What happens to people who die before Jesus returns?

2 Corinthians 5:8 – We would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 

Philippians 1:21-23 – To live is Christ, and to die is gain…to depart and be with Christ…is far better.

Remember the last time you took a flight? You left your home, passed through a check point, and waited to be taken to your next destination. Life is kind of like a flight. You live at home here on earth, pass through the checkpoint of death, and wait until the resurrection of the dead and your arrival into Heaven. The question many folks have is simply this – what is the proverbial airport like after death before resurrection?

According to the Bible, there is one reality ruled by God over two realms. One realm is the spirit world where God, divine beings (e.g. angels), and departed saints live right now. The other realm is the physical world where human beings live right now.

Originally, these two realms were connected. The Garden of Eden in Genesis was literally Heaven on earth where the unseen realm and seen realm connected. This explains why Adam and Eve met with God there, were not shocked when a divine being showed up (Satan), and saw an angel keep them from the tree of life once they sinned. Once we sinned, the realms were disconnected. So, upon death, the two parts of our being are also disconnected. Our body goes into the ground awaiting resurrection. Our soul goes to be with God.

The apostle Paul says this is “far better” than our current life on earth and all we have is “gain” to look forward to “at home with the Lord”. So, if someone loves Jesus and dies today, they are with Jesus in the spiritual heaven. That, however, is not their final destination. That is their proverbial airport where they wait for Jesus to return, bringing Heaven to earth with Him just like things were before sin entered the world. Those who love Jesus will rise from the dead to live forever in their body on the earth plus Heaven. Far too many people think of Heaven only in terms of the intermediate spiritual state, or the proverbial airport, and not the earthy physical reality that God has planned for all eternity.

How does knowing what awaits you on the other side of death change your life in the meantime?

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