What Happens When We Die?
The answer to that question depends on one’s spiritual relationship to God.
Scenario 1: A person dies physically who has been saved by faith in Jesus Christ.
Here are the facts;
(1) The Bible declares we are all sinners.
“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
(2) The Bible declares the penalty for sin is death, both physical and spiritual.
“For the wages of sin is death.”
(3) The Bible declares God loved us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to take the penalty of our sin on the cross of Calvary.
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
(4) The Bible declares we can be forgiven of sin and receive eternal life.
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
When a person understands they are a sinner, willingly confesses that sin to God with a repentant heart (willing to turn away from sin), and by faith asked Jesus to forgive their sin and save them, He will do just that.
If we call upon Jesus for salvation, He will save us.
The Order of Events at Death For a Saved Person
(1) The soul is immediately with Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5.8
“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”
The moment a saved person dies, their soul is immediately in the presence of Jesus.
Jesus is right now seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
The saved person enjoys the blessing of heaven and the presence of Jesus, immediately.
(2) When the rapture of the church takes place, all those who are saved will receive a resurrection body.
The Bible declares that Jesus will return and call the church out of this world.
The church is universal, made up of all those who have been saved by faith in Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 4.13-18
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive andremain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
The term “asleep” was used by the apostle Paul to speak of Christians who had died physically.
He referred to their bodies as being asleep in Jesus with the view that the rapture will bring the resurrection from the grave of a new body.
He said the same thing to the church at Corinth.
1 Corinthians 15.51-57
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Those who have died physically before Jesus raptures the church will return with Him and receive their new resurrection body.
If we are physically alive on this earth when Jesus raptures the church, we will be changed into our new resurrection bodies in an instant.
Every born again believer in Jesus gets a new resurrection body when He returns for His church.
(3) During the tribulation here on earth, the saved will appear before the judgment seat of Christ in heaven.
2 Corinthians 5.10
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it begood or bad.”
This judgment is not concerning our sin for our sin was forever forgiven the moment we were saved by faith in Jesus.
This judgment is to receive rewards for serving God after we were saved.
This judgment concerns our stewardship of this life after we were saved.
(4) After the tribulation and the battle of Armageddon, the saved will rule with Jesus during the millennial kingdom of Christ.
“His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”
(5) After the millennial kingdom of Christ on this earth, the saved will live forever in the New Jerusalem that God has created for us.
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God iswith men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.”
Scenario 2: A Person dies physically who has never been saved
Here are the facts;
(1) The Bible declares there is a literal place of suffering and torment, we refer to this place as hell.
This place of torment is where justice is rendered for sin.
In other words, all those who reject God’s offer of grace and forgiveness must pay for their own sin, the penalty is death.
Hell is a place of suffering and torment as punishment for sin, spiritual death.
Jesus described hell in these terms,
“The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
Jesus told the story of a man who died and went to hell.
“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 And 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.”
The lost man who went to hell was in literal torment and pain, as testified to in the first person.
The Order of Events at Death for a Lost Person
(1) A lost person, one who has never confessed their sin to God and by faith asked for forgiveness, goes immediately to a place of suffering and torment upon physical death.
The lost person is immediately in hell the moment they die physically.
(2) Their soul remains in hell until the Great White Throne judgment.
This judgment will take place after the millennial reign of Christ.
“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
Every lost person in all of human history will stand before Jesus and be judged.
The “books” plural contain a record of all sins committed.
The lost will be judged justly according to their own individual sin.
The Book of Life contains the names of all who have been saved by faith in Jesus.
The Book of Life will be there as proof that they were never saved.
(3) The eternal lake of fire.
The eternal lake of fire is the final form of hell.
All the lost who pass before the Great White Throne judgment will be cast into the eternal lake of fire.
The lake of fire is called eternal because once a person goes there, the term of punishment is forever, they will never leave there.
Based on what God has said in His Word, the Bible, it would be prudent for any lost person to repent of their sin and by faith ask Jesus to save them.
Salvation is free for us because Jesus paid our sin debt when He died on the cross.
We cannot earn salvation, we must simply receive it by faith.
There is an eternal lake of fire where the lost will spend eternity.
There is a heaven where the redeemed in Christ will spend eternity.
The choice seems intuitive, come to Jesus while there is the opportunity to be saved.
The place where you will spend eternity depends on what you do with Jesus now.