WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE DIE
WAS IT HIS CHOICE TO DIE FOR US?
QUESTION: I was recently reading about Jesus praying for God to “save him, deliver him” and almost begging. Yet in one of your articles, I recently read you mentioned that Jesus had scores of angels at his disposal and all he had to do was call on them and the whole thing would come to an end. In other words, he didn’t have to do this, but he chose to. Yet, while He was praying to be delivered it seemed like God didn’t answer. What was really going on?
ANSWER: From three gospel accounts (Matt. 26:36-47, Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22:40-46) you can tell that Jesus was pleading to be released from His agreement to die for us if there was any other way to redeem us. He knew it was going to be incredibly painful and wanted to confirm with the Father that it was absolutely necessary. Matt. 26:44 says He made this plea three times.
But each time He ended His prayer by saying, “Yet not as I will, but as you will” or words to that effect. We know from the Father’s silence that there was no other way to save us from our sins, and so He went to the cross.
In Matt. 26:53 Jesus rebuked Peter for drawing his sword when the soldiers came to arrest Him, saying that if He asked for them, His Father would put 12 legions of angels at His disposal. A Roman legion consisted of 6,000 soldiers, so many scholars believe Jesus had 72,000 warrior angels awaiting the command to rescue Him.
And From John’s account of the Lord’s arrest, we learn that just the sound of His voice was sufficient to knock the soldiers who came for Him to the ground (John 18:4-6).
These things tell us He could have stopped the ordeal at any time and left us without a Redeemer. But He allowed them to take Him into custody, and He allowed them to do everything that happened afterwards.
He didn’t deserve to die. But because He did, we who do deserve to die can now look forward to eternal life with Him. Thank you, Lord Jesus.
DIE OR NOT DIE? WHICH IS IT?
QUESTION: In John 11:26 Jesus said “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die”. But in 1 Thes. 4:16 Paul said at the rapture the dead in Christ will rise first. This seems like a contradiction to me. Do we die or not die?
ANSWER: In John 11:25-26 Jesus said,
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
You were only quoting the second half of the sentence.
He was speaking of the time of the resurrection of believers, when those who have died will live again and those who have not died never will die. It’s the clearest hint of the rapture He ever gave.
Paul said the same thing, but in greater detail. He knew that when believers experience physical death their bodies are buried in the ground where they soon return to dust (Genesis 3:19). But their spirits go to heaven to be with the Lord (Phil. 1:21-24).
At the rapture the spirits of those who have died will receive new bodies and experience physical life again. At the same time the bodies of living believers will be changed from mortal to immortal and will never die (1 Thes. 4:16-17, 1 Cor. 15:53).
In 1 Cor. 15:51 Paul said,
“Listen I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep but we will all be changed.”
He used the word “sleep” instead of “die” because at death the body appears to be asleep and the spirit is still very much alive.
DO WE GO TO HEAVEN WHEN WE DIE?
QUESTION: What does 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, also 1Corinthians 15:50-54, really mean when it says “Believers who have died will have their bodies resurrected, and along with believers who are still living will meet with the Lord.” Could you explain to me what that scripture really is trying to tell us? It makes me believe that believers body’s/spirit are kept somewhere other than heaven until the rapture.
ANSWER: When believers die, their spirits go to be with the Lord in Heaven to await the resurrection, while their worn out bodies are buried in the Earth and return to dust. (2 Cor. 5:6-8) At the moment of the Rapture, the spirits of all those who have died since the cross will receive new bodies, at the same time that we who are still alive receive ours. (1 Cor 15:51) So all believers will receive their resurrection bodies at the same time. These are the bodies we’ll have during our time in the New Jerusalem during the Millennium and throughout eternity. They never get sick, or wear out or age. They last forever.
WHERE DO WE GO WHEN WE DIE?
QUESTION: I read your question and answer regarding Paradise. I have been under the impression that when we die we merely fall asleep until the rapture or second coming. Are you saying that we immediately go to heaven? If so can our loved ones already gone there look down and see what is going on here on earth?
