SLEEP AND ETERNAL LIFE
Sleep is a beautiful illustration of death. It is like going to bed at night, when we are tired, with assurance of waking in the morning. This takes the fear our of death for the Christian. They lie down to sleep – with the quiet assurance that Jesus will awaken them in the morning of the resurrection at His second coming.
Death is called “sleep” at least fifty times in the Bible. We are to regard it as a sound, dreamless sleep. A person may have been in the tomb 1000 years, but when raised at the resurrection it will seem to him that he merely dozed off for a moment. When angels meet God’s resurrected saints at their gravesides, Matthew 24:31, it will be like a loving mother greeting her child after a brief nap.
Man is not immortal. He is subject to death. But God’s people do, indeed, have eternal life now. Eternal life is that miraculous, new, Jesus-filled life, which begins at conversion and will be continued in heaven. God’s promise is that His faithful people, who now have eternal life, will not suffer the second death, Revelation 2:11, from which there is no resurrection. The first death, which all must die, does not remove the gift of eternal life. It only interrupts it while the saints sleep briefly. It continues in heaven after the resurrection.