Each religion has a different point of view on the afterlife. What does the Bible say about it?
People have wanted to know about the afterlife for a long time, but there has been no way to know about it clearly. So, they have imagined the afterlife in their own way and have created countless religions. Confucianism insists that the human soul temporarily survives after death and then perishes. Buddhism insists that people transmigrate in the Six Realms when they die. Islam imitates Christianity and insists that there is a heaven and hell. However, that is it—they cannot give any evidence to support their insistence.
Then, what does the Bible tell us? Through numerous prophecies and their fulfillments, God has clearly testified that the Bible is fact, and based upon the foundation of His testimony He has clearly taught us about our afterlife. The reason why so many religions in the world do not exactly know and explain about the afterlife is because they do not clearly understand where human beings were before they were born. However, the Bible clearly tells us about our previous life and explains about our afterlife as well.
The following is what the Bible teaches us about our previous life and afterlife: Our spirits were originally angels in heaven, but we committed grave sins deserving of death, so we came down to this earth in the flesh and are temporarily living as strangers here on earth (Heb 11:13-16). So, when we receive the forgiveness of our sins—when we receive salvation—through the blood of Christ, we will be changed back into angels and return to heaven, our home, where we originally lived. However, if we end up failing to be saved by persistently turning away from God who wants to save us, who are condemned to death, through His sacrifice, we cannot help but be thrown into the lake of fire in hell as we are destined to be. So, we should receive the blessing of the forgiveness of sins by making every effort to follow the gospel of Christ—all the truths of the new covenant—which God established through His blood when He came to this earth, leaving His heavenly glory and power behind.
1. The resurrection of life and the resurrection of judgment
The Bible tells us that there are two kinds of resurrections: the resurrection of life for those who are saved, and the resurrection of judgment for those who are not saved.
“And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” Jn 5:29, KJV
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Da 12:2
… and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. Ac 24:15
Today, many churches in the world forsake the Passover and are ambiguously waiting for the resurrection. Do you think they can enter the resurrection of life? As the words “resurrection of life” imply, those who do not have eternal life cannot enter it. Jesus has said that those who do not eat His flesh and drink His blood have no life in them, and that only those who eat His flesh and drink His blood have eternal life. Therefore, no one can enter the resurrection of life without eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood through the New Covenant Passover.
“… unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” Jn 6:53-54
2. The resurrection of the saved
Although there are two kinds of resurrections, the “resurrection” described in the Bible usually refers to the resurrection of those who are to be saved. So, as for the resurrection of life for God’s people, let’s just call it “resurrection” from now on.
Then, what kind of resurrection do God’s people who are in Christ hope for? Those who are saved through the blood of Christ will return to their heavenly home—where they once lived—in glory, being changed back into angels they used to be, not having a physical body anymore. Being transformed into angels again—the Bible calls this “resurrection.” This is why Jesus said that we would be like the angels in heaven at the resurrection.
“At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” Mt 22:30
“… and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.” Lk 20:36
The resurrection which the Bible testifies to is not the resurrection with a perishable physical body, but it means to be clothed with an imperishable spiritual body—to be transformed into the likeness of angels again, which we lost. So, the Bible emphasizes that we will bear the likeness of the man from heaven—we will have a spiritual body, not a body of flesh and blood, although we have now borne the likeness of the earthly man, Adam.
… it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body … And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. 1 Co 15:44-49
What is the likeness of the man from heaven? It refers to the likeness of angels in heaven. In other words, we will have the same image or likeness as angels when we are saved and go back to the kingdom of heaven. Then, what do the angels in heaven look like?
God has already given us the answer through the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus’ resurrection is a perfect example of what kind of resurrection we will have in the future. That is why the Bible says that the bodies of the saved people will be transformed like the glorious body of Christ.
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Php 3:20-21
After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to Saul [Apostle Paul] with a light brighter than the noonday sun on the road to Damascus (Ac 22:6). On the Island of Patmos He appeared to the Apostle John in an awesome form, as described in the Bible: “His eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance” (Rev 1:12-16). Sometimes He appeared in bodily form just like man’s for His disciples who did not completely believe in His resurrection (Jn 20:20, 27). In other words, Jesus was resurrected in a glorious form which man could not even imagine, and He had the power to appear in bodily form whenever He wanted. When we are resurrected, we will also have a perfect body endowed with such amazing power. How glorious and wonderful!
3. The glory of resurrection shown in everything
Those who just cling to this visible world can hardly believe in the glory of resurrection. So, God the Creator helps us understand the glory of resurrection easily even through all visible things (Rev 4:11).
… since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Ro 1:19-20
When we observe the living organisms on this earth, we can see that there are some species whose larvae are totally different from the adults. For example, dragonfly nymphs live in the water—the underwater world is everything to them, but at some point in time they transform into dragonflies that can fly freely in the sky, boasting their transparent, gorgeous wings. There is another case; caterpillars spend nearly all their time on plants crawling and eating the leaves, and they finally change into splendid and beautiful butterflies and flutter through the air. In nature, those amazing things—which we are apt to overlook unconsciously—occur every year. The Bible likens human beings living on this earth to maggots and worms. So, the transformation of those insects shows God’s will to make known the glory of resurrection to us who only pay attention to the physical world.
“If even the moon is not bright and the stars are not pure in his eyes, how much less man, who is but a maggot—a son of man, who is only a worm!” Job 25:5-6
Therefore, we should realize God’s power shown in all things and run more powerfully towards the blessings of heaven while looking forward to the glory of resurrection, instead of just looking at the physical aspects of ourselves and only pursuing earthly things.
4. The change that God’s people will go through at the last day
To be precise, there are two kinds of resurrections for God’s people as well—the resurrection of those who died in Christ, and the resurrection [change] of those who will meet Christ in the air while they are still alive at the last day. In regard to this, Jesus said as follows:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die …” Jn 11:25-26
Just as Jesus said, “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies,” there are those who will be resurrected after death. And as Jesus said, “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die,” there are those who will be changed without experiencing death. The apostles also testified to this: There will be the resurrection of those who have already died and the change [transformation] of those who are still alive and are left on the Day of Judgment.
“I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” 1 Co 15:50-52
“We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” 1 Th 4:14-17
A great multitude that no one can count will be resurrected, and the 144,000 saints whom God saves from the last disaster by putting His seal on them will be alive and changed to meet Christ in the air when He comes as the Judge (Rev 7:2-4, 9). Imagine the day when you will be changed in a flash and meet God in the air! On the day when we, who have lived like worms, will be transformed into the likeness of brilliant angels and go up to heaven, how happy and thrilled we will be!
To give such a glory and blessing to us, sinners, our Heavenly Father and our Heavenly Mother have personally come to this earth and lived a life of extreme suffering and sacrifice, and They have finally given us the New Covenant Passover—the truth of eternal life. So, we should give eternal thanks and glory to our Father and Mother for bestowing all these blessings on us, and we have to run even harder toward the kingdom of heaven with the living hope of resurrection. Moreover, we should inspire the hope of resurrection in the hearts of numerous people who still think that this visible world is everything, and should preach the Passover—the truth of life—to them, so we can help them participate in the resurrection of life together.