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What Happens After Death?

There are many theories about what occurs after death. Some believe you cease to exist, some think you begin life again as a new creature and others believe that you go to either heaven or hell based on whether you accepted Jesus Christ. Even within Christianity itself there is some disagreement as to what happens and whether you can 'earn' access into heaven through purgatory. So what is correct? Because they all certainly can't be true.

If you prefer to watch a video outlining what happens after death, scroll to the bottom.

Firstly let's look at the statistics of what people believe:

The Afterlife

     • 81% of people believe in an afterlife of some sort,

     • 9% aren't sure what happens,

     • 10% say there's no afterlife.


     • 46% think it's a state of eternal existence in God's presence,

     • 30% think it's a place of rest and reward,

     • 14% believe heaven is just symbolic,

     • 5% don't believe in heaven,

     • 5% aren't sure.


     • 39% believe it's a state of eternal separation from God's presence,

     • 32% think it's an actual place of torment and suffering,

     • 13% think it's just a symbol of a bad outcome,

     • 16% aren't sure or don't believe in hell.

Their Destination

     • 65% believe they will go to heaven,

     • 24% have no idea where they will go,

     • 5% think you just cease to exist,

     • 5% believe they will come back as another life form,

     • 0.5% think they are going to hell.

Heaven Bound

     • 43% believe that because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus as their saviour,

     • 15% because they have tried to obey the ten commandments,

     • 15% because they are basically a good person,

     • 6% because God loves all people and He won't let them perish.

Contrary Findings (Among Born-again Christians)

     • 10% believe that people are reincarnated after death,

     • 29% claim it is possible to communicate with the dead,

     • 50% contend that a person can earn salvation based on good works,

     • Many believe there are multiple options for gaining entry into heaven.

So which ones are true and how can we verify that they are indeed the truth? To begin we have to look at the definitive source on the afterlife - the Bible. It's the only book which has been proven to come from outside of our spacetime domain. To learn this for yourself have a look at the Evidence page for the verification of God and the Bible. Even if you don't believe the Bible, that's your personal choice, but go into this next section with an open heart to see what the text says for itself. Remember:

"The only barrier to truth is the presumption that you already have it."

                            Chuck Missler

The Biblical Perspective

So what happens after death from a biblical perspective?

Romans 3:23 - "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"

Hebrews 9:27 - "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment".

Ecclesiastes 12:7 - "Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it."

Romans 6:23 - "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Matthew 10:28 - "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell"

John 11:25 - "Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live."

The Rich Man and the Beggar

Luke 16:19-31 tells the story, of a rich man and Lazarus the beggar who have both died. It reveals quite a lot about hades/sheol by demonstrating they can feel physical and emotional pain, that they have aspirations and desires and also that what they are experiencing is just and fair. This story is very likely to be true since a parable doesn't include names.

Luke 16:19-31

“There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

“Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.

And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’ “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’

Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”

Put simply, death is man's punishment for disobedience to God. Those who believe in Jesus will dwell with Him in eternity with incorruptible bodies. Those who rejected Him will be sent to 'Abraham's Bosom' (Hades) for torment until they are judged. From there they will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.

So what is death?

We have 3 parts to our current being, these are the Body, Soul and Spirit. Physical death is the separation between body and soul, also called the 'first death' throughout the Bible. Spiritual death is the separation of the soul from the spirit, known as the 'second death'. This second death was nullified by Jesus's death on the cross but only for those who accept Him. Every person's spirit lives forever, the question is where will you spend it after you're judged?

Post-Death Table

This is a table of what happens to everyone in history from a biblical perspective. Depending on whether or not you're saved and what dispensation you die in, changes what happens to you and where you end up. Post-cross, your eternal destination will solely be decided on whether or not you have accepted Jesus as your saviour, since everyone's a sinner.


People Covered


What Happens…

Resurrected at…

Eternal Destination

Pre-Cross Believers
(Old Testament)

Noah, Joshua, David, Abraham, Daniel, etc


(After Death) In Abraham's Bosom up until Jesus died, then in heaven with Him from then onwards.

The Sheep and Goats Judgement

Heaven, after judgement

Pre-Cross Unbelievers
(Old Testament)

Those who died separated from God before the cross


(After Death) Tormented in Hades, then resurrected at the Great White Throne Judgement.

