A very important aspect of physical death is the fact that death fixes our eternal destiny. There are no second chances after death. Once you die, you will either go into the presence of God in glory, or out of the peaceful presence of God into misery. Hebrews 9:27 declares, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,“ this means that the judgment which fixes our eternal destiny, not the Final Judgment, comes directly after death. Matthew Poole noted on that passage:
But after this the judgment: in order, after souls by death are separated from their bodies, they come to judgment: and thus every particular one is handed over by death to the bar of God, the great Judge, and so is despatched by his sentence to its particular state and place with its respective people, Rom. 14:12. At the great and general assize, the day of judgment, shall the general and universal one take place, Act 17:31, when all sinners in their entire persons, bodies and souls united, shall be adjudged to their final, unalterable, and eternal state, Rom. 14:10; 2Co 5:10; Jud 1:6; Rev. 20:11-15.
Some take the judgment spoken of in Hebrews 9:27 to be the Final Judgment. To be sure, there is no definite article for “judgment" in the Greek and this is correctly translated by the ESV, in contrast to translations which supply a definite article (e.g. KJV, NKJV). The definite article makes the idea that this passage is speaking about the Final Judgment more appealing, yet the definite article is not in the original. But a stronger case that death fixes our eternity destiny can be made from Luke 16:19-31. There is a chasm which separates the saved in heaven and the damned in Hades in the Intermediate State. No one can cross over and this takes place after physical death. That’s why death should be terrifying to those who do not know God and who have not obeyed the Gospel of our Lord. There are no second chances. All that awaits those who have not put their trust in Christ is doom and misery.
The Souls Of The Righteous In Heaven
Already in the Old Testament believers were expecting a blissful existence with God after their physical death. David says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Ps. 23:6; cf. Ps. 16:10-11; 17:15; 73:24; 115:18). He expects to ever live in the presence of God. He did not only live with and for God in his earthly life, but he believes that God's presence will always be with Him. He will dwell in His house and this is said at a time when the Temple was not yet built. Elijah is said to have “went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2Kings 2:11). Jesus shows that there will be a resurrection from the fact that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are living before the presence of God (Matt. 22:31-32; Luke 20:37-38).
But there is the greater revelation of this fact in the New Testament. There is general agreement amongst Christians that once they die, they will be in the presence of the Lord. (1) The Lord Jesus, before being crucified and going back to the Father, tells His disciples that He will go before them to prepare a place for them, and then come and take them to that place (John 14:1-4). The Lord Jesus, through His atonement on the cross and resurrection, made a place for His ...