Summary: Everybody wants to go to Heaven so why are so many people afraid to die?
“EVERYBODY Wants to Go to Heaven”
Who wants to go to heaven someday? A recent Christian book is entitled, “EVERYBODY Wants to Go to Heaven, but Nobody Wants to Die”. There is a lot of truth in that title, but if we believe what was taught by Jesus two thousand years ago, God’s kingdom is HERE and NOW IN PART, and MORE of that Kingdom is coming AFTER our deaths in an eternal future that is not yet fully realized. (We are studying God’s KINGDOM characteristics on Wednesdays and Thursdays.)
Last week we looked at “suffering” as an inevitable part of the life of a follower of Jesus, and dying usually includes suffering: In Romans 8:17-19 we read: “Now IF we are children, (if we have the new birth of the Spirit of God in us, if we have been regenerated, justified, adopted by God, and we are being sanctified and made into the image of Christ )THEN we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, IF indeed we share in his sufferings IN ORDER that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
That final glorification does not take place when we die. Our final glorification will not occur until Christ comes again and our old lifeless bodies which were planted in the grave will be resurrected; then we will receive glorified bodies which will never die. What happens to us in the meantime?
Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 “We do not want you to be ignorant (Greek “Agnoeo”, we get the word agonize! )about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” I don’t want you to be IGNORANT either; What happens to those who have fallen asleep (died) before Christ comes again?
While the Bible doesn’t give a large number of details concerning what happens to followers of Christ immediately upon their physical deaths, it is certainly safe to say that we will enter a NEW REALITY that is far beyond anything we could imagine right now on this earth.
What should we expect at the moment of our deaths and for our loved ones who “die in the Lord?”
"Into God’s Presence”
First: Upon death, Believers are taken into the presence of Christ in heaven, where he is now. (Acts 1:2; 3:21; 1 Thes. 1:10; 4:16; 2 Thes. 1:7) Those who have followed Him closely will go to be with Him. Jesus said to the thief on the cross, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43).
Paul even realized the difficulty of “letting go of the flesh”. He said: “But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.” Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die. (Philippians 1:23-24)
While we are still HERE, we still have the conflict of the I’s, the battle going on between our sin nature and our HOLY SPIRIT of God nature: “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord--for we walk by faith, not by sight--we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our AMBITION, (the Greek Word means that we hold this goal HIGHEST in our lives; this is what we LOVE to do!)whether at home or absent, TO BE PLEASING TO HIM.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-9)
Either way, dead or alive, our goal is to glorify our Lord and Savior, but WHEN we die in the flesh, we will be in the presence of Christ. He promised to NEVER leave nor forsake us!
Paul said: “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; (Philippians 1:23) and that he would "prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8). Being in heaven with the Lord is referred to as being "at home”: I prefer to BE HOME.
“At Home and Cleansed”
Believers will be “at home” in heaven because we will be with the one who created us, saved us, cleansed us, adopted us to glorify Him and live with Him; When we die, we will be cleansed from all sin. The struggle of the SIN that is within us will finally leave us as we leave our corruptible flesh behind, but our redeemed Spirits from God, WILL SOAR TO OUR SAVIOR and be ALIVE! Upon death, believers in Jesus Christ will receive MORE of the “NOT YET PROMISES” concerning our eternal futures in the Kingdom of our Great God.