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Do Christians Go to Heaven when they die? A second look March 13, 2013

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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I previously highlighted this question in a previous post here. It turned out that I caused upset to a number of people who have now decided to dissociate themselves from this blog. To tell the truth sometimes I feel defeated and at a loss when I am trying to do something and it is interpreted in the wrong way by others. But nevertheless I must decrease so that Christ can increase.

Prior to touching this subject the first time, it was not my intention at all to consider writing a post on it until the issue was raised. I am aware that people hold various views on the subject and that some will say that it is not really such a serious point of debate which pertains to salvation. Perhaps this is true but it really depends on the context of your reasoning. The main problem with this debate is not that the view you hold is not important in deciding your salvation, rather, the problem is that if by holding to a view do we make the scriptures contradictory? If we therefore make the scriptures appear to contradict itself by what we believe does that not undermine the doctrine we believe and therefore bring the whole basis of our faith into question? These are the thoughts I have been contemplating recently as a result of the controversies surrounding this topic. There are therefore two questions within this topic; 1) Do Christians really go to heaven immediately on death? 2) Do the scriptures contradict themselves? The first question is not as important as the second question.

Some people believe that when a Christian dies they are ushered immediately into Christ’s presence where they will be in a conscious state, retaining their ‘personality’ and thus being able to fellowship and commune with Christ, albeit apart from their bodies. Others however do not believe that Christians will go straight to heaven on death and there are good reasons likewise for believing thus. One of the main basis of the former view (that Christians go straight to heaven on death) is the promise Christ made to one of the malefactors on the cross in Luk 23:43. Here, the verse says, “….Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Regardless of what one’s view is, this raises a very important question when we consider other scriptures. If Jesus and the thief were in paradise that very day how is it that Jesus states in John 20:17 that, “..I am not yet ascended to my Father?” Is Jesus contradicting Himself here? There are those however who wants you to believe the first view without attempting to reconcile the apparent contradictions in holding that view. Equally, if you hold to the view that Christians do not go straight to heaven, then Christ may still appear to contradict Himself by what He promised to the thief in Luk 23:43. By not reconciling the scriptures therefore we undermine the very veracity of the doctrine we seek to hold so dear, and this has already led many people to depart from the faith and discard the Bible. We are standing on very dangerous ground here when we simplify the question by saying that whatever we believe on this matter doesn’t really matter (and that we should agree to disagree) because it will not determine our salvation. I am not so much concerned about which view one believes but more so in reconciling the scriptures as this is very important in maintaining the truthfulness of the Gospel.

Do the scriptures contradict themselves? I don’t think that any true Christian will admit to the scriptures being contradictory. So how do we reconcile these apparently conflicting scriptures? I want to believe in my heart that when we die we immediately go to a better place. I have heard people testify that when their loved ones are dying they speak of seeing a glorious/bright light. My friend testified of such when his father passed away. But at the same time I have to stick with what scripture tells me. Experiences or sentiments do not override scriptures and we don’t know exactly the extent or meaning of those experiences anyway. So what do some of the other scriptures say contrary to the verse in Luke? I must say here that the scope of this article is not to look at every specific scripture that relates to this issue as they are plenteous. However the verses I look at should be sufficient in making the points I wish to convey.

One of the first things that may need clarification is the question of where paradise is. To resolve the question that Jesus went to paradise but did not ascend to His Father as per Joh 20:17, some argue that paradise is in the earth or at least away from heaven, citing the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luk 16:19-31). Could this be true? What does the scriptures say? Paul gives us a clue in 2 Cor 12:2-4 that paradise is up above in the third heaven. Jesus also tells us in Rev 2:7 that he who overcomes He will give the right to eat of the tree of Life which is in the paradise of God. Rev 22:1-2 tells us also that the tree of life stands on the side of a river which flows out of God’s throne. So then paradise was always around God’s throne and not in the earth as some suppose. So if Christ went to paradise with the malefactor on death that day He would most certainly have ascended to His father thus contradicting what He said in John 20:17. A portion of scripture that may hold the key is John 13:33 through to John 14:4 (see also John 14:28). Note that the passage continues from the end of chapter 13 into chapter 14 despite it being broken up by chapters. For ease I have only copied from John 13:36 below:

36Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” 37Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times! (John 13:36-38)

1“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in Goda; trust also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)

“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (John 14:28)

What do we learn here? Jesus told Simon Peter that where He was going he couldn’t come but rather that he Peter would follow later. No where do we see a promise that the disciples would follow Christ on their deaths but rather that He will return to receive them this is in spite of the fact that Jesus already knew of Peter’s death which He prophesied of in John 21:18-19. Are we to believe that Christians who die will consciously be with Christ on death in spirit form but that in these scriptures He was merely referring to coming back for the bodies – the shell that holds the spirit? In truth this is what some believe but it simply does not make any sense. It seems to me that whether in body or spirit, if we are going to be with Him we are going to be with Him – If He says He is going to prepare a place and come back for us then until He comes we are not going to be with Him.

So how do we treat Luk 23:43? Could it be it is a matter of interpretation? Some have argued that the placement of the comma is where the problem lies since in the original Greek no punctuation is used. Therefore some place the comma after “today” to render the meaning of the verse to be referring to the timing of the promise as opposed to the timing of entry into Paradise. Perhaps Acts 2:27 should also be considered here since this appears to offer further proof that Jesus did not go to paradise that very day but was in the grave for three days. Perhaps a closer look at verses in Luke 23 may reveal something:

42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.f

43Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

What was the criminal’s desire? It was that Jesus would remember him when He comes into His kingdom. It appears that the criminal had an awareness that Jesus would come into His kingdom in a future time. But note Christ’s response. Does it not appear that Jesus is granting the thief His wish that it is not in the future He will remember him but that he has a certainty today of knowing that He will be remembered of Christ when He comes into His kingdom? The question here then is this, “Has Christ come into His kingdom as yet?” When does scripture say that Christ will come into His Kingdom?

Let me reiterate that the most important point at the heart of this debate/controversy is not whether one believes they will go or not go straight to heaven on death. Rather, if you take a view how do you reconcile the apparent contradictions from the opposing view in order to preserve the trustworthiness of scripture? What do you think?

