Question: Why is it that in popular culture especially in the different forms of media, a picture is painted that when you die you go straight to heaven. Some people are begining to stretch this by suggesting that you can come back and communicate with people still alive on earth. My belief is that this is a clear distortion of scripture, what is your view? Verses will help in supporting that view. Thanks
Answer: True, our society has painted a pleasant picture of people going to heaven, but ignore the fiery punishment reserved for the Devil and his angels, and those who follow him. The reason, is because most believe in some sort of afterlife, but are not willing to subject themselves to God to demonstrate that belief. Thus they glamorize certain aspects of death, but hide other aspects we read about.
The best scripture to use here is found in Luke 16:19-31. Most of Jesus' teachings were by parable, and the gospel writers usually said "thus Jesus spoke this parable" or something similar to show that Christ was teaching the people by parables (because this was prophesied of Him). But here, Luke seems to record this as a statement of fact by our Lord, rather than identify it as a teaching by parable. This fact indicates that the events are real and the conditions are true.
The dead righteous will be there in Abrahams bosom (known as Paradise, in the Hadean realm, or the realm of the dead being reserved for judgement). The dead wicked will be in tartarus (a.k.a. Torment) in the realm of the dead being reserved for judgement. The words of one there tells us that folks cannot go from one existence into the other, and neither can go back to warn those left behind. Abraham says that we have God's law, to judge us and a person returning from the dead is not likely to change anyone anyways.
None of my dead relatives have come back to speak to me. Maybe it is because I don't get drunk or smoke funny plant like substances. Until one of them actually speaks to me, I will reject that idea and possibility.
Keep studying His word. By Carey Scott (6-19-2000, askme.com)
First followup question: Your point about the story in Luke 16 being presented different from the parables is well taken. However if we take this story as a literal narration of what happens at death, it's going to pose some problems regarding the character of God and Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
If we accept that the dead in Christ are already enjoying their reward in 'paradise' while the lost are suffering in 'hell/torment' within a visible distance of God's presence, then we will have to accept that the God we worship is a cruel God and thus He is not love. For how can a loving God enjoy seeing His creature burn for eternity? (2Peter 3:10)
Also if judgement has already taken place, would God then take people out of heaven so that rise out of their tombs at the Second Coming?
If God has executed judgement,what will the saints judge during the thousand years of Revelation 20. (See also 1Cor 6:2,3) What are your views?
Answer to first followup: Thank you for your followup questions. Your questions indicate that you have a background in a doctrine that I am not too familiar with, but I do know that many people accept. I base my beliefs and teachings upon the Bible. Many do not really know what the Bible teach and have accepted what men have said. Let's face it. What man teaches is designed to please man. What God teaches is that man is to please God.
Study (the word) to show yourselves approved before God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15).
Point 1. God from the very beginning gave man a choice concerning His laws and man keeping those laws. God Himself says that He is a God of justice. Not the type of justice that man provides, but a true justice. This is hard for humans to really understand. 2 Thess 1:5-10 is very plain and it is the truth. Jesus sent those unfaithful saints away into eternal destruction because they did not treat their fellow man with kindness (Matt 25:31-46).
I agree that the doctrine that God will forgive everyone and treat all His children the same is very comforting from our human judgements. But think about it. God has told us to diligently seek Him and His righteousness (Heb 11:6, Matt 6:33).
Why should He not treat us better than those who revile and despise Him. God also teaches in Isa 59:2 that OUR sins separate us from God, God does not separate us. In fact God loves us so much, that He sent His Son to die in our steads. This is His grace that has been given to all men (Titus 2:11-14). But it is only given to those who accept it.
Second, the saints will not be dragged out of heaven to rise up again. They have not made it to heaven yet. All the righteous will enter heaven together. Now, the righteous dead are in paradise awaiting the entrance into Heaven. Right now, they are able to view the world and those on the other side, but Heaven is described as a place where there will be no sorrow. Also remember that time has no bearing upon the dead. As the song says, "when we've been there 10,000 years, we've only just begun"
Point 2. You do not understand the symbolic language found recorded in Revelation. We must understand that "1000 years is as a day and a day as a 1000 years" as far as God is concerned.
