I was asked the question:
What do you think happens to the unbeliever at physical death, Scripturally speaking?
To which I answered:
I think we have to get away from this idea (because I can't find it in Scripture) that physical death is the doorway to some new status with God, or that it is an event of any efficacious quality bringing about the fulfillment of some prophecy which has not already been fulfilled, or granting us additional redemptive blessings we don't already have (as those who believe we "get an immortal body" upon physical physical death would maintain: they look to physical death as a reward of some kind, instead of seeing that *Christ* is our inheritance. He is our promised land. *He* is *heaven*.)
It is not physical death which translates us into the kingdom (heaven); it is faith in the shed blood of Christ for the remission of sins which translates us into the kingdom. So, if physical death is not the doorway to the presence of God for believers because they are already there; then physical death is not the doorway to separation from God for unbelievers, because they are already separated from God. The issue for both is faith, or lack thereof; not physicality, or lack thereof. So to your question, what happens to them? They *remain* separated from God. I don't know how that might be differentiated, experientially, apart from a physical body in comparison to being in a physical body, anymore than I know what heaven (which is where we *already are*) will be like for us, experientially, when we no longer have physical bodies. I can only imagine.
But again, I think it is really important that we stop looking to physical death as this "big bang" event, with creative powers. He has already made all things new! When we attach redemptive significance to physical death, we take away from Christ, and His finished work.
I have been married to my loving husband Keith for 26 years. We have three beautiful and brilliant children, ages 24, 22 and 20. Nothing cheers my heart more than having them all at home, yet nothing is more satisfying to my mind than watching them grow from afar. My personal passion is theology: the knowledge and experience of the Truth and Mercy found only in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and displayed in the lives and communion of His people. My husband and I love to travel, and because our children are often out and about in the world, we get lots of opportunities to see it! And we also love to fill our home with friends who love us, and love our wine collection.