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The State of the Departed
2 Corinthians 5:1
Few subjects arouse greater interest than the state of the departed. This is a subject about which everyone is interested. We are interested in it personally, because we are all dying mortals. And we are interested in it because we all have loved ones whose bodies are buried beneath the earth. Where are those who sleep in Jesus before the resurrection? What is the condition of a redeemed soul when it leaves the body?
These are questions about which no one can be indifferent. I have searched the Scriptures and found some answers to these questions that I trust the Lord will be pleased to bless to your soul’s consolation and joy in Christ.
Blessed are the Dead
The wise man Solomon, after considering “all the oppressions that are done under the sun,” the tears of the oppressed in this world, the power of those who oppress, and the fact that there is no comfort for God’s saints in this world, said, “I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive” (Ecclesiastes 4:1-2). In the Book of Revelation, we read a similar statement. — “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord” (Revelation 14:13).
Yet, when we go to the funeral home and graveside to bid our loved ones good-bye, we are filled with sorrow and weeping. Why is that so? If the one God has taken is an unbeliever, the sorrow is understandable. Those who die in unbelief and sin die under the wrath of God. If our sorrow is the sorrow of parting loved ones and friends, it is reasonable. None of us like to part with cherished friends and loved ones, even temporarily. However, if the sorrow is the sorrow of those who have no hope, uncontrollable anguish, or even anger at God for having taken someone we love, I cannot understand that.
Such sorrow reveals both ignorance and unbelief, ignorance of the blessed state of God’s saints in heaven and unbelief regarding the Word of God, the promises of the gospel, and the finished work of Christ.
Our departed friends are alive and well. Though their bodies have died and lay in the earth, they are more alive than ever and full of happiness in heaven.
As we think about the wonders of immortality, our only source of information is the Word of God. Only the eternal God can unveil the mysteries of eternity. And the Word of God tells us plainly that the spirits of redeemed sinners, saved people, believers, immediately after death enter into heaven and into a state of eternal happiness (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
We are creatures of God made with immortal, undying souls. Though these bodies must die and rot in the earth like the brute beasts, our souls will exist forever. As soon as you die your soul will enter into a state of endless happiness or misery. Man does not die like a dog. When your dog dies, that is all there is to it. It ceases to be. But when you die, that is not all there is to it. Your soul lives on, not in a state of sleep, insensitivity, and inactivity, but in the fulness of life and consciousness.