And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.” John 11:44

The biblical account of Lazarus is an amazing story. In John 11:1-44 we are told the story. Lazarus was a friend of Jesus and we know that because when he finds out that Lazarus had died we read in John 11:35 “Jesus wept”, which is the shortest verse in the Bible. This shows that He had a close relationship with Lazarus.

So the story of Lazarus is that he was sick and his sister who was a friend of Jesus asked Jesus to come and heal her brother. But Jesus did not immediately answer the call to come, instead He stayed where He was for two more days, basically ignoring the plea for help. Jesus knew, however, that Lazarus would not recover and by the time Jesus arrived, he had died.

His sisters were distraught and angry with Jesus and said that if Jesus had arrived earlier their brother would still be alive. But Jesus was not troubled. He told the sisters that their brother would rise again (John 11:23) and He was right. Jesus approached Lazarus’ tomb where he had laid for four days and asked for the stone to be removed. His family warned of the stench of death, but Jesus insisted and the stone was moved.

Jesus approached the tomb and commanded, “Lazarus, come forthJohn 11:43, and Lazarus rose and lived. Now Lazarus had been dead for four days, and therefore must have gone to Heaven if that is where we go when we die, but there is no mention of his journey to heaven, no mention of a great light, no mention of seeing dead relatives, nothing! And why is that?

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The Bible is quite clear about what happens after death and at this point there are very few people, or souls in heaven. In fact that number can be counted on one hand! The people recorded as being in heaven are: Enoch (Genesis 5:24), Elijah (2 Kings 2:11), and Moses (Matthew 17:3), now the last one about Moses is a little different, but it does state that Jesus, along with Peter, James and John, climbed the mountain and were met by Elijah and Moses, which could only happen if Moses had risen from the dead and been lifted to heaven.

All the other people who have died to this point in history are still waiting in their graves from resurrection, either into eternal life or death! And this can be proved by reading the Bible, no matter what any minister or anyone else may have ever told you. Our relatives, thankfully, are not gazing down upon us from heaven watching us in this troubled world, and they are also not eternally burning in hell if they did not gain eternal life!

The state of the dead is a very controversial subject and some churches will actually collect money from members to pay for their way into heaven, but this is impossible as no payment can be made to change the condition of a person’s salvation once they are dead! Their status is cast in stone! Once a person dies, the judgement is set and unfortunately nothing we say or do will change that.

So what does the Bible really say about the state of the dead, and why do we know that our dead friends and relatives are not waiting for us in heaven? Well let’s take a look at a couple of verses. “For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten.” Ecclesiastes 9:5. This tells us that the dead are sleeping in the graves and know nothing about what is happening after they die. They do not look down upon us from heaven, or suffer eternal torture in hell. “So man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep”. Job 14:12. We “sleep” in our graves after we die until heaven is no more and then when Jesus returns the graves are opened and the second resurrection begins.

Death is not something to be feared if you die with a relationship with Jesus. Death is just a sleep while we await His return. We do not go to heaven upon death and would not want to, as we would be looking down upon a troubled and sad earth. Upon death we wait, without knowledge, for the second coming of Jesus and then, and only then, will we receive our reward of eternal life. Do not be fooled by those who teach things that are not based on the Bible. Do not listen to people who want you to believe things that cannot be proven. You must explore and read the Bible for yourself and gather the truth. And only then can you be prepared for what is coming.

God bless.

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