WHAT HAPPENS AFTER DEATH?

Here we have the two eternal destinies of mankind: that of the saved and the unsaved. The souls of believers who die go immediately to be with the Lord. “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Many think of death as the end of life. But the Biblical definition of death is “separation”. The soul is separated from the body. A good analogy is a radio that runs on batteries. The batteries give the radio life. Apart from its source of life the radio is dead. The soul is the source of life for the body. It is what animates and controls the body.

When you remove the batteries from the radio, the radio dies; the life or batteries did not die, but was simply removed from the radio. The radio ceased functioning. At death the soul, the life of the body, is simply removed from the body and goes to another place, and the body ceases to function. The body dies, the soul, the person inside the body, does not die. It simply goes to another place: for the believer that place is heaven, which is “gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Unlike the death of the unsaved, concerning which God says: “surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezekiel 33: 11); God says concerning believers: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints”. God has no pleasure in the torment of the unsaved, but the death of His saints is precious in His sight.

The word “precious” means “valuable”. When the believer departs to be with the Lord, It is valuable to God. It enhances His joy and brings Him glory, while the death of the unsaved is a sad waste of a soul created in His image.

Heaven is a city built and prepared by God for His people. By faith Abraham gave up the things of this world because he had his heart set on that heavenly city: “For he was looking toward the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10).

Concerning His people who are pilgrims on the earth with no real home here, we are told: “instead, they were longing for a better country— a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepare a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16).

But the Father is not content merely to have His people in the same city with Him. He has a place prepared for them in His own house!” “In My Father’s house are many rooms . . . . .I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14: 2). Believers, as God’s children, have rooms in their Father’s house.

Heaven is where God’s people have their inheritance through Jesus Christ: “Into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you” (I Peter 1:4). Our inheritance can never perish, spoil or fade away, kept in heaven for us.

Before entering into our final eternal state, our spirits in heaven will be reunited with our resurrected and glorified bodies then believers will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to receive rewards, apart from salvation, for what we did for Christ after being saved. Salvation is by faith alone

In heaven will be the absence of everything bad. “He will wipe 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” (Revelation 21:4).

Heaven is not a place where we will float around on clouds playing harps, but a place of activity and service: “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants shall serve Him”(Revelation 22:30).

It will be a place of rest. “Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the lord from now on’. ‘Yes’, says the Spirit, and they shall rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them” (Revelation 14:13). Resting from our labors does not mean we will be inactive. The word “labor” here means a stressful and painful exertion. It is not work and service that will cease, but its stressfulness and painfulness. Work and service in heaven will be joyous and fulfilling.

Best of all we will be with God: “They shall see His face and their name will be on their foreheads” (Revelation 22:4). Believers should delight in the thought of heaven where they will be truly satisfied forever.

Their citizenship is already there: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

 

The place where the unsaved go at death is called “Sheol” in the Hebrew language, and “Hades” in the Greek language. This is the intermediate state between death and the judgment of the Great White Throne Judgment where they will receive their final sentence. It can be compared to our local jail where they wait for trial and final sentencing after all the evidence is brought in. This will include not only their works while alive but also the influence of their lives after they died.

This is where the souls of the unsaved go immediately after death. They will not receive their final sentencing until a thousand years after believers go before the Judgment Seat of Christ, when the influence of their lives will be taken into account.

For instance a man may influence others to do evil or to disregard God and they in turn, will influence others on down through the generations until the final         judgment. This intermediate state of the unsaved dead is not as terrible as the Lake of Fire which is their final destination. But it is still a place of unimaginable suffering. In Luke 16: 19-31 Jesus gives us a glimpse into this horrible place.

In verses 23-27, it is described as a place “torment” verses 23, 28. A place of “agony” verses 24 and 25. In verse 24 it is a place where they plead for a drop of water. In verses 27-31 a place where they do not want their loved one’s to go.

And on top of all this they are waiting to go to another place that is far worse where they will spend eternity!

A thousand years later their souls will be united with their bodies that will be resurrected and tailor-made to suffer forever and never die and they will go before “the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-15:

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from His presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and hades gave up the dead that were in it, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were throne into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire”.

Here is the final judgment of the unsaved dead. It is called the great white throne because it represents the absolute holiness of God. In verse 12 the “books” are opened. These are the records of each life. There will be the book of THOUGHTS, the book of WORDS, the book of DEEDS, the book of MOTIVES, and the book of INFLUENCE ON OTHERS, etc.

The “book of life” will be opened to show that their names are not there because they have never received Jesus as Savior and Lord. This is the book that will determine their eternal destination (verse 15).

Then these other “books” will determine the DEGREE of their punishment. In verse 13 death and Hades gave up the dead. Here death refers to the grave, the place of their bodies and Hades refers to where their souls were. Body and soul will be united. Then body and soul will be thrown into the lake of fire.

