In case you didn't check out the websites I cited below, I wanted to let you know how this little research project ended for me. (See my last blog if you have no idea what I'm talking about.)
First of all, let me say that it was comforting to see that there were many "opinions" on this subject when I googled "what happens when we die christian." Other people are wondering the same thing!! But, I was most comforted by the educated guesses that I found by other pastors.
Basically, the conclusion they came to, and the answer I'm going with is - YES, we will be with Jesus immediately following death. Now, some argue that there is a difference between Heaven and "paradise," but that part I don't mind so much. In fact, it makes a lot of sense. So, I wanted to share the two main points for this assessment:
1. In Luke 23:43, when Jesus is dying on the cross and he is speaking to the theif on the cross right next to him, Jesus says "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." Well, that seems pretty clear doesn't it?? Again, that's not to say that Jesus and the theif are in Heaven with God, because that may not happen until after the second coming, but I'm still VERY satisfied with this knowledge.
2. In Philippians 1:21-26, Paul is writing to the church about his desire to die and be with Christ. It makes no sense that Paul would want to die UNLESS he knew that he would be with Jesus. This passage actually made me weep when we discussed it in our biblestudy because I felt like I could relate to Paul so much, wanting to be with Gabriel and away from this earth.
Anyway, there was lots of great information in those three cited websites, but these two main points are what helped me the most so I really felt led to share them with you.
Thanks so much for continuing to visit this site and read my thoughts. I hope that it is encouraging to you!