Pastor Matt: What happens when you die?

Lets take a closer look at a puzzle
Lets take a closer look at a puzzle

This post is from Pastor Matt’s blog.


Michael Bird breaks it all down as follows:

1. Prior to Christ’s ascension, all who died descended to Sheol/Hades, which was divided into two parts, one for the wicked and one for the righteous.

2. At Christ’s ascension, he went into heaven and took with him all of the saints in the paradisal part of Sheol/Hades, while the wicked remain in Sheol/Hades, waiting for judgment.

3. Upon death new covenant believers go to be with Christ in heaven ahead of the general resurrection, while the wicked descend to Sheol/Hades waiting for judgment.

4. Eventually Sheol/Hades will be thrown into hell and all believers will share in the new heavens and new earth.

See Evangelical Theology p. 323.

I’ve featured some debates with Michael Bird before, he is a famous evangelical historian.

It’s important to understand that the Christian view of humans is that we have a material part and a non-material part. When you die, the material part goes into a tomb. The non-material part goes on to be with God, until the day when you get a new resurrection body.

Earlier, I blogged about some philosophical arguments for the existence of souls and some scientific evidence for the existence of souls, and it’s worth looking over in order to move beyond mere opinions. Like it or not, this is the way we are! Not just bodies, but souls.

4 thoughts on “Pastor Matt: What happens when you die?”

  1. There is another perspective of what happens immediately after you die:

    ‘The wages of sin is death. But the gift of God is eternal life. In other words, Christ died and rose from death so that we can be raised from death. This is what Christ purchased by dying on the cross. According to the following verses, both the just and the unjust will be resurrected. Would not the death of Christ pay for the resurrection of both the just and the unjust?

    Acts 24:15 ESV having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.

    In other words, what if this verse that says both the just and the unjust are to be resurrected is really true, without forcing the verse to say that the unjust are resurrected in order to be condemned? If the unjust dead are already in hell, why will they be resurrected?

    The ancient Jews didn’t believe the dead go immediately to heaven or hell. According to ancient Jewish belief, they are asleep in Hades (which means the Grave) awaiting the resurrection. So this verse, which speaks of the resurrection of both the just and the unjust, interpreted in the context of ancient Jewish belief, would say the unjust will live again when Christ returns.

    Also, consider the fact that in ancient Jewish culture, the king is the judge. In Old Testament times, Solomon was king over Israel. Yet Solomon judged cases such as when two women claimed the same baby, and Solomon ordered the baby to be cut in half to see which of the two women would give up the baby. She was the mother. The point being, in ancient Jewish culture, the king is the judge. So living under the Messianic reign is to live under Christ’s judgment. With that in mind, read the following passage.

    In this context, these Jewish leaders are the wicked who do not hear the voice of Christ. They have eyes to see, but do not see. They have ears to hear, but do not hear. They see the miracles, but become enemies of Christ. As you read this passage, don’t forget who the audience is. The audience is the Jewish leaders. The audience is the wicked, enemies of Christ, who will not be resurrected in this “hour,” because they do not hear Christ’s voice.

    John 5:16-30 For this cause the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill him, because he did these things on the Sabbath. (17) But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, so I am working, too.” (18) For this cause therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath, but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

    (19) Jesus therefore answered them, “Most certainly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father doing. For whatever things he does, these the Son also does likewise. (20) For the Father has affection for the Son, and shows him all things that he himself does. He will show him greater works than these, that you may marvel. (21) For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom he desires. (22) For the Father judges no one, but he has given all judgment to the Son, (23) that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who doesn’t honor the Son doesn’t honor the Father who sent him.

    (24) “Most certainly I tell you, he who hears my word, and believes him who sent me, has eternal life, and doesn’t come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. (25) Most certainly, I tell you, the hour comes, and now is, when the dead will hear the Son of God’s voice; and those who hear will live. (26) For as the Father has life in himself, even so he gave to the Son also to have life in himself. (27) He also gave him authority to execute judgment, because he is a son of man.

    (28) Don’t marvel at this, for the hour comes, in which all that are in the tombs will hear his voice, (29) and will come out; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment. (30) I can of myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is righteous; because I don’t seek my own will, but the will of my Father who sent me.

