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With one exception, the passages of the Scripture which reveal the nature of death are in agreement that in death there is no activity and no consciousness; death is portrayed as a dreamless sleep from which the individual is awakened by the Resurrection.  Even the Apostle Paul speaks of Christians who, in death, are asleep, I Thessalonians 4:13-15.

But in II Corinthians 5:6-8, Paul says that while the Christian is "at home in the body" he is "absent from the Lord," and Paul expresses willingness "to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord," and confidence that such shall his own status upon death.  Protestants commonly construe these words of the Apostle as a portrayal of an immediate transition from the present life into a state of conscious existence in Heaven.  But such an interpretation, flying as it does in the face of passages of the Scripture, the interpretation of which is unmistakable, cannot be correct, for Scripture does not contradict Scripture, John 10:35.  How, then, are these words of Paul to be interpreted?

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The resolution is simple.  When awakened from a deep sleep, the individual has no awareness of the passage of time; so also is the Resurrection, which is an awakening from the state of death.  Consciousness ceases upon death, and resumes upon resurrection.  Though some of those who are raised from the dead shall have lain asleep in the Grave for thousands of years, in the unconsciousness of death they cannot perceive the passing of hours, of days, of seasons, of years, and of millennia.  Paul, in a state of considerable physical suffering due to injury and deprivation, II Corinthians 11:23-28, longs for the release of death; for, at the next moment of consciousness, he shall be with the Lord, as one of the many who, by the Lord Christ himself, are awakened and raised from the dead.
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