ROBERT >> What happens when we die? That’s a great question, and there’s a lot of answers that are being given to it; but what does the Bible have to say?
Are we dead all over, like Rover?
Do we cease to exist?
Do we go to some kind of purgatory where we burn off our sins, later to be united with God?
Do we die and go to heaven or go to hell?
What’s it like on the other side of death?
Is there in fact life after death?
Stay tuned. We’ll be back in just a moment.
Singing >> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.
ROBERT >> This question, what happens when we die, presupposes that we will die. I want to read this passage to you from Hebrews 9:27. The Hebrew writer says, And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.
Unless we live until the Lord comes again, we will all die. This is an obvious and undeniable fact of life. And thus, this question, what happens after we die, it’s certainly a question that ought to be of concern to us all, because we’re all going to die someday.
Much of what we learn about life after death in the Bible comes from what is known as the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. It’s told by Jesus in Luke chapter 16. Let me encourage you to turn over there. There are some who do not believe that we can view this story as factual because it is viewed as a parable. But I want you to notice, even if this is not a true story that actually happened, if it’s a parable, that even parables are true to life.
They’re not myths, they’re not fables, but they’re always consistent with the facts of life. For example, everyone can see that Jesus’ parable of the sower in Matthew chapter 13 is just as things really are. If you’re familiar with that particular parable, you remember in the parable that Jesus tells the sower sows the seed, and that seed falls on different soils that produce different results. The birds will come, and they’ll take away the seed that’s sown on the path; the seed that grows up on the rocky ground is quickly withered by the sun; and that sown among the thorns is choked out; and what is sown in the good soil bears much fruit.
Those who heard Jesus tell that parable, they may have been able to see someone out there sowing the seed. But you see, if we don’t know anything about sowing seed, we could learn from his parable many facts about it, because parables are always consistent with the facts of life. Now, in the very same way, the story of the rich man and Lazarus is true to the facts of life, and we may learn much about life after death from this parable, from this reading.
It may even have been about two real persons who lived and died. But however you view it, the parable can give as many insights into what happens when we die. It can show us a whole lot about it. And so let’s see what the Bible says, and let’s see what happens when we die.
First of all, let’s notice that when we die, our body is separated from our spirit. The word death itself means separation. The idea of physical death, and that’s what we’re talking about this morning, is separation of the body from the spirit.
Let me read this passage to you from James 2:26, where James describes for us what physical death really is. James 2:26, For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
So physical death is this separation of body from the spirit. The spirit leaves the body. That’s physical death. Spiritual death, and sometimes the word death is used that way in the Bible, is a separation of man from God.
Let me read you this passage from Isaiah chapter 59, where Isaiah was talking to the people of God, the people of Israel, and warning them to turn from their sins because their sins were separating them from God. It was destroying their relationship with their God. Isaiah 59:1, Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.
That kind of separation of man from God because of our sins is what the Bible speaks of as death. A spiritual death.
We see the word used this way in Romans 6:23. So let me read there what the apostle Paul wrote. Romans 6:23. Here he says, For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In that passage the apostle Paul was talking not about physical death. We all die physically. But he was talking about spiritual death. That’s what happens to us because of our sins. The wages of sin is death.
You see, our sins have earned for us spiritual death, separation from God. That’s what we have earned. That’s what we deserve because of our sins. But the gift of God, he says, is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Through Jesus Christ, we are reconciled to God, we are made right with God, as Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 5:19 and 21.
So the first thing I want you to notice about what happens when we die is the spirit leaves the body. There’s a separation of the body from the spirit.
Now, the second thing that we can note about what happens when we die is that our body returns to the earth, and our spirit to God. This is spelled out very clearly in Ecclesiastes 12:7. So look back here with me in your Old Testament.
Ecclesiastes 12:7. Here’s what Solomon, the inspired writer, tells us: Then the dust will return to the earth as it was; and the spirit will return to God, who gave it.
You remember, don’t you, at the beginning when God created man that he created him from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, Genesis 2:7? That’s right. Man was made from the dust of the earth. And when he dies, his body will return to the dust of the earth. But the spirit of man, made in the image of God, will return to God.
