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Are you aware of what soul sleep is?

Why DO people fall asleep during worship?
Why DO people fall asleep during worship? | [PHOTO: UNSPLASH/JASONBLACKEYE]

It is no secret that our body absolutely requires sleep. But did you know that not all sleep is created equal? You have probably heard about the need for deep sleep, but you may be completely unaware of your need for soul sleep.

The average adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Your body experiences stages of sleep, which include rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, non-REM sleep, and deep sleep. 

Dr. Lois Krahn is a Mayo Clinic sleep medicine specialist. She states, “When we’re in deep sleep, our heart rate and our breathing really slow down. And that just allows the body a chance to recover from the busy day.”

Deep sleep slows down your brainwaves, which consolidates memories and restores the body and brain, according to the American Sleep Association. If you wake up feeling unrefreshed, you may not have experienced this critical sleep stage. Between 13% and 23% of your sleep should be spent in deep sleep.

Brain restoration is not the only reason you need deep sleep. Sleep deprivation can contribute to other health risks including seizures, high blood pressure, depression, increased risk of illness and infection, inability to lose weight, and memory loss.

If you had only a body but not a soul, then I suppose deep sleep would be the best sleep possible. But since you were created with an immortal soul, there is another type of sleep that is by far the most important. Scripture indicates that the soul of a deceased believer is merely sleeping. This does not mean, however, that the believer’s soul is unconscious and unaware of their surroundings in Heaven.

After Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, “he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:5-6). That is, some of those believers who saw Jesus after his resurrection had since died and gone to Heaven. Their souls were asleep in the sense of being at peace in their heavenly home, waiting for the final resurrection when believers will be given a new and perfect body to go along with their immortal souls.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, Paul, Silas, and Timothy wrote, “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” 

In describing the day Jesus returns to Earth, the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

The alternative to falling asleep in Jesus is to die without faith in Christ. Those who die without saving faith in the Messiah enter Hades upon their death, (see Luke 16:19-31) and are left to face the Lord on Judgment Day with nothing but their own righteousness. Sadly, everyone who enters God’s courtroom without faith in Christ will be spiritually naked so to speak. The only thing that can wash away sins is the blood of Jesus, and the righteousness of Christ (Romans 3:21-26) is applied to your soul when you repent and believe the good news of the Gospel.

As I was writing this article exactly one week ago, I was about to describe soul sleep. At that moment, I received a phone call from my mom informing me that my dad had just passed away peacefully in my parents’ home. My dad has known Jesus as his Savior from a young age and has walked with Christ his entire life. Dad was raised by Christian parents in a Presbyterian congregation but has now gone to a place where denominations do not exist. William Wallace Delzell (“Wally”) fell asleep in Jesus and is now rejoicing in Heaven along with everyone else who has fallen asleep in Christ.

Interestingly, one of our daughters had a dream the night before his passing that my dad’s life on Earth came to an end and he went immediately to Heaven. Acts 2:17 quotes the prophet Joel: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”

And by the way: If you ever start to experience nightmares, simply pray before going to bed and ask the Lord to protect your sleep and your dreams with the blood of Jesus. Many people have found tremendous relief through the power of Christ’s blood to forgive their sins and even protect their sleep.

Do you have any idea how much deep sleep your body experiences on a nightly basis? And what about soul sleep? If you died today, would you fall asleep in Jesus? This wonderful blessing only occurs for those who have been saved, redeemed, born again, justified, and forgiven by relying upon Christ’s death on the cross as the payment for their sins. Thankfully, my dad trusted Jesus to forgive him, and you can too. Repent of your sins and believe the good news of the Gospel. 

Many hospice workers have noticed that believers in Jesus tend to exhibit a great deal of peace in their final days and hours on Earth, as compared to the way unbelievers seem quite agitated and restless as death approaches.

The American Congregationalist clergyman Henry Ward Beecher said, “So we fall asleep in Jesus. We have played long enough at the games of life, and at last we feel the approach of death. We are tired out, and we lay our heads back on the bosom of Christ, and quietly fall asleep.”

In order to find rest for your soul, my friend, simply come to Jesus today in repentance, sincerity, and truth.

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska. 

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