What happens when you die? We all know everyone’s life ends, eventually. Sometimes it’s sudden—one minute you’re alive, the next, you’re dead. But what happens the minute after that? Is there life after death?
It’s hard to think of a topic that brings more questions with it than, “Is there life after death?” First, does it even matter what you believe about it? Would it change the way we live if we believed in life after death? Here are just a few of the FAQs about the afterlife.
Is heaven a real place? What’s it really like?
What about hell? Is it real? What do people look like if they go there?
Did a loved one who has passed away go to “sleep” or immediately go to heaven?
What will we look like in heaven? Will we have physical bodies or will we be more of a spirit?
Will married people still be married in heaven?
Will families still be connected? Will we all be one big family?
Will we be reunited with pets?
Will we be able to ask questions about why and when certain things happened on earth?
Will we even be thinking about those events or remember them in heaven?
This list is tiny compared to the questions we all have. And, the truth is, though there are some things we as Christians can know for sure, there are some things about the next life that we simply can’t know. There are actually some great details given in the Bible about heaven, hell, and what happens when we die. But, there are a lot of details missing. It’s probably because it’s like trying to explain calculus to a grasshopper. It’s just more knowledge than our brains can handle. We can barely keep up with our own space-time continuum. We can’t quite grasp eternity and its richness.
So let’s focus on the things we know for sure. Ready? Here is a list of 11 things we know for sure about what happens after you die.
- First, you will not actually be dead. Mind-boggling, isn’t it? One more time: After you die, you are actually not dead. Your physical body will die, but, your soul will still be alive. The part of you that is the most real is also eternal. In John 3:16, the Bible states that if we believe in Him, we will not perish but have everlasting life. But that’s certainly not the only reference in the Bible to our eternal life through Christ. Here are a few more: John 10:28-30, 1 Peter 5:10, 1 John 5:11, 2 Corinthians 4:18, Romans 6:23, Galatians 6:8, and 1 Timothy 1:16.
- Hell is a real place—and God doesn’t want anyone to have to go there. See the first point if you have any questions. God gave the world Jesus, His Son, to make a way for us to be reconnected to His perfect and holy self. He doesn’t want any of us to be removed from Him forever. He made a way for us to walk from darkness into light. But, He’s not going to force us to choose His light. That’s up to us.
- Hell is a place where God can deal righteously with Satan. Who is Satan? The enemy of our souls. And God will deal with him justly. (Matthew 25:41)
- Hell is a place where God can deal righteously with those who choose not to believe in Him. Again, God is just and perfect. And He will deal with us with justice, too. Read about the rich man and the beggar from the book of Matthew. It is horrendous, and God won’t enjoy it, but it is still what will happen if we choose not to be made right with God through Jesus.
- Hell is a place of regret, fear, and hopelessness. There will be wailing, pain, and suffering. It will be dark, ugly, and hot (seriously). See: Revelation 21:8, Matthew 8:12, and Matthew 25:41.
- The worst part about hell? It’s a place of eternal separation from God. It’s a place of punishment. It is also a place of separation from Christ and those who are in heaven. It’s a place of isolation. See: 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 and Luke 16:27-28.
- Heaven is a very real place—and that’s exactly where God wants us when we die. Ready for the good news? It’s really, really good news. See points one and two. God doesn’t want to be without us. God is our creator. He used great care when making each of us, and loves us completely. Period. No strings attached. He chose to give us freedom to love Him back, though. He desires for us to turn to Him, no matter how far from Him we may think we are. When we do, He runs to us, like the good father in this story.
- In heaven, we will be completely healthy and whole. There will be no sickness, pain, depression, fear, death, or anxiety. There will be joy, peace, healing, and completeness. See Revelation 21:4-5 and Philippians 3:20-21.
- In heaven, we will see God. We will be in the presence of God and have everlasting hope. We will finally see Jesus. We will live together in His holy city. See Psalm 84:10 and Revelation 22:3.
- In heaven, we have a home. There will be a place reserved for us. We will not be lonely or left out. It will be beautiful. See John 14:2 and 1 Corinthians 2:9.
- In heaven, every different kind of Jesus follower God has ever created will live together and worship Him in peace—forever. Complete harmony and unity. We will be rejoicing together. See Revelation 7:9-10 and Revelation 5:12-13.
Let’s end with a few more thoughts, and of course, a few more questions. Let yourself imagine fast-forwarding to one minute before you die. What do you suppose you’ll be thinking about? What do you suppose you’ll be looking forward to in the first moments after you die? You probably won’t care about how many likes you got on social media. You won’t think about your last bad hair day or what size clothes you wore. Will you wish you had built stronger relationships? Will you wish you had served people more? Will you wish you had read the Bible instead of the latest fiction novel? Will you wish you had spent your life serving something greater than yourself? Will your heart’s last beat be filled with excitement to finally see your best friend and savior’s face?
God is with you, right now, right where you are. He wants to spend eternity with you. When you leave this earth, you can continue to live in His presence. What a gift we have! Ask God your questions. Stay a while with Him. He can provide peace and offer insight as you seek Him.