Ecclesiastes 9:5 says that “the dead know nothing”? Why are there people in today’s Messianic movement who believe that when they die they will go to Paradise or Heaven, when Ecclesiastes is clear that they will be unconscious?
How are today’s Messianic people to best approach the topic of what happens at death? Do people die, and then enter into complete unconsciousness until the resurrection? Or, do people die, and then have their consciousness transferred to another dimension, until the resurrection? Is “soul sleep” something that we need to be seriously considering, or does it need to be dismissed as a false teaching?