Dr. David R. Reagan and panel on the show Christ in Prophecy answer questions concerning what happens when you die.
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Dr. Reagan: What happens when you die? Do you go into a comatose state? Or do you retain your consciousness? Do you have a body, or do you become a spirit? Do the saved go directly to heaven, and the unsaved to Hell? Stay tuned for the answer to these and other intriguing questions about life after death.
Dr. Reagan: Greetings in the name of Jesus, our Blessed Hope, and welcome to Christ in Prophecy. I’m Dave Reagan, Senior Evangelist for Lamb & Lion Ministries, and I am delighted to have with me again this week, two experts on Bible Prophecy. The first is my colleague Dennis Pollock, who is my associate here at Lamb & Lion Ministries. The other is Don McGee, the founder and director of Crown and Sickle Ministries, located in Amite, Louisiana.
Now folks, this is our third week to respond to questions that have been sent to us by our viewers. The first week we answered questions about the Millennium. Last week we responded to questions about Amillennialism; the belief that Jesus will never return to reign on this Earth.
This week we’re going to shift gears and take a look at a radically different subject, namely: What happens when you die? Okay, fellas, our topic for this week is life after death, and let’s get right to the first question. Many churches teach that when a person dies, he or she experiences soul sleep; that is, they lose all consciousness and lie comatose in their grave until the resurrection occurs. What about it? Is there consciousness after death?
And I might say that there is a good reason that a lot of people think that people are unconscious after death, because the Bible usually refers to death as sleep. And so people think, “Well, they’re just going to sleep in the grave until the Lord Jesus Christ returns.” So what about it? Is there consciousness after death or not?
Dennis Pollock: Dave, I grew up in a church that believed exactly that. And it’s sad as I look back on how it affected their view of death, because there was no joy in the prospect of a loved one being with Christ at that moment. And the funerals that they had were like funerals. I hate to say it, there was just not that sense of joy that you find among believers that really are convinced that their loved one is in Heaven. You know, you’re right, there’s a couple of things that could lead you that way: the idea of death being called sleep, the emphasis on the resurrection. People say, “Well, if you’re being raised, that must mean you were dead before. Well, the body was dead, but there are some statements made by Paul and Peter that are just so absolutely crystal clear that it’s difficult to see how people could hold that position. Paul for example, talking about being “hard pressed to depart and be with Christ,” he said, “that’s far better.” But he said, “to remain in the flesh,” and that’s a key term, “to remain in the flesh is more needful for you, to stay around in the flesh.”
Dr. Reagan: But he preferred to depart and be with the Lord.
Dennis Pollock: Yeah. That’s right. Peter talked about “shortly putting off his tent,” and he was talking about death, and his description was to take off the body as the tent. So the Biblical concept of the body is that it is the physical vehicle through which the spirit and the soul drive through this earth.
Dr. Reagan: Don?
Don McGee: There are a couple of instances in the Bible where we can see that there is no such thing as soul sleep after death. Moses and Elijah, as Matthew recorded, were on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus. Those guys had been dead for centuries, they were not sleeping whatsoever. Not only that, they had physical bodies. Secondly, in Jesus’ story in Luke chapter 16 about the man that went to Hades, he had a body, he was aware, he was conscious. There were so many things about him that were like it was when he was alive, except that his body was dead. And one of the things, Dave, that he had, one of the faculties that he retained after death, was the faculty of memory.
Dr. Reagan: That’s right.
Don McGee: And that is something that we could spend a lot of time talking about.
Dr. Reagan: In fact he was able to recognize other people who were in Hades.
Don McGee: But the whole point of it is that there was no sleep there. He was very much aware of what was going on.
Dr. Reagan: In Revelation 7, John is taken up to Heaven and he sees a great group of people that he can’t even count and he says, “Who are these people?” And they say, “You know.” And he says, “No, tell me who they are.” And they say, “These are the martyrs coming out of the Great Tribulation.” And there they were. They weren’t sleeping, they were in Heaven, they had on white robes, they were waving palm branches, they were worshipping the Lord, they were alive, and they were conscious.
Dennis Pollock: And personality is the key factor. I mean their personality continues. Their body is in the ground, clearly. But their personality, their spirit, the essence of them is very much alive.
