Core Christian Beliefs

What Happens When You Die?

Faith Eng and Sarah Freyermuth


Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” His words, though slightly humorous, remind us of a very real truth: One of the things we all have in common is that everyone dies.

At one time or another, most people wonder what will happen when they die. Death feels frightening and mysterious, and perspectives on what happens and what it means vary significantly.

To help you find some answers to this question, let’s explore some different views on this topic, including what the Bible has to say about it.
 

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Historical Beliefs About the Afterlife

When you ask, “What happens when you die?” you are joining generations of people who have asked that question throughout history.

The afterlife has historically had an important role in cultures all over the world. Greek and Roman mythology described it as an underworld. Vikings talked about Valhalla, a paradise. Chinese mythology refers to the Diyu, or hell. Many of the Great Plains tribes saw it as a “happy hunting ground.”

Even before recorded history, people buried the dead with food, weapons, valuables and other useful items. The living apparently thought the dead would need these things after death, implying a belief in an afterlife.

A Selection of Perspectives

 

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There are many ways to approach the question, “What happens when you die?” People have looked for answers through science, philosophy and religion. Even within those schools of thought, people have a wide variety of beliefs about the afterlife.

Science and Medicine

People who study science and medicine have come to very different conclusions about the afterlife. Some think that to believe in science means the supernatural, including life after death, is not possible. Others believe that science proves, or at least points to, the possibility of life after death.

Physicist Stephen Hawking compared death to a computer that stops working when it breaks. He thought of the afterlife as a fairytale.

In contrast, Nobel-Prize-winning physicist Max Planck believed physics shows that consciousness is not a product of physical matter (such as brain cells). Since it exists outside of physical matter, it could outlast physical death.

Others argue that the first law of thermodynamics, which states that energy and matter cannot be created or destroyed, means life cannot end at death.

Doctors and scientists have also studied the experiences of people who have been declared clinically dead, only to be revived later. One large-scale scientific study, by a team from the University of Southampton in England found evidence of consciousness during a period of cardiac arrest and no brain activity.

Based on research and case studies like this, some scientists have concluded there must be life after death.

Philosophy

Philosophy also has a lot to say on this subject. Ancient philosophers like Socrates and Plato believed that when the body died, the soul lived on. Years later, Immanuel Kant, concluded that morality requires life after death as well as the existence of a just judge.

Atheist philosophers like Marx, Lenin and Nietzche did not believe in an afterlife. They viewed belief in an afterlife as in conflict with living life to its fullest.

Religion

Religion is one of the most common ways people answer the question of “what happens when you die?” There are many different religions and almost as many beliefs about the afterlife, even if it’s that no afterlife exists.

Though the specifics differ, many religions have similar themes, such as reincarnation, heaven, hell, enlightenment, some combination of these. Some religions have very consistent beliefs across all followers. Other religious teachings leave more open to interpretation, which can result in a wide variety of beliefs among members.


Christianity. Followers of Jesus believe that there is an afterlife and that Christ is not only the key to life and love on this earth, He is the key to what will happen when you die. The Bible teaches that when people die, their souls live on. People will spend eternity either with God (commonly called heaven) or separated from God (commonly called hell).

People try to reach God through being very moral, doing good deeds, or behaving in ways they think of as very religious. But the Bible teaches that no one is actually worthy of spending eternity with God based on their own efforts. In fact, trying to get to heaven on the basis of our own effort is actually part of the problem the Bible refers to as sin. This is the problem Jesus’ death and resurrection solved for anyone who trusts in Jesus.

But why do we need Jesus to solve the problem of sin?

Christians believe it’s because we’ve all chosen to go our own way, or rebel against God, and so do not deserve to be in heaven with Him forever. Trying to earn your way to heaven or make yourself good enough for heaven, is essentially an attempt to be your own god. People remain imperfect, despite their best efforts.

Because God is perfect, imperfect people cannot spend eternity with Him in heaven without ruining its perfection. Only a perfect God can make imperfect people perfect again. He did this by coming to earth in the person of Jesus Christ, living a perfect life and dying on behalf of all people so their wrongdoings and rebellion can be forgiven.

When people accept Jesus as their only way to God, they will be given the righteousness of Christ so they can spend eternity with God (starting with a personal relationship with Him in this lifetime). Those who reject Jesus reject God. Since heaven is eternity with God, this means they will be separated from God for eternity.

People who do not trust Jesus cannot go to heaven because of what heaven is.

Find out more about what Christianity has to say.