Point to Note:

I was presented with an article written by Jonathan Edwards (see HERE) which supported the view that Christians will go straight to heaven at death to be with the Lord. I did not accept Edward’s view not because I place myself above him or even above some of those notable Bible commentators such as Matthew Henry. Rather, these commentators have made no attempt to reconcile the opposing view so that the scriptures are in harmony. If I accept their position it means I would have to also accept that there are contradictions in the Bible because the opposite view cannot be ignored. This is why I rejected their view and instead align with the view which attempts to harmonize the scriptures.

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Comments

1. Michele - March 18, 2012

Stick with the Apostle Paul (Romans thru Philemon) and you won’t go astray in your doctrine.

Paul tells us that at the moment of death we are present with the Lord!

2. Henry - March 19, 2012

Michelle,
I do not believe Paul was saying that the moment we die we would be present with the Lord. This is how most people interpret 2 Cor 5 but in doing so the miss or ignore verse 9 to 10:

6Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7(For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 9Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

It would seem a bit redundant of Paul to say that we would be with the Lord on death but that we are going to have to stand before the judgement seat again afterwards. If your fate is already decided what would be the point of the trial? But let us not speculate for Paul would again appear to contradict himself by what he said in 1 Thess 4

15According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

Again how can those who are alive at Christ coming “precede” those that are asleep if they were already with the Lord? This again would be a redundant statement.

See also 1 Cor 15
20But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.

3. Michele - March 24, 2012

Hi Henry,

With regards to you closing comments, I wasn’t going to repond anymore, anyhow, because it is unproductive to argue, as the Lord allows us the liberty to continue in our own wisdom, not considering His. Apparently, you do not even consider that you might be the one in error by not studying the word of truth rightly divided. I am not the one who is doing the dividing; the Lord has done this in his own word. I am told to study it that way (2Tim. 2:15).

I had just linked over from a comment you left at another blog to see if you, too, might be another faithful brother in the Lord who obeys the Lord and follows Paul as he followed Christ, and studies the word of truth rightly divided. When I saw that you do not, I thought I would point out some discrepancies in your studies which create confusion for others, working with the Lord to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world HATH BEEN HID IN GOD. In my last comment here, I would just like to leave you with some things to consider:

The rapture was a mystery (never before revealed in Scripture) until the Lord revealed our Blessed Hope to the Apostle Paul, and he plainly tells us we are not appointed to the wrath to come, be that hell for those who die before the Tribulation, i.e., Daniel’s 70th week, or be that the Tribulation period for those who are alive and remain after the BOC has been caught up to heaven to be with the Lord. You are working against the Lord’s own doctrine that he gave to the Apostle Paul to give to the church, the BOC, not to Israel’s little flock of believers (Peter and the little flock). Here we have a right division error once again. Mystery means a secret the Lord God had hid in himself until due time when he chose the Apostle Paul, saving him as the first member of the BOC, and I pointed to the Scripture that tells us why in 1 Cor. 2:8~But we speak the WISDOM of God in a mystery, even the HIDDEN WISDOM, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would NOT have crucified the Lord of glory.

Hidden wisdom in God meaning he kept it in himself until due time, which was first revealed unto the Apostle Paul.

Eph. 3:8-9~Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

Notice the riches of Christ are UNSEARCHABLE meaning you can’t find the truths of these riches in Christ before Paul and Jesus Christ tells us through Paul in Col. 1:24-26~Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to FULFILL (complete) the word of God; Even the mystery which HATH BEEN HID from ages and from generations, BUT NOW is made manifest to his saints:

Notice Paul was made a minister according to the dispensation of God to fulfil the word of God, even the MYSTERY (read: not found in the Scriptures prior to Paul) which was hid from ages and generations, BUT NOW (through Paul) was made manifest to his saints.

But I thought the 12 Apostles of Israel began to manifest these truths to God’s saints? Oops, I was wrong, and I had been taught wrong. God says otherwise. I decided to let God be true, and every man a liar and to consider Paul, and the Lord give thee understanding in all things, i.e.. those things in the Scriptures pertaining to his program to reconcile the earth through Israel and the heavens through the one new man, the Church, the BOC.

I have considered the things that you and Jerry have written and was in churches for many years that taught this stuff and I was always tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine because there were contradictions, lies, and hypocricies by trying to follow doctrine that was given to Israel, and the then the little flock (it just didn’t mesh), so I searched and prayed to my Savior and Lord for the truth, and it was reading Galatians through slowly and then seeing all the times throughout Paul’s letters that he made himself a distinction, he magnified his office of an Apostle. There was my answer for the truth: I was to follow Paul (the doctrine given to him by the risen Lord Jesus Christ) as he followed Christ. I had known in my heart all the years I had been saved (by believing Paul’s gospel not Peter’s) that churches were taking Israel’s promises for themselves and making themselves to be spiritual Israel, instead of rightly dividing the BOC from the believing remnant of Israel. Read Romans 11 carefully. There is a distinction between Israel and Paul, the messenger of the grace of God to all, Jew and Gentile alike.

Romans 9-11 is the Lord explainig what happend to Israel for a time. Rom. 11:29~For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance, meaning he will do as he promised for Israel and bring in their prophesied earthly kingdom.

I’ll leave your blog with some questions to ponder, and I hope you will consider Paul as the Lord will have you to in order that you preach and teach sound doctrine to the BOC:

1) According to the dateline in our study Bibles, Peter in the year 52 said “a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the Word of the gospel and live.” (Acts 15:7). This was eleven years after Peter preached to Cornelius and the other apostles rejoiced with Peter that God had granted repentance unto life to the Gentiles (Acts 11:18). The apostles were still in Jerusalem in 52 A.D. Had Peter and his fellow apostles been preaching to Gentiles during those eleven years?

2) If Peter and his fellow apostles understood that, during the period covered by the first chapters in the Book of Acts, the great commissions of Matthew 28:19 and 20 and Mark 16:14 to 18 authorized them to preach the gospel to Gentiles, as well as Jews, why did Peter’s fellow apostles find fault with Peter for preaching to Cornelius? (Acts 11:1 to 6).

3) If Peter and his fellow apostles were commanded by Christ in the so-called Great Commission, to evangelize Gentiles, were these apostles out of the will of God when they agreed to go to the Jews? (Galatians 2:9).

4) If the apostle Paul began his Christ given ministry to Gentiles (Acts 22:17 to 21) in obedience to the commission of Matthew 28:19,20, why was it necessary for the risen Christ by special revelation, to give to Paul his gospel of the uncircumcision (Galatians 2:7 to 9 and Galatians 1:11 and 12)? And why did Paul say that he turned with the Word of God to Gentiles, when and because Israel put it from them? (Acts 13:46)

Grace and peace.

