When Christians die...
I have recently been confronted with the notion that when Christians die, they do not go to be with the Lord in heaven, but because once they are outside the body they are no longer subject to time, they instantly are resurrected on the day of resurrection some time in the future. So no time passes for them outside of the body after death and before the day of resurrection, and even though tens, hundreds or thousands of years have passed on the earth between their death and resurrection, no time at all has passed for them.
It seems to me that this is more like the kind of time travel one would read about in the science fiction of H G Wells than in the Bible; but my viewpoint, and yours, are irrelevant. What does the Bible say about it? Before I go into detail on this, here are some bullet points as a summary.
Moses and Elijah met with Jesus at His transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–3), which would have been impossible had there been no existence after physical death. Elijah was taken alive up into heaven; but Moses certainly died (Deuteronomy 34:5–7)
Jesus taught of consciousness in a literal existence immediately after physical death (Luke 16:19–31 – the rich man and Lazarus)
He told the thief on the cross he would be with Him in Paradise that same day (Luke 23:43)
He said regarding Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in relation to the resurrection, that God is the God of the living not the dead (Matthew 22:31–32); but obviously if they did not exist at the moment He was speaking then He would be the God of the dead until the resurrection; so clearly He was basing the assurance of their resurrection on their continued existence living in heaven.
The Bible says it actually was Samuel who came to Saul via the witch of Endor after his death (1 Samuel 28:8–20) This activity was forbidden by God, of course, but this does not mean it was impossible, which it would have been had Samuel's existence ceased at his death.
Paul said that his death would mean He would be with Christ (Philippians 1:21–24)
We see a vast number of martyrs in heaven, before the day of resurrection while life continues on earth (Revelation 7:9–17)
There have been many examples of people having out of body experiences and/or near death experiences in the past few decades, who have described going to heaven and seeing there people who have died: and while we do not take our theology from anywhere but the Bible, when we come across corroborating experiences like these they must surely be confirmation that the understanding those who die have continued existence is correct. If it was only one person, then it could be considered an aberration; but when many share the same experience it has to be taken seriously.
Even if there was nothing else, the words of Jesus alone are enough to prove that the dead continue to have conscious existence; but there is far more evidence than that. I have met two people who died and went to heaven before coming back to life, and I have read of quite a few more.
Those who claim there is no existence after death until the resurrection often quote:
But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.
However, context is everything, and the context is:
The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. “Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher; "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
How many Christians would agree that everything is vanity? Strong's definition of that word is:
From H1891; emptiness or vanity; figuratively something transitory and unsatisfactory; often used as an adverb: - X altogether, vain, vanity.
(Strong's Hebrew Dictionary)
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Therefore all things cannot possibly be vanity. Clearly, Solomon was looking purely at this present life without regard for what follows it, as can be seen by his comment that the memory of the dead is forgotten - they may be forgotten by people on earth, but are certainly not forgotten in heaven. A dead body is exactly as he described; but the spirit and soul after leaving the body continues to exist as is shown by the scriptures in the bulleted list near the start of this page.
However, we must look at what else Solomon said:
Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day; for surely there is a hereafter, and your hope will not be cut off.
The Hebrew word translated ‘hereafter’ appears 61 times and mostly refers to the very end of something.
'achӑrîyth; akh-ar-eeth'; From H310; the last or end, hence the future; also posterity: - (last, latter) end (time), hinder (utter) -most, length, posterity, remnant, residue, reward. Total KJV occurrences: 61 (Strong’s Hebrew dictionary)
Therefore it could be argued Solomon was just referring to the end of this life; but then he also said,
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
If God has put eternity in our hearts, then there must be something in us that is eternal, otherwise the phrase is meaningless. Therefore he accepted that there is existence after death, and in that case ‘the very end’, or ‘hereafter’ in Proverbs 23:18, must refer to that. So it is clear he was purely looking at things that take place in this life in Ecclesiastes, and pointing out the futility of it all when the eternity that is in our hearts is ignored.
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 4:13–14
The New Testament frequently refers to death as ‘sleep’, and just as when the body is ‘dead to the world’ when we are asleep but our minds can be active in dreaming, so when death has occurred and our bodies are asleep, our minds (our souls) are still alive and with the Lord. They must be with the Lord because according to the above scripture Jesus will bring with Him those who sleep when He returns to earth, and if they are not with Him He can’t bring them with Him! If those who are 'asleep' in death are not in heaven, then it is impossible for God to bring them with Jesus when He comes to earth. Since Jesus comes from heaven to earth on this occasion, then they must also be in heaven in order for them to come with Him.
