People Die and Then…?

“One day you will stop breathing, but you won’t stop living.”

You will stop breathing and your heart will stop pumping blood

You will be pronounced dead by a doctor

But you will not stop living – you have simply changed locations

One moment after you die – you will experience either the greatest celebration ever (Heaven)

Or the greatest separation ever (Hell)

We need to live today thinking about this reality

‘We need to live today thinking about eternity …

We need to have and maintain an eternal perspective

We need to live life with death in mind

Where we are going after we die

Where others we love – others we know – will be going unless they know Jesus + become like Jesus + obey Jesus + do what Jesus did

Ecclesiastes 7:4 “A wise person thinks much about death, while the fool thinks only about having a good time now.”

There is life after life

There is life after “death”

And the Bible is very clear about this and what it takes to go to Heaven and not Hell

The cold, hard facts…

There are many who say they are”Christians” who are simply deceiving themselves

And, I am deeply aware of this fact – that in every church I go to and work in there are as many as 75% of those in attendance who are not truly saved

STORY:

Jess Moody was a young pastor in Owensborough, Kentucky, when he became good friends with a young couple in his church.

One day the husband came to Pastor Moody’s office clearly distraught and said, “Jess, I’ve just heard the most awful news. My wife has terminal cancer, and it has spread all over her body. The doctors have just told us she has only weeks to live, not even months, and, Jess, she’s at the hospital, and she’s asking for you. We don’t know how to handle it. We don’t know what to do.”

Jess immediately went to the hospital. There the young wife and mother said to him, “I remember in one of your sermons you said a thousand years is like a day to God and a day is unto a thousand years. Is that true? Is a thousand years like a day to God.?”

The pastor said, “Yes, it’s in the Bible.”

She said, “Good, because I’ve been doing the math, and I figure if a thousand years is like a day, then forty years is like one hour. I’ll be leaving my husband and children soon. He may live another forty years, but that will be just like an hour to me in Heaven. When he gets to Heaven, I’ll greet him and say, ‘Where have you been for an hour? Did you just go to the office, or were you running errands? I’ve missed you.’”

“My children may live another seventy or eighty years, but that will be like two hours to me. When they get to Heaven, I’ll greet them and say, ‘How was school today? Mom misses you when you’re gone for a couple of hours. I wonder how you are doing, because mommies don’t like to be away from their children long.’”

Jess Moody said that two weeks later she went to be with the Lord, and the last thing she said to her husband was “I love you. Take care of my children. I’ll see you in an hour.”

Now, that’s an eternal perspective. That’s the real perspective that can motivate each of us to live each day aware of the eternal framework within which we live.

You die and then…

You enjoy a personal welcome from Jesus Christ

Or

You catch your first glimpse of gloom as you have never known it before or ever imagined it could be

Your eternal future is irrevocably fixed before you die

Your future after “death” here on earth is eternally unchangeable.

Those in Heaven…

Surrounded by friends and family

The relationships that were rudely interrupted by death – will continue where they left off

  • Still born
  • Miscarriage
  • Abortion
  • Accidental death
  • Died of old age

Every description of Heaven will pale in light of the reality you now see and enter

Those in Hell…

  • Shrouded in darkness – sensing others are there but separated and unable to touch or communicate with them
  • Enter a region of deprivation and unending regret
  • Memories and feelings will be fully intact
  • Images of this life on earth return to haunt them
  • They will recognize opportunities squandered
  • They will know their future is hopeless and unending
  • It will be far worse than anyone could ever have imagined

You will receive and live with the result of choices you have made while still breathing upon the face of this Earth – choice to receive Jesus + chaose to follow Jesus + choose to become like Jesus

Your eternal future is irrevocably fixed before you die

Your future after “death” here on earth is eternally unchangeable.

As relatives and family plan your funeral…

Purchase your casket and have the burial plot opened

Pick the pallbearers and the music

You will be more alive than you have ever been

Either you will see God on His throne surrounded by angels and redeemed humanity

Or

You will feel an indescribable weight of guilt and abandonment

No in-between these two extremes

  • Gloom or Gladness
  • And there are no second chances
  • No transferring from one location to the other

As some religions teach

Roman Catholic concept of Purgatory

A man walking through a graveyard notes an epitaph on one of the gravestones…

Pause, stranger, when you pass me by

As you are now, so once was I

As I am now, so you will be

So prepare for death and follow me

An unknown passerby read those words and underneath scratched this reply:

To follow you I’m not content

Until I know which way you went

Folks – there are only two options / two destinations

Over my time in the Church – half a century – I have watched a view of death and the afterlife enter into the minds and hearts of believers that is not biblical…

This non-biblical view that most Christians now believe:

There is nothing to fear in death or in meeting God

The “hereafter is a blissful place and thinking about it should produce a warm fuzzy feeling

