The Afterlife

What will the afterlife be like? We will take a look at what the bible tells us about what life will be like in the future.

13 min read

What will the afterlife be like? We will take a look at what the bible tells us about what life will be like in our future life. Our future selves will be unlike what we know them to be today. Will we have wings? Will we have halos above our heads? Will we be carrying around harps day in and day out plucking melodious tunes hopping effortlessly from cloud to cloud without a care in the world? Will we be shapeless spirits or will we be physical beings? We’re about to find out.

There may be many reading this article who will be disappointed when these biblical facts are revealed. If you truly want to know, read on. There is a reason Scripture teaches these truths. Knowledge frees us from the dangers of our own comfort. Let’s begin with an illustration.

A caterpillar larva hatches from an egg. Its whole aim in life is to eat. That’s all it does. Caterpillars have no sexual organs, these reproductive organs develop when they become butterflies. As a crawling insect, a caterpillar knows nothing about flying or flowers or nectar. All it knows is that it only craves leaves. They do not thirst for water or drink because their fluids come from the leaves they eat. The more it eats the more it grows. The more it grows the more it wants to eat. If a caterpillar were aware of its needs, all it would desire is an endless supply of leaves. Now, when the caterpillar becomes a butterfly, everything changes. As a butterfly, this insect no longer eats, all it does is drink. Butterflies cannot eat because they have no mouthparts to accomplish that function. They have a proboscis (a built-in straw) because their diet is strictly liquid. They have large wings that enable them to fly to a variety of flowers in search of nectar. If a butterfly were aware of its needs, all it would desire is a field of flowers. And then, its final craving is to mate.

Why is this illustration given? It is given to prepare us for what awaits us in the next life. Why is this important? It is important so that we can have the proper expectation for what the afterlife will be like. Sure, we can just wait till we get there and be pleasantly surprised. But there’s a catch to this preparation for our afterlife. The catch is, that our current life here on earth is "practice" for our afterlife.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20)

Why does Scripture give us this warning? Is there some sort of “Bank Account” in heaven where we can deposit certain untouchable valuables that can be cashed in during the afterlife? Well, yes and no. There is nothing materialistic on this planet that we can store in heaven. However, there is one thing that is of the highest value in heaven as well as this earth. It is the people. The more we labor for the Lord here on earth, the more people will be accounted for. This is the treasure God values the most and for which He also paid a heavy price. The focus of the afterlife will be the people and so the main thing that will be noticeably different will be the people.

We are social beings, God created us that way. There are many of us who are extroverts and many of us who are introverts. Extroverts love crowds and introverts love seclusion. But we all were designed to live within a family circle consisting of fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and so on. What if all that changes in the afterlife? Would we be disappointed? If we were aware that our biological children would no longer be considered our children in heaven, our opinion might change about heaven. If we were aware that our spouses would no longer be our spouses in heaven, we would most likely have issues with that.

The afterlife is nothing like what we imagine it to be. It will be a million times better. Our best and most creative imagination won’t even come close to what our heavenly afterlife will truly be like. So the best that we can do at the moment is simply read what the bible has to say. It may not give us all the juicy details, but there is enough to pique our interest.

Let’s focus for a moment on the people we will be living with. There will be many who we will recognize. But in our new home, these people will be very, very different. In what way will they be different? Well for one, they will all look like teenagers.

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

The energy and enthusiasm we normally see in the youth will be a constant presence among all the redeemed. No one will be tired no matter how intense the activities are. No one will sleep because the new bodies will no longer require it. Everyone will be constantly excited about something.

We have never met our grandparents or great-grandparents when they were teenagers. So, how will we recognize them? Everyone has a certain mannerism that is unique to them alone. They are unique in the way they speak, the way they express themselves, the way they look at us, and even the way they smile. Their heavenly bodies will be glowing and breathtakingly beautiful, but something about them will be familiar and they will be recognized.

There is an individual who was born with a birth defect. His height and features were all impacted by this defect. He has the sweetest smile. His family loves him more than life itself. In heaven, he will have a body no one will recognize. He will be tall, majestic, and drop-dead gorgeous. His face will glow, and his body will radiate natural luminescent light. This will be the same glorious light that the angels now possess. But who will know who he is? All he has to do is crack a smile and most likely the first ones to recognize him will be his mom and dad. There will be something unique about everyone that will identify them. And if all else fails, a reintroduction of ourselves should suffice. We will all have a “Whale of a Tail” to tell.

