Last month we talked about living lives of purpose. Today the question is: What happens to us when we die? Is there a heaven with pearly gates, angels playing harps, and lots of white robes like we see in movies? Is there really a hell? Or do we somehow continue on in an alternate consciousness or come back as a reincarnated deer or bug? Or is this life all there is–when we take our last breath, there’s nothing more?
We don’t like to think about dying because most of us aren’t sure what’s next. But in this crazy world we live in where news of death and destruction are a daily occurrence, people are starting to wonder.
Thankfully, God has told us clearly: Paradise awaits those who believe in Jesus.
We may not know exactly what paradise will be like, but here are a few things God has revealed about heaven and the afterlife:
1. Heaven has been created for those who believe in the Creator. Heaven is beyond anything we can comprehend or imagine. In heaven, the presence of God shines brighter than the sun as we experience the fullness of His holiness and love. And this is just the beginning! Just as Christ was resurrected, so will we be. This is the hope of every follower of Christ. We will live with God for eternity in His new paradise. “‘To the one who overcomes I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’” Revelation 2:7
2. We cannot do anything “good enough” to get into heaven. This may not be welcome news for those who think they’ll get into heaven by being “good” people, or doing “good” things, or being raised by “good” parents. None of that gains a ticket to paradise. The only way we can get into heaven is by Jesus bringing us in. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” John 14:6
3. If we trust in Jesus, we cannot do anything “bad enough” to lose our inheritance in heaven. Most of us have regrets and secrets from the past, and many of us struggle through real life and wrestle with temptations that keep pulling us down. That’s why God safeguards our inheritance in heaven. God assures us that once we put our faith in Jesus, there is nothing we can do that will cause us to lose our admittance to paradise. When we put our trust in Jesus Christ, He pays our sin debt once and for all. Our eternity is secure from that point forward. No matter what. “In His great mercy He has given us… an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-4
4. For those who put their faith in Jesus, He will be with us in our final moments of life and will Himself bring us to heaven. Many people recount the stories of their loved ones who, in their final hours of life, describe seeing Jesus and angels in the room with them. Jesus said that not only is He preparing a place for His followers in heaven, but that He Himself will come and usher us into heaven with God. His love is unfailing as He leads us from earth to eternity. “‘I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me.’” John 14:2-3
What happens to us when we die?
Bottom line is that our spirits live on. There is a heaven and there is a hell. Ultimately, all of us will be going to one or the other, and the truth is that heaven is far greater than we ever can imagine, and hell is far worse.
The good news is that we can be sure we’re going to heaven and will spend eternity with God if we believe in Jesus and His resurrection. This is God’s promise: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
Once we truly embrace our eternal inheritance, our lives here on earth will never be the same.
Let’s Talk: Do you know with certainty where you’re going when you die? What questions do you still have?
May I pray?
Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us so much that You offer us life in eternity with You. You have set aside an inheritance that we can’t earn, but it is given as a gift to those who accept it. And once accepted, we can never lose it. I pray that today You will open our hearts to Jesus, the One who paid our sin debt in full. Help us to believe that Your resurrection power is greater than all of our past regrets and secrets, and You alone can bring us to a place of new life, now and forever. Amen.