What happens when we die? Is there a resurrection? Is there a Heaven and a Hell?

Bible study that hits the spot
Bible study that hits the spot

One of the questions that everyone should ask themselves is “what happens to me when I die?” Well, I’m an evangelical Protestant Christian, and I think that view of the world is correct according to logic and evidence. Well, I found an article on this that provides the philosophical theology perspective, from Dr. William Lane Craig. You can’t do better than him.

He writes:

The first and most fundamental truth that we must hold on to is that the biblical hope of immortality is physical, bodily resurrection. I repeat: The biblical hope for immortality is physical, bodily resurrection. The biblical hope is not that the soul will someday be separated from the body and fly off to heaven and be forever with God in heaven in this disembodied existence. That’s actually a very Greek understanding of the afterlife, from the Greek philosophers like Plato, and it’s very different from the Jewish-Hebrew way of thinking of the afterlife. For Jews and for the early Christians alike, the hope of immortality was not the immortality of the soul alone but rather the resurrection of the body. This physical body will be raised from the dead and transformed to immortal life.

He cites 1 Cor 15:20 and Phil 3:20-21 as support.

And do we get our resurrection bodies right away?

Now that raises the next question: When do we receive our resurrection bodies? When do we get our resurrection body? Is it immediately upon death? When we die, do we immediately receive our resurrection body? Well, the answer to that is, no. That idea fails to take seriously the physical nature of the resurrection. The resurrection body is not some different body. It is this body transformed into a glorious, immortal, Spirit-filled, incorruptible form. So if we received our resurrection body immediately upon death, the graves of all the Christians would be empty! There would be no corpses left in the tombs because our resurrection bodies are the transformation of this earthly body. Therefore, the resurrection doesn’t take place immediately upon death. Rather the Scriptures are fairly clear that this takes place at the second coming of Christ, when Christ returns to earth.

He cites 1 Cor 15:21-23, 51-52 for support, as well as 1 Thes 4:13-17.

And what about the time in between death and the second coming of Christ? After all, in Luke 23:39-43, Jesus tells the dying thief who believes in him that he’ll be with Jesus in Paradise that very day:

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 

41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Dr. Craig says:

[T]he Bible indicates is that the soul does survive the death of the body. Human death does not mean extinction. Human death is simply the separation of the soul from the body. While the body dies biologically and decays away, the soul continues to exist and continues to live in a disembodied state. In between your death and your resurrection you will exist as a disembodied soul, a soul without a body, in a conscious state.

And he cites Phil 1:21-24, where it talks about how life after death, but before the resurrection, is an improvement, because he will be with Christ, which is “far better”. Those who don’t accept Jesus as Lord and Savior will also have a life after death, but apart from Christ. And they’ll also have a resurrection, but not to eternal life with Christ:

In John 5 there’s a very interesting passage where Jesus speaks about the resurrection, and He says that there will be a resurrection, not only of the righteous dead, but even also of the unrighteous dead. John 5:28-29. Look at this saying by Jesus: “Do not marvel at this. For the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth, those who have done good to the resurrection of life and those who have done evil to the resurrection of condemnation.” Jesus envisions that all people will be raised from the dead. Those who are believers, the righteous dead, will be raised to the resurrection of life; but the unrighteous dead, those who have rejected God’s grace and His love, will be raised to the resurrection of condemnation.

Dr. Craig also talks about the story of Lazarus, where the rich man, who is not saved, is in Hades, which is the Greek word for the Hebrew word “Sheol”, which you may recognize from the Psalms.

Dr. Craig writes:

When people die, the righteous go to be with Christ, where they will await their resurrection from the dead. The damned go to Hades, where they are in a disembodied state where they await their resurrection to final judgment. Only then are people ushered in to their final state, which is heaven or hell.

I cannot wait until I get my resurrection body. I have a very good idea of what I’d like it to be, too. I think about the resurrection a lot, and really look forward to it. I had a difficult life in many ways. There are things that have not been resolved, like not being married, and being stuck as a virgin! And then there’s the troubles I sometimes have at work, when atheists who are younger and more dedicated than me make me feel inadequate. I was a hard worker in my 20s and 30s, but now in my 40s, I just feel like I would rather be doing things I really care about, and it’s sometimes hard to focus, especially when retirement is just around the corner – around age 50.

Sometimes, I find myself driving home in my beautiful city and state, and I just think, the most important things are not all this prosperity and freedom God blessed me with, but that vertical relationship with God. And I wish I was doing more to really show Jesus that he is Lord of my life. But my hope is that in the end, I will share in his vindication, being clothed in a righteousness that I did not earn myself.

