In Christian eschatology, the intermediate state or interim state refers to a person's existence between one's death and resurrection at Christ's return. This period is "intermediate" between death and the last judgment. I am focuses on the Protestant responses. I personally do not see purgatory or limbo states as a Biblically acceptable responses.
This post by no means is going to be very detailed. I am mostly wanting to ask a question and she what my audience thinks about the topic. What I think many Protestant Christians like to believe in "foretaste of final state." Basically this is the idea that when your body dies and returns to dust while the soul immediately separates from the dead body and goes to be in the presence of God while waiting for the resurrection, as is the explanation in the Westminster Confession. I personally grew up taught this way and never really challenged it or thought it through.
Although recently one of my good friends sat down with me and showed me some insightful Scriptures and shared some interesting thoughts on another possibility called Psychopannychism or "Soul sleep." This is the idea that once the body dies the soul is in an unconsciousness sleep mode from the time of physical death till the time of the resurrection. Basically time is suspended for that soul until they are resurrected or in some rare cases "awoken." A few examples of souls awakening are:
1. 1 Sam 28 - King Saul consults a medium. The medium awakens Samuel.
2. The Transfiguration scene where Elijah and Moses are "awoken."
3. Jesus speaks of the physically dead: Lazarus (in Jn 11)and Jairus’s only daughter (in Lk. 8:52,53).
You see for Jesus they were not completely, entirely dead yet: not physically and spiritually. And so all those who have died since Adam sinned have been sleeping. Adam and Eve, Abraham, Noah, David, Daniel, Paul and the disciples, all the protestant reformers and martyrs have been asleep. They all are waiting for the voice of the Lord to come forth. John 3:13 says No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.
And this theory fits in line with 1 Thes. 4:13-18's explanation of the coming of the Lord and the resurrection of the dead.
So this leaves the question of: how do we explain the passages that suggest that the dead are immediately with the Lord in Heaven? First off it has to do with time being suspended for the physically dead soul. For the soul that is sleeping the time between his/her body's death and the resurrection of that body upon the Lord's return seems immediate. There is no lapse in time.
So my question is: how do you understand this idea of "intermediate state?" Does this bit on psychopannychism change your opinion on the matter at hand or do you think that souls go immediately to Heaven upon death?
Thank you for visiting. My name is Alex Dolin. I am a Christian Life Coach, a Professor of Biblical Studies, a future professionally licensed counselor and an ordained minister. I help people set realistically higher expectations, achieve more results and a better lifestyle. I offer many approaches to this, a few being: 1.) Professional Coaching, 2.) Pastoral Counseling, 3) Blogging, 4.) Public Speaking, and 5.) Preaching at scheduled events. Find me at AlexanderDolin.com