Do Christians Immediately Go to Heaven When They Die?
What happens immediately when a Christian dies? Upon death, do Christians enter a state of soul sleeping to be awakened in the future – or do their spirits immediately enter heaven and into the presence of God?
There are several Bible verses which confirm that a Christian immediately goes to heaven and enters into God’s presence when he/she dies.
One example is the time when Jesus was nailed on the cross between two criminals. One criminal remained unrepentant while the other criminal believed the divinity of Christ and sought Christ’s forgiveness and acceptance into heaven. In response to the repentant criminal, Jesus assured the criminal that the he would be with Him in paradise that very same day.
Luke 23:39-43 NLT says: One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” 40 But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with Me in paradise.”
Therefore just as the repentant criminal became a Christian believer before his death, Luke 23:43 provides evidence that a Christian believer will immediately enter heaven soon after he/she dies because Jesus Himself assures us with that promise.
So when a Christian dies, his/her spirit will immediately enter into the presence of the Lord whilst the mortal body remains on earth.
2 Corinthians 5:8 says: Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
Therefore upon death, our spirits do not soul sleep or enter a state of unconsciousness. Instead when we die, our spirits remain fully conscious and one will either enter heaven or hell depending on whether one was a true Christian believer or not.
Another example is the story of The Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-23 where upon death both men were sent to 2 very different places and both men consciously had different experiences.
The Rich Man went to hell and experienced conscious torment and anguish (Luke 16:24), whilst Lazarus was carried by the angels of God to Abraham’s side and into God’s presence.
So upon death, the experience of both men was immediate even though their spirits went to different locations. There is no indication that both men were soul sleeping because both their spirits were awake; they were speaking and they were both conscious of their immediate surroundings after they had died.
God Will Give Us Resurrected Bodies
So when we die, our spirit will immediately enter heaven to be with the Lord. However our natural mortal bodies which were subject to illness, pain and decay will remain on earth.
Then in 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 the Bible reveals that at a later time, God will give Christian believers a new resurrected body which will one day reunite with our soul/spirit which have already entered heaven.
1 Corinthians 15:42-44 NLT says: It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.
How Can I Know if I Will Enter Heaven When I Die?
The only way to enter Heaven is through believing in Jesus Christ and the work of salvation He did for us on the cross.
We are all sinners who have sinned against a holy God (Romans 3:23). Because we have sinned and broken God’s commandments we deserve to be eternally punished by God who is just and righteous. However, God is also loving, merciful and gracious. On our own and through our own effort we cannot pay for our own salvation. Therefore God sent Jesus Christ to live a perfect life and to die on the cross on our behalf as the perfect sacrifice for our sins.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
John 3:16-17 says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”
Salvation is possible through Jesus Christ alone because Christ alone paid for our sins when He presented Himself as the perfect sacrifice through whom we can receive eternal forgiveness.
It is through Christ alone that we can enter heaven because Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).
Therefore the only way we can have assurance if we will enter heaven is by believing in Jesus Christ and accepting Him as your personal Lord and Saviour.
God desires an eternal relationship with us and to forgive us of all our sins but it is only possible when we believe and receive Jesus Christ through faith.
John 1:12 says: But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God,
DO YOU WANT TO BE A CHRISTIAN or A FOLLOWER OF JESUS CHRIST?
1. ACKNOWLEDGE: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
This means that we have all broken God’s laws and God’s 10 Commandments like those mentioned in Exodus 20:1-17. For example, if you have told a lie; if you have stolen something; if you have lusted after somebody or if you have coveted. This means you are guilty of breaking at least one or more of God’s 10 Commandments. Breaking God’s commandments makes us sinners. The fact that we are sinners who have broken God’s law means that we are accountable to God who is the Lawgiver. Romans 6:23 says that “the wages of sin is death BUT the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”
You must acknowledge that you are a sinner who has broken God’s commandments and that you therefore need Jesus in your life.
2. REPENT: “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3), “Repent therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19)
Repenting means: to change your mind; a sincere turning away, in heart, mind and action;
Therefore God wants you to change your mind about sinful values and of sinful living. God wants you to decide to follow Him and to make Jesus the Lord of your life.
3. CONFESSION: “If we confess our sins. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9)
God is a forgiving God. God will forgive any sin that you have done because Jesus died for ALL your sins and to set you free from the bondage of all types of sin in your life.
4. BELIEVE: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
You must believe that ONLY Jesus can save you and restore your relationship with God. You must believe that Jesus is the ONLY way by which you can have everlasting life and escape from eternal separation from God. You must believe that Jesus died on the cross for you and resurrected from the grave.
“He came to His own, and His own did not receive him, But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:11-12)
Through faith, You must receive Jesus as Your Lord & Savior and therefore; you become a child of God; you become born again; you become a Christian; you restore your broken relationship with God
Why Not Make Your Eternal Decision NOW?
We become born again Christians by GRACE through FAITH or TOTAL TRUST in Jesus Christ as our Lord & Savior (Galatians 3:26) & (Ephesians 2:8,9). Salvation is a FREE gift received through FAITH in Christ.
PLEASE NOTE: You can choose to pray in your own words. This prayer is a sample prayer and it is only an EXPRESSION of your faith, belief & trust in Jesus. Salvation is by GRACE through FAITH or BELIEVING in Christ Jesus as your Lord & Saviour.
“Lord Jesus, I thank You for Your love. I thank You that You died on the cross for me and resurrected so that I may have life through You.
I confess Lord that I have sinned against You and today I ask You to forgive me of all of my sins, past present and future.
Today I repent and have decided to follow you. Thank you for forgiving all my sins.
From this moment, come into my life Lord Jesus & take full control of my life. I want to follow You Jesus and I want to follow Your ways. Save me and from today, make me the person You want me to be.
I receive You Lord Jesus right now by faith. I trust You as my Lord and Savior – Amen”
Have you accepted & believed in Jesus Christ as a result of reading this article and would like to know more about what to do next? If so please acknowledge by clicking the “I Have Accepted Jesus Christ” button below