Look at Genesis 1:26-27 when it speaks of God creating man for the very first time. Here it says, Genesis 1:26, Then God said, let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. And so God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. So you have man made from the dust of the ground, as we noticed in Genesis 2:7; but we also see that there is the spirit of man that’s made in the very image of God.
God is a spirit according to John 4:24-25. And so we understand that there is a spiritual side of man made in the image of God. In Hebrews 12:9 we learn that God is the father of our spirits. And so the body will return to the dust of the earth, but the spirit, it will return to God who gave it.
Now here’s a third thing that we need to learn about what happens when we die. When we die, we have no more involvement with life on the earth. We’re not going to know anything else about this earth. We’ll know nothing more about it, and we’ll never more share in anything under the sun, as the writer of Ecclesiastes puts.
Let me turn over there with you once again. Look at Ecclesiastes chapter 9. Notice what he says about our consciousness when we die. Chapter 9, verse 5 and verse 6, For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun.
You see, when you die, yes, your body returns to the dust, your spirit back to God who gave it; but you see, the spirit of man is no longer involved in this earth. All of that’s gone. The body of the earth is perishing now. It’s in the grave. We don’t know any more about this.
Look what he says in verse 10 of Ecclesiastes 9. Here it says, Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.
This doesn’t mean, don’t misunderstand what the writer is saying here, this doesn’t mean that we’re unconscious in death; but that we have no involvement with life here on the earth. The body is perishing, but the spirit continues on. And the spirit has a consciousness. And we’re going to talk about that a little bit later on. But understand that when you die and your spirit goes to be with God, that it has no more involvement in the things of this earth.
But now I want you to notice this point: What happens when we die? We are in Hades.
Now, that is a Greek word, Hades, and it literally means unseen. This particular word as is used in the New Testament is used of the dwelling place of the spirits of the dead.
Our spirits are invisible, and they’re in that invisible realm called Hades. For some, it’s a place of torment; and for some, it is a place of comfort. When we look here at the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke chapter 16, we see this very thing.
Let me begin at the beginning of this parable. Luke chapter 16, beginning in verse 19, There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And so it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Now, let me stop right here for just a moment, and I want you to see here that when they died, their bodies went back to the dust, they were buried; but the spirit of Lazarus and the spirit of the rich man went to a different place. They went to Hades, into the unseen realm. And as we just read, we notice that one was in torment, the other in comfort. When the rich man died, he was in torment in Hades.
Read on with me here, and notice what it says again in verse 23. Being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
I want you to notice something about Hades. When Jesus died, he was in Hades. But he was not left there. He was raised from the dead.
Look with me in Acts 2:27. In this passage the apostle Peter is talking about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, how he was not left in the tomb. And he quotes from an Old Testament passage, Psalm 16. Psalm 16 was actually a prophecy concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Let’s see what it says.
Acts 2:27, For You will not leave My soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You see, the soul or the spirit of Jesus was in Hades when he died; but he says you’re not going to leave me there. And his body was in the tomb; but he said you’re not going to let me see corruption. You’re not going to leave me there in that tomb. His body and his spirit would once again be reunited. He would be raised from the dead.
Read on what it says here in the book of Acts in verse 31. He, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.
So the rich man, when he died, he was buried, but his spirit was in Hades. He was in torment. Jesus went to Hades, but Jesus was not in torment. Jesus was in Paradise.
That’s right. When Jesus Christ died, Jesus Christ was not in torment, but in Paradise. He was in Paradise along with the thief who died on the cross next to him.
Look with me in Luke 23:43. Jesus was on the cross. And you remember one of those thieves on one side of Jesus repented when he saw that Jesus was dying for his sins, and he called upon Christ for his blessing. And this is what it says, Luke 23:43: And Jesus said to him, Assuredly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise. That day Jesus died, that day the thief next to him died, but they were both found together in Paradise.
Now, that word Paradise is an oriental word, and it’s a word that speaks of a beautiful garden, like the Garden of Eden. You remember how it’s described in Genesis the 2nd chapter, the rivers there in the garden and the trees in the garden and the fruit of that garden, the tree of life in the midst of that garden? Man had everything that he needed. It was a beautiful place where God had placed the first man and the first woman in the Garden of Eden. It was Paradise.
