There is at least one thing that is true of us all: We all will die sooner or later. But what will happen when we die? Where do you go for answers to a question like that? There is only one reliable source and that is the Bible.
I would like to go to a parable Jesus told about Heaven. Before we start exploring this parable, we have to understand that every parable has one message to convey. In Luke 16:19-31 Jesus wanted to say that we have to read, listen and react to the Word of God while we still have the opportunity to do it. When we are dead there are no chances anymore.
But in this parable Jesus used a lot of detail, which are very helpful to see something about what happen when you die. Jesus wouldn’t lie about anything and we may use this information to see more of the life here after.
This parable can be misinterpreted. What are the things not to be misinterpreted?
- It doesn’t teach that riches are bad and poverty is good. Jesus taught that riches carry risks. But poverty is no virtue. Neither riches nor the lack of them saves a person – only trust in Jesus Christ alone.
- The parable does not teach that charity extended to the needy saves us. Followers of Jesus should be generous and compassionate in every way. That’s the result of a relationship to Jesus, not the cause.
- This parable is not a detailed roadmap to the afterlife but it reveals some broad principles about the future.
Every one of us will someday die unless Christ returns first. After death we will “step” into eternity.
What happens right after death?
- Your soul and spirit leave your body. According to 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and Hebrew 4:12 every human consists out of soul, spirit and body. Death is the end for the body but not the end for the soul and spirit.
- For the followers of Christ, death means entering the presence of the Lord. Jesus told the thief on the cross: “Today, you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). In Luke 16’s parable the dead are very much alive. Both Lazarus and the rich man survived their own funerals. The dead keep their personalities and their essential character. Lazarus is still Lazarus and the rich man is still the man he was on earth. We think this is the land of the living but in reality it’s the land of the dying.
- After death we will experience either heaven or hell. We know that Lazarus was in heaven – Luke 16:22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side.” Matthew 8:11 says that Abraham is in heaven.
- We know that the rich man found himself in hell after death because Luke 16:22-23: “The rich man also died and was buried. In hell where he was in torment….”
- According to 1 Corinthians 15: When Christ returns we will receive our new resurrection bodies. The mortal (or old body) will put on immortality. Disease, infirmity, and all the aches and pains of this life will be gone forever. We become as Jesus’ body became.
- Judgment will take place. Sin will be exposed for what it is. The godless will finally be sentenced to a godless eternity. Those who knew God through Christ will join the heavenly kingdom through what Christ did for them on the cross. Faithful servants will receive the faithful servant’s reward.
When we believe in Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord, we have nothing to fear and can be assured of the fact we will see Him in heaven.