Summary: Part 3 in a series, Answers to a Mormon. Addresses what happens after a person dies.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DIE?
Answers to a Mormon, Part 3.
On March 6th, just last week, Deputy Sheriff Barbara Pill was killed in the line of duty while attempting to stop a burglary suspect. This week, a large memorial service was held in her memory. During the service the pastor said, “We know today that Barbara is in heaven with the Lord.” Is that true?
What happens to a person after they die? It is vital that we have practical answers to this question at a time of bereavement. Many pastors and parents have been asked at a graveside, “Where is Grandpa now? What is he doing? Is he with Jesus already? Are he and Grandma back together?
These are important questions to the person asking them. People want and need to know.
A while back I performed the funeral for a friend of mine. After the funeral some woman came up and started saying some stuff about us now having a new guardian angel watching over us. Well, that statement got all over me. I decided it was about time we took a look at what really happens to a person when they die, instead of just going along with whatever is popular, or whatever sounds good at the time.
As we begin to answer that question this morning, I would like to look first at some of the popular, mistaken beliefs people have about the afterlife. Number one, there are some people who believe that when you die, life ends.
I. MISTAKEN BELIEFS
1. Life ends – There are some people who believe and some religions that teach that when you die, that’s all there is. That’s the end. Others teach that there is a heaven for people who are good, but that if you aren’t “good” that you are burned up and your life ends. That, in a nutshell, is what the JWs teach.
Anyway you look at it, if the Bible is true, and if the Bible is correct, then this is a mistaken idea. From the moment you are conceived, from the moment a soul is first formed and placed in that body, that soul never, from that point on, ever stops existing.
> Ecclesiastes 12:7 … and the dust returns to the earth as it once was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
The body returns to the earth. It starts decaying, but the soul remains. It goes to God for Him to do with it as He pleases.
> Matthew 25:46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
The 2 groups of people go to two different places, but the soul never ceases to exist. The idea that life ends after death is mistaken.
2. Soul Sleep – There are some who believe that after you die, that your soul goes to sleep. That’s called Soul Sleep. Those who hold this idea believe that after you die your soul is in some kind of holy limbo, waiting for Jesus to come again. The people who hold this idea generally do so because death is frequently called “Sleep” in the Bible.
Well, after you die, you do not go to sleep, waiting to wake up some eventful day in the future. There are several reasons I know this to be incorrect.
In this parable Jesus says the rich man and Lazarus were both aware of their surroundings after they died. Lazarus knew how well he had it, and the rich man was in torment. He knew from the moment he died that he had messed up. They didn’t go to sleep.
A third reason I know you don’t go to sleep after you die is because of Jesus’ words to the thief on the cross recorded in Luke 23:43.
> Luke 23:43 And He said to him, “ I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.”
The man would be with Jesus that day. How could he be with Jesus that day if he was going to be asleep? You do not go to sleep after you die.
3. Purgatory – Temporary Prison – There are some who believe that after you die, if you die with unconfessed sins, if you die without confessing your sins with your dying breath, that you go to an intermediate state, a holding cell. Most who hold this idea believe that after you die you go to a holding place in order to take care of whatever sins you didn’t take care of while you were alive. In that place you suffer and wait, and suffer and wait, until finally you have suffered enough or someone else has prayed enough for you to finally be forgiven for the rest of your sins. Then you get to go to heaven.