Q&A: Is there a consciousness gap after death?

Is there a consciousness gap after death?

Question

Is there any gap in our consciousness when we die and go to heaven?

Answer

There is no consciousness gap when die.

Every person enters the world with an endless existence. Indeed, the body will cease temporarily, but when the body dies, the soul is separated from it and continues on in consciousness (cf. Eccl. 12:7). As Paul states in 2 Corinthians 5:8, “Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (cf. Phil. 1:23). While we won’t have physical bodies until the last day, each person is fully and immediately conscious whether in heaven or hell before that day (cf. Luke 12:4-5).

Jesus told the thief on the cross next to him that he would be with him in paradise that very day (Luke 23:43). This implies consciousness. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), both men had died and were in their respective places. But both were fully conscious. They were able to think, speak and communicate after death. Once again, this implies consciousness.

We read in Matthew 27:52: “The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.” Previously Jesus had said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him” (John 11:11). Jesus was of course speaking of Lazarus being dead (John 11:14). But notice that in neither text does it state the soul needed to be awakened. Jesus spoke as if Lazarus could hear him – and he did! He both heard and followed Jesus’ instructions and came forth from the grave! Something similar happened to the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:14) and Jairus’ daughter as well (Luke 8:54).

Only bodies sleep. There is no such thing as soul sleep. The soul of man will never enter into a state of unconsciousness.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).