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What Happens When You Die

By Malcolm B Heap, Midnight Ministries

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Death comes suddenly, unexpectedly, to many! They go through life, not giving death a second thought, never imagining that their lives would end so abruptly. I bet you don’t think you are likely to die soon, either – unless you are old. It is natural to assume that as things are today, so they will be tomorrow. You tend not to think about death, especially if you are young. After all, you are not here on earth to die, but to live.


But death is an unavoidable fact of life – for all. One sure fact of your life is that YOU WILL SOON DIE!


This world is more unstable than it has ever been in all history. You may have lived through a time of relative peace and stability, but it’s not going to continue that way. Many have been lulled into a false sense of security.


People run to and fro, busy in their jobs and past-times, pursuing their own ambitions, and seeking satisfaction and pleasure. But all the physical pursuit of this life isn’t going to help you one whit for what comes at death.


You need to realise what lies beyond death, and why you are here. Otherwise, you can waste your life.


Each day in the news, you see or hear of a disaster that has claimed some lives. When is your time going to be up? Are you ready? You need to prepare.


When You Die


Thousands have related what happened to them when they passed through the ‘barrier’ of death. They ‘returned’ to tell what they experienced. Most of these persons died on an operating table, or in some disaster, and were resuscitated medically. So, because some argue that they didn’t really die, their experiences have been labelled Near Death Experiences (NDEs).


But, in truth, they did die. The only difference between them and others who didn’t come back is that their time was not yet ‘up’. They had more to experience in this physical life before they could move on to the next sphere of existence in the spirit[1].


Many NDE accounts tell of how their spirit lifted up out of their body, and they saw their body lying below for a while, before they went into another realm of consciousness. All the while they were ‘dead’ they were conscious. The ethereal body they possessed seemed similar to the physical body they had left, except that it was intangible to a physical human being.


Those who have died talk of going through a long dark tunnel, and when they come out, they see their whole life in review. Everything you ever did is recorded in the spirit, and you see it all play back to you. Only it’s not a film. It’s for real!


In this new state, they then meet other beings whom they recognise – relatives and friends whom they knew in their earthly existence – and then an amazing being of light. The experience is ineffable!


The famous actress Elizabeth Taylor told of her NDE, on the Oprah Winfrey Show on US TV, in the nineties. Miss Taylor died for a short while during a medical procedure. She came back, and said she met "my Todd" on the other side. Her husband, Michael Todd, died in 1958 after they were married for only a year. She related how she met him in the spirit realm and she was told that she would have to go back, and that it was not her time yet.


Many others who likewise died and were revived medically, tell a similar story. These people are not making things up! They don’t make up stories that are going to be discounted or disbelieved, especially if others are likely to regard them as ‘nutters’.


Thousands have described their NDEs. Some of these are in amazing detail, such as Betty Eadie’s story which is narrated in her best-seller Embraced By The Light, and psychiatrist George Ritchie’s account given in My Life After Dying and Return From Tomorrow.


What they confirm is the reality of another level of consciousness and experience – one that is higher and more ‘intense’ than ours – in a spirit realm.


Saul of Tarsus was confronted by Jesus Christ on the Damascus road, and was struck blind for three days for persecuting Christians (Acts 8:3; 9:1-9).


Suddenly, a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" (Acts 9:3,4.) And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one (9:7). He was three days without sight... (9:9).


Jesus appeared ‘from nowhere’. The experience changed Saul’s concept of reality, and changed his life. Most people who have NDEs relate similar changes to their outlook.


Death Will Change Your Outlook


When you die, your outlook will radically change too. You will view physical ambitions as worthless, and selfish pursuits as harmful. Your viewpoint will be so dramatically different from what it is now!


Because the ‘foolishness’ of God is wiser than men... (1 Corinthians 1:25).


People think the things of God are foolishness – until they come to learn otherwise – often through a death experience in some form. The truth is:


Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Cor 2:9). But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches [penetrates, discloses] all things, yes, the deep things of God (1 Cor 2:10).


But you cannot fathom them without this help:


...no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God (1 Cor 2:11).


The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor 2:14).


For this reason, the greatest minds on earth are blind to the amazing things of God. It is not their time yet to see them and understand. For the few who are small in their own estimation, God reveals some of His mysteries.


For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones (Isaiah 57:15).


If you are teachable (meek) and poor in spirit (not arrogant), God’s spirit can work with you now. You can receive some of the things of God and His wonders in this life. But if you are arrogant, proud, self-willed, stubborn and unteachable, you will have to go through a death first before you can learn mysteries of the Spirit.


