Is there life after death? What happens to you when you die?
The answer is very simple. Your spirit & soul leave the body. Your body returns to dust and your spirit and soul returns to God. God then accepts you or rejects you depending on if you accepted Him or rejected Him in this life.
Eccl. 12:7 states Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Does this mean there is no life after death? First of all, we need to understand just what we are. What is man? Genesis 2:7 states And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. According to God's word, we were formed out of dust. God then put the soul and spirit into the mound of dust he had made. Genesis 3:19 states for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Is there life after death? I've been to numerous funererals and have seen the bodies lying in the casket. One thing that is very obvious to me is that the personality (soul) that made that person who he or she was is not there. It is absent. It is gone. So what happened to it?
There are those who say that the dead know nothing which includes a body's soul and spirit. They base this assumption on Eccl. 9:5 which states For the living know that they shall die but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. They misunderstand the purpose of Ecclesiastes. Solomon wrote this book from the perspective of a man who has tried to live life without God. He concludes that all is vanity when God is not in the picture. Solomon summed up his book with this observation Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter Fear God, and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
What other proof do we have that the spirit and soul leave the body upon death? In 2 Corinthians 56 & 8 Paul states Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
Paul says very clearly that as long as you are alive on planet earth in a physical body, you are absent from the Lord. But if you are absent from the body, then you are present with the Lord. How can you be absent from the body? There is only one way and that is by dying.
What is death? It is a separation of the spirit from the body. Spiritual death is separation from God. When does this reunion/separation occur? Heb. 9:27 states And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. Immediately upon dying, your spirit/soul departs your body and goes back to God. If you have rejected God in this life, God will reject you in the afterlife because He has no choice. For those who accept God, the afterlife is full of bliss, joy, and wonderful surprises. For those who reject God, the afterlife is lonely, dark, and miserable because of their separation from God.
No one who is still alive and living on planet earth has any idea what it is like to be separated from God. The same rain that falls on the crops of the righteous so they may eat also fall on the unrighteous so they may eat. Everyone on earth enjoy's God's provisions. When Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin, he endured Hell because God could not bare to look upon His son and turned His back on him. This is when Jesus gave up his spirit and died.
What other biblical proofs do we have that there is life after death? In Matthew Chapter 17 we have the account of Jesus going to a mountain with three of his disciples. On that mountain, the disciples got to see Jesus in his true glory. Something else happened on that mountain. Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus. Elijah never died but Moses had been dead for hundreds of years. How could he have appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration if there was no life after death?
Those who have caught glimpses of the afterlife through near death experiences claim that life is more real than the physical life we currently abide in.
If there is life after death, then why do we need a resurrection? When Jesus arose from the dead, he had a physical body that could eat but he also had a spiritual body that appear at different places in an instant and also walk through walls. With the possible exception of the Old Testament saints, the dead are still waiting on their physical bodies to be resurrected from the grave.
Horror movies with zombie-like themes take a bible verse out of context. They use the phrase in Matthew 27:52 And the graves were opened; to show that the dead will one day walk the earth. The fact is that it has already happened. The rest of this phrase reads and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. This is a fact that many pastors and preachers ignore. After Jesus came out of the grave, he brought many of the dead with Him and took them to heaven. My guess is that these were the Old Testament saints and they have already received their new, glorified bodies. The Christians are still waiting for theirs.
In the book of Ephesians Chapter 4 Paul tells us that when Jesus ascended, he led captivity captive. What was Paul talking about? Before Jesus went to the cross to pay the penalty for man's sin, the soul & spirit all went to a place called Hades. Hades was divided into two compartments. The saved were kept on the comfort side and the unsaved on the torment side. This is illustrated in the story of Lazarus and the rich man. When Jesus died, he descended into Hades. He preached the gospel to the torment side (perhaps giving those souls a chance to repent) and took the souls in the comfort side with Him to heaven. All of these souls were aware of what was going on. This is biblical proof of life after death.
When Jesus was dying on the cross, he had 2 companions by his side. These men who were being crucified with Jesus were thieves. One thief challenged Jesus to save Himself if He was so powerful. This thief represents both unrepentant man and Satan. He was standing between Jesus and the cross. The other thief defended Jesus and was repentant. He asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus came into the kingdom. What was Jesus's reply? And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
The paradise Jesus was referring to was not heaven but the comfort side of Hades. However, Jesus did take the repentant thief to heaven with Him. Is there life after death? According to the bible, no one really dies.