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Jamie Johnson
6 April 2022

When We Die

I received a message recently where a fellow believer in Christ asked a question about where we go when we die in writing the following:

"I need your intake on heaven. ... Maybe I'm wrong but one place in the Bible says the spirit goes and lives with God and you would be with him, Jesus, family and friends but in one place in the Bible it says you will be dead until Christ comes again. What do you think the Bible is telling us? Thanks for your input."

Regarding Heaven, what I gather from Scripture is that when we die, our soul is with Christ immediately. Our bodies remain here until His return when the bodies will be raised, replaced with glorified bodies like His and be united with our soul. Here are some scriptures that can help:

2 Corinthians 5:6 (NASB) says the following:

Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord

This indicates that while we are in the physical body, we are away from the Lord. This is further supported by Philippians 1:23, which says, "But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better" (NASB). And there are more supporting verses of how being apart from the physical body is to be with Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:8 says, "but we are of good courage and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord" (NASB). These verses indicate that to be departed or absent from the body is to be with the Lord. And remember when Jesus said to the thief on the cross who placed faith in Jesus and asked Jesus to remember him? Jesus said, "Today, you will be with me..." (Luke 23:43) So, the Scriptures support the immediacy of the believer's soul being with Christ at the point of death.

1 Thessalonians 4:16 (NASB) states the following:

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

This indicates that the when Lord descends from heaven, the dead in Christ will rise. The dead in Christ are believers who have died. Now, we know the soul goes on after death and is always alive from the point of birth. That is the eternal piece of us, if you will -- the part that is immediately with Jesus when we die and had been redeemed by Him when we placed faith in Him. With age and health issues, we see how our bodies are temporary. Our bodies, as we know them now, will be replaced.

1 Corinthians 15:51-53 (NASB) says the following:

Behold, I am telling you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.

This indicates that the we shall all be changed when the trumpet sounds: the dead shall be raised incorruptible (glorified) and our corruptible flesh will put on immortality (be glorified). And 1 John 3:2 (NASB) says the following:

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.

See that? We shall be like Him (glorified).

And there is Ecclesiastes 12:7, which says, "then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it" (NASB). This implies the body will return to the dust but the spirit will go to God.

And finally, 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 (NASB) says the following:

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

These verses in 1 Corinthians 15 show the reality of both a spiritual (soul) and physical body. So, when we (those in Christ) die, our souls are immediately with Jesus and our bodies remain until His return when they are raised and replaced with glorified bodies.

Then what happens? Consider Revelation 21:1-4 (NASB), which states the following:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among the people, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."

I, too, have thought on such things through the years since my father's passing. I believe (and the aforementioned scriptures support it) that he is with Christ and experiencing great joy beyond our comprehension. And as the song implies, I think the things of earth have grown strangely dim for him. I remember some of my last words to him were that I would see him at the wedding feast of the Lamb. My father is experiencing inexpressible joy. And those in Christ will do likewise when we die.

To the reader: Do you have that hope? Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ as the only Way to God, in His completed work on the cross (where He conquered death and rose again) and in Him as your God? Today is the day of Salvation. Know today where you will go before you die.

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