Where does the Christian go when they die?

Following the sudden loss of a 14 year old (Amanda) believer in our community, we have been left to process this sad fact and explain it to her younger siblings.

My neighbor and I have entered into a discussion about how to explain where Amanda is to her 4 year old sibling in a way that is biblically or theologically correct. I offered that I would say Amanda is with Jesus. My neighbor queried this and we looked at a variety of Bible passages to help us discern the truth:

And Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23:43 NET
https://bible.com/bible/107/luk.23.43.NET

Now we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 NET
https://bible.com/bible/107/1th.4.13.NET

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows) was caught up to the third heaven.
2 Corinthians 12:2 NET
https://bible.com/bible/107/2co.12.2.NET

There seem to be different terms in the New Testament describing our state or where we go after death: paradise, asleep. In the New English Translation the link to the word paradise in the Luke reference above says the following:

“sn In the NT, paradise is mentioned three times. Here it refers to the abode of the righteous dead. In Rev 2:7 it refers to the restoration of Edenic paradise predicted in Isa 51:3 and Ezek 36:35. In 2 Cor 12:4 it probably refers to the “third heaven” (2 Cor 12:2) as the place where God dwells.”

I have long held the understanding that Jesus is in Heaven with God and the heavenly hosts and that when I die, I will go to be with Him in paradise. Of late, I have come to consider that this “heaven” is a temporary place and that when Christ returns, he will create a new Heaven and a new Earth where we will be with him for eternity. I know this last bit goes beyond the question at hand, but I share this in order to flesh out the context in which I am considering the terms Heaven and Paradise.

Any input on this subject will be greatly appreciated.:blush:

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@tpauls8 I am so sorry to hear about your loss.

I think what you wrote in your last paragraph is spot on. My understanding Is that heaven, the place where Amanda is now is the place where Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father. You are right though when you say:

In this kingdom Amanda along with us all will have her resurrected body and will be working alongside us all to restore the whole creation. This is the hope we have as believers.

I highly recommend reading N.T. Wright’s book Surprised by Hope.

This sermon series by Graham Chipps, I have on my phone and listen to regularly.

Heaven by Randy Alcorn is also another book on the subject.

The hope a believer has is incredible. When we die our spirit and soul go to heaven where we wait for Jesus to bring us back to earth, to have our bodies resurrected just like Jesus. Then the really exciting part, eternity without sickness or sin. I speculate I will be working on the oceans, cleaning up all the plastic :pick: :smiley:

Here is a wonderful scripture from 1 Thessalonians 4:
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

I believe you are spot on to say that Amanda is currently with Jesus. May the Lord give you wisdom as you try to explain this truth to your community.

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@tpauls8 I think what you said makes perfect sense. In my brief search to try to find resources for explaining Heaven to a 4 year old, I found many things that go beyond what Scripture actually says. I think the simple truth is we do not know exactly what the paradise in which we will dwell prior to the New Creation will be like until we get there, but we do know we will be with Christ and will be free from all pain, sorrow and sadness.

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Thank you Brian for the recommend book by N.T. Wright and the sermon series. I have not heard of Graham Chipps before and will enjoy listening to this series, I am sure. Thank you also for the encouraging passage from 1 Thessalonians 4. It is beautiful, powerful and so exciting. I think I would like to commit this one to memory. I have the book on Heaven by Randy Alcorn but have just begun to read it.

You made me chuckle when you said the following. Exciting indeed!

May God richly bless you brother!:blush:

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Thank you for this honest reply, @SeanO. This is simple and at the same time glorious truth:

Thank you, brother, for this reminder. May God bless you.:blush:

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Dear all, just a few observations from the scriptures regarding where we the believers go when we die; In Luke chapter 16 verses 19-31, the Lord describes the poor beggar Lazarus as dying and being taken to “Abraham’s Bosom” – a pleasant place where he was comforted. The rich unbeliever was put in an unpleasant place, in torment. Between them was a great chasm fixed.This divided place is beneath the earth and is called Hades, the abode of the dead. This was the place that the Lord was referring to when He promised the thief on the cross “Today you will be with Me in paradise”. Acts 2 v27 says regarding the Lord Jesus “because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor will You permit Your Holy One to see corruption”. In Hades there is a very pleasant section of comfort and a very unpleasant part of torment.
Ephesians 4;9 says that in death Christ descended there. 1Peter 3 v 19 says while there He proclaimed (most likely His victory) to the spirits in prison, the fallen angels from Noah’s time,v 20. Whilst there He took the keys of death and Hades (Rev.1 v 18). Death could not hold Him (Acts 2 v24) He rose up from there in triumph and has ascended to Heaven and been given the highest Name. The question is, do we go up to Heaven when we die or to Abraham’s Bosom with Lazarus and the saved thief?
There is a popular school of thought that says that Abraham’s Bosom was emptied when Jesus rose from the dead. This is based on Eph 4 v 8 “Having ascended to the height He led a train of vanquished foes and gave gifts unto men”. WE are the vanquished foes, (enemies of God) who have now become reconciled to God and regenerated through the resurrection of Christ (1Pet. 1 v 3) and have been made to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph 2 v 6). The gifts He “gave unto men” are in verse 11, referring to the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers for the building up of the Body of Christ, the Church, His Bride, so that she will be ready for His return.
Acts 2 v 34 says that King David did NOT leave Abraham’s Bosom and ascend into heaven at Christ’s resurrection. This word was spoken at Pentecost, fully 50 days after the Resurrection.
In 2 Cor.12 v 3 Paul starts with the word “And”… This shows Paul was caught away to two DIFFERENT places. He saw and heard things in the third Heaven above the earth AND in Paradise below the earth. Because of the trancendency of the revelations, he was given a thorn in his flesh to curtail any pride. So from all these scriptures we can tell that when we die we will be with the Lord in Paradise (Abraham’s Bosom), resting from our labours. His Presence there will surely be with us to a much greater degree than here on earth.
Although the Lord resurrected as a God-Man and ascended to heaven in His glorified body, His Presence is still with us today,on earth. It will be with us too when we die and rest in Abraham’s Bosom, just to a much greater degree (Phil 1v 23). At the last trump we shall be raised immortal and join the Christ from heaven for the wedding feast. Praise Him for such a complete salvation; spirit,soul and body.