From Death unto Life
Job asked a question that many people have at some point, "If a man die, shall he live again?" [Job 14:14]. In other words, what will happen to us once we die? Is that the end? God has told us through the scriptures that all will be raised from the dead to be judged according to their works, both the just and the unjust. [John 5:24-29, Hebrews 9:27, Romans 14:10-12, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Romans 2:1-11, Revelation 20:12-14]. In other words, our reward will depend on the condition of our heart. How did we receive the ministry of Christ once we heard the Gospel message? [Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23].
Nevertheless, this still begs the question, "What will happen to us once we die, shall we live again?" The Lord Jesus taught that those who "heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." [John 5:24]. Even Job testified, saying, "For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." [Job 19:25-26]. So what does happen to us when we pass from this earth?
First, we must recognize that we are all appointed to die [Hebrews 9:27], following which we learn in Ecclesiastes that our body shall return to the earth and our spirit shall return to God who gave it [Ecclesiastes 12:7]. From there, we receive one of four rewards, namely paradise [Luke 23:42-43, 2 Corinthians 12:3-4, Revelation 2:7], prison [Isaiah 24:22, Isaiah 61:1, 1 Peter 3:18-20, 1 Peter 4:6], hell [Psalms 9:17, Psalms 55:15, Psalms 86:13], or outer darkness [2 Peter 2:4, Matthew 8:12], and here we will await the time of our resurrection from the dead.
It is through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ that the bands of death are broken [Hebrews 2:14-15]. Thus, as God delivered Israel from Egypt, He will also deliver us from the body of death. We know this not only because of Christ's death, but most especially because of His resurrection. For we read in Matthew, "Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." [Matthew 27:50-53]. Therefore, we know that the righteous who lived between the time of Adam and Christ were resurrected with Jesus. The same is true for when He will return.
The scriptures explain that if we do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, then our faith is vain and avails us nothing [1 Corinthians 15:13-17]. For we cannot be saved if we do not believe in our heart that God raised Jesus from the dead [Romans 10:9]. The Lord promised that there would be two more resurrections before the final judgement day. A resurrection of life for those who had done good, and a resurrection of damnation for those who had done evil [John 5:29]. The Lord also revealed unto John, "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." [Revelation 20:6]. In other words, the righteous will be resurrected at the time of Jesus's coming [1 Thessalonians 4:13-17], to usher in a reign of righteousness where the Devil will have no power for a thousand years, also called the Millennial Reign [Revelation 20:2-6].
During this time, those who did not have part in this first resurrection will be reserved until the day of judgment, which will coincide with the little season when Satan shall be loosed and have power to tempt men again [Revelation 20:2-3, 5, 2 Peter 2:4]. For we know there will come a time that death and hell must deliver up there dead so that every man might judged, both good and evil, according to their works [Revelation 20:13]. From here, we know with surety that Jesus Christ will be our judge [Psalms 96:13, John 5:22, 2 Timothy 4:1], that we shall be judged by the Word [John 12:48, Revelation 20:12], and that we shall be judged by our works [Matthew 16:27, Revelation 22:12, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Romans 14:10-12].
Following our eternal judgment, we shall receive one of four rewards which is again dependent upon the condition of our heart. How did we receive the ministry of Christ once we heard the Gospel message? [Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23]. The first is Celestial Glory, which Paul likened to the glory of the sun, where the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost dwell in their fullness [Matthew 13:23, 1 Corinthians 15:40-42]. These are the holy men and women of the earth who have obeyed the fullness of the Gospel.
The second is Terrestrial Glory, which Paul likened to the glory of the moon, where the Son and the Holy Spirit dwell [Matthew 13:22, 1 Corinthians 15:40-42]. These are those who believed in the Lord Jesus but were not valiant in their belief or testimony.
The third is Telestial Glory, which Paul likened to the glory of the stars, where the Holy Spirit dwells [Matthew 13:20-21, 1 Corinthians 15:40-42]. These are those who might not have obeyed the fullness, or believed in Jesus, but did not deny the Holy Spirit.
These three rewards are all a form of glory, or salvation [2 Corinthians 12:2]. The last place is no glory at all. It is the lake of fire and brimstone. These are those who received the light and truth and rebelled against it, they are the sons of perdition. [Matthew 13:18-19, Revelation 20:10, 14-15, Revelation 19:20, Revelation 21:8].
Ultimately, there are four eternal resting places. Paul explained that as a seed of grain is planted in the earth, it dies and brings forth a new body, some wheat and to another barely. So too are we planted on the earth and following our death we will be resurrected a new body, some to one glory and some to another depending on our faithfulness to the commandments of God and the condition of our heart. As the angel of God testified to John, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” [Revelation 22:11-12]
Scriptures to Consider
Job 14:1-2, 10, 14 (KJV)
14:1 Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. 14:2 He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. 14:10 But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? 14:14 If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.
Job 19:23-27 (KJV)
19:23 Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! 19:24 That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! 19:25 For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 19:26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 19:27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.
John 5:24 (KJV)
5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
Hebrews 9:27 (KJV)
9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: