What happens after we die?
I've heard previously the teaching that when you go to Heaven, you become part of the Holy Trinity or part of the Godhead in some way. Can you refer me to specific literature?
This brings up a question that comes up quite often but in various forms. What happens after we die?
A lot of different opinions about that and I would imagine that our premillennial friends in evangelical churches, in charismatic churches, they have a certain viewpoint about this, actually quite complex and complicated viewpoint about what happens at the end of the world. There are a lot of diagrams put out by people from that perspective that try to explain all the things that happen at the end of the world. Most of it is based on the book of Revelation.
As I've taught before, in the series on Daniel / Revelation, the amillennial position, which is pretty much everything in the book of Revelation has already happened. It happened in the first century, it's written in symbolic language. So if you really want to know what happens at the end of the world, a better place to go is the book of Thessalonians, that Paul has written. First thing I want to read is in I Timothy. That gives you, kind of situates us about what is supposed to be taking place at the end of the world, or after we die, and Paul says in II Timothy
11It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
- II Timothy 2:11-12
So he's saying, after death, after we resurrect, our position will be to reign with Christ, and that's where the question came from. What will we being doing? Well, we will reign with Christ. There's the resurrection, the glorification, where we have glorified bodies given to us, but then, there's another step after that, which is the exultation, meaning exalted to the right hand of God, where Jesus is. That's what he says, we'll reign with Him. Well, reign where? Well, we'll reign within the Godhead, if we're sitting at the right hand of God with Jesus, we're within the Godhead, and that's where the idea of the exultation of humanity or the believers, after death, comes from, but I want to talk a little bit more about this premillennial, amillennial stuff.
A much simpler way to understand what takes place after death is to go to, as I say, to go to II Thessalonians, Paul doesn't use eschatological symbolism. He doesn't use language of the end times, he doesn't use symbolic language to explain what's going to happen at the end of the world. The Thessalonians had some straightforward questions about what happens after we die, will we be, you know, those of us who are still alive, will we go to heaven, and the people who died before Jesus came, will they be left in the grave? They had a, theirs wasn't just a theoretical question.
They wanted to know what exactly will happen, and so Paul answers them in very simple terms. He says,
13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.
- I Thessalonians 4:13-14
So those who are alive in Christ when Jesus comes, they're not going to go to heaven before those who have died in Christ go to heaven. See, that was the fear, you know, will we go to heaven and our relatives, our brothers and sisters in Christ who have died, will they just stay in the ground? So Paul assures them not to be afraid of that,
15For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For 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 will rise first.
- I Thessalonians 4:15-16
So the first ones to rise up will be the dead in Christ.
Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
- I Thessalonians 4:17
So we'll always be with the Lord, they'll always be with the Lord in that status. There's no, a thousand years, you'll be here, and then, there'll be a second resurrection, and all of that complicated eschatological guessing that takes place in a lot of the diagrams, and a lot of teaching about the second coming of Christ.
Paul makes it simple. So he says, when Jesus comes, everyone will know it, you know, the trumpet, the shout, everyone will know. It won't be a secret. Everyone will be made aware. The dead in Christ will rise first, those are who still alive when Jesus comes will join them and where will they join them? In the air with Jesus, to begin the eternal life, and that's it; we'll be together with Him forever.
So you need to understand the Bible, the Bible talks about the end of the world, and gives us events that will take place at different times, or different events that will take place, but all these events are taking place at the same time, that Jesus comes, that there is the shout or the trumpet, that the dead arise, that the living in Christ are captured with them, that the evil are punished and sent to their place of punishment, that the heavens and Earth, that Peter talks about, will be dissolved, all of this, all of these things, they're not happening like in real time, like this year, this is going to happen, and then, 100 years later, that's going to happen, then, a thousand years later, that, no.
Same thing with the judgment. It's not happening in real time. You know, people standing around waiting for judgment. I wonder when my turn is, you know? When's my turn to go? There's a long line up there.
It doesn't work like that. Those are metaphors, those are symbols. That's imagery, in the Bible, to tell us that there will a reckoning, so to speak. The key is, in I Corinthians 15:51 and 52, let me just read that.
Paul says, "Behold, I tell you a mystery." He's talking about the resurrection and the time of judgment, when Jesus comes. He says,
51Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
- I Corinthians 15:51-52
So he's kind of repeating here what he said in I Thessalonians. What is going to happen? All these events, at the end of the world, all of these things will take place, in the twinkling of an eye. In the twinkling of an eye, everything will be done, in the twinkling of an eye.
One moment, you're in this dimension, the next moment, you're in the other dimension. One moment, this Earth, the heavens and Earth exist, the next moment, it's the new heavens and Earth, okay? And those who are caught up with Christ, in the heavens, what will they do? Where will they be? To answer the original question, well, they'll be at the right hand of God, reigning with Christ, meaning they will become part of the Godhead, and in an exalted state. Good stuff, great things to look for.