(42) Another scripture sometimes quoted to prove that the righteous go to their eternal reward at death is Psalm 73:24,25: "You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Who do I have in heaven but you?..." We assume that the argument is that Asaph, the writer of this Psalm, went to heaven when he died. However, the first part of verse 23, which is often left out when quoted, states: "Nevertheless, I am continually with you." The thought is that Asaph was looking to Jehovah in this present life. Of course, Jehovah is in invisible realm of heaven, but nothing is said about Asaph going to heaven. It is stated that he would be received to glory. As Paul explains, there are many kinds of glory. (1 Corinthians 15:40,41) Being received into glory says nothing about that glory being in heaven. The glory to which Asaph will be received "afterward" is to the glory man lost but which will be restored in the resurrection. (Psalm 8:4-6; Hebrews 2:6-9) Again, those who want to cling to their traditions are simply grasping for scriptures into which they wish to "read" something that is not there.
(43) John 14:2 is often quoted as proof that Jesus' disciples go to be with him when they die, for they state that the Father's house is surely in heaven. While we agree that the Father's house was in heaven, Jesus stated that he was going to prepare a place for his followers. Evidently, he had in mind his immediate disciples there, who were called to be joint-heirs with him in the kingdom. (Romans 8:17) These, we understand, will sit with Jesus on the throne upon the heavenly Mount Zion. (Revelation 14:1; Hebrews 12:22) But they do not receive this inheritance until Jesus returns: "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:3) Thus Jesus did not tell them that when they die, they would be immediately taken to heaven to be with him. No, but he did tell them that they would be with him when he comes again. This is the first resurrection spoken of in Revelation 6. Again the traditionalists have not given any proof that the believer goes to heaven at death.
(44) Another scripture some present to show that the righteous go to their reward at death is Psalm 17:15, where David states: "As for me, I will look upon your face in righteousness. I will be satisfied, when I awake, with your likeness." Concerning this, we are told that the redeemed are beholding God's face in righteousness and are satisfied with seeing his form while they sleep.Again, the scripture says no such thing! David is speaking of the time when his soul will be awaken out of the sleep of death, that is, in the resurrection day. When David awakes from the sleep of death, he will be in the likeness of God, as Adam was before he sinned. (Genesis 1:26) David's looking upon Jehovah's face in righteousness pertains to his life before he died, not after death. (See Numbers 6:25; 2 Chronicles 30:9; Psalm 31:16; 67:1; 81:3,7,19; 119:135) There is nothing in Psalm 17:15 about what happens to the believer's soul or spirit at the instant of death nor of the condition of those in the sleep of death. Notice how those who wish to cling to Satan's lie grasp upon any phrase in the scriptures and take it out of its context to try to "prove" the lie that the dead are not really dead. -- Genesis 3:4.
John 17:24, Romans 8:18, 1 Corinthians 13:12,13; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:21,23; Hebrews 12:23; Revelation, chapters 4,5,7,12; Revelation 5:9; 14:3; 6:10; 7:15; and 20:4
(45) The above scriptures have been given as examples of what the redeemed would be doing while they sleep in the sleep of death. Yet not one of these scriptures say what proponents of the "conscious sleep" theory would like them to say. In John 17:24, Jesus was referring to the time when he returns (nothing about the condition of the dead), so that those whom Yahweh had given him might be with him. (John 14:3) Romans 8:18 refers to the time when the sons of God will be revealed at Christ's return. 1 Corinthians 13:12 refers to the resurrection. 2 Corinthians 5:8 (see later discussion starting with paragraph 127) refers to whether we are at home, finding comfort with our body of flesh, or present with Yahweh, that is walking by the spirit. Philippians 1:21,23 (see later discussion starting with paragraph 125) refers to Paul's desire to return (incorrectly translated "depart" in many translations) in the resurrection that he might be with Christ. Hebrews 12:23 simply states that there is a recording in heaven of the church of the first-born -- nothing about being in heaven while dead. There is nothing in Revelation chapters 4, 5, 7, or 12 saying anything about what happens to the redeemed during the sleep of death. Revelation 5:8-10; 14:1-4 and 20:4 refer to the saints (not just heirs of God, but joint-heirs with Jesus -- Romans 8:17, see New American Standard) who take part in the first resurrection and sit on the throne with Jesus. (Revelation 20:6; 14:1-3) In Revelation 6:9,10 the Lamb opens the fifth symbolic seal and John sees the slain souls of those who had borne witness while alive. The fact that these souls (not bodies) are slain indicates that they as souls are dead, not living. However, the souls cry out for vengeance. Now if they are dead they cannot literally cry out. But they can symbolically cry out as did the blood of Abel. (Genesis 4:10) Revelation 7:15 is speaking of the disciples of Jesus who are left remaining on earth after the great tribulation climax at the Battle of Armageddon. (Matthew 24:37-41; Luke 17:26-37; Zephaniah 2:2,3; Revelation 7:14) Thus we see that not one of the scriptures presented show that the sleeping dead are conscious, rather these scriptures are speaking either of the resurrection or the return of Jesus.
(46) From what we have seen so far it should be plain that the scriptural answer to our question is simply this: The dead are all, good and bad alike, in one place, sheol, the grave not the literal grave, but the death-state. The Bible is very plain about the condition of the dead, although many go to great lengths to try to explain away the plain statements. "All go into one place. All are of the dust, and all turn to dust again." (Ecclesiastes 3:20) "There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary [including the weary in well-doing] be at rest. There the prisoners [of death] rest together. They hear not the voice of the oppressor. The small and the great are there." (Job 3:17-19) "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work, or planning, or knowledge, or wisdom in Sheol, there where you go." (Ecclesiastes 9:10, King James II Version) The teaching of the scriptures is, therefore, that THE DEAD ARE DEAD. -- Ecclesiastes 9:5.