Seventh Day Adventists teach that the soul of a person is an inseparable part of the person’s physical body. As such, they believe that at the time of death a person’s soul is locked in a state of unconscious sleep which lasts until the time of the resurrection of the dead. They observe that many times in the Bible the word “sleep” is used to describe a person’s condition following the time of death. In The Great Controversy, Ellen G. White wrote, “The Bible clearly teaches that the dead do not immediately go to heaven. They are represented as sleeping until the resurrection.” This concept has become known as “soul sleep.”
Adventists associate Hades only with the grave and deny that the soul departs the dead body to go to either Hades or to heaven after a person’s death. They further argue that the soul is not immortal and that immortality and everlasting life is only obtained at the time of the resurrection. Since the Bible clearly teaches that there is a time of resurrection for both believers and for the wicked dead, Adventists conclude that the separation of souls from the dead bodies of believers to go to heaven would completely negate the need of for a future time of resurrection, judgment and reward.
While the physical body does “sleep” at the time of death, does the soul also enter a state of unconscious sleep? Or, does the soul have a form of life which continues after death? Why do many Christians believe that at the time they die their soul will not enter into a lengthy condition of unconscious sleep but that the soul ascends to heaven?