 


Islam. Muslims believe people have immortal souls. After death, the destination of the soul depends on a person’s good and bad deeds. Islam teaches that everyone will be resurrected (be raised to life again) and face final judgment. People who are faithful and good will enter paradise. People who are unfaithful and wicked will enter hell.

 


Judaism. There are different beliefs about the afterlife within Judaism. Most sacred Jewish texts describe some form of afterlife. The Hebrew Bible talks about “Sheol,” and the Talmud describes “the World to Come,” though what exactly these are is not clear.

Some Jewish people believe only the faithful and good will enter the afterlife but that the afterlife is open to good people of any worldview. Others believe there will be a resurrection of everyone that will include a judgment of every person’s good and bad deeds to determine their eternal fate.

But many Jewish people do not believe in hell. Some do not believe in an afterlife at all, but place value on preserving culture and living on through future generations.

 


Baha’i. The Baha’i faith teaches that at death, the body dies, but the immortal, rational soul continues on in the spiritual realm and grows toward perfection. The prayers of people still on earth and good deeds done in the name of the person who died can help a soul make progress in the next world.

Though Baha’i teaches of the truth of all religions, it does not promote the idea of a physical heaven and hell. Instead, references to heaven and hell are to be taken figuratively and symbolically. Baha’is do not believe in reincarnation.

 


Buddhism. There are several types of Buddhism with distinct teachings about the afterlife. In general, Buddhism teaches that eternal, individual souls do not exist but that after death, people usually experience reincarnation based on their actions and desires in this life. The ultimate goal is to end the cycle of reincarnation and reach an enlightened state called Nirvana. This is achieved through meditation, religious practice and the elimination of desire, hatred and ignorance.

Nirvana is characterized by freedom from suffering. It’s not a physical location, but a higher state of being than the physical world.

 


Hinduism. Hinduism includes a large variety of beliefs and practices and is both a religion and a culture. The core Hindu belief about what happens after death focuses on reincarnation. Most Hindus believe in an eternal, immortal soul that is reincarnated at death based on its actions in life, known as its karma. The consequences of karma are automatic and cannot be avoided.

A person may suffer in one life for bad karma from the current life or a previous life. The ultimate goal in Hinduism is to achieve moksha, or freedom from reincarnation. This is achieved by eliminating bad karma through good actions, meditation, spiritual devotion or freedom from ignorance and desire.

Once moksha is achieved, the soul becomes one with (or acknowledges that it and everything else is already one with) Brahman, the ultimate reality or universal God.

 


Sikhism. Sikhism emphasizes both living a good life in community and meditating on God. Sikhs believe a person experiences reincarnation until they resolve all of their karma and attain mukti, or liberation. This happens when one focuses their attention on God instead of self and attains a full understanding of God.

Only God can cause someone to attain mukti, but people should strive to be close to God. When liberated, the individual becomes one with God.

 


Shinto. Shinto includes a number of different beliefs and practices but does not emphasize the afterlife. Death is seen as impure in Shinto religion, and the focus is on this life, not the next.

Most Shintoists do not necessarily believe in an eternal soul, but many do believe people can become kami, or sacred spirits who can protect their descendants. People often worship their ancestral kami and honor them through festivals.

Many Shintoists practice both Shinto and Buddhism and view death in a more Buddhist sense.

 


Taoism. Taoism, also known as Daoism, teaches about the Tao — the fundamental energy of life. There are a wide variety of beliefs and practices within Taoism. In general, Taoists seek to achieve immortality through rituals and pursuing harmony and oneness with the universe.

 


Unitarian Universalism. Unitarianism does not have a core set of beliefs and does not promote universal truth. It emphasizes tolerance and rational thought. Unitarians may or may not believe in God or the supernatural, and its focus is on this life. Some Unitarians believe that people cease to exist after death, while others believe there is some sort of afterlife or unification with God or the universe.

Unitarians do not believe in hell or eternal punishment. “Universalism” refers to the belief in universal salvation.

 


Other Views. People who follow Jainism, Scientology, New Age Religion, Wicca and Hare Krishna believe in some form of reincarnation, but the specifics vary. Indigenous Chinese and Tibetian religions have similar, but distinct, beliefs about the afterlife to Buddhism. Members of the Unification Church believe in a spirit world with God and eternal families.

Some religious groups that have some basis in the Bible or who self-identify as Christian but have additional sacred texts paint a different picture of the afterlife than the one found in the Bible. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are two of these groups.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) believe that people were part of the spiritual kingdom before coming to earth and will return to their spiritual state when they die. Immediately after death, peoples’ spirits enter the spirit world. The faithful will be in paradise, but others will be in spirit prison, where they can choose to accept God or not.

