What Happens When I Die?

by Drew Anderson

At some point every human has thought, “What happens when I die?” It’s one of the most ubiquitous and mysterious aspects of humanity. Where do we go for answers? To the Bible.

The Christian can say at a minimum that when he dies he will:

  • Be with the Lord (Luke 23:43; Rom. 8:38-39; 2 Cor. 5:8)
  • Have a body like Christ’s resurrected body that is:
    • Glorified (Rom. 8:30; Phil. 3:21)
    • Resurrected (1 Cor. 15:49; 1 John 3:2)
  • Live for eternity (John 3:16, 11:25-26)
  • Not experience grief (Rev. 21:4)

How does this happen?

  • It happens by the power of God (1 Cor. 15:24-27, 43)

Why does it matter?

  • It matters because every Christian will face the judgment seat of Christ.

Let’s break these two questions down by looking at 2 Corinthians 5:1-11:

“For we know that if our earthly house, the tent we live in, is dismantled, we have a building from God, a house not built by human hands, that is eternal in the heavens…”

  • The Christian has both a present body (earthly house–tent) that is distinct from a future heavenly body (building–1 Cor. 15:42-44).
  • This future body is realized in the heavens.

“…For in this earthly house we groan, because we desire to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed, after we have put on our heavenly house, we will not be found naked. For we groan while we are in this tent, since we are weighed down, because we do not want to be unclothed, but clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life…”

  • A Christian lives with an inexorable groaning because while he exists in a present body (not perfect), he knows that it is not his ultimate and glorified future body (perfect–Phil. 3:21).
  • A Christian is a walking conundrum.

“…Now the one who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment…”

  • The Christian’s future heavenly body is made by God, and is guaranteed by the the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
  • If God can fail, then we don’t have a promise of eternal life with Him. Since He cannot, we have…

“…Therefore we are always full of courage, and we know that as long as we are alive here on earth we are absent from the Lord—for we live by faith, not by sight…”

  • The Christian’s first response to these truths is good courage while living with the conundrum of an earthly body. The reason is because his confidence in having a future heavenly body is based on God’s character.
  • The word that defines the Christian’s perspective is “faith”, because he hasn’t seen his future heavenly body yet. He’s trusting God for it.

“…Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord…”

  • The next response continues his good courage, and adds an understanding of the dimension (preference) of a Christian’s groaning.
  • To be with the Lord in a future heavenly body is better than living with a present earthly body.

So then whether we are alive or away, we make it our ambition to please him…”

  • The third response is to please the Lord.
  • There is no “waiting” until I’m older to honor God with my life.
  • Why?

“…For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be paid back according to what he has done while in the body, whether good or evil…”

  • God will reward the Christian for his deeds done in his present earthly body.

“…Therefore, because we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade people, but we are well known to God, and I hope we are well known to your consciences too.”

  • As a result of knowing a judgment day for the Christian is real and imminent, he persuades others to know the Lord.

In sum…

  • The Christian has an earthly body with the hope of a future heavenly body.
  • The future heavenly body is: (1) better than the earthly body, (2) guaranteed by God, and (3) provides direct fellowship and nearness to God.
  • The present earthly body is the testing or trial grounds out of which the Christian will receive rewards in the future (with God in a heavenly body).
  • Ergo, while in his present earthly body, the Christian walks in faith, aiming to please God, knowing that he will be rewarded, and therefore persuades others to know the Lord.


“…we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also we believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep as Christians.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

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