Question: Does the Bible say that people sleep in the grave when they die? If so, when do people wake up and go to heaven?
Answer: The Bible teaches that the soul or spirit of a Christian goes immediately to heaven to be with Jesus as soon as his body dies. A believer’s spirit continues to live in heaven, enjoying the wonders there! But he is without a physical body for a while. The men God inspired to write the Bible’s chapters refer to the body, not the spirit, in the grave as “sleeping” or waiting for the future day when Jesus will resurrect and reunite the body with the living spirit of each person in heaven:
…How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come? What you sow in the ground (a seed) is not made alive until it dies…so also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption (dies or decays), and it is raised in incorruption…sown in weakness and is raised in power…it is sown in a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body… Paul in I Corinthians 15:35-44
Your future resurrected or “glorified” body is not explained in great detail in the Bible. The apostle Paul compared the restored human body to a seed that is planted and later brings forth a new plant. Your earthly, human body will decay while it’s buried in the ground. But the new body Jesus will give you some day will be much like the one He has had since He rose from the dead. When Jesus returns to the earth, the people still alive will also receive new bodies that will never die:
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye and at the last trumpet. The trumpet will sound, and the dead (bodies) will be raised to never die again, and we shall all be changed.
I Corinthians 15:51-52
Christians have so much to look forward to! Jesus assured believers that their future with Him in heaven begins the moment they die. It’s a new life greater than anything they are able to -imagine. He called it paradise! (Luke 23:43)