The atheist, materialist and humanist says to himself and wants to persuade others that death is an end to life. That is, with death the human being ceases to exist, like light from a candle disappears when the flame goes out. As if instinctively, we feel that this cannot be true. We continue to exist even after all our body stops functioning and dies.
The Bible gives us a clear answer on the part of our Creator who is the highest authority in this regard: “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Each of us who are alive, we die once but we remain conscious because there will be a trial and after that a judgment. Therefore, the theory of "final point" is false as well as the theories of reincarnation.
Regarding the trial and judgment that come after death, the Bible tells us that they will occur in the future when the dead will be raised and will stand before God and be judged each one according to his works (Revelation 20:12).
This is the basic plan. But within it there is a resurrection intended only for the "elect" of God: this has been preceded by the resurrection already done by His Son, Jesus Christ, known as the "first fruits", this being the evidence that assures us of the reality of life after death, followed by those who are of Christ at His coming to rapture His church (1 Corinthians 15:23, 1 Thessalonians 4:16).
In preparation for the millennial reign of Jesus Christ in the world, there will be also the resurrection of all other saints: those of the Old Testament (Isaiah 26:19, Daniel 12:2), and those who will have died under the rule of the beast during the great tribulation (Revelation 20:5). With this the first resurrection will be concluded. The saints of all time so far, will live and reign with Christ during the millennium.
For everyone, except those translated in life from earth to heaven without experiencing death, as Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:1), there is an interval between death and resurrection, and there is curiosity, as well as different theories about what will be the state of the soul during this period. Let's then study what the Bible teaches about it.
Each human being has three distinct parts: body, soul and spirit. In physical death, the body returns to earth and to the dust, because it was taken out of it (Genesis 3:19), but the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7). It is difficult to distinguish the soul from the spirit, and the two stay together. When therefore we speak of the spirit, the soul is included, and vice versa.
The Bible states that when the body dies, neither soul nor spirit stay hovering in space, but they go to defined places. There are two places described by the Lord Jesus in Luke 16:19 to 31. In this example one man was taken to the "bosom of Abraham” where he was comforted for the physical and moral sufferings accrued on earth and the other went to an inferior place of torment in Hades. So we understand that both were in Hades, which it is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Sheol, the place mentioned in the Old Testament as the destiny of the soul after death, but on two different levels: between the two there was a great gulf, so that it was impossible to move from one level to the other. The two men were in full consciousness, but going through opposite experiences, one of comfort and the other of torment.
When He gave up his spirit to God, Jesus Christ also descended into Hades (Acts 2:27) together with the converted robber crucified with Him, to "paradise" (Luke 23:43). We understand therefore that "paradise" and "bosom of Abraham" are the same higher place in Hades.
Up to this point, therefore, all souls descended only to two places in Hades, one above the other, with a gap between the two and the absence of any means of transferring themselves from one place to another, although they could see and communicate with each other.
Three days and three nights after going down, the Lord Jesus rose again in spirit to his body which, not having been corrupted during that time, He turned into something glorious and spiritual, with properties not existing previously when it was mortal. During a period of forty days He appeared to hundreds of witnesses, including his apostles and disciples and then ascended visibly (until he passed through clouds) to heaven to take His place at the right hand of God. There He is today.
Reading further, we are told that when they die, those who are saved by faith depart to be present with the Lord in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:8, Philippians 1:23). We also learn that "paradise" is now above, given the unique experience of one man, quoted by Paul, who was caught up there (2 Corinthians 12:4).The word "paradise" appears again in the letter which, in a vision, the Lord Jesus commanded John to write to the "churches" (Revelation 2:7) - the tree of life is now in "paradise" and he who overcomes in the race of faith will be given to eat from its fruit.
There is nothing to indicate that the Bible speaks of two different “paradises”, and that the Old Testament saints have stayed with Abraham, prisoners in that of Hades. We read in Ephesians 4:8 that "Wherefore he ascended up on high, (Christ) led captivity captive." It is a quotation from Psalm 68:18, by which we understand that the multitude of believers of the Old Testament contained in "paradise" was taken with Him to ascend to heaven, as voluntary captives of the power of the LORD: as the conquerors of old returned bringing whole nations into captivity, the Lord Jesus took from the enemy territory these trophies accumulated in the crowd of men and women faithful to the Lord.
At the final throne of judgement, therefore, those passing through the second resurrection will attend, all who are waiting at the bottom level of Hades since the beginning of humanity. Here will also be those who died since the end of the tribulation period, during the millennium and in the final battle: in short, all that were not justified in Christ.
All who have done well, all who heard and accepted the Gospel, having believed in God the creator of all things, and in the redemptive work of His Son, Jesus Christ, have eternal life and will not come into judgment at the last trial (John 5:24, 29). When they die, now they go in spirit to a place of comfort in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven and in time will rise again and will reign with Him.
All who have done evil, have not repented but have rejected the Gospel of Christ, after dying will go to the place of torment in Hades, also called Hell, where they will remain until the second resurrection, to attend the final judgment in body, soul and spirit, when they will be condemned and thrown into the "lake of fire” for all eternity. The “lake of fire” is called the "second death" (Revelation 2:11), that the Lord Jesus called "outer darkness", referring to the permanent, eternal and absolute separation from God's presence.
There is no possibility of fitting a heresy like "soul sleep," an intermediate state for a second chance, a purgatory, or a simple annihilation into the full and complete report which we find in the Bible.