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What Happens to Me When I Die?

The word "sleep" is used at times in the Bible to speak of death without any reference to the condition of the spirit or where one goes after death. For instance, consider John 11:11-14, where Jesus used "sleeps" synonymously with "dead." When the body is dead it appears to be asleep, hence, the figurative use of "sleep." Likewise, when Stephen "fell asleep," this is an expressive way of saying, "he died" (Acts 7:60, note 8:1).

Death means separation. Man dies when the spirit leaves the body (James 2:26).

Luke 16:19-31 is one of the best places to go in the Bible to teach us about what happens to us when we die. Please notice there is nothing stated in the text that says this is a parable. Jesus describes this as a matter-of-fact incident, an event that actually took place. The realm of the dead or the place of departed spirits (sometimes called Hades or the Hadean realm) is here described as consisting of two parts, one a place of comfort and rest (Abraham's bosom), the other a place of agony and torment. There is no passing between these two states (v. 26). There is consciousness as noted throughout this narrative. One's conduct in life determines where he goes upon death (v. 25, 27-31). The living cannot affect or change the condition of those who have died. Neither can the dead change the condition of the living. Our choices in this life determine where we go after we die.

Recall that Jesus said He would be in Paradise after His death (Luke 23:43). Acts 2:27 says Jesus did go to Hades when He died. Because He was without sin, we conclude Jesus was in that part of Hades referred to in Luke 16:22 as "Abraham's bosom" — Paradise. This is where every faithful Christian can expect to go awaiting the resurrection of the dead. The unrighteous can expect to enter a place of flaming torment (Luke16:24).

At His return, Christ will speak and all the dead shall arise, some to a judgment of everlasting life and others to a judgment of everlasting death (John 5:28-29; II Corinthians 5:10). Are you ready for death? (Hebrews9:27)