What happens after you die? It is a common question we don’t talk about enough – though the Bible speaks to it.
Today, we are going to utilize an older document—the 1689 London Baptist Confession. This old confession is where we, in part, get our current statement of faith, The Baptist Faith and Message (2000).
Please find the chapter heading with a brief summary of what the Bible teaches from the confession and relevant Bible verses quoted underneath. Note: The confession's scriptural truths will be bolded and in italics.
Chapter 31 – The State of Humanity after Death and the Resurrection of the Dead
1. The bodies of those who have died return to dust and undergo destruction.
--Genesis 3:19 "By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
--Acts 13:36 “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption…”
But their souls neither die nor sleep, because they have an immortal character, and immediately return to God who gave them.
--Ecclesiastes 12:7 “and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”
The souls of the righteous are then made perfect in holiness and are received into paradise. There they are with Christ and behold the face of God in light and glory while they wait for the full redemption of their bodies.
--Luke 23:43 “And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.’”
--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.”
--2 Corinthians 5:6 “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord…”
--2 Corinthians 5:8 “Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”
--Philippians 1:23 “I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.”
--Hebrews 12:23 “ and to the assembly[a] of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect…”
The souls of the wicked are thrown into hell, where they remain in torment and utter darkness, reserved for the judgment of the great day. The Scripture recognizes no place other than these two for souls separated from their bodies.
--Jude 6-7 “And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”
--1 Peter 3:19 “in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison…”
--Luke 16:23-24 “and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’”
2. At the last day, those saints who are found alive will not sleep but will be changed.
--1 Corinthians 15:51-52 “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”
--1 Thessalonians 4:17 “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”
All the dead will be raised up with the very same bodies, not different ones,
--Job 19:26-27 “And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, 27 whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!”
though they will have different qualities. Their bodies will be united again to their souls forever.
--1 Corinthians 15:42-43 “So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.”
3. The bodies of the unjust will be raised by the power of Christ to dishonor. By his Spirit the bodies of the just will be raised to honor and will be made like Christ’s own glorious body.
--Acts 24:15 “having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.”
--John 5:28-29 “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”
--Philippians 3:21 “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.”
Chapter 32 – The Last Judgment
1. God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ,
--Acts 17:31 “because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
--John 5:22, 27 “For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,…. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.”
to whom all power and judgment is given by the Father. In that day, the apostate angels will be judged.2
--1 Corinthians 6:3 “Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!”
--Jude 6 “And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—"
So also, all people who have lived on the earth will appear before the judgment seat of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds and to receive a reckoning according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil.
2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”
--Ecclesiastes 12:14 “ For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”
--Matthew 12:36 “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak…”
--Romans 14:10, 12 “ Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;….So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.”
--Matthew 25:32-46 “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. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’ 41 “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. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
2. God’s purpose for appointing this day is to manifest the glory of his mercy in the eternal salvation of the elect, and of his justice in the eternal damnation of the reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient.
--Romans 9:22-23 “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—"
For at that time the righteous will go into everlasting life and receive fullness of joy and glory with everlasting rewards in the presence of the Lord. But the wicked, who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of Jesus Christ, will be thrown into everlasting torments5
--Matthew 25:41 – “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’”
--2 Timothy 4:8 “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”
and punished with everlasting destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power.6
--Mark 9:48 “‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’”
--2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 “7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from[a] the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.”
3. Christ desires that we be firmly convinced that a day of judgment will come, both to deter everyone from sin
--2 Corinthians 5:10-11 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. The Ministry of Reconciliation 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.”
and to comfort the godly more fully in their adversity.
--2 Thess. 1:5-7 “This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels”
For this reason, he has determined to keep the day secret, to encourage people to shake off any fleshly security and always to be watchful, because they do not know the hour when the Lord will come and so that they may always be prepared to say, “Come Lord Jesus; come quickly. Amen.”
--Mark 13:35-37 “Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”
--Luke 12:35-36 “Stay dressed for action[a] and keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.”