Dr. Reagan: Well, I think that’s the reason that the Bible refers to death, often, those who are dead, as “those who are sleeping,” because the body does go into the ground, or wherever, and the body lies there until the resurrection. Then the body comes back alive. And so the body is metaphorically sleeping in that sense, that it’s quiet, and then it comes alive. But the spirit is another matter.
Don McGee: But even the body, I mean the brain isn’t “brain dead.” Even in sleep we dream, you know there’s–
Dr. Reagan: Well that’s true.
Don McGee: This idea of soul sleep is unbiblical.
Dr. Reagan: Okay. Bottom line.
Don McGee: Bottom line.
Dr. Reagan: Alright, let’s go to the second question then. “The Bible seems to indicate that before the Cross, the spirits of the righteous dead went to a place in Hades called Paradise, whereas since the Cross, they go directly to Heaven. Now is that true, and if so, why is it that the spirits of Old Testament saints did not go directly to Heaven?”
Dennis Pollock: Well, clearly, we do go directly to Heaven. The scriptures that I mentioned before show that, Paul wanting to depart and be with Christ. Christ is not in the ground. Christ is not under the ground. Christ is in Heaven seated at the right hand of the Father. Paul was wanting to be with Him, so when a believe dies, he does go to be with Christ. “To be absent from the body is to be” what, “to be present with the Lord.”
Dr. Reagan: That’s right, yes.
Dennis Pollock: So, clearly, we do go to be with the Christ at that point.
Dr. Reagan: Why is that not true before the Cross? Why is it before the Cross, people didn’t go directly to Heaven?
Don McGee: There were two compartment in Hades. There was a place of Paradise and a place of torment. And those who died in faith went to that place of Paradise. Jesus said to the thief, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Dr. Reagan: That’s right.
Don McGee: And the reason they didn’t go immediately into the presence of God in Heaven is because that sacrificial–the Blood of Jesus’ sacrifice had not been done up until that time. The blood that was shed by the animals could not atone, as we read in Hebrews 9.
Dr. Reagan: So the blood shed by the animals in Old Testament times “covered” their sins, but did not forgive their sin. It was a covering in the sense that it was an act of faith.
Don McGee: It allowed them to go to a place of Paradise, but not into the immediate presence of the Lord because–
Dr. Reagan: They could not go into the presence of God until their sins had been forgiven, and that could occur only with the shedding of blood. That’s the significance of the Cross.
Don McGee: Of Jesus’ blood.
Dr. Reagan: Yes, yes. Well, let me just summarize this for you for a moment. I want to step over here to our illustration board and summarize what we have just been talking about by illustrating it with a drawing, because I have found that it helps us to better understand things if we see them illustrated.
I would illustrate Hades as a compartment that looks something like this. This is Hades. And the Old Testament word is Sheol, and it had, as Don said, two compartments. One was called Paradise, and that was where the spirits of the saved went. And the other was called torments, where the spirits of the unsaved went. Jesus told a story about a rich man and Lazarus. And he said that when they died that the rich man went to this place called torments, and Lazarus went to this place called Paradise. And they were fully conscious, they could see each other, they could talk to each other, but they were separated by a great abyss that could not be crossed. So they had consciousness, they had some sort of spirit bodies, they could recognize each other, they were not asleep.
And then we’re told in I Peter, chapter 3, that when Jesus died on the Cross, that He descended into Hades and made a proclamation. We’re not told the proclamation, but I think the proclamation most likely was, “The blood has been shed.” And you probably heard a “Hallelujah” like the world had never heard up to that point.
And then it says in Ephesians, chapter 4, that when Jesus ascended into Heaven, that He took with Him captives. I think what happened is He took Paradise with Him. Paradise was moved from Hades to Heaven, and ever since that time, when a believer dies, his spirit goes directly to Paradise, which is now in Heaven, rather than in this place called Hades. And in fact Paul confirms that later on when Paul says that he was taken up to the third Heaven, and he says when he was taken up to the third Heaven he was taken to a place called what? Paradise. So it was moved from Hades to Heaven.
Now that raises another question. The final question that I want to look at in this part of our program is the difference between Hades and Hell, because, for example, the early creeds of the church all say that Jesus descended into Hell. And there are modern teachers who are teaching Jesus descended into Hell and that we didn’t even receive our salvation until He was horribly tortured in Hell for some three days, and then, and only then was our salvation secure. Did Jesus go into Hell, or what is it?
Don McGee: He did not go into Hell at all, because there is no one in Hell at this moment.
Dr. Reagan: That comes as a great shock to many people.
