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Question and Answer

Next Breath in Heaven?

Question:

When we pass away, take our last breath here on earth, do we take our next breath in heaven? Does the Spirit remain conscious?

Answer:

I think you are asking whether there will be any gap in our consciousness when we move from this world to the next. The answer is no, assuming one is not already unconscious or in a coma, in which case one will immediately “wake up.”

Perhaps we shall breathe with lungs when receive our new bodies in the resurrection at the last day. It is hard to say exactly. But as far as our dying in this world and taking our next breath in heaven, that seems unlikely because until the resurrection of the body at Christ’s return, we will live in heaven as spirits without bodies.

Apparently we will still be recognizable, however, and function in ways that parallel our earthly existence. Scripture does not give us a detailed explanation of our lives in the so-called “intermediate state” between our physical deaths and our bodily resurrections.

Most assuredly, those who go to be with the Lord are immediately conscious and interact with the Lord and with other believers. The rich man and Lazarus in Jesus’ parable (Luke 16:19–31) carried on conversations shortly after their deaths. Moses and Elijah spoke with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:1–8, Luke 9:28–32). Jesus told the thief of the cross that he would be with Him in paradise that very day, implying consciousness (Luke 23:43). The martyred saints in the book of Revelation uttered rational words (“How long, O Lord”) before God’s throne (Rev. 6:9–10).

So while we may not take a heavenly breath at the moment of transition, we will certainly be able to think and speak—or at least communicate (Phil. 1:23).

Hope this is helpful.


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

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