Resurrection Hope: Advantages of this Doctrine

Resurrection Hope, by David A. Dean, Advent Christian General Conference, 1992, p. 73-74.

“Few doctrines are filled with more practical consequences than the biblical teaching that all the dead are asleep or unconscious.

First, the “sleep of the dead” guarantees that proper prominence will be given to the great truth of the resurrection of the dead.

Since the dead are asleep they can receive neither reward nor punishment until they are raised. The teaching that the saints go immediately to heaven at death tends to depreciate the value and need of the resurrection of the body. It is not the location of the dead, whether they are in heaven or in the ground, that is the major issue. The key question is the condition of the dead, that is, do they know where they are, or are they unconscious of all matters?

Second, the “sleep of the dead” brings comfort to those who remain. the believer who is dead “sleeps in Jesus” and is in the care and keeping of his saviour until the resurrection morning. The dead have neither ceased to exist eternally nor have they gone to their reward. Rather they rest in Christ’s keeping awaiting His return.

A third advantage is that the “sleep of the dead” means that all Christians of human history are only one life time away from Christ’s return. Time, to one who sleeps in death, is not time because its passage is not felt. One moment, or one year, or ten thousnd years, to him who sleeps throughout are all the very same. Each period is alike to the sleeper. It is as a moment of time, or rather as no time at all. He sleeps – he wakes. He knows nothing else when he wakes but that he has been asleep.

Either Christ will come before we die or the next moment of consciousness after physical death the Christian will hear the resurrection call of Christ. This doctrine makes every generation equally close to Christ’s second coming.

Finally, the ┬átruth of the “sleep of the dead ” provides a strong refutation of many prevalent false ideas today. The current emphasis on the occult and upon communicating with the dead is cut off at the roots if the dead are asleep. We need not wonder whether the ghosts of the dead are haunting us. And we need not mourn that those who are dead are hurt by our actions here and now.”

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