What Happens When We Die?

“The righteous man perishes, and no one lays it to heart; devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; he enters into peace.” Isaiah 57:1-2

What happens when we die? Recent books and movies like “The Shack” and “The Sixth Sense” show us that death is a popular topic today. But, can a Christian trust books like “90 Minutes In Heaven” that portray a person who claims to have died and gone to heaven? A person’s experience may or may not be accurate. Some have even recanted their experiences later. Events can also be effected by heavy amounts of medication, an overactive imagination, trauma to the brain and as the Bible reminds us, deceiving spirits whose goal it is to lead Christians astray. For this reason, let us examine what the Bible says about death, for there is only One who I am certain came from Heaven, died, rose again, lives eternally and told humanity about it. You guessed it, Jesus Christ our Lord!

So what happens when we die? Death is a consequence of sin. God’s original design was for humanity to never die. Death is also God’s gracious act of sparing the righteous from living forever in a world that is corrupted by the effects of sin; pain, suffering and hardship. Solomon understood this graciousness of God in death and remarked, “the day of our death is better than the day of our birth (Ecc. 7:1).” When we die in Faith in Jesus Christ, there is no period of non-existence. We are seamlessly translated into eternal life with God in Heaven. This is why St. Paul reminds us as Christians not to mourn like the pagans who have no hope, for we know that in death we continue to live with Christ our Lord.

The Bible says that death is the separation of the soul from the body. The body returns to the earth and the soul returns either to God in Heaven or goes to Hell (Ecc. 12:7). Yes, that means we do not become ghosts to haunt people upon the earth! That also means psychics and mediums are useless and have not the power to contact the dead! The Bible says that the only spirits that haunt the earth at present are fallen angles.

In Heaven or Hell, the soul then waits for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ when He will resurrect all flesh and restore both the body and soul of all people for the Final Judgement (as Christians our advocate and judge is Jesus Christ who shed His blood to grant us grace) and admittance into the New Heavens and New Earth. The Bible doesn’t teach eternal annihilation, which means that everyone will live forever, some in the presence of God (Heaven) and some in the absence of God (Hell). Heaven in the Bible is always explained as a place completely free of everything that makes life on earth so challenging. “He will wipe away 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 (Rev. 21:3-4).” Heaven will not be boring! We won’t be floating on a cloud, flapping our angel wings and playing harps all day long. It will be a return to the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve were given work to do (not drudgery), enjoyed God’s perfect creation and animal kingdom and lived in the presence of God.  Hell is the opposite of Heaven. Hell is devoid of God’s presence, His providence, His order, His intervention, His guidance and direction. Have you ever had a day where everything went wrong? That is a glimpse of what Hell would be like if God’s order were absent and only chaos remained. Except it would never end! God wants everyone to be in Heaven with Him, but He will not force someone who willfully wants to live their lives apart from Him. For the Christian, death is not something to be feared. It doesn’t have the last word. It isn’t final. Jesus has the final word, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies (John 11:25).” Amen to that!

God Bless,

Pastor Joel