WHAT HAPPENS to a person once he dies? It is a popular belief that when a person dies, he receives his judgment right away. Depending on how he lived his life on earth, according to them, he goes to heaven, hell, or the so-called purgatory. This is contrary to Biblical teachings.
The Bible clearly teaches that once a person dies, his body returns to the dust of the earth (Eccles. 12:7 Good News Bible), his soul clings also to the dust (Ps. 119:25), and his spirit returns to God (Eccles. 12:7). He remains in such condition and will only be resurrected when the heavens are no more:
“But man dies and is laid away; Indeed he breathes his last And where is he?
“So man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more, They will not awake Nor be roused from their sleep.” (Job 14:10, 12 New King James Version)
The heavens will pass away on the Day of Judgment or the return of Christ (II Pet. 3:7, 10). Hence, only on that day will the dead rise up from the grave to be judged according to their works. A reward is reserved for those who have done good, but condemnation for those who committed evil deeds (Rev. 22:11-12; John 5:28-29). Nowhere in any correct translation of the Bible can we find that there is a “purgatory.” People will either receive salvation in the kingdom of heaven or condemnation in the lake of fire. There is no middle state:
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world …’
“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’.” (Matt. 25:31-34, 41 NKJV)
On the Day of Judgment, blessed are those who died in Christ as well as those in Christ who are still alive, for the Scriptures testify:
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (I Thess. 4:16-17 NKJV)
Those who are in Christ are the members of His Church―the Church Of Christ (Matt. 16:18; Acts 20:28 Lamsa Translation). So if a person desires to attain the reward that the Savior brings on His return, he must become a true member of the Church Of Christ. Only then that should he breathe his last, his end is blessed, for the Lord will raise him up on the final day, to dwell with Him in the heavenly kingdom.