The Biggest Question—What Happens When We Die?
At any moment, any of us could die. The biggest question we can ask is, “What happens when I die?” We are glad you came to this page, because that means you likely are looking for help to answer that question. Our goal here is to help you answer it based on the truth found in the Bible.
Common Answers to the Biggest Question
People answer this question in many ways. Some say, “Nothing, I will just cease to exist!” Others may say they will join a cosmic consciousness or will be elevated to a higher plane of existence. Reincarnation is another common answer. The problem with all of these is that none of them are based on biblical truth.[i]
What is Your Answer?
If you are asked, “If you were to die today, would you go to heaven or hell?” the most common answer is, “Heaven.” When asked why, you might say something like, “Well, I think I’m a good person. Sure, I’m not perfect, but compared to others I’m pretty good.” When questioned further as to why God should let you into heaven the answer is very often, “I’ve done more good things than bad, so I deserve to be in heaven. I mean, I’ve never done any of the big sins like murder or robbing a bank.”
Does this sound familiar? It is the rare person indeed who will answer, “I know I deserve hell.” But either way, we want you to know you can answer this question with certainty from the Bible. Please keep reading!
Are You Good Enough for Heaven?
Are you willing to take a quick test to see how good you are?
Question 1: Have you ever used God’s name as a swear word? If so, this is a very serious offense and the Bible says, “The Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.[ii]“
Question 2: Have you always honored your mother and father? Have you ever disobeyed them, even once?
Question 3: Have you ever stolen anything (regardless of the value)? What do you call some who steals? Have you robbed anyone of their dignity or of their good name by slandering them?
Question 4: Have you ever committed adultery? You may quickly say no, but the Bible says that “Anyone who looks lustfully at another person has already committed adultery with them in their heart.”[iii]
Question 5: Have you ever committed murder? Again, you may easily answer no. But the Bible says, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister, will be subject to judgment.”[iv]
Question 6: Have you ever told a lie (no matter how small)? Most people have to answer this one with a resounding “Yes!” Once again, the Bible has a clear message for all liars: “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars —they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”[v]
Did You Pass the Test?
So, based on this feedback from the Bible, do you think you’re good enough for God to send you to heaven? Or do you deserve to be sent to hell? The problem, of course, is how we define ‘good’ or ‘good enough.’ What kind of life is ‘good enough’ to earn heaven, ‘good enough’ for God? Our natural tendency at this point is to compare ourselves to other people. ‘I’m better than some,’ we think defensively. But as true as that may be, it might surprise you to know that the Bible nevertheless says none of us is actually ‘good.’ In fact, it says,
“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.”[vi]
And about the good things we do, here is what the Bible says:
“All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is none who does good, not even one.”[vii]
God’s Standard, Not Ours
You see, God’s standard of goodness is so much higher than ours. God’s standard of ‘good’ or ‘good enough’ is perfection. “Be holy as I am holy,” He says, and that means we’re to be comparing ourselves to Him, not each other. That means what we think is “good” is nothing but “filthy rags”[viii] in comparison to His righteous standard. While God certainly loves everything that is good – kindness, love, faithfulness, compassion, honesty, etc., he also hates and must punish all that is not good: cruelty, murder, theft, violence, lying, greed, immorality, unrighteous anger, etc. Moreover, the Bible teaches us that God has written his laws on our hearts. That is our conscience, and it tells us when we have violated his moral code, and one day we must all stand before God and face judgment.[ix]
So, by now we hope you understand the serious situation in which you find yourself.
Heaven or Hell?
Heaven or hell? If you are honest, you will answer, “Based on my answers, I guess I would go to hell.” Does that concern you? It should! Hell is a terrible place. The Bible says it is a place of complete darkness filled with endless fire and weeping and gnashing of teeth.[x] If you go to hell it won’t be a cosmic playground like some think. It is a place of eternal punishment where you will never have hope of relief.
Is God Fair?
By now, you may be saying, “Wait a minute! By that standard nobody can go to heaven. That’s not fair! I thought God was good and loves us!” God certainly does love us, but He is also perfectly just and cannot ignore sin (our failure to keep His laws perfectly and our twisted, rebellious nature). As a just God He must punish all sinners. Otherwise, He wouldn’t be just at all. That is the bad news. We all deserve that punishment—without exception! We all owe a massive debt for our sin against God, and we have no hope of paying it ourselves!