4. hopeful_watcher - March 24, 2012

Michele, you assume too much. Paul does say, and it is true, that we are not appointed for wrath. The wrath he speaks of is God’s wrath, but you apply the concept of God’s wrath to the entire tribulation. This is not accurate. There are portions of the tribulation that have to do with the rising of the AC. These all will be subject to. Think Job here. Job was present to all sorts of tribulations at the hands of satan. The Isrealites were subject to pharaohs wrath in Egypt, but they escaped the wrath of God that follows.

You assume further that to not be appointed for God’s wrath means you will not be present, but from what I read is only those who have taken the mark receive His wrath. Perhaps it is because of the rapture here that we escape God’s wrath or perhaps its that we get “passed over” and it is because of that we don’t recieve God’s wrath. I am not at liberty to say and I don’t think it is clear in the text.

I will take the text as its written. That we won’t be appointed to wrath. That is the blessed hope. I will not get caught unawares by inserting human desires of not experiencing any suffering at all (meaning at the hands of men) into the debate. That will be for the Lord to determine.

5. Henry - March 26, 2012

Michelle,

Why do you insist on separating “Peter’s little flock” from the rest of church – the Body of Chirst? Is this what Paul preached or did Paul preach that it was God’s purpose to reconcile Jew and Gentile into one body which is built up on the foundations of the apostles and prophets and upon Christ the chief conerstone? Why then do you lump “Peter and his little flock” with the rest of unbelieving Israel?

Did Paul preach a different gospel from what the other apostles preach? Did Paul himself not say that the mystery which was revealed to him (Paul) was revealed to the apostles and prophets before him (Paul)? This is Paul’s own words.

Joh 3:16
16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Is this message afore written by John (one of the 12) any different from what Paul preached in Rom 5:8?

You are contradicting Paul’s message in spite of the fact that you are claiming to follow Paul. Study Paul again, please.

6. hopeful_watcher - March 28, 2012

I have an interesting thought that seems logical and would rectify all contradictions in scripture. Perhaps, there are THREE locations you can go after you die. Hades, Abraham’s bosom and by Jesus’ side in heaven.Hear me out on this one.

Jesus will return for judging the quick and the dead. Now, does a “genuine” disciple of Christ, for example Paul, require judgement? He had given his life to Christ. He had been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ spirit dwelled inside him. Most importantly his sins were forgiven when he repented and asked the Lord to enter him. SO, when Paul died, then he died IN Christ. He had been judged during his lifetime, because the Holy Spirit would not dwell in an evil body. Thus, Paul’s spirit requires no additional judgment and therefore HIS spirit goes straight to heaven to be with Jesus.

However, there are countless “good” people, even Luke warm Christians who never were baptized with the Holy Spirit. These spirits have no right to dwell with the Lord until they are judged. Therefore, these consiously aware spirits would go to an inbetween place like Lazarus did to await judgement. Heaven is COMING to Earth with the New Jerusalem as stated in Revelation. Then the dead will arise when all who are with Christ will reclaim their bodies and those who are newly judged will at that time also.

This seems to me scriptural and fixes contradictions. It also makes logical sense, because if we repent we are made clean. Those who repent in this life and are baptized with the Holy Spirit would be blameless and require no additional judgement.

7. Henry - March 30, 2012

Hopeful_watcher,

Please stick to the words of scripture. Paul himself said we must ALL stand before the judgement seat of Christ. Never allow your own theory to replace the words of Holy Writ just because in your mind it seems logical.

2 Cor 5:10
10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

What we need to do therefore is to seek the answers from the scriptures and not come up with our own suppositions as to what we think.

8. hopeful_watcher - March 30, 2012

Yes, what you say is true, but does what Paul writes in 2 Chorinthians mean it must all happen in unison together? Do you think Paul, John Peter and all the rest are with Jesus right now or are they waiting somewhere for the end of days to stand before the judgement seat?

If we are in agreement that the word is infallible and we see somethings that appear to contradict themselves in the text (I.e. some point to immediately going to heaven while others point to an intermediate place of the bosom of Abraham) and a supposition rectifies those contradictions, then shouldn’t we at least weigh that supposition against the scripture? Not saying it would hold up under scrutiny, but its probably worth prayer and consideration.

9. hopeful_watcher - March 30, 2012

In other words, when you are baptized with the Holy Spirit, do you not go through a judgment of sorts before Christ. Maybe not standing before Him directly, but the authenticity of your repentence is weighed and your robes are made clean. We become a new person with everlasting life. That seems to be pretty permanent. We are not above judgment, but we have already been judged.

10. Henry - March 31, 2012

Hopeful_watcher,

I think on the contrary we should allow scripture to interpret itself. Heb 9:27 clearly states that it is appointed unto man once to die and after death the judgement. So everyone will have to appear at the appointed time before the judgement seat of Christ. Are Peter, John, Paul and the rest with Jesus right now? Well Heb 9:28 says this:

28So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

The question therefore is how do we treat the story of the rich man and Lazarus and the thief supposedly entering Paradise that day. For me the story of the rich man and Lazarus was no more than a parable and the concordance to the NKJV list it as a parable. I do not believe that Jesus and the theif went to paradise that day because Jesus did not ascend on that day as per John 20:17 where He clearly said He had not yet ascended to His Father. I think you may also find Heb 11 most interesting in answering the question of whether the dead in Christ are currently with Him.

11. yesterway - April 23, 2012

I often am asked about the thief on the cross. About how we can reconcile how on one hand the scriptures say that Jesus descended for 3 days and 3 nights after dying on the cross yet on the other hand Jesus told the thief that he would be with Him in paradise today.

Reference scriptures:

Luke 23:43 (NKJV)
And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Matthew 12:40 (NKJV)
40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Let me start by saying that punctuation, chapters, scripture numbers and paragraphs are not inspired. They are a product of the translators and subject to personal doctrinal beliefs and human error. The original manuscripts had none of the above. They were a constant flow of language. In many cases these man imposed elements can cause what appear to be contradictions yet we know that there are no contradictions or mistakes in scripture. The scriptures are inerrant. Therefore, if we come to a place of difficulty it may very well be that one of these uninspired elements has caused a problem.

