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WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE DIE?

At one time or another, every one of us asks the question, Whats going to happen to me when I die? People come up with lots of different answers. Some think death is final its the end of everything were just anihilated thats it! Others think were reincarnated and could come back as an insect or an animal. Still others are convinced that theres a purgatory where you suffer for sins youve committed and then eventually youre allowed into heaven and no doubt there are many other beliefs. The true answer to the question is found in the bible and we really need to know what it is, because the decisions we make or indeed, fail to make, while we are alive, determine what happens to us when we die. Perhaps the first thing to say is that when death occurs, different things happen to different parts of us. There are several definitions of death, but James gives a very good one. He says, in effect, that when our spirit leaves our body, death occurs the body without the spirit is dead.1 God originally formed mans body from the dust of the ground2 and Solomon explains that when we die, our body returns to dust once again.3 However, thats not the end of the story. Eventually, as Paul explains in some detail,4 our body is going to be resurrected.5 He says that when our natural body dies, its like a seed being sown into the ground, and at the resurrection, it will be raised up again as a spiritual body just like Jesus resurrected body.6 We already know some things about Jesuss resurrected body. It was tangible and could be handled, it had flesh and bones,7 it digested normal food8 and was recognisably Jesus. It even retained the marks of the wounds made in it on the cross.9 So we can deduce that in some respects our spiritual body will be similar to our natural body: but it will be very different in others. For instance, after the resurrection Jesus was able to appear10 and disappear11 at will, and so will we, and
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. James 2:26 Genesis 2:7 Ecclesiastes 3:19-20 1 Corinthians 15:35-54 Acts 24:15 Philippians 3:21; 1 John 3:2 7. Luke 24:39 8. Luke 24:41-43 9. John 20:27 10. Luke 24:36 11. Luke 24:31

our new body will be immortal so it wont be subject to death, sickness or the ageing process. Our spirit, our soul and our body will be reunited when our body is resurrected, but in the meantime, while our body breaks down in the grave, our spirit and soul live on. God formed our spirit within us,12 and Solomon says it returns to Him when we die.13 Paul tells us that at death, we immediately go to be with the Lord,14 and he doesnt anywhere imply that there is a soul sleep, ie a period of unconsciousness, between death and resurrection. Jesus brought more enlightenment when He taught about a rich man and a beggar called Lazarus.15 He explained that although the rich man had died and his body was in the grave,16 his soul and spirit were in hell. He said that in hell, the man lifted his eyes, saw Lazarus in Abrahams bosom, (or paradise, as its called elsewhere17) and cried out to Abraham. Jesus specifically mentioned the rich mans tongue and that he was in torment in a flame. Even as his body was corrupting in the grave, the rich man in hell could see, talk, think, remember, feel pain and feel emotions and apparently had physical features and senses. Lazarus, in paradise, did too, for the rich man could recognise him. It seems, therefore, that our soul has a body which is an exact duplicate of our physical body in size and shape! (see Revelation 6:9) The rich mans torment was not just physical, it was also mental. As well as constantly contrasting his own torment with Lazarus comfort, he realised that his relatives were also on their way to hell and that he couldnt do a thing about it. Abraham explained that Lazarus couldnt be sent to warn them because when a person reaches hell or paradise, their eternal destiny is fixed and it isnt possible for them to return to earth, or pass from paradise to hell, or vice versa.

