What lies after death?
Doubtful and hopeless words at the end of life
Voltaire, a French Philosopher said at the time of his death, “I wish I had never been born,” and he said to his doctor “I will give you half of what I am worth if you will give me six more months to live”.
Thomas Hobbes, in some older texts Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, was an English philosopher who is considered one of the founders of modern political philosophy who died in 1679 said right before he passed, “ I am about to take my last voyage, a great leap in the dark”.
François Rabelais was a French Renaissance writer, physician, Renaissance humanist, monk and Greek scholar. He said, ““ I am going to the great perhaps”.
These are the last words of people who didn’t have any clue about what lies after death. The uncertainty of people regarding what lies after death is the reason for many peoples depression at the old age. Nothing to look forward and nothing positive waiting for them.
It says 2 people die each second and 152,000 people each day. The death and how do we prepare for death is a very relevant and profound topic of study. See, you and I don’t know the time of death. Not only old people, young people, teenagers, middle-aged all die unexpectedly. We plan in detail for our life and for our future. Do you plan for death? Where do we get profound answers to this question? How can I be hopeful and peaceful at the time of death?
See, Jesus said, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32). You need to hear and know the truth and the truth will definitely set you free from fear and hopelessness. This truth of the matter is especially needed when we ponder death and what lies ahead.
Bible reveals the truth regarding the topic of death as well.
Confident, pleasant and hopeful words at the time of death.
There are a lot of examples of people who were ready and pleasant at the time of death. Dwight Lyman Moody, also known as D. L. Moody, was an American Christian evangelist and publisher who founded the Moody Church. He said at the time of his death, ““Earth recedes, heaven opens before me. If this is death, it’s sweet! There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go.” He added by saying, “this is my triumph, it is a glorious day.” In other words, death is sweet and God is calling and day of death is a glorious day. and I must go. I must go! In other words, he wants to go, doesn’t want to remain here, period! Think about his statement in contrast to other people’s hopeless statements we have read before.
Willielma Campbell, Viscountess Glenorchy (1741-1786) was a patroness of evangelical Christian missionary work in Scotland and beyond. She said at the time of her death, “If this is dying, it is the pleasantest thing imaginable.”
John Wesley was an English Anglican cleric and theologian who, with his brother Charles and fellow cleric George Whitefield, founded Methodism. Susanna Wesley never preached a sermon but she is known as the mother of the Christian movement called Methodism. She was a devoted believer in Christ and raised world famous Christian leaders in her home. Listen what she sais at the time of her death, “Children when I am gone, sing a song of praise to God.”
Earl Cairns (1819-1885), lord high chancellor of England said at the time of his death, “God loves me and cares for me. He has pardoned all my sins for Christ’s sake, and I look forward to the future with no dread.”
Don’t you agree? Only a fool can live on this planet earth without preparing for what is eventually going to happen. No doubt that one day you and I are going to die. Then why don’t you and I prepare for it in advance? We spent hours and hours of preparation for other things that won’t even last for many years. Is it not foolishness that we don’t prepare for the eternity after death?
What lies after death? Bible gives specific answers to your curiosity and questions. We will discuss it now in the below section.
But before I answer from the Bible what lies ahead after death, let us peek into the topic of God’s sovereignty. How big and amazing the topic of God’s sovereignty over all?
God’s sovereignty is the first lesson you and I should keep in mind always!
It’s good and much helpful to remember constantly this fact-nations, nations leaders or even you and I are not controlling the universe, but God is! This is the truth we need to get acquainted with.
Psalm 66:7 reminds, “He rules forever by his power, his eyes watch the nations.” This passage assures God rules forever by his power and nations are watched by Him continually. 2nd Chronicles 20:6, “Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.” God in heaven rules over all the kingdoms of the nations. All power and might are in His hand and no one can withstand or stop Him. Bible assures in Psalms 103:19, “The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.” You see, God’s throne is in heaven and He and Kingdom rule all. ‘Rules all’ means rules all and no one or nothing is outside of His sovereign rule and authority.
God’s incomparably great power is described in Ephesians 1:21. It says, “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” Then next verse 22 says, “And God placed all things under his feet…”. God’s sovereign power is beyond comparison to any other power and authority not only in the present age but also in the ages to come. No name is above His name and all are placed under His feet.
Bible affirms God is omniscient (all knowledgeable), omnipotent (all-powerful) and omnipresent (all present).
God has such a detailed knowledge about you and me. Psalm 103:1-6 speaks God knows all about me. He knows what makes you sit down, what makes you rise and stand up. He understands your thoughts from afar. He is familiar with all your ways. He knows what are you going to say even before you speak. Read below.