There is a pair of twins. They've been known since childhood. They're real cuties. Will they be recognized in heaven? Maybe, maybe not. They may be indistinguishable. But one thing is for sure, we will have plenty of time to know them better. We may have parents and grandparents who have passed away. We may have aunts and uncles and many close friends who have passed away that we want to see again. Will we recognize them? If we're faithful, we will find out.

Remember the illustration of the caterpillar and the butterfly? Life as we currently know it is the only experience we know. We interact with each other as friends, family, husbands and wives, children, and so on. The Bible teaches that in Heaven, these relationships will be different. But not just relationships, the actual physical makeup will change, just like the caterpillar and the butterfly.

A question was posed to Jesus regarding a woman who married seven brothers. They wanted to know which brother would she be married to when they all went to heaven. Jesus' reply was:

“ …when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” (Mark 12:25)

“Jesus answered and said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” (Luke 20:34-36)

“For in the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.” (Matthew 22:30)

So, according to the words of Christ Himself, He says there will be no marriages in heaven. Ok, we can understand that in different ways if we choose to. Maybe He means there will be no new marriages in heaven, but the existing family circles will continue as we know them. Well, not exactly. This is why it was repeated three times in the gospels. All three times it says that the resurrected saints will not marry and that they will be like or equal to the angels of heaven.

Do angels have spouses? According to Scripture, the angels do not have spouses. According to Job 1:6, all the sons of God came before the Lord including Satan. They were all created directly by God just like Adam. That's why he had no father or mother. But the rest of the human race was birthed by parents. If the redeemed saints will be the same as the angels in heaven, that means that the saints will no longer have mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, children, or none of the family relationships we now have in our current life.

For those of us who treasure our family relationships more than gold, this little fact will make us frown. As wonderful as it is to have a family as we currently know them, we cannot possibly imagine relationships greater than our family. But understand, He who created a family in the first place, is able to surpass the very thing we fell in love with so passionately.

Why is this little factoid being presented here seeing it will most likely be negatively appreciated? Understand, we are talking about eternity. The life we will live in eternity will remain in place for ages without end. God’s government is perfect and permanent. When we are halfway through eternity, we will just be at the beginning of fully enjoying our new life. All of the heavenly beings throughout the universe will be one big joyful family. There will be no cells or groups or cliques, we will love everyone as dearly as the other.

If there are no marriages in the afterlife, that means there will be no more children born to parents. The number of redeemed that are rescued and brought from this planet will be the same throughout eternity. This is why a “Spoiler Alert” was written at the top of this article. We probably have different expectations for our afterlife. But we must trust that whatever awaits us in our afterlife will be so much better.

The changes in our bodies do not stop there.

“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:53)

“He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers.” (Romans 2:7)

Did we catch the fact that we will be immortal? We can read this many times and still not recognize the ramifications of being immortal. Being immortal means we cannot die. Being mortal means we are dependent on external things for sustenance. A mortal being needs air to breathe, food to eat, water to drink, and relationships to thrive with. An immortal being does not. An immortal being needs none of these things to live. Satan is an immortal being and so are all his demons. They will be destroyed in the lake of fire, but until then, they cannot die. Immortality is a gift from God. He can take away this gift as easily as He gave it. Life is a gift from God. He gives it to who He pleases and takes it away from who He pleases.

“Now see that I, even I, am He, And there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.” (Deuteronomy 32:39)

The gift of immortality will be taken away from Satan and his demons and they will succumb to death like any mortal in the lake of fire.

“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:” (Matthew 25:41)

Don't get too caught up with the language of everlasting fire or eternal fire. This fire will not burn forever. It is the old Jewish way of describing flames that are unquenchable as long as there is fuel. The wicked will be completely consumed and nothing but ashes will be left of them.

“The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, “The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. On that day the arrogant and the wicked will be burned up like straw. They will be consumed—roots, branches, and all.... You shall trample the wicked, For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet. On the day that I do this,” Says the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 4:1,3)

The redeemed human race will be changed from mortal beings to immortal beings, both those who are resurrected as well as those who are yet alive at Christ’s second coming.

