What Happens When We Die? The Christian View

The question as to what happens when we die is one that almost every thinking human being finds himself or herself pondering at some point in their life. It is a surprising thing to be thinking about really. For why can’t the human being get content with the idea that death is final? Why does the human being hold onto the view that there is life — or whatever else — after death?

One answer to the question as to why the human being believes so strongly in a life after death is because that is mostly what he is taught as a child. In the western world, for instance, one view about what happens after we die that holds much sway is the Christian view.

There are a number of variants to the Christian view about what happens when we die, held by the various Christian denominations. What holds across board, though, is the idea of a life after death. One of the pillars of Christianity is this belief. If you claim to be a Christian, but you don’t believe in life after death, then you are obviously just a ‘nominal’ Christian.

Now one variant of the Christian view about what happens to us after death is that we remain in our graves, awaiting the end of the world when we shall be called out of our graves to face judgment. Under this view, we have to wait for sometime before can get the reward or punishment for our deeds. This view calls for ‘posthumous patience.’

Another variant of the Christian view on what happens after we die is that we immediately go to hell (if were evil), or to heaven (if we were good people). Here, posthumous patience is not called for. Reward and punishment are immediate upon death. Under this view, it is not uncommon to hear during a funeral, people remarking on how their beloved must already be loving heaven! Surprisingly, nobody wants to imagine that their beloved could be languishing in death: however ‘evil’ a person he could have been.

Then there are some ‘sub-variants’ of these main views on what happens after we die. Take the main view that when we die, we remain in our graves awaiting resurrection and judgment. The ‘sub-variants’ emerge regarding what then happens after judgment. For those who are good, one sub-variant holds that the reward is to go to heaven. Another sub-variant holds that the ‘good’ are to inherit the earth (quoting a certain verse in the bible): so that the question of going to heaven does not quite arise.

Turning to those are ‘evil,’ one sub-variant holds that there is the fire of hell, (made of sulfur and brimstone, according to one verse of the bible), awaiting to consume them forever. They will be burning, but without dying: which is real hell. Another sub-variant, however, holds that they will be put to death a second time. To support this notion of the ‘second death,’ the scripture which says that ‘the soul that sineth shall be put to death’ is quoted.

So in the final analysis, the Christian view on what happens after we die is complex; with many facets to it. But it is a popular view. It is also a consoling view: that when all is said and done, at least there is a life after death.

By John Ndonye

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