What Happens to Me Directly After My Death?

A great question here sent in via e-mail:

First Name: Willie
City: Omaha
State: NE
ZIP: 68127

Question(s): I am a little confused about what happens to me directly after my death. Does whatever is the real me (my spirit) stay in the ground until the rapture (being a sleep) or does my spirit go directly to "Paradise". Then when Jesus comes does the spirit and body reconnect? If this is true where do I find it in the Bible?

This email was generated by a form on the Christ Community Church website

Willie,
Thanks very much for your question you posted on e-mail last week. Let me give you a brief answer with some scripture references. I’ll also post this question to my blog later in the week and answer it there…

The best indication we have, as to what happens to us when we die as believers/ followers of Jesus, is that we will be somehow present with the Lord (but without our bodies). Here are a couple of references:

2 Corinthians 5:6-10 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Paul seems to hint pretty strongly that being absent from our body means we’ll be present with the Lord and vice versa.

Luke 23:39-43 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

When Jesus is dying on the cross, he tells the believing thief that he will be with him in paradise (his spiritual part of his being, obviously not his physical part of his being.

You also asked when the spirit and the body reconnect. Paul seems to indicate that this will happen when the Second Coming takes place. Here’s a passage from Thessalonians that bears this out:

1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 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. Therefore encourage each other with these words.

So I think you’ve got if figured out, Willie! I’m a little fuzzy on some of the details – exactly what we’ll be doing till we’re reunited with our bodies is a bit of a mystery. When Jesus is coming back is not really spelled out anywhere either. But I think you have the second coming of Christ hooked up with the resurrection of the believers in the right way and here are the verses most theologians cite as pointing to those claims.

Thanks for your question!