What happens after death depends on a single choice that you make during your life.
You can make that choice right up to the end, just before your last breath. But once you die, you can’t undo your decision. Reincarnation doesn’t occur. You don’t come back and get to do it over. You don’t get a second chance.
If you choose to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died on the cross to save you from the consequences of your sin, you receive eternal life and go to heaven to be with Him forever in fellowship, light, joy and truth. God raised Jesus from the dead—and if you believe in Him, He will raise you too.
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. (John 3:16-18)
But if you choose not to believe, you go to hell. You are condemned to loneliness, separation, never-ending regret, and fire.
Heaven or hell. Life or death. Jesus or destruction.
If you have chosen Jesus, your spirit leaves your body when you die and goes to heaven. You’re absent from the body but present with the Lord.
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. (1 Corinthians 5:6)
On the Day of Judgment, God doesn’t roll out all your sins and berate you and cast you away. Jesus already suffered the judgment and punishment for your sins. God sees you as cleansed by His Son’s blood. You’re forgiven. It’s God’s gift of grace, not earned by any good works that you have done on earth. Your name is written in the book of life.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)
You won’t be judged, but you’ll be evaluated for your Christian life—for your faithfulness and the things you’ve done that have eternal value, not for your material success on earth. You’ll receive rewards of some kind for the work you allowed Jesus to do through you. But nothing will compare to the joy of being with God in the inexpressibly beautiful new heavens and earth.
You also will receive a new body. Just as Jesus was resurrected, so you’ll be given a resurrection body.
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. (2 Corinthians 15:42-44)
When Jesus rose from the dead, He was the same and yet different. His body functioned outside the limits of space. He was able to appear in a room without entering it, and yet he ate and shared fellowship with His disciples. His hands and feet bore the holes of the nails of the cross, but He was alive and not in agony. You’ll receive a resurrection body that is suited for heaven!
But if you’ve rejected Jesus, if you’ve refused to accept Him as your Lord and Savior, you’ll stand before God’s great white throne and be condemned. You will be rejected as you rejected Christ. It will make no difference that you now realize your mistake. You’ll passionately desire to be with God, but you never will be. The book of Revelation says that anyone whose name is not written in the book of life will be “thrown into the lake of fire.”
Heaven or hell. Life or death. Jesus or eternal destruction. You have a choice but no second chance once you die.