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Christian Believers...Asleep or in Heaven after Death?

      Violet flowers Lakewood                 

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© - 2014 Stanton O. Berg

Why are Christian believers said to be "asleep" or "fallen asleep" after death instead of being in heaven…or are their spirits or souls in heaven while their earthly body is asleep?

I want to believe that my wife June and my son David’s soul and spirit both immediately went to heaven when the death of their earthly bodies took place…While their earthly bodies now lay close to one another at Lakewood Cemetery, their souls and spirits are free and both as believers are in Heaven…

Sometimes the scripture may appear to be confusing on this issue but close examination shows that there really is no confusion nor conflict…Special happenings received as gifts from God in connection with or relationship to June would suggest that she is not only in Heaven, but very active in Heaven…

From the Bible we are told of when Jesus was hanging on the cross and one of the crucified malefactors nearby spoke to him and how Jesus responded to him…

"And we indeed justify; for we receive the due reward of our deeds, but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou commest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, verily, I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in Paradise."...Luke 23:41-43 (KJV)

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Reference is also made to:  1 Corinthians 15:51-53…(NKJV)...51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—...52  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed...53  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality...

"Death may seize a believer, but it cannot hold him in its power. How many springs of joy to the saints, and of thanksgiving to God, are opened by the death and resurrection, the sufferings and conquests of the Redeemer!"

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The Spirit or Soul Goes Directly to Heaven

These Bible passages suggest rather clearly that believers go directly to  heaven…we also see Bible references to sleeping and later resurrection…what really does happen at the time of death of a Christian believer…

There are a number of sleep references:

“These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.”   John 11:11-14 (KJV)

“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,  Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.  Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do…1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 (KJV)

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept”…1 Corinthians 15:20 (KJV)

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I am reminded of the first bedtime prayer that my Mother Ellen taught me when I was about age 5. Whenever my mother would put me to bed or lay me down for a nap, she would have me recite this prayer:

“Now I lay me down to sleep.

I pray the Lord my Soul to keep.

If I should die before I wake…

I pray the Lord my Soul to Take.”

Although I did not know at the time, I now find out that this little prayer originated in the 18th Century and came from the famous “New England Primer.”

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The physical Body Sleeps

The Bible uses the terms "asleep" or "sleeping" when it is referring to the physical body of the believer at death. This term is reserved for Christian believers. Physically the dead body appears to be asleep when it is separated at death from the spirit and soul of the believer. The spirit and soul, which are said to be eternal, are united with Christ at the moment of the believer's death…

“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord”…(2 Corinthians 5:8 (KJV)

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The body of the Christian believer is mortal flesh that perishes or "sleeps" at death until that day of final resurrection, when it is transformed and reunited to the Christian believer’s soul and spirit in Heaven.

“Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself”… Philippians 3:21 (KJV)

“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality”…1 Corinthians 15:50-53 (KJV)

And on that resurrection day as promised in the scriptures, all believers …and both June and David will
have new and healthy bodies to match their million dollar smiles…David will no longer have a cancer malignant body and June no longer an Alzheimer’s ravaged brain…

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, behold, I make all things new”…Revelation 21: 4-5 (KJV)

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God's Love

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The Bible book of John tells of Heaven as being a home where prepared places await all believers and such prepared places are described as mansions…:

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”   John 14:2-3 (KJV)

The assurance of the defeat of death is also found in the book of John…

 “Jesus said…, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die…John 11: 25-26 (KJV)

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We need to think of our loved ones who have passed on as residing in one of God’s Mansions prepared for them by Jesus and that when they arrive they arrived as expected new residents into that Gloryland called “Heaven”.

The Bishop John Charles Ryle (Liverpool, UK) talks about all who enter Heaven are neither unknown nor unexpected…

 “Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people, and those who enter shall find that they are neither unknown or unexpected.”

