But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:55–56)
Whenever I travel, I do my best to avoid layovers. I always try to get a direct flight wherever I am going. Thank God there are no layovers on the way to heaven. There is no place called purgatory found in the Bible. Nor can we find anything called “soul sleep,” a state of suspended animation. Rather, the Bible promises that a believer will enter Christ’s presence immediately following death. When death strikes the Christian down, he falls into heaven.
The apostle Paul wrote, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). Jesus told the thief crucified next to Him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).
John Bunyan said that death “will be but a passage out of a prison into a palace.”
That doesn’t mean we should look forward to death. But it does mean that we don’t have to fear it, because death died when Christ rose. Because Jesus is alive, He is at the right hand of the Father.
When your day comes to leave this world, the Lord will be waiting for you. I don’t know whether He will be standing up for you or me as He did for Stephen (see Acts 7:55–56). But He will be waiting.
And for the Christian walking in the will of God, death will come at the appointed time—not a moment before and not a moment after. Quite frankly, there is nothing you can do to prolong your life beyond the time God has allotted for you. There is no guarantee that you will live a long life. There is only the guarantee that you will live the life God has given to you.