What Happens After We Die? (part 1)
Before I answer the question–to which I believe God gives a true, accurate and accessible answer–it is important to first set up the biblical framework of death and life. The Bible teaches that God created us to be alive and live our lives enjoying and loving God in relationship with Him forever. This relationship has been disrupted by humanity’s rebellion against God, a rebellion the Bible calls sin. Our first parents sinned against God, and the penalty for this evil is death and separation from God’s gracious presence. This death manifested itself both in a spiritual and physical way. Spiritual death resulted in humans not wanting to love God or neighbor, nor to experience the life that comes with knowing and experiencing God. Physical death shows itself as each person physically dies at some point in their life. Thus, humanity’s sin brought death into the world (physical death, spiritual death).
The Christian believes that death is not natural. It is just a normal part of human life, but something that we, like Jesus, ought to weep over. The Christian also believes that God is loving and gracious. While we only deserved death and condemnation for our moral rebellion, God made a way for us to be right with Him and be alive (both spiritually and physically). He did this by sending His Son Jesus, the God-Man, to live among us, rescue us, and reconcile us to God. Jesus did this by living a perfect life and then paying the penalty for our sin (death) by dying in our place. He died on the cross and rose again, conquering death. The imagery given to us is Jesus destroying death and opening the door for life (2 Tim 1:10) to everyone who places their faith in Jesus (John 3:16). Everyone who admits their rebellion, turns from it, and believes in Jesus, God makes spiritually alive and promises to give them eternal life as a gift–something they experience partly now and fully after they die. Thus, there is a great hope in the love of God who made a way for us to be spiritually alive now, and one day physically alive forever. So even though the Christian may physically die on this earth, one day he/she will be given a body that will never die and will live forever with God.
This framework helps us understand the question ‘what happens after we die,’ by explaining the origin of human death (our willful moral rebellion against God) and how we might become spiritually alive and reconciled to God (through the gospel–Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection).
In my next post I explain how the Bible speaks about what happens after we die.