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The word death appears in the Bible over 800 times, so this topic is not ignored in Scripture. We find the origin of death in Genesis 2:7, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (ESV) Beloved, Death was supposed to be unemployed, but the sin of Adam and Eve gave death its authority. 

We want to establish that when we die on this earth it means that we are gone from this dimension of life and from this earth, however our existence never ceases. There is no such a thing as rest in the sense that we are just taking a long nap in a dark grave. All of us will go from one dimension to the other with no “rest” in between. Another thing that I want to establish is that there is no such a thing as resting in peace for those who die without Christ. This assumption that everybody who die goes to a better place is simply unbiblical. Peace and joy are very far from the experience that those who die without Christ will experience. This takes me to the heart of this article and our central question: What happens after we die? There is clear differences between what happen to the believer and what happens to the unbeliever beyond death. Luke 16:19-31 tells us,

19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” (ESV)

There is much we can say about this portion of Scripture, but let’s stay focus on the topic for this article. Folks who die without Christ, such as the rich man in this portion of Scripture, go straight to Hades, this is the Greek word for hell. Those who end up in hell are going to be tormented; not resting in peace or, in a better place. Lazarus, on the other hand, after his death, was taken by the angels into Abraham’s side or bosom. 

Neither one of these places is our final destination. Revelation 20:4-6 tells us of a resurrection known as the first resurrection; it is describing the return of believers to this earth and this dimension of life,

Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. (ESV)

This is describing the Millennium where Christ will rule and reign with us in this dimension of life. This resurrection is for God’s people only. For those who died without Christ they have more bad news: 1) they will never experience any resurrection, 2) they will go from death to death in what is described as the second death. Revelation 21:8 gives us the final destination of those who died without Christ,

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (ESV)[1]

This portion of Scripture points out unrighteous lifestyles, fruits or, practices that confirmed why these folks will end up in the Lake of Fire. This is not the same as falling into sin, these are lifestyles or agendas of evil. I am convinced that these are of the seed of the devil (Genesis 3:15), descendants of a different version of the Nephilim whom “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5 (ESV) These are the ones that Jude refers to when he said, “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Jude 1:4 (ESV). In Matthew 25:31-32 Jesus himself gives us some powerful insight regarding this topic,

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 

The reason the shepherds separated the goat from the sheep was because the goat was of inferior value. God’s people are incalculably valuable to God according to Mathew 16:26. In Mathew 25:46 Jesus continues his explanation on this topic by stating, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (ESV) 

We will all be eternal, the unrighteous will be punished and tormented forever while the righteous or, those in Christ, will be indescribably bless. We will go through a second transfer, this time from Abrahams Bosom back to earth.

During the millennium we will be ruling and reigning with Christ and experiencing a perfect leadership from the Lord Jesus Himself. No longer worthless politicians will be in charge. But the Millennium is not our final destination either. From the Millennium we will go through our third and final transfer. This time from the end of the Millennium to the New Jerusalem. This is indeed our final destination, the return to the Garden of Eden and the realization of the original intend of God to his creation. This is going to be the fulfillment of God’s ultimate redemptive plan. Revelation 21:1-4 tells us,

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (ESV)

What I shared with you in this article is not my opinion; it is a Biblical truth. I hope you meditate on this article and search your own heart on this matter. For detailed descriptions of the New Jerusalem please see Footnote.[2]

[1] Revelation 19:20, 20:4, 20:10, 21:14-15 gives us more specifications in terms of who will end up in the Lake of Fire.

[2] Revelation 21:9-27 and Revelation 22:1-5

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