Also, what happens to the unsaved when they die? They don’t immediately go to hell do they?
ANSWER: The answer to your first question is Yes. While our bodies are discarded, our spirits go immediately to be in the presence of God. Then at the resurrection we’re given new perfect bodies. And while nobody knows for sure, many people, myself included, believe that departed spirits are aware of (but not involved in) happenings on Earth.
The unsaved go to a temporary place of confinement adjacent to Paradise. Before the cross the saved and unsaved could see each other and converse across a deep chasm that kept each group in its own area. While the saved were comforted, the unsaved experienced excessive heat and deprivation. Since the cross Paradise has been empty as saved spirits go directly to be with the Lord, but the unsaved are still sent to this place of torment to await their final judgment at the end of the Millennium.
DO JEWISH PEOPLE GO TO HEAVEN WHEN THEY DIE?
QUESTION: When Jewish person die, do they go to heaven or hell? Based on Salvation, I would think they unfortunately would go to hell because they rejected Jesus in their heart and His offer of salvation. However, I know the Jews are God’s chosen people, so sometimes I struggle with would he do that? I just don’t know how much Favor the Jews have with the Lord.
ANSWER: In Romans 2:28-29 Paul said,
“A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.”
In effect, he was saying even Jewish people have to be born again to be acceptable to God. This statement supports the Lord’s teaching that no one can come to the Father but through Him (John 14:6). Jew or Gentile, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again (John 3:3).
WHY CREATE PEOPLE WHO WILL DIE?
QUESTION: I understand that God sees all past present and future. He knows those who will choose to live for him and those who will reject him, even before He creates them. Why would He create someone knowing that they will die and go to hell?
ANSWER: God created mankind with the power and freedom to choose eternal life, which He gave His own life to provide for us. Then He gave all of us all the information we need and an entire lifetime in which to make our choice. He wants all of us to choose life, (2 Peter 3:9) but more than that He wants all of us to have the freedom to choose for ourselves.
It is true that He knows in advance how we’ll choose. But if He only allowed those He knew would choose eternal life to be born, where would the choice be? And on what basis would they make their choice? They would never see or experience any alternatives.
WHY DOES GOD LET PEOPLE DIE?
QUESTION: Why does God let people die? I know he has a reason for everything, but why?
ANSWER: Two of the many consequences of sin coming into the world are sickness and death. Romans 5:12 says,
“Sin entered the world through one man and in this way death came to all men because all have sinned.”
The worst part is that either one can strike anyone at any time, even innocent little babies. 1 John 5:19 tells us the whole world is under the control of the evil one. He’s the responsible party here because he’s the one who brought sin into the world. As long as there’s sin in the world there will be sickness and death.
One day God will put an end to all this, but until then He has made it possible for us to overcome death. Jesus said,
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).
Because of sin, life on Earth is temporary for everyone, and can come to an end at any time. But for believers, life with the Lord is eternal and will never end.
DO OUR BODIES GO IN THE RAPTURE?
QUESTION: When we are raptured, do you believe our present bodies remain behind here on earth? I’ve wondered if there will be dead bodies everywhere with those left alive here on earth to try and determine the cause of their death. Thanks for your answer.
ANSWER: In 1 Cor. 15:51 Paul said,
“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed.”
In Paul’s terminology to sleep meant to die. So, if we won’t sleep that means our bodies won’t die. When he said we will all be changed he meant our present bodies will transformed from mortal to immortal in a flash
(1 Cor. 15:51-52). Therefore, we won’t be leaving our present bodies behind.
Some like to speculate that when we disappear our clothes and any man made body parts like dental work, pacemakers, artificial joints, etc. will be left behind, but the Bible doesn’t say anything about that.
What we do know is when we come into the presence of the Lord, we will be so completely changed that nothing of our earthly self will remain, and that includes our sin nature. In every respect we will be made fit to dwell with God forever.
All this means when we all disappear, the people left behind will have an even bigger mystery to solve than if we had left a bunch of dead bodies lying around.