Bishop John Charles Ryle

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 Bishop John Ryle

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Bishop Ryle did most of his work in the late 1800’s…he passed on to his Mansion in 1900. (The Bishop John Charles Ryle was noted as the first Anglican Bishop of Liverpool. He received his education at Christ’s Church College at Oxford University

June and I both spent a week at Oxford University and resided in the student housing of Christ’s Church College…This was in the fall of 1984…long before June was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

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The Billy Graham Website had this very much in point discussion on 23 May 2014 -

Q: What happens to us in the first minute after we die? Do we enter heaven immediately, or do our souls go into some kind of a sleep until the end of time, when our souls and our bodies will be reunited? I've always had lots of questions about heaven.

A:  The Bible doesn’t answer all our questions about heaven and life after death – and the reason is because our minds are limited and heaven is far too glorious for us to understand. Some day, all of our questions will be answered – but not yet. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

However, the Bible certainly does indicate that when we die we enter immediately into God’s presence if we belong to Christ. From our earthly point of view, death looks somewhat like sleep – but not from God’s point of view. Paul declared, “We are confident (of eternal life), I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). Elsewhere he wrote, “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:23).

Later, we will be given new bodies – bodies that will never age or be subject to death, because they will be like Christ’s resurrection body. As the Bible says, “The dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52).

Is your hope in Christ? Death is a reality – but so is God’s offer of salvation in Christ. Don’t put off your decision for Him, because you could be called into eternity at any moment – and then it will be too late.

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The evangelist Billy Graham has been a lifetime favorite of June. It was June who introduced me to Billy Graham and he became a favorite of mine also…I recall well the time many years ago when the Billy Graham crusade came to Minneapolis. June and I were fortunate to be able to attend this crusade…it was also through June’s inspiration and love that my faltering faith was restored.

“We have three great enemies: sin, Satan and death. Because Christ rose from the dead we know that sin and death and Satan have been decisively defeated. And because Christ rose from the dead, we know that there is life after death, and if we belong to Him we need not fear death or Hell.”    Billy Graham

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Billy Graham

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Alzheimer's and Dementia - Forgetting God 

As Alzheimer's and other dementia diseases progress and the memory dims and fades away...what about God...Memory plays a key role in the relationship of Christian believers and their God. What happens to that memory dependent relationship when the victims of Alzheimer's and other memory affected diseases cause the victims to forget God. God assures us that nothing will separate us from the his love...Romans *:38-39 gives us that assurance.

Romans 8: 38-39 tells us: "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, ..Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus our Lord."

This tells us in effect that God will remember us even when we no longer remember God. This assurance is very important for the soul of the Alzheimer's victim in late stages because they will no longer remember God.

An in depth discussion of this subject can be found here on June's website. Just click the below link... 

 

"God and Alzlheimer's - Forgetting Whose We Are!

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Reader’s Comments

John Stevens  - Twin Falls, Idaho – (1 April 2014): “This is well presented Stan. I dare say your Pastor will not change a thing. I wouldn't. The last two line of a piece I wrote: "Oh Mary you are with your Son The Savior of the world."

David Glesne  - Fridley, Minnesota – (1 April 2014): “Stan, You have well embraced the biblical texts that address the question of what happens to the believer at the time of death. We believe the Scriptures teach that when the Christian dies, the body returns to the ground from which it came and the spirit returns to the Lord who gave it. Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” In other words, the promise is given that by the end of the Jewish day, by 6 o’clock that afternoon, the thief – his spirit - would be with Jesus in Paradise. Where is Jesus now? We are told he ascended back the Father and is now sitting as His right hand. So when the believer dies, his/her spirit goes to be with Jesus who is in the presence of God the Father. The body of the believer awaits the great resurrection day when Jesus will return and say to us “Arise, come forth” as Jesus himself said to Lazarus after his death. Lazarus’ resurrection from the dead back in history is a preview of our own coming resurrection in future history.” Blessings, Pastor Dave.”

Nancy Carrillo  - New Bedford, Massachusetts – (31 March 2014): “your wife and son are together watching over you.”

Debbie Larsen - Buffalo, Minnesota – (31 March 2014): “Beautiful , yes Stan I believe they are in Heaven.

Andrea Ward  - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – (31 March 2014): “No doubt about it! That is the unmerited gift to us from our Saviour Jesus Christ! Hallelujah! What joy it will be to be reunited! Woot!!!”

