What Happens When We Die?
Who am I? Where did I come from? What is my purpose for existence and where am I headed? These are the ultimate questions mankind has pondered for our entire history on this planet. Deep in our souls these questions reverberate into the night. Poets and pundits, sages and songwriters, gurus and grandmas all ponder these at some point.
But how do we know what we know? Who or what is your final authority in answering these queries? What should you believe and how should you behave? Or is there even a standard?
Most choose themselves as their final authority. We come into this world seemingly hardwired to believe that we can believe whatever we want. Don’t tell me what to do. As a result the average person has a rather eclectic mix of beliefs borrowed from multiple sources. A little religion, a little spirituality, throw in some Texan independence and self-sufficiency and there you have it, the modern day American. He believes the scales will tip in his favor and if there is a God and a heaven, He or She or It will surely let him come in.
Others yield to the Bible as their final authority. The Bible, a fixed book of God-breathed writings given through man but independent of man and outside his control. If you don’t see it that way, my challenge is for you to discern who or what your final authority might be. It only makes sense to know what you are standing on and why.
Our final stop in our ultimate questions tour also makes sense – what happens when we die? I googled this question and as soon as you have typed “what happens” the rest pops up as your first choice. Popular question it seems. Here’s what the world’s wisdom says in a Google featured snippet:
“There’s only one group of people who really know what happens when you die: the dead. And since the dead won’t be revealing their secrets anytime soon, it’s up to scientists to explain what happens when a person dies. Death, just like life, is a process, scientists say.”
Do you see the clear source of authority?
Here’s a breakdown of the top 8 search options: six links take you to some answer from science, including the actually decomposing of the human body (for this to be the answer tells you a lot about the worldview behind it). One link takes you to Jehovah’s Witness web site and another to a Mormon viewpoint. That’s the top eight on the world’s most popular search engine!
Let me get this straight. Every minute about 100 people die on the planet and this is the best Google can do? I’m mortified.
For readers who want to know the truth from the most reliable source on the planet, I point you to the Bible, more specifically the New Testament as the fullest and clearest revelation of God. Throughout the Bible, God reveals what we need to know about Himself, about us and about life and death and the afterlife. A careful reading will reveal that every immortal human soul will spend eternity in one of two places: the lake of fire away from God’s presence to bless or the new heavens/new earth in the blessed presence of God and Jesus His Son. Space does not permit listing all the relevant passages, so I simply make reference to a few of them for your consideration: Mat. 7:13,14; 25:26; Mark 9:42-48; Luke 13:1-5; John 3:36; Acts 17:30, 31; Romans 2:1-11; 6:23; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 2:1-3; 5:6; Col. 3:5-7; 2 Thess. 1:5-10; Heb. 9:27; 2 Peter 2:17; 3:7; Jude 5-7, 13; Rev. 20:7-15; 21 – 22.
The new heavens and the new earth, with new Jerusalem at the center, will be the final dwelling place of God’s elect people and chosen angels. God Himself will dwell with them in all His fullness to bless. It will be a place of perfect love, wholeness and holiness. Nothing sinful or defiling will ever enter and all who dwell there will do so in sinless perfection, unable and unwilling to sin forever!
The redeemed will worship, love and serve God in holy bliss and eternal joy, through immortal, glorified bodies, reveling in our identity as loved, blood-bought children of God and finally realizing our purpose of existence in its fullness. Made to be loved and then love, we will glorify and enjoy God forever and love each other perfectly. It will be great beyond our wildest dreams.
But all who reject Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and seek salvation and truth apart from Him will dwell forever in the lake of fire, separated from everything the new heavens and the new earth represent. In this place of torment, there will be weeping, gnashing of teeth and utter darkness as the impenitent bear the punishment for their sins. The flame is never quenched and the worm never dies. There are no exits. There is no relief and no mercy. Jesus is clear that this place of eternal punishment is one of both mental and physical torment as the unrepentant rage against God forever in a place actually prepared for the devil himself. It is horrific beyond our imaginations and a place to avoid at all costs.
What does it take to avoid this place? A heartfelt turning from sin and corresponding trust-commitment to Jesus Christ as He is revealed in the Bible. Nothing less than “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus” will do it. Nothing less than God-wrought conversion, where the convicted sinner gladly surrenders to King Jesus leads to life. The Son of God alone paid the sin debt we owe God. In our place condemned He stood. He alone has been raised from the dead to eternal life. It is finished He said. He alone gives forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God to those who rely on Him, not self or man-made religion. Salvation is found only in His name, not the name of Mary or Mohammed or your own name. Those are bankrupt bank accounts. Jesus alone saves and Jesus saves alone.
Fly to Jesus and you need not perish forever. Fly to Jesus and though you will die physically, you will live with Him for eternity in a body raised from the dead like His own. In time Jesus solves every problem sin has caused for those who trust Him. He is the answer to all our ultimate questions!
Unless otherwise noted, all posts are written by Pastor Chris McKnight