Job 14:14 and Luke 16:19-21
This is the age-old question: Is there life after death? Does death end all? In the book of Job we find questions that have occupied the minds of all men since the beginning of time. In Job 14:14, Job cries, “If a Man dies, shall He live again?” Job also asks, “Where can I find Him, that I may come to His seat?” (Job 23:3) And in Job 14:10, Job inquires, “Man dies and is laid away; indeed he breathes his last and where is he?” While skeptics say there is no hereafter and that death ends all, scripture says, “For I know that my Redeemer lives and that He shall stand at the last on earth. And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:25-26)
On the cross, Jesus confirms that we will be with Him after we die, telling the repentant criminal, “Today you shall be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43) Hebrews 9:27 affirms the certainty of the judgment following our deaths, saying, “and as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” This belief brings us face to face with the truth of the resurrection. In John 5:26-29, we see John recalling Jesus’ resurrection as the basis for the promise of our own resurrections after death. He says, “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” This shows us that there are two groups that will be resurrected: the just and the unjust. These two groups will either experience eternal security or eternal judgment. In Revelation 20, we also see the judgment of all people before the great white throne. At death, then, what happens to an unbeliever? They will immediately go into Hades to a state of torment and remain in this state until the final judgment, at which time they are resurrected. After the judgment they are cast into Gehenna, the lake of fire, and into outer darkness, where there is weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. (See Revelation 20 and 21)
In Luke 16, we find that the Lord Jesus pulls back the curtain of eternity to give us a solemn view of conditions in hell. This story, surprisingly, is not a parable, as we see with Jesus’ specific use of words identifying the real characters of this story: “there was a certain rich man” and “there was a certain beggar.” (Luke 16:19-20) The rich man dies and has a funeral on earth, and is then sent to his torment in Hades. In Hades, we notice, he is conscious, possessing all the faculties he had possessed on Earth, and we also see that he is in great torment. Sadly, he will remain in this state of torment and anguish until the judgment of the great white throne, then banished to Gehenna forever. (See Revelation 20) Let us look at the sudden change in the rich man’s attitude we see while he is in Hades. First we see him praying, crying out to Abraham, “have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” (Luke 16:24) He also suddenly becomes evangelistic and concerned about his five brothers’ eternal fate, urging and praying to Abraham to let Lazarus testify to them, “Lest they also come to this place of torment.” (Luke 16:28) We can infer that Hades is potentially full of praying people! Yet both of the rich man’s prayers are unanswered. Abraham replies that there is a “great gulf fixed” between them, an impossible chasm separating them, so that no one can pass between the two places. (Luke 16:26) Clearly, we see that the rich man has a clear recollection of his past life. To the unsaved in hell, memory will be the worm that never dies. Sins committed and unrepented of, the opportunities to accept Christ that are obtained but carelessly let go, the refusals to believe the Gospel, and the rejections of the Savior will be forever remembered in hell. We see that not only does memory haunt this rich man, but sight torments him. He sees Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom. Those in the place of torment will also be able to view heaven, seeing the joy, happiness, peace and contentment of the redeemed in paradise. But memory and sight will add to the pain and torment for all eternity.
So, then, what happens to the believer when he dies? Paul says that he is “absent from the body, present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8) What does this mean? Lazarus is transported to heaven by angels, as we see in Luke 16. When believers die, they are transported into the abode of God, which Paul tells us is indescribable, saying “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9) The believers who die before the rapture are with the Lord in this beautiful place, a temporary abode. Then, at the rapture, their bodies will be resurrected and reunited with their soul and spirit. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 describes, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 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.” At the shout, the dead in Christ will rise from the grave, at the voice, living saints will be changed, and at the sound of the trumpet we shall all rise together to meet the Lord in the air!
Following this overwhelming event, we will be given our rewards at the judgment seat, taken to the Father’s house, to the marriage of the Lamb, then to the marriage supper of the Lamb. (See Revelation 19) Then we shall reign with the glorified Lord in an eternal state with fullness of joy, delight, and pleasure in the New Heaven and the New Earth. At this time “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) We shall see the Lord’s face, and there will be no night and no need for lamps, nor the sun, for the Lord shall give us light and we shall reign forever and ever. (See Revelation 21:23 and Revelation 22:4-5)
Revelation 3:20 promises the Master’s personal relationship with us and expresses His eagerness to share fellowship. He says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me.” The final message of Revelation 22 resides in the repetition of the phrase, “Behold I come quickly.” Three times we see this at the end of this book for the future of the biblical story. (See Revelation 22:7, 22:12, 22:20) Jesus is coming back, and He tells us repeatedly He is “coming quickly.” Where will you spend eternity? The choice is yours: receive Christ as your Savior and enjoy the glories of heaven or refuse Christ as Savior and languish in torments forever.