I recently had a friend pass away from Covid-19 complications, and it really got me thinking about death. You may not want to talk about it. I know Michelle doesn’t like to discuss it either, but it got me thinking, what happens when we die? We’re promised as Christ followers eternal life, that’s what Jesus promised, right? What exactly does that look like? From what the Bible tells us, what exactly happens when we die? Here’s what I found:
Your physical body will cease to exist but YOU never cease to exist. You will live eternally somewhere. This is what Scripture says. 2 Corinthians 5:1, for we know that when this earthly tent, what is the earthly tent? That’s a metaphor for our bodies. We know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down, that is, when we die and leave this earthly body, we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God Himself and not by human hands. So what is our goal? Why do we exist? What is our assignment while we’re in these earthly bodies, or even when we are away from this earthly body? Our goal is to please Christ. Our goal is to live for Him. Our goal is to do what lasts eternally. Verse 10, Paul, says, for we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. Ultimately we need to remember whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please Christ.
So why have this uncomfortable talk about death? Because what you believe about what happens after death determines how you will live today. If you believe that you are an accident, that there is no God, there is no eternity then you’re gonna live a selfish life, a life driven for the pleasures of this time and everything is going to be about now. If in turn you believe that you are created by a God for His glory, you will live somewhere eternally, it will shape the way you live.
Scripture says this in Hebrews 9: 27-28, just as people are destined to die once and after that to face the judgment. So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many. And He will appear a second time not to bear sin but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him. What’s going to happen after you die? Our physical bodies will die. The second thing is our souls separate from our physical bodies. Our physical bodies stay behind. Our soul continues to live. Jesus said this in Matthew 10:28, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but can not kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Don’t fear people, but live in a reverend fear of God. When your body ceases to exist, your soul continues to live
Jesus illustrated this truth in John’s Gospel when he was talking to Martha who’s incredibly upset because Lazarus, her brother, had died. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. “The one who believes in Me will live even though they die; “and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die.” What happens to the soul of a follower of Jesus after the body dies? The Bible isn’t clear on all of the details about what happens immediately, but what we do know is to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
What happens after we die? We know our physical bodies die. Our soul continues to live and separate from our body and then at some point, we will all face judgment. Peter said it this way, 1 Peter 1:17, Remember that our heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time as temporary residents. Remember, this world is not your home. You’re just passing through.
This is what Scripture says in Revelation 20:11, John, who was exiled to the Isle of Patmos, had a vision given to him by the Holy Spirit of the things that were to come. And he said this is what I saw. He said I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And anyone’s name who was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.
What is this Book of Life? What we know is that Jesus is the Son of God. He was born without sin. He’s called the Lamb of God who is slain for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus died in our place. When you recognize you have a need and you call out on the grace of Jesus, you are saved not by works but you’re saved by the grace of Jesus through faith in Him. And when you call out on Him, your name is written in the Lamb’s book; it’s called the Book of Life. When your name is in His book, Scripture says your name can never be blotted out. Your name can never be erased. It could not be taken away. Your name is in His book. And when your name is in His book, you are His child. If He looks through that book and your name is not there, Scripture says your next move, your next place of residence is not a place that you will like nor you will enjoy.
Let me be crystal clear. We’re never made right with God by our religious works, by our efforts, by what we do or what we don’t do. The good news is so good because Jesus did for us what we are not able to do for ourselves. In God’s love for us, He became one of us in the person of His Son Jesus, who is without sin, therefore He was qualified to be the eternal sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. He shed innocent blood on the cross, died in our place, rose from the dead, why? So that anyone, and this includes you, who calls out in His name would be saved, forgiven, transformed. It doesn’t matter how dark your life is, it doesn’t matter how much you’ve done wrong, when you call on the Name of Jesus, He hears your prayers and He forgives your sins.
What happens after death when you’re a follower of Christ? Our physical bodies die, our soul separates from our body, and we face judgement. If you’re found in the Lamb’s book, the Book of Life, you will be clothed in a new eternal body made from God and not of human hands- and you’ll never be more alive.
Philippians 1: For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Living to praise Christ is awesome, but dying and being seated at the table with our Heavenly Father is better. Eternal life can be yours.