What happens when you die?
“Brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope” (1 Thes 4:13)
The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church in Thesalonica to tell the people there not to grieve or be without hope. Paul goes on to say, “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.“, 1 Thes 4:14.
Ok sounds good so far, so what happens when we die? The apostle Paul tells us in the second letter to the church in Corinth writes, “We are confident, I say and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”, 2 Cor 5:8. So when we die if we are believers (fallen asleep in him), we are with the Lord.
Jesus gives a graphic picture of what happens when we die in Luke 16:19-31.
19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.
20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores
21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.
23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.
24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.
26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house,
28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'”
Jesus describes two men in this story. The first thing we notice about these two men is they are at opposite ends of society. One was rich and had all the luxuries money could buy. The other man was poor and had nothing. He was laid at the rich mans door in hope he would get something to eat. Both men die, the Bible says it is appointed for man to die, there is no escape, even if we eat organic food and exercise for the rest of our lives, we will eventually die. These two men in the story die and this is where the story begins to get good.
We notice when the poor man dies, he is carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. He was escorted into paradise or Heaven by angels. The rich man also died and found himself in hell. His body was buried in the grave but, his soul went into Hell. The poor man had no burial and yet his soul went into paradise.
The rich man in Hell was in torment and in agony. It may surprise some people to see that Jesus believed Hell was a real place of torment and fire. Notice the rich man looked up to where Abraham and Lazarus were and he recognized them. When we die we remain our selves. We do not become some gaseous spirit floating in the ether. We remain looking much like we do now but without our body, until the resurrection.
Even as a spirit the rich man had feelings. He was in agony in the fire and wanted a drop of water for his tongue. Notice he had a tongue and he thought it would help to have a drop of cold water on it. Notice he seems to be alone, no friends hanging around to comfort him there. And he could communicate his thoughts and feelings. He pleads with Abraham to help him first and when Abraham tells him he can not. He then pleads with Abraham to send some one to tell his family about this place to warn them not to come to Hell. It is interesting that even after death he remembers his family and cares for them.
Now look at Lazarus, he did not sleep in the grave. He was escorted to Abraham’s side. What happened to Lazarus after the angels escorted him to Heaven? He was comforted. He was receiving pleasure in Heaven. He was feasting with Abraham and enjoying paradise. He also could remember his life on earth, communicate, have feelings, express himself, worship and love God in Heaven ( see Rev 6:9-11).
So to answer our question what happens when we die?
- Our spirit/soul separates from our body.
- We go to Heaven or Hell. This is the judgment of faith.
- In Hell there is fire and torment.
- In Heaven there is comfort and joy.
- We retain our knowledge and individuality.
- We can be recognized by those around us.
- We remember our families and friends.
- We desire for our families to go to Heaven.
- Heaven is always referred to in the up direction in scripture.
At funerals it seems everyone goes to Heaven when they die, but the Bible says there is only one way to make sure you are going to Heaven when you die, ask Jesus to be your Lord and your Savior. It is very simple. Speak to Him and ask Him to forgive you and to come and live in your heart. Tell Him you make Him your Lord.
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming:
9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
See also: John 3:16, John 14:6
If you need prayer or want to tell someone about your new trust in Jesus Christ email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Grace and peace to you from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ed and Martha Sanders,
Trinity Vineyard Fellowship