It is always best to ignore these elements when studying scripture. When you do this the scriptures open up and flow much better thus increasing understanding. Just one little comma can change the entire meaning of an important scripture. Let me illustrate using one of our reference scriptures. Pay close attention to where the comma is placed relative to the word “today”.

Luke 23:43 (NKJV)
And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” – WRONG

Luke 23:43 (NKJV)
And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise.” – RIGHT

By moving the comma from “before” the word “today” and moving it to “after” the word “today” it all makes the two scriptures come into agreement.

Henry - April 24, 2012

Yesterway, Thanks for dropping by. You could be right. I looked at Strongs with the Greek in an interlinear version of the Bible and there are no punctuation marks because the Greeks do not use punctuation the way we do. Some people wont buy that however but would prefer to argue that the way to reconcile conflict is to say that paradise was in the earth and that is where all the dead righteous went and when Jesus was crucified he “opened heaven” and brought all the dead righteous (paradise) with Him when He returned to God. The only problem though is that this cannot be supported by any scriptures.

12. john - June 27, 2012

In 1SAMUEL 28:11-15 speaks about the woman seeing spirits ascending out of the earth ……….verse 15 Samuel says he was at rest (disquieted )

13. Terry - September 8, 2012

If you take the approach that scripture is only infallible in what it sets out to do. That is, lead you to have faith in God, then your faith is bulletproof. The Bible is full of contradictions, historical and scientific inaccuracies. But so what? It was written by humans, what do you expect? You can believe in God absolutely without worshiping the Bible. Without making it into something that it is not. You can see an evolution of thought on this topic of life after death, the NT writers are obsessed with it, the OT writers not so much. Overall the Bible tends to talk about death as sleeping in the dust — with the hope of being resurrected, because we are the work of God’s hands and we have hope God wont forget us. Job and Psalms say this. Paul, a lot later in man’s spiritual evolution, may have been influenced by Greek thinking on this to some extent and so you have this instant reward approach sort of flirted with – apparently. But even in Paul’s writing the OT idea of being raised from the dead at the end of time can be seen. Contradiction in his writings? Possibly. But that’s OK.

14. Henrry - September 9, 2012

Terry,
I don’t think I can agree with you on this point. If we say that the Bible is the inspired Word of God then it cannot be contradictory. This is where the infallibility of the Word originates from. So it is either the Bible is the inspired Word of God or it is not. If we come to a position of accepting or agreeing that the Bible is full of contradictions then the Word becomes unreliable and how would we be able to trust any of what it says? From this standpoint therefore rather than our faith being bulletproof as a consequence of pereceived contradictions, I think such a perception would in fact undermine our faith. If you take a humanistic approach to the Bible, in that it was written from a human socio-cultural experience (as per Paul being influenced by Greek thinking) then of course we will argue that it is contradictory. But Paul is writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (except of course where he says he speaks by permission on subjects such as sex and marriage). If the Word is inspired then in my view there are no contradictions in the Bible and any perceived contradictions may result from a lack of understanding of or from not taking the totality of scripture together to bring revelation.

15. Eddie - September 9, 2012

Hey Henry, I agree with all that you have put together. I don’t believe we christians/believers go to heaven emediatly after death. There is one thing I consider: when we die we will have absolutely no recollection of the time that went by. Could this be partially considered when Jesus told the theif he’d be with Him on that very day? And I understand that a day is like a thousand years to God, if I’m correct. It is important to relate scripture with scripture and not opinions. I believe the bible has all the answers if we’re really tuned in to the spirit relm it talks about. The most important part of us. Our understandings are kept short for good reason. Some already have swelled egos because they know something of the bible. My mother is one of them and her views are very exaggerated by traditions. She’s an evangelist with an attitude who constantly complians an argues. If you don’t agree with her she prays for you like she’s God forgiving your stupidity. I pray for her to bow down to God and not think He bows down to her, no what I mean? I hope your insights gains notoriety for the believers who destort bible facts and feed their misinterpretations to others who will believe them. I’m on the same boat with you Henry and conflict is to be expected. ” For he who loves me the world will be against him.” Not the exact words but you know what I mean. Take care, dude, and hold your ground because the ride gets much worse as the days come closer to His coming.

16. Terry - September 10, 2012

“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” Rev 3.17

This is all of us right now.

“I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.” 1Cor 3.2 “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now.” John 16.12

If they couldn’t handle the truth I’m certain no one in this present age has the truth all neatly parcelled up, chapter and verse, bound in a leather book, with gold embossing!

I am a Christian but probably not like any Christian you ever knew. Funny thing is if Paul were here now I don’t believe he would be like any Christian you ever knew either.

A great number of young people lose their faith in God during their college (or university) years. Why? Because they cannot be intellectually honest and still believe in God the way God has been presented to them by those with a fundamentalist (and wrong) view of true faith. “And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” Rev 11.3

The sackcloth witness is going to be attacked and defeated. “Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them.” Rev 11.7 This is what is about to happen to the Christian witness that the world now knows. The current Laodicean, idolatrous witness that is. “The Bible is infallible” stance is in sackcloth and ashes, mourning the loss of the Spirit.

“But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them…” That’s God pouring out his Spirit.

Christians have got to see the idolatrous nature of their Bible worship either now or after God’s enemy has killed the Christian witness. I think it best we do it now. Face up to the hard questions now. Hold on to what we can, reassess what is not intellectually acceptable and develop a bulletproof faith able to withstand all the horrendous attacks the enemy is about to bring against us.

“Test everything. Hold on to the good.” 1Thes 5.21

It is almost unbearable having to accept things that shake our comfy worlds. But when in courage you face up to all the genuine questions and genuine facts and come out the other side with your faith intact, then and only then, will your faith be genuinely bulletproof.

May I leave you with some further reading. I don’t completely agree with these writers on all things. I am even more radical than them. But I believe that is where God has led me. Nevertheless, these are a good place to start:-

http://hwarmstrong.com/religion-box.htm

http://www.christinyou.net/pages/brinsmead.html

17. Henrry - September 11, 2012

Hey Eddie,
Thanks for dropping by. I agree with you and thanks for the encouraging words.

18. Henry - September 11, 2012

Terry,
I agree that none of us knows everything but that is why we have to rely on scriptures to reveal truth to us. In God there is no lie and therefore His Word cannot hold any contradictions except it be amended by man in their translations or reinterpretations. So of course subsequent translations of the Word can contain contradictions if it has been altered by man. This is why I tend to rely on the KJV.

