A number of books have reached the bestseller list that deal with alleged out-of-body experiences people claim to have had. And a Gallup survey revealed that some 8 million people claim to have had near-death journeys into the beyond.
But what happens when a Christian dies? Some teach that we go into a suspended state of animation and then later on are called into the presence of God. But in my understanding of Scripture, when a believer dies, he or she goes directly to Heaven. We go right into God’s presence.
Remember the thief on the cross who hung next to Jesus? He said, “Remember me when you come into your Kingdom” (Luke 23:42).
Jesus told him, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Today. Jesus was saying, “It’s going to happen for you right away.”
Paul said, “I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me” (Philippians 1:23). He didn’t say, “I long to go and hang around in a soul sleep for a few thousand years.” Paul again said, “So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6–8).
Once you leave your body when death occurs, your spirit goes into the presence of God. The moment you take your last breath on earth, you will take your first breath in Heaven.
That means we don’t have to be afraid. It doesn’t mean we want to die. But we don’t have to be afraid.