You may be thinking, “God wouldn’t send me to hell. Yeah, I may have committed some of these sins, but I’ve also done a lot of good things.” But try that with an earthly judge. Can you commit a heinous crime and tell the judge, “Yeah, I did that, but I gave a lot of money to the poor since then!” What do you think the judge will say? He or she will say, “That has nothing to do with this crime. You must face the consequences of what you have done.” If a just judge on earth will say that, how much more will God, who is perfectly just, say so as well!
If you are honestly concerned about your eternal destiny, please keep reading. There is good news you need to hear!
Good News: Your Debt is Paid!
What if someone were to come into God’s courtroom and pay your debt for you? What if someone were to say to God, “Yes, this person owes a huge debt they cannot pay but I will pay it for them. I will even die for them to pay for their sin.” If that were to happen, God would still be just in letting you go to heaven because your debt would be paid in full. That is exactly what Jesus did for you![xi]
Two thousand years ago, He came to earth from heaven, born as a man. During his 33 years on earth, He lived a perfect life! He obeyed every law of God perfectly in thought, word, and deed. He lived the perfect life you couldn’t, and He fulfilled every law of God without exception. Then, innocent as He was, He was killed on a cross and died a horrible death. That is the death we all deserve because of our sin and disobedience to God. But just like that figurative courtroom, Jesus told God, His Father in heaven, that He would willingly die for us so that God wouldn’t have to punish us. He did that for you because he loves you so much, even while you are still a sinner. That is such good news![xii]
But the good news doesn’t end there! You see, while Jesus died for us, he was also raised back to life for us on the third day after He was killed, never to die again—and therefore He defeated death! He was seen by hundreds of people who spoke with Him and even ate with Him. Then He ascended into heaven and is now seated next to God the Father.[xiii] The Bible tells us that Jesus…
“…is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.”[xiv]
Eternal Life: A Free Gift!
He offers it to anyone who wants it, anyone who will accept it, anyone who will confess they are a sinner who deserves eternal punishment and will trust in Jesus completely to pay their debt and help them turn from their old sinful ways.[xvii] There is no magic here. This is the act of your will to say to Jesus,
“I admit I am a sinner in need of saving. I believe you died for me and that you defeated death and that even now you are alive in heaven interceding for me. Please forgive me for all my sins. I know I deserve to die for what I have done, but I have no way to pay that debt. I choose to trust you that your life and death completely paid my debt. Please help me turn from old ways and follow your ways. Thank you, Jesus.”
More Good News!
If you do that, and believe, there is even better news! Not only is the debt of your sin subtracted from you, but something else is then added to you as well! The Bible says,
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”[xviii]
This means that Jesus took all our sin, and in exchange, we get all His righteousness! We get added to our clean slate, to our balanced ledger, Christ’s perfect track record of keeping God’s standards His whole life! He paid for all our sins—past, present, and future, and we get all His righteousness—we are made ‘good enough’ for God, according to God’s own standard of goodness! So that, when you die and stand before God the Father and He asks you why He should let you into heaven, Jesus, God the Son, will be there to say, “This is one of mine. I’ve fulfilled all their obligations. I’ve paid for all their sins.”
Don’t Wait—Now is the Time
If you have never confessed your sins to God, asked Him for forgiveness, and put your total trust in what Jesus did for you, we beg you to do so today. Don’t wait, because your next breath could be your last! Now is the time to do it. Today is the day of salvation. If you trust Christ today, you will finally be able to answer the biggest question with total assurance – WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN WHEN I DIE?— “I’m going to heaven because Jesus lived and died to pay my debt, which means all of my obligations to God have been met, and all of my sins are forgiven. Jesus was raised from the dead to eternal life so that, through Him, I too can be assured of eternal life. Now I serve Him with all my heart, out of gratitude rather than fear. I don’t deserve it and I can’t earn it, but I have accepted His free gift of salvation!”
If you have any questions, we would love to talk with you. If you need a Bible, we would be honored to provide you one. Just ask when you call or email us.
[i] Hebrews 9:27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment [ii] Exodus 20:7 You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. [iii] Matthew 5:27-28 You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. [iv] Matthew 5:21-22 You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, “You fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire. [v] Revelation 21:8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. [vi] Romans 3:10, 23 As it is written: None is righteous, no, not one; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. [vii] Romans 3:11-12 No one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. [viii] Isaiah 64:6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (NIV) [ix] Romans 2:15-16 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them. This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. [x] Matthew 8:12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Revelation 20:15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. [xi] Ephesians 1:7-8(a) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. [xii] Romans 5:9-11 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. [xiii] 1 Corinthians 15:1-7 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. [xiv] Hebrews 7:25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. [xv] Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. [xvi] Titus 3:5-6 He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior. [xvii] Romans 10:9-10 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. [xviii] 2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.