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What is the biblical view of mortality?

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Mortality is the state of being subject to eventual death. Since the first sin in the Garden of Eden, all earthly life became mortal (Genesis 2:16–17; Romans 5:12). Now, “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). The biblical view of mortality is that it is an inevitable part of the curse, but it is not the end of our existence.

Physical mortality is the end of the earthly phase of existence. But Scripture is clear that, when our bodies die, our spirits are instantly transferred to our eternal dwelling places. There are only two possible destinations for our souls after we physically die: heaven and hell. In Luke 16:19–31, Jesus explains the difference in those destinations. Those who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are, upon death, immediately in a place of comfort and rest in the presence of God until the final resurrection of our bodies (2 Corinthians 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:16–21). Those who rejected Christ’s sacrifice for sin or trusted in something other than the grace of God to save them (Ephesians 2:8–9) will enter a place of torment commonly called hell. At the final judgment, all who did not surrender to Christ while on earth will be cast forever into the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8; Matthew 25:41).

For the Christian, mortality is not to be feared. Physical death merely ushers us into the presence of Christ (Philippians 1:23; Luke 23:43). We should live in a state of prepared expectancy, investing our lives in that which is eternal (Matthew 6:19–20). Although our place in heaven is assured because Jesus paid our ticket, we will still be judged according to what we did with what we were given (2 Corinthians 5:10). God wants to reward His faithful servants who invested their time, passions, and resources in His work (Matthew 5:12; Luke 6:23, 35; 1 Corinthians 3:14; 9:18). For the Christian, physical mortality merely results in a change of address, as we move from the tent to the mansion (2 Peter 1:14).

For non-Christians, however, mortality opens the doorway into the worst part of their lives. Those who reject, ignore, or substitute something else for Christ have already lived their “best lives now.” Regardless of how miserable their earthly lives may have been, they face greater suffering when the righteous judgment of God falls upon unrepentant sinners (Mark 9:44–49; Revelation 14:10–11; Matthew 25:46). According to the Bible, there are no second chances after death. No purgatory. No possibility that those still on earth can “pray you into heaven.”

Some people are terrified to consider their own mortality, but ignoring it won’t make it less of a reality. Wise people consider their own mortality and adjust their lives so that they are prepared for it. “The prudent see danger and take refuge” (Proverbs 22:3). We don’t know how many days God has appointed for us (Psalm 90:12; 139:16). No one is guaranteed a long earthly life, nor are we guaranteed more opportunities to repent before we die (Hebrews 12:17). The biblical view of mortality is that all human beings will die physically, but only those who are not “in Christ” will die spiritually.

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What is the biblical view of mortality?
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This page last updated: January 13, 2023