Talking about interpretations though, on what basis do you conclude that the Laodicean church is one of the two witnesses of Revelation 11? Is there another scripture which helps to unlock this and draw the conclusions you have reached?

19. Sylvia - September 11, 2012

In Eph. 4 verse 7, it says that He ascended on high and He led captives in train. In Mathew 27 verse 81,the bodies of many people came out from the tomb.It also says in Hebrews 12 verse 1 that we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses.In Mat. 22v. 32 it says that He is the God of the living ( referring to Moses).
How do we reconcile these verses with the other verses of the Scriptures ?

20. Henry - September 12, 2012

Sylvia,
I know that some people have interpreted Eph 4:7 to say that the rigtheous dead were held in a place beneath the earth (supposedly paradise) until when Jesus opened heaven and brought all these people to heaven when He ascended. However I do not believe the scriptures were referring to these people when it said that Christ led captivity captive. Paul was quoting from Ps 98:18 here. When Jesus ascended He did so before witnesses and no one else was seen ascending with Him (see Acts 1:9-11). Consequently those who were dead and were resurrected after the death of Christ did not go to heaven with Him. They arose from the grave just like Lazarus to live again and to eventually die again.

I do not think that Heb 12:1 is referring to witnesses in the sky. The use of the word crowd is just to describe the fact that we are surrounded by a great company of witnesses. If you go back to Heb 11 you will note that the writer referred to all the great men of faith who died previously but who did not obtain the promises (see verse 13-16). The writer would therefore be contradicting himself if he meant that the rigtheous dead were already residing in heavenly places.

In response to Matt 22:32, this is an example of how God calls things that are not as though they were. These men are dead (see Heb 11) but in God they are alive waiting for the resurrection.

21. Sylvia - September 15, 2012

Henry,
I disagree with you. In 1 Peter 3 18-19, it ´clearly said that Jesus preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently. Preaching is used in the sense that there is no possibility for them to repent but they bare entitled to know the good news that the Messiah , had come to redeem men from sins. This is also the reason He went to paradise because Abraham et al are entitled to know that Christ had come . That is why He said to the thief, today you will be with me in Paradise. Jesus was 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth to tell those who have died the good news. Heaven was not opened yet because He had to go to Heaven and enter the mercy seat . And He appeared also to those who are living to tell them He is alive . And when He had resurrected, this makes sense why the bodies of holy men who have died before were seen. After Jesus went to heaven, He appeared to many men. The resurrection is different from the Ascension. As the Son of Man,( see book of Daniel) , t He disappeared from their sight in the Book of Acts 1 to show in the same way He will come again as the Son of Man.
Going back to the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, this also shows us that there was a paradise where dead people like Abraham (or Abraham’s bosom) and hell. They were alive. That is why God is the God of the living.
We can understand this by looking at the nature of God. He is a loving God and what He longs for is our companionship or a relationship with Him because He is our Father. He is not going to put us into a state of unconsciousness for many years until Jesus comes because the heart of the Father wants us to be with Him.

22. Henry - September 18, 2012

Sylvia,
Please note that my purpose in this article is not to present a difinitive view on the subject. Note that I have asked the question that if we lean to a certain view do we also accept that the scriptures are contradictory. If I am to accept your conclusions in your last reply then we would also need to conclude that the scriptures contradict themselves because I am going to show you a number of scriptures from three witnesses which clearly contradicts your position. Here goes:

5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. Ecc 9:5 (see also verse 10)

10Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah.
11Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction?
12Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? Ps 88

27Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Acts 2

Isa 38:18
For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.

Ps 30:9
What gain is there in my destruction, in my going down into the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness?

Ps 115:17
It is not the dead who praise the LORD, those who go down to silence;

Ps 6:5
No one remembers you when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave?

Job 14:12 (1901 ASV)
12So man lieth down and riseth not: Till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, Nor be roused out of their sleep

Job 19
25For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
26And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
27Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

We have the words of 3 witnesses. Are you saying that they all got it wrong or that they were not speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? The last two scriptures from Job are most interesting as Job says clearly that man will not be roused from their sleep until the judgement. Yet the counterpoint by Job is show in Ch 19 where he says he knows the Jesus will stand on the earth in the last day and that his eyes will behold him.

So if your view is true does this mean the scriptures are contradictory or is it that you interpreted the verses you have used incorrectly?

Is the Bible the Word of God and if so is it contradictory? This question is more important than whether we actually do go to heaven on death or not.

23. Joseph - September 21, 2012

To those familiar with the book you mentioned, (Psalm, Job) can readily turn to such as will comfort him in any sorrow, cheer him in any despondency, and furnish expression to his deepest gratitude and most fervid thanksgiving.

They are marked, however, by one defect as compared with the sentiments inculcated by Christ, and that is their occasional expression of hatred toward enemies. Under that dispensation war was tolerated, and this rendered it impossible to suppress hostile feelings towards the enemy; consequently the best of men felt at liberty to indulge and express these sentiments.

In reading the Psalms we should carefully abstain from entering into such sentiments with the authors, and should pass them by as imperfections of a preparatory dispensation of the divine government.

Anybody who has studied the Bible (especially the New Testatement) will see a number of inconsistencies in the account of the gospel ( e.g to whom did Jesus appeared, or Judas death).

1 Peter 4 verse 3- 5 “But they will give account to Him…. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even top those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body but LIVE ACCORDING TO GOD IN THE SPIRIT.”

Yes, God loves us and He doesn’t want to separate us. He wants fellowship with us – His children even in death!

24. Henry - September 21, 2012

Joseph,
Thanks for stopping by. As far as I am aware the Bible including the Pslams are the inspired word of God. Are you suggesting that we should disqualify those portions because they contained “imperfections” as you put it? Let me take you back to the beginning, in the garden of Eden. Here we read the account of Adam eating of the forbidden fruit in spite of God’s warning that in the day he eats of it he will die. Adam died a spiritual death in that his life was now cut short. We can see from Gen 3:19 where man goes after he dies.

In Gen 3:19 it says: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Notice here that Adam was not promised a return to the garden, which is Paradise, in the spirit form after death. No. God drove man out of the garden lest he should go and eat from the tree of Life and live forever (verses 22-24). He wasn’t qualified to eat from the tree at that point because of his now sinful state. The same thing applies to us today. We will only be granted permission to eat of the tree when Christ gives us the right at the resurrection (Rev 2:7, Rev 22:14).

