Life after death
Discover what happens to Christians when they die.
One of life’s certainties is death. After the Fall, sin entered the world and death is the ultimate consequence and God’s judgment. We are assured that we are all destined for death. However even though death is assured, not all Christians are 100% sure what exactly happens to them after they die.
This topic raises questions like:
- Do we go to heaven straight after we die?
- Are we ‘asleep’ in an unconscious like state only ‘waking up’ when Jesus returns to judge the world?
- What will it be like in heaven with Jesus before He returns to judge the world?
- What will we be like in heaven?
The Bible speaks abundantly about the assurance Christians have in spending eternity in heaven with God, but it doesn’t disclose a great deal of information on what exactly life after death will be like. Despite the Bible not providing a huge amount of information, it nevertheless speaks clearly on the questions above.
Straight to heaven
Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43
The key word in this verse is today. Jesus himself told us that if you are a Christian, when you die, there will be no waiting period. Paul reinforces this in Philippians 1:23-24 and 2 Corinthians 5:6-9. There is no doubt that when Christians die, we will immediately be in heaven and come face to face with our Lord and Saviour.
At home in heaven
There are no exact details concerning what heaven will look like, but the Bible does tell us what heaven will be like. Paul tells us that it is a place far superior to our current lives on earth. Philippians 1:23 says I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. Paul also says it would be far more preferable to be away from the body and at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). This verse describes heaven as our home, a beautiful encouragement that one day we will finally feel like we are at our true home.
Awaiting Judgment Day
Those who are in heaven with Jesus look forward to the resurrection of the dead. When we die our physical bodies will remain on earth and our spirit or soul will go into heaven (2 Corinthians 5:8). This disembodied state of existence is not permanent, for we are meant to live body and soul in the new heavens and new earth. The anticipation expressed by Paul in Romans 8:23 clearly indicates what we are to fervently await, the resurrection of our bodies. Heaven is not to be mistaken for a far away place that is non-material filled with disembodied spirits. Those who have left this earth to be with Jesus will not always be without their bodies.
Be Without Sin
As heaven is a place without sin, we can conclude that when we go to heaven, God completes the process of sanctification and make us completely like Christ (Romans 8:29). When Christ returns to judge the world, we will be presented pure and holy (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Ephesians 5:27).
We can be courageous in the face of death
The thought of death, even for Christians can be a frightening thing because it is something that we haven’t experienced yet and we don’t know what it looks like.
As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18
We can be confident in the knowledge that we have a God who wants us to face death with no fear.
But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Isaiah 43:1-2