Some will remember us telling them about the rapture and will realize that’s what happened to us. Many of them will become believers at that time due to the witness of our sudden departure. They will have missed out on being part of the church, but at least they will have changed their eternal destiny from death to life.
It’s a good idea to tell everybody you can about the rapture. Even if they don’t believe you now, they will remember what you said when they see it happen right before their eyes, and maybe they’ll believe it then.
QUESTION: After the judgments that follow the Second Coming, believing survivors from the Great Tribulation will go into the Millennial Kingdom in their natural state and have children. Of those millions of children, some will believe and be saved; others will not. During the thousand years, many believers and nonbelievers will die. What will happen to their souls after death? They can’t go to the New Jerusalem. So, where will they be until the Great White Throne resurrection and judgment?
ANSWER: The Bible says that at the end of the Millennium the unsaved dead from all ages will be raised up for judgment I believe this will include the unsaved dead from the Millennium. The part of Hades that houses the unsaved dead will remain in use until the Great White Throne judgment when Hades will give up the dead in it (Rev. 20:13).
But nothing is specifically said about what happens to believers who die during the Kingdom Age. Of all of mankind, the Millennial Saints, as they’re sometimes called, is the group we know the very least about. The Bible does not mention where they will go when they die.
There is one hint that believing Millennial saints who have died may be present at the Great White throne judgement. Rev. 20:15 says,
“If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
I don’t believe John would have said that if there will not be any believers at that judgement, because it’s obvious that no unbelievers’ names will be found in the book of life.
THE DAY WE DIE
QUESTION: I have a troubling question, I truly believe in God our Lord in Heaven! God is the only one, the one who is supposed decide when and how a person should die. With all of the terrible things going on these days, how does God’s plan for our deaths fit into what we will be facing in the times ahead?
ANSWER: Psalm 139:16 says,
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
God has always known how long each of us is going to live. But that doesn’t mean that He predetermined what day we are going to die or how it will happen, it means that before we were born He looked forward in time and saw it happen. He can do that because He is not governed by time like we are. He is outside of time and can see the end from the beginning.
He also knew in advance all the things that would be happening in the world during our lifetimes. But this world will continue on its present course whether we live or die. That’s because the history of the world has already been written. We call it prophecy, and it will unfold just as God’s word has said it would, because He has seen that happen, too.
Speaking through the prophet Isaiah, God said,
“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times what is still to come” (Isaiah 46:10).
It’s comforting to know that nothing we do can take God by surprise and that He’s working everything together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
WHY DID JESUS HAVE TO DIE?
QUESTION: A friend of mine has never been very open to me talking to her about Christ and tonight that changed. She poured her heart out to me and began asking questions. She wants to know why Christ had to die and shed His blood. She said if God knows our heart and we ask His forgiveness,why would that have not been enough for Him? She seems to be really hung up on the blood. Can you help me answer her?
ANSWER: Sin is a violation of God’s law and it’s punishable by death. This was established in the Garden of Eden when God told Adam if he ate the forbidden fruit he would die (Genesis 2:16-17). Adam and Eve disobeyed God. As a result of doing so they were changed from immortal to mortal and subsequently died.
Because everyone sins, everyone must die. This is God’s Law. The only way to avoid this penalty is if someone who has never sinned agrees to die in your place. This is what Jesus did. He was the only sinless man who ever lived and He agreed to die for our sins. Now everyone who believes in Him can have eternal life (John 3:16).
Believing that Jesus died for us is the only thing God requires of us (John 6:28-29). People who don’t believe that Jesus died for them cannot be forgiven for their sins even if they ask. Therefore, seeking God’s forgiveness is not enough. We must also believe that the penalty for our sins was paid in full by the death of His son.
WHAT HAPPENED TO PEOPLE WHO DIED BEFORE THE CROSS?
QUESTION: First I would like to say that your bible studies have helped me and my family’s understanding of the bible tremendously and I would like to say thank you! My questions are: What happened to people who died before Jesus came to save us? Who went to heaven and who went to hell? What happens to people who die who haven’t heard about Jesus? Some friends of mine asked me these questions and I didn’t have any answers for them.
