Question: Where does the Christian go at death?
Answer: Jesus said: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3).
When the spirit of a Christian leaves their body it goes immediately into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked.
“For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
“So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-8)
Some teach that your soul sleeps, but you will not find this taught in Scripture. You will find that Jesus says the body is sleeping when we die. “He said to them, ‘Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping.’ And they ridiculed Him.” (Matthew 9:24) “These things He said, and after that He said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.’ Then His disciples said, ‘Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.’ However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead.'” (John 11:11-14)
Saint Paul made it clear that our spirit leaves our body at death and immediately goes to be with the Lord, but our bodies are sleeping until they are resurrected. “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
Those who have died already are in heaven with the LORD. When Christ returns, He will take the bodies of these people and resurrect them into a glorious body, and He will put their spirit, that is in heaven now, back into this glorious body! This body will be like Christ’s resurrected body. Then those who are alive at this time will be given a glorious body a split second after the dead get their new bodies. “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the Firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the Firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)
You say, but what if a Christian died and their body has been burned up? What if they died at sea and their body is lost? What if their body is totally destroyed and there is nothing left of them? Do you think anything is too hard for the LORD? He made us to begin with, if He has to start all over, nothing is too hard for Him! St. Paul says about this subject, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “But someone will say, ‘How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?’ Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain-perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 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. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall 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 incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15 and we have a study on this whole chapter if you will go to Part Four of our 1 Corinthians study.)
To answer your question, where does a Christian go at death, I need to correct one other misunderstanding, and that is that a Christian’s spirit does not die. As we talked about earlier, only their body goes to sleep waiting its resurrection, but the Christian’s spirit goes immediately to be with the LORD in heaven. “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ “(John 11:25-26)
If we have repented of our sins and believe in Jesus, we have eternal life which starts now. “He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:10-13)
Where does the Christian go when his or her spirit passes out of this body (tent)? It goes immediately into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven. You ask, “What will it be like there?” Good question, here is what the Bible says about heaven: “Then I John, 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 heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’
“.The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
“But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.
“And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. “There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.” (Parts of Revelation 21 and 22)
Another name for heaven is ‘Paradise,’ Paul talks about it in the third person even though he is the one he is speaking about who had the experience. “And I know such a man-whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows-(he is probably speaking of the time he was stoned to death and left for dead, this is recorded in the book of Acts, Acts 14:19-20). “.how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” (2 Corinthians 12:3-4)
Now you see why Paul said, “For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.” (Philippians 1:23-24)
Jesus told the one thief on the cross, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) This was after the thief had seen his need of salvation and had ask for help from Jesus. He had said, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” What a simple prayer, he just admitted he was a sinner in need of salvation. He asked Jesus to remember him. Now he is in heaven with the Lord, the very day he died physically his spirit was sent to Paradise.
How about you? Do you know where you are going when you die? You can know, without a shadow of a doubt! Just right now, where you are, pray a simple prayer of faith, say: God I know I am a sinner in need of salvation. I want to go to heaven when I die, please save me. I believe Jesus is your Son, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I believe He died on the cross for my sins, and came alive again the third day. Right now I invite Jesus to come into my life by His Holy Spirit, and make me a child of God. Thank you, in Jesus name amen. The words themselves are not important, but your heart’s condition is important to God.
When speaking about heaven and how to get there Jesus told Thomas this: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
Thanks for the question,
Gary T. Panell
For more information email me.
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