Where do we go when we die?
Where do we go when we die (do we go straight to heaven or have to wait
somewhere for a while?)
If I read your question right, you are asking “what happens, to a follower of Jesus, between their physical death, and their resurrection at the consummation of all things?” A good question, that reveals our interest with the mechanics of life, death and eternity. God has provided some clear sign-posts on the topic, however he has not revealed every detail. We are invited to search the Bible for answers, but not be dissatisfied when the complete picture is hidden from us.
There are two key “lines in the sand”.
First, the Christian dead are asleep to the world, but are alive to God. Because “for to [God] all are alive.” (Luke 20:38b). This is confirmed by the words of Jesus on the cross, when he said to the repentant criminal next to him “today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). The Apostle Paul expresses this view as a desire to “depart and be with Christ” (Philippians 1:23). The presentation of the Bible is that Christians are with God after their death.
Second, the Christian dead are in a state of conscious, enriched fellowship with Christ. This is an expansion of the previous point, and it highlights that there is not a period of “soul sleep” or purgatory. Paul expresses this view as he would “prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8).
So, the Bible reveals that at death, the believer is with Christ, and in fellowship with him, as they await their final resurrection and the consummation of all things. However, this is not the emphasis of the Christian message. The emphasis is on the final resurrection, when God will restore all things and make them new. Ultimately, what happens between death and resurrection is secondary because the final state is what will matter. And only those who turn to Christ will experience the resurrection that he experienced three days after his physical death. A resurrection to life, joy, peace and an eternity with God in heaven. Bring it on!!
Answers are kindly provided by our friends at Christianity.net.au