WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE
In the past few months we have had several funerals and as it always does, when death comes into our lives it causes people to think of their own mortality, and one of the most frequent questions that arises is “Where do we go from here? When you die, what happens? Do you go straight to heaven, or hell?”
When this life comes to an end, where do we go? What is the state of the dead? What does the Bible say?
Now, let me give you my disclaimer. I know what has been taught and I know that what we are going to see may challenge what you have always been led to believe.
Also, I am not dealing with the issue of salvation. I am not going to tell anyone that their loved ones are saved or lost. That is not the issue that I am going to deal with. I am simply going to present to you what the Bible seems to say in reference to “the state of those who die.”
Let’s begin with the passage that was read: Ps 6:3-5
3 And my soul is greatly dismayed; But Thou, O LORD– how long? 4 Return, O LORD, rescue my soul; Save me because of Thy lovingkindness. 5 For there is no mention of Thee in death (the KJV says, “there is no remembrance of Thee in death); In Sheol who will give Thee thanks?
Contrary to what many have been led to believe, David here in this psalm indicates in vs. 5 that he won’t remember anything after he dies, nor can he give thanks from the grave.
Ps 115:17 The dead do not praise the LORD, Nor do any who go down into silence;
Ps 146:4 (Speaking of mortal man) His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; In that very day his thoughts perish.
Eccl 9:5-6 For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten. 6 Indeed their love, their hate, and their zeal have already perished, and they will no longer have a share in all that is done under the sun.
And then in Isaiah 38, King Hezekiah was sick and Isaiah told him he was about to die. After being told that he was going to die Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed and look what he says in his prayer starting in vs. 18:
18 “For Sheol cannot thank Thee, Death cannot praise Thee; Those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Thy faithfulness. 19 “It is the living who give thanks to Thee, as I do today; A father tells his sons about Thy faithfulness.
Here is the reason I mention these verses to you. Today, many religions claim that prayers to the dead are acceptable and should often be offered if the dead are in fact considered to be saints.
Others have the idea that the dead can be contacted in a séance or by prayer and can relay information from the grave.
And many have just celebrated the Day of the Dead in which they have a festival and leave food for those who have died as well as ask the gods to help the dead.
But these verses that we have looked at indicate that the dead are just that…they are DEAD!
So, what is the state of the dead? What is the state of those who have died? Well, again let’s let the Bible give us insight on this. Look with me at Psalm 13:3.
3 Consider and answer me, O LORD, my God; Enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
Look at what Jesus says in John 11 starting in vs. 11: This He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awaken him out of sleep.” 12 The disciples therefore said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. 14 Then Jesus therefore said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead,
The disciples thought that when Jesus said Lazarus was sleeping that he was just asleep and that he would be ok.
In fact, look what Jesus says in John 5:28-29: 28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice 29 and come out — those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.
And back in John 11 we learn just how long Lazarus would have been asleep if Jesus had not called him from the tomb. Look at vs. 23: Jesus said to her, “Your brother shall rise again.” 24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
The book of Job also mentions the length of sleep for the dead. Look at Job 14:12:
12 So man lies down and does not rise. Until the heavens be no more, He will not awake nor be aroused out of his sleep.
Look at this found in 1 Cor. 15:20-24:
20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.
And the apostle Paul indicates the same thing in 1 Thess. 4 starting in vs. 13. Look what he says. He is speaking to those who are IN Christ and he says, But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
The indication from these passages is that there is a grave for each of us that see death before He returns on the last day. In that grave we “sleep” until the Lord returns.
And those who have died are not wandering in some unknown landscape looking for other deceased loved ones or being scared that they are all alone in a vast emptiness.
The indication from the scriptures that we have looked at is the dead are sleeping, totally unaware of what is going on around them until the Lord returns.
So there are examples of those who were raised from the grave when Jesus was on this earth 2000 years ago.
So there are examples of some who were raised from the dead when Jesus was here on this earth…but the vast majority who have died are “asleep” in the grave until the Lord returns.
And look at what the apostle Paul says in Philippians 3:20-21: For our (those who are in Christ) citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
What kind of body will it be? John tells us in 1 John 3:2 that “We are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.
Now, I don’t know how God will do all of this. It is more than my finite mind can comprehend.
So, to me, how God will do all of this is not the important question. To me, the important question goes back to what Jesus said in John 5. Look again at what He says starting in vs. 24:
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. 25 I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself. 27 And He has given Him authority to judge because He is the Son of Man. 28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice 29 and come out — those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.
The important question is not “How will God resurrect all those who are in the grave? The important question is, “When He comes and the resurrection takes place will you and I be raised to life, or will we be raised to condemnation?”
So, why do I mention any of this? Does it really matter if you understand that the dead are “asleep” until the Lord comes again…or does it matter if you believe that those who have died in Christ are already in heaven?