Summary: 1 Cor. 15:50-57, Rev. 21:1-7. The biblical doctrine of glorification; and the eternal state of Heaven.
ONE MINUTE AFTER YOU DIE
HEAVEN, HELL, & WHO WILL GO WHERE
ALL THINGS NEW
- We have arrived at the last of our four looks into the subject of death and what happens afterward. A few weeks ago we began this journey by looking at Luke chapter 16: the story of the rich man and Lazarus. We noted that in this parable we find valuable information about what happens to those who are not saved when they die.
- We saw that the soul of the rich man went to Hades, the place of torment, immediately after death. And while there he experienced the pain and anguish of a literal fire, past memories, lost relationships, and the worst of all, irrevocability. So will be the intermediate state of all who die without Christ.
- We moved then to the end of history for the unregenerate. In Revelation 20 we saw what will happen when Jesus Christ comes back. The souls in Hades will be resurrected to stand before the King of kings. They will be condemned because their names will not be found in the book of life, and they will be cast, soul and body, into eternal Hell. There the torments of Hades will continue, intensify, and go on forever.
- Then last time, we began shifting our focus to the infinitely more positive eternal destination. The destination of those whose sins are forgiven by Christ through faith in his work on the cross. That destination of course, is paradise or Heaven.
- We saw the thief on the cross who was crucified next to Jesus. When he realized the situation he was in, he turned to Christ and asked him to remember him when he came into his kingdom. The Lord responded by telling the thief that on that very day he would be with him in paradise. So will be the intermediate state of all of us who die with Christ.
- Now the emphasis last time was not so much on what heaven will be like, but what heaven is. Remember, on the most basic level, heaven is being in the unhindered presence of God. Then we saw that Old and New Testament believers experienced that presence upon death – and so will we. One minute after we die our souls are in God’s presence and this is paradise.
- To wrap things up then, we will move to end of history once again. What will happen to those of us who have Christ as Savior when he returns to usher in eternity? That’s the first question we will answer. And what exactly is heaven going to be like? That’s the second question we will attempt to address.
- There are actually going to be two passages of Scripture that will provide the basis of our discussion. They are 1 Corinthians 15:50-57 and Revelation 21:1-7. Each of these passages will answer one of those questions. Let’s start with the first one: What will happen to those of us who have Christ as Savior when he returns to usher in eternity? To answer let’s turn to 1 Corinthians 15.
- While you are finding your place, let me just give a bit of a disclaimer here. Our discussions to this point, and our discussion today will be purposely simple with regard to the specific doctrines of eschatology. There is a lot going on when we get to this time period of history. So accordingly there is a lot that we are not looking at, and this is on purpose.
- Questions regarding the timing of the rapture, the length of the tribulation, the person of the Antichrist, the meaning of the millennium, and so on, all have their place and are important. But in order to keep the basic issues clear we are simplifying this a bit. So for those of you who are well versed in those things; don’t worry, we’re not forgetting things and those issues will be addressed in due time.
- Having said that, let’s look at v.50 of 1 Corinthians 15 in order to see what will happen to us when Christ returns.
- What is Paul saying here? Well let’s set this passage in its context. Paul is at the end of a discussion on the topic of resurrection. At the beginning of chapter 15 Paul discusses the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And he proclaims the importance of Christ’s resurrection by pointing out that only if Christ was resurrected and is alive forever can we hope to be resurrected and alive forever.
- See there were some people who were teaching that there is no such thing as a future resurrection from the dead, because there is no such thing as resurrection. Greek dualists would have taught this as well as the Sadducees that we read about in the Gospels. But Paul says if there is no such thing as resurrection then not even Christ has been raised, and if he has not been raised then our faith is useless. So Paul teaches that because Christ has been resurrected, we can look forward to the hope of our own resurrection.