Derek Prince - What Happens When We Die?
Now we’ve come to the last two of the great foundation doctrines... the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. In this present session I will be dealing with the resurrection of the dead... and then in the following session I’ll be dealing with eternal judgment. We need to understand the meaning of the word resurrection. The Greek word that’s translated means ‘to stand up out of.’ So resurrection is standing up out of death and out of the grave. In the Scripture we just quoted we saw that man consists of three elements: Spirit, soul and body. It’s important to understand... that it’s the body that dies and it’s the body that will be resurrected. The spirit and the soul never need to be resurrected... because they’ve never passed into death. So we are talking about... the resurrection of the body. This is very important.
Now, I want to deal a little bit this morning with what the Bible shows about what happens to people after they die. I’ve discovered that this is a matter of universal interest. It doesn’t matter... what nationality or what culture you belong to, everybody is interested... to know what happens after death. The Bible gives a pretty clear picture and I’m going to try to outline... this picture and then show how it will affect the resurrection. In Luke 16:22-26... Jesus gives us His picture... of what happens. I want to point out that this is never called a parable. Because the word ‘parable’ is not used in connection with this. We’ll start with Luke 16:19.
There was a certain rich man... who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously... (or lived luxuriously) every day. There was a certain beggar named Lazarus... full of sores who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs... which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, the dogs came... and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died and was carried... by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torment in Hades he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham... afar off and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, Father Abraham... have mercy on me and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger... in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that in your lifetime you received... your good things and, likewise, Lazarus evil things. But now he is comforted... and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is... a great gulf fixed so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot... nor can those from there pass to us. Then he said, I beg you therefore... Father Abraham, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have... five brothers, that he may testify to them... lest they also come to this place of torment. And Abraham said to him, They have Moses and the prophets... let them hear them. And he said, No, Father Abraham, but if one goes... to them from the dead they will repent. But he said to him: If they do not hear Moses and the prophets... neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.
And how true that proved in experience. Even when Jesus rose from the dead... those who did not believe Moses and the prophets did not recognize... what had happened. That’s a very solemn thought. Sometimes we expect some tremendous supernatural visitation... and say if that happens we’ll be convinced. But God says: You have my Word, that’s all you need. If you believe it and obey it... it will take you through. Now I want to point out certain features... that are indicated by this story of the rich man and Lazarus. There are five features.
First of all, there was persistence of personality... after death. The rich man was still the rich man and Lazarus was still Lazarus. Neither of them lost their identities. Some people teach us that after death... everything just fades away and there’s nothing left. That’s not scriptural. We continue in the same personality after death as we lived in in life.
Secondly, there was recognition of persons. The rich man recognized Lazarus and Abraham. And Lazarus recognized the rich man. Third, there was recollection of life... on earth. Both the rich man and Lazarus... could recall the circumstances of their lives before they died.
Fourth, there was a consciousness of their present condition. The rich man was in torment, his tongue burning with fire. Lazarus was in comfort and peace in the bosom of Abraham. And fifthly, there was a complete separation between the righteous... and the unrighteous. Each of them had an appointed place and neither... could cross from one to the other. Let me say those five things again... because they’re very, very important and they contradict a lot of theories... that are being put around today.
1. There was persistence of personality - no loss of identity.
2. There was recognition of persons.
3. There was recollection of life on earth.
4. There was a consciousness of present conditions after death.
5. There was a complete separation between the righteous and the unrighteous.
What happened to those who died before Jesus Himself died and rose from the dead? Because that event bisected human history... and the destiny of souls before and after the death and resurrection... of Jesus is not the same. The death and resurrection of Jesus produced... a change, actually, in the whole universe. The most decisive event... in the history of the universe and it affected what happened... to those who died. Let’s deal now with what happened... before the death of Jesus. We’ve seen already in this story of the rich man and Lazarus that all departing souls pass into a place which is called in Hebrew, Sheol and in Greek, Hades. The Greek word Hades means the unseen world.
So all alike, whether righteous or unrighteous, passed into this unseen realm called Hades or Sheol. This was a place of departed souls but there were two completely... separate areas for the righteous and the unrighteous. And notice everybody... was either righteous or unrighteous, as I was saying yesterday... there’s nothing in between. You can’t be halfway righteous... and halfway unrighteous. You’ve got to end up in one of those two places. The area for the righteous is called ‘Abraham’s bosom' meaning, I suppose, that Abraham, who’s the father of all who believe welcomed them there and comforted them. That’s my understanding.