Thursday, January 22, 2009

What Happens When You Die? - The Poll

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

Decembers's blog poll, "What happens when you die?," sought to determine people's views on what they believe will be their experience just after death. The results of the 867 respondents are in the graph below:

The amazing variety of answers clearly show that people are not very sure of what their final experience will be upon dying, even among Christians sadly.

Secular

In talking with those totally lacking a biblical worldview, many express more assuredness (at least publicly) than those who have a biblical worldview of what to expect upon death. It could be that they have a certain confidence in being their own source of authority, though an uninformed authority as they have neither experienced death. Eleven of the respondents believed they would cease to exist after death, a very humanistic response.

Now, for those who have heard or claimed to have experienced a near-death experience, a common description among these experiences was that they felt they were going into a light, sometimes described as warm and loving. Twenty believe this to be the case upon death. What that light is, whether spiritual or biological, has never been determined to be "God," but rather a force of some type.

Some who have a semblance of "religiosity" believe that people will be transformed into angels upon entering the great beyond. Two responded that this was their future. Jesus was pretty clear people would be like angels, though, and not become angels (Matt. 22:30; Luke 20:36).

Catholic

Some in the Catholic tradition have been raised to believe that upon death they will appear before Saint Peter and the Pearly Gates to see if their good works will gain them entrance, a children's tale totally unrecorded in God's Word. Fortunately, only one responded that this would be their experience. When God's standard for entrance is perfect holiness (Matt. 5:48), can enough works be done to possibly provide entry?

Muslim

For those from a Muslim background whose belief derives from their holy book, the Koran, they responded that they would receive 70 virgins upon entering Paradise. Obviously, the three responding were men. Women, though gaining eternal youth, still get the raw deal in death just like in life by becoming eternal sex slaves. The carnal Islamic rendition is a sad and shabby view compared to what the Bible has to teach about eternal life beyond death.

Christian

So, after sifting out the obvious "nopes," what's left? The most Christian responses are soul sleep (108 or 12%), go to Heaven or Hell (417 or 48%), go to Hades then Heaven or Hell (213 or 24%) and appear before judgment (92 or 10%). That is a whole lot of variation for a group of people who all share in reading the Word of God!

So then, why so many Christian views on the subject? Well, initially, the results show just how poorly the Church has done in teaching people what the Bible has to say about our future beyond this life, even among our own congregations. But secondly, some overlap of after-death experiences may possibly occur.

Over the next few entries, we will explore what the Bible teaches is our experience upon death. After all, Christians have the inside scoop from God Himself — the One who created life, holds the keys to death, and experienced and defeated death itself. You will find great hope that death can be just the beginning of life.

13 comments:

hart_thizzle10_9 said...

i think the bible is clear. When a rightous person in christ dies "to be absent in body is to be present with the lord" they go to heaven to await the ressurection of their bodies at the rapture. (a glorified body) when an unbeliever dies they go to hades to await the white throne judgement then hell.(the lake of fire)

son of thunder said...

Hebrews 9:27 - And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

When you die you will come before the throne of Almighty God and be rewarded with either eternal life or eternal damnation. No eternal waiting room. No everlasting brothel. No extinction. No wings.

The story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16)explains it very well.

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. - Numbers 6:24-26

Come Lord Jesus

Billy said...

Nathan, please answer this question. Lazarus, if I remember correctly, was dead for multiple days before Jesus raised him. And there was the little dead girl also that was raised. Did they go to Heaven and were consciously aware they were in Heaven then returned to their mortal bodies? Were their memories wiped of the experience? Or did they go into a sleep mode and simply awaken back in their mortal bodies? If we don't go into sleep mode then why is death referred to as sleep in the New Testament? I hope these questions are addressed in your series. Thank you for what I'm sure will be another great series of posts.

Nathan Jones said...

In those instances, Jesus hadn't made the sacrifice to remove people from the Paradise compartment of Hell yet. That's why He told the thief on the cross next to him that day he'd be with Jesus in Paradise. So, those Jesus raised to life would have gone to Hades.

The Bible doesn't record if they remembered their experiences or not. I tend to think that since our brains are what stores our memories, that when they returned to their bodies there was no memory engram to remember from. But, that's just my theory.

Anonymous said...

Nathan,

So based on your theory, when we get our glorified bodies, we won't remember anything that has happened to us previously--nor will we be able to think? I would beg to differ--especially since Jesus in His glorified body certainly remembered the deciples' names, etc. What I'm saying is our minds (where memories and thought processes reside) are separate from our brains (that hunk of meat inside your head).

One thing to think about is that Lazarus was probably in the same category as O.T. saints (those who believed in a future Messiah) and went to the same place they did (briefly). The little girl may not have reached the "age of accountability" and may have gone there, too.

Blessings!

Nathan Jones said...

The theory's based on Isaiah 65:17, "Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind."

For heaven to be perfect, we can no longer remember our sorrows. So who we are in essence remains, but our earthly memories wouldn't.

hart_thizzle10_9 said...

concerning hades, i read a very interesting book "23minutes in hell" a few years later the same author expounded on it in a book called "hell" a very good book. Anyone ever read it? If not i recomend it.

son of thunder said...

Hey, Nathan

I think that waht Isaiah wrote, under the influence of the Ruach HaKodesh, is a reference to the post-Millenial Kingdom of God, when everything is restored to it's original created order.

I think that Lazarus, and those resurrected during the earthquake that took place during the crucifixion, remembered their experience.

I base this on 1) The Revelation of John, and 2) On Paul's visit to what he called the Third Heaven, where he wasn't allowed to speak of what he saw.

My personal feeling is that God allowed them to remember, so they would know that there is a new world coming; that this world is transient, and their sufferings were temporary. Paul, at least, new exactly the prize he was racing for.

Come Lord Jesus

Armageddon Thru To You said...

I thought the dead in Christ stay in their "sleep state" till the rapture of the Church??? Isn't that what it says in the Bible?

Armageddon Thru To You said...

How timely, see this Wnd.com article

http://tinyurl.com/cmdpa6

hart_thizzle10_9 said...

no, their BODIES lay "asleep" til their ressurection. Their soul is very much alive. To be absent from the body is to be present with the lord. In rev 6:9 under the 5th seal we see those slain standing under the alter in heaven

Armageddon Thru To You said...

I saw the youtube video "23 minutes in hell" and highly recommend it!

hart_thizzle10_9 said...

armageddon thru to you
read the book and also his follow up book. Then share it with your friends. I wonder what nathan thinks of that book