In dealing with this Scripture, and the subject of the so-called “intermediate state”, it is important that we should confine ourselves to the Word of God, and not go to Tradition. Yet, when nine out of ten believe what they have learned from Tradition, we have a thankless task, so far as pleasing man is concerned. We might give our own ideas as the the employment's, etc., of the “departed”, and man would deal leniently with us. But let us only put God's Revelation against man's imagination, and then we shall be made to feel his wrath, and experience his opposition.
Claiming, however, to have as great a love and jealousy for the Word of God as any of our brethren; and as sincere a desire to find out what God says, and what God means: we claim also the sympathy of all our fellow members of the Body of Christ. There are several matters to be considered before we can reach the Scripture concerning the rich man and Lazarus; or arrive at a satisfactory conclusion as to the State after death. It will be well for us to remember that all such expressions as “Intermediate State”, “Church Triumphant”, and others similar to them are unknown to Scripture. They have been inherited by us from Tradition, and have been accepted without thought or examination.
Putting aside, therefore, all that we have thus been taught, let us see what God actually does reveal to us in Scripture concerning man, in life, and in death; and concerning the state and condition of the dead.
Psalm 146:4 declared of man,
“His breath goeth forth, He returneth to his earth; In that very day his thoughts perish”.