Perhaps you have had a grandparent who died—or a parent or someone else you love. It makes you really, really sad, doesn’t it? Have you ever wondered what happens to a person when he or she dies? Do dead people go to heaven or hell? Have you ever wondered what it is like to die? Let’s see what the Bible has to say about death and dying.
We don’t need to be afraid of death if God is with us. The Bible says, “Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you [God] are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way” (Psalm 23:4, TLB).
What is death like? It’s in the Bible, “After he [Jesus] had said this, he went on to tell them [His disciples], ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.’ His disciples replied, ‘Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.’ Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead’ ” (John 11:11-14, NIV). The Bible describes death as a sleep—like being in a deep sleep without dreaming. We are unconscious when we are asleep, and we are unconscious when we are dead.
Where are the dead sleeping? The Bible says, “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake” (Daniel 12:2, NIV). The dead continue to sleep in their graves, unconscious of anything that is happening—until the resurrection.
So if the dead are sleeping, do they know anything? No. It’s in the Bible, “The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun. . . . Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom” (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10, NIV). The Bible is clear that the dead know nothing. Their thoughts, feelings, and emotions all come to an end when they die.
What does Jesus promise those who die? The Bible says, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death” (Hosea 13:14, NIV). This goes back to the point that we don’t have to fear death because Jesus already conquered it.
Is death the end of life forever? No! The Bible says, “Your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy” (Isaiah 26:19, NIV). Death isn’t the last stop, if we are faithful to God, then we will have a wonderful life in eternity!
What happens to the good people when Jesus comes again? The Bible says, “The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command . . . and the dead in Christ will rise. . . . And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17, NIV).
Will my grandpa, who died from cancer, still have cancer when he is raised to life? No! The Bible says, “I am telling you this strange and wonderful secret: we shall not all die, but we shall all be given new bodies! It will all happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For there will be a trumpet blast from the sky and all the Christians who have died will suddenly become alive, with new bodies that will never, never die; and then we who are still alive shall suddenly have new bodies too. For our earthly bodies, the ones we have now that can die, must be transformed into heavenly bodies that cannot perish but will live forever” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53, TLB). We will be raised to eternal life in complete health, free from all disease or pain!
What will our resurrected bodies be like? The Bible says, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20, 21, NIV). Our resurrected bodies will be like the body Jesus had after His resurrection—immortal and glorious.
With all of these wonderful promises in the Bible, we should not be afraid of dying, nor should we feel hopeless when a loved one dies. Death is not the end for those who love the Lord.
To read more on how to deal with loss, you can read our Troubleshooters guide on Grief.