Teenagers ask great questions – questions adults should answer. That’s the focus of this special series. You can read some of the questions we’ve answered so far on our FREE Apologetics eBooks site. Look under the Apologetics For Christian Teens category.
Here’s our next question.
“Where do Christians go when they die?
Great question! Let’s look at the Bible to get some answers.
Present With The Lord
Christians go to be with God when they die. The Bible calls it being “present with the Lord.”
Here are some insights that may help answer your question.
“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”2 Corinthians 5:1-8
The Apostle Paul was addressing questions Christians had about dying. That’s the idea of our earthly house, this tent, being destroyed. The words he used – earthly house, this tent – are about our physical bodies. We see that when he used the words mortality swallowed up by life. The definition of mortality is “the state of being subject to death” (Oxford Languages). Every human being is subject to death. However, Paul wrote that our mortality will one day be swallowed up by life. What does that mean?
The Greek word for swallowed means to be overwhelmed by something, like when we drink a glass of water. We consume it completely. We overwhelm the water by swallowing. Paul wanted Christians to know that God would take care of them completely when they died. He would overwhelm them and take them to be with Him. That’s what Paul meant when he wrote – “we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” More about that in a few minutes.
Paul gave Christians a guarantee of what would happen to them when they died –
“Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”
It’s important to notice that God has prepared us for dying and has given us the Holy Spirit as a guarantee that we will go to be with Jesus when we die.
Paul also shared the same guarantee with Christians in Ephesus –
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14
The Spirit of God living inside Christians is our guarantee that we will go to be with Jesus when we die. Knowing that helps us have confidence about our future.
“So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”
This is important. We are absent from the Lord while we are alive in the sense that we’re not with Him where He lives (Heaven). However, we are present with the Lord when we die.
Funerals are not easy to attend. Someone we knew and cared about passed away. We see their physical body in a coffin and know that body is not alive. However, the person we knew – their soul – is not there. Their body is no longer animated with their voice, with their laughter, with hugs and long walks. The person we knew is absent from their body. If they were saved by faith in Christ, we know they are present with the Lord.
The Resurrected Body
But what about our buried physical body? Is it also present with the Lord when we die?
The short answer is no. Our physical body stays in the grave until God raises us from the dead and joins our resurrected body to our soul that has been present with Him. Here’s how Paul explained that to Christians in Corinth and Thessalonica.
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.”1 Corinthians 15:51-54
“For 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 by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
Even though billions of Christians have died (Paul used the word sleep to describe the death of a person’s body) for the last two-thousand years, many Christians will be alive when Jesus returns. What will happen when Jesus returns is that those Christians who have already died will rise from the grave first and be joined instantly with their soul. Then, those Christians who are still alive when Jesus comes will follow the others into the air to meet the Lord and be with Him forever.
That’s what Paul meant when he wrote – “we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” God will build a body for us that will be immortal and incorruptible. We won’t get sick. We won’t experience pain. We will never die again. Our future life after we die will last forever and ever.
“Therefore comfort one another with these words.”1 Thessalonians 4:18
Hope that helps answer your question! Thank you so much for asking.
Previous Tough Questions
You can read answers to other tough questions from Christian teens here.
The Next Question
In the next part of our special series, Tough Questions From Christian Teens, we will ask …
What About Old Testament Sexual Laws?
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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