He who comes from above is above all [Jesus Christ]; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all, and what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony (John 3:31,32).


That is why there is so little harmony and peace and true wisdom in the world. Jesus brought us true knowledge and understanding, but almost no one wants it!


For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed (John 3:20).


When you die, you will meet this Being of Light. The experience will completely change your perspective!


The Being Of Light


John described his meeting with this incredible Being:


I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last..." (Revelation 1:10,11).


John’s spirit was taken into the spirit realm (somehow, which God only knows), and he was shown things to come on earth, and some of what is in heaven where God dwells. "On the Lord’s Day" refers to the time just ahead of us now, when Jesus returns to take the helm of government on earth, and bring peace and harmony to all humanity (read Isaiah 11; Is 2, etc.).


John continued his account:


Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned, I saw seven golden lamp- stands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands, One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and His hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword [symbol of His Word which cuts through human hypocrisy], and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength (Revelation 1:12-16).


Humanity has no concept of the awesome great- ness of this Being of Light! He conceals Himself from the world at this time, because people are being tested. Only the few who are willing to humble themselves at this time are privy to some of His wonders.


And when I saw Him I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore. Amen [so will it be]. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death." (Revelation 1:17-18.)


Jesus has power over death. He holds the vital keys to how you can live forever.


What The Dead Experience


Hades is Greek for the unseen place or the grave, in other words, what lies beyond death. The body dies and is buried, but the spirit goes to the spirit realm.


God places spirit in each body to impart life, which is then sustained metabolically by the body’s organs until death. That’s when your spirit separates from your body and you die:


For ... the body without the spirit is dead (James 2:26).


At that point of transition, your spirit enters the realm of spirits, and you are subject to different laws of the universe and different circumstances.


Jesus revealed the existence of other spirits, some good (angels, see Matthew 13:49; 18:10; 25:31), some wicked (see Luke 11:18-19, 24-26). At death, you will see these beings for what they are. You will see the good angels as beautiful, glorious and adorable, but the demonic angels as despicable, vile and degrading.


How you live life now determines with which angels you will spend time after death. Jesus illustrated it with a lucid parable:


There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple [a rich ruler who had power over others] and fine linen and fared sumptuously [lived in luxury] every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus [Lazarus means God supplies help, so it may indicate that, besides being poor, he was also a child of God], full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.


So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. [Many people have testified of loved ones seeing angels at the point of death.] The rich man also died and was buried. [No lovely angelic entourage for him!] And [his spirit now] being in torments in Hades [the unseen place], he lifted up his eyes and saw Abra- ham afar off [wicked spirits cannot dwell with God or with righteous spirits], and Lazarus in his bosom [a close loving relationship].

Then he cried and said, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me [he only cared about himself, just as in his physical life], and send Lazarus that he may dip his finger in water and cool my tongue [symbolic imagery, not literal]; for I am tormented in this flame" [symbolic of his great agony in spirit].


But Abraham said, "Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things [he chose physical things above and over spiritual; his concept of ‘good’ was determined by physical appraisal], and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us." [What you do in this life, your motivation, determines how you exist in the next phase in the spirit realm.]


Then he said, "I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment."


Abraham said to him, "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them."


And he said, "No, father Abraham, but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent."


But he said to him, "If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead." (Luke 16:19-31.)


That amazing parable reveals that what you do in this life determines what you experience in the next. It is a symbolic portrayal of the finality of your fate if you live an evil way in this life. It is a warning to the wicked.


Of course, we know from the account itself that the wicked won’t heed. They wouldn’t change even if someone were to come back from the dead and warn them about the horror that lies beyond, if they don’t repent.


Repentance is a turning around, an about-face, an active seeking to do good instead of evil (sin). In Why Repent? I explain how God comes into your life when you are willing to make that turnaround, and how your future in the spirit realm is dramatically reversed as a result of your acceptance of Jesus as your Saviour who died to pay the penalty of your sins.


At The Point Of Death


In the Daily Mail of 17th February 2007, an article by Dr Danny Penman was published. He wrote:


"Doctor Penny Sartori was barely halfway through her night shift at Morriston Hospital in Swansea when one of her patients began behaving in a most peculiar way. Through the maze of equipment keeping Peter Holland alive, Dr Sartori could see him slowly regaining consciousness and becoming increasingly alert.


"Peter was staring intently at the foot of his bed – and then started talking to an invisible presence. "He suddenly regained his energy," says Dr Sartori. "He seemed to be having a conversation with someone we could not see. After a while, a beautiful peaceful smile crossed his face and he relaxed completely.