The Great White Throne Judgment

Hell, after judgement

Post-Cross Believers

Those who accepted Jesus but died before the rapture


(After Death) Immediately in the presence of God - but body-less. (2 Corinthians 5:6-8)

The Rapture, with a glorified body
(1 Thess 4:16-17)

Heaven, they will be raised at the rapture

Post-Cross Unbelievers

Unbelievers who died before the Second Coming


(After Death) Immediately in 'Hades' awaiting their punishment.

The Great White Throne Judgment

Hell, after judgement

Post-Cross Believers

Those who have accepted Jesus by the Rapture


(At The Rapture) Their bodies are transformed, then they meet Jesus in the clouds and are taken to heaven with Him.

Still Alive
(1 Thess 4:16-17)

Heaven, Given rewards at the Bema Seat

Tribulation Saints

Those saved in the tribulation but have since died


(After Death) Immediately in the presence of God - but body-less. (2 Corinthians 5:6-8)

The Sheep and Goats Judgement
(Rev 20:4-6)


Tribulation Saints

Those saved in the tribulation and are alive at His second coming


(At the Second Coming) They populate the millennium.

Still Alive
(Rev 20:4-6)


Tribulation Unbelievers

The unbelievers who survived the tribulation


(At the Second Coming) Jesus destroys them in judgement when He returns to claim His kingdom. (Revelation 19:21)

The Great White Throne Judgment

Hell, after judgement

Millennium Saints

Those who died in the millennium believing


(After Death) Immediately in the presence of God.

The Great White Throne Judgment


Millennium Saints

Believers who are alive when God judges His enemies in the millennium


(After God destroys the Rebellion) Taken to the 'new heaven'

Still Alive


Millennium Unbelievers

Those unbelievers who died in the millennium


(After Death) They stay dead until judgement.

The Great White Throne Judgment

Hell, after judgement

Millennium Unbelievers

Those who chose to rebel against God in the millennium


(At the end of the Millennium) God kills them in His wrath.

The Great White Throne Judgment

Hell, after judgement

Which category are you in? Every soul lives forever, the question is where will you spend it? It's not too late to change your destiny - even in the tribulation.

Localities of the Spirit Realm

These are the different places throughout scripture which relates to death or the afterlife. These are explained below to help you to better picture what happens after death.

Grave (Kever)

The location of dead physical bodies. Bodies are unconscious in the grave and slowly decompose.

Hades (AKA: Sheol, Hell, Place of Torment)

Hades is a temporary location of departed souls for both good and bad. It is split into two sections: the 'Place of Torment' and 'Abraham's Bosom' with an impassable gulf between them. Throught the Bible it's referred to as "Under the earth", the "Underworld" or "Lower parts of the earth". Those which are in Hades are fully conscious and have memory, the ability to speak, can feel pain and have desires. Their eternal destiny is irrevocably fixed.

People know that what they experience here is fair and just. The rich man in the story further below also knew what his brothers needed to do to avoid his own fate - repent. There can only be one Hades, as opposed to having multiple graves. People are conscious in Sheol. Hades will be thrown into the lake of fire at the end of all things. Many believe that when Jesus died on the cross He took those who were in Abraham's bosom to heaven with Him.

Bottomless Pit (AKA: Abyss, Abuso, Tartarus)

The place where the antichrist comes from (Revelation 17:8). "Tartarus (the bottomless pit) is as far below hades as earth is below heaven." - Homers Iliad.

The Lake of Fire (Gehenna)

Located in the "outer darkness" and is specifically created for Satan and his angels. Matthew 25:41. This is the ultimate separation from God outside space and time. Death and hades will be thrown into the lake of fire after The Great White Throne Judgement (Revelation 20:14). The antichrist and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire at His second coming and Satan is thrown in at the end of the millennium.

Those in the Lake of Fire will be tormented for eternity by a 'fire that never consumes' which will be painful beyond comprehension. (Matthew 25:46, Daniel 12:2, Revelation 14:10,11) The lake of fire is referred to as the second death throughout scripture. Those who are here will be utterly separated from God - the lifegiver, and will be absolutely without hope of any form.

Heaven (The New Heaven)

It will be a newly created environment unsullied by moral evil and it will be the ultimate model city, or the 'New Jerusalem' as it's known throughout the scriptures. There will be no death in heaven because of our incorruptible bodies and the fact that death and hades have been thrown into the lake of fire.

Why Hell?

Some ask, "Why would a loving God willingly send people to Hell?"

There are three primary reasons throughout scripture:

To vindicate the King's righteousness.

Sin must be paid for by the sinner, or by one who takes the place of the sinner. God must always be righteous in His decisions and actions.

