Bible Question:

Can you tell me what happens to a person when he dies? What happens to the soul? Is the soul the same as the spirit?

Bible Answer:

God says that there are only two choices when we die. We enter into either eternal punishment or eternal life. It is either heaven or hell.

And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (NASB) Matt. 25:46

There are no other choices. Most of us understand eternal punishment, but many are confused with the phrase “eternal life.” Since every person will live into eternity, “eternal life” does not describe how long we will live but where we will live. “Eternal life” means that we will spend eternity with God. So we will break the answer to your question into two parts.

Eternal Judgment

The Bible tells us that if we do not accept Jesus as both God and Savior, then we are rejecting Jesus. We are either at war with God or are peace with Him. We are either in trouble or His friend. We are at peace with God when we accept the fact that Jesus is God and He is the only one who can forgive our sins.

He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (NASB) John 3:36

God is simply saying, either believe and go into eternal life or experience God’s wrath. At first this seems harsh. That thought misses the fact that God wants us to be His friend, but many are not interested. No – a better response is that some reject Jesus Christ and say He was only a man. When these dear people die, they will go to hell (or Hades) and wait to go to the Lake of Fire.

And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (NASB) Rev. 20:14

Eternal Life

Those who receive eternal life, are those who see their sinfulness, believe that Jesus is God, and depend on Him to forgive their sins. God calls them His saints or holy ones. The saints are not men and women the Roman Catholic Church has declared to be saints. Every man and woman who believes or has ever believed in Jesus is a holy one or God’s saint. Think about that. That is awesome!

Do you think God cares when one of His saints dies? Listen to this verse.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His godly ones. (NASB) Ps 116:15

So is it any surprise that God immediately takes him or her into heaven upon his or her death? God wants us to be with Him immediately. Our soul does not sleep, and on some future date will meet God.

. . . we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. (NASB) 2 Cor. 5:8

What happens after we die and meet God in heaven? There are a number of wonderful events that occur. Here are some previous questions and answers that will give you some exciting insights into what awaits His holy ones.

]What does the Bible say a spiritual body will be like in heaven?

Will people have gender in heaven?

After death, will Christians see those who are not saved?

When are Christians judged?

Will some of us be embarrassed we when get to heaven?


What will our home look like? Revelation 21-22 gives us a peek. Those chapters tell us that there will be no death, pain, or suffering. We will eat, drink, and be alive. God will be there and He lights up heaven. I would encourage you to read both chapters.

The answer to your question about the soul and spirit can be found in a previous question entitled, “Is our spirit at the right hand of God?

Suggested Links:

At the point of death, does our spirit go to heaven or hell?
Searching For God