Everyone ends up happily reunited with all of their loved one

There is no judgment – no careful and public review and revealing of one’s life

When you start your journey into the next life you will see many lights and experience a peaceful and glorious feeling … because God is Light

OR, the devil has disguised himself as an angel of light (I digress)

Everyone goes to Heaven because God is a god of love

In fact, there is no Hell to go to

In the Church – the Devil has succeeded in removing solid Bible teaching on death and dying

In the world – and the Church – the Devil wants people to think that one’s relationship with Jesus Christ has absolutely no bearing on what waits for us at death

In the Church – People think because they said a Sinner’s Prayer they are “good to go” even though there has been absolutely no change in their heart – lifestyle – relationships

This “everything will be okay” approach is very dangerous

Partly formed by reports of what people have seen and heard in near-death experiences

Partly formed by what we have learned when consulting with the dead – “familiar spirits”

Listen…

As we take our last breathe on earth

The curtain between this world and the next life will open

It is firmly and permanently closed as soon as you enter and it does not reopen to let you back in

No valid “near death” or “after death” experiences

“ I have studied them for years and none of them line up with the Bible

So, all those who on their death bed had an out-of-body experience and saw meadows, flowers, birds and lights

And then came back and told everyone how wonderful it was and will be

Deceived of the Devil / fooled and foolish

When television actor Michael Landon, a star on the classic television shows Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie, lay on his deathbed (and heard the gospel once again and, once again, rejected it)…

He confided to friends that he saw a “bright white light” that eased his fears and made him look forward to what awaited him on the other side. He died calmly, anticipating what he called “quite an experience.”

Well – hear me now…

I would rather take my clues from someone who had an actual death experience (not a near-death one) and then did come back – – – Jesus

Jesus is the only One qualified to tell us what it is like and what we can expect after we die

He has “been there and done that” and lived to tell about it

Revelation 1:17-18 “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.   I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.’”

THE BIBLE TEACHES…

Your soul – mind, will, and emotions – survives your body’s death and continues to exist in an after world

The Old Testament called this after world where your soul went – Sheol

The New Testament called this after world where your soul went – Hades

Hades is a Greek word for the place where you went after death

Sheol is the Hebrew word for the same place

When the New Testament quotes an Old Testament verse it simply changes Sheol (Hebrew) to Hades (Greek)

When they translated the Old Testament from Hebrew to Greek in the early Church they simply changed Sheol (Hebrew) to Hades (Greek)

Words mean exactly the same thing (place)

This place Sheol or Hades is the place where all departed souls went after the physical body died

Hades or Sheol was divided into two sections (Abraham’s bosom, The grave)

The place called “Abraham’s Bosom” which was a region of bliss and joy for the righteous

Genesis 49:33 “And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.”

The place – within Hades –  called “the grave” (the “lowest hell”) which was a region of gloom and pain for the unrighteous

Deuteronomy 32:22 “For a fire is kindled in My anger, and shall burn to the lowest hell; it shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.”

Both are mentioned together in many places…

Psalm 49:13-15 “This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings. Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them. The upright will rule over them in the morning; their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions.  But God will redeem my life from the power of the grave; he will surely take me to himself.” (Abraham’s bosom)

People stayed in these two places until Jesus’ death on the cross of Calvary

Jesus emptied the area in Hades called Abraham’s Bosom

Jesus was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into Hell, the third day He rose… (APOSTLE’S CREED)

While in Hell (Abraham’s Bosom – Paradise, Purgatory) He declared the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith

Those who believed were taken into Heaven and Abraham’s Bosom (Paradise, Purgatory) was closed forever

Those who did not believe were transferred over to “the grave” or “the lowest Hell” to wait

1 Peter 3:18-19 Christ also suffered when he died for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners that he might bring us safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.  So he went and preached to the spirits in prison – those who disobeyed God long ago

Ephesians 4:8a “That is why the Scriptures say, “When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives…”

Abraham’s Bosom has been swallowed up by Heaven

Those who are believers and die in the faith now go directly to heaven

2 Corinthians 5:8 “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”

“The lowest Hell” or “the grave” is still active receiving the souls of those who die “outside the faith”

Then “the lowest Hell” will be, one day, swallowed up by Hell – The Lake of Fire

The two regions of Hades or Sheol no longer exist side-by-side as one is no longer open for business

Those in Heaven cannot see those in “the grave” or “the lowest Hell” as they suffer and are tormented forever

When you die… As a believer:

  • Your spirit and soul goes to directly to Heaven where you will stand before God and be judged
  • Not for your sins as they are forgiven by the blood of Jesus
  • For your works that God called you and gifted you to accomplish
  • What did you do with what He gave you?
  • Who came to Heaven as a result of your witness?
  • Good steward / manager

