Where Do Believers Go When They Die?
When a Christian dies, does he go directly to Heaven?
How can we reconcile the idea that he might go to Heaven directly with the fact that on the last day, when Christ returns, he will be resurrected from the grave?
The Bible very clearly teaches that when we die we go to Heaven. But in Heaven we are there not with our bodies. Our bodies obviously are in the grave. But we are there in our souls. We never see a person alive today as a disintegrated being, with their body separate from their soul. We see a unified personality, a totally integrated personality.
But at death something leaves the body, so that at one moment there’s life, there’s vitality, there’s a person. And a moment later there’s a corpse. There’s just a dead body. The soul of that person, the inner essence, the spirit essence of that body, or of that person, has left the body. And that spirit essence, or that soul, is as real a part of him as the body.
In his soul he has gone to be with the Lord, to live and reign with Christ, as we read in Revelation 20:4.
1 Corinthians 5:8
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
Now on the last day, when Christ comes again, we read in I Thessalonians 4:14,
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.“
(1 Thessalonians 4:14)
Now let us suppose that there is a nab called Mr. Jones who died last week. He’s a believer. He fell asleep in Christ.
Now what does that mean?
According to the Bible, it means that his body was put in the grave. In his soul he went to live and reign with Christ in Heaven.
Now on the last day he comes with Christ. He in his soul has been living and reigning with Christ in Heaven, and in his soul he comes with Christ. This will be true of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and David and Noah, and of Peter and James and John, and Mary Magdalene, and all of the believers who are in Heaven in their souls.
They will come with Him. And then their bodies will be resurrected, and caught up in the air. And obviously their bodies will be reunited with their souls, and now they will be a complete personality again.
They will be resurrected with their glorified spiritual body, whatever that is. The language of I Corinthians 15 describes this, and it just indicates that it will be a wonderful glorified body, a spiritual body, in which we will live and reign with Christ forever and ever in the New Heaven and the New Earth.