“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”
As many think about Jesus’ death and resurrection this week, it would also be good to think about our own upcoming death and resurrection. The Bible teaches that physical death came about as the result of the sin of the first man and woman after creation (Genesis 3; Romans 5:12). It occurs when one’s spirit leaves the body (James 2:26). Physical death occurs only once, with judgment happening afterwards (Hebrews 9:27). This teaches us something significant. True physical death does not occur when people are “brought back” when their heart is stimulated after it has stopped beating. If they had truly died, their spirit would have left their body and thus they could not have been brought back to life. Christ’s resurrection was a miracle, and miracles by definition are acts which defy the laws of nature. The Bible teaches that miracles ceased when the law of liberty, God’s Word, came to completion (1 Corinthians 13:8-10; cf. James 1:25).
So what happens after we die? Jesus spoke of a righteous beggar named Lazarus and his unrighteous, rich neighbor (Luke 16:19-31). After death, Lazarus was carried by angels to a place which Jesus called “Abraham’s bosom” or “Abraham’s side,” where he received comfort. The rich man, however, was buried and was “in torment” in Hades. A gulf separated where he was from where Lazarus was with Abraham. “Hades” is a Greek term referring to the realm of the dead. It is made up of more than just the place of torment in which the rich man found himself. While on the cross, Jesus spoke of how he and the penitent robber crucified next to him would be in “Paradise” that very day (Luke 23:43). Yet Peter, while speaking of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, mentioned how Jesus’ “soul was not left in Hades” (Acts 2:31). That shows us that Paradise and Abraham’s bosom or side refer to the same place. When the righteous pass away, their souls are transported by angels to the place in Hades which is called Paradise, wherein are Lazarus, Abraham, and the crucified robber. When the unrighteous die, their souls find themselves in Hadean torment.
This is what happens to all who have died and will continue to die until that unknown day when Christ comes for the second time both to judge us all and to save those eagerly waiting for him (Hebrews 9:28). On that day, the Lord will descend from heaven with a shout, the voice of an archangel, and the trumpet of God (1 Thessalonians 4:16). That trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised with a new, incorruptible body (1 Corinthians 15:50-52). This resurrection of the dead will take place because death and Hades will give up the dead within them before being thrown into the lake of fire which is “the second death” (Revelation 20:13-14). Those resurrected dead who had died “in Christ” – faithful Christians – will rise into the air to meet Jesus, followed by those “in Christ” who are still living on that day (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Then all will be judged “according to their works” after this entire universe is destroyed (Matthew 24:35-44; 25:31-46; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Peter 3:1-13; Revelation 20:11-12). The saved will spend eternity in heaven with Christ, while the unrighteous will spend eternity in hell (Revelation 20:15; 21:1-27; 22:1-5; Matthew 25:46).
We don’t know when that day will come (Matthew 24:35-36). We don’t know when we will die (James 4:13-17). That’s why the Bible says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). Are you ready for eternity? Are you in Christ? Prepare yourself. Study the Bible to find out how to be saved and become a Christian (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:26-27; John 3:16; Luke 13:3; Matthew 28:19-20). I would be happy to study with you about this at any time.