What Happens When We Die (According to the Bible) 10 Bible Verses on What Happens After Death #IntermediateState #66
Good news – tonight’s topic is super-fun! I can’t imagine anything funner than talking about what happens when we die. Okay, I guess I am being a little tongue in cheek, but stay with me – I think you will be encouraged. Our Bible passages for tonight include Exodus 17, Job 35, Luke 20, and our focus passage, 2 Corinthians 5.
In answering this question – which is incredibly important – let’s start by discussing the issue of how we do BIBLICAL theology in the first place. In other words, how do we answer hard questions like this from the Bible?
Most people have a theology – a certain way they think about God and the things of God. But how to we approach these big questions? Maybe we’ve heard things from our parents. Maybe we apply our own logic to things. (MY God would never do that…) Maybe our church or pastor has told us their take. When engaging in biblical theology, one passage to keep at the front of our thinking is:
Isaiah 55: 8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,and your ways are not My ways.”This is the Lord’s declaration.9 “For as heaven is higher than earth,so My ways are higher than your ways,and My thoughts than your thoughts.
Three steps to a Biblical theology:
- Start with the Bible – what does the Bible say about a particular subject. Not just ONE verse, but many. (For instance – to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord is just a small part of what the Bible has to say about what happens after death, or the intermediate state)
- Account for the difference between Old Covenant passages and New Covenant passages. The New Testament must take precedence over the Old Testament, and it must interpret it.
11 Now if perfection came through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the law), what further need was there for another priest to appear, said to be according to the order of Melchizedek and not according to the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must be a change of law as well. 13 For the one these things are spoken about belonged to a different tribe. No one from it has served at the altar. 14 Now it is evident that our Lord came from Judah, and Moses said nothing about that tribe concerning priests.15 And this becomes clearer if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 who did not become a priest based on a legal regulation about physical descent but based on the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it has been testified:Hebrews 7:11-18
You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.18 So the previous command is annulled because it was weak and unprofitable 19 (for the law perfected nothing), but a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.
3. With humility, prayer, and the leadership of the Spirit -keep returning to the Word of God.
3 Biblical Truths about Death:
- Death is here because of sin. We do NOT take this seriously enough. Romans 6:23, “23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- Death is an ENEMY. 1 Corinthians 15: “24 Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when He abolishes all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy to be abolished is death.”
- Death will END one day. Revelation 21, “3 Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.”
10 Bible Verses/Passages on What happens after Death:
- Genesis 3:19 You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust.” Hebrews 9:27 “ 27 It is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment” MEANING: YOU ARE ALL GOING TO DIE! BUT: John 3:16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son,so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” Perish = Rot, ruin, be utterly destroyed. Cease. Come to ruin. We WILL die – almost all of us. We will NOT Perish.
- 2nd Samuel 12: 19 When David saw that his servants were whispering to each other, he guessed that the baby was dead. So he asked his servants, “Is the baby dead?” “He is dead,” they replied. 20 Then David got up from the ground. He washed, anointed himself, changed his clothes, went to the Lord’s house, and worshiped. Then he went home and requested something to eat. So they served him food, and he ate. 21 His servants asked him, “What did you just do? While the baby was alive, you fasted and wept, but when he died, you got up and ate food.” 22 He answered, “While the baby was alive, I fasted and wept because I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let him live.’ 23 But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I’ll go to him, but he will never return to me.” MEANING: IN THE OT, THERE WAS AN UNDERSTANDING ABOUT A PLACE OF THE DEAD.
3. Daniel 12:1-3 and 13 “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever... “13 But as for you, go on your way to the end; you will rest, then rise to your destiny at the end of the days.” A RESURRECTION!
4. Luke 16 “19 “There was a rich man who would dress in purple and fine linen, feasting lavishly every day. 20 But a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, was left at his gate. 21 He longed to be filled with what fell from the rich man’s table, but instead the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22 One day the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torment in Hades, he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off, with Lazarus at his side. 24 ‘Father Abraham!’ he called out, ‘Have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this flame!’25 “‘Son,’ Abraham said, ‘remember that during your life you received your good things, just as Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here, while you are in agony. 26 Besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that those who want to pass over from here to you cannot; neither can those from there cross over to us.’” NOTE: NOT SAID TO BE A PARABLE. HADES IS THE PLACE OF THE DEAD. SOME INDICATION OF AN INTERMEDIATE STATE HERE.
Intro to this story, Luke 16:15 “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly admired by people is revolting in God’s sight.”
5. 2 Corinthians 5, “5 For we know that if our temporary, earthly dwelling is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal dwelling in the heavens, not made with hands. 2 Indeed, we groan in this body, desiring to put on our dwelling from heaven, 3 since, when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 Indeed, we groan while we are in this tent, burdened as we are, because we do not want to be unclothed but clothed, so that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 And the One who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment. 6 So, we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.
6. 1 Corinthians 15:35 35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? What kind of body will they have when they come?” 36 Foolish one! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And as for what you sow—you are not sowing the future body, but only a seed, perhaps of wheat or another grain. 38 But God gives it a body as He wants, and to each of the seeds its own body. … 42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead: Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption; 43 sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in power; 44 sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body. This is vivid imagery here – A dead body is planted in the ground like a seed. And like a seed, it blooms into something completely vibrant and different.
7. 1 Corinthians 15:50 Brothers, I tell you this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and corruption cannot inherit incorruption. 51 Listen! I am telling you a mystery:We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet.For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.53 For this corruptible must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal must be clothed with immortality. 54 When this corruptible is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal is clothed with immortality,then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory.55 Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting? 56 Now the sting of death is sin,and the power of sin is the law.57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
8. 1st Thessalonians 4, “13 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. 14 Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. 15 For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
9. Revelation 20: .11 Then I saw a great white throne and One seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. 12 I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books.
13 Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works. 14 Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.15 And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire
10. Revelation 21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea no longer existed.2 I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. 3 Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.
Boil it down: What do we learn about death and the intermediate state according to the Bible?
- In the Old Testament and New Testament, when people died…they went somewhere – the place of the dead…Sheol/Hades.
- Death was also described as sleeping (in the dust) in both the OT and New Testament. How could death be like sleeping in the ground AND going somewhere? Acts 2:29 “Brothers, I can confidently speak to you about the patriarch David: He is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.
- We find the answer in 1 Cor 15: 51 Listen! I am telling you a mystery:We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet.For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.53 For this corruptible must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal must be clothed with immortality.
- So – how does that work? We can INFER from Scripture that our Body stays in the ground and our spirit/soul goes to a temporary Heaven or place of the dead. (Bosom of Abraham?) Paul – better for him by far that he die. If you are in Christ like Paul or Lazarus – that place will be better. There is an AMAZING lack of info in the Bible about the intermediate state. 1 Cor 13: “We see through a glass darkly” 1 Thess 5:23, “23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- We are coming to an age, in Christ, where THERE WILL BE NO MORE DEATH. DEATH WILL BE ENDED. In Christ, believers will be welcomed into the new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21:1). Unbelievers will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). All people will go to one of those two places, based on whether or not they were in Christ. (John 3:36).
CLOSE: ROMANS 8: 10 Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you.