ANSWER: We get our understanding of what happened to people who died before the cross from the story of the Rich man and Lazarus, (Luke 16:19-31) incorrectly called a parable by some. It shows that no one could get into heaven before the Lord’s blood was shed for them. Instead, those who died believing from their Old Testament studies that a redeemer was coming to save them from their sins went to a place the Jews called Abraham’s bosom or Paradise. It was a place of comfort. It’s where Lazarus went. Unbelievers went to a place of torment like the rich man. Both were in the “abode of the dead” called Sheol in Hebrew and Hades in the Greek. While the two groups could apparently see each other there was a giant chasm that separated them so no one could cross from one side to the other.
When Jesus died, He went to Paradise (Luke 23:43) and when He rose He brought the faithful to Heaven with Him (Matt. 27:52-53, Ephesians 4:7-8). Since that time all who die in faith go straight into the presence of the Lord (Phil 1:21-24). The unsaved dead from all ages will remain in torment till the end of the Millennium when they’re brought back to life for their final judgement (Rev. 20:11-15).
As for those who die having never heard of Jesus (if there be any) Romans 1:18-20 tells us that the minimum requirement of every man is that having looked upon the Creation, he should realize there is a God Who created it, and therefore created him. My own view is that when a person comes to that realization, God will move Heaven and Earth to bring someone to tell Him about Jesus. We’re even hearing accounts of Jesus appearing personally to people in their dreams in places where it’s illegal to preach the Gospel. God goes to these extremes because He doesn’t want that any should perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
HOW WERE PEOPLE SAVED BEFORE THE LAW?
QUESTION: My father and I agree with dispensationalism and recently were discussing how those born before the Law were saved. For example: Adam and Eve. We understand that they had a personal relationship with God, having physically walked with Him, there would be little doubt to His existence. We know that when they first sinned they basically “confessed” to God and God then killed an animal, representing the first sacrifice.
My question would be: Is this how they were allowed into Heaven? That they “knew” Him and believed in their hearts even though the Law wasn’t written yet? Or is there a better way of understanding their salvation? Could you offer passages that we might read in reference to this?
ANSWER: The writer to the Hebrews explained that the Old Testament sacrifices were shadows of the good thing to come. (Hebr. 10:1-14) That means they represented the once for all time sacrifice that Jesus would make. From the earliest days of man God had told the people that He would send them a redeemer (Gen 3:15) The animal sacrifices they offered only helped people to the extent that they were offered in faith that this redeemer would one day take their sins away. Long before the Law came Abel, Noah, Abraham and others offered sacrifices to the Lord in faith of the coming Redeemer.
HOW WERE PEOPLE SAVED BEFORE THE CROSS?
QUESTION: Scripture says that everywhere God has made his existence known to all men. All men, everywhere, and in all times, all Dispensations, know/have known His basic rules for behaviour — those things described in the Ten Commandments. Yet, during the entire history of Man, he has been a sinner; he has violated God’s commandments. “There is none good…” No person bearing the taint of unforgiving sin can be admitted to the Presence of God. So prior to the Cross, by what means was sin forgiven? God tells us that it is not by the blood of animals but, nevertheless, sin is not forgiven without the shedding of blood. Exactly what was the purpose, the function, of animal sacrifices in antiquity and, later, in the Temple? How was a man made pure and able to be admitted to the Presence after death?
ANSWER: Before the cross people were saved by the blood of Jesus just like we are. They didn’t know His name and He hadn’t died yet but they believed from their Scriptures that He would, just like we believe from our Scriptures that he did. The sacrifices they were required to offer served as evidence of their faith. In fact, if the sacrifices were not offered in faith, it did them no good to offer them. But even then, their sins weren’t totally forgiven, they were just set aside until the Lord actually died for them. At that point His blood was applied and they were clean. That’s why believers who died before the cross went to Sheol instead of Heaven. The first time those believers were in the Presence of God was the afternoon of the Lord’s death when He showed up among them.