To defend the moral order of His kingdom.

In the same way some are put in prison for murder to maintain societal order, God has to maintain the moral order of His kingdom by punishing evildoers.

To highlight the preciousness of the Servant who died to make us just.

Every one of us deserved to go to Hell and then to the Lake of Fire when we died since we've broken God's law. He loves everyone, but He loves His son more and He has to vindicate the price that His Son paid.

Unlike other worldly 'gods' such as Muhammad, the God of the Bible can't do whatever He wants. He delights in making and keeping His promises and upholding His law. A god who breaks their promises whenever they want, is a god most would not wish to serve since their subjects would be in a state of perpetual anxiousness.

Two questions that we can ask ourselves are: Does the punishment fit the crime? To answer that we have to ask whether or not we really understand God's attitude to sin. As a race our sensitivity to the atrocity of sin has been dulled. We have to compare the magnitude of sin to the Majesty of God, which is impossible as humans, as we can only know a limited amount about both. Sin is violation of the character of an infinite being.

A God deserving of worship cannot pardon people who persist in worshiping and serving themselves more than the personal Creator. The condemnation of everyone who is lost will be wholly attributable to themselves for having disregarded God's revealed will.

The Judgements

These are the future judgements of all mankind, with Jesus as the judge. (John 5:27) Every one of us will be judged for our life on this earth at one point or another.

The Bema Seat (Christian Tribunal for Rewards)

The Bema Seat judgement occurs in heaven after the rapture of the church during the period before the start of the tribulation. This is when Jesus judges all post-cross believers on how they lived their life, whether they died before the rapture or were still alive and caught-up. Sins won't even be mentioned at the judgement because they have been paid for and forgotten by Jesus Himself. It is a time of reward, not punishment.

In the large Olympic arenas, there was an elevated seat on which the judge of the contest sat. After the contests were over, the successful competitors would assemble before the bema to receive their rewards or crowns. The bema was not a judicial bench where someone was condemned. Likewise, the Judgment Seat of Christ is not a judicial bench. However you can lose your rewards, but you can never lose your salvation.

Verses relating to the Bema Seat: 2 Corinthians 5:10, Romans 14:10, Psalm 62:12, Matthew 16:27, Ephesians 6:8, Psalm 103:10-12, Romans 8:1, John 5:24, 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, Revelation 3:11, 1 Corinthians 2:9,10.

The Sheep and Goats Judgement

This judgement occurs after the tribulation when Jesus comes to claim His throne. Those who were loyal to Him, also known as the sheep will be grouped to His right. The goats, those who lived for themselves, took the Mark of the Beast or worshiped the antichrist will be grouped to His left. Those on His left will be sent to burn in hell forever and those on His right will inherit the kingdom with Him and will live during the coming millennium. Some scholars believe that the old testament saints will be resurrected prior to this judgement to live and reign with Jesus.

Matthew 25:31-46

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats..."

The Great White Throne Judgement

At the end of the millennium all those who haven't yet been judged yet will be resurrected and will give an account for their lives and every idle word they spoke (Matthew 12:36). Romans 1:18-20 says that nobody will have an excuse on judgement day since the heavens declare His handiwork and men will be accountable through creation. Jesus will judge according to His standards and not any standards that man fabricate today, so you better be sure you're in alignment with God before judgement day. Other related verses are: Romans 1:21 & 22, 2 Peter 3:3-6.

Matthew 12:36

"But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment."

What Happens When You Die? - Chuck Missler

It's a question we naturally have from birth, but one which DOES have a definitive answer. Chuck Missler dives deeply into this question from a biblical perspective. Start at 45:21 to find out what happens when you die. This video is two videos in one with the half-way point at 1:04:00.

Watch on YouTube

Who is God?

Now that you have an understanding that the bible has to be true, you should try and grasp the concept of who God is and what He is like at the link below.

Who is God?

Becoming Saved

If this content has opened your eyes to the unseen battle occuring on earth and you would like to accept Jesus, head to the link below.


Or to read my extended blog post on becoming saved:

Accepting Jesus

Other Content

For other links to great Christian content, head to:

Seeking Truth

If you haven't read 'The Rapture Survival Guide' fully, I recommend you head back and finish it to understand what's ahead of you.

The Rapture Survival Guide (TRSG)

And finally I highly recommend reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.

If this guide has helped you please share this content to anyone seeking truth in these troubled times.

Lost? Or want to get a better understanding of Christianity? Have a look at my list of topics at:


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