What Happens After Death? - 10/04/2003
I find myself very confused on the matter of where we go upon our death. Assuming we deserved the the "narrow" gate there seems to be several beliefs making the matter very confusing. It has been my understanding that we we all be judged at the same time; this being true, why do some say that we go immediately to our reward? Why are there television shows such as "Crossing Over" hosted by John Edwards. Why do there seem to be many kinds of "ghosts" as: some not realizing they have died, some mean and destructive, some only able to speak through a human catylist, etc, etc?? What is reincarnation all about? If second chances were available after death wouldn't the Bible attest to them? Thank you. May GOD bless your ministry.
CONTENDER MINISTRIES RESPONSE:
Hi Gene. Thanks for contacting us at Contender Ministries. I understand the source of your confusion. So-called "psychic medium" John Edward's show is an example of Satan's efforts to confuse us about the nature and destiny of our eternal souls. Ghost stories have no bearing in reality. Oh, some people may have very real experiences they attribute to ghosts of departed humans, but that concept is unscriptural. I believe strongly that what they experience is the confusing influence of Satan's demonic forces, who are intent on causing confusion. Reincarnation is an invention of the eastern religions, and denies the saving power of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the sovereign authority of Almighty God. It is, in a manner, a self-imposed prison sentence - a cycle of repeated lives in which we reap temporal (earthly) rewards or punishments based on what we have sowed during our previous lives. What really happens after death is spelled out in the New Testament, and it offers exciting hope!
Paul refers to the passing of a believer as a "sleep" as opposed to a death. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 says, "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words." 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 says, "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed -- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."
There are two slightly different interpretations on the matter. Some believe, based on the verses above, that the dead in Christ will immediately precede us at the trumpet call of Christ (the rapture). When talking about going immediately to our reward, people are partly right according to this interpretation. For the departed Christians, it will seem like an immediate move. They are, in a sense, asleep. Paul used this metaphor (of sleep) to reinforce that for a Christian, death is not an end. It is merely a temporary sleep until Christ calls them up to meet Him in the air, soon to be joined by those Christians who are alive at that time. Another interpretation, which is very similar, states that departed Christians do indeed go immediately to their reward. Then, at the trumpet call, they receive their imperishable bodies. To support this interpretation, proponents will point to the words of Jesus to the repentent criminal on the cross, "today, you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43, NIV). Regardless of which of these interpretations you find more credible, the hope therein is wonderful. We will be with Jesus in an instant after death, or what will seem like an instant.
How wonderful to know that those Christian friends and family who have passed away will be instantly (to them) in the presence of our Lord. How exciting to know that we will be reunited with them in that instance, liberated from our perishable bodies, and clothed in the imperishable righteousness bestowed upon us through the grace and mercy of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I hope this answered your question. May God bless you as you study His word and grow in the Lord.
Ben and Jennifer Rast