Summary: Immediately after death we all meet Jesus. What if we have never met him before?
What happens when a lost person dies?
Step #1 He or she dies
Step #2 He goes into the presence of Jesus for judgment
Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.
2 Cor. 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
Step #3 He receives his punishment.
The Bible speaks about eternal punishment using different terms. Eternal punishment takes place in hell (the lake of fire, or Gehenna), the place of punishment after death for all those who refuse to repent. In the Bible, there words are used in connection with eternal punishment. All three of these words are translated from Hebrew or Greek into the English word "hell." This proves very difficult in defining the exact place the Scripture is talking about. In Summary, there are two places of punishment. The first is called "Sheol", "the grave", "hell", and "Hades." This is the place that a lost person goes immediately after the judgment.
Matt. 7:22-23 "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
Luke 13:25 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:
26 Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.
27 But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.
Let’s look deeper at the names of the places of punishment:
1. Sheol or "the grave" is used in the OT to mean the place of the dead, generally thought to be under the earth.
Job 24:19 Drought and heat consume the snow waters: so doth the grave those which have sinned.
Psalm 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Isaiah 38:10 I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave: I am deprived of the residue of my years.
2. Hades is the Greek word for the underworld, the realm of the dead. It is the word used in the NT for Sheol. It is the intermitten state before the lost are thrown into the lake of fire, Gehenna, or hell. The confusing arises from the practice of translating Hades as hell.
Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Rev. 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
Rev. 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.