“It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.” (1 Corinthians 15:52)

The changes to our physical bodies will apply to the entire redeemed race. How does that change our view of who we will be? Well, has it occurred to us that we will no longer need food, water, air, or any of the necessities we deemed critical for survival? As immortal beings, nothing external will be necessary for life. The only exception of course is God. As long as God continues to apply the properties of this gift of immortality, it will remain for as long as God Himself exists.

Have we heard that when we get to heaven there will be a feast where we will all eat and drink off of God’s own banquet table?

“On this mountain, the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.” (Isaiah 25:6)

Again, don’t get caught up in the language. The wine is nothing more than grape juice and the meats are a reference to fine foods, not animal products.

“Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” (Luke 14:15)

“But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29)

If we as immortals will no longer need food or water or anything else to live forever, why then does Scripture talk about the redeemed eating and drinking? Good question. Didn’t Christ say we will be like the angels? Three heavenly beings came to visit Abraham. Joyfully Abraham prepared a meal for them and they ate.

“And Abraham ran to the herd, took a tender and good calf, gave it to a young man, and he hastened to prepare it. So he took butter and milk and the calf which he had prepared and set it before them, and he stood by them under the tree as they ate.” (Genesis 18:7-8)

Two of these messengers were angels and one of them was Christ Himself. Who said immortal beings cannot eat? Immortal beings can enjoy the fragrance of the air, the flavors of food, the sensations of touch, sight, sound, and who knows even more senses than we have now. Remember, it is necessary that we become immortals before we travel through airless space to reach the Holy City. The Holy City is also a fiery place completely immersed in God’s glory. No mere mortal will possibly survive it. So how then do immortal beings process food? Do they have a digestive tract as we do now?

“You say, “Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food.” (This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them.) But you can’t say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:13 NLT Version)

No, the digestive system we mortals have now will no longer exist. What then becomes of the food that the redeemed consume? Angels are beings of glorious light like fire. The redeemed will be no different than them. Whatever they consume will simply dissolve or burn up. As immortal beings, the redeemed will no longer have flesh and blood as they had in their mortal bodies. They will be equal to the angels.

“Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire.” (Psalm 104:4)

Angels are beings devoid of flesh and blood.

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Remember, Satan and his demons are fallen angels. They still possess the same substance and form by which they were first created. One day they will be destroyed when their gift of immortality will be taken away.

Like the butterfly that will be completely different from the caterpillar it used to be, so will the redeemed saints be completely different from the mortal beings they used to be. The needs will be different and the cravings will be different. The excitement and joy will be greater. Scripture says we will build our own houses.

“They shall build houses and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.” (Isaiah 65:21)

What would we suppose the floorplan of these homes will be like? Imagine a home with no bathroom, no bedroom, no garage, no laundry room, no cabinets with first aid kits, and no closets filled with wardrobes. Will there even be a need for kitchens with microwaves, stoves, ovens, refrigerators, and pantries? The list can be extensive. It may seem all we will have is just a box with nothing in it. This is why our imagination cannot even come close because all we can think of is our current need for these frail mortal bodies. But rest assured, something greater than our wildest imagination is awaiting us.

The bodies of the redeemed will no longer need clothing. They will be covered by a robe of glowing light. The same light that emanates from each angelic being will be radiating from the saints as well.

“After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands.” (Revelation 7:9)

Adam and Eve had this glowing light emanating from their bodies as well. When they sinned, this glow of light disappeared and that’s when they realized they were naked. They were naked all along from the beginning because they wore no clothing. The light that shined from their bodies hid their nakedness.

“Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.” (Genesis 2:25)

They felt no shame because their nakedness was hidden from their sight. Angels wear this same shining robe of light as was displayed when they appeared inside Jesus’ tomb.

“And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments.” (Luke 24:4)

So, as we think about the floorplan of our future heavenly home, take into account that bedrooms will no longer be relevant seeing as we will never sleep. Bathrooms will no longer be relevant seeing as we will no longer have a digestive system. Closets will no longer be relevant seeing as we will no longer have a wardrobe. Garages will not be relevant seeing as we can transport ourselves anywhere in the universe without the need for vehicles. Yes, everything will be quite different.

One day, we will see with our very eyes the glories of our afterlife. We will possess brand new bodies much greater and more advanced than the ones we have now. We will interact with our new environment in ways we cannot conceivably imagine. Our friends and family will be one huge unnumbered throng and we will know each one intimately by name. The life we now have will be but a passing memory of days long gone. Wouldn't we love to be there? Let’s make our reservations now. There are plenty of tickets left.

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