The mortality rate of humankind is the same all over the world: one death per one person.
The question, “What does the Bible teach about life after death?”, becomes vitally important.
Not everyone thinks there is life after death, though.
Regarding the afterlife, Stephen Hawking, the brilliant cosmologist and theoretical mathematician, declared in 2011:
“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
When Christian people say the last two phrases of the Apostles’ Creed we affirm our belief in life after death:
“I believe in the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.”
Jesus said to the repentant thief on the cross, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
When we die, if we are Christians, we go to be with Jesus.
At Jesus’ future return (when Jesus returns to judge the world) Christians who are still alive and all those who have died believing in Christ, will receive renewed, resurrected, real, physical bodies to enjoy the renewed, real, physical earth – together, forever.
Creation and Christians will be renewed.
We believe in the resurrection of the body and a renewed physical earth and universe. (cf. Romans 8:18-25, Revelation 21:1-5)
The Bible teaches that the Christian’s future hope is not floating around in a body-less state in the clouds for eternity; but living on a renewed earth in a renewed body, with all those who trusted Jesus.
But this is not true for everyone.
Jesus often spoke about a final separation. Jesus taught that only some go to heaven.
In Matthew 25 Jesus spoke about the future judgement:
v31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
v41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
v46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Jesus taught about hell, a place of eternal punishment and separation from God.
Jesus said in Mark 9:47-48,
“If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell (GEHENNA), where “‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’”
The word “Gehenna” comes from the Old Testament word for the Valley of Hinnom. The Valley of Ben Hinnom was near Jerusalem and was turned into a public rubbish dump where all the refuse and filth of Jerusalem was poured. Bodies of animals and corpses of criminals were flung there and left to rot or be consumed with fire. These fires were kept continually burning.
It was a place “where the fires never stopped burning and the worms never stopped eating.”
When Jesus looked for a word to describe the final destination of all those who die in their sin and rebellion towards God, he used the word “Gehenna”.
Hell is the cosmic rubbish dump for people who are still offensive to an infinitely holy God because their sin has not been forgiven.
In Matthew 8, Jesus referred to hell as a place of outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The gnashing of teeth indicates sorrow and weeping indicates regret.
Jesus believed and taught that without his saving grace, the only destiny that awaits men and women was both penal (involving punishment) and eternal.
For feeble human beings to reject and rebel against the infinitely great God is sin worthy of eternal judgment and treason worthy of infinite punishment.
We might be tempted to think that God is unjust in sending people hell.
But not so, God Almighty is infinitely just and good – he will never act unjustly.
The problem is that we do not understand the goodness of God, nor the sinfulness and evilness of sin.
Sin is not simply a minor lapse in judgment, a minor error in thinking, a minor slip-up in behaviour, or a minor miscalculation in attitude.
Sin is rebellious, scandalous, outrageous treason against an infinitely holy God.
Sin is rebellion towards our Ruler, the transgression of God’s good law, and the creature spurning the Creator.
God must and will punish sin.
This truth leaves us in a terrible predicament because we are all sinners.
This is why Christians value the cross so much. Jesus died to receive the just penalty for treason, so sinners may be forgiven by God.
However, the benefits of Jesus’ death are only for those who turn from rebellion and submit to Jesus as Lord.
We believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.