Answers to "Ask Mike" Questions
55. I have been in Bible studies where we discussed where a person goes immediately after death. I even have a chart that shows different paths for babies, Christians, and non-Christians. But I can't find a Scripture reference to share with my uncle who says he wouldn't be afraid to die if he knew where he went. Obviously, I don't believe in purgatory, but the Scriptures speak about Paradise. It there a Scripture reference that really addresses this issue?
One who dies outside of Christ should fear death. Those who die in Christ need not fear what lies beyond death. Luke 16 records Jesus' story of the rich man and Lazarus. In that story, which may be more than a parable or story, Jesus relates the respective ends for two individuals within Judaism.
The rich man, who is a representative of unfaithful Judaism, ends up in a place of torment. Lazarus, a faithful descendant of Abraham, ends up in Paradise (Abraham's bosom). On the occasion of the crucifixion, Jesus promises one thief he would "be with him today in Paradise." In discussing his possible death, Paul wrote, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. ... I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;" (from Philippians 1:21, 23 NIV). From these and similar passages, it is clear that when the spirit separates from the body (death), the physical remains go to the pit. The spirit goes into God's presence. This is not, however, the final state. That awaits Christ's return and the giving of a new body. Once the new body is given and all the other events associated with Christ's coming are complete, then it is finished. Death is destroyed.
Satan is consigned to the lake of fire. The believer is also complete, body and spirit being reunited in an incorruptible dwelling. The unbeliever, too, is given a new body and consigned to the place of punishing. That's why the unbeliever should fear death. I must confess that I do not look forward to the process of dying; it is new and unnatural. What lies beyond that process, however, is a place and a person of great beauty.
For more answers, see
Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.