You Asked for It: What Happens When We Die?
July 18, 2018
By John Freeland, Executive Pastor
“What happens when we die and how does that relate to our eternity with Jesus?”
There’s an old bluegrass song, “Lord build me just a cabin in the corner of gloryland. In the shade of his tree of life that it may ever stand.” Another song with which you may be more familiar, “I’m satisfied with just a cottage below. A little silver and a little gold. But in that city where the ransomed will shine, I want a gold one that’s silver lined. I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop…” Many people talk about how they will have a cabin, a cottage, a mansion, or maybe an outhouse when they get to heaven.
When we get right down to it, there are a million ideas on what heaven will be like. To make it even more confusing are the many books written by someone who “died” and lived to tell about it. That’s a little like walking in the door of a superstore, and no further, having never seen one before, and trying to describe the sporting goods section, appliance section, and the manager’s office. The Bible says a lot about heaven but not in a way that we can paint an accurate picture of what it will be like. Painting an accurate picture of heaven from what we are given in Scripture is like taking a couple dozen different jigsaw puzzles, pulling a few pieces out of each, forcing those pieces together, and thinking we understand. It is much more important to think about how we live here on earth than how we will live in heaven. But, there are some things we do know.
- Your body will die. We don’t like to think about it, but it will eventually happen. Hopefully, your life will be long and full and your death will be quick and painless. Physical death is not to be feared, though we may fear the process of it. Physical death is like walking through a doorway to continue our eternal life (Ecclesiastes 3.1-2; Hebrews 9:27).
- You will spend eternity with God or without God. There are no other choices (Matthew 7:13-14; John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-10).
- You are already in eternal life or eternal death. The good news is that if you are currently reading this and in eternal death, you still have time to find eternal life (Matthew 10:28; Ezekiel 18:4; Ecclesiastes 12:7; Daniel 12:2).
- There will be a place for those who believe. We use John 14 to claim our “mansion.” But the word we translate as “mansion” is more accurately translated “room.” The splendor of your heavenly accommodations is not the point of John 14, but that you will live with Jesus. His presence will be enough. Everything else is gravy. There will be no reason for complaint, so don’t worry too much about it.
Again, it is much more important to think about, and act upon, how we live here on earth than how we will live in heaven. Perhaps you’ve heard it is possible to be so heavenly minded you become no earthly good. If you are always looking up, you will never see the Kingdom of God that exists around you (Matthew 10:7; Luke 10:9). Focus on making a spiritual difference here. Look at the needs of your neighbors. Who among them has not yet discovered eternal life? Bring the Kingdom of God near to your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Do something with this life so you can more fully enjoy the next.