Don McGee: I know that. It really does. There’s no one in Hell right now. The Beast and the False Prophet will be the first two cast in there later on, but there’s no one in Hell right now. There is a difference between Hades and Hell, and part of the reason for the confusion is that the old King James Version of the Bible translated that term Hell” instead of Hades.
Dr. Reagan: Well, they weren’t even consistent. Sometimes they translated Hades as Hades. Sometimes they translated it as Hell. It is very confusing, so you get the impression they are the same thing.
Don McGee: Right, but there are two different entities there, and if we would go to some of the newer translations, we could see that this is borne out.
Dr. Reagan: Do you have anything to say about that?
Dennis Pollock: It just reminds me of a fellow I heard giving his testimony. He was a good old boy that had really been involved in some nasty stuff. And he talked about some of his old buddies that had died. And one of his favorite colorful expressions was, “Yeah, they’re crackling and popping in Hell right now.” Well, that sounds colorful, but the truth is there’s nobody crackling and popping. You see, basically, when someone gets arrested, they go to jail. But they haven’t had their sentence yet. And so they are waiting. Their primary thing to do at that point is just wait it out until they stand before a judge, and then they are sentenced, then they go to the penitentiary. Now there is something similar to that in the way that God deals with sinners. When a sinner dies, he does not go directly to the Lake of Fire, he goes to Hades. Now Hades is no picnic. There’s torment there, and it’s not fun. But it’s not the Lake of Fire. He will first stand before Christ at that Great White Throne Judgment. He will be judged, then he will be cast into the Lake of Fire, and that will be the end of it.
Dr. Reagan: Okay, let me ask you another question. There are some people who teach that when Believers die that their spirits do not go directly to Heaven, but they go to a place called Purgatory. Now, is there any biblical basis for this concept of purgatory?
Don McGee: In a word, no.
Dennis Pollock: If you want to know the truth.
Dr. Reagan: Well, could it be this place called Torments?
Don McGee: No, for several reasons. And the main reason is that if a Believer has to go to some place to help pay for his sins. Then Jesus didn’t do His job right.
Dr. Reagan: That’s right.
Don McGee: That’s the number one thing. Secondly, if you believe that your loved one was in Torment, would you not be willing to spend everything you had to get them out? And if someone came to you and said, “If you will give me this money, then I can do something to get them out.” Would you not do it?
Dr. Reagan: And that has actually happened in history.
Don McGee: That is actually happening today.
Dr. Reagan: Yes, purgatory is totally a fictitious concept. There is nothing about it in the scriptures anywhere. This place called Torments is where the spirits of the unbelievers go. This is talking about a place where the spirits of believers go, so that we can be purged before we are brought into the presence of God. But as you put it Don if the blood of Jesus is not sufficient to purge us of all sin–
Don McGee: Purgatory won’t do it.
Dennis Pollock: Well, the people that believe that have failed to grasp the concept of justification.
Dr. Reagan: That’s right.
Dennis Pollock: They don’t realize the power of the blood, to make us every bit as acceptable in God’s eyes as Jesus Himself is. That’s how powerful the cross, the blood, and the resurrection are.
Dr. Reagan: Fellas, it is time for us to get back to our questions that have been submitted by the viewers concerning life after death. But before we do that let me just say if you have any questions about Bible prophecy relating to any aspect of it why don’t you send them in to us and maybe we can discuss them on a future program. Okay, now to our next question.
Dennis Pollock: Dave, before you get started I want to share one little story that goes back to what we were talking about before. Can I do that?
Dr. Reagan: Okay, I guess so. Just jump right in there friend.
Dennis Pollock: You know we are talking about soul sleep and the fact that the Bible makes it plan there is no such thing; that as a believer you go to be with the Lord. When I preach on this I share a story about the greatest automotive mistake I ever made in my life. All of us that have bought cars usually have one care we can remember as being the one we should have never touched. A number of years ago I bought a Yugo.
Dr. Reagan: A Yugo?
Dennis Pollock: Did you ever hear of a Yugo?
Dr. Reagan: The only person I ever met who bought one.