Mormons believe in resurrection for all that reunites body and spirit. After the final judgment, the faithful will enter the Celestial Kingdom with God and their eternal families. Those who are good but did not accept God until the spirit world will live in the Terrestrial Kingdom. Those who are not good and rejected God will be in the Telestial Kingdom. Endless punishment is reserved for the devil, his angels, and those who served him or totally reject God.

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the soul is not separate from the physical body and dies with the body. For most, death means nonexistence. A small group of the most faithful (144,000) will be part of the first resurrection and reign with Jesus in heaven. Others who choose to serve God will be part of the second resurrection and live on a new earth forever.

Non-Religious Worldviews

Agnosticism. The word “agnostic” can refer to someone who does not know if God or anything supernatural exists or to someone who does not believe it is possible to know if God or the supernatural exist.

Atheism. Atheists do not believe in God or gods and generally do not believe in an afterlife. Most believe that at death, a person simply ceases to exist. Some people who do not believe in God, and are therefore technically atheists, do still believe in some sort of afterlife.

Confucianism. The Chinese philosophy of Confucianism is more of a philosophy and a way of life than a religion, and it does not promote the idea of an afterlife. The focus of Confucianism is on this life, with an emphasis on family and society as well as respecting the wisdom and traditions passed down from previous generations. Ancestor worship is important in Chinese culture in general and is practiced by many who follow Confucianism.

Falun Gong. Falun Gong is a movement that came out of China in the 1990s and does not claim to be a religion or promote a belief about the afterlife. It does promote attaining a form of salvation or enlightenment in this life through the exercises and teachings of its founder, Li Hongzhi.

Humanism. Humanism teaches that the physical world is all there is and there is no life after death. Humanists believe people should focus on the human experience because at death they will cease to exist.

Going Deeper Into What Christianity Says About Life After Death

 

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The Bible teaches that God has set eternity in the hearts of humans (Ecclesiastes 3:11). This is one reason why death makes us sad; we were not made to end. There are many passages in the Bible that make it clear we do not cease to exist when our earthly bodies die.

Daniel 12:2 says, “Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace.”

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent Me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life” (John 11:25).

When people die, their souls continue to live on. Where their souls go is based on whether or not they accept Jesus’ sacrifice on their behalf.

Where Do People Spend Eternity?

Heaven and Hell. The Bible teaches that there are two alternatives: eternity with God and eternity separated from God, often referred to as heaven and hell. From an eternal standpoint, to be present in one is to be absent from the other.

Eternity with God is safe, peaceful and void of all evil. Hell is the terrible alternative where God and all the good things that come from God are completely absent.

What Happens Immediately After Death?

When Jesus hung on the cross where He was being executed, there were two criminals being crucified on either side of Him. Luke 23:42-43 describes a conversation between one of those criminals and Jesus: “Then [the criminal] said, ‘Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.’ And Jesus replied, ‘I assure you, today you will be with Me in paradise.’”

The paradise Jesus mentions is where people who have a relationship with God go immediately after they die. When people say “heaven,” this is often what they mean.

Heaven will be an amazing place, but it’s not designed to be the eternal home of God’s people. That even more amazing place is usually referred to as “the new creation” or “the new heaven and new earth.”

Judgment Day

The Bible describes a time when all people will come back to life, or be resurrected, and will stand before God to be judged. This is often referred to as judgment day. This is when God will declare who will enter the new creation and spend eternity with God and who will spend eternity with Satan in a place of eternal suffering.

Revelation 20:11-15 describes judgment day:

And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from His presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.

God’s Standard

The key question is, What will be the standard on judgment day? How good do you have to be to go to heaven?

Many people think that as long as your good deeds outweigh your bad, or as long as you make a good effort and do not do anything too bad, you will go to heaven. In reality, God’s standard is much higher. He requires perfection.

But Romans 3:23 says, “Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”

Since everyone falls short, how can anyone go to heaven? The answer is in the next verse: “Yet God, in His grace, freely makes us right in His sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins” (Romans 4:24).

No one can meet the standard of perfection on judgment day by their own efforts, but God made a way for people to spend eternity with Him. Jesus lived the perfect life that we cannot, then died in our place to take on the penalty we deserved for our rebellion against God.

No one can make themselves perfect; only God can do that:

God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when He held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for He was looking ahead and including them in what He would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate His righteousness, for He Himself is fair and just, and He makes sinners right in His sight when they believe in Jesus.

Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law. (Romans 3:25-28)

If you accept Jesus’ sacrifice on your behalf, you’re forgiven for your sins and can begin a personal relationship with God.

God does not force you to have a relationship with Him; every person must decide whether they want that.

You can accept that what Jesus has done is sufficient to save you from an eternity apart from God, or you can reject it and rely on your own efforts to save you.

God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, He will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” — Romans 5:8-11

The New Heaven and New Earth

Revelation 21:1-8 describes the ultimate destination of those who accept Jesus’ sacrifice and have eternal life with God:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among His people! He will live with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then He said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And He also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega — the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be My children.

One of the most amazing things about the new creation is that people will get to spend eternity in God’s presence. In the new creation, God’s people will live in a beautiful place free of pain and suffering and experience the joy of a perfect relationship with a perfectly loving God.

The Second Death

Those who do not accept God’s free gift of forgiveness through Jesus will spend eternity away from God. Since God is goodness and love, being apart from Him will mean being in a place of suffering and pain.

The Book of Revelation also describes this destination:

Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 20:10)

But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars — their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)

Whether there is literally fire and burning sulfur or not we cannot know, but it’s clear that hell is not a place you want to be.

All of us do things we know are wrong or immoral to some extent or another, and we choose to go our own way instead of following God. If you take this passage out of context, it seems rather hopeless.

But God has made a way through Jesus to receive forgiveness for all of these things. Without Jesus’ sacrifice, each person is responsible for their own choices and as a result will never be good enough to enter into eternity with a perfect God.

Thankfully, God can wipe out our wrongdoings and make people worthy of eternity with Him. We can be resurrected into a new life if we trust in Jesus.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4, New International Version)

Bodies and Eternity

It is natural to wonder what people will be like in eternity. The Bible makes it clear that eternal bodies will be different from earthly bodies. Paul, an early follower of Jesus who wrote much of the New Testament, wrote about this in his first letter to the church in the city of Corinth:

Someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it does not grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. ... Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies. (1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 43-44)

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul explains further that our new bodies will be better, stronger, and not subject to disease or death like our earthly bodies.

We know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God Himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. (2 Corinthians 5:1-4)

Unlike the cartoon version of heaven, where people become spirits with wings that float around on clouds and play harps, people in heaven will have real bodies. People will not become ghosts or disembodied spirits.

Other Views Within Christianity

Though most Christians agree on the basic beliefs about the afterlife described above, there are some differing views on aspects of life after death.

Catholicism. The Catholic church teaches the doctrine of Purgatory, that Protestant Christians do not usually accept. According to the official teachings of the Catholic church, called “The Catechism of the Catholic Church,” Purgatory is a “final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.”

Pope John Paul II said Purgatory “does not indicate a place, but a condition of existence.”

Catholicism teaches that those who have a relationship with God but are not fully purified will have eternal salvation but still need further purification after death. After purification in Purgatory, they achieve the perfect holiness required to be in the presence of a perfectly Holy God.

The Catholic Church partially bases the doctrine of Purgatory on Scripture passages referring to a cleansing fire. It also draws this concept from a passage where Jesus said that those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven in this age or the age to come. The Catechism of the Catholic Church further states, “From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.”

Most Protestants believe that Jesus’ sacrifice fully paid for all of our sins and fully purified all who believe in Him, so there is no need for further purification after death.

Universalism. There are some people who identify as Christians who claim there is no literal hell. They believe that everyone goes to heaven. These people are called universalists (though they shouldn’t be confused with Unitarian Universalists).

Religious and Nominal Christians. There are a significant number of people who self-identify as Christian but have their own individual views on the afterlife. They may have grown up going to church regularly or just for religious holidays and may or may not continue attending church.

They do not necessarily accept all of the Bible as true, so their beliefs vary about heaven and hell. Many people in this category think that as long as you’re a pretty good person and do not do something as bad as, for example, killing someone, you go to heaven. Others believe hell is only for especially bad people or that there is no hell, and people who do not go to heaven just stop existing.

 


Though these views are common, they do not represent what the Bible says about life after death.

Different Views About the End of Days in Christianity

Christians generally agree on the ultimate destination of people and that trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice of His own perfect life is the only way to spend eternity with God.

The Bible makes the most important things clear in the Bible: What God is like, why we can trust Him, what Jesus has done for us and why that matters to every person on earth. These are the fundamentals on which Christians agree, because the Bible makes them very clear.

But some details about the afterlife remain unclear enough for Christians to hold differing beliefs about them. This does not mean they differ in their understanding of how you can know God personally.

