By Scott Tibbs, February 6, 2009
The Bible is clear in many places that there is life after death. Some will spend eternity in fellowship with Christ in Heaven, while most will spend an eternity in damnation. There is, however, some disagreement on what happens at the point of death. Some assert that Scripture teaches that there is immediate judgment, while others argue the dead are "asleep" until the second coming of Christ. I hold to the Westminster Confession of Faith's teaching on the matter, which teaches (based on the Scriptures quoted below) that souls reach their eternal destination at the moment of death.
While dying on the cross, Jesus told one of the other men being crucified that "today shalt thou be with me in paradise." Ecclesiastes 12:7 teaches the body will "return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." 2 Corinthians 5:1-8 teaches that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Paul writes in Philippians 1:20-24 that he desires to "depart" (die) and be with Christ.
It is not such good news for those that die apart from Christ. Luke 16 tells the story of the rich man who dies and goes to Hell, then asking Lazarus to warn his brothers of the torment to come if they do not repent. Jude 6 teaches that Sodom and Gomorrah "are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." Suffering, of course, is present tense.
Another common question is regarding the Sabbath Day. Some argue it was changed by man's decree without authority of Scripture. However, examples can be found in both 1Corinthians 16 and Acts 20 where Christians worship on the first day of the week (the Lord's Day) instead of the seventh (the Sabbath). Christ said he came to "fulfill" the law, not to destroy. I believe the change from the Sabbath to the Lord's Day is one example of the law being fulfilled.