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  • Writer's pictureJan Weihl

Where do we go when we die (Philippians 1)

I imagine the question "where do we go when we die" is one we have all asked at some point. The answer is, "it depends on who we have trusted in." If we have trusted in Jesus we will be with Him. If we are trusting in ourselves or someone else, we won't be.

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the church of Philippi answers this question for us. He makes it very clear that when a follower of Jesus dies, he will immediately be with Jesus:

Philippians 1:21-24 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

Notice he mentions nothing about working out our sins in purgatory because a sinful human being, even after they die, can do nothing to remove their sins.

In fact, do you know that Jesus and the apostles never talked about working out sin in purgatory after we die? Not only did they not mention it, they did not even quote from any writing that does mention it.

What Jesus and the apostles taught was that God requires a perfect sacrificial lamb for our sins to be removed. There is only one perfect sacrificial lamb and that is Jesus. He is perfect because He is God, the 2nd person of the Trinity, who took on human flesh.

Only Jesus can remove our sins and He did so when He suffered and died on the cross in our place. That's why Jesus said, from the cross, right before He gave up his spirit:

John 19:30 It is finished! (Tetelestai)

If we still had to work out our sins after we die, Jesus' statement here would be a lie.

That's why Paul said to the Ephesians that our works have nothing to do with our salvation:

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

If we could work out our sins even after we die, then Jesus would not have had to die on the cross in our place.

But the question we want to ask is, "who will be with Jesus the moment they die rather than separated from Him for all eternity?"

The answer is, the followers of Jesus, those who have repented of their sins and trusted in Jesus as their Savior and the Lord of their lives are the ones who will be with Jesus after they die and for all eternity.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Paul referred to those who choose to repent of their sins and trust in Jesus as their Lord as "saints."

Philippians 1:1 To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons.

A "saint" does not mean someone who is perfect and has never sinned. There are no such human beings. Every human being who has ever lived has sinned:

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

A "saint" does not mean everyone who attends church on Sunday because not everyone who attends church has chosen to repent of their sins and make Jesus the Lord of their life.

A "saint" is someone who recognizes Jesus as their Lord and has repented of their sins and trusted in Him for deliverance from their sins.

So what about you?

Are you a saint, one of Jesus' followers?

Have you admitted your sins, believed in Jesus as your Savior, and committed your life to Him as your Lord?

If so, you can know without a doubt that you will be with Jesus when you die, for all eternity:

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 10:9-10 If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

So the answer to "where do we go when we die?" depends on who we have trusted in. If we are trusting in Jesus we will be with Him. If we are trusting in ourselves or someone else other than Jesus, we won't be with Jesus in heaven when we die.

Dear Lord, I know every single day that I am nothing but a sinner unable to right even one of my wrongs in this life or after I die. Lord, I know only Jesus' death in my place on that cross can save me from my sins. Lord, I am confessing my sins to You right now. Please forgive me for my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Thank you for the free gift of salvation that I have in You. Thank you for loving me enough to die in my place. Lord, today and every day, show me how to live to bring You glory. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Jan Weihl

Living Word Ministries

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