“One of the questions that has confused and divided Christians over the years is, “Where does the soul go after death? Does the soul sleep and remain with the body until the final resurrection on the Last Day? Or does the soul leave the body at death, to be with the Lord in Paradise (if Christian), or to a place of punishment (non-Christian)? The Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and some evangelical Christians hold to the soul sleep view. Lutherans, Catholics, and most Protestants hold to the soul leaving the body view.” Extracted from the above link.
This essay is an argument for believing in soul sleep, which Dr. Bucher thinks is in error. To follow the argument you must open the link to his essay and read it, keep the page open so you can refer back to it as I progress in my rebuttals. In my opinion, if you understand it one way or the other is not a damning condition.
So when Peter gets down to verse 4-9 he is still talking about giving the pearls to those who would lead the faithful astray, then in 4-11 “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.”
I ask what Noah was saved from other than the destruction of his life of which the other inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrha had to suffer. Noah was not whisked away to Paradise, rather he walked away from the destruction, giving his wife the opportunity to look back and be turned into a pillar of salt. Bucher takes verses 8 and 9 to mean that the believer will, at death, will go to Paradise instead of the grave, “(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:” I take it to mean that God will give His elect the power to not be led astray by the false prophets.
Then he uses this parable that Jesus told in Luke 16:22-31, “The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house- 28 for I have five brothers- so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'”
The parable of Lazarus and the rich man has been the foundation for many of the erroneous beliefs about “hell” within traditional Christianity. Some have viewed it not as a parable, but as a true story Christ told to give details about the punishment of sinners in hell. Yet a thorough, unbiased examination of this story will show that the generally accepted interpretations of this passage of Scripture are fallacious and misleading. In this article, we will go through the parable verse by verse to determine what Christ truly taught.
Those who insist that this is not a parable, but a true, literal story Christ told to describe the condition of the lost in hell must overlook several facts to arrive at that conclusion. First, Yeshua the Messiah never accuses the rich man of any sin. He is simply portrayed as a wealthy man who lived the good life. Furthermore, Lazarus is never proclaimed to be a righteous man. He is just one who had the misfortune to be poor and unable to care for himself. If this story is literal, then the logical implication is that all the rich are destined to burn in hell, while all the homeless and destitute will be saved. Does anyone believe this to be the case? Best of Tentmaker:
If hell is truly as it is pictured in this story, then the saved will be able to view the lost who are burning there. Could anyone enjoy eternal existence if they were able to see lost friends, family, and acquaintances being incinerated in hell, yet never burning up? Additionally, if hell (as it is traditionally taught) is an abyss of fire and brimstone where sinners are tormented forever, does anyone really believe that one drop of water would relieve the pain and anguish of someone suffering in its flames?
These are just some of the difficulties we encounter when we try to make the account of Lazarus and the rich man literal, instead of realizing that it is a parable. If it is a true story, then all of the things Christ said must be factual. If all the points of the story are not literal, then we must view this tale as an analogy Jesus used to teach larger spiritual truth.
Dr. Bucher then goes to Philippians 1:23–24, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” as proof. Biblia.com puts it this way, “Conclusion: Those who desire that Christ may be magnified in their bodies have a holy indifference whether it be by life or death and may rejoice in all their tribulations as Christ’s witnesses, knowing that the Word of God cannot be Imprisoned and that though things do not turn to their comfort in this world, by God’s grace, they will be made to turn to the salvation of others.” In other words, Paul is not struggling with whether to die and go to Paradise to be with Jesus, rather he is unconcerned if he lives or dies as long it is in service to our Lord.
He continues and says, “But in Philippians 1, Paul is describing “departing and being with Christ” before the resurrection, for there is no mention of the Last Day or the final resurrection in the immediate context.”
But Paul does not say how long after his departure before he would be with Christ: “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thess. 4:16, 17. See 1 Cor. 15:51-54; 2 Tim.4:7, 8. If no-one goes to be with Christ till after the resurrection, how would it have been better for Paul, so far as he was concerned, to depart then, rather than live on? As no cognizance is taken of the lapse of time, after a person becomes unconscious in death (Eccl. 9:5; Ps. 146:4), though 2,000 years should elapse before Paul’s resurrection, it would seem to him but the twinkling of an eye.
I will respond to his interpretation of Luke 23:43 and then terminate my discussion, bty I am not a Seventh Day Adventists. Jesus said to the thief on the cross next to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” This I have no bone to pick with, I believe that Jesus took him to Paradise with him. But some don’t, “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee today, shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.” See the difference in understanding the placements of the comas make?
With this I bid you adieu, you will have to make up your own mind.