I think you need to also read the verse of 1 Peter 4 more carefully. The verse is not saying that those who have been dead already now live in the spirit. It is saying that the reason the gospel is preached so that we may be JUDGED according to the body but live according to God in the spirit. This does not take place now but at the judgement.

25. Alexandra .. - October 1, 2012

There are actual contradictions in the bible. But they are there for purpose.
But also there are seeming contradictions that with a more full explanation a proper sense will be understood.
As I said the contradictions do exist for a reason that is not w idely known .
Alex.

26. Henry - October 5, 2012

Alexandra,
I cannot say that I agree with you. God is not the author of confusion therefore I cannot concede that His Word is contradictory. Many people reject the Bible because the claim it is contradictory and therefore not trustworthy. I might raise this very issue for my next post.

27. christine mellers - October 15, 2012

Reading all the above comments it saddens me that you are all trying to answer questions that God does not want you to know. “Blessed is he who believes and has not seen”. God is a higher being than man – don’t try and look into his mind because it is impossible. Jesus said “He who believes in me will never die” Jesus does not lie. Therefore TRUST that when we die Jesus will take care of us – how he does it, I personally am not interested as long as I am eventually with him. If you truly love and trust Jesus you don’t need to ask questions. When I die I want to be with Jesus and he has promised to come and fetch me to be where he is. Does it really matter how he does it? Does it really matter when he does it? God has given us his word for even children to understand. Making it complicated and contradictory is opposing the peace he gives us when we trust in him. Peace beyond all understanding. TRUST in the Lord with all your soul and he will give you the desires of your heart. The Holy Spirit will disclose to you all the things God wants you to know. Even the great Billy Graham said there are questions he would like to ask God when he is with him. He accepted that we don’t have all the answers. We are but mortal man.

28. Henry - October 16, 2012

Christine,
Thanks for dropping by and for your thoughtful comment. I think that if everyone took the same approach you did then there would not be a problem. The problem arises however when one speaks authoritatively on the subject in view in an attempt to convince you of their position. Rather than to stoke the fires of controversy or to create division the purpose of this post (as with all my other posts) is to highlight the very reason why one needs to study the scriptures for themselves and exercise discernment before accepting what others have said on a subject. I hope you will therefore appreciate my intentions here.

29. christine mellers - October 18, 2012

Thank you for your reply Henry. I appreciate what you say and that is why I have said the above. I get joy from the Scriptures not a headache. If you pray before you read the Bible and ask God to open your mind to see clearly what his message is he will answer you. The Holy Spirit (the helper) will guide. God likes to have a personal relationship with us. As I said before Jesus does not lie. “because I live, you also will live” John 14 v 19. Thats all I need to know on that subject. What more could he say ? God Bless Christine.

30. john - November 6, 2012

JESUS said in order to “see” the kingdom man had to be born again . there is two ways I know of ,,,resurrection of life ,,,resurection of damnation

31. Debbie F. - February 13, 2013

Christine Mellers i must say i completly agree with you.. im in a point in my life where im yearning to understand Gods word and gaining a stronger relatiohsip with him.. I sometimes i get so confused with what the word of God says and what ppl seem to get from it.. the topic of heaven after death and also the pre tib/rapture argument.. I think what God wants us to have after loving him with all our heart is to have complete and utter faith in him and trust that if we believe in him we will not perish but have everlasting life and that if we have Faith in God no matter if we suffer through the tribulation or not ( i believe that whats going to happen is a bit of both actually) that God will see us through.. Peple of God dont let the devil hijack the word of God.. he is soo crafty and wil do what ever it takes.. Talk to our heavenly father to give us wisdom.. trust in him fully and have faith at least the size of a mustard seed! God is good! 😀

32. Scott - March 27, 2013

Most of you are wrong except the writer of this! Jesus says he will raise you up on the last day, but it is not here yet! You will all die unless you are here living when Jesus comes back! The dead in Christ will rise first (from the grave) then everyone else living or dead will rise and then we will have that fearful jugement! Jesus don’t just want your old dead bones that are lying there, he wants all of you! No one can enter into heaven until the return of Jesus! It’s kinda simple if you read the scripture.

33. Scott - March 27, 2013

I see alot of Old Testament scripture on here! Remember we are under the (New Testament) or new law, if we were not we would be stoning people to death everyday, but we don’t because that’s old law! What did Jesus say concerning the stoning of the woman, let he who is without sin cast the first stone! Jesus changed this law right there! Jesus came to give the final law! We don’t slaughter animal sacrfices either! The Old Testament was hard for us to live by, so God sent his Son to make it alot easier! Thank you God! We don’t live out of the Old Testament, because we are not under the “Old Law”!

34. Dave Porter - April 2, 2013

This blog is interesting reading and I have always found it interesting how church leaders are able to use the scriptures to their needs. I once asked an old preacher ..is it not true that when we die we go to sleep and stay there until Jesus comes back for us. He replied that it was scriputural and true and so I said to him, why do you say that dad or mom, etc..have left their loved ones and are now looking down upon us from heaven, during a funeral service. His reply..it makes the family feel better!…Lets get real…i find most christians are lambs being led by misunderstanding because of relying on what people tell them rather than what the scriptures tell us..So very sad, and we wonder why the young people are not going to church today..because they aren;t afraid to ask questions and they find the answers are often of ..believe what you are told and let the church leaders tell you what is true!……It is sad to me when I hear people make statements of it doesn’t really matter, I just believe what I’m told.

35. Henry - April 2, 2013

Scott
Thanks for stopping by. In your second post you said that we are under the New Testament (which is correct) and correctly we are not to live under the Old Law. It does not mean however that the whole of the Old Testament books was solely about the Law. We can learn many things from the Old Testament about God and Christ which also helps to explain the New. I think the important thing here is to know the difference.

36. Henry - April 2, 2013

Dave Porter,
Thanks for your comment. Indeed the church is in the practice of propagating certain beliefs out of tradition rather than to promote the truth of the word and that is a good example you have given. Because even those who are not Christians believe their dead loved ones are looking down on them from heaven and I think a lot of this belief comes from paganism. We are admonished in scripture to apply discernment but instead many people simply believe what their pastors tell them instead of reading the Word for themselves which is very sad indeed.

