Spirituality: Christianity, Prayer, and Life After Death
What does the Bible really teach about life after death? The answer may surprise you, especially if you are a Christian!
There are many common beliefs that most people (including most Christians) think are “Christian”, but are actually completely different from what the Bible actually teaches.
For example, most Christians today seem to think that if you believe in Jesus, pray to God, and don’t do sinful things then after you die you get to go to heaven. And that your lovely old Granny Jemima is already up in heaven waiting to see you again.
Sorry, it doesn’t work like that. At all. Literally every part of that last paragraph is completely wrong according to the Bible.
For a start, when you die you don’t go to heaven. You stay dead, waiting for Jesus to come back to Earth first. Everybody who has ever lived is still dead.
“And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, [even] the Son of man which is in heaven.” (John 3:13)
So only God and Jesus are in heaven right now, except possibly also the prophet Elijah, who was miraculously translated to heaven while still alive.
“As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.” (2 Kings 2:11)
Everybody else is just dead and is going to stay dead until Jesus comes back.
“Most assuredly, 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. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth.” (John 5:25–29)
OK, so what’s going to happen when Jesus finally does come back to Earth and everyone comes back to life? Isn’t there going to be a Rapture when all those who believe in God finally go to heaven? Well… not exactly. In the beginning, only 144,000 get to go. And they are all going to be male virgins.
“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads…
And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins.” (Revelation 14:1–4)
But then God will do the Final Judgement and all the believers will be saved, right? Umm… no.
For a start, it doesn’t matter what you have done in your life, God has already judged whether you are going to be saved or not (predestination). Because God is omniscient (all-knowing) he already knew even before you were born whether you were going to be good enough to get into heaven. And because he is also omnipotent (all-powerful) only he gets to decide that — because if you had the power to change his mind, then he wouldn’t be all-powerful any more. So it doesn’t matter what you believe, or how hard you pray, God already decided how it’s all going to play out thousands of years ago. You just get to go through the motions.
“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Ephesians 1:4–5)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8–10)
So tough shit, God already judged you and everyone else you know before you even existed. Note that in John 5 quoted above God gave Jesus “authority to execute judgment” — so Jesus will carry out the sentence when he gets back, but the judgement itself already took place.
Some of you might go to heaven eventually, but there’s no way to know for sure. I might even be one of the ones going, even though I don’t call myself a Christian — only God is all-knowing, so there’s no way for you to know that I won’t be! All you get to do is just deal with it, and praise him for being the one who chooses, even though he might have already decided to choose me and not to choose you. He’s just awesome that way (literally).
There’s also no point in praying about it, because there is no such thing as “the power of prayer” — since God is all-knowing he already knows what you want, and since he’s all-powerful he already decided how it should be. To ask God to change something is a sin, because you are rejecting the decision he already made, and to even think that you might have the power to change his mind is to reject God as being all-powerful.
I bet this is a lot different than you thought, right?
Author’s Note: Before we get into a Internet argument, please note that none of the foregoing are things that I personally believe. This article isn’t about my beliefs, it’s about what the Bible actually says. So before you comment please bear that in mind. If there any parts of this article you disagree with, please take them up with the authors of the Bible, not with me :-)