As Lutherans, we believe that immediately upon death, our soul enters either heaven or hell - there is no “middle” state, such as the Catholic teaching of purgatory. However, the Bible clearly teaches of Christ raising people from the dead as part of his array of miracles. So that leads me to wonder...as WELS Lutherans/Christians, where do we profess those souls went after death, and how do we reconcile that belief to our standard “post-death” belief? Take, as an example, Lazarus. We can logically conclude that Lazarus, as a believer, would have immediately entered heaven upon his death. But from what we know of heaven, those who entered heaven would be devastated to be “pulled” from the perfect existence of heaven back into this veil of tears. (In fact, in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, we clearly see God rejecting the notion of “sending back” people to earth after death.) So, what is our teaching/belief-set here? Or is this just one we throw our hands up and say that we really do not know?
The Bible teaches that the body and soul separate at death (Ecclesiastes 12:7) and there is judgment (Hebrews 9:27). The soul goes to heaven or hell; there is no in-between place like purgatory, as you noted.
When it comes to the biblical accounts of people who were raised from the dead (in Old or New Testament times), Scripture is silent on the specifics and whether or not God might have brought about exceptions to what normally happens.
We have to be content with what the biblical accounts teach us. What they teach is that Jesus has conquered death, and he shares his victory with those who are united to him in faith (John 11:25-26; 2 Timothy 1:10; Revelation 1:17-18).
In regard to the account of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus’ point was that the rich man’s brothers had what they needed to avoid an eternity in hell: they had the Old Testament Scriptures. The Holy Spirit works through the word of God to create saving faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and give people forgiveness of sins and heaven as their home. The truth in the biblical account is that if the rich man’s brothers rejected the word of God, “They will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31).