Dennis Pollock: Well, I have to confess we had very little money, and this was a chance to have a vehicle that was almost new for very little money. And I thought, man, never mind the fact that we had seven people who were going to fit in that thing. But any rate I got the Yugo and was just happy, this shiny red vehicle. And it was the worst car I could have ever imagined. Everything kept breaking down. It was pathetic. It got to the point where only one windshield wiper worked. Everything was crazy about it. Finally a lady did me the great favor of running into the back of me. I was praising the Lord, because it meant I could get out of that Yugo. It meant that I was done with it. Now, here is what I did not do. I did not stay with the Yugo as it went to the junkyard. I got out. I got a much better vehicle, and I was happy every after, and I never bought another Yugo. The point is sometimes we feel, and the older I get the more I feel like you’re driving around in a Yugo. This physical body.
Dr. Reagan: Oh, I am in a Yugo.
Dennis Pollock: The good news is we are going to either be raptured in which our Yugo will become a Cadillac immediately, or we’ll slip out of the Yugo, spend some time with Jesus and then the resurrection will occur in which we will get our Cadillac at that point. We don’t stay with the Yugo.
Dr. Reagan: Don, do I need to tell you that Dennis is known far and wide for his rather bizarre illustrations.
Don McGee: He is an astute philosopher, I’ll tell you that.
Dr. Reagan: Thank you Dennis, okay. Let’s go to question number four here. We now have fleshly bodies. We will receive glorified bodies at the time of the resurrection. Do the dead have any kind of body between death and resurrection, or do they exist as disembodied spirits?
Don McGee: There is no such thing as a disembodied spirit when it comes to human beings. We were created to possess a body, to have a body, our souls and our spirits live in a body. The spirit of man is never without a body. We are always clothed with something. And we mentioned Luke 16 just a little while ago. If you go back to Luke 16 even the man who is spending eternity in Torment is a man with a body because he feels the pain. He says he is in pain there in the flames, and he also wants Lazarus to go get a drop of water to put on his tongue. So, he has a body. There is no such thing as disembodied spirits.
Dr. Reagan: Well, we’ve got a lot of examples in the Bible of people having some sort of body after death. For example when Saul went to the witch at Endor and she did all of her hocus pocus, instead of her evil spirit coming up Samuel appeared and condemned them for trafficking in spirits of the dead. But Samuel had a body. He was recognizable. You mentioned earlier at the transfiguration Elijah and Moses appeared and they were recognizable. And they went over and talked with them. In Revelation 7 we have the example of the martyrs who are in Heaven after their death in white robes they are wearing clothes, they are waving palm branches, and they are worshipping the Lord. So, even though the Bible doesn’t give it a name, the Bible indicates that we have some sort of what theologians call an intermediate spirit body, it is a body for our spirit. It is intermediate between the fleshly body that we have right now, and the glorified body that we as believers will receive at the time of the resurrection. Now, that leads me to another question: What is a glorified body? How is it similar to the body we have now? And how will it be different from the body that we have now? What insights can you give us about a glorified body?
Dennis Pollock: You know Jesus is called the First Fruits, the first fruits of those who have been raised from the dead. So, he was the premiere showing of the glorified body. He went before anyone else, Christ the first fruits, those who are His at His coming when He comes and takes us at the Rapture we will receive the glorified body. The insight that will help us understand it is to look at what Jesus was like when He was raised from the dead.
Dr. Reagan: Okay, good insight there.
Dennis Pollock: When you see Him one of the things He says immediately when the disciples are spooked by him, and thinking, “Man is this a ghost?” You know what is this? He says, “Hey, come touch me.” He says, “A spirit does not have flesh and bones like you see I have.” And what an amazing thing to realize that this was the real Jesus with a physical body. Your hand would not go through Him. He was very much tangible. And then to go even further He said, “Is there anything around here to eat.” I don’t think–
Don McGee: He was from south Louisiana.
Dennis Pollock: I don’t think he was necessarily all that hungry, but I think he wanted to make a point and that is just how real, how tangible, how physical He was, and yet here He is God.
Dr. Reagan: Yeah. In fact there are several examples of Him eating fish with the disciples in His glorified body which has lead me to fantasize that perhaps in our glorified bodies we can eat all we want and never have to worry about gaining weight.
Don McGee: No cholesterol problems. No high blood pressure.
Dennis Pollock: Theologically that is sanctified gluttony.
Dr. Reagan: So, there are some similarities in that He had a body that was recognizable, a body that was tangible, and yet it was a body that had a different dimension to it. That there are some differences. For example He could appear in a room and disappear. He could seem to be in one place at one moment and in the Galilee the next moment. There was something different about that body.