    The Jewish leaders were not willing to hear Christ’s voice. Thus, Jesus himself will condemn them. Jesus is not pronouncing condemnation of anybody else. Jesus is only addressing the Jewish leaders who were not willing to hear Christ’s voice, even a voice as strong as the miracles.

    According to verse 25, only those who hear Christ’s voice will be resurrected. Those who do not hear Christ’s voice, such as the Jewish leaders to which Christ is speaking (verse 19), will not be resurrected. This happens in an “hour” that is coming according to verse 25. In that same hour, according to verse 28, there will be two different resurrections. Both “hear his voice” from the tombs.

    Verse 29 says that those who have “done good” will be raised to a resurrection of life. Verse 24 says they will not be under judgment. In other words, they will reign with Christ. They no longer need to be judged. Verse 29 says others who have “done evil” will be raised to a resurrection of judgment. They will be ruled over by those who are no longer under judgment.

    The death of Christ on the cross paid the price for the resurrection of both the just and the unjust. In other words, everyone is saved. This puts everyone on a journey towards holiness. We must mature in Christ in order to complete that journey. But those who reject Christ’s salvation will not be resurrected.

    Jesus is the Savior of all people. The fact that everyone is saved can be seen in all the following verses. The word “all” doesn’t have to be 100 percent. The exceptions would be the wicked who no longer hear Christ’s voice. Even the foolish who do not explicitly and knowingly reject that salvation will be saved.

    1 Timothy 4:10 KJV For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe.

    Does this verse say that Jesus is the Savior of only the men who believe? Or does this verse say Jesus is the Savior of all men, especially those who believe? How about this verse:

    1 Corinthians 15:21-22 ESV For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. (22) For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

    I’m saved, you are saved, we all are saved. If you die in Adam, you will be made alive in Christ. Not just the believers. Everyone can be resurrected. But that doesn’t mean that everyone will inherit eternal life. You must become a believer in order to be justified and receive the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, there is no way to overcome sin, because we can’t do it ourselves. It cannot be by our own works, because sinners are slaves to their sins.

    Grace is the presence and work of the Holy Spirit inside us to make us into new creatures. Grace is the work of God to change us so that we no longer have sinful habits. And without faith in Christ to do this work inside us, it’s not going to happen. So we must become believers and have faith in Christ. Then we can begin our journey of salvation, which is also called sanctification. If sanctification is completed before Christ returns, we can inherit the kingdom and eternal life by being resurrected with a spiritual body.

    Others can be resurrected with a natural body. But what happens if the resurrected unjust deliberately keep on sinning and wind up dying in their sins again? The wages of sin is death. What if they die a second death because of sin? Does the blood of Christ pay for a second resurrection? Consider the following verses:

    Hebrews 6:4-6 ESV For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, (5) and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, (6) and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

    Hebrews 10:26-27 ESV For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, (27) but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

    Of course these verses in Hebrews are a warning to Christians who have shared the Holy Spirit and have tasted the heavenly gift. The entire book of Hebrews was written to some Christian Jews who were considering turning away from Christ back to Judaism. It’s a warning that you can permanently lose your salvation if you deliberately reject Christ. But this doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not a weak moment. It’s a deliberate and continuous rejection of Christ’s salvation.

    These verses in Hebrews are talking about those in this age, who deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the heavenly gift, the Holy Spirit, and the “powers of the age to come.” Nevertheless, we can see from these verses that those who deliberately keep on sinning in the age to come will wind up dying the second death, and that it would be impossible to bring them back to repentance. It would require the crucifixion of Christ all over again.’


  2. Describing the material only answer to this question is interesting when talking to Atheists. Everything that is material only dies. It is not pretty.


  3. 3. Upon death new covenant believers go to be with Christ in heaven ahead of the general resurrection, while the wicked descend to Sheol/Hades waiting for judgment.

    This is one of the parts that has always confused me. It sounds like upon death there is a judgement. Otherwise everyone would go to the same place awaiting Final Judgement. So if there is judgement at the time of death, what is the Final Judgement for? And are some condemned at the initial judgement but acquitted at the Final Judgement (or vice versa)?


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