What happens to the believer when he dies?
Does every believer go to heaven automatically, by default? There are three views that are all wrong.
There is NO…
1. purgatory to suffer to be cleansed
2. soul sleep until the resurrection day
3. annihilation of the soul as evolutionists and Jehovah Witnesses teach.
Angels show us that spirits can live and function without bodies (as they were created in heaven) so a lack of a physical body should not be considered a problem. The Transfiguration, which is found in three gospels: Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; and Luke 9:28-36. Moses, Elijah appeared alive with Jesus. Moses, had died and yet Moses is conscious and discussing the future with Jesus even though he had died. So after his life he knew about Jesus and the future that was to take place. In Luke 16:19-31, the story of the rich man and Lazarus, makes it obvious that the rich man is conscious, he can see, feel, and taste, Lazarus is conscious, and Abraham is conscious, even though they are both dead and in different portions in the earth. There was a place for the believer to be and live after death then, and there is a place to live after Christ’s death now.
A believer still feels death - separation of their soul from the body. The natural course -- the souls of the believers at their deaths immediately pass into glory; their corrupted bodies rest in their graves until the resurrection. Upon death a believer’s spirit / soul are separated from the body, free from sin and suffering. Death brings the believer immediately into God's presence (Acts 7:59; Phil. 1:23; II Cor. 5:6-8; Rev. 6:9-11; 7:9- 17). The Spirit and the soul are both portions of the immaterial man (the body being material). The soul being one’s own personality, that is united with their Spirit lives on, the inner man as Paul terms.
If you are born again you then became a pilgrim on earth heading for your permanent home in heaven. Death is your graduation day from all your trials.
Hebrews 9:27 “it is appointed unto men once to die” (then the judgment). This is universal to all mankind. But death is not the same thing for believers as it is for unbelievers. Our passing brings us into our eternal possession that is promised by Christ. This judgment brings one to either two places; heaven or hell (Hades) Heaven is ONLY for believers.
James 2:26 “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Death comes by separation from the body. James is making the point that faith shows it is genuine by doing God’s work; in other words faith without works is as dead as a dead body without the Spirit energizing it, having life.
Hebrews 12:23 “to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect.”
The Greek word enrolled is apographo which means to write (a copy or list), i.e. enroll: (Strong's Concordance.) Thayer's Greek Lexicon says it means to enter in a register or records specially, to enter the names of men, their property, and income in public records to enroll. This is where Revelation speaks about being written in the Lamb’s book of life, which is eternal life not just being born on earth but born spiritually that makes on a heavenly citizen.
Phil 3:20-21: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
This broken up into two parts, first heaven waits for our spirit upon death and then with the resurrection/ rapture our corruptible bodies are to be resurrected to be united with our soul and spirit.
2 Corinthians 5:1: “For we know that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens. For verily in this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For indeed we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed, but that we would be clothed upon, that what is mortal may be swallowed up of life. Now he that wrought us for this very thing is God, who gave unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Being therefore always of good courage, and 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 of good courage, I say, and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord. Wherefore also we make it our aim, whether at home or absent, to be well-pleasing unto him. For we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether it be good or bad.”
Believer’s works are to be made manifest before the judgement-seat of Christ in heaven, 1 Cor. 3:13-15 each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
This judgment has the believer receive rewards for the Things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether it be good or bad. The believer's works that are being judge are separate from their salvation that was a gift by grace, it is what they did with their salvation. These works done in Christ have rewards, they determine the believer's place of authority in the Kingdom on earth.
In the meantime We that are in this tabernacle do groan as we live in a mortal body. The believer is longing to be clothed in eternal life, what is mortal may be swallowed up of life.
Paul was confident and assures us the state of the soul after death is better than its condition while it is in the flesh.
Philippians 1:21-23: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if to live in the flesh, if this shall bring fruit from my work, then what I shall choose I know not. But I am in a strait betwixt the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ; for it is very far better.”
Notice What Paul is saying. That to die is to be with Christ. And where is Christ? In heaven.
2 Cor. 5:1-8. He sums it all up in verse 8 by saying, we are always confident knowing that while we are home in the body we are absent from the Lord. And he goes on to say to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. When all our earthly tent is dissolved, we will be in the presence of God. lit., “being at home in the body we are away from home from the Lord.” This is why we now walk by faith.
This is why Paul could say Philippians 1:23. "Having a desire to depart and to be with Christ; which is far better."
The body (our earthly house) is put in the ground and decays from death, but God has prepared another (a building from God), a house that is not made with hands, eternal in the heavens so that we are not naked, we are to have a body and are not just be a spirit. In our present condition in the body we groan “longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven.”
In I Cor. 15:50-58, Paul explains in the resurrection, mortality must put on immortality. We that are in this earthly tabernacle groan. In Romans 8 all creation groans v.23 “even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” The resurrection body has us fully and permanently clothed.
Isa. 25:8-9 He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people he will take away from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken. And it will be said in that day: "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.
Our salvation is completed by the resurrection/rapture, death is defeated. But for the state of the believer before this occurs we are promised Rev 7:17-8:1 for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
This is reiterated twice in the last book of the Bible. Rev. 21:4-5 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."
No death, tears, or sorrow is our future. The believer is in the condition of rest and joy after he dies.