This judgment determines your place in Heaven, your rewards, and the responsibilities (work) that you will be given to do

You will be there awaiting the resurrection of the body and the New Heaven and the New Earth as well as your place in it

When you die … As a non-believer:

  • Your soul and spirit goes to Hades (the one segment still open)
  • There you await the resurrection of your body from the grave
  • Then, at the final judgment, Hades and you will be cast into the Lake of Fire
  • There you will find your eternal and permanent place of torment and pain

One minute after we die:

We will be either elated or terrified

And it will be too late to reroute our travel plans

As the part of Hades that remains open for business remains the same

Does not change because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

Let’s look at a story Jesus told about Abraham’s Bosom and “the grave” or “the lowest Hell”

Luke 16:19-31 “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendour every day.   “And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.   “Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.   “In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.   “And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’   “But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.   ‘And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’   “And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house –   for I have five brothers – in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’   “But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’   “But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’   “But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.'”

1> The man in Hades (“the grave” or “the lowest Hell”) was fully conscious immediately after death

  • He was able to speak
  • He had a memory
  • He felt pain
  • He had needs
  • He was aware of his surroundings
  • In Hades:
  • The alcoholic will thirst for alcohol – none will be given to him
  • The drug addict will crave a shot of heroin and will not receive it
  • The immoral man will burn with sexual desire which will never be satisfied
  • Increasing desires with decreasing satisfaction for all of eternity

2> The eternal destiny of this man was irrevocably fixed

Luke 16:26 “And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’”

M.R. DeHann:

“Once we have passed through the door of death we can’t pick up our suitcase and move out because we don’t like the accommodations.”

  • Monotony
  • Isolation from all others
  • Boredom
  • No challenges can or will be undertaken
  • No goals set
  • No pleasures sampled
  • No second chances
  • No reincarnated
  • Prayers of the living will not remove them from this place
  • Sung or said mass will not shorten their time there
  • They are not suffering to then eventually be purified and released
  • Works religion
  • His eternal destiny was permanently fixed and forever

3> This man knew himself well enough to know that what he was experiencing was fair and just

  • His whole life was present to him – he remembers it better now (and in greater detail) than when on Earth
  • He is more self-aware than when living on the planet
  • He does not comment that it was unfair for him to be there – he knew it was right and fair and just
  • He complains about the PHYSICAL pain he is in but does not complain about injustice
  • He knew why he was there – AND exactly what his brothers would have to do if they were to avoid a similar fate!
  • If they would repent then they could avoid all this…
  • He knew sin had brought him there
  • He begged that Lazarus go to his father’s house and warn his brothers
  • Very aware and alert
  • Very compassionate all of a sudden

4> The rich man was not in Hell – he was in Hades or Sheol 

The Bible is clear that no one is in Hell yet

Someday Hades will be thrown into hell but that has not happened yet

Revelation 20:14 “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.” (Hell)

5> The rich man – although not in Hell yet – is receiving his just punishment which will continue forever

Those in Hades are being punished

This punishment, by the tense of the verb used, is ongoing and forever

Their final judgment is yet in the future when Christ returns to judge and this punishment continues as Hades is swallowed up by Hell

2 Peter 2:9 “…The Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the Day of Judgment, while continuing their punishment.”

The Three Crosses of Calvary:

Jesus has been hung on a cross and it has been raised for all to see on the top of Golgotha

Jerusalem’s garbage dump

There are two thieves being crucified with Him

One on His left side and one on His right hand

They get to talking back and forth

Luke 23:39-43 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”  But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

One thief goes to Hades or Sheol and will be there forever in eternal punishment and agony

The other thief because of his faith in Christ – he believed – was told that he would join Jesus that very day in paradise (Purgatory, Abraham’s Bosom)

Jesus dies and is buried – as are the two thieves

The Apostle’s Creed rightly states that Jesus descended into Hell (Hades) and entered Paradise along with one of the two thieves

Three days later Jesus rose – as did all the righteous believers in Abraham’s Bosom including the one thief – and they ascended into heaven

  • There is now a way to enter Heaven
  • There is now a way to be saved
  • The shedding of blood brought forgiveness
  • The other thief went to Sheol or Hades and there he remained
  • Until, one day, Hades is thrown into Hell – the Lake of Fire on that Great and wonderful day
  • That is Heaven or Hell 101 / Life After Death 101

Final comment:

Deeply concerned for the many who believe they are Born Again because they said a Sinner’s Prayer

  • People whose lives have not really changed in light of supposedly having had an encounter with the living God
  • People who have not become committed to and connected with other believers on more than a surface level … not an active part of the Church engaging daily with others
  • People who still have unforgiveness and resentment in their hearts
  • People who live in the world and live like the world and are no different than the world
  • People who show little to no concern about eternity – their’s or that of family and friends