Recently I attended a memorial whereby the people were so sad stricken from the loss of their loved ones that they were consoling themselves with the idea that the guys are now in heaven looking down on us with their heavenly Father. Although I could understand the need to console oneself but I had one question bothering me, is death a gateway to heaven? Does God let us to be all miserable on this earth whilst the dead look upon us feeling sorry for us on high ? Whilst I understand there are many religions and understanding of death I tried to look at it from a protestant stand point. A stand point that uses the bible, and the bible alone to answer this question. So I do understand my conclusions may be different to those who use tradition, science or rational thinking but I think for those who believe in the Word ,it might be insightful.
So before we even go into the idea of death being a gateway to heaven let us define these two concepts first ; “death” and “heaven” .Romans 6:23 says death is the wages of sin. Ezekieal 18;4,23 also reaffirms that concept. For God told Adam and Eve that if they partake of the fruit they will die, in otherwords if they did hlisten to God’s word they will die. But that explains how death came about ,but how does the bible describe death? In John 11 : 11 -14 Christ compares death to sleep. When Lazarus had passed away he tells everyone that Lazarus is but asleep, the guys thought he meant it figuratively that he was not dead but he meant it literally that Lazarus was dead = sleep. Why does death = sleep will touch on that later on.1 Thessalonians 4 : 15,16
Then what is heaven? Heaven is a place where God is, a place of perfection. Isiah describes Heaven as place where the blind will see, the lame shall walk ,were a man shall build and not another inhabit, were a man shall plant and not another reap. A place were the lions shall eat grass and walk side by side with the lamb.( Isiah 35 : 3-60, Isiah 65 :21 -23) .A place were Christ is busy preparing a place for us to stay (John 14:1-3), a place where Christ is working just like the high priest of old intercessing on our behalf ( Daniel 7;9,10 : Ecclesiastes 12: 13,14 ;Hebrews 7:24,25)
Now coming back to the idea that death is like sleep, what does the bible say on this concept. Those who are asleep are not aware of their surrounding, or even of themselves and they await a time when they shall wake. So it is with the dead. Daniel 12 : 2 says “ 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”. Paul puts the issue of death quiet plainly in 1 Thessalonians 4 : 13 -17 “ But I would not want you to be ignorant, concerning them that are asleep, that ye sorrow not as those who don’t have hope. For 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 them which are asleep.For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God : and the dead in Christ shall rise first”
So if the dead ,or those who are sleep,are awaiting the second coming of Christ, some to wake to everlasting joy by meeting him in the sky going heavenbound. Where is the consiousness of the dead now? Psalm 146 :3,4 says the very day the person dies ‘his thoughts perish”. The dead do not know anything, their love, hatred, envy is dead with them and have no say in what happens in the world of the living(Ecclesiastes 9;5,6), They don’t even praise the Lord! (Psalm 115:17)
So if the dead are not heaven praising the Lord then are the lost forever? Christ says “ I have come so that they might have life and life more abundantly John 10 :10. Those who die in Christ,or believe in him have the blest hope that on that great day when he comes for the second time, not as a lamb that takes away the sin of the world but as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, they will rise from dead and meet him in the clouds to go to be with him in heaven. (1 Thessalonians 4:14 -18). The deception of an eternal spirit or a life after death comes from Lucifer himself, for did he not tell Adam and Eve that they shall not “surely die”, whilst God has said the reward of sin is death. Shall we make God a liar? Let’s hold onto the free gift that God has given us,for in one man the world was condemned and in one man the world will be saved. What profited a man to have all the riches of the world and loose his soul. Let’s hold onto Christ , for his the way the trueth and the light and the only path to immortality and happiness. Let’s listen to His Word .