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The Intermediate State of the Disembodied Soul and Spirit PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Montgomery   

Here are seven points that I can give to prove that the souls and spirits of the Elect whose bodies have died are alive, awake, and aware.

First, I think we both agree that the scriptures teach that in the death of the body that the soul and spirit of the Elect goes immediately to God. Further, it is provable in scripture that the soul and spirit of the Elect goes to Heaven and stays there awaiting the resurrection of its body. See Eccl 3:21; 12:7; 2 Cor 5:8; Php 1:23. Notice especially 2 Cor 5:8, "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord."

Second, we know the scriptures to teach that God is not the God of the dead but the God of the living (Mt 22:32). He is still the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and this means that they are alive. Of course, we know their bodies are dead, so we know there souls and spirits are still alive and that their souls and spirits are now in Heaven. The scriptures say, “For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.” (Lu 20:38) Notice, this verse say all live meaning they never die but stay alive even at the death of the body. Rachel's soul did not die when her body died as a result of giving birth to Benjamin. It says (Ge 35:18) that "as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin."

Third, we know the scriptures do not teach that the soul and spirit of the Elect sleeps when the body dies, so it is not only alive but also awake while it is in Heaven, even prior to the time of the body’s resurrection. The only thing of the Elect that sleeps is the body. When the body dies, it said to be asleep, but nowhere do the scriptures teach that the soul and spirit sleeps. It must then be awake, even after the death of the body. The only thing of the Elect that will be awakened is the body. David said (Ps 17:5) that he would be satisfied when he awakened in the Lord’s likeness. Surely he is not speaking of his soul and spirit but only of his body’s resurrection.

Fourth, the Apostle Paul spoke of an experience (2 Cor 12:2-4) of someone (which I believe was in fact himself) that was caught up into the third heaven, which he further identifies as paradise. Of course, he says he doesn ’t know whether this was “an out of body experience” but it could have been. Regardless, it was an experience in which he was very much aware of what was happening when it happened and certainly was able to remember it long after it happened. I think that this proves that the spirit and soul of man is not only alive and awake but also aware when it is separated from its body. How much more so the soul and spirit of the Elect when it is separated from the body at the point of the body’s death and makes its flight to god in heaven?

Fifth, the regenerated soul and spirit of the Elect longs for one thing and for one thing only and that is to set free from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Rom 8:21)  The Apostle Paul told the Philippians, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.” (Php 1:21-23) It’s not better just because we are no longer in a sin-cursed body on a sin-cursed world but what really makes it better is that when your body dies, your soul and spirit goes to Jesus and this must mean that the soul and spirit has communion and fellowship with Him in a way that is just not possible while in its body. And this communion and fellowship obviously happens before the resurrection of the body. Why else would your inner man long for it?

Sixth, Heaven is paradise. God’s throne is there. Christ reigns there. Angels minister there. Where the Spirit of God is, there is liberty. In a place of indescribable joy and liberty, does it make sense that the soul and spirit of the Elect will not be alive, awake, and aware? When John (while on the Isle of Patmos) was in the spirit on the Lord's day (Rev 1:10), he heard and saw and learned great and amazing things. I don't think that this was an out of body experience, like maybe the Apostle Paul's was (see my fourth point above), but it surely proves that when one is "in the spirit" that there is a heightened sense of awareness unlike what one experiences when not in the spirit. How much more so in Heaven for the disembodied soul and spirit of the Elect saint where he will truly be "in the spirit" unlike anytime while his body was alive?

Seventh, even if you do not believe that the story of the rich man and Lazarus is speaking of an actual occurrence, you have to admit that the Lord uses it in such a way as to plainly indicate that He believed that the soul and spirit of the Elect is alive, awake, and aware in Heaven and the soul and spirit of the wicked is alive, awake, and aware in Hell. Abraham’s Bosom was (at that time) a well-known Jewish metaphor for Heaven. Obviously, more is being taught than the condition of one Elect saint and one Wicked reprobate after the deaths of their bodies, but at the very least, it is teaching that there is a place of bliss and joy that the soul and spirit of the Elect goes and there is a place of misery and woe that the soul and spirit of the Non-elect goes.

Mike Montgomery

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