“You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Psalm 103:7-12 describes God’s all-presence everywhere. Do you think you can go away or hide from the presence of God? No way possible. If you go to heaven, He is there. If you go to in depth, He is there. If you got the end of the sea, He is there. If darkness hides you, God can see even in the midst of darkness because darkness is same as light for God.
“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.”
Who cares sparrows death?
In Jesus days, two sparrows are sold for a penny. This means sparrows are not much valued. But even the sparrows do not fall to the ground and die without the knowledge of God. Think about it! Matthew 10:29-30, “Are not two small birds sold for a very small piece of money? And yet not one of the birds falls to the earth without your Father knowing it. God knows how many hairs you have on your head.” What was the last time you sat down and counted the hairs on your head? God knows how many hairs you have on your head. Amazing and mind-boggling right?
God’s incomparable power, detailed knowledge, and all presence make Him God and these are the backdrops of His sovereignty over all.
God is sovereign over death as well.
The sovereignty over all includes He is sovereign over our lives and death. If a sparrow does not fall to the ground and die with His knowledge, how much more He knows when we going to fall and face death?
Bible affirms in Job 14:5 that the days of people are determined. God already decreed the number of their months and have set limits they cannot exceed.
The psalmist in Psalm 139:16 says, ” all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”
Apostle Paul said in Acts 17:26, “From one ancestor He (God) made all nations to inhabit the whole earth; and He allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live.”
Bible also affirms God can prolong or shorten your life. Psalm 68:20, “Our God is a God who saves!
The Sovereign Lord rescues us from death.” God can deliver you from the hands of enemies. Psalm 31:15, “My future is in your hands.
Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.”
God can extend you life. Isaiah 38:5 says God heard the prayer of Hezekiah and extended fifteen more years to his life.
Daniel said to king Belshazzar, “You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways. .” See, God is the one who gives you the breath of life and holds in His hand your life and all your ways.
God’s sovereignty does not mean we can live any way we want because God has already set my date of death. you may ask this question- So, we don’t have any control over when we die? The answer to this question we do have control as well though God in his foreknowledge knows when we would die. Our lifestyle and decisions has impact over our death. A person who doesn’t take medicine for his serious disease speeds the date of his death. A person who suicide calls his own death. Some one drives in the influence of alcohol causes his own death. God foreknowledge doesn’t mean we don’t have any control over death, although in His foreknowledge God knew all the details.
The endless existance of human beings
Man consists of material and immaterial elements.
Man consists of material and immaterial parts. Material part is the body and immaterial parts are the soul and spirit. When a person dies we bury the material part which is the body. However, the immaterial part never ceases to exist but continues to live. Genesis 2:7 says, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” This shows the dust part (body) and immaterial parts in a man. The material and immaterial parts make a man a complete living soul. Bible says in Ecclesiastes 12: 7 what happens to a man when he or she dies. It says, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”
In other words, every man that is born into this world has continued and endless existence. Death and body returning to the ground is not the end of a person.
The teaching the soul goes into a state of unconsciousness or even into a sleep is not supported by the Bible. Bible does not teach soul sleep at the time of man’s death. Instead, Bible consistently talks death as body sleeps.
Bible says in James 2:26, “the body without the spirit is dead.” The body sleeps because the spirit departed from the body. Death is a separation of the immaterial part (soul and spirit) from the material parts (body). Somehow a wide-spread belief entered into people’s heart because of the wrong teaching of ‘soul sleep’ or ‘soul unconsciousness’ after death. The groups like Jehovah’s witness, Seventh-day Adventists, and other groups have spread this unbiblical concept that body goes to dust and from that time soul also sleeps or enters into unconsciousness. There is no unconsciousness happens at the time of death because soul and spirit (immaterial) is moving out of the body.
Bible says God himself is spirit in John 4:24. The spirit is the element in the man that gives him the ability to have an intimate relationship with God. Whenever the word spirit is used, it refers to the immaterial part of humanity that can connect with God who is spirit.
Bible says in Hebrews 4:12 that the soul and spirit are connected like join and marrows but yet separable. It says, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”. The spirit and soul are used interchangeably and very closely related. Job 7:11 says, ““Therefore, I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”
The soul is the essence of a human being. It was made in the image of God with big abilities and potentials. It includes the thinking power, intellect, will, and emotions. Due to first sin and disobedience, we all became sinners. Now each person who born into this world born is spiritually dead and soul tainted. Our thinking power, intellect, will, and emotions are adversely affected by the sin. In other words, human beings are tarnished and tainted by a sin nature that is transmitted from Adam and Eve.
