A lot of Christians use the phrase "die and go to heaven." Though it may hold some truth, it is a misleading phrase. Why? Because the only concrete clue we have about our future is the first-fruits of our resurrection: the raised body of Jesus. And Jesus certainly did not “die and go to heaven.” If he didn’t, why should we expect to? The fact of the matter is, Jesus died and went to hell. Now he went to hell for us, but that does not mean we just die and flitter off as disembodied souls. No. We die and are raised like him. So although we may consciously experience our heavenly future immediately, the fact of the matter is that our hope lies in the restoration of our bodies, not just in our souls going to heaven after we die.
If there is one consistent thing across the resurrection accounts, it is that the post-Easter Jesus had a body, and it was his body, the same body that had died. Was it changed? Certainly. It was a transformed and glorified body. That’s what makes it good news for us. But this transformation is a predicate of his same body. The resurrection is not some replacement of our identity or a leaving behind of this life altogether. If so, then it wouldn’t really be us who are experiencing it. The resurrection is the transformation of this life. That’s what makes it good news for us.
Of course, the phrase “die and go to heaven” does not necessarily need to be abandoned. That is the bottom line. But it helps to be complemented by the phrase, “die and yet will be raised like him.” Such speech reminds us that we are not just imprisoned souls awaiting the end of this embodied life. Rather, we are embodied souls awaiting the redemption of all things, including our own bodies.
What implications does this have for how we relate to our bodies?
Once we have retrieved the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, how do we continue to speak coherently about the “soul”?
Am I missing something major in this account?