Their bodies usually go into the ground, and they go back to the dust from whence they came. The spirit of man, on the other hand goes into an everlasting state, because spirits are immortal and cannot die. As I understand the Bible, at death those who are Christians go to be with the Lord, to a place of bliss called paradise. Those who are not Christians go to a place of suffering and torment called hell. They wait there for a final judgment, while those who are dead in Christ wait for their final rewards.
The Bible does not teach soul sleep. For example, Jesus told about a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus (see Luke 16:19-31). When he died, the beggar went to a place called Abraham’s bosom, where he was comforted by the patriarch Abraham and other Old Testament saints. When the rich man died he went to hell, or Hades. He asked Lazarus to come over and give him just a few drops of water, saying he was tormented in the flames. In this story we note that both men were conscious. They knew their own identity, and they recognized other people as well.
There was also some kind of torment. Since fire does not hurt spirits, it is possible that the fire may be symbolic (see Daniel 3:25-27). It could be the fire of remorse, of thinking what could have been, yet was missed. Hell is also pictured as outer darkness, where there is loneliness and weeping and gnashing of teeth (see Matthew 8:12). There are other references to a lake of fire (see Revelation 20:14-15). Whatever hell is, it consists of eternal and unending anguish apart from God and all that is good.
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