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:15–18
Obviously then, the order of events is that Jesus will bring with Him to earth those who have died, who then return to their ‘tents’ (to quote the description Peter and Paul use for the body), rise from their graves and, along with those who are still alive, are caught up into the clouds to be with Him and remain with Him for eternity.
It is very obvious from this that their bodies are 'asleep' on earth, while their souls and spirits are conscious in heaven, and when God brings them with Jesus, they re-inhabit their bodies (their 'tents'). As Matthew Henry puts it:
Their souls are in his presence, and their dust is under his care and power…
If we can only have existence as a physical body, which is Jehovah's Witnesses' heresy, then the following scriptures make no sense:
Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me.
2 Peter 1:13–14
If Peter is going to put off his body, then he is going to have existence outside of his body!
For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.
2 Corinthians 5:1–4
So there is an eternal 'house' in the heavens to which we go and with which we are clothed when we die. I am not sure exactly what this 'habitation from heaven' consists of, but my assumption is it relates to the spiritual realm and is a 'spirit body' that will inhabit the physical body at the resurrection and transform it into a spiritual body too. As Paul says:
So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
1 Corinthians 15:42–49
“As is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly:” so while most of this passage relates to the body that has died and is then resurrected, the part of our being that ‘puts off the tent’ (as Peter said) is from heaven, because the heavenly Man is from heaven and as He is, so are we!
To confirm this, Paul says:
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.
He either lives in the flesh, or he departs from it and is then with Christ; so having departed from the flesh he is therefore not in his body at this time. He repeats in his epistle to the Corinthians that when we are absent from the body we are present with the Lord:
So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:6–8
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:16
So there is an outward man, which clearly is the physical body, and an inward man. And it is therefore this inward man that becomes present with the Lord when it is absented from the body.
Furthermore, Paul says:
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago-whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows-such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man-whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows-how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
2 Corinthians 12:2–4
Some people (myself included) think this is Paul obliquely referring to himself here; but the identity of the man is unimportant. The fact is Paul makes it clear that a person can be out of the body and caught up into heaven - Paradise, which is where Jesus promised the thief on the cross he would be on the day he died - and be conscious while away from the body. Paradise is also seen in John's revelation:
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." '
If the out-of-body experience of 2 Corinthians 12 can be true while the body is still living it must equally be true when it dies. In fact it is also my belief that when John says…
I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day,
…he is referring to the same thing and is how he was able to go up into heaven.
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this." Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.
I know most Bible translations capitalise the word spirit (as above) to make it mean the Holy Spirit, but my feeling is that he was saying here that he had an out of body experience and was not in the flesh (or in the body) but in the spirit, just as Paul said could have happened in 2 Corinthians 12.
More words of Jesus
Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die."
But according to the theory with which I began this page, the souls of those who die are instantly transported to the day of resurrection and therefore no longer exist in time from the moment they die until they are resurrected. Therefore, during this time they are completely dead - they do not exist - which contradicts the above verse that says those who believe in Jesus will never die. This statement of Jesus can only be true if the inward man continues to live after the body has died, which must surely be what Jesus was saying when He said, "Though he may die, he shall live."
This cannot mean 'he shall live again after the resurrection' because He said "Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die," and if Christians live and believe in Jesus, which is surely a definition of Christians, then they are a part of the 'whoever' and will therefore never die. Since our bodies are certainly going to die unless the Lord returns first, the only way we could never die would be for our inward man to continue to live from the time the body has ceased to breathe until the day of resurrection.
If we can have no existence outside of the body, then what does this say about Jesus, who became fully human at His incarnation? See later regarding the tri-partite nature of man; but since humans have a spirit, then it follows that the spirit of Jesus was His God nature; but His soul and body were fully human because He laid down everything He had been prior to being born as a baby:
…who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
So He was fully man and fully God at the same time.
According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses teaching He ceased to exist at His death because they say someone who is fully human cannot exist outside of the body; but according to Peter, by the power of the Holy Spirit, He went to, and communicated with, those who had died many centuries earlier - proving that they continued to have consciousness:
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.