"When his family arrived, he told them that he’d been visited by his sister in the night and that they’d had a long chat. The strange thing was, his sister had died the week before, but nobody had dared tell him because they thought the shock might kill him. There was absol- utely no way he could have known about his sister’s death."


It was in that moment, says Dr Sartori, that she realised Peter was going to die, no matter how much medical attention he received.


"When a patient says that they have been ‘visited’ by a dead loved one, you know that their time has come," she says. "It’s commonly accepted by nurses and we see it quite a lot. Nurses will tell each other that, ‘he’s just had a visit so he’ll be off soon’." Indeed, shortly afterwards, 75-year-old Peter Holland did die.


Such deathbed phenomena, of the type exper- ienced by Mr Holland, are surprisingly common. Accord- ing to recent research at King’s College London, around 10% of the terminally ill or those caring for them report some kind of mysterious, inexplicable event that gives them a glimpse of an afterlife.


Patients may report visits from deceased loved ones or experience visions of a heavenly realm... Over the past few years, a growing number of scientists have begun studying such events and have concluded that many of them defy all rational understanding. [End of excerpt from the Daily Mail, 17th Feb 2007.]


When my maternal grandmother died, my uncle (Arch) phoned my mother to tell her that grandmother had died peacefully, and at the moment of death had reported seeing a wonderful bright comforting light. Such a loving presence awaits all who seek to do good in this life.


But those whose motives are evil, or whose lives are hypocritical (many Christians take heed!) what awaits you is far from pleasant! – as the rich man experienced to his horror. Better to be a poor Lazarus in this life, if your motives are good, than to be living in luxury, without love for God and for fellowman.


What You Should Do To Prepare


The truth of God is simple in principle. Jesus came to earth to explain it. He declared:


Most assuredly I say to you [when Jesus made this emphatic statement it was to contradict a widely held false concept], he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

Most assuredly [again He is emphatic!] I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live (John 5:24,25).


If you will hear what Jesus said, believe it and accept it, you can have eternal life with Him in the Spirit. But if you reject Him and His words, He will reject you.


Not everyone will live forever. Man does not possess inherent immortality. You do not have an immortal soul; that is a false concept. "The soul who sins shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4).


For the wages of sin is death [not eternal life in hell, or limbo, or purgatory, or anywhere else] but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 6:23).


Jesus has purchased eternal life for you. He offers it to you as His free gift – but on the condition that you obey Him (Matt 19:17).


He won’t lord it over you. He’s like a father who really cares. But He waits for your voluntary acceptance of Him and His ways. The simple truths about receiving eternal life are explained in detail in: Why Human Life?; Why Did Jesus Die?; Why Jesus?; Why Repent?; Why Pray?; Why Is Jesus Lord?; Why Hell? and the other booklets in the Why? series.


If you accept His offer to rescind the death penalty against you, He will grant you His Spirit to dwell in you until either your physical death, or the time when He returns to earth, establishes His kingdom throughout the world, and takes those who love Him to be with Him.


At the end of His Millennium of peace on earth (what the Bible reveals on this subject is provided in the booklet The Kingdom of God), God will dwell with man:


Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away ... And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold the tabernacle [dwelling place] of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Rev 21:1,3,4).


Further Reading


Life After Death (LAD)

The Near Death Experience (NDE)

The Coming of Christ (Com)

Listening to God (LG)

The Kingdom of God (KG)

Why Britain Will Fall Soon (B)

The Imminent Fall of America! (USA)

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A number of empiricists, like Chris French and Richard Dawkins, argue against the existence of another realm, a spiritual realm. They insist that because they have not measured or tested it scientifically, that it should not be believed. They cannot see it, hear it, or sense it with the physical senses, so they use human reason alone to argue against it. But that approach is folly, for millions have returned to give believable accounts of their experiences. A medical doctor, Raymond Moody conducted a study over many years of thousands of these people’s firsthand accounts. He published his findings in Life After Life and The Light Beyond, and what he discovered is summarised in our article The Near Death Experience.

There is also incontrovertible evidence of a spiritual existence from studies of the paranormal conducted by psychic investigators.

Sceptics who dismiss a spirit realm of existence do so because they WANT to dismiss it, not because they are being truly objective. Just because they can’t see or feel it, and cannot measure it empirically, does not mean it doesn’t exist. Not too long ago science could not see, feel, or measure radioactivity, but it was hardly irrelevant! ‘Scientists’ who pooh-pooh a spirit life beyond death will soon discover they knew very little!



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