37. Will Cribb.....screen name is Fast Freddie - April 3, 2013

Fast Freddie, Hi Henry. I’m so glad the Lord led me to your site. I was reading your post on Do Christians Go Straight to Heaven When They Die…..
I had a short conversation with a radio host yesterday ( who by the way is a wonderful bible teacher ) but he and I disagreed on this subject. My belief is like yours that we do not go to be with the Lord until The Second Coming/ Resurrection…..not pre trib rapture (false doctrine)
Do you have any further information you’d be willing to share on this?

38. Henry - April 5, 2013

Hi Fast Freddie,

Thanks for dropping by. Around the time I did this blog I came researched what others way saying on the topic and came across some good write-ups. Have a look at the following:

http://www.cgom.org/Publications/Booklets/Enoch_Elijah.htm

http://www.truthortradition.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=129

39. Henry - April 6, 2013

Will Crib aka Fast Freddie,
If you are still reading this here is another thoughtful write up on the subject:

http://www.ebibleanswers.com/blog/do-you-go-straight-to-heaven-when-you-die/

40. John Lategan - April 11, 2013

“MOST ASSUREDLY, I TELL YOU, HE WHO HEARS MY WORD AND BELIEVES IN HIM WHO SENT ME HAS EVERLASTING LIFE, AND SHALL NOT COME INTO JUDGEMENT, BUT HAS PASSED FROM DEATH INTO LIFE.”

JOHN 5:24

” JUST THEN THERE APPEARED BEFORE THEM MOSES AND ELIJAH, TALKING WITH JESUS.”
MATHEW 17:3

41. Fast Freddie - April 11, 2013

Thankyou John….some wonderful scripture. I’m really torn on this issue…….When you study church history and look at the different verses of scripture that seem to deal with this…. it can still leave you scratching your head. Look at the conversation between Jesus and Martha in John chapter 11….Jesus told her that her brother would rise again….she agreed….I know that he shall at the resurrection at the last day. It is believed by most true bible scholars this was the faith of the early believers…….The dead in Christ first would be raised and all living believers would meet with them in the air at the( second coming of Christ) but not before. My take on this issue is this….If I die before Christ returns and I’m shouting all over heaven as some teach…that will be wonderful…..but if I’m sleeping somewhere in his care that’s wonderful too……think about it this way…..what was the longest night you ever slept……no matter how long it was….you still woke up and it was just a night’s sleep. God is so good to us….whatever He sees fit to do with us as we await the final day will be ok!

42. John Lategan - April 12, 2013

“THE TIME CAME WHEN THE BEGGAR DIED AND THE ANGELS CARRIED HIM TO ABRAHAMS SIDE. THE RICH MAN ALSO DIED AND WAS BURIED. IN HELL WHERE HE WAS IN TORMENT, HE LOOKED UP AND SAW ABRAHAM FAR AWAY, WITH LAZARUS BY HIS SIDE.”
LUKE 16: 22-23

43. Henry - April 12, 2013

John,
One cannot build doctrine on one or two scriptures alone. You pulled out John 5:24 without considering the other verses around it which clearly contradicts the point you attemt to make. So lets look at 2 crucial verses you ignored:

28Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28-29)

Surely Jesus cannot have been saying that the dead go to heaven immediately on death in a conscious state and contradict this few verses later by saying that all the dead are in the grave (not heaven or hell). The clear context of John 5:24 therefore is that the dead in Christ have the assurance of eternal life on death and that they will not come into condemnation. I believe Luke 23:43 should be applied in the same context.

In Matt 17:3 should not be taken litterally since in verse 9 we read that what the disciples saw was a vision.

9And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.

A vision should not be taken as reality.

As for Luke 16: 22-23, this again should not be taken literally because Jesus was telling a parable rather than an actual account. If this is not a parable then Jesus is contradicting Himself in John 20:17 when He said I am not yet ascended to my Father, whilst promising the thief that they would both be in Paradise that day.

We have to take the scriptures together rather than in isolation else we end up creating contradictions and confusion

Fast Freddie - April 12, 2013

And again you have to consider punctuation in the Greek….there is none….. so how would we know if Jesus meant today in paradise or future tense paradise/ Heaven/ The Holy City Coming Down out of Heaven. I’m enjoying this blog and the posts….thanks to everyone.

44. John Lategan - April 12, 2013

BELIEVERS HAVE RECEIVED GOD’S HOLY SPIRIT
WE ARE BORN AGAIN
WE HAVE PASSED FROM DEATH TO ETERNAL LIFE
THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL NEVER LEAVE US
OUR BODY IS THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
WHEN OUR BODY DIES THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL PRESENT OUR
SPIRIT TO JESUS WITHOUT FAULT (JUDE 24)
“THE LORD WILL COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN AND WITH THE TRUMPET CALL OF GOD,AND THE DEAD IN CHRIST WILL RISE FIRST” (THE SPIRITS IN HEAVEN WILL APPEAR FIRST)
” AFTER THAT WE WHO ARE STILL ALIVE AND ARE LEFT WILL BE CAUGHT UP TOGETHER WITH THEM”

45. John Lategan - April 12, 2013

Hi Henry
I believe that GOD has worded the BIBLE in such a way that tests our faith and He wants us to dig deeper.

“YOU WILL SEEK ME AND YOU WILL FIND ME WHEN YOU SEEK ME WITH ALL YOUR HEART.”
JEREMIAH 29:13

GOD BLESS
john

Fast Freddie - April 12, 2013

John….thank you for sharing your heart. I guess one thing that puzzles me about this topic is this….why the resurrection…..what is to be raised if we are already in Heaven…..we know our bodies will turn back into the dust we came from…..what then will be ressurected?
Also…I’m just curious ….are you pre-trib, mid-trib, post or something other concerning the 2cd coming of Christ or rapture as many prefer to call it? Agian….I’m enjoying the conversation so thanks.

46. John Lategan - April 12, 2013

Hi Henry
Those that are in their graves( hades) are unbelievers.
They will be judged according to what they have done.
The sheep will be separated from the goats.
DO NOT BE AMAZED AT THIS.

47. John Lategan - April 13, 2013

Hi Freddie

At the resurrection of the dead in christ (spirits in heaven ) they will receive their new resurrected imperishable bodies.