1 Peter 3:18–20
There may be a quibble regarding whether those spirits in prison were human spirits or evil spirits (i.e. devils - fallen angels), but either way this took place after Jesus' death and before His resurrection when He reassumed everything He had laid aside when He became a man:
And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
Luke 16:19–31 describes what Jesus said regarding the rich man and Lazarus, both of whom died. The main point of His narrative was that the rich man was suffering where he ended up and wanted Lazarus to go to tell his brothers what awaited them if they didn't repent - proving that the dead do have conscious existence before the resurrection. For the sake of space I shall not include the full passage, but here are key verses from it:
So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom… "Then he said, 'I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.' … But he said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.' "
Luke 16:22, 23, 27, 28, 31
I find it impossible to understand how anyone can read this and interpret into it anything other than what Jesus very clearly was saying - when we die, before the resurrection there is a division between the righteous and unrighteous and a conscious existence in the place in which we find ourselves as a result of the choices made in this life. How much clearer could it be? (See here for how to make the most important choice of all.)
Luke 8:40-56 and the account of the raising of Jairus's daughter:
Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately. And He commanded that she be given something to eat.
If her spirit returned to her, where did it return from? Most of the translations I have either use that word, or say "came back to her," so I don't think there is any doubt about the translation. This means it must have gone somewhere when she died; and as the scriptures show, for the believer that is with the Lord.
What is man?
And woman too, of course - this is a reference to David’s psalm:
What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?
This leads me to ask: if the claim is that consciousness ceases at death, then what happens to the spirit and soul - or does this theory include the JW claim that humans only consist of a physical body and they do not have a soul - they 'are a soul' and the word simply refers to a living human body - and the spirit simply refers to the breath?
There are many scriptures showing that the heart of our being is a spirit, just as God is a spirit and angels and devils are spirits, and this spirit occupies a soul that includes our mind, will and emotions, which resides in a physical body. So we are tri-partite, just as God is tri-partite (or a Trinity, to use the more common expression), which is what one would expect since He created Adam and Eve in His image. This is proved by the following verse that shows clearly the tri-partite nature of humans:
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:23
So at death, is the claim that the spirit and soul simply snuff out like the flame of a candle until the day of resurrection? They can't continue to hang around the dead body, which ultimately disintegrates, so they must just disappear; but this is contradicted by so many scriptures it is quite clearly not the case. I remember many years ago (at least 50 years!) being very impressed by Watchman Nee's three-volume study, 'The Spiritual Man', that goes quite deeply into the nature of humans from the scriptures. I must read it again some time.
It was suggested to me that I view a YouTube clip by Jacob Prasch regarding what happens after death. I found it rather a mixture, but it raises some relevant points, so I include my comments on it here. The numbers after the quotes are of course, the minutes and seconds into the talk that the quote begins. In his talk:
"Jesus told the good thief, 'This hour you will be with me in paradise.' Paul says we go to be with the Lord, in the conscious presence of the Lord."
That is confirmation of my point that at death we go to be with the Lord; so we don’t flip off in time travel to the day of resurrection.
However, in saying that after death we no longer experience time, he says you can dream of past, present and future events, and they're all the same when you dream, and since death is spoken of as sleep in the Bible, it's the same thing when we die.
"So when we enter eternity, past, present and future are all the same."
But those events are not happening when you dream - they are just thoughts and memories, so you can't possibly use that as evidence regarding actual events as they take place one after another in real life and claim they all happen at the same time.
He quotes Jesus being slain from before the foundation of the world and then says,
"John sees future events, he sees past events and he sees what was to him current events all happening simultaneously."
If John was seeing future events, then everything in the book of Revelation is a description of the things he saw taking place on the earth and therefore is intended to be understood literally. Very few Christians would agree with that, because there certainly is not going to be a seven-headed beast with ten horns walking around the earth, for example. So John had not been transported forward in time to see future events, but these were visions God gave to him while he was in heaven, in the same way that He gave Daniel visions of future events, and while from the context some is certainly intended to be understood literally, equally some is symbolic.
He tries to make a distinction between the passage of time and the passage of events, but this is splitting hairs. Regarding the Greek language, he says,
"Chronos and kairos. Chronos is where we get the word chronology - an order of events. kairos is like a clock, a watch. In eternity, eternity is not a clock that keeps going. It's no clock at all… There is no kairos in eternity. But there is chronos; there is an order of events."
However, Strong’s Greek dictionary defines those two words thus:
Chronos; G5550; khron'-os Of uncertain derivation; a space of time (in genitive case, and thus properly distinguished from G2540, which designates a fixed or special occasion; and from G165, which denotes a particular period) or interval; by extension an individual opportunity; by implication delay: - + years old, season, space, (X often-) time (-s), (a) while. Total KJV occurrences: 53
The first time it appears is:
Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared.
