What Happens to a Person After Death?
First of all, who says you are going to die? Not God. How come? Because 1 Corinthians 15:51ff and 1 Thessalonians 4:13ff tell us that not all Christians will experience physical death! That’s right, many will still be living when the Lord Jesus comes to take the Church out of this dying world. So refer to the answer to Question 17 for how to prolong your current existence, and for God’s sake, don’t ever say “when I die… ”No, it’s if…”
Hey, remember what we’ve said several times about words? That’s right—they have meanings. Ever looked up the word, “death”? In any language, it means, simply, “the end, or the absence of, life.”
Never does the Bible speak of an incorporeal part of a person—like one’s “soul” or “spirit”—that can or does live on without a body after “he” dies. Study will show that the idea of an “immortal soul” is a totally pagan notion. In fact, virtually all religions have some teaching about their adherents being somehow, somewhere immediately alive after they die.
In contrast, God chose a beautiful metaphor to euphemistically take the edge off the horror of death, and that metaphor is prevalent throughout Scripture. For example, Daniel 12:2 says, “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.” Speaking of the death of his dear friend, Lazarus, Jesus said, “…Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up” (John 11:11), and when they didn’t understand his figurative language, Jesus explained, “Lazarus is dead” (11:14).
That same metaphor is most prevalent in the Church Epistles. Paul speaks of dead Christians as “sleeping in Jesus” (1 Thess. 4:14), and he makes it clear that the Lord Jesus is the “alarm clock” who will enthusiastically awaken all who have died (4:16).
There are NO VERSES saying that anyone who has died, except Jesus, is NOW ALIVE in either “heaven” or “hell” (see Q. 27). Death is the end of life, and, therefore, those who have died no longer exist (Ps. 39:13; Job 14:10).
That is why it is such a big deal that Jesus Christ willingly laid down his most precious possession—his life. If Jesus did not actually die, then he could not have been literally resurrected from the dead, and our own future victory over death is suspect. Therefore, in Luke 23:43, Jesus could not have told the criminal beside him who believed in him, “…today you will be with me in Paradise,” because Jesus did not go to Paradise (or “heaven”) that day. He was dead, and was in the grave for the next three days and three nights (Matt. 12:40). Properly rendered, Jesus told the man, “Verily I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.” Biblically, “Paradise” is on earth, not in heaven, and it is still future. If there is no such thing as real death, resurrection is superfluous.
For a thorough exposition of this topic, including an explanation of the verses (like Luke 23:43) that misguided people cite to “prove” that dead people are alive, see our book titled, “Is There Death After Life?” We also have many video teaching touching on this subject: “Death SUCKS, Part 1 of 3;” “Death SUCKS, Part 2 of 3;” and “Death SUCKS, Part 3 of 3.” On our website under topic: Life & Death we have many articles touching this subject, here are some of them: “Consequences of Believing Satan’s Lie;” “The Dead Are Dead;” “What State of Being Are the Dead?” “Where Are the Dead?” “The Joy of Hope;” and “A Matter of Death and Life.” We have an audio teaching which will really touch on this topic: “A Matter of Life and Death.” We highly recommend our foundational class: “One Day With The Creator,” in Segment 25.