The passage of judgement is describing the age that we live in today. As you mention who the righteous will judge during the thousand years, recognize that Christians are a testimony to the righteous judgement of Christ and God. As we live our lives in righteousness, we provide examples of the love and justice of God. As we live faithfully, we stand as a testimony of our conviction and belief that God will reward us. As those in the world view us, we are also teaching them that they are not accepted of God. Our actions have convicted their consciences, and the only way to ignore their conscience which is really trying to get them to humble themselves in subjection to God, is to revile and persecute those Christians who are a symbol of God and His justice.
This belief in some sort of special dispensation where (in the future) the saints will judge is wrong and not according to the scriptures. Thanks again for the question. (6-20-2000, askme.com)
Second followup Question: Thanks for your response your patience with me is greatly appreciated. My concern really that our understanding of this doctrine as Christians has a bearing in our attitude towards God.
Regarding your point 1, I think you missed the point I was making about Luke 16:19-30. My belief is that God is just and He is love. I also believe that He will destroy the ungodly (Ezekiel 18:4). What I dispute is that God will torment the evil people for eternity in the lake of fire.
Let give an example Jude says Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed with eternal fire however we all know that there is no fire that is burning presently where these cities were. The point is that those cast in to the lake of fire will be consumed (they shall be no more)hence Revelation calls this secon death (Rev 20:14,15).
Of course the other issue connected to this is that if we do not believe that the wicked are destroyed then we are believing Satan's first great lie "you shall not surely die"(Gen 3:4).
Regarding point 2, I'm worried that you did not address me from the basis of scripture and as such your comments did not deal with 1Cor 6:2,3 (consider also Daniel 7:22).
Despite the above the point I was trying to make was the dead asleep. According to 1Thess 4:14-17 and 1Cor 15:51-55 the righteous dead will be resurrected at Christ's Second Coming.
According to Rev 20:5-10 the wicked will be resurrected after 1000 years to face their judgement. This is when the devil, his angels and the wicked shall be cast into lake of fire and brimstone.
In summary I think we agree that God is just and that salvation is through Jesus Christ's saving grace accepted in faith. Once again thank you for your time and patience. May the good Lord guide you and keep you. In His glory
Answer to second followup questions: Thanks for allowing me to clarify and I am sorry if this response is delayed. I have not been feeling well.
1. About your belief that the wicked will be punished eternally. That is what Jesus said and I believe it. Read Matt 25:46. Jesus also used the expression (about Hell) "where the worm dieth not". Read Isa 66:22-24; Mark 9:42-48.
Your statement about Sodom and Gomorrah not still burning is correct, but the symbol of the destruction of those cities stands as an eternal testimony that God does not condone or approve of homosexuality. There are probably fewer people in the world that have never heard of Sodom and Gomorrah than of the Christ who is the most important figure in all of mankind's history.
Also, from Revelation 20:10, what does it mean when it says that they will be tormented day and night forever and ever?
The great lie of Satan was a deception. Of course Adam and Eve did not die physically that day, but they did die spiritually. So does everyone who disobeys God's commands. Physical death is different from spiritual death.
Regarding point #2, I believe that I did address it from a scriptural standpoint. What I said most certainly fits with what Paul teaches in 1 Cor. And remember that Revelation is symbolic language for the greater part. As you mentioned 1Thess 4 and 1 Cor 15 keep in mind that all of the events surrounding the ecstalogy of Christ will take place in the twinkling of an eye. Sound logistically impossible? All things are possible for God.
I am glad to see that we agree upon the conditions of God's grace being through Jesus Christ. We must take all that He teaches us through His word and live by it as if our souls depended upon it (which it does). Thanks again for the opportunity to express what I believe to be the truth. Keep studying God's word.
Third followup statement and questions: Greetings I did not think your response was delayed. Now I realize that our difference of understanding the issues around hell stem from our differing view on eschatological events.
If you do have time can you please take me through you undertanding of what happens at the Second Coming right up to the new earth. I promise to do the same as well. My hope is that this background will clarify where each of us come from in our understanding of this issue.
Once again thank you for you time God bless
Answer to third followup statement and questions: I believe that all of this will happen so fast as Paul said, "in the twinkling of an eye".
If you wish to go into further detail, please contact me through my website and we will have further studies. I am sorry that I did not give the scripture references, but I am sure that you already know them. If you need them, they can be provided.
(Carey Scott, 6-22,23-2000, askme.com)
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