He knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
— Acts 7:60
It's a funny thing how we find sleep more and more appealing as we get older. When I was a kid, I hated to go to sleep. I still remember kindergarten, with the lukewarm milk in little cartons and having to lie down and take naps in the middle of the day. Sleep is usually the last thing kids want to do, but as we start getting older, the idea of sleep becomes more attractive.
Interestingly, the Bible describes death for a believer as sleep. You close your eyes to the only life you've ever known—life on earth—and in the next instant, you open your eyes and find yourself in the very presence of the Lord. Scripture teaches there is no delay at all between life here on earth and life in heaven.
Stephen's statement in today's Bible passage indicates that he expected to enter the Lord's presence as soon as he died.
Again, in 2 Corinthians 5:8, we're told that following death, a believer will enter immediately into the presence of God: "We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord."
John Bunyan said, "Death is but a passage out of a prison and into a palace." You see, when death strikes a Christian down, he or she falls into heaven.