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Question:
I was wondering what happens when you die? Do you go directly to heave, if you believe, or do we have to wait to see the Lord until Judgment Day when he comes again? I’ve heard people swear both ways and am confused on the matter myself.

Answer:

They’re definitely competing doctrinal positions on this topic. Some folks say we go directly into heaven, some folks believe we’re in some temporary holding area and others believe that we are in some sort of sleep until Judgment Day.

It really depends on what mood you’re in, what argument you’re listening to and who you trust on any given day to sway you towards one position or another. What this proves, is that there is no absolutely 100% perfectly clear black and white simple straightforward explanation in Scripture. Now of course everyone who has an opinion will believe that it is 100% perfectly clear in Scripture but this is just human nature. How often we have a firm conviction about something and think “the answer is obvious, why can’t you see it like I see it?”

If there were a verse that explicitly stated exactly what happens the moment after you die then I would simply show you that verse. So what I can offer you is what I believe to be the most clear indicators in Scripture and let you decide for yourself.

My personal belief is that we are immediately in God’s presence the moment we die (Christians that is). Now, how all that plays out with Judgment Day I’m not sure. My personal belief is that Judgment Day will occur in the future for those who die before that Day. In other words, if I were to die today, I believe I would be in heaven with Jesus awaiting the future Judgment Day. I base that personal conviction on these two verses:

  • Luke 23:43 – And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (NKJV)
  • 2 Corinthians 5:8 – We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. (NKJV)

Jesus told the thief on the cross who had demonstrated saving faith that TODAY he would be in Paradise with Jesus. That would be a strange comment to make if there were going to be any delay for any reason. There is also no compelling reason to think that Jesus made a special exception for this one person rather than matter-of-factly declaring what happens to all believers the moment they die.

The verse in 2nd Corinthians again states matter-of-factly that to be absent from the body is to be in the Lord’s presence. This verse was written to believers so to draw the conclusion that we are immediately with the Lord when we die is not much of a stretch.

Those two verses are not sufficient for dogmatic doctrine but for me they are more than compelling enough to have the opinion that when we die we are either immediately in heaven, or for the lost, immediately in hell.

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