Summary: This is the fifth message in a series called "The Basic Questions of Life.
"What Happens When We Die?"
We’re wrapping up a series of messages called "the Basic Questions of Life." This series has looked at some of the questions people ask at some point in their lives. Questions such as: "Is there a God?" "Is the Bible reliable and true?" "How did we get here?" "Why are we here?"
And the question for today is, "What Happens When We Die?" This is an important question because death is something we all eventually face. The Statistics on death are appalling. The numbers tell us that 100 out of 100 people will eventually die.
And death is no respecter of persons. It strikes the old and the young, the sick and the healthy, the poor and the rich, the good and the bad. I’m sure you’ve heard the old joke about two friends (we’ll call them Don and Fred) who wanted to know if they play baseball in Heaven. They decided that the first one to die would find out and come back and let the other one know. Don died first. And a few days after his death, he appeared to Fred in a dream. Fred asked "What did you find out? Do they play baseball in heaven?" Don replied, "I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is: they play baseball in Heaven. The bad news is: YOU’RE PITCHING TOMORROW NIGHT!" Death is no respecter of persons.
They say, "There are only two things certain in life: death and taxes." I submit that death is more certain than taxes. A clever man can find ways to evade taxes, but no one evades the Grim Reaper. When your time is up, it’s up. Death can be postponed, but never eliminated. The fact of the matter is, someday I will die, and those I love will die, and nothing can change this solemn fact. We all have a meeting with death. So what happens when we die? Let’s begin by talking about what WILL NOT happen when we die. Let’s talk about . . .
I. Some Misconceptions about Death.
A. Some folks say that death is the end of existence.
They say that when you die, you simply cease to exist. But that isn’t true according to the Bible. The Bible says . . . (Gen. 25:8). This implies an existence after death. So death is NOT the end of existence.
B. Some folks say that when a person dies, they are "reincarnated" into something or someone else. In fact, I was watching a show on the Discovery Channel yesterday and they were talking about a 16th Century English Prince who built a luxurious and expensive horse stable because he was convinced he would be reincarnated AS A HORSE! But reincarnation is nothing more than a fairy tale. The Bible says . . . (Heb. 9:27). You get just one run in life and that’s it.
C. Some folks say that there is a "second chance" after death. They say that if a person says "No" to Jesus in this life, then they’ll be given another chance in the life to come. But that’s nothing more than wishful thinking. The Bible says . . . (Heb. 9:27). In other words, we get one run at life and then we face the judgement of God after we die. The only opportunity we will ever have to get right with God is the opportunity God gives us in this life. There is NO second chance after death.
We’ve cleared up a few misconceptions about death, now let’s talk about what WILL happen when we die. Let’s talk about . . .
II. The Moment of Death.
A. Keep in mind, death is a separation.
When you die (I hope it will be MANY, MANY, years down the road), your body and soul will separate. Your body will remain here on earth where you family and friends will bury it and "lay it to rest." But what about your soul? Where your soul goes depends on whether you are saved or lost.
B. If you are saved, that is, you’ve accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord and have a personal relationship with God, then your soul will go straight to Heaven to be with Jesus (Luke 23:43, 2 Cor. 5:8).
But that’s not the whole story. The souls of departed believers will wait in Heaven with Jesus until the Second Coming. They will return with Jesus and be reunited with their resurrected bodies (1 Thess. 4:14, 16). I Cor. 15:51-55 adds that our resurrected bodies will be "imperishable." That is, they will be perfect in every way. They will never wear out, never suffer injury, never get sick, never grow old, and never die. They will be imperishable. This, in a nutshell, is what happens to a believer when he (or she) dies.