What happens to us when we die is a question we have all wondered about. Do we go to heaven? Do some people go to hell? Is it possible to contact people who are dead? The Bible is clear about the answers to these questions, and when you discover the great plan our Creator God has for us your life will take on new meaning and purpose.
The most common teaching in Christianity today is that when you die your soul leaves your body and you become a disembodied spirit. Depending on how you have lived your life you will either go to heaven, where you are with God, or you will be sent to hell to be tortured forever. This is what is taught in most Christian churches and what most Christians believe. But is it what the Bible teaches?
In John 3:13 Christ reveals something very important about this subject when answering a question from Nicodemus, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.” According to Christ none of those who had lived godly lives were in heaven -- not even the prophets or Abraham, the friend of God and the father of the faithful!
The Gospel accounts and also the book of Acts record how the original disciples taught the people and the great miracles they performed. On a number of occasions Jesus or the Apostles raised some one from the dead. What is really interesting about all these accounts is that there is no record of any of these people mentioning any consciousness or of being in heaven after they died.
The teachings of Jesus don’t support the idea that you die and go to heaven or an everlasting burning hell. In fact to the Jews he was teaching during His life on earth that would have been a foreign concept.
So what does the Bible reveal about what happens to us when we die? When we read the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead He tells His disciples he was asleep. “These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep" (John 11:11-13).
The Apostle Paul also wrote to the church in Thessalonica about this subject. There must have been a number of people who had died in that area and the Church was becoming discouraged so Paul encourages them, “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep...lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep 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 by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thes 4:13-18).
This message is that death is simply sleep, without consciousness, pain or despair and there’s no sense of a loss of time.
Jesus Christ is returning to resurrect those who have turned to God is the central message of the New Testament. The Bible also reveals that in due course via a later, second resurrection all humanity who have ever lived will be brought to life and given their chance to serve the God of Creation (Ezekiel 37:1-10).
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