Cindy Jones  - Lake Jackson, Texas – (31 March 2014): “And they all said...AMEN!!!”

Victoria LeAnn  - Little Elm, Texas – (31 March 2014): “I very much enjoyed reading this and won't forget it! Your wife and son are in Heaven as are my mother, father, and brother! We will see them again!”

Bonnie Seip  - Ottsville, Pennsylvania – (31 March 2014): “I myself believe in this too, Mr. Berg . Thank you for sharing this with us all who believe ..”.

Pam Goodwin  - Perth, Western Australia – (1 April 2014): “I have been incredibly blessed in this life since I was young to be able to see and hear those that have passed from this earth, I use this gift everyday to bring comfort to those who have lost loved ones and those who are terminally ill so that they may know that their loved ones await them. I understand that not everyone understands or believes in this but I for one certainly believe that our loved ones are beside us every day, hearing our every heartbeat and loving us unconditionally. We all can connect at some level as we all have a spirit or a soul, it is only our physical body that sleeps.”

Jackie Taylor – Spring   Hill, Florida - (1 April 2014): “At the end of every day I would ask my beloved wife, Marilyn...."are you happy?" She would smile and say "yes". When she passed away, I found myself looking up and asking again...."are you happy?" I did this for days and sometimes even shouting the question. Then one day I received a card. It was the last card I received. I opened it and the first words I read were these: "I am home in Heaven dear one, Oh, so HAPPY and so bright! There is perfect joy and beauty in this everlasting light." I had gotten my answer. It went on to describe what Heaven is like and in the last part of the message, she had a word for me that brought me to tears: "There is still work waiting for you, so you must idly stand, Do it now, while life remaineth you shall rest in Jesus' hand…When that work is all completed, He will gently call you Home, Oh, the rapture of that meeting, Oh, the joy to see you come!”

Marsha McKneely Ault  - Nacogdoches, Texas – (1 April 2014): “Stan. here is a poem that I wrote when my brother Danny died in December…

 My Brother Sleeps
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His eyes are closed.
His heart does not beat.
His ears are deaf.
His voice is silent.
His arms do not wrap about me
to lift me off my feet.
His legs do not walk.
He is so very still.
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And yet. . .
even though his body rests,
the Spirit testifies to me
in a realm not far away
his soul’s awake and lives!
Hallelujah, my God, my King!
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In a coming day
his arms will wrap about me
and lift me off my feet.

Tracey Bressler Muldowney  - Pensacola, Florida – (1 April 2014): ‘Thanks for sharing Mr Berg. These verses give me comfort in knowing 1) my dad is no longer suffering in his earthly body betrayed by the loss of his mind and health.. And 2) that I KNOW I will see him again someday…Blessings to you and your family. I'm not sure you're aware of how many of us that call you friend and family on Facebook are lifted and touched by your experience, strength and hope when you share…”

Elaine Wharmby  - Tamworth, United   Kingdom – (1 April 2014): “like to think of them as sleeping waiting until we join them again in heaven, I find "dead" to be a hard word.”

Maura - Buddy Bear  - Dublin, Ireland – (1 April 2014): “I firmly believe my father & grandmother are in Heaven, & they are watching over my mother & my sisters and I. This strong belief keeps me going.”

Kevin Smiley  - North Augusta, South Carolina - (3 April 2014): "This is so hard for some to understand, but you put this in language that can not be disputed.  I enjoyed it very much!"

Louise Ann Howard  - Batemans Bay, New South Wales, United Kingdom - (4 April 2014): "Believe our faith lives on forever even if the mind goes."

 

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June's Passing

June 1994

After an almost 12 year journey into the shadows of Alzheimer's, early one morning in late October 2008, an exhausted June felt God's gentle touch on her shoulder and heard the words: "Come Home June!" As June lay like a wounded soldier on a battlefield, it was God's Angels that ushered June into a Heavenly Kingdom to the sound of a chorus of Angels...and into June's new home, a "Mansion on the Hilltop", where there is no pain, nor illness nor tears...June's funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website in the drop down menu under the "In Memoriam" label - just Click on:

"June K. (Rolstad) Berg - In Memoriam"