Jennifer Slattery | Author
Death. The very word can trigger images of darkness, men and women in black, of grief, and for some, fear. But God doesn’t want us to live in fear nor defeat. He wants us to live, and die, with the confidence that comes from knowing we belong to the victorious, risen King who defeated death when He died on the cross and rose from the grave.
More than that, the reality of death can point to incredible hope we have in Christ. Every heartache and struggle on earth can draw us closer to our Savior, center us deeper in His truths, and motivate us to engage in transformative conversations with others. May we all learn to say, “To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).
So what does the Bible really say about death? Here are 10 truths Scripture reveals regarding death:
1. Death Is Not the End
Some believe once we die, we simply cease existing. They assert that human consciousness arises gradually as the brain develops and will either slowly deteriorate or simply cease. The Bible, however, says differently. Scripture teaches that while our present physical bodies will decompose, our souls will live forever, either in God’s presence or eternally separated from Him.
In Matthew 25, after sharing two parables designed to reveal the realities regarding God’s kingdom, Jesus discussed a time when He will separate the “sheep from the goats.” Those declared righteous through His blood will receive eternal life, whereas those who rejected Him will “go away to eternal punishment” (Matt. 25:45).
In other words, eternity awaits all, though our ultimate destination may look vastly different.
2. We Don’t Have to Fear Death
God never wants us, His beloved creations, to live in fear, uncertainty, or confusion. In Christ, He offers us a certain, glorious and joy-filled destination; a future free of pain, sorrow and sickness. This invitation is open to all who trust not in themselves or their good works but instead in Jesus and the price He paid.
When we believe Christ is who He says He is—the sinless Son of God—and did what He said He did—died for our sins and rose from the dead—Scripture says we receive entrance into heaven. We’re granted unhindered, relational intimacy with our Savior. He who holds the universe in His hand holds our lives, now and forever more, as well. This means, when our bodies fail and illness invades, we can rest knowing we’re secure in God’s unshakable, unbreakable love.
3. Not Everyone Goes to the Same Place
According to Scripture, each of us will go to one of two places once we die. Those who’ve trusted in Christ for salvation will immediately be ushered into His presence, where they will remain for all of eternity. Those who have rejected Him and His offer of grace, however, will spend eternity in hell.
Hell isn’t a place we like to talk or read about, but Jesus, the One offering eternal life, addressed this topic on more than one occasion. He told us it’s a place of darkness and of fire, populated by the wicked and rebellious. With each parable and statement, it’s as if He’s offering us a warning: “There’s death” and in this context, that means separation from God, “and life. Choose life.”
What if our inner angst regarding hell points to the heart of God? Scripture is clear: God is a loving Father who doesn’t want anyone to perish. “‘As I live,’ declares the Sovereign Lord, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked’” (Ez. 33:11). To the contrary; God is loving toward all of His creation and heaven rejoices when a single sinner recognizes her need for Jesus and turns to Him.
4. Because Jesus Overcame Death, So Will We
God originally created the world free of sin and death. When mankind rebelled against Him (Gen. 3), we broke our relationship with God the Father and the curse of death and sin began to rule. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He broke the power of both, and “since we have been united with Him in His death” through faith, “we will also be raised to life as He was” (Rom. 6:5).
Jesus demonstrated this unchanging truth when He stepped out of the tomb, alive. This means, though our physical bodies will cease to function, our souls will immediately enter into God’s presence. Later, when Christ returns, our souls will be reunited with our physical, then “glorified” bodies, which will be raised from the dead.1
5. Spiritual Death Is Separation from God
It’s easy to read modern definitions for words and situations into biblical text. This often occurs when someone thinks of death. To our way of thinking, death means the end of something and the complete cessation of life. In Scripture, however, death primarily means separation—separation of man’s spirit from his body and of man from God.
For example, Scripture reveals our physical bodies will eventually cease to function and will begin to decay. Our souls, however, are eternal. Therefore, once brain death occurs, our bodies and souls separate. Similarly, spiritual death, caused by sin, separates man from His Creator. When we receive eternal life, our relationship with God is restored. Those who don’t trust in God for salvation, however, remain in death—eternally separated from Him and therefore all the love and goodness and righteousness that stems from Him. This is hell.
6. We Don’t Have to Die Alone
Once we trust in Christ for salvation, our relationship with Him is restored, never to be broken again. He makes His home within us, surrounds us, walks beside us, and we become one with Him. Therefore, from that moment on, we are never and will never be alone. In Christ, God’s presence surrounds us completely.
This was the message Jesus was trying to convey to His disciples on the night before He died. “[The Father] will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth” which is the Holy Spirit. “You know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. … On that day, you will realize that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you” (John 14:17b-20).
Though others, perhaps even those closest to us, may abandon or reject us, Christ never will. When our time on earth ends, He’ll usher us into paradise where we’ll experience His love and presence at a depth unimaginable to our finite minds.
7. Death Was Never God’s Intent
Scripture tells us God designed humans to live eternally in deep relationship with Him. He created the rest of the universe by a mere command, speaking stars, planets, and oceans into being. But when it came to man, God’s involvement was much more direct and intimate.
“Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7). Psalm 139 tells us He knit together our inmost being, that He knows us fully, and “searches” our depths. All of these passages speak of a loving Father and Creator deeply involved with His creation.
Though mankind’s sin brought death—separation from God—into the world, this was never God’s intent. He created us for life. Life with Him.
8. Sin Won’t Always Reign
When we view our world, with all the anger, hatred, political upheaval, and wars, it can feel as if evil is winning and always will. But Scripture promises this isn’t true. One day Jesus will return, sin will be banished from His presence for good, and He will make all things right.
Revelation 21:4 promises, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, no mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” May this truth give us hope and peace as we endure all the chaos in our broken world.
9. We Mourn with Hope
When we lose a loved one, it may feel as if a part of ourselves has been taken with them. We grieve the moments we’ll no longer be able to share and the dreams or desires that may never be realized. Though this pain is real and deep, if our loved ones belong to Jesus, our sorrow is always tinged with the certainty that one day, we will see them again.
Scripture promises this and Jesus’ death and resurrection proved it. “For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him” (1 Thes. 4:14). This means, for those in the family of faith, our goodbyes are never truly goodbyes but rather we look forward to seeing one another again.
10. Heaven Will Be Better Than Anything We Can Imagine
I’ve experienced some amazing things. I’ve visited the Grand Canyon, Hawaii, and Yosemite. I’ve enjoyed Disney Land with my laughing, skipping daughter when she still dressed in princess gowns and tutus. I’ve eaten enough ice cream of all varieties to fill numerous freezers, but all of these experiences pale compared to what awaits Christ-followers in heaven.
In fact, heaven will be better than all the earthly pleasures combined across the span of time. Regarding this, the Bible says, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived—the things God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9).
Physical death is inevitable this side of heaven, but this was never God’s intent for His beloved creation. Nor is this where He wishes for us to remain. In Christ, He offers us life—to experience, through relationship with Him, all the good and lovely and amazing blessings He has planned for us. He wants to surround us in His love, from now into eternity, and in so doing, casts out all fear.
Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we, His beloved, can confidently say, “Where, o death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:55-57).
Jennifer Slattery is a writer, editor, and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s a multi-published author with her eight novel, Restoring Her Faith, having just released, and maintains a devotional blog found at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. Visit her online to find out more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event, and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HEREto stay up to date with her future appearances, projects, and releases.
1. Grudem, Wayne. (1999) Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan
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