Good question. It seems as though there is a lot of confusion as to what happens when a person dies. Only the Bible can give us this important information.
When Lazarus died, our Lord said, “…He (Jesus) saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep…Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.” (John 11:11,14) If Lazarus had been in heaven, why would Jesus have brought him back to earth? Surely, heaven is a much better place to be. Additionally, why did Jesus say Lazarus was sleeping, if he had been conscious in heaven? The condition of death is called a sleep – a sleep until the resurrection when Jesus will awaken all mankind. (John 5:28,29)
Let’s look at another scripture, Acts 2:29, 34 reads, “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried and his sepulcher is with us this day…for David is not ascended into the heavens…” No, these verses show King David is also sleeping in his grave and is not in heaven.
The book of Ecclesiastes describes the condition of death in Ecc. 9:5, 10, “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward…Whatsoever they hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”
The Bible teaches when a person dies, he sleeps in death until the resurrection.