Q. Some Christians believe that the spirit and soul go to heaven at the time of physical death. Others say that the spirit goes to heaven but the soul sleeps until the resurrection. I find this a confusing issue as I believe that the spirit and soul are in inseparable and both go to heaven. Is there Bible passages that clarify this?
A. I don’t believe the Bible gives us any reason to believe in the concept of soul sleep. Hebrews 4:12 says the Word of God can separate soul and spirit but it’s in the context of determining where our motives originate, not separation of the two upon death. I believe both go to heaven together and will receive a new physical body in the rapture (1 Thes.4:16).
To be honest, I’ve never understood the importance of this issue. To me it’s a holdover from the days before we learned that spiritual beings are not governed by time in the way physical beings are and don’t need a way to pass the time between their death and their resurrection. Paul said to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:6-8), and to me that means every part of us except for our physical body goes to be with the Lord at the time of our physical death.