This is one of the basic doctrines of the Christian Religion that sometimes gets distorted by foreign theories.
1 – When a person dies, his body goes to the ground, but his spirit is judged immediately (Heb 9:27)(Lk 16:22-23).
2 – The unrighteous in full consciousness, go to an intermediate state where they suffer despair and torment in the spirit, and the righteous to a place of joy and bliss, in God’s presence in the spirit. There they remain in waiting for the Great Judgement. (Lk16:19-31)(Rev 6:9-11)
3 – Then comes a first Resurrection, where the righteous will rise again, and together with the righteous who remain alive until then, they will receive Lord Jesus Christ at his Second Coming, to reign with Him forever. (1Th 4:15-17)(Rev 20:4-6).
4- After a thousand years of the ruling of Christ and his saints over the nations of the world, and after the Battle of Gog and Magog, a Second Resurrection will take place for all the unrighteous, who will parade together with the Righteous before the Great White Throne of God to be officially judged and sentenced for all eternity, according to their Faith and actions in life. (Mt 25:31-33)(Rev 20:7-15)
5 – After this Final Judgement, some will suffer eternal condemnation in the Lake of Fire, together with Satan and his angels for ell eternity. And the Righteous will enter The New Jerusalem where the whole cosmos already glorified, will reside in God’s presence for all eternity. (Mt 25: 34-46)(Rev 20: 11-15; 21:1-8)
WHY CHRISTIANS PRAY FOR THE DEAD
This is due to three reasons:
1 – We don’t know where people have been assigned after their death. Only God knows. It is our duty to ask God to have mercy on them during their Judgement, to forgive them and allow them Salvation.
2 - God operates outside time and space. Even though for us living on a linear time we think of “past-present-future”, to God everything is a permanent present. For this reason we pray because even though time has passed here, for God it has not, and a prayer today it is as valid as at the time of recent death.
3 – God is sovereign, and even though He has stablished rules for everything, He is not bound by his own rulings. So we hope in God’s mercy and pray for the dead. Only God has the final say.