What Happens At Death?

Question: “What happens at death?  A man consists of a body that houses a spirit and a soul.  At the time of death, what becomes of a man's body, spirit, and soul?”

Bible Answers

Man consists of a body that houses a spirit and a soul (1 Thessalonians 5:23).  We will explore what happens to the body, spirit, and soul at the point of death?

The spirit returns to God from whence it came

Death occurs when one’s spirit leaves the body and returns to God. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last (Luke 23:46).  

…and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7).  

The soul goes to heaven or hell

The question of the soul’s destination on leaving the body is dependent on a person’s selection or rejection of Jesus. God is Holy and will not permit sin to remain in His presence. If a person has accepted Jesus as their Lord and remains sinless by repenting of their sins when they commit a sin, then they will go to heaven.  If a person still has their sins, having not asked Jesus to forgive and cleanse them, then there is only one other place for them, and that place is hell.

A person's soul survives physical death and remains conscious through eternity.  The apostle Paul said, I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body (Philippians 1:23-24).  Paul is saying that he would immediately be with Christ upon death.  We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

And the soul of the wicked will be in eternal torment (Luke 16:23). Jesus told His disciples, Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28-29).

The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side (Luke 16:22).  Upon death he immediately went to heaven. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment (Luke 16:22-23).  The rich man died and was immediately sent to hell.  Both men’s bodies were buried, but the poor man’s soul went to heaven and the rich man’s soul went to hell. This occurred to both men before the final judgment at the Great White Throne.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).  The body will die, but the soul will live.

The body returns to dust

The body sleeps in the ground.  Death is often referred to as sleep in the Scriptures.  And our bodies return to the dust of the earth it came from… (Ecclesiastes 12:7). There will come a day when all the dead bodies in the world will be raised and replaced with new eternal bodies that will be joined with their souls.  After the final judgment, they will receive their rewards or punishment.  

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2).

New Bodies

We receive our new eternal bodies at the time of rapture for the saved and at the time of the Great White Throne judgment for the unsaved. …who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body (Philippians 3:21).

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:42-43).

What will the soul be like before it receives its new body? Scriptures contain little guidance in this area.  Most believe that our soul takes the shape and form of our former body, being somewhat like a body during this intermediate state until it is reunited with its new eternal body.

Resurrection of the Dead

Those who are saved will receive new glorified bodies and take their place with God in heaven, but the wicked will be cast into hell.  Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to life, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned (John 5:28-29).

What are Heaven and Hell Like

The Bible make it clear that there will be a future glorious eternal life for the righteous and punishment for the wicked (Matthew 7:13-14, 13:40-42, 19:28-29, Luke 10:25-28, 13:24-28, John 5:28-29, 6:40, Romans 6:22-23, 8:18, Revelation 21:8), and the complete absence of God’s loving presence for those in hell.

Will a person have a second chance to repent

It is appointed once for a man to die, but then the Judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

Can a person be reincarnated

It is appointed once for a man to die, but then the Judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

What happens when you die depends on what happens before you die. If you are not sure, now is a perfect time to confess your sins and made Jesus the Lord of your life?

For more information about salvation, click.

Next Section - What does the Bible say about suicide?

End Times and Christ's return to earth.

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