How Soon After Death Do You Go To Heaven?
Believers of Christ anticipate heaven with hope and joy upon their death. That’s because the redemption of Jesus earned them eternal life with God. But what exactly happens when a believer dies? Do they go to heaven immediately? How soon after death do believers go to paradise? Read on!
How Soon After Death Do You Go To Heaven?
The Bible says that believers go to heaven immediately after they die. So, once you die, your soul will be in the presence of Jesus Christ in the blink of an eye. As for your body, there are teachings that say it perishes and that you’ll receive a new body upon resurrection. However, other teachings say it remains in the grave, awaiting resurrection, where it will be reunited with your soul/spirit.
Here are verses explaining that going to heaven is immediate:
- Luke 23:34, “And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
- Philippians 1:23, “I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:8, “Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and be home with the Lord.”
Note that going to heaven applies to those who believed in Jesus being the son of God who died for our sins while on earth. However, unbelievers will not enter heaven upon their death. Instead, they receive everlasting punishment equivalent to their sins, purgatory. We’ll discuss this later in the article.
What About The Intermediate State?
As mentioned, the Bible teaches that believers immediately enter heaven and be with Christ when they die. Theologians call this the “intermediate state.”
Although the concept of the intermediate state is not found in the scripture, it’s still indirectly captured in the idea of deceased believers being in the presence of the Lord awaiting the second coming of Christ.
When a believer dies, that’s the end of their life. However, that’s not the end of the world. The period between death and the second coming of Jesus (and everything surrounding it, like resurrection) constitutes the intermediate state.
During the intermediate state, believers’ souls are fully conscious and with the Lord. They are only awaiting the second coming of Christ and the final resurrection, where they’ll receive new bodies and live on a new earth.
Here’s where the Bible talks about believers receiving new bodies:
- 1 Corinthians 15:42, “So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown in natural body. If there is a neutral body, there is also a spiritual body.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:1, “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
- Philippians 3:20, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”
These verses show that believers are with God before and after the arrival of the new earth and heavens and will receive new bodies upon resurrection.
John talks about the new heavens and earth in Revelation 21:1-5:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am thinking all things new.” Also, he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
The Catholic church describes purgatory as a temporary state of purification for believers who led an unrighteous life on earth. Here, people are punished for their sins until the punishment is deemed sufficient for their unrighteousness; then, they’re allowed to enter heaven.
Purgatory is a Catholic church teaching and is not found in scripture, both the old and new testaments. Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) considers it a condition or state of being, not a physical location.
Although the scripture doesn’t talk about purgatory, Apocrypha or Deutronomical books back up this teaching. In 2 Maccabees 12:38, Judas Maccabeus learns that soldiers who died in battle secretly held onto their forbidden idols. Judas prayed for them, believing they could be set free from their idolatry sins. Maccabees 22:38 reads:
“[Judas] also took up a collection from all his men, totaling about four pounds of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. Judas did this noble thing because he believed in the resurrection of the dead.
If he had not believed that the dead would be raised, it would have been foolish and useless to pray for them. In his firm and devout conviction that all of God’s faithful people would receive a wonderful reward, Judas made provision for a sin offering to set free from their sin those who had died.”
How soon after death do you go to heaven? For those who believed in Christ and his redemption while still alive, their souls enter heaven immediately after they die and be in the presence of the Lord. Upon resurrection, they receive new bodies, enter new heavens and earth, and have eternal life with their God.