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SALT: Creating Thirst

Week 3: What Happens When We Die?

Almost everyone is at least a bit intrigued by the question: “What happens after we die?”

Questions to consider:

  • “10 out of 10 people die.” It’s obvious, but yet it seems that many people live as though they don’t take this spiritual reality seriously. Do you agree or disagree? Why do you think that? 

  • Do you think most people are uncomfortable talking about death? 

  • Although many people find the topic of death uncomfortable, most are intrigued by the idea of an afterlife. Why do you think that is?

[S]earch the Bible

According to Scripture, there are two distinct options for what happens after we die: praise or pain. Let’s take a closer look at some verses where Jesus talked about this further.


John 3:16-18: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son (NIV). 


John 14:6: Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. 


2 Thessalonians 1:7-10: He [Jesus] will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power. When he comes on that day, he will receive glory from his holy people—praise from all who believe. And this includes you, for you believed what we told you about him. 

[A]pply the Truth Personally

The passage we just read used the phrase: “forever separated from the Lord.” Look at your handout. There you’ll find an interesting quote from C.S. Lewis, a famous Christian author. Here’s what he said about Hell: 


Sin is man’s saying to God throughout life, “Go away and leave me alone.” Hell is God’s finally saying to man, “You may have your wish.” It is God’s leaving man to himself, as man has chosen. 

Questions to consider:

  • What do you think of this statement? 

  • Does it surprise you to hear that people choose Hell when they choose to push God away? Why or why not? 

  • How do you reconcile the reality of a loving God and the reality of Hell?

This last question is one many people struggle with. But the struggle comes because we often don’t grasp the full character of the God of the Bible. Love and justice are both part of God’s very essence. 


Often, the 21st-century version of God is that He is just loving, instead of just and loving. Our culture usually minimizes the just part of God—which demands absolute justice, holiness, and perfection—and maximizes the loving part of God, which shows mercy, grace, and forgiveness. 


Questions to consider:

  • Do you think it’s possible that God’s attitude toward sin and evil are actually born out of His great love for us? Why or why not? [God hates sin and evil because they harm us and separate us from Him.] 

  • How did God demonstrate His love for us? 

  • What wipes out the penalty of sin so that individuals don’t have to suffer separation from God? 

  • Is Hell necessary? Why do you say that? 

Hell is necessary, because God’s love is not coercive—He does not force us to love Him back and accept His free gift of salvation available through Jesus’s work on the cross. People are free to choose to reject God’s love and remain “forever separated from the Lord,” as it says in the passage we just read. 


But enough about Hell. Let’s talk about Heaven for a bit. 

Questions to consider:

  • What do you think Heaven will be like? 

  • If Hell is a place of isolation, what do you think Heaven will be like? [a place of relationship] Why do you think that? 

  • Do you think it will be more like a church service or a big party? Explain why you think that. 

  • Surveys show that more people believe in Heaven than Hell. Why do you think that’s the case? ​

If Hell is the absence of God, Heaven is the place where the ever-present, overflowing love of the Lord is manifested. All who walk the way of the Lord Jesus are promised everlasting life, and will abide by Him in Heaven.

Most conversations you’ll have about the afterlife will brush up against the reality of Heaven and Hell. So we’re going to take a few minutes right now, so you can solidify in your own head some of what we’ve just been talking about. On your handout, there’s some space to write down your thoughts. Take some time right now to respond to the question you see there: How would you describe what Heaven and Hell are like to someone who has never read the Bible? Write a brief description of each. 

We talked about Acts 20:26-27. Let’s take a closer look. 



Acts 20:26-27: I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death, it’s not my fault, for I didn’t shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know.

Take a minute or so right now to write down on your handout the names of some of your friends who don’t know Jesus. You’ll find a little circular graphic there, to remind you that these are people you want to pray for with passion, care for with love, and share the truth with. This prayer-care-share process may take days, months, or even years, but the important thing is to never give up on your efforts to introduce others to Jesus.

After you get your list written, pray for the people on your lists. Pray, too, for the determination and courage you’ll need to stick with sharing your faith with these people in the coming days, months, and years. 

[L]isten to Others Deeply

As you share in listening to other's experiences these next few weeks, consider these questions yourself, and ask others for their thoughts:

  • What do you think happens after we die? 

  • If Heaven exists, what do you think determines whether or not someone goes there? 

  • Is being “good enough,” compared with other people, enough for God to let you into Heaven? 

  • How does being “good enough” measure up against God’s standard of perfect holiness? 

  • Have you ever wondered how a loving God could send people to an eternal Hell? 

  • If you were to die tonight, do you know where you would spend eternity? ​

You should be aware that one of the most common responses to what it takes to get into Heaven is “to live a good life” or be “good enough” compared with other people. Therefore, it’s helpful to have an illustration that explains why Jesus said “good enough” isn’t “good enough.” Here’s one illustration you might use: 


Let’s say I baked you a cake and burned it. If I covered it with white frosting and gave it to you, the cake would still be burned, even though you couldn’t see it. Putting frosting on it doesn’t change the fact that the cake is ruined. Thinking that we can cover our sin with our “good enough” efforts is like putting frosting on a burned cake. God sees right through the “frosting” to the sin that lies inside each and every one of us.

[T]alk About the Gospel

Once you’ve opened up the conversation and better understand where the other person is coming from, talk about the Gospel. Say something like:


Did you know the Bible says that “nothing impure will ever enter” Heaven (Revelation 21:27)? That means our efforts to be “good enough” by doing good things are like putting white frosting on a burned cake. Underneath the frosting, the cake is still burned. That’s why we need the forgiveness of sin that Jesus came to provide.


Then explain the message of the Gospel. 

Explain how Jesus's unwavering love and sacrifice is the catalyst for salvation and healing.

The Bible tells us that if we put our faith in Jesus alone to forgive us for our sins, we can be restored to a relationship with God and receive the free gift of eternal life that starts now and lasts forever. But it takes a decision. I invite you to make that decision today!

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