Summary: What happens to us when we die? What will our bodies look like? What about those who die without Christ?
Paddy Venner is Senior Pastor of Harfield Road Assembly of God in Cape Town, South Africa
Foundations of Truth Part 3
Life after Death
This is probably one of the area of our belief that Christians are the most unsure of.
If we had to go around the room and get opinions on this right now we’d probably end up as confused as a cat in a tumbledryer.
So it’s to the Word of God we must go!
John 5: 24-29
We will all die and experience a passing into the afterlife – it’s like stepping out of a car into a new neighborhood
We will all experience that, it’s just where we’re stepping out into that will differ.
Many viewpoints have been debated around this issue – the fact is we’ll all find out one day which viewpoint was right – we just won’t be able to come back and say ‘told you so’
Today I seek to answer 3 FAQ’s
Where do we go when We Die?
The clearest illustration we have for this is found in Luke 16: 19-31
It would appear from scripture that when a believer dies he goes to a place called Paradise. Also referred to as ‘the presence of God’ or ‘Abraham’s Bosom’.
Jesus said to the repentant thief on the cross in Luke 3:43 that that day he would be with Him in Paradise
This nullifies the false teaching of Purgatory which is a misunderstanding of 1 Corinthians 3:15 which speaks of a trial by fire of our deeds – we’ll touch on that later. Some erroneous teachings take that to mean that when you die you go to a place to be purged and tested by fire, and that you need to be prayed out of there by those left behind.
We must understand that this transport into the afterlife is immediate – those who have served Jesus Christ go to the presence of God – it’s as Paul said ‘absent from the body, present with the Lord’
Those who have chosen not to follow Christ will go to what the Bible calls Death and Hades
When a person dies without Christ they are separated from God
1 Peter 3:19 tells of how when Jesus died He went and preached to souls in a spiritual prison – those who had never heard salvation’s message – so we see that there is a place where the sinner goes to
God is a righteous God in whom there is no darkness at all meaning that He would never tolerate sin in His presence, so when someone dies with their sin intact they must be separated from Him
The believer waits in God’s presence for judgement, but the sinner waits in Death and Hades for a judgement that will prove different
What about our Bodies?
1 Corinthians 15 : 42-44
Christians that die receive a new and glorified body.
Man is body and Soul, innately interwoven, but when the body dies, the soul lives on.
The soul remains conscious in God’s presence until the second coming of Christ when those dead bodies will be resurrected and we will have fleshly bodies – once again to prove this we must look at the forerunner to all that we believe in – Jesus Christ.
Jesus was raised from the dead, and presented Himself in His new and glorified body
Matt 28:9 – He was immediately recognisable to some
Luke 24: 13-16; 31 – to others it took a second or third glance
This body will have supernatural qualities – the disappearance on the road to Emmaus, the appearance in the Upper Room
To prove that this was a body of flesh, Jesus ate with His disciples after the resurrection at the sea of Galilee
He asked Thomas to touch Him.
This body will not be subject to gravity, will be unhindered by obstacles and not subject to decay
Job 19:26 says ‘when my skin is destroyed, yet in my flesh will I see God’
Jesus is returning and when He does it will be to receive not only those who are alive, but those who died as believers before the 2nd Coming – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Those who died before the 2nd Coming are in His presence already, but their bodies will be resurrected, and we will in turn be caught up in our bodies which will be transformed in an instant – ‘in the twinkling of an eye’ says the Bible
1 Corinthians 15:53 – 55
then there comes a fateful day, and here we answer our 3rd question: