As I was growing up, wondering about life after death was a part of me. Perhaps you've had a similar experience. As I sat in a local church I attended back then with my parents in Minnesota, I heard vague notions about how one day my "consciousness" would somehow be transported to some kind of "heaven." It was up there somewhere where God lived. I apparently was going to live there forever if I was fortunate.
When friends suffered the loss of a loved one, this was the comfort offered to those wondering about the inevitable event that we all will face—death.
To be honest, this was not all that attractive to a young person. I personally was neither comforted nor satisfied by this answer. As it may have for you, for me it generated an entirely new set of questions:
• What kind of body, if any, would I have?
• Would I have the relationships that I have now in this heaven?
• What would occupy my time, as it would be without end? Just staring at God for all eternity didn't seem very satisfying or fun.
• And finally, the real question: What if I didn't like it? Would I be doomed to eternal boredom?
Other questions and thoughts came up, and I was very troubled. Instead of being comforting, the nebulous notion of "heaven" created a sense of anxiety. I did find the idea of living forever to be attractive, but I wanted my consciousness to be as it is now. I wanted meaningful interaction with others. I wanted a world and universe of peace and fulfilment. My church at the time had no answers.
Looking back, I now believe that God was answering some of these prayerful musings even in my teen years. Back then I was beginning to find that what the Bible taught was different from what my church taught. I was greatly relieved. Why? Here are some of the key points I learned from the Bible that gave me a new footing:
1. If I died before Jesus returned, the Bible teaches that there will be a resurrection of the dead in which I will be brought back. Sound amazing? Hard to believe? That's the main subject of the 1 Corinthians 15. To my great surprise, I found that much of what my former church taught followed the traditions and philosophies of men. The Bible taught a much simpler and more powerful truth.
2. Prior to understanding the above, I was totally confused about the need for a resurrection. Why? If there was a general resurrection of people back to life on earth, why would I first go to what my church described as "paradise," and then somehow be sent back to be resurrected? It seemed like an awkward sequence of events, to put it mildly. I'm relieved and glad that the Bible is clear on this.
3. After the resurrection, there will be a great reunion of those who have died, and they will be with Jesus Christ, the firstborn. The Bible plainly teaches that these resurrected saints will have specific and major tasks: restoring the earth, helping to govern it and serving in the coming Kingdom of God. This biblical truth was quite different from sitting around and playing a harp. It was exciting! It allowed for—even promised—an eternity of creativity and great relationships. It was truly something to look forward to.
Coming to understand what life after death would really be like has been one of the most wonderful truths that I have learned. I didn't learn it from the church I previously attended. I learned it from the clear teaching of the Bible.
Have you had similar questions? Do you want to know scriptural support for the conclusions that I have come to? The definitive and Bible-grounded answers can be found in two Bible study guides that we publish: What Happens After Death, and The Gospel of the Kingdom. Both are gripping and exciting.
There is no anxiety in the truth of God. For peace of mind and for a look into the exciting eternal future God has in mind for you, I invite to download or request free copies for study and review.
God holds an amazing and wonderful future for you—may you find the truth and act upon it!
P.S. What questions do you have about life, in this world and the next? Send them to me at email@example.com, and I'll work to answer them here or personally to you.