What Happens When a Person Dies? Clarence Sexton First Edition Copyright
Solid Answers Series
What Happens When a Person Dies? Copyright © 2010 Crown Christian Publications Powell, Tennessee · 37849 1-877 At-Crown CrownChristianPublications.com FaithfortheFamily.com ISBN: 978-1-58981-563-6 Layout by Stephen Troell All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form–electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other–except for brief quotations embodied in critical articles or printed reviews, without the prior permission in writing from the publisher. Printed in the United States of America
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”
he Bible says in Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Death is coming to all of us. We have a divine appointment. There are appointments that God desires for us to keep but will not make us keep. The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. He desires that we keep the appointment to meet Him at the cross and know Him as our Saviour. But there is an appointment that we will be made to keep. It is an appointment with death and judgment. Every one of us has an inevitable meeting with God. If the Lord does not come soon, we will go to that appointment to meet God through the door of death. I found in my research an article that was written nearly four hundred years ago by a Christian in France. It is from a book entitled The Christian’s Defense Against the Fears of Death. The theme of this portion is “How to Die Well.” 1.
God will not forsake us in our grievous agonies.
Solid Answers Series 2.
Look upon God as a merciful Father and trust upon His infinite goodness.
Meditate continually upon the death and sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ and trust upon merits of His cross.
Meditate often upon the Lord Jesus Christ.
Meditate upon the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Meditate upon the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ into heaven and His setting at the right hand of God.
Meditate upon our strict and inseparable union with Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit and the fruits of His blessed immortality.
Consider that death delivers us from all temporal evils that we daily suffer.
Death delivers us from sin, which we may see reigning in the world and from the remains of our corruption.
10. Meditate upon the glory and happiness of our soulâ€™s departure out of this body. 11. Meditate upon the resurrection of our bodies. 12. Meditate upon the destruction of death and the eternal and most blessed life, which we shall enjoy, both in soul and body, because of our resurrection. Truth is always timeless. Satan is always trying to deceive people concerning the subject of death.
What Happens When a Person Dies? The Bible says in Genesis 3:1-4, Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: The Word of God teaches us that sin brings death. But Satan said, “You sin all you wish. You disobey God all you wish. Do as you please. Leave God out of it. You will not die!” But the Bible tells us “it is appointed unto men once to die.” I grew up with a frightened mother. I mean by this that she would never discuss the subject of death until she came to know the Lord Jesus as her Saviour. She was always putting off the subject of death. The reason for her fear was that she had not made preparation for death. Alexander the Great said, “I have given time and thought to everything but death, and that is the most important thing that I could have considered.” When I was just a young fellow, on an Easter Sunday my mother came in the afternoon to where my brother and I were playing and called to us. I could tell by the sound of her voice that something was terribly wrong. When we got to her, she said, “I just came to tell you boys that today your father died.” That was my first experience with death, and it was most 7
Solid Answers Series unpleasant. There were so many things I could not understand and so many questions I had that I could not answer. Not every question deserves an answer, but I think this one does. What happens when a person dies? The Bible says in Job 14:1, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.”
Every one of us has an inevitable meeting with God.
We all think we are going to live longer than we live. My precious friend and spiritual father, Dr. Lee Roberson, was dying at age ninety-seven. His son-in-law came to him and said, “Dr. Roberson, they say that you just have a few days left.” He replied, “I did not think it would be coming this soon!”
When they asked Billy Graham what he thought about life, he said, “The thing that staggers me is its brevity.” After having been in the ministry for more than forty years, I am sure you can imagine that I have conducted funeral services for people of all ages. Job says of life and death in chapter fourteen, verses two through ten, He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. And dost thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one. Seeing his days are determined, the
What Happens When a Person Dies? number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass; turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day. For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant. But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? I have a painting done by a well-known local artist of what I have read here in Job about the stump in the ground with one little shoot coming out of it. The painting is entitled “Hope.” What happens when a person dies? The Bible says, “Yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?” When I was a very young man, one of my close friends in high school joined the marines. He went to the Vietnam War and was there only about six weeks before he was involved in an explosion. We were told that his body was nearly vaporized. They could not find pieces and parts to send back. I thought of all the things we did together as boys. I could picture him by my side. I thought, “Where is he? They could not even recover a body. Where is he?” What happens to a person when he dies? We know that all opportunity to know the Lord for salvation, repent of sin, invest in eternity, and to give and receive forgiveness is over. We understand that. The voice is silenced. The opportunity is gone. The heart beats no more in that body. The brain ceases. There is death.
Solid Answers Series Someone comes to cover the body, and if necessary close the eyelids. A sheet is put over the corpse. Most of the time the family is left with the responsibility of planning a funeral. They discuss things like, “What will we put on this corpse? What will the casket be like? Where will the body be buried? Who will conduct the memorial service? What songs will be sung?” Loved ones gather to discuss the arrangements, and the funeral directors do all they can to shield the coldness and finality of death. Getting this task finished may go on for days, but while the family is making all of that planning, the deceased is gone. Certain things have already happened that are irreversible. They can never be changed. They are finalized. What happens when a person dies?
When People Die, They Leave Their Bodies The soul and spirit are separated from the body. This is physical death. There is a fine Christian man I know that works in one of our hospitals. He is in one of the units where there is intensive care. One day I remember going in and asking him about one of our church members. He said, “Let me check and see if he is still in there,” meaning not if he was still in the room, but if he was still in his body. When a person dies, that person leaves that body. They are gone. In Ecclesiastes 12:7 God’s Word reminds us, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”
What Happens When a Person Dies?
