Topic: 2 Corinthians 5:1 - 9
Scripture teaches that whoever has placed faith in Christ will live forever with Him. What happens immediately after a believer's death? Does his soul enter heaven right away, go to sleep until the resurrection, or suffer for certain sins before coming into God's presence?
In writing to the Thessalonians, the apostle Paul referred to the dead as being asleep. Some think this means the soul exists in a state of "suspended animation" until the resurrection. However, Jesus told the thief on the cross that they would be together in paradise that very day. (Luke 23:43) "Paradise" refers to being in God's presence, not asleep.
Another group believes in eternal life but thinks that before we go to heaven, additional cleansing through punishment is required for some sins. Scripture is clear. Jesus paid the price for all sins; His work of atonement was finished on the cross. (1 Peter 3:18) Those who have received Jesus as Savior move immediately from life on earth to life in heaven.
Scripture also shows that people who die without Jesus go into torment, where they will suffer until they stand before the Great White Throne in judgment. (Luke 16:22 - 23) Since belief in Christ is the only way to be listed in the book of life, the lake of fire will be their final destination. (Revelation 20:11 - 15) This is a hard truth for many who seek to deny there is a hell, condemnation, or eternal judgment.
Knowing our ultimate destiny will give us the confidence to face difficulties. And understanding the end of those who deny Jesus should motivate us to pray for and witness to them.