Kairos; G2540; kahee-ros' Of uncertain affinity; an occasion, that is, set or proper time: - X always, opportunity, (convenient, due) season, (due, short, while) time, a while. Compare G5550. Total KJV occurrences: 86
The first time this appears is:
And suddenly they cried out, saying, "What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?"
In both examples I have given, they are typical of the use of the words in the New Testament. So it appears to me his definition is not entirely accurate. An order of events means one event has taken place after another, so they cannot have happened at the same moment. God is certainly outside of time because:
But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
2 Peter 3:8
One day is as a thousand years and vice versa with Him; but we are not God and His power and ability is not ours.
Of course, this is the problem we have, because it is impossible for those who have only experienced time in a physical sphere to understand fully a totally different sphere where an eternal Being has always existed without a beginning. So my thoughts on time in this page are just as likely to be wrong as anyone else’s because immortality is outside of the understanding of a mortal man.
Furthermore, in the Bible, time is (or events are) shown to be passing at the same rate in heaven as on earth. What is time? It is simply a succession of events - one thing happens, then another thing happens afterwards. So if there is an order of events in heaven, as the speaker said is the case, then whether you call it ‘time’ or something else it is still the case that if ‘a’ happened, then ‘b’ then ‘c’ then ‘d’, the point at which ‘a’ happened is further away from ‘d’ than ‘c’ is! Also, when ‘c’ is happening, this is after ‘a’ and ‘b’ and before ‘d’; therefore there is past, present and future, which is a definition of time. To prove this we see different things happening in heaven when things happen on earth, and these examples are those that spring to mind:
Satan came to tempt Adam and Eve after they were created (Genesis 3:1-5). It is generally accepted that the serpent was inhabited by Satan because of the prophecy:
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."
In Genesis 6:1–4, when the sons of God saw the beauty of human women they took human form to marry them. Job 1:6; 2:1 shows that the sons of God are spirit beings – see later.
…that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.
During Job's lifetime when the sons of God came before Him, He pointed out his righteousness to Satan in Job 1:6–12. Then later, God showed them Job's continued righteousness in spite of what Satan had done, seen in Job 2:1–7.
Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?" … Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD... Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause."
Job 1:8; 2:1, 3
The evil of Ahab brings about the following event in heaven:
Then Micaiah said, "Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing on His right hand and His left. And the LORD said, 'Who will persuade Ahab king of Israel to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?' So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, 'I will persuade him.' The LORD said to him, 'In what way?' So he said, 'I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.' And the LORD said, 'You shall persuade him and also prevail; go out and do so.'
2 Chronicles 18:18–21
During the whole of the time in the earth's history that children have existed, the following has been taking place in heaven:
Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.
When Jesus went to fast in the wilderness, Satan came to tempt Him in Matthew 4:3–11
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
The church reveals to the spirit beings in heaven God's wisdom:
to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places
I know of no scripture that says time does not exist in heaven! It is true the old hymn (which I have sung and played many times) says…
When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more,
And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair;
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there.
…but where does it say “time shall be no more” in the Bible? Certainly eternity continues forever, but according to the laws of physics, for matter to be able to exist, time must also exist; or to put it another way, just as three dimensions are an integral part of matter, so is time, without which it could not be there. Everything must have a past, present and future in order for it to exist: if you go back to before something began it has no more past and therefore doesn’t exist, while if you go forward to where it has ceased to exist it has no more future. We are going to have physical bodies for eternity - bodies that never grow old or experience, pain, sickness and death. Therefore we are going to be in time: time that lasts forever.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."
Of course, it could be argued that heaven is not a physical place, so the laws of physics in the physical realm do not apply. However, there are physical objects in heaven! Enoch and Elijah both went up into heaven in their physical bodies without dying.
And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.
Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
2 Kings 2:11
Jesus ascended into heaven with a physical body.
Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."
Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight… who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven." …and said, "Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!"
Acts 1:9, 11; 7:56
Where are they? They can’t just be floating around somewhere in space, so there must be some kind of physical place in the universe that is the location of the spiritual realm of heaven. Is it a planet?
The new Jerusalem that comes to the earth is a physical place and it comes out of heaven.
Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
What does all this mean? In my view it can only be that when God created the heavens and the earth in Genesis 1:1, some part of the physical realm ‘up there’ became linked with the spiritual realm. Many people believe Ezekiel 28:11–17 refers to Satan’s pre-fall experience, but this would mean “Eden, the garden of God” would have been in heaven.
You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created.
Therefore surely it is the case that just as the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven at the end of Revelation, so the garden of Eden came down from heaven and was ‘planted’ by God at the start of Genesis?
The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.
After the fall of Adam and Eve, initially entry was prevented by the cherubim with a sword but presumably at some point – perhaps just before the flood – it was moved to its present position:
So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." '
"The scriptures talk about sleep, not death."
It is a fact the Bible does not refer to death as the cessation of existence - it is the transfer of existence from one sphere to another. So Paul says we are dead in trespasses while our human life continues on earth, but when we are born again we become alive to God and enter heavenly places.
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins… even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
Ephesians 2:1, 5
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
…and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
Adam and Eve died the moment they sinned - not physically (that came later), but at that moment they were cut off from the realm in which they had been and became dead in sin, in the way Paul describes.
"When you go to sleep you wake up again. That's the resurrection. However, when you go to sleep your consciousness enters a different sphere. When you die… you will be in the conscious presence of Jesus. You will be with the Lord. Remember also when Stephen was martyred, he saw the Lord coming for him, to take him… Soul sleep is not a Biblical doctrine. It is completely unbiblical. It is the body that sleeps in the earth. No, we are not conscious of events taking place in time and space, as such, but we are certainly conscious of events taking place in eternity… Remember that heaven that exists now, it's not the heaven of all eternity. There will be a new heaven and a new earth… So don't confuse the heaven we go to now when we die with the heaven that we'll be with the Lord forever after the millennial reign of Christ. There's two different heavens."
3:00 (Emphasis mine)
So, according to that description, just as our minds dream while we sleep, then so our souls will be conscious while our bodies sleep in death. He says that when we die we go to be with the Lord in heaven, so clearly he does not accept the idea this page is written to refute - that when we die we do not go to heaven. He also says it is a different heaven from the one we'll be in after the millennial reign of Christ, so it is obviously the present heaven that exists at the present time to which he is referring.
If the theory is that when a person dies they are out of time and instantly transported to the day of resurrection, then it would have been impossible for Moses and Elijah to meet with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration, because they did not exist at that time. So did God 'stop them off' at that moment in order to do this? As I mentioned at the start, the kind of time travel in this concept is more like the science fiction one would read in H G Wells than anything found in the Bible! Furthermore, they could only have talked to Him about His experience to come (Luke 9:28–36) if they had come from God's presence in heaven.
And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
There is no verse in the Bible that says when humans die they are instantly taken out of time into the future to the day of resurrection, just as there is no verse in the Bible that says all living things gradually evolved over millions of years from a single living cell. So both the theory that those who die do not go to heaven and the theory of theistic evolution (the claim God created by means of evolutionary processes) are not Biblical but entirely a human construct; and the only way they can be maintained is by the tactic:
"When the Bible says 'x' it doesn't mean 'x', it means 'y'."
There is overwhelming scriptural evidence that falsifies both theories. There are other pages on this website that examine theistic evolution, for example here, here and here; but regarding heaven when we die:
Samuel came to Saul after his death 1 Samuel 28:8–20
Moses and Elijah met with Jesus at His transfiguration Matthew 17:1–3
Jesus said God is the God of the living not the dead Matthew 22:31–32
He said the rich man and Lazarus were conscious in heaven immediately after death Luke 16:19–31
He told the thief on the cross he would be with Him in Paradise that same day Luke 23:43
He said those who believe in Him will never die John 11:24–26
Jairus's daughter's spirit returned to her from somewhere when raised from the dead Luke 8:55
Paul said as the heavenly man will be coming from heaven, so will we be 1 Corinthians 15:42–49
He said we are clothed with a heavenly body when we die 2 Corinthians 5:1–4
He said when we are out of the body we are with the Lord 2 Corinthians 5:6–8
He said that his death would mean He would be with Christ Philippians 1:21–24
He said those who sleep are brought to earth by Jesus when He returns 1 Thessalonians 4:13–14
Peter said he would put off his tent, and therefore exist outside his body 2 Peter 1:13–14
There is a vast number of martyrs in heaven, before the day of resurrection while life continues on earth Revelation 7:9–17
We see events in heaven taking place at the same time as events on earth