By Nathan Jones
"What happens to a saved person when they die?" - Simon, UK
For those of us who grew up in church since Sunday School, the answer may seem easy enough: "It's obvious you go to Heaven!" But, for a new Christian like Simon here, Satan sadly has done a diabolical job of causing mass confusion concerning what the Bible says about our eternal destiny.
Let's debunk some common misconceptions about what life is like for the Redeemed after death.
Purgatory — A Catholic teaching, Purgatory is a stopping off point on the way to Heaven where Christians must suffer for awhile to purge ourselves of sin before God will finally let us in. Not true, for 1 John 1:17 tells us that, "The blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from sin." It's Jesus who cleanses us, and not us burning off our sins.
Soul Sleep — This popular misconception claims that when you die you go into the ground and there your soul remains unconscious until you are resurrected. Also not true, for 2 Corinthians 5:8 tells us, "To be away from the body and at home with the Lord." We will never be unconscious after death.
Become an Angel — Popularized by cartoons, this misconception says that when you die you become an angel with wings and a halo. But, no, Hebrews 1:14 tells us, "Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation." And, look at 1 Corinthians 6:3, "Do you not know that we will judge angels?" Angels are a totally separate creature than humanity, and we don't become them.
Ethereal Existence — This misconception sadly teaches that we'll end up in a spiritual world sitting on clouds playing harps all day long. How boring! This is clearly one of the most effective Early Church heresies Satan has used to warp our idea of Heaven by making it mind-numbingly dull. Fortunately, the idea that Heaven is a place where spirits float around on clouds is just not found in the Bible.
So, there are a lot of misconceptions about Heaven and how we get there that are meant to confuse people and curb our enthusiasm.
What Does the Bible Teach?
This is what the Bible teaches concerning where the saved go when they die.
Immediately upon death, your spirit is ushered by angels into the presence of Jesus in Heaven (Lk. 16:22; 23:43). You are then given a physical, recognizable "intermediate body." It's a real body (Lk. 16:19-31). You are not a ghost, for God alone is spirit (Jn. 4:24). When the day of the Rapture comes, for both the living and dead believers, our bodies will be transformed and resurrected into our glorified, eternal bodies to dwell with Christ forever (1 Cor. 15:51-58; 1 Thes. 4:13-18).
When the Church returns with Jesus at the Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation to set up His 1000-year kingdom, we will also be living on the earth, reigning with Jesus as teachers and administrators and lawmen over the people who are still living in their earthly bodies (Dan. 7:13-14,18,27; Rev. 20:1-6). Finally, after the Millennial Kingdom is over and on into eternity, Heaven as the New Jerusalem will come down to a revitalized New Earth, and there we will dwell literally in Heaven on Earth (Rev. 21).
Oh, if I only had the space to tell you about the wonders of the New Jerusalem! Please read Revelation 21-22, as well as go to our website at lamblion.com and search "Heaven", to read up on those who are saved's exciting destination. And that is only a glimpse into the marvels that await the Redeemed, for as 1 Corinthians 2:9 reveals, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him."
A Sad Response To Our Poll
I put Simon's question to one of our lamblion.us blog polls and got the most interesting response. An atheist, ever poking into Christian websites looking to argue against God's existence, found the poll and got thousands of his Reddit.com Atheist group friends to vote "Cease to Exist." That's the misconception that lies that there's just nothing after this life and once we die we're annihilated. It's an empty hope for the unsaved, who do not wish to go where they truly know they're destined, which is Hell.
Contrary to what they're claiming, Jesus explained in Luke 16 and Revelation 20 and other verses that there really is an afterlife to be concerned about.
The eternal destination of all people, be it Heaven or Hell, and what eternal life will be like is why it is so important that we live with an eternal perspective. Life right now on this earth is just too short. What we do with our lives today only makes sense when we're looking at the bigger picture of eternity.
Since we could die even in the very next minute, we must know where we're going after we die. That's why it's so important to live with an eternal perspective, for then everything else in life will make sense.