What happens after physical death?
Is it the end?
An explanation of Christian theological views
of the human after-life.
Eternal life or damnation.



The ability for each of us to accept there is life after death generally relies on our religious faith. But note that within this website, the words “belief” and “faith” have ‘different meanings‘. And I shall firstly, here in the intro, explain the difference between the terms for us.

Probably, most practising Christians have come to ‘believe’ in God’s existence. They consider they have proven to themselves, beyond reasonable doubt, that God does exist. And that normally happens through their life experiences or events in the Church. A whole section, “Journey of faith” has been provided on this website to assist readers in that regard. Please just have a look at the article, “How to believe in God” for an explanation.

BUT, although we may soundly believe that God exists, it is not possible to actually prove to ourselves that there even is life after death, i.e. it  can never be tested during this life. We can only ‘accept through faith’ that the Christian Bible’s promise of life after death is truthful. We Christians are able to accept that this is so because we have proven to ourselves that other statements within the Bible (e.g. God provides unconditional loving care for us) are truthful.


That all aside, how do we assure ourselves, in this life, that we will gain a place in Heaven after death?

The subject of ‘life after death’ actually provides a complex area of debate within Christian circles.

2.1    Maybe only faithful Christians get one?

The most common and accepted outlook (throughout the wider Christian Church) is that all of us individuals who have faith in Jesus, as our Lord and saviour, will have everlasting life in Heaven after physical death.

If that view is accurate then other people lacking that faith may not gain eternal life.

Yes, some Biblical verses appear to indicate that agnostics, atheists and those who belong to other religions will be permanently damned after death. Verses including the term “gnashing of teeth” are common in the New Testament Gospel of Matthew. And they are often used by Christian fundamentalists when offering damnation as the punishment for those who have not ‘made the grade’. The following verses are examples, “Matthew 8:11-12, 13:41-42, 13:49-50, 22:12-13, 24:50-51, 25:29-50, Luke 13:28”.

2.2    Maybe everyone ‘gets a seat’?

Mind you, the ‘opposition’ can again provide other interpretations based on further verses!

As such, a number of Christian theologians have trouble with equating God’s ‘grace‘ and mercy (examples in relevant scripture are Psalms 77:10, 107:1, 136, 165:8-9, Isaiah 49:15) to the view that eternal life comes only to committed Christians after death. That is they have trouble accepting it!

And these theologians also ‘hang their hats’ on verses in the Bible that indicate that all humankind will receive eternal life after physical death. This view is termed, “universal salvation”. Relevant examples to this view are Micah 7:18-20, Isaiah 45:22-23, Luke 20:38, John 12:32, Acts 3:20-21, 1 Timothy 4:10-11, Philippians 2:9-11, 1 Corinthians 15:22.

2.3    A reality check!

BUT, even if everyone does make it to Heaven (as in the principle of ‘universal salvation’), this does not mean that all people will enjoy the same level of eternal life. For example, if a person does not have a relationship with God prior to death, how will that person know to enjoy such a relationship afterwards?

As such, Hell is simply viewed by some theologians as a place where, after death, those people previously infatuated with the ‘physical’ world and its pleasures spiritually ‘lock themselves away’ from God and his beloved family. That is because, in ignorance, they know no better.

It is certainly important to understand that the environment and conditions we currently experience during our Earthly lives will probably have little or no bearing on ever-lasting life in Heaven.

All we really know, through our faith, is that Heaven is potentially a wonderful place.


As to our interpretations of Biblical verses relating to being ‘saved‘, it is clearly up to us, as individuals, to accept the view that seems the most reasonable and in keeping with scripture’s ‘big picture’. Of course the issue doesn’t worry those of us Christians who already have faith in Jesus as our Lord and saviour too much.

However, God’s ‘unlimited’ love for us, and his habit of giving more to us than he expects in return, is made very clear in the Bible. I will say no more than that on the subject.