Is there life after death and does it matter if you believe there is, or not? A quick Google search gives a variety of answers, but it does not escape my notice that none of the answers offer hope and joy to the reader.
The medical community offers no explanation other than the process of the body actively dying and the subsequent 36 hours of rigor mortis setting in. While you may appreciate knowing the biological process, it doesn’t answer the question of whether or not there is life after death. The scientific community goes to great lengths to explain there is no probability of people having a spirit which is a separate entity from the physical body. Atheists believe humans merely cease to exist, having had no purpose for living.
What Various Religions Teach about Life after Death
Most Hindus believe people are in a cycle death and rebirth (samsara). The essence of the Hindu belief system is the atman (what others would call a soul) leaves a body at death and is reborn in a different body. Some Hindus believe the rebirth occurs directly after death, while others believe there is a period of time of existing in another realm before the rebirth. The cycle continues until the atman becomes one with the Infinite Atman, a personal God from whom all atmans originate.
Islam teaches that Allah is the one who judges each person and decides where the afterlife will be spent. Most Muslims believe they will stay in the grave until the Day of Judgement. Muslims who have done good deeds that far exceed the bad and have adhered to the five pillars of Islam believe they will enter Jannah (Paradise). Those who’ve done bad deeds that far exceed the good are believed to be destined for Jahannam (Hell).
Catholics believe the soul separates from the earthly body at death and the soul immediately stands before God to be judged. At the time of judgement, the soul will either be admitted to heaven, sent to hell, or sent to purgatory. Heaven is for those free from sin, as defined by the Catholic church. Hell is reserved for those who have rejected God and his love or those who persist in serious sin, as defined by the Catholic church. Purgatory is for those who have died in a state of being friends of God and basically a good person, but still need purification. Once the purification process is done, the soul is guaranteed a place in heaven at the end of time.
Mormons (Latter-Day Saints) believe that death is not the end but that spirits are separated from the body at the time of death and enter the Spirit world. The spirit world is described as paradise where righteous spirits go to rest from their cares and troubles and spirit prison where those who have yet to receive the gospel of Jesus go. Those residing in paradise continue to preach to the people in spirit prison, offering opportunity to be released from bondage and enter paradise. Heaven is taught to be a place where God dwells and righteous people may eventually dwell. Hell is taught to be the ultimate destination for those who reject the gospel while in spirit prison.
Dozens of other religions have their outlined beliefs of life after death, with new religions and belief systems popping up around the globe. Rastafari is a relatively new religion founded in Jamaica less than a hundred years ago; Baha’i is another of the youngest of the major world religions and was founded in Iran in the 1800s; and Paganism which encompasses diverse groups centered around elements of ecology and witchcraft.
The list of religions and the differences in the answers to the question of life after death is exhausting. The answer to the question can be found in the Bible, the Ancient Scrolls, the Word of God, given to people in an easily understood manner.
What the Bible says about Life after Death
Evangelical Christianity is not a religion but is based on relationships. Evangelicals follow the Bible as it was originally written, taking nothing out of it and adding nothing to it. The Bible speaks to all facets of our lives, but most important is the matter of eternal life.
The Bible teaches that God is the Creator of the Universe and all things in it. In Genesis 1, Scriptures clarify that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was with God in the beginning and was later sent to earth to become payment for the sins of each of us. His birth, death, burial and resurrection fulfilled the requirement of God that payment be made so we can go to heaven after death. John 3:16 (NET) tells us “For this is the way that God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him (Jesus) will not perish (die) but have eternal life.”
In Mark 12:26-27 Jesus speaks in present tense and clarified that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and others are still living, they are not dead. How can this be, when we know they all died? Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:8 (NKJV) “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” In Ecclesiastes 12:6-7 (NKJV) we are exhorted to “Remember your Creator before the silver cord is broken, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the well. (These speak of death – remember your Creator before you die). Then the dust (Genesis refers to our bodies being formed from dust) will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” In John 10:28 (NIV) Jesus said “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
Jesus is the Only Way to Having Eternal Life in Heaven after Death
There is life after death. The Bible is filled with passages to study, confirming life after death. Many religions agree on this fact. What is not agreed upon is exactly what happens to you after death and where you will spend eternity.
Christianity is based on the Bible, which has proven true both historically and scientifically. The Bible is clear that you must have a personal relationship with Jesus if you want to spend life after death in heaven. You cannot do enough good works to get to heaven after you die, nor can you pray enough, be reincarnated enough times, or be a nice enough person. There is only one way to heaven, and it is by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. In John 14:6 NIV, Jesus answered (Thomas) saying “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” How can you be born again and come to the Father through Jesus?
In John 3:3 (NET) Jesus said: “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the Kingdom of God (Heaven) unless they are born again.” The Greek word ‘again’ means from above’. You need to be born again, spiritually speaking.
A seasoned therapist and counselor, Dr. Mel Tavares serves on staff in the Pastoral Care and Counseling Ministry in her church. She is the author of several books, including Challenged: Equipping Families to Thrive in Today’s Youth Culture. Learn more at drmeltavares.com
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