So how do Christians reconcile themselves to believing in things that are not completely clear to them? Christians do not trust God because He always explains Himself but because they know He is good. God Himself is beyond the level of our understanding. But we can know Him and trust Him without completely understanding every aspect of His nature or the way He has designed this life and the next.

Because there is room for interpreting the Bible in different ways, Christians sometimes understand the afterlife with slight differences.

There is a whole branch of theological study called eschatology, which is the study of the end of time, life after death, and Jesus’ return.

The Bible talks about Jesus returning at some time in the future. Jesus’ return someday is a doctrine shared by all true Christians, and the Bible teaches it clearly.

After saying this, He was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see Him. As they strained to see Him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday He will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!” (Acts 1:9-11)

Christians have different views about when exactly that will happen and what it will be like before, during and after Jesus’ return.

Some, but not all, Christians believe the Bible teaches that there will be a time of great persecution for people who follow Jesus. This time is often referred to as the tribulation. These Christians also believe that at some point before Jesus returns, He will take His followers away to be with Him and leave other people on earth for a time. This is called the rapture. Many of these Christians believe that before all people reach one of the final, eternal destinations described above, and after the tribulation, there will be a period of 1000 years, called the millenium, when Jesus’ followers will prosper and rule on earth. Among the Christians who believe these things, many differ in their beliefs about what order the events will happen in.

Some believe that prophecies in the Bible that talk about the end of the world, including the book of Revelation, actually refer to historical events that have already occurred. Others believe some of these prophecies refer to events that have happened but that other prophecies refer to future events. Still others believe all of these passages refer to events that will occur in the future.

Some believe most or all of the things written in these passages are literal, while others believe they are metaphorical.

Some things about heaven really are beyond our earthly understanding. These can only be described metaphorically by comparing them to earthly things we can understand. For example, when the Book of Revelation describes the new Jerusalem, the beautiful city of the new earth, it compares it to a precious stone, jasper and crystal. The author, John, could not fully capture what he saw in his vision because it was unlike anything he had ever seen.

So he took me in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God and sparkled like a precious stone — like a jasper as clear as crystal. (Revelation 21:10-11)

The Ultimate Question: Where Will You Go When You Die?

 

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Though views differ and questions remain about the afterlife, in the end each person must find for themselves the answer to the most important question: Where will you go when you die?

According to the Bible, every human being that dies will spend eternity either with God or separated from God. A natural response might be to wonder why there are two options.

The Eternal Dilemma

Because God is perfect and good, He cannot allow us, imperfect people who have rebelled against God, to enter eternity with Him in our current state. The Bible teaches that all of humankind has fallen short and missed the mark of perfection, which is referred to as sin (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23).

Left to their own devices, no one will go to heaven when they die. Although most people assume they will go to heaven unless they are especially bad, the Bible explains that everyone is especially bad in comparison to God’s standard of goodness — or holiness — and needs to be rescued.

Fortunately, God does not leave the human race without hope.

God’s Solution

Christianity’s primary message is that God loves us so much He was willing to send His only Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty we deserved.

This is what John 3:16, one of the most well-known verses in the Bible, explains: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

The concept of love might feel like a contradiction with the idea of eternal hell. How can a loving God send people to hell?

The Bible tells us we earn eternal separation from God because of our decision to live life apart from God. This is why the story of Adam and Eve that we read in Genesis is so significant. They chose to eat the forbidden fruit because they thought it would give them equality with God. The consequence of their action was that death came into the world.

The natural consequence of choosing to live your earthly life apart from God is that God will respect that choice and not bring you into an eternity spent with Him.

Jesus' death paid for our sin, creating a way for us to come back into the relationship with God we were designed for. Jesus altered our eternal fate, but we still have to choose our eternal destination.

It is no longer a question of, “Why would a loving God send people to hell?” Instead, the real question becomes, “Why would you choose not to receive the free gift of heaven?”

What Will You Choose to Believe?

So, how will you respond? You can choose to accept God’s invitation to spend eternity enjoying His love and forgiveness, or you can reject Him.

It is no longer a question of, “Why would a loving God send people to hell?” Instead, the real question becomes, “Why would you choose not to receive the free gift of heaven?”

None of us knows how many days we have left to live, so we cannot know how long we have left to accept God’s offer of eternal life.

If you, or someone you know, has yet to accept God’s invitation, consider your options. God provides a way for you to know for sure where you’ll spend eternity.

So how will you answer the question, “What will happen when I die?”

Where Can You Go From Here?


Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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