First we need to understand that our whole being is a living soul. At the creation of man, the soul is defined. Genesis 2:7, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” The soul is the union of the body and the breath of life.
At death, the body dies. The breath of life returns to God. The soul ceases to be. Therefore, there is no consciousness in death. Ecclesiastes 9:5, “the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing.” That’s why Jesus said death is like sleeping.
We know Jesus has redeemed all mankind from death. “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:22. Therefore, everyone is guaranteed a resurrection from death. John 5:28,29 (ESV), “an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”
Who has done good? No one. However, God is calling a special class, the bride of Christ, to receive forgiveness of sins and to follow Jesus in this present life. “They may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith,” Acts 26:18. We can do good through the blood of Jesus. If we are transformed into Jesus’ character likeness (Romans 12:1,2), our inheritance will include a heavenly resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15:49, 52-53, “Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly…the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” Our heavenly bodies will be immortal – death proof. The bride of Christ will receive God’s very nature! 2 Peter 1:4, “you may be partakers of the divine nature.”
The rest of mankind, (those who have done evil) will be resurrected on earth by judgments. “…when thy (God’s) judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness,” Isaiah 26:9. It is during Christ’s 1,000 reign over the earth that men will be taught God’s laws of love and justice. Jeremiah 31:33, 34 (NIV), “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts…they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’”
Christ’s kingdom will bring the new heaven (God’s rule) and the new earth (God’s will on earth be done). Then Revelation 21:4 will be fulfilled. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”