When a person comes to Christ and accepts Him as his or her new representative or headship (by accepting Christ as the Lord and savior), though he was spiritually dead before, come alive spiritually. Now he can communicate and fellowship with God who is spirit. The repair or restoration of the tainted soul happens from the time of re-birth by the agent who is the Holy Spirit and with His power. The soul is the inner being that thinks, wills and the seat of emotional experiences. The soul has described in the Bible as the whole person living currently or living afterlife. The soul is capable of sinning. Bible says “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ezekiel 18:20. Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” If someone just kills your body but cannot kill your soul, do not be afraid, per Jesus in this verse. Because they just kill the material part which is the body. But fear the one who can destroy both the body and the soul in hell. Who is that? It is God.
So what happens when people die?
These discussions along with many other passages of the Bible simply affirms the truth that human beings have endless existence. Even if the material part which is the body dies, the immaterial part which is the soul and spirit lives on.
This understanding above helps us to clearly explains what happens at the time of man’s death. The immaterial part leaves the body and goes to another place. Apostle Paul being a believer in Christ says this about him and other believers in Jesus Christ in 2 Corinthians 5:8, “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” He says he prefers to leave this body and be at home with the Lord, clearly teaching us a person who put his or her trust and belief in Christ goes home at the time of the death. Home here is the presence of the Lord in heaven. See, there is no in-between stops or temporary locations. Leaving this body means immediately present at home with the Lord.
Later in 2 Timothy 4:5 He says, “The time of my departure has come.” There also he is talking about the time of his death is near. He knew he is going to die soon. Tradition suggests he must have been beheaded by the last Roman Emperor- Nero. Paul saw his soon approaching death as a ‘departure’. The departure of what? the departure of the real Paul- his soul/spirit from his body.
Remember what Jesus said at the time of his death on the cross for our sins. He said to the father in heaven, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” Luke 23:46. Jesus knew He is going to die on the cross and He committed His spirit into the hands of the Father in heaven. His spirit went directly to the presence of God until he resurrected from the dead on the third day with a glorified body.
There were two criminals crucified with Christ on the cross on both sides. One ridiculed Jesus and the other turned to Jesus and said, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”. Upon the proclamation of his faith in Jesus Christ, Jesus turned to him and said, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” What is this tell us? The moment this criminal dies, he will be in paradise with Jesus Christ.(notice Jesus said “with Me”). Because he believed in Christ as his savior even at the last moment of his breath leaving from him and he spends eternity with God in heaven. Amazing incident.
Another incident Bible gives us is the incident of the martyrdom of Stephen. Bible says in Acts 7:59-60 says this, “they went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.” Stephen was preaching about the Savior Jesus Christ and they got very angry and stoned him to death. As he was dying, the above verse says, he said: “Lor Jesus, receive my spirit!”. Then the above verse says having said this he fell asleep.
These passages described above clearly teaches that at the time of death the immaterial part of our being – spirit/soul- immediately goes to the presence of the Lord. There are some people says there is an in-between place called purgatory where the soul will be judged or purified from all sins. Bible nowhere teaches this idea. This is a human invented and certain religious organization’s idea to make the organization to control people in their grip and meet the financial needs of these religious organizations. I want to point out such denominations are not true to the revelations given by the Lord in the pages of the Bible.
If a believer in Christ goes to the presence of the Lord at the very moment of his death, why resurrection needed? Very good question.
Death is separation of spirit from the body- Body sleeps and spirit continues to exist.
See, as I said earlier death is a separation of spirit/soul from the body. At the time when Jesus raised Jairus’s daughter from dead the Bible says in Luke 8:55, “her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat.” It clearly teaches here her spirit returned to her which means spirit left body at the time of death. Jesus said about her in verse 50, “Stop weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep -referring to the sleep of the body. Whenever Bible talks about death it talks about body sleeps not spirit/soul. Bible says in Matthew 27:52, “The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.”(NASB) and King James version says, “And the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose.” These passages say body sleeps not spirit/soul.
As we have seen in Stephen’s case illustrated above, the body goes to sleep. In other words, the body goes to the grave. But the spirit/soul of a believer in Christ goes to the presence of the Lord Jesus. Human spirit/soul never sleeps or dies. This is what the Bible teaches and we have seen this in our previous discussions above from the Bible verses. Hence, the Bible teaches us the spirit and soul go to the presence of the Lord and body sleeps in the grave. At the time of the resurrection of the believer in Christ, the body resurrects and joins the spirit and then we will have the resurrected, glorified body equipped to live and serve the Lord in the millennium and eternity.
Therefore the spirit/soul will be in heaven with the Lord immediately after death, the body goes to sleep in the grave. On the resurrection day, the body resurrects and join the spirit/soul. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 gives this whole concept of resurrection for a believer in Christ.
Read slowly and carefully what the Bible says below.