When People Die, They Keep Identity They know who they are and where they are. They think more clearly than they did on earth. The Bible says of a man who died in Luke 16:19-28, There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich manâ€™s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abrahamâ€™s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest 11
Solid Answers Series send him to my father’s house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. This is after the man died. He was thinking about his father’s house and who lived in his father’s house. More than likely, when he lived on earth he gave very little thought to his father’s house, but all that changed. The Bible goes on in verses twenty-nine through thirty-one, “Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” This man kept his identity. Lazarus kept his identity. The Bible says in Matthew 17:1-3, “And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.” These men had been gone from this world for a long time, but they still were the same men. They kept their identity. We find the same account in Luke chapter nine. The Bible says in Luke 9:31, “Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.” Moses and Elijah spoke to the Lord Jesus about the death He was going to die in Jerusalem. You and I do not slip into some state of nonexistence. The soul does not go to sleep and that is the end of it. Your soul 12
What Happens When a Person Dies? survives your physical death. You are going to leave your body, but you are going to keep your identity. The Bible says in Revelation 22:11, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” In other words, your character is going to be crystallized into your eternal being. What you have been is what you are going to be forever. If you have been a liar and a cheat, you are going to be a liar and a cheat forever. If you have been a dishonest person haunted by your dishonesty, you are going to be haunted by it forever. If you have lived a filthy ungodly life, you are going to be filthy and ungodly forever. On the other hand, if you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour and have been made righteous by His blood, you will be righteous forever. It is a serious thing to think about death. There is finality. You may be planning to do something in the future for God or change your ways, and then something happens to your mental capacity on earth so that you are incapable of making that decision. You may be taken in death suddenly. So many deaths are sudden deaths. When a person dies, that person leaves his or her body. When a person dies, that person keeps his conscious identity.
When People Die, They Enter a Real Place We are going somewhere. We enter a real place. The Bible says in John 14:1-3, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe
Solid Answers Series in God, believe also in me. In my Fatherâ€™s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.â€? God tells us some wonderful things about heaven. There are only two places to go when we die. You are going to leave this world and go to heaven, or you are going to leave this world and go to hell. You might imagine that the tragic thing is death, but how much more tragic to think someone died and went to hell! I do not know if you have ever dealt with a family that was convinced that their deceased loved one went to hell, but I have. It is nearly impossible to bring any comfort to that poor broken family. Many people considered to be nominal Christians leave almost no evidence while they are living that they are Christians. They raise great doubt about whether or not they are Christians. There is nothing positive or reassuring said about his Christian life. When that person dies, if that family has been exposed at all to the Christian faith, the one thing they seek after is anything that might give them the slightest hope that the person they love had trusted Christ as Saviour. Why? Because of the horrors of hell. Hell is so horrible that it cost Godâ€™s only begotten Son His life to save us from it. If you want proof of hell, you have it: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If there were no hell, He would have never died on Calvary. The cross proves that there is a real screaming hell from which to save the lost. That is why Jesus Christ bled and died and rose from the dead. May God help us!
What Happens When a Person Dies?
When People Die, They Meet People We go to a real place, heaven or hell, and we meet the people that are there. Heaven is filled with the most noble people that this world has ever known. The Bible says in Hebrews chapter eleven that these are people of whom the world was not worthy. They were not recognized for their greatness often in this world, but in the world to come, oh how great and noble they are! The most wonderful people that ever walked the earth are waiting in heaven to meet us! When we die, we meet people. For the saved person, we shall see the Lord Jesus. I love Him, though I have never seen Him. We are going to see Him! We are going to see our Saviour! As soon as we close our eyes in death in this world and open them in the world to come, we are going to see the Lord Jesus and all those who have gone on before us. My precious mother is there. My father made a profession of faith and gave some evidence of being a Christian before He died. I have hope of seeing him there. My stepfather gave assurance that he gave his life to Christ. I hope to see my stepfather there. My library at home is filled with books of people I have gotten acquainted with through the years. I can tell you as much about them as I can of many I have known in my life. I know them well through what they have written. I shall see those who know Christ. I am going to meet people. I am going to meet the greatest people this world has ever known.
Solid Answers Series If you die without Christ, you are going to meet people, too. The Bible says in Revelation 21:1-8, And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
What Happens When a Person Dies? What a horrible list of the world’s worst waits in hell. That is who you are going to meet there. They are the worst people who ever lived. They are the vilest of people. You die and go to hell and are in hell forever with people like Truth is always those religious fanatics who were so merciless and flew those planes timeless. into the twin towers. In hell with Hitler; in hell with Mussolini; in hell with every bloodthirsty person who ever walked this earth. You will be in hell with every Christ-denying slanderer and profane person. You are not just going to be in hell with them; they are going to be screaming and spewing out their filth and godlessness for eternity. What happens when a person dies? If you die lost, you have lived without Christ and you are going to die without Christ. You are going to leave your body. You are going to keep your conscious identity. You are going to enter a place of torment, and you are going to be there forever with the most vile human beings that ever lived on this earth. Remember that Christ came to die for our sins so we could be saved from hell. II Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” It is such a serious thing to think of living without Christ, but may God help you to realize something of the tragedy to die without Him. Most people never hear or read of this type of thing. For the most part, they never hear about the Lord Jesus and His power to save. They never hear of the reality of hell. They have just
Solid Answers Series believed some lie of the Devil and think life is going to be recycled. Remember, when you die, if you are a child of God, you are going to leave your body and you are going to keep your conscious identity. You are going to enter a place that the Lord Jesus Himself has prepared, and you are going to be with the Lord Jesus and all who have gone on before us forever. This is not some figment of my imagination. This is not something I have dreamed up and would like to happen. This is what the Word of God teaches, and I believe it is true. Every choice to make must be made now. Every investment in eternity must be invested now.
from the Solid Answers Series by Pastor Clarence Sexton