Tag Archives: lazarus

Where will we go when we die?

The spirit of a deceased human will go into a holding place upon death. That location will depend on whether their name is recorded in heaven as being among the righteous. The unrighteous will await judgment and a fiery consequence at the end of days. On the other hand, the spirits of the righteous will await their bridegroom – Jesus – to gather them and ascend to the “third” heaven, where God exists, at His appearing.

One of only two earthly choices will affect us after death (at least for those who’ve had a choice): follow God and His Christ and live; choose not to follow and die. Each choice will result in a consequence. The spirit of Jesus’ deceased followers (following implies action and obedience, by the way) will rest in a holding place Jesus called Paradise. They’ll wait there for His return and their gathering, often called ‘the rapture’. I know this is generally contrary to what many churches and their doctrines teach, but you’ll discover that it’s what the Bible reveals.

We’re usually told that our spirit goes to heaven at the time of physical death, yet we won’t find a single biblical reference (in context) to support that idea and plenty to the contrary. The Book of Enoch tells of a holding place for the spirits of the righteous. Jesus told the thief on the cross that He would see him in Paradise that day (Luke 23:40-43), yet Jesus didn’t ascended to heaven until three days later (John 20:17). Paul explained to the Thessalonians that the spirits of the righteous deceased will ‘rise’ to meet Jesus at His appearing and that the living followers will be ‘translated’ to join them.

Also, we know from the story of Lazarus and the rich man that spirits of both were in locations apart from heaven – Lazarus in ‘Abraham’s bosom’ and the rich man in Hades – and yet they could see each other (Luke 16:19-62).

Finally, Jesus told His disciples that we’ll be gathered and taken to heaven – to His Father’s house – upon His return. This supports what Paul said later (e.g. 1Thessalonians 4:15-17 and 1Corinthians 15:52). Paul explained to the Thessalonians that spirits of the righteous deceased will rise to meet Jesus at His appearing and that the living followers will be changed to join them. While on earth, Jesus had told His disciples about the future time when that gathering Paul mentioned will happen (cf. Matthew 24:29-31; Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-28).

I realize some readers may still be holding onto traditional church dogma that insists our spirit goes to heaven immediately upon death, so allow me to ask a rhetorical question based on Paul and Jesus’ statements: “Why will Jesus need to return to earth to gather the spirits of the righteous deceased if they’re already in heaven?

In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. —John 14:2-3. (See also Matthew 24:30-31 for a reiteration of this gathering)


Summary: Our spirit will go to one of two places when we die: a holding area where we’ll await escort to heaven or to an unpleasant holding place where the spirit will await judgment and wrath.

Keep an eye out for “Finding Answers to Stuff Churches Don’t Discuss!” scheduled for a mid-2015 publication. There, you’ll find roughly 60 topics related to daily life (such as sex, religion, finances, tattooing, and everything in between!) along with practical application of God’s guidance for navigating those difficult waters!

And, for a very comprehensive and detailed study of the very important topic of God’s judgment to come and being rescued from it, feel free to read my 2011 guide titled, “Finding the End of the World” available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and from www.ronbraley.com in paper and e-book formats. In the guide, you’ll find roughly 500 pages of building blocks to help you do your own complete and unbiased study based on Scripture and history!

What is Hell Like?

Personal opinions on the subject of hell range from a profession of its existence as the fire-and-brimstone punishment for the person with unrepentant sin to a belief that it’s a mythical place since, “A good god would never kill his people!” The truth is that God is a just god who offered us a choice: follow Him and His Christ and live or don’t and die (spiritually). He created a place within the earth to serve as a means of destruction – a consequence that awaits the spirits of those who didn’t choose life through faith and resulting obedience.

Originally created for eventual judgment of the fallen angels (including their leader, Lucifer) hell will also be the final destination for the spirits of unrighteous humans. As well, this is the holding place of those spirits of the unrighteous awaiting judgment. Scripture is pretty clear about this. We also find references to this holding place and the fiery judgment from others like Enoch, the grandson of Adam.

  • Hell – holding place Hades = Sheol: holding place of the spirits of those whose names aren’t recorded in heaven as they await judgment. This place will be unnecessary and eliminated when death is abolished at God’s great judgment (cf. Revelation 20:15).

References include: Matthew 11:23 and 16:18; Luke 10:15 and 16:22-23; Acts 2:27 & 31; 1Corinthians 15:55; 2Peter 2:4; Revelation 1:18, 6:8, and 20:13-14

  • Hell – fiery judgment Gehenna & Lake of Fire: last-days consequences for the wicked after judgment. Scripture and the Book of Enoch describe this as a place within the earth that produces incredible heat and flames. Read Luke 16:23-24 and you’ll see words and phrases like ‘hades’ and ‘torment’ and “I am in agony in this flame”. So, for those who believe hell is figurative or a parable – I’d reconsider.
  • Gehenna references include: Matthew 5:22-30, 10:28, 18:9 and 23:15 & 33; Mark 9:43, 45, & 47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6

Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. —Matthew 10:28.

  • Lake of fire references include: Revelation 19:20, 20:10 & 14-15, and 21:8

Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. —Revelation 20:14-15.

Now that we know what hell is, let’s address what it isn’t. Contrary to popular opinion, hell isn’t a multi-layered furnace where sinners are divided and placed based on the bad things they did on earth. This concept is fantasy based on “Dante’s Inferno” – the first part of a poem titled Divine Comedy. It’s not even loosely based on Scripture and shouldn’t be taken as such. Anyone whose name isn’t recorded in heaven among the righteous at their time of death will find their spirit waiting in holding-place hell until their final disposition: hell as a fiery judgment.

What’s your destination?