The Big Question: What Happens When We Die?

Of all the questions we have as humans, perhaps the biggest one, is “What happens when we die?”

Since humans have roamed the planet, we have wondered about certain matters. Some are trivial, some are existential, some are practical. The most-asked question of all, however, is likely to be the one about what happens to us when we die. This is the eternal, the big, indeed the biggest question beyond doubt.

All cultures and civilizations have had various rituals and ceremonies in dealing with death. This is expected as mankind has a deep awareness of the truth that there is something out there bigger than human existence, indeed, bigger than the planet.

Those who have familiarity with the traditional Christian worldview are quick to answer that “when we die we go to heaven!” This thought has comforted myriads of people both religious and irreligious. But is it a true hope or is it merely wishful thinking?

That people have often thought of themselves as fairly-decent fellows and having avoided the truly gross crimes, it is easy to be conned into a reliance on one’s goodness to secure passage to heaven in the next world. But this generic and widespread belief is not really, well . . . Christian!

It may come as a surprise to many folks, that being good, is simply, not good enough. The Bible is full of injunctions, commands, or rules to be obeyed. Clearly, God is concerned about our daily conduct, and even more so concerned about our deeper motives for behavior. But even though this is true, fulfilling God’s righteous demands will never be the way to “secure heaven.”

The Bible is crystal clear in its portrayal of humanity’s sinful condition. This is the result of a historical Fall from Innocence, when our first parents, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God in the garden. Since then, all men, women, and children of natural generation have been born into this world with inherent guilt and corruption. None are excepted, save Jesus Christ.

Jesus came to be the Savior. In order, to do that, Christ would have to uphold God’s righteous demands, to fulfill all the moral demands, and to suffer the due punishment for the sins of His people. This vicarious obedience is both active and passive.

So, rather than earning a spot in the glories of the afterlife, we are urged by God to trust in the only provision that guarantees a seat at the eternal table, namely, to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. Do not mistake this for another action that you must accomplish in your own strength or with enough moral fiber or willpower. No, to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thus, to receive heaven as a gift takes a miracle of God’s regenerating grace.

If you are drawn to Christ, if you find Jesus irresistible, and if His name attracts you like moths to a flame, then be joyful and exult in His goodness and grace. Those who truly believe by grace manifest the saving power of God. Rejoice, for indeed your name is written in heaven. Now, you know what happens to some when they die.


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