One reader, while working with children was presented with the question, "What happens when you die?" He didn't quite know how to answer the child, so he submitted the question to me, with further inquiry: "If we are professed believers, do we ascend to heaven upon our physical death, or do we 'sleep' until our Savior’s return?"
Most Christians have spent some time wondering what happens to us after we die. Recently, we looked at the account of Lazarus, who was raised from the dead by Jesus. He spent four days in the afterlife, yet the Bible tells us nothing about what he saw. Of course, Lazarus' family and friends must have learned something about his journey to heaven and back. And many of us today are familiar with the testimonies of people who have had near-death experiences. But each of these accounts are unique, and can only give us a glimpse into heaven.
In fact, the Bible reveals very few concrete details about heaven, the afterlife and what happens when we die. God must have a good reason for keeping us wondering about the mysteries of heaven. Perhaps our finite minds could never comprehend the realities of eternity. For now, we can only imagine.
Yet the Bible does reveal several truths about the afterlife. This study will take a comprehensive look at what the Bible says about death, eternal life and heaven.
What Does the Bible Say About Death, Eternal Life and Heaven?
Believers can face death without fear.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57
Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. (NLT)
Believers enter the Lord's presence at death.
In essence, the moment we die, our spirit and soul go to be with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:8
Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. (NLT)
But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. (NLT)
Believers will dwell with God forever.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (NIV)
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Jesus prepares a special place for believers in heaven.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (NIV)