Read: II Corinthians 5:1-10
Our teacher who instructs us in the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, wants us to understand not only what this confession means to us, but also that, preceding the resurrection of our bodies is what has been called “the intermediate state.”
This doctrine teaches that at the moment of our death, while our bodies go to the grave, our souls go immediately to heaven. These souls live in heaven until Christ comes again at the end of time. This doctrine is taught in this Lord’s Day in the words, “That not only my soul after this life shall be immediately taken up to Christ its Head . . .”
This doctrine has been a great blessing to God’s people, not only as they look ahead to the time when they must die, but also when they must carry one they love dearly to the cemetery.
There are many who deny this truth, however. These teach a sort of soul sleep; that is, that when we die, our souls go to sleep, and sleep until Christ comes again when they are wakened to be joined with their bodies.
But Scripture is clear that this is not the case.
Solomon describes old age in Eccles.12:1 - 7 and ends his picturesque description of old age with the words: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”
Christ tells the thief on the cross when he repented of his sin and asked the Lord to remember him when the Lord came to his kingdom: “To day shalt thou be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Christ promised the repentant thief that he would be in heaven with the Lord. Christ’s spirit went to God as he says in his last word on the cross: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).
In Rev 6:9 - 11, we are told that when the fifth seal is opened, John “saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”.
Finally, in II Cor 5:1 we read this: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
Paul does not say, “We will have” some day a house not made with hands; he says, at that moment when our earthly house is dissolved, we do have a house not made with hands.
We look forward to heaven at the end of our pathway here in the world.