“SO IT WILL BE WITH THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD. THE BODY THAT IS SOWN IS PERISHABLE, IT IS RAISED IMPERISHABLE;”
1 CORINTHIANS 15:42

I think the confusion lies in the words the “the raising or resurrection of the dead”
This seems to imply the dead in christ are raised out of their graves.
The dead in Christ are believers who are are physically dead. The spirit of the believer is alive and in heaven.
To raise means: put or take into a higher position.
increase the amount of value or strength of.

48. Henry - April 14, 2013

Hi John,
According to you only the unrighteous are in the grave but how can this be? In the same passage of John 5 from which you first quoted I highlighted what Jesus in verses 28 and 29 and I copy the verses here again:

28Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation

The scripture here clearly points out that those that have done good or bad are in the grave. Daniel 12 speaks of the same thing.

Jude 1:24 says nothing about our spirits being presented to God in heaven at death. The context of this blog is not whether our spirits return to God at death but specifically if we God to heaven immediately on death to be in a conscious state of communion with Christ.

49. John Lategan - April 16, 2013

Hi Henry
The grave is Hades or Sheol – the place of the dead (unbelievers)
They too shall hear his voice
They will be judged according to what they have done (WHITE THROWN JUDGEMENT OF THE DEAD)
MARVEL NOT AT THIS
Believers are saved by faith in jesus – not by works
The spirit of the the believer is in Heaven
The believer has passed from death to life (eternal) JOHN 5:24

50. Brandi Serpa - May 6, 2013

I believe that scripture notes that Paradise and Heaven are two different places, just as Hades (hell) and the Lake of Fire are two different places. Jesus did not tell the thief on the cross “Today you shall be with me in Heaven”. It is my understanding after studying scripture that if a believer dies, they shall go to ‘paradise’ in which they will await the final judgement before heaven, just as the non believer will be sent to Hades (hell) until the final judgment and then they will be cast into the Lake of Fire. Jesus told about the self-centered ungodly rich man (in Luke 16). The ungodly man died, “and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments” (Luke 16:23/KJV). The word translated “hell” is “Hades,” a word which in the New Testament is used to describe the place where the unsaved dead go immediately upon death. Jesus (in Luke 16) says the souls of the wicked go to “Hades” after death, but in Matthew 10:28 Jesus speaks about hell also. There, He says that both soul and body are cast into “gehenna” after the resurrection and final judgment. In Matthew 10 Jesus is talking about final judgment, but in Luke 16 He is talking about what happens immediately after death.

51. Nicole - May 14, 2013

If we go to heaven(paradise) or hell(hades) right after we die, before Jesus comes back, then our lives have been judged? No? Then why the need for the final judgement? Or is the final judgement connected to our rewards not necessarily our salvation? I have read thru the Bible several times and it doesn’t make sense when people say that when we die we go to heaven, based on alot of the points made above. When I read my Bible I ask for wisdom and discernment and for God to reveal the truth to me. I don’t want to believe any untruth. Lately I have been consumed with finding the truth on this matter. There has to be an answer!! Thanks for taking the time to answer and rebut peoples responses. I too am benefiting from this page.

52. Henry - May 14, 2013

Brandi Serpa,

Thanks for stopping by. However here is what Jesus himself said on the matter:

28Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28-29)

Jesus clearly suggests here that the dead who have both done good and evil are all in the grave. This is the same thing revealed to Daniel in Daniel 12:

28Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

Paul points out that paradise is in the third heaven in 2 Cor 12:4. Note also that the rich man in Luke looked up and saw Lazarus far away in Abraham’s bossom.

The question therefore remains: Is the Bible being contradictory or our interpretations contradict?

53. Henry - May 14, 2013

Nicole,
Thanks for dropping in. I am in general agreement with what you have said. I am not sure why so many people read the Bible and draw a different conclusion. Take for example what Jesus said in Jonh 5:28-29. What He says here is clear as day, that the dead sleep till the resurrection. Daniel says the same in thing Daniel 12:2 and Paul says the same thing in 1 Cor 15:16-22. But according to some Paul says something different in 1 Cor 5, that to be absent from body is to be immediately present with the Lord. Isn’t it interesting that in Genesis man became a living soul when the breath or spirit was breathed into them. So how can man continue to be a living soul after the spirit has left the body?

54. Jake - May 15, 2013

That one verse confuses so many because they are not doing what God said. DO NOT LEAN ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING. AKA You are stupid little insects that couldn’t comprehend it if I told you. (God wouldn’t say that, but that’s the idea) To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Who said when you die you are absent from your body? There is far more scripture CLEARLY stating you are waitnig in the ground until Jesus comes back. Sorry to bust anyones bubble about their loved ones waiting in heaven for them. They are asleep. They will think they just fell asleep when Jesus calls us home. Jesus went to prepare Heaven for us. Think he would let us live in a construction zone? Get real people. Stop worrying about where you’ll be while your dead and focus on what we are supposed to focus on. LIVING LIKE CHRIST.

55. John Lategan - May 15, 2013

Hi Henry

BELIEVERS HAVE PASSED FROM DEATH INTO ETERNAL LIFE (HEAVEN)
THEY SHALL NOT COME INTO JUDGEMENT BECAUSE JESUS PAID FOR THEIR SINS. (JOHN 5:24)

THE DEAD IN THEIR GRAVES (HADES) ARE NON BELIEVERS – GOOD AND BAD.
THEY SHALL BE JUDGED ACCORDING TO WHAT THEY HAVE DONE. (JOHN 5 :28-29)

THE STORY OF THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS TOOK PLACE BEFORE THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS. THERE WERE NO BORN AGAIN BELIEVERS.
AT THAT TIME THE DEAD WENT TO HADES. HADES HAD TWO PARTS – A PLACE OF TORMENT AND PARADISE – SEPARATED BY AN IMPASSABLE GULF.
THE RIGHTEOUS (POOR MAN ) WENT TO PARADISE AND THE UNRIGHTEOUS (RICH MAN )WENT TO THE PLACE OF TORMENT.

AFTER THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST PARADISE BECAME A PART OF HEAVEN , FOR IN 2COR. 12:4 IT IS IDENTIFIED WITH THE THIRD HEAVEN.
PARADISE AND ALL IT’S INHABITANTS (INCLUDING THE POOR MAN) WERE MOVED TO HEAVEN. (EPHESIANS 4:7-10)

THE RICH MAN IS STILL IN HADES TOGETHER WITH ALL THE UNRIGHTEOUS AND NON BELIVERS . THEY WILL BE JUDGