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Where do souls go after death?

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Where do souls go after death?
Posted on May 4, 2021  - By Rufus Simon Varghese

This question has been posed from the perspective of a person who has trusted in Jesus Christ for his/her salvation. And so, in my answer, I will address what happens to the souls of those who die in the Lord. 

As we go through the pages of the New Testament, we have proof in the Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles for the view that our souls/spirits go straight to Jesus after we die. Here is the evidence for it:

  1. In the Gospels, we see that Jesus promises the repentant thief that, on that very day, he will be with Jesus in Paradise (Luke 23:43). Clearly, this is a reference to the immaterial part of a human being going to be with Jesus post mortem.
  2. In Acts, we see that, as Stephen is about to be killed, he gazes into heaven, sees Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and prays to Jesus to receive his spirit (Acts 7:54-60).
  3. In the Epistles, we see that Paul held the same conviction. Paul says that when he departs from the world, he will go to be with Christ — which, he says, is far better than being on earth (Philippians 1:23).

We have proof in the Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles for the view that our souls/spirits go straight to Jesus after we die

‘Abraham’s bosom’

Having looked at the New Testament teaching on the topic, we turn to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. This passage raises the confusion: do we go to ‘Abraham’s bosom’ after we are dead? 

First, let us look at the overall context of the Gospel according to Luke in which this parable appears. The religious elite (Pharisees and Sadducees) took pride in calling themselves the children (or descendants) of Abraham (Luke 3:7-9; John 8:33,39) — one of the forefathers of Israel along with Isaac and Jacob. They were convinced that they had an automatic entry to the kingdom of God, as they were born in the line of the patriarchs. 

Enter John the Baptist. John preached that we must produce fruits in keeping with repentance; that without clear proof of a relationship with God and an attitude of repentance, one does not have a real claim of being a descendant of Abraham. And if they did not belong to Abraham’s family, they could not be beneficiaries of the covenant that God made. They wouldn’t have the privilege to share the banquet with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven (Mathew 8:11). Some tax collectors and sinners showed their repentance through their actions (for e.g., Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10), proving that they were among the spiritual offspring of Abraham. 

In the parable found in Luke 16:19-31, Jesus narrates a scene between two Jews who existed within the community that regarded Abraham as a father figure. One of them, a beggar by the name of Lazarus, ends up in Abraham’s bosom after his death. The other, an unnamed rich man, ends up in Hades.

Why? Because he didn’t practice what he professed. He didn’t help the poor right outside his gate. He treated servants as less-than-human though they were fellow Jews too. Hence, he gets the proverbial axe-on-the-root-of-the-tree treatment: he is sent to hell, never to come back again.

The point of this parable is this: true descendants of Abraham will spend an eternity with him in the presence of God. Those who merely extend the family tree of Abraham will never enter into an eternity with God. And that applies to us too. Those of us who have been saved through faith in Jesus Christ will recline with the patriarchs forever in the presence of God the Father and His Son, through whom all Old and New Testament saints will be one people — His bride, forever.

Rufus Simon Varghese

About Rufus Simon Varghese

Born and raised in Dubai, UAE, Rufus completed his Masters in Theology at Asian Christian Academy in Hosur, India. He has since been involved in personal outreach ministries and teaching youngsters Scripture. Currently based in Ernakulam, India, he is teaching at a Bible school as well as ministering to the Hindi-speaking immigrant working population in Kerala.



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