What Will Happen When You Die?
“The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.” (Luke 16:23-24)
What will happen when you die?
If you are a Christian, when you die, your body will be laid to rest, and your soul will be carried by the angels to be with Jesus. See here the comforting ways in which the Lord describes the death of His precious children. The death of Christians is described as "Being gathered to one's people" (Genesis 25), as "Departing to be with Christ for that is far better" (Philippians 1:23), and as "Departing in peace" (Luke 2:29). Jesus said to the believing thief on the cross, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). For the believing Christian, "to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21) Believer, when you die your war with sin will be over, and you will be with Jesus.
Even though Christians go to be with the Lord when we die, death remains sorrowful. When Jesus saw Mary and Martha weeping at the death of their brother Lazarus, Jesus wept with them. Death is not our friend. Death is not a “part of life.” Death is described as an enemy Jesus has come to destroy (1 Corinthians 15:26). If you have lost someone you love you may weep for them even if you know they died in the arms of Jesus.
While death remains sorrowful even for believers, Jesus has overcome death for us. He says to us, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him." (John 3:36) Those who believe in Jesus have eternal life. For this reason, the death of believers is often referred to in the scriptures as "sleep." Jesus has died for our sins. He is risen from the grave. He is able to rouse us from death more easily than we are able to rouse our loved ones from slumber. If you trust in Jesus, then you need not fear the hour of death.
If you are not a Christian, if you do not trust in Jesus for your salvation, then when you die your body will be buried and your soul will enter torment. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He says, "As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die...?" (Ezekiel 33:11). God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:4) When those who do not trust in Jesus enter torment it is not because their sins are more obviously wicked than the sins of Christians, it is because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God (John 3:18).
If you do not trust in Jesus for salvation, I urge you to speak with a Lutheran pastor in your area, to be baptized if you have not already been baptized, and to join and regularly attend a Lutheran church. For your convenience, here is a link that can help you find an AFLC congregation in your area: https://www.aflc.org/about-us/churches/. If there is not an AFLC congregation in your area, please contact us and we can help you find another good Lutheran church in your area. Know that, "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." God desires to save you through faith in Jesus.
If you trust in Jesus for salvation then you have this great promise that when you die your soul will go to be with the Lord. And this is not the only promise you have; it gets even better! On the Last Day Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead. When this happens, the Lord will raise the bodies of the righteous and the unrighteous. If you are trusting in Jesus, then on the last day, Jesus will raise your body from the dead. You will be raised in glory. Your body will be imperishable. You will be clothed with immortality. For more information about this see 1 Corinthians 15:42-57.
On the Last Day God will reveal the full and final rewards of the righteous (those who trust in Jesus) and the wicked (those who do not trust in Jesus for salvation). The wicked will be raised and told to “depart into the Lake of Fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” The righteous will be told to “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:31-46) The Bible also says concerning the Last Day, “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord." (1 Thessalonians 4:17)
The Lord is with his believing people today. He comes to us in His Holy Word, in the waters of baptism, and in His Holy Supper. He is present with us when we are gathered in His name. He is an ever present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46). When we fall asleep our spirits will go to be with the Lord. On the final day the Lord Jesus will raise us up, and we will live with the Lord forever in the New Heavens and the New Earth.
Believers, we may feel the sting of death today, but we have victory over it in Jesus Christ the Lord. Already we have newness of life in us through the resurrection of Jesus (Romans 6:4). The Lord is with us as He has promised. The fullness of this will be revealed on the last and final day.
Until Christ returns, we will experience the sadness of death. But if you trust in Jesus, you will not experience eternal death. You have eternal life. Death has given way to life for you. We know this, for Jesus has promised, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26) I hope you do. For even though Christians mourn when our loved ones in the faith fall asleep, "We do not mourn as those who have no hope." (1 Thessalonians 4:13) Instead, we mourn in faith. Our tears are mingled with hope. Soon they will be wiped away by Jesus who reaches out His hands to receive His children home.