One of the popular beliefs say that people die and immediately go to hell, heaven or wander lost on Earth to await judgment. Yet after thinking about this intensively, it does not make any sense for people to go straight to heaven or hell without being judged. The whole point of Judgment Day is to determine who goes to heaven and who goes to hell right?
Here is what the Bible says about this:
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" Hebrews 9:27
So, it is appointed for us to die once, then there is the judgment. But when does the judgment take place? Please read Revelations chapter 20 for a great explanation!
Verses 4-6 show that the dead in Christ shall rise and then they shall reign with Christ for a thousand years. This is called the Millennial Reign. The rest of the dead lived not again until AFTER the thousand years were over.
Verses 11-15 reveals that the Judgment Day takes place after the millennial reign with Christ and it is for those who died without Christ. They will be judged for their works. Those who are judged lived not again until after the Millennial Reign and they were delivered up from the sea and hell (graves) unto the Great White Throne.
But where are the people who die? What are they doing as of right now? Check this Out!
"Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb." Job 21:32
"For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." Ecclesiastes 9:5,6,10
"His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish." Psalm 146:4
The Bible says that those who are in the grave remain in the grave. They have no thoughts, no memory, and they know nothing. They are simply dead and unaware of what is happening in the world and how much time has passed since they died. Keep reading please!
"For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth." Isaiah 38:18
"For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?" Psalm 6:5
If those people went straight to heaven after death, then surely they would remember Jesus their Lord! Surely they would praise Him and give Him thanks! Yet the Bible shows this is not the case because those people are asleep in the grave.
What did I mean by asleep and why does the Bible continually call the dead people "asleep" or "sleeping?" Sleeping means the same thing as death to the Lord. Those two words mean the exact same thing. When we are asleep, we are unaware of what goes on outside. I have been put under for surgery once when I was a teenager and to me it felt like a moment when in actuality, hours had passed. That's why the Bible also calls it "in the twinkling of an eye." Because to the dead, it would feel like just a moment had passed from their death till the moment they see Jesus appear from the sky. They are unaware that thousands of years have passed. Amazing isn't it??
"These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead." John 11:11-14
Here are some examples of prophets and men of God who are asleep in the grave and still dead. They have not gone anywhere else yet.
"Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand" Acts 2:29, 34
"And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead." 1 Kings 11:43
When we die, we await in our graves completely asleep for the resurrection day. We wait until Jesus Christ returns in the foretold second coming to quicken us and give us incorruptible bodies. We wait for that last day!
"Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day." John 11:24
"For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me." Job 19:25-27
"Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall 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 shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." 1 Corinthians 15:51-54
We have not received immortality as of yet. We have received the promise of Christ that He shall return for us. At the last trumpet, when Jesus Christ appears, we will receive incorruptible bodies and immortality! Death shall be swallowed up in victory!
But for the souls without Christ, they shall die. They shall not be quickened unto life. The gift of God is everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord so that is a gift from God himself unto us. Those who reject the gift shall not have everlasting life.
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23
"Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die." Ezekiel 18:4
Are you fearful of death, thinking we will be lost and all alone? Forgotten in the graves? This is not the case! Here is beautiful news: Jesus Christ is still with us even in the grave. We will never be forgotten nor alone.
"If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell (grave), behold, thou art there." Psalm 139:8
Now I am going to address ghosts, evil spirits and lost spirits. We must be warned that satan is a great deceiver. Angels are able to transform into anything and appear as a loved one. One third of the angels are fallen angels who serve satan's evil will. Remember what God's Word says in the Bible and do not be deceived!
There are NO ghosts, or dead people wandering the Earth. Those are evil spirits, demons, and fallen angels of the darkness. The dead are asleep, awaiting Christ's triumphant return. The Lord would not allow souls to wander lost in the dark. Those are evil spirits so do not be deceived but renounce them in the authority and name of Jesus Christ.
In the Bible, Saul of the Old Testament sought a witch to conjure up a "familiar spirit." Saul saw the "spirit" of Samuel back from the grave. It was a demon. This demon looked like Samuel and talked like Samuel but it was not Samuel. The Lord was angry at Saul for getting involved with the devil and witchcraft that Saul knew he would die and he did the next day. (read 1 Samuel 28:7-25)
I have a personal experience to share as well. When I was younger, I woke up from a nightmare and saw my mother standing in the doorway smiling at me. I had a two minute long conversation with her, telling her about my dream, then I watched as she vanished. This spirit imitated my mother while my mother was alive and well, asleep in the next room.
The Bible warns not to be involved with these things and not to trust familiar spirits, or those spirits who look like our deceased loved ones!
"There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer." Deutronomy 18:10, 11
"Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God." Leviticus 19:31
I hope this article has explained a lot for you. I encourage you to seek the Word and go to the Lord for guidance through prayer about this topic. I know this topic can be painful for those who have recently lost a loved one. Let this also encourage you because our loved ones are not aware that they are dead, not aware of the evil in this world, but that in their life, the next moment of awareness, they get to see Jesus in all His glory. What a joyful sight!
*Note: hell in the Hebrew and Greek translations means Sheol which actually means "grave."