Don McGee: That’s true, Dave. It was a kind of physical body, but one of things that we sometimes miss is the fact that it was a body that was no longer susceptible to the Adamic nature. We will not have to worry about an inclination to sin. It just won’t be there.
Dr. Reagan: Oh, praise God! Come quickly. First of all with regard to the point that you made in Philippians, in chapter 3 it talks about our citizenship is in Heaven, and we eagerly await for a Savior the Lord Jesus Christ who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory. So, you are right the best example of a glorified body is to see Jesus’ body which was similar to ours, and yet was different. There was a different dimension to it. And Paul refers to that different dimension over in 1 Corinthians 15. He says, “It sown a perishable body, its raised imperishable.” So, it is going to be body that will never age. A body that will never be ill. A body that will not every perish. It says it is sown in dishonor, but it is raised in glory. It is sown in dishonor of sin, and decay, but it is going to be glorious. I mean we are not going to be sinning anymore. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. Boy, I like that. Sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body. That doesn’t mean it is a ghost, or an angel, or a spirit. I think it means it is going to be a body that is going to be inconformity of the Holy Spirit instead of that Adamic nature, that old sin nature. So, there is a lot of differences. He goes on to talk about the fact that we will put on immortality. In the Old Testament in several passages in Isaiah indicates that the body will be perfected. That means Don in your glorified body you’ll have some hair.
Don McGee: No more sun burn.
Dr. Reagan: But to get serious about it our bodies will be perfected. And I get excited about that because we all know people with handicaps, and that means that the blind will see and the deaf will hear, the lame will walk. Those who have their minds messed up will have them set right. I can hardly wait for that day to get here.
Dennis Pollock: So, Dave if you die at say 105 years old, and by this time you are all withered and pruney looking does that mean when you get resurrected you don’t look withered and pruney anymore?
Dr. Reagan: I don’t think I’ll look withered and pruney. Withered and pruney?
Don McGee: I think you ought to punch him.
Dr. Reagan: Okay, well folks let pause here for a moment for a little bit of a summary. We are in a fleshly body now. When we die this body goes into a grave, or it may be burned in an accident of some kind. Or it might be if you are at sea, a sailor buried at sea, and that body ultimately returns earth to earth, ashes to ashes, it doesn’t matter how hermetically sealed it is this body is going to decay. And then immediately if you are a saved person you receive an intermediate spirit body, in fact both the saved and the lost receive some sort of intermediate spirit body. The lost go to that place in Hades called Torments, the saved go to Heaven to be with the Lord immediately. When we are in Heaven in that intermediate spirit body praised the Lord. Then when the Lord Jesus Christ returns in the Rapture of the Church He brings with Him the spirits of the dead. And when He brings them he resurrects their bodies. Those bodies are awakened, and those bodies come alive. And He puts that spirit back together with that body, and in an instant He glorifies that body and gives us a glorified body. And if we are alive we don’t even die, we are just translated on the way up. So we have the fleshly body, the intermediate spirit body, and ultimately the glorified body. Okay, now let me just ask you another question which we have hinted at and that is: Will we know each other after death?
Dennis Pollock: Oh, yes. One man told this story, he said, “His wife asked him will I still know you after we are in Heaven?” He said, “Well,” he said, “you know me now. Do you think you’ll be a bigger fool then than you are now?”
Dr. Reagan: Well, certainly we are going to know each other after death. The disciples recognized Jesus. Now, initially they didn’t because if I buried you today, and then tomorrow morning you rang the doorbell and I opened the door I would say, “I know somebody who looks like you.” But once they realized it was Jesus they had no trouble recognizing.
Don McGee: Peter, James and John knew who Moses and Elijah were and they had never seen them before. They just knew.
Dr. Reagan: And Jesus confirmed the resurrection by saying who is God, He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They still had names. They still had personalities. They were still beings. They weren’t just kind of eerie spirits floating around out in space someplace. So, yes we are going to know each other after death.
Dr. Reagan: I want to thank you for tuning in this week. I hope the program has been a blessing to you, and I hope you’ll be back with us next week when we will discuss questions concerning resurrection and judgment. Questions like: Will Old Testament Saints be resurrected and taken to Heaven at the time of the Rapture? And when and where will Church Age Saints be judged and what will they be judged of? Until then this Dave Regan speaking for Lamb & Lion Ministries saying, “Look up, be watchful for our redemption is drawing near.”
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