Here the word for lake of fire is “Gehennah” a place of eternal fire, darkness, sorrows, and where there is no rest forever.

Testimony by Allen Linn

At age 17, Allen Linn planned to rob a church with 3 other gang members. The church was having an evangelistic service on Sunday night. They played poker in a room next to the sanctuary. After the offering was collected it was locked in a room off the sanctuary.

As the sermon was ending and the altar call was soon to be given the 3 other members went out the back door and went around to the room where the offering was kept, while Allen went into the sanctuary and sat in the back row. The plan was for the others to go and break into the offering room, Allen would sit with the congregation, and when the altar call was given he would get up and go forward with the others who were accepting the altar call, but would turn and leave to meet the others and take the money and be gone before the service ended.

But something unexpected happened. Allen only remembers hearing the words of the Pastor: “Christ died for you sins”. Though he had heard these words before, this time it was like the voice of God. He could hear God say to him, “If you do not receive My Son, you will forever be saying to Him that you don’t care that He suffered and died for you”.

While totally confused by what was happening, he knew that he could not do that. He went forward and gave his life to Christ. Then remembering the other guys he quickly went there and found them stuffing money in their pockets.

It was all he could do to get those angry guys to stop. After that when he met with any of his gang it was to tell them how Christ died for their sins.

The Bible is GOD’s Revelation

The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to mankind. In the Bible God has revealed to mankind what could not be known apart from Divine revelation. . In I Corinthians 1:21, we are told “The world through its wisdom did not know Him” (NIV). In 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 we read: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit”. Thus we could know nothing about God other than what He has been pleased to reveal to us.

While there were human writers it is inaccurate to refer to them as authors of the Scriptures because the true Author is God Himself, they were the penmen. We are told in II Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. The Scriptures themselves were breathed out by the Holy Spirit. They are the result of the creative breath of God.

In Scripture the breath of God refers to His Almighty creative power. Psalm 33:6 for example says: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth”. God’s breath is the creative outflow of His power. The penmen were like the musical instrument but God breathed into the instrument to   make the music.

God created mankind from the dust of the ground and breathed into man the breath of life and he became a living being. God’s breath is life-giving. As God breathed life into the first man He has breathed out life-giving power into His word. This is why we are told in Hebrews 4:12: “For the Word of God is LIVING and ACTIVE. Luther said “The Word of God has feet, it runs after me; The Word of God has hands, it lays hold of me”.

“For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:21). Like the sails of a boat they were carried along by the breath or wind of God. The writers were completely under divine control, and while their intelligence, vocabulary, writing style, etc., were involved, they were entirely controlled by the Holy Spirit. They were like the pen in God’s hand, so that the result was absolute perfection in all that was written. When writing something other than Scripture, the writers were as fallible as any other men.

Jesus and the apostles settled all disputes by appealing to Scripture with the words “It is written”. Jesus public ministry began with His being tempted by Satan and His victory over him with the words “It is written” (Matthew 4:4). John the Baptist’s ministry is legitimatized by the words “It is written” (Mark 1:2). The resurrected Jesus enlightened the disciples with these words: “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.

Then He opened their minds so that they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24: 44-47).

The Apostles proved that Jesus was the Messiah by appealing to Scripture: “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (I Corinthians 15”3-4). Paul’s hearers were commended for testing Paul’s preaching by the Scriptures. “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17: 11).

In every area of life the Scriptures were the sole, and final authority that could not be challenged. God prepared the human writers from before birth. Examples of this are seen in Jeremiah the prophet: “The word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘before I formed thee in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:4-5). And the apostle Paul: “ . . .God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles . . .” (Gal. 1:15-16).

The greatest proof that the Scriptures are the word of God is that the Lord Jesus Himself believed and taught the Divine authority of Scripture. He repeatedly said such things as “Have you never read?” and “It is written”, and “Search the Scriptures”.

He repeatedly alludes to the writings of Moses and the Prophets concerning events that take in the whole range Scriptural revelation. He rebukes His countrymen for their ignorance of the Scriptures and for making the Word of God void through their traditions. He said, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”(John 5: 46-47).

The Scriptures were always on His mind. Throughout His last days leading to the cross, the words “The Scriptures must be fulfilled” are repeated over and over. After the last supper when He and His disciples went out to the Mount of Olives, He warned them, “You will all fall away, for it is written. Then He quotes Zechariah 13:7: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” (Mark 14:27).

Jesus said that He could avoid the cross by calling upon twelve legions of angels. But He could not do so because “How then would the scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way” (Matt. 26:54).

After He rose from the dead He met the two disciples on the road to Emmaus who were dejected because of His crucifixion, He rebukes their lack of faith by saying: “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-26).