5 thoughts on “What happens when we die? Is there a resurrection? Is there a Heaven and a Hell?”

  1. There is some legitimate question of a temporary body in the intermediate state. But, definitely not our glorified bodies.

    Regardless, the churches need to be talking more about Hell than they do now, which is basically not at all. The unrepentant need to understand that, uncovered by the Blood of Christ, they will reap for Eternity what they sowed in this lifetime (Galatians 6:7). They will get EXACTLY what they deserve. (We only get better than what we deserve because of Christ’s Work on the Cross.)

    The unrepentant – including most of the people in the American pews if statistics are correct – need to be fully warned of what this means. They need to understand that if a woman champions the most barbaric form of abortion created by man – partial birth abortion – for her decades on the Supreme Court and if she never truly repents of her sins (including this particularly heinous one), then she gets to be on the receiving end of her “great cause” for Eternity. God will give her His Perfect Justice and nothing better or worse – although it is difficult to imagine what is worse than being partial birth aborted over and over again.

    This goes too for people who support abortion, slavery, the Nazis, etc. Your “great cause” will be your “great reward.” There needs to be preaching on this – inside of the churches too. When I preach this on street corners, I see people, especially women, breaking down in tears. That is the first step to true repentance. I don’t know what will happen to people who claim Christ but are lukewarm on abortion. I don’t know what will happen to pastors who claim Christ but are so lukewarm that they do not even preach on Hell – like Jesus and John the baptist and many others did. But, it sure is cutting things close.

    The existence of Hell is philosophically supported, as well as confirmed more by Jesus than anyone else in the Bible. Most of our family and friends are going there – including the ones who claim to be Christians. Jesus confirms this over and over again. To not warn others of Eternal flames has to be one of the most sinful sins of ommission committed by Western Christians. Everybody talks about Heaven in the prosperous West, but very few talk about where most people (on Christ’s Words) end up – Hell. This includes famous Christian apologists – have you noticed how soft many of them go on Hell and homosexuality?!?

    I actually had “Christian” relatives tell me that my parents were together in Heaven now that they have both passed. This despite the fact that not only did they never become born again followers of Jesus Christ, but they also openly rejected Christ and His Gospel multiple times. That’s not love – that’s hate. Heaven would be Hell if God allowed in those who rejected Him all of the way to their deaths. I simply cannot imagine being around my parents, or pro-aborts, or abortionists, or the Alphabet Mafia – as they are now – for Eternity. That would be the ultimate Hell for me. If they repent and surrender to Christ before their last breath, however, they become new creatures who would be a pleasure to be around. But, why would they need to do these things if nobody calls them to repentance – if no pastor preaches on Hell, abortion, gay “marriage,” transgendering children, divorce, etc?!?

    In exceedingly wicked times like we are currently living in, it is a crime against human souls for pastors to not preach on Hell. Real pastors from past ages preached Hell for sins far less wicked than what we are surrounded by today. Time is running short for us all – even if Christ does not return for another thousand years, we shall not last long.

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  2. This is interesting to me, for more than one reason. Isn’t there a passage that those disembodied spirits can visit earth sometimes? Last Saturday I had an interesting experience. I was putting a few things away, and was at the top of the stairs leading to the basement. I saw a cat walk across the platform at the bottom of the stairs and down the hall. It distinctly stepped up onto the platform and down the other side. I ran downstairs to catch it, but there was no cat there. I do have cats, but they were all upstairs eating and playing with their new toys. I did have a cat that died last year. I didn’t feel any ill will in what I saw; it looked like it was just checking in. We do know there will be horses in Heaven as the Lord will ride one when He returns, so maybe other animals will be too.

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  3. Christians should admit more of the things in the Bible. People almost think I’m many ways ethically and even spiritually as it atheism were true.

    They are embarrassed of the spiritual, miraculous, and future claims of the Bible.

    Meanwhile ancient pagan ideas are modernized in appearance and people highly accept it.

    Most people are open to spiritual beings existing, they have less issue with miracle’s happening then we realize, and many other things. We should stop ignoring parts of the Bible because a western scientific mind finds the ideas troubling.

    I tend to highly logical but if the Bible says a certain worldview I will accept it.

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  4. More of these basic ideas of Christianity can’t be assumed as common knowledge. There are more people than ever that have no idea of a biblical idea of heaven, hell, afterlife. God’s nature and in many cases you need to find out what they believe as they may use correct terms with different definitions ( a common thing in cults is to redifine words so they sound Orthodox when they aren’t

    I have to remind myself at times some people are clueless on basic things. So I could be talking past them without realizing it

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