What happens after we die? It’s one of the most important questions anyone can ask, and it’s one that every religion and every worldview tries to answer. Let’s explore what Christians believe about this essential question.
The Bible has a lot to say about the question of what happens when we die. In fact, it provides the definitive answer to the question. The short answer is that for everyone, whether they are Christians or not, death isn’t the end.
But what happens after death for the Christian and the non-Christian is very different.
When a Christian dies, he or she immediately enters the presence of the Lord. Some refer to this as an intermediate state because our final state is a bodily resurrection that happens following the second coming of Christ. Calling it an intermediate state might call to mind images of the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory, but they’re nothing alike. There’s no waiting or delay. Jesus doesn’t wait for us to be sufficiently purified before we get to stand before Him. When we die, we are with Him. And we keep being with Him after our bodily resurrection and the world is made new.
However, when someone dies apart from Jesus, they enter eternity carrying the weight of their offenses against an infinite and holy God and are judged accordingly by Him. Death apart from Christ means no hope of forgiveness, no more opportunity for repentance. There is only judgment, an eternity of suffering for the consequences of sin.
This is, in part, why Christians should feel a sense of urgency about sharing the gospel. We know judgment is real. We know what happens when we die. And we know that there is real hope for eternal life through faith in Jesus. And we want everyone to experience this now and forever.