Those Who Died in Christ
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
Some of the Christ believers in the church in Thessaloica died and the relatives were worried what is going to happen to them. Bible gives the answer explaing the immient rapture incident. The spirit/soul of all who died are in the presence of the Lord as we discussed in several pasages. Now on the day of rapture, the verse above (vs 14) says “God will bring with Him those who have already asleep in Jesus. He will descend from heaven with all those spirits/souls in His preseene to the clouds. There will be a sudden vocie of the archangel and trumpet of God. The dead and buried in Christ in the grave (those who truly accepted hrist as their savior) will rise from the grave wherever that may be- under the ground or under the ocean. They will be united with the spirit and will have new resurrected and glorified body. The believers in Christ who live on this world at the time of the rapture will be immediately taken up into clouds and will be granted new resurrected and glorified bodies. The living christians at the time of rapture won’t go through the death experience. In an instant they will be changed and taken up into clouds. (refer 17). Bible asks us to comfort with these words in verse 18.
In a nutshell, on the rapture day, Christ will bring all the spirit/souls of all those who died in christ from heaven to the clouds with a sudden shout, the sound of an archangel and trumpet of God. The bodies of those who are dead in Christ will rise first at that time and their glorified bodies will unite with the spirit in thee meeting place in clouds. The living Christians at the time will be instantaneously changed with a new resurrected and glorified body and will be taken to heaven along with the first group. These living Christians at the time of rapture will not face death. This is called the rapture. Bible says rapture could happen anytime. This is called the rapture. Bible says rapture could happen anytime. This will be the end of the church age. God still calling people to come to Christ for salvation and become a member of the Church. The whole true church of Jesus Christ who accepted Christ as their savior and Lord will be taken to clouds and to heaven instantly at this marvelous and gloried time.
Where the spirit/soul of an unbeliever in Christ goes at the time of death?
While Bible says the spirit/soul of a believer who accepted Christ as his or her savior goes to the heaven in the direct presence of the Lord, the spirit/soul of a person who never trusted in Jesus Christ as his or her savior goes to a place called hades which a place of torment. Spirit of them goes to this place of torment immediately after death. Luke 16:19-31 says the rich man who was never been born again and had a new life in Christ opened his eyes in the place of torment. This is a place of severe torments for people’s sins because they didn’t have a savior to save them from the eternal destinations. See, you need a savior for all your sins. That is Jesus Christ because he can wash away all your sin and makes you clean again by His holy and blameless blood which he poured out for your punishment of your sins. You need Christ the only savior to save you from hades and hell. The rich man in the place of torment wanted to cool off his tongue because the Bible says he was in agony there in the place of torment (Luke 16:24).
Bible also says on the final day of judgment called Great White Throne, their bodies will be resurrected and join with the spirit and stand in from the white throne. See their bodies will also be resurrected and they will stand in front of the judgment of God. The description of the judgment of the people who never accepted Christ as their savior is in Revelation 20:12-15, “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
A great multitude will be resurrected from the ground and the seas. And Hades will hand over the spirits of these unsaved people (the people who are already dead and in torment place). Then they will be judged according to their deeds. No deed of human effort can stand in front of the pure holiness of God as we have seen elsewhere in our studies. Then the book of life will be opened to see if their names are written in it. None of these unsaved peoples names will be in it because the book of life has only the names of those who accepted Christ as their savior and Lord. Finally, this is the verdict- their deeds cannot save them to go to heaven and live with a Holy God, and they never called upon the savior Jesus Christ for their salvation and eternal security. Therefore, all of them will be thrown into the lake of fire for eternity. This is the place God had prepared for Devil and these people who never needed the savior Jesus Christ will also join him and demons in the lake of fire. How bad it will be!
A heart to heart talk between me and you.
Dear friend, I have shown faithfully what is in store for you in future in this lesson. This the time of God’s grace freely extended to you. Please turn to God and call upon Jesus Christ as your savior and Lord for your eternal security and to live with God in heaven. Christ paid for all your sins and you need forgiveness for all your sins and you need cleansing for all your unrighteousness. Christ is the only savior of the mankind who can provide this for you today. Forgiveness of all your sins and eternal life is a gift of God and you cannot attain it by your works or good deeds. If your works could save you, then Christ didn’t need to come to this world and die on the cross for you. Your gift of eternal life and security in heaven with God in heaven will be activated upon your acceptance of God’s gift. A gift will become yours only if you accept it by unwrapping and owning it. Otherwise, it will be inside the bag or gift wrap and do not become yours. Same is true with God’s gift of salvation and eternal life with Him.
Please pray after me:
God, I want the assurance of eternal security. I don’t want to go to torment place immediately after my death and eventually into the lake of fire. How horrible it will be. I want to come to heaven and live with you the moment I die here. Please save me. I believe in Jesus Christ. I accept Him as my savior and Lord. I believe Christ died for my sins on the cross, buried and risen for me. Thank you for saving me. Amen.”
If you prayed this prayer now, please go to contact/prayer tab and send me a note. I will be thrilled to hear from you.