At this point, I would say that for a Christian to be absent of their body is to be alive and well with Christ and The Angels in Heaven.
Just as The Apostle Paul said in 2nd Corinthians 5:8 “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” and as Jesus himself said in Mark 12:25 which states “When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”
On the other hand though, if one was to have died before Christ having not known their forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation to The Father through Christ The Son, then it appears to me that their spirit would have went to be be in Hades (Sheol) but not being tormented in flames as often taught and suggested but perhaps even sleeping according to verses like Matthew 9:24 when Jesus said “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep” or in John 11:11 when Jesus said “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
Either awake and aware in Hades, asleep or doing both, I can not be sure, but as for what we do know… Christ was able to go there and preach to the spirits being held captive there (see 1st Peter 3:19) but having clearly seen scriptually that Hades (spiritually) and Gehenna (naturally) are not the same place, I could no longer see this place where the unredeemed departed spirits go as the same place where pagans sacrificed children, that Jerusalem burned their garbage or where mosaic law breakers and eventually millions of Jewish people and their priesthood ended up being burned by Rome in 70 A.D. in the end of that age (Gehenna).
All of that just sounds more to me like what would be the results of all the evil and wickedness that is in men’s hearts to do rather than the merciful and kind judgments of God that I have expereinced myself in this present life.
With all of that said, I am not God and with painstaking effort trying to make sure that I am not proof texting my own beliefs with the inspired scriptures, I do believe that my overall assertion here would comfortably line up with all the rest of our inspired texts thus revealing more and more the uncontradictive heart and will of God our Creator and Father.
I obviously do not have all of the answers and I am just a child of God like the rest of us whose inspired enough to ponder in awe these great things and yet grounded enough to stand humbly with The Apostle Paul’s own admittance that right now none of us know fully and that we all only know presently in part but then and only then will we all know fully.
One things for sure though… and I believe it’s the most comforting sound biblical fact we have…
Whether you are alive or dead, bound or free,
Jesus holds the keys.
In His Love, pastor Scott