When our body stops functioning, our heart ceases beating, we no longer draw breath, and our brain shows a lack of activity, we are pronounced dead. Is this the end, or do we go on living afterwards? It is interesting that there are hundreds of theories about what takes place when we die, but there is only one person who has died, came back to life, and has never died again.
The New Testament records the crucifixion of Jesus and Him alive three days later. The Old Testament predicts that the Messiah will be God in human flesh, He will be crucified, and risen three days later. The prophets also wrote that Messiah existed before anything else existed and He will never die. When Jesus arrived on earth He fulfilled all 400 of the Messianic Prophecies. See these prophecies here
Jesus said that those who live for Him will never die. Everyone who places their life in the hands of Jesus, does not die; their body ceases functioning, but they go on living forever. What happens at the moment of death for the person who is trusting in Jesus? Their spirit comes out of their body and it is taken to a home where all those who love God live together.
Paul said that on one occasion, after he had been severely stoned with rocks, he found himself in heaven. He couldn’t tell if he was still in his body, or was out of his body. In other words, the transition from death to eternal life was so seamless that it was indistinguishable from being alive on earth.
I was caught up to heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don’t know—only God knows. Yes, only God knows whether I was in my body or outside my body. But I do know that I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell. ~2 Corinthians 12:2-4
Our Present Body Is Only A Temporary Dwelling
Those of us who still go camping with a tent, understand that at some point our tent wears out and we have to get a new one. Paul also said that our bodies are like a tent. Eventually it wears out and we will take it off like old clothes and put on a new body, instantaneously.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, in chapter 5, that “when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God Himself and not by human hands.”
At the moment of death, those who are trusting in Christ, do not really die, they only move. We go from a physical earthly body, to a spirit body that God has prepared for us to live in while we are in heaven.
When Jesus comes again to earth, He will bring with Him, all those who have died and have been with Him in heaven. Jesus will return to the outer atmosphere of earth (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), and give those who He brought with Him, a new physical body that will last forever. It will never grow old, get sick, or die. All those who are alive on earth that love the Lord, will be raised also at that time and receive their new eternal body, without ever having died. Many call this event the “Rapture,” but the Bible calls it the “Harpazo.”
Every person who has been trusting in Jesus for their salvation will never face any future judgment for their sins. They will face a judgment for the works they did while still alive on earth and Jesus will reward those who lived for Him.
What Happens To Those Who Refuse God’s Offer Of Eternal Life?
While alive on earth, God never seeks to force anyone to believe and be saved. He sent His Son to earth to die for our sins and take the punishment that we deserved. Jesus came to tell the world that forgiveness and eternal life is available to any person who asks for it. He never tried to force anyone to accept His offer, but left the decision up to each one of us.
Those who die without having their sins paid by Jesus’ death, have those sins still attached to their record. God has commanded the world to repent and turn from our sins and allow Jesus to take them from our record. Those who refuse, will face the judgement for those sins. These persons will be taken at death, immediately to a holding cell to await their personal judgement. This prison where these holding cells are located, is called Hell.
No person has to go to this place. God has done everything that He could do to keep us from Hell, even sending His own Son to die for us. If we arrive there, it will be our fault, not Gods.
All of the unsaved are taken to Hell immediately after their death. The Bible states that “it is appointed for all humans to die once and after this comes the judgement” (Hebrews 9:27). There is no appeal in Hell. There is no second chance after death has taken place. The decision we make now, either to accept Jesus offer of pardon for our sins, or to refuse His offer, will determine our place of residence after the death of our body.
It is foolish to resist the offer of forgiveness that God has presented to us. It makes no sense to refuse Jesus simply because we don’t believe any of this is real. There are 66 books, written by 40 authors, over a 1,450 year period, all that state that life after death is real. All the saved go to heaven, all the unsaved go to Hell.
What Jesus Said Happens After Death
Jesus narrates a story that tells us all we need to know about what happens at the moment of death. The Parable of the rich man and Lazarus is one of the most interesting stories in the Bible.
(Jesus Speaking) “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’ Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ” ~Luke 16:19-31
Notice that after their death on the earth, both men are alive and conscious; one in hell, the other in paradise. Both men have the ability to feel pain or comfort and perceive their surroundings. They are aware of their previous decisions while alive on earth and how their choices affected where they will spend eternity.
The rich man is not in hell for being rich but for his apparent rejection of the requirement which God has made, that all men must receive a pardon for their sins by Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The poor man is not in Abraham’s bosom because he was poor; he is found in this place of comfort because he apparently received a pardon for his sins, by his trust in a coming Messiah and the sacrifice He would make for all sins.
What we learn from this story about heaven, hell and life after death, is that all men have an eternal soul which lives on past the moment of physical death. Where that soul ends up—eternally, is determined by an individual’s personal decision—either to receive the Messiah or to reject Him.
All salvation, for all people, for all time, is encompassed in the atoning death of Jesus upon the cross. Those who were alive before the Messiah arrived—are saved by looking ahead to His sacrifice for their sins. Those who are alive after the Messiah died for the sins of the world, are saved by looking back to His death and resurrection.
Everyone is Saved In The Same Way
For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” ~Romans 10:13
We learn from Luke Chapter 16:19-31 (above) that a person who died trusting in the coming Savior—descended into the lower parts of the earth, where they were comforted.
Ephesians Chapter 4 tells us that when Jesus died and descended into the lower parts of the earth, He freed all those who were waiting in Abraham’s bosom and took their spirits back to heaven with Him, when Jesus ascended back to heaven. Apparently, this former chamber, located in the center of the earth, is no longer being used and was closed permanently by Jesus upon His ascension to heaven. Today, since Jesus has completed our salvation, when a person dies who has lived their life believing that He is their Savior, that person immediately ascends into heaven. They do not remain on earth as a spirit, nor do they descend into the center of the earth, as in the former days before Jesus made His sacrifice for sins. Paul described the death of the believer in Jesus Christ, with these words: “to be absent from the body (death) is to be present with the Lord (in Heaven).
2 Corinthians 5:8 “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”
All of us are going to die. We all have an appointment with this event and nothing can change the facts of our eventual loss of life. The Bible has told us the the truth about what will happen. If we believe what it states, we can have confidence that when we die, heaven will be our destination. I have had this hope for nearly 44 years. I am not afraid of death, but look forward to this event more than anything else in my life. I know that this will not be the end, but merely the beginning.
For me, it is as though I am at the airport waiting for my flight to be called, anticipating my departure from this present world, to a world that is perfect in every way and will never end. This was the reason that Jesus came to earth; it is His promise to all those who believe Him.
I hope to see you there, grinning from ear to ear as I see you during your first moments of heaven.
Categories: Agnostics and Skeptics, Following Jesus, Forgiveness of Sin, How Salvation Occurs, Living For Jesus, Messianic Prophecies, Religion vs. Relationship, Rewards, Robert Clifton Robinson, Salvation, Salvation is a free gift, What happens after death?, What is required for Heaven?