And similarly, when Jesus died, he and the thief found themselves in Paradise.
You know the faithful are promised the tree of life in Paradise? Look with me in Revelation 2:7, where John in this particular book was encouraging the faithful Christians who were suffering such great persecution by the hands of the Roman empire. And he wanted them to know that if they’ll be faithful, they would be rewarded with Paradise. Revelation 2:7, he said, He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches: To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.
Yes, that’s what happens when we die when we’re faithful to Jesus Christ. We go to Hades, just like Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom, a place of comfort; in Paradise, just like Jesus in this beautiful garden, this spiritual garden that will house our spirit.
This Paradise is referred to as the third heaven. Look with me in 2 Corinthians 12:24. 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul speaks of a man who went to Paradise. And it’s very interesting what he has to say about it.
2 Corinthians chapter 12, beginning with verse 2. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago –whether in the body, I do not know, or whether out of the body, I do not know, God knows — such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man –whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know, God knows –how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which is not lawful for a man to utter.
So we see here that when we die, we go to Paradise if we’re faithful to the Lord, and that’s called the third heaven. The Bible actually speaks of three heavens. The Bible speaks of earth’s atmosphere. That’s the sky. That’s where the birds fly. And we read about that in the book of Genesis. Look with me in Genesis chapter 1, where we see described for us how God created this world. And in verse 20 it says, Then God said, Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.
So when you look in the sky and you see the birds fly there, that’s the first heaven.
But then I want you to notice a second heaven. Look in Genesis 1:16-17. Then God made two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth.
You see here how God set these two great lights and the stars in the second heaven. This is the sun, this is the moon, this is the stars. We call it outer space.
The first heaven, our atmosphere; the second heaven, outer space; but then there’s the third heaven. This is where God dwells. Look at 1 Kings 8:30. When Solomon went to dedicate the temple to God, he spoke of the God of heaven. 1 kings Chapter 8, notice with me verse 30. Let’s read that together, 1 Kings 8:30.
Here the Bible says, And may You hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel when they pray toward this place here in heaven, your dwelling place. And when You hear, forgive. Yes, there are three heavens: Our atmosphere, the outer space, and that heaven where God dwells.
And so the Bible says, and we can be confident and well-pleased, yes, to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord, 2 Corinthians 5:8.
Paul himself desired to depart. He wanted to die so he could go on and be with Christ, he says in Philippians 1:23. When Lazarus died, we just read in Luke 16:22 that he was carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom. Remember here that Lazarus was comforted, and remember here that God promised blessing through Abraham to all the families of the earth in Genesis 12:3; that Jesus promised blessing and rest to all who die in the Lord, Revelation 14:13. Those who were slain for the word of God should rest according to Revelation 6:11.
Yes, what happens when we die? We go to Hades. We either go to Hades where there’s torment or to Hades where there’s comfort in Abraham’s bosom in Paradise, in the third heaven to be with the Lord.
Singing >> On Zion’s glorious summit stood a numerous host redeemed by blood.
They hymned their king in strains divine.
I joined the throng and strove to join.
While everlasting ages roll,
eternal love shall feast their soul, and scenes of bliss forever new rise in succession to their view. Holy, holy, holy Lord.
God of hosts on high adored.
Who like me thy praise should sing, oh almighty king?
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of hosts on high adored. Holy, holy, holy.
ROBERT >> Thanks for watching our program today. We’d love to hear from you. Let me encourage you to contact us with your questions and comments or requests at The Truth In Love, P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas 76053. You may e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call our toll-free number, 800-819-2966. Also, please visit our web site at www.ttil.tv. All our materials and services are absolutely free of charge. We just want to do what we can to help us all towards heaven.
So let us know how we can help you, and please join us next time right here on The Truth In Love.
Singing >> Sing to me of heaven, sing that song of peace.
From the toils that bind me it will bring release.
Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so, showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow.
Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall, sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.
Sing to me of heaven tenderly and low till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go.
When my heart is weary, when the day is long, sing to me of heaven, sing that old, sweet song. Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall, sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.