In ancient times, Job asked this ageless question: If a man dies, shall he live again? (Job 14:14a). Today, people may ask, “What happens when I die?”
The answer could be this: “That all depends!” There are three answers –
- The Horrifying,
- The Marvelous
- The Unbelievably Blessed.
Three different answers for three distinctive classes of people.
Before dealing with those three, consider God’s love and goodness. 2 Peter 3:9 declares that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Paul writes in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Isaiah 64:6 announces that “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” In Psalm 14:3, David said, “There is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Everyone needs repentance.
God is a holy and just God who demands payment for sin. Ezekiel 18:20 pronounces the sentence for sin, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Paul writes in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death.” It is an immutable fact of the Bible that sin must be judged and penalized.
We are helpless to remedy this situation in ourselves. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8,9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith and THAT NOT OF YOURSELVES, it is the GIFT OF GOD. Not of works lest any man should boast.” Paul emphasizes this in Titus 3:5. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us.”
Since our sin condemns us and we cannot help ourselves, God, in His love, provided a remedy. God had set a principle that “without shedding of blood there is no remission (forgiveness).” (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus gave Himself and shed his blood to pay for our sins. “Who his own self bare our sin in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness.” (1 Peter 2:24). This sacrifice of Jesus demonstrates His loving gift for us. Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
So, we all face an unavoidable choice: we can accept or reject His gift of love to us. To accept brings life eternal. To refuse this gift is to choose eternal condemnation. What is your choice? John 1:12 states, “But as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”
Back to the question, What happens when I die?
The horrifying answer
If you choose to reject Jesus’ love and provision for your salvation, you have chosen the most horrifying future for eternity. Jesus called it hell (Luke 16:23). He described it as a place of torment, with no water to drink and no opportunity to escape (Luke 16:23-31). He also described it as a furnace of fire (Matthew 13:42), a place of outer darkness (Matthew 25:30), and unquenchable fire (Mark 9:42-48). (Yes, there can be fire without light. Check it out.) Revelation 20:15 and 21:8 describe it as the lake of fire.
Luke 16:22-23 records that the rich man died, and was buried “and in hell.” The unsaved person is buried, but the soul and spirit go immediately to hell. A careful study of this passage shows that this is not just a story or parable. Instead, Jesus is telling a true life story. He tells the name of the saved, poor man, Lazarus, but in kindness to the family, omits the rich man’s name, simply calling him a certain rich man.
No matter how you describe it, you do not want to choose hell. That is why the loving God provided the remedy of Jesus paying for our sins on the cross.
The Marvelous Answer
If a person is a born-again Christian, having received Jesus as his Savior, God has prepared a fantastic eternal home. He has been preparing it for us through the ages (John 14:1-3). Since God created everything that exists in just six days, which was very good, imagine what He has prepared for us through the ages.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:8 that when Christians are absent from the body (death), we are present with the Lord. As Stephen, the martyr in Acts 7, saw Jesus standing to welcome him home, so we, when we die, will be welcomed into Jesus’ presence at the time of death. The angels carried Lazarus into Jesus’ presence in Luke 16:22.
What a victorious personal experience that will be! Paul stated that “to die is gain” in Philippians 1:21. Our earthly house (body) is dissolved, and we have a building of God, eternal in the heavens (2 Corinthians 5:1). Paul had a joyful anticipation of going to be with the Lord (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Revelation 14:13 describes departed believers as “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.”
The greatest blessing of heaven is being with the Lord, and we will see His face (Revelation 22:4)
But there will be those who are unbelievably blessed.
The believing generation that is alive at the Rapture (catching away) will never have to experience death.
Only two people in history have never died. “Enoch walked with God, and he was not for God took him (Genesis 4:24 and Hebrews 11:5). Elijah rode in a chariot of fire, and God carried him up by a whirlwind into heaven. (2 Kings2:11).
Jesus will come back to catch away His saints. “The dead in Christ shall rise first. 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” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Titus 2:13 calls this the Blessed Hope of the Christians. First-century and present-day Christians have always looked and hoped to be in the blessed generation when Jesus comes back. The New Testament closes with John’s words, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” (Revelation 22:20-21).
I trust that you have already decided to trust Jesus as your Savior. If so, you are assured of your part in the marvelous answer. If you have not made that decision, I urge you to trust Jesus today.
We do not have a choice about being in the unbelievably blessed generation, but all signs point to the fact that the coming of Jesus is very soon. May that Blessed Hope be our experience. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”