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Series 1 - The Bible and You: Practical Answers—Real Hope

Hi, friends! Welcome to this Bible study lesson on "What Happens After Death?" This subject has been a passion of mine since my little brother died when I was 12. Let me share with you the comfort I have found in the Bible on this deeply personal but universally important subject. And remember, we would love to hear from you and serve you in any way we can.

Lesson 3: What Happens After Death?

Bible Study - What Happens After Death?Is there life after death? If so, how is that possible? And what will it be like? Will it last forever?

Don, a Christian in Washington, tells this story:

"When I was 12 years old, my lovable little brother, Roddy, who was 3½, suddenly died. This was absolutely devastating to me, my parents and my other brother. My world was turned upside down with grief. That was over 50 years ago, and I still get choked up when I talk about my brother and what happened.

"The tragedy worked for good in that it made me begin to think seriously about life. If there was a way to see Roddy again, I longed to discover that way. However, I remained in the dark spiritually until many years later when God began to open my eyes to understand the Bible. What a thrilling ongoing education it has been ever since! And each time I have lost another loved one, it has further increased my determination to be there for the great 'family reunion' in the next life!"

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What Does the Bible Say About Life After Death?

Is this life all there is? Is there nothing afterwards? Do we just cease to exist? If that were the case, such hopelessness would be terribly depressing.

The patriarch Job asked, "If a man dies, shall he live again?" (Job 14:14). The good news—the fabulous news—is YES, he will!

Let's now see what the Bible has to say about the hope for life after death through a "resurrection," which means "rising again" from the dead.

What is the one greatest hope promised in the Bible?

Titus 1:2 hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began...

This reference (and many other scriptures) shows that the magnificent hope for mankind is eternal life! This is what "God, who cannot lie, promised before time began." Hope is not merely a "wish"—hope is a desire that is fully expected because of solid evidence.

What was God's purpose in sacrificing His Son Jesus Christ?

John 3:16-17
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."

God's ultimate sacrifice demonstrates the greatest love that could be imagined. Although everyone dies, God does not want anyone to "perish" forever. He wants everyone to have "everlasting life"!

Is God offering immortality to mortal human beings?

1 Corinthians 15:50-54
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 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."

This entire chapter—often called the "resurrection chapter"—gives us considerable understanding of a future resurrection. We are all mortal—physically, we all will die. So far, only God has immortality (see 1 Timothy 6:16). But God is offering immortality to all mankind!

What was the stunning event that led the disciples to unshakeable hope?

1 Peter 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...

The empty tomb—the resurrection of Christ—was the proof to Jesus' disciples that God can raise the dead to spirit life! It gave the disciples powerful motivation to preach this good news (see Acts 4:2, 20, 33; 8:4). Plus it led them to truly understand Jesus' promises that God was offering eternal life to all mankind (John 10:28).

All people have sorrows, but what is the worst kind of sorrow?

1 Thessalonians 4:13-17
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 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.

It is the sorrow of people who have no hope for the future. The Bible compares death to sleep (see what Christ said in John 11:11-14),and sleep is only temporary! The Bible says "the dead know nothing" (Ecclesiastes 9:5), so like sleep, death is a state of unconsciousness. God will awaken us in a resurrection from the dead. The resurrections will begin with the second coming of Christ! This hope gives us our greatest "comfort" (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

When resurrected to eternal life, what will we be like?

1 John 3:1-3
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Just as children of humans are also human and enter the family of the parents, "children of God" become part of the glorious family of God. "We shall be like Him" (1 John 3:2)! There will be more about God's gift of eternal life in future lessons.


Apply Now

Carefully read all of 1 Corinthians 15, "the resurrection chapter." Think deeply about what you read and think big! Think of all eternity stretching out before you! And after we have lived for millions of years and look back on this human life, think of how short it will seem! Read Romans 8:18 and 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 to see how we will view the suffering of this life. We will see what a very small sacrifice it was to prepare for the paradise of eternal life!

Next Lesson: Why Does God Allow People to Suffer?

Questions about this lesson? Feedback about this lesson?

Related Resources:

What Happens After Death?

Video: Is There Life After Death?

The Resurrection of the Dead: What Does the Bible Really Teach?

Will God Forget the Dead?

Steps in Dealing With Grief