Nilda, an elderly friend, died today. She helped me find my way to the Cross. We’re sad on earth, but I know there is a huge celebration in Heaven!
Now what happens when you die? It’s obvious what happens to your physical body. It stays here. We all know that. When somebody dies, we send the body to the mortuary or we take the body to the morgue or we put the body in some kind of crematorium and it’s reduced to ashes, buried in the ground, whatever it is, we know the body stays here. The soul goes on into eternity because the soul is eternal. Once God creates a living soul, that soul lives forever. There’s no such thing as anyone, believer or non-believer, righteous or unrighteous, going out of existence. All whom God has ever given life live forever. That is true of even angels. Fallen angels are doomed to an eternal Lake of Fire and holy angels are to enjoy the bliss of heaven forever. The wicked will live forever in hell and the righteous will live forever in heaven. But when a person dies, the body stays here and the body decays, dust to dust. The body is mortal, it is corruptible, and it decays. The soul then is the question. What happens to the soul of someone who dies? Well immediately that soul consciously goes into eternity in the condition that will never change. There’s no remediation going on. There’s no place where you can go and kind of make up for your sins. There’s no place where you can go and people can sort of pray you out of that place into heaven. There is no limbo, there is no purgatory, there is no intermediate kind of environment in which you are sort of kept. There’s no holding tank for God to give you another chance or maybe to make up His mind as to what He wants to do with you. I will show you from Revelation how clear it is that the way you die is the way you stay.
In the book of Revelation, turn toward the very end of Revelation, chapter 22 verse 11. “Let the one who does wrong still do wrong. The one who is filthy still be filthy. Let the one who is righteous still practice righteousness. Let the one who is holy still keep himself holy.” The language in this verse is really saying, “Whatever you are when you die is what you’re going to be forever. If you are filthy, you’re going to be filthy forever. If you’re righteous, you’re going to be righteous forever.” That’s how it is. Nothing will ever change. This is a condition that is perpetuated forever.
In Revelation 14:13 it said, “I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write, blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on that they may rest from their labors but their deeds follow with them.'” Whatever you are in life is exactly what follows you forever in eternity. So when a person dies, the body goes into decay, stays on the earth and the soul is released. And nothing will ever change. If a person dies as a non-believer, they will remain that way, filthy and wicked and unredeemed, forever. Those who die redeemed and righteous will remain that way forever. The death of the unsaved is horrific. It is described that way all throughout the Bible, not only in the New Testament but all throughout the Scripture. The death of the wicked is a tragedy because it is eternal, that is why the Bible says God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Proverbs 11:7, “When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish and his hope will perish.” That’s it. There’s nothing to look forward to, nothing to hope for, perpetual sin and wickedness without relief.
Now in Proverbs 14:32, the wicked is thrust down by his wrongdoing. But the righteous has a refuge when he dies. When a righteous person dies, there is a refuge, that refuge, of course, the presence of God. The death of the wicked is called the second death in Revelation 21:8. The death of the wicked is described in this kind of language, eternal punishment, Matthew 25:46 and elsewhere. Eternal destruction from the face of the Lord, 2 Thessalonians 1:9, eternal sin. You can actually say that the death of the wicked perpetuates them into eternal sin. Mark 3:29, “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness but is guilty of an eternal sin.” An eternal sin? A sin that perpetuates itself everlastingly. The death of the wicked is described as casting them into an eternal Lake of Fire, Matthew 25, Revelation 20, casting them into an abyss or a pit, casting them into outer darkness, Matthew 8:12, torment in Revelation 14. The death of the wicked puts them under the wrath of God, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, Romans 2:5, where the anguish will produce everlasting weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, back to Matthew 8:12. It’s a horrific thing. And there’s no probationary period and there’s no waiting period at all anywhere taught in the Scripture. This is then physical, spiritual and eternal death.
Now, on the other hand, the death of the righteous is only physical. It’s not spiritual for they have spiritual life permanently. And it’s not eternal for they have eternal life. And so when the Bible describes the death of the righteous, it calls it eternal life, eternal rest, eternal glory, eternal peace, eternal joy, eternal communion with God in a state of ever-expanding bliss. In fact, the death of the righteous catapults them into what the Bible calls paradise. Now just saying the word paradise in English, we understand what that means. When we say something is a paradise, we mean by that that it’s everything that you could ever imagine anything to be. It’s a kind of perfection. It’s a kind of longing. It’s something that we would love to see. We would all love to live in a paradise. Well we will. The thief on the cross, Luke 23, Jesus says to him, “Today you shall be with Me in…what?…in paradise…in paradise.” That was Jesus’ way of saying in the place that is the best that any place can be. The Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:4 says, “I was caught up in to paradise.” It isn’t some kind of temporary place that went out of existence. The thief went into paradise. The Apostle Paul went into paradise after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s just a term to describe the glories of heaven. He went there, heard inexpressible words which a man is not permitted to speak. It was a place of indescribable glory, joy and satisfaction.
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