What Happens After Death?
Let’s Explore the Answer
We’ll all experience the grief of losing a loved one during our lifetime. For many, these periods of loss cause us to question what exactly takes place after death. For others, watching parents age or experiencing a near-death accident can bring up such thoughts.
Regardless of the religion with which you identify, or what your personal experience has been with death, it may be useful to learn about the Christian view of the afterlife as it’s a widely accepted one in many parts of the world.
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What Skeptics & Atheists Say
The idea of an afterlife, particularly one that’s dictated by how a person’s life was lived on earth, is widely disputed among atheists. Many believe there is nothing after death, and that life simply ends when our Earthly bodies die. This view is predicated on the idea that human existence takes place on the physical plane only — not on a spiritual one.
Other skeptics take issue with the concepts of Heaven and Hell or of an afterlife that’s dependent upon the actions people take during their lifetime. They argue that living with integrity on Earth shouldn’t be a matter of receiving a reward after death, but simply a moral choice.
Let’s explore what the Bible says about what happens after death
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What The Bible Says
One of the foundational principles of Christianity is the belief that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died and was resurrected into eternal life. The Bible promises that those who believe in God will also experience a life after death. Eternal life is clearly present in the scriptures, though the specifics remain a mystery to those of us still living.
We see this in 1 Thessalonians 4:14, with the declaration that those who die knowing Christ will also be raised with Him after their death. In 1 Corinthians 15:51-55, the author, Paul, describes our earthly bodies being shed upon death, and new, immortal and imperishable bodies being given to us. This begs the question of where these new “spiritual” bodies are going for the rest of eternity.
That same Paul discusses his desire to live on earth and his simultaneous desire to die, or depart the earth, to “be with Christ” in Philippians 1:23. From this, we can glean that life after death means spending eternity with Christ, which is the Biblical concept of Heaven. Scriptures assure Christians over and over that they’ll “be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:17.)
In John 14:2-3, Jesus says, “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” In Luke 23:43, as He was hanging on the cross moments before His own death, Jesus turned to one of the thieves being crucified next to Him and said, “today you will be with me in paradise.”
This paradise that Christians are promised as their souls’ eternal resting place is full of mystery. We can’t say where it is or in what dimension, what it looks like, who’s there, or what we do there once we’ve arrived. What the Bible tells us is that if we believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, we’ll be with Him in Heaven after our life here on earth. For many, this idea brings with it great solace. They can’t be certain of where they go, but knowing that they’ll be reunited with God is enough. This is often where sacraments like the last rites come into play, or where many people have professed their belief in God before dying.
What would happen if you embraced the possibility that the God of the Bible really did create the world and really does care for you?
In the seventeenth century, a famous philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal, encouraged people to make a wager when it came to belief in God. If a person chose to believe in God and God did exist, that person would gain everything (eternal life). If a person chose to believe in God and God did not exist, that person would lose nothing. On the other hand, if a person chose not to believe in God and he was right, he would lose nothing. But if that person did not believe in God and he was wrong- he would lose everything (lose eternal life).
This wager can be said another way:
Based on this logic, Pascal suggested the rational person would choose to believe in God as believing offers a person everything (eternal life) while losing nothing. Wherever you are in your faith journey, would you consider taking Pascal’s wager? If the good God of the Bible exists, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by believing in Him today.
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Life can feel truly overwhelming for everyone at times, which is why people so often use prayer - or simply put, a conversation with God - to ask for hope, strength, guidance, or circumstantial change in difficult times. "Putting it in God’s hands" when we’re facing any number of obstacles can provide great comfort and peace in a world that we know is out of our own control.
The Bible teaches us that prayer is powerful and effective, both in communicating with God and in bringing peace to those who pray. We consider it an honor to be able to talk personally with the God who created us, with confidence that He listens and cares. No matter your faith background, and whatever the challenges you’re facing, we’re eager to pray for you, your family members, or any of your loved ones. There’s nothing we’d love more than to present your requests to God and pray with you.