The Bible tells us that death will happen to all until Jesus returns. After death, our bodies will be resurrected and each will be judged.
The Bible refers to death as sleep, giving the impression that the whole person - body, soul and spirit – is not conscience or non-existent. At the end of this age all the dead will awaken. This belief is called soul-sleep. The problems with this belief are the Bible verses that indicate a consciousness after death. Jesus tells a story of a rich man and Lazarus that are aware of their surroundings at death and communicating. On the cross, Jesus told the thief that he would be with Him in paradise on that same day.
The belief in purgatory comes from the inter-testamental book of Maccabees. The wicked go to hell, those perfect in grace and penitence go to heaven and those not spiritually perfect go to purgatory or temporary punishment. Time in purgatory is shortened by the prayers, mass and the good works done by those on earth. The problems with this belief are the Bible verses that state our righteousness is based on the acceptance of God’s grace and not on works.
Scripture supports an intermediate state between death and resurrection. The Bible distinguishes between Hades and Gehenna. Hades is a temporary place for the wicked and Gehenna is the permanent place of suffering for the wicked. The righteous do not go to Hades, but to Paradise. At the end of the age we receive a resurrected body and judgment. This is a wonderful day for Christians and a terrible day for those who rejected God’s grace.
Even with careful study of Scripture, there are differing views and a limited amount of verses that clearly explain what happens after death and before resurrection. Most agree that:
The righteous and unrighteous will all experience death unless they are alive when Jesus returns.
The believer in Jesus should not fear death because God has overcome it.
I believe there is an intermediate state between death and resurrection. It is not purgatory, but because the believer’s relationship is based on grace and not works. There is a forever life after this life and where you and I spend it depends on our choice today to love and follow Jesus Christ.
What do you think happens after this life?