From other scriptures, we discover where hell and paradise were located. Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees He would spend three days and three nights in the heart of the earth,18 and told the penitent thief on the cross that he would be in paradise with Him that day.19 Paradise was therefore in the centre of the earth and hell was there, too.20 Both were located in what the old testament calls Sheol. In the account of Lazarus and the rich man, Jesus described how Sheol was divided into two parts, hell and paradise, and that there was a great gulf between the two. When Jesus died, He entered Sheol and devastated it. The Old Testament believers in the part called paradise, were blessed and comforted there, but they werent able to enter into the Lords presence until Jesus atoned for their sin on the cross. In that sense they were captives. Once the atonement was complete, Jesus entered paradise, liberated them21 and left only the wicked dead in Sheol. At the same time, He moved paradise from Sheol to heaven. John writes of paradise being in heaven22 and Paul tells of a man being caught up to paradise, which he calls the third heaven.23 So when Jesus went down to paradise in the heart of the earth, He not only set the captives free, He relocated paradise. Now, when Christians die, they go immediately to heaven and into Gods presence.24 Ultimately Christians who have died will relocate again, for God will move His throne from heaven to the new earth and live there with man throughout eternity.25 God will establish New Jerusalem there,26 and it will be a wonderful place. It will have mansions,27 trees and rivers,28 animals,29 gates made of pearl and streets made of pure gold,30 food,31 music32 and musical instruments.33 Hell, too, is to be relocated. At the last judgement, death and hell will be cast into a lake of fire and the former inhabitants of hell will burn there for eternity in the company of the devil and his angels.34
18. Matthew 12:40; Ephesians 4:9 19. Luke 23:42-43 20. Psalm 16:10 with Acts 2:25-32 21. Ephesians 4:8 22. Revelation 2:7 23. 2 Corinthians 12:2,4 24. 2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23 25. Revelation 21:1-3 26. Revelation 21:2 27. John 14:2 28. Revelation 22:1-3 29. Isaiah 11:6-9; Rev 19:11-14 30. Revelation 21:21 31. Exodus 16:4; Psalm 78:25; Revelation 2:7,17; 22:1-2 32. Revelation 5:8-14; 14:1-3; 15:2-4 33. Revelation 5:8; 14:2; 15:2 34. Matthew 25:41; Rev 20:10

12. Zechariah 12:1 13. Ecclesiastes 12:7; 3:21 14. 2 Corinthians 5:8 15. Luke 16:19-31

16. Luke 16:22 17. Luke 23:43

Before all this happens, everyone will have to face judgement.35 The first judgement is for Christians,36 who have believed the gospel and put their faith in what Jesus did on the cross. They are resurrected first and receive their new spiritual body at that time. This judgement will not be about whether they should be condemned to hell or go to heaven thats already been decided. Those who believe on Jesus are not condemned.37 This judgement is solely about assessing the reward each believer will receive for his service to the Lord while living on earth. The works of service which withstand the fire of this judgement will be rewarded, but those which dont, will be burnt up and go unrewarded.38 People who do not accept the gospel will face a very different judgment. This happens later, after Jesus and His followers reign for 1000 years on the earth.39 This judgement is vividly described in Revelation 20:1115. Those who are to be judged will be resurrected, receive their new spiritual body40 and if, during their lifetime, they have not, taken advantage of Gods grace through faith, they will be condemned to an eternity in the lake of fire. The question for each of us is, Which group will I be in? Will it be the group which goes to be with the Lord, receives a reward and spends eternity with Him on the new earth, or will it be with those who go to hell and spend eternity in torment in the lake of fire? The choice is entirely ours. God loves us so much that He sent Jesus - so there is no need to burn forever. If we believe in Him, well be in the first group, if we dont well be in the second. The scripture is quite clear. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.41 You can make sure of your eternal destination right now. God loves you and wants to spend eternity
35. Hebrews 9:27 36. 1 Peter 4:17-18 37. John 3:18 38. 2 Corinthians 5:10 with 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 39. Revelation 20:4-5; 12-15 40. Daniel 12:2 41. John 3:18 42. Romans10:9-10 43. Romans 10:17

with you. To that end, He sent Jesus to die on a cross for your sins. Jesus did die and was resurrected and Gods Word promises if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.42 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.43 God has done everything to provide you with salvation and bring you into a right relationship with Him. All you need do is believe and receive. Pray out loud, Jesus, I confess that you are my Lord and Saviour. I believe in my heart that God raised You from the dead. By faith in your Word, I receive salvation now. Thank you for saving me! The very moment you commit your life to Jesus Christ, the truth of His Word comes to pass in your spirit. You are saved and your spirit is renewed. This is the start of a new life with God which will never end.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE DIE

What next?
Andrew has written a book called The New You and the Holy Spirit for new Christians. This helps you to understand the choice youve made and discover whats next! He has also prepared CD and DVD messages by the same name. You may order them by ringing the helpline, by email or by writing to Andrew Wommack Ministries of Europe.

Further copies of this teaching may be obtained from the address below:
+27 (0) 28 722 1335 Andrew Wommack Ministries South Africa PO Box 156, Heidelberg, 6665, Western Cape enquiries@awmsa.net www.awmsa.net
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