Monday, March 21, 2011

Heaven, Hell, Resurrection and Judgment

The following is a reply to someone who asked me some questions regarding the afterlife.

I believe the Scriptures are clear that when a person dies they either go directly to heaven or directly to hell, and there they await resurrection and judgment (2 Kings 2:11, Luke 16:19-31, 2 Corinthians 5:6-8, Philippians 1:23, Revelation 6:9-11, etc). I reject the idea of "soul sleep", the notion that when men die they are like those who are asleep and thus remain unconcious until the resurrection. This is based on an erroneous understanding of the usage of the word "asleep" in the Bible, which describes the dead in Christ (for example, John 11:11, 1 Thess. 4:13). All the Scripture means by the word "asleep" is that for the saints, death has lost its sting and that death is not permanent. The word isn't talking about the consciousness of the dead, but the non-threatening nature of death for those who are in Christ, as well as its impermanence.

Someone might ask why people go to heaven or hell before the judgment day has even judged them, but we must remember that people are already under the wrath of God if they don't believe in Jesus, and if they do believe they have already been delivered from it (John 3:36). God's judgment has already been decided, and this is not the issue of judgment day. Judgment day has to do with the public manifestation of judgment, when everyone shall see the truth about the state of men. Thus we shall all be resurrected to be judged publicly.

But we must also remember that the Bible speaks about two resurrections: the resurrection of the righteous and the resurrection of the unrighteous (Acts 24:15, especially Revelation 20). The first resurrection, which is for the righteous, takes place the day Jesus Christ returns (see also 1 Thess. 4:16), and we shall be resurrected to join the Lord in His glory. It will be a public glorification of the saints with Christ (Colossians 3:4). There is no fear in this judgment, for it is without any condemnation whatsoever. But the opposite is the case with the second resurrection of the unrighteous, which takes place after the millennium (the thousand year reign of Christ). All the remaining dead will be raised and judged according to their works, and they will therefore be sent to the lake of fire forever. There is nothing but condemnation. We definitely don't want to have a part in that - to avoid it is to believe in Jesus Christ now so to be justified through faith in Him apart from our works altogether, and to receive the free gift of eternal life!

I believe your baby is in heaven and you'll see her either the day you die or before that if Jesus Christ returns. That was David's beautiful hope when he lost his son.

Hope this answers some of your questions.
Sincerely, your brother in Christ,


Tina said...

I find that what is confusing to many people is the difference between pre-Jesus resurrection of the afterlife, and post-Jesus' resurrection. But I've used the difference to try and find some middle ground and communicate with people in the community we live. Abraham's bosom instead of paradise, etc. 'Hell' and death will be thrown into the lake of fire at the end etc.

Course I don't know what you believe about the pre-Jesus resurrection of the afterlife. Care to share? Maybe it is different than what I believe.

If your comment was to someone who has lost a child, I know for our family, while we have 4 children in our arms, we are really the parents of 5, and know that someday, we will meet that child that God gave us for only 8 weeks.

Sean said...

Hey Eli,
God bless you and your ministry in Utah. I met your sister on the streets of Halifax today where me and my friends were street preaching and handing out Gospel tracts, and she suggested I check out your site. Keep preaching brother.

Anonymous said...

I often hear that we will see our loved ones in heaven but can you give a biblical reference for this. I know there will be no sorrow in heaven but how can there only be joy if we remember those who are with us in heaven and don't see those who have gone to hell. Also after viewing "23 hours Dead" someone asked how can the woman see actual ppl in hell before judgement day, can you give me a little more understanding of where people will be before judgement day. Thank you, I am a newer Christian looking for a good bible study, so I can have a sound view on these topics.

Eli said...

Hi Anonymous,

It's important for us to remember that "now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Cor. 13:12) Right now we struggle seeing things in clear perspective, but when we are finally with the Lord forever we shall see perfectly and understand perfectly. As painful as the loss of a soul is, even to God, seeing the righteousness of hell and the grace of Christ will overwhelm the sorrow. This is what I believe. We can only imagine.

As for seeing saved loved ones in the next life, there is no conceivable reason why we should not, since we are still ourselves. The Scriptures portray Lazarus going to Abraham's side and knowing Abraham. David looked forward to seeing his child again. God created relationships and they shall beautify heaven.

I would encourage you to find a good Bible study in your area where you can sit down with brothers and sisters who love God and who love the Scritpures who can look at the word together with you.


Anonymous said...

How can a dead person goes to heaven or hell before judgment day has arrived? . Shouldn't everyone be in their graves in peace or in anguish until they're all mass resurrected on Judgement day ? .