What Happens When a Christian Dies?


What happens when a Christian dies? Since death is completely unavoidable for each of us, it’s necessary to confront the question “What happens when we die?” Since the beginning of time, philosophers, scientists, and world religious leaders have explored the idea of life after death. Throughout history, people have wondered what happens immediately after death.

While we may want a clear cut answer, United Methodists do not provide one in our doctrinal statements. This is because the scriptures themselves offer no one clear teaching on what happens to the dead between their death and the resurrection and judgment at the Last Day.

So, how will we respond? We can choose to accept the free offer of Christ’s payment for our sins, or we can reject Him. It is no longer a question of “Why would a loving God send people to hell?” Instead the real question becomes “Why not receive the free gift of heaven?”

As you ponder the questions about life after death and the uncertainties of how many days you have left to live on this earth, consider your options. God has provided a way for you to know for sure where you will spend eternity. How now will you answer the question, “What will happen when I die?”

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Instead, we are called simply to trust God that we are in Christ’s care and keeping.  It is that faith that calls us to trust that God holds answers that humanity cannot yet understand. We find in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” While the Protestant tradition teaches us certain aspects of the afterlife, there is still much that remains held in the mystery of God that requires simple faith.

Many Christians through the centuries have believed that when persons die, they remain dead (asleep) until the final judgment, at which time they are resurrected to life or punishment at Christ’s final judgment.

Quick Facts About Death

  • Upon death, the soul or spirit of the believer goes immediately to be with God.
  • The Bible also says the believer goes to be with Christ in the presence of the Lord.
  • Believers are alive and conscious in this state.
  • Though it is not their final reward, it is a place of rest, waiting, activity, and holiness.
  • Paul, who was caught up in the presence of the Lord, says that he heard inexpressible things that a person is not allowed to communicate.
  • Although believers have a natural curiosity about the intermediate state, Scripture focuses on the time when Christ returns. At that time He will raise and judge the dead, and then set up His everlasting kingdom.

what does the bible say happens when a christian dies ?

The intermediate state is the time in which the spirit, or soul, of the believer exists between physical death and the resurrection of the body. Though the Bible does not have a whole lot to say concerning the intermediate state of the believer, there are some basic conclusions we can make.

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Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7). nd to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect (Hebrews 12:23). And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise’ (Luke 23:43). or we know that if our earthly house, this tent is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed, we shall not be found naked. . . We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:1,2,8). For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better (Philippians 1:23). So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. And the rich man died and he was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side (Luke 16:22,23). Who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him (1 Thessalonians 5:10).

Bible Verses About Death

What happens when a Christian dies? Death comes for us all in one form or another. It might be the death of a beloved parent, whose advanced age has somewhat prepared us for the loss, but whose absence leaves a hole in our heart nonetheless. Or it might be the sudden death of a dear friend, whose departure not only deprives us of a cherished companion but also reminds us of our own mortality. Sometimes, when faced with such tragedies, we become bitter, angry at the world, and perhaps even angry at God. We wonder how a loving deity could allow such horrors to take place.

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What happens when a Christian dies, When faced with this type of tragedy, consider these comforting Bible verses about death. They offer few explanations for life’s hardest knocks, but they do remind us that life does not end with the physical death. And wherever we or they are in the process, God is always there to support and uphold us. Embrace that message as you ponder these verses and allow yourself to take comfort in the loving embrace of God.

Getty Images Psalm 107:13-14

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart.”

The Good News: Regardless of what binds us—physical illness, mental struggles, impending death—the Lord will free us from all our pain. 1 of 18

Getty Images Matthew 4:16

“The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”

The Good News: The “great light” of Jesus illuminates the darkest places of the human soul and shines forth even through our experience of death. 2 of 18

Getty Images Psalm 23:4

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

The Good News: The immortal declaration of the 23rd Psalm remains among the most powerful statements of faith in the Bible: Wherever we go, from our birth throughout ourlife and into the passage of death, the Lord is always and ever with us. 3 of 18

Getty Images John 5:24

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”

The Good News: Jesus the son proclaims eternal life for those who worship God the father who sent him. 4 of 18

Getty Images Isaiah 25:7-8

“And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever.”

The Good News: God’s love will dissipate the mist of sadness that so often surrounds us and liberate us from death now and forever more. 5 of 18

Getty Images Romans 6:5

“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

The Good News: The resurrection was God’s definitive response to the agony of the crucifixion. Jesus lives and so can we!
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Getty Images John 3:16–17

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

The Good News: Here is God’s saving message — the mission of Jesus, driven by the abiding love of God, was not to judge and condemn, but to deliver us from death and the bondage of sin. 7 of 18

Getty Images Luke 1:78–79

“Because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

The Good News: Zechariah presents his new-born son John as the one who will pave the way for Jesus and offer light to those languishing in the shadow of death. 8 of 18

Getty Images Romans 6:8–10

“Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.”

The Good News: Jesus destroyed the dominion of death once and for all! 9 of 18

Getty Images John 5:24

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”

The Good News: From judgment to mercy, from death to life, the love of our Lord radically changes everything. 10 of 18

Getty Images 1 Corinthians 15:53–55

“For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?'”

The Good News: The world we once knew has passed away as our faith in Jesus has deprived death of its sting and delivered us unto eternal life.
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Getty Images John 10:27–29

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

The Good News: We are the flock of God’s pasture. We follow Him through this life and into the next. Nothing can separate us from His tender care. 12 of 18

Getty Images Romans 6:22–23

“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The Good News: Freedom from sin, sanctification, eternal life — all are gifts freely given by our God through His son Jesus Christ. 13 of 18

Getty Images Revelation 21:4

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

The Good News: In the kingdom of God brought to fruition through Jesus Christ, the world is transformed into a place free of death and the anguish that goes with it. 14 of 18

Getty Images John 4:13–14

“Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'”

The Good News: Draw near and drink from the spring of life that is our Lord Jesus Christ, and you will never die.
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Getty Images Romans 8:38–39

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The Good News: Take heart from this stirring description of God’s boundless and unstoppable love extended to us through Jesus Christ. 16 of 18

Getty Images John 6:47–48

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life.”

The Good News: Just as bread sustains the body, Jesus sustains the soul, offering eternal life to all who believe.
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Getty Images 1 John 2:24–25

“Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us — eternal life.”

The Good News: Life — eternal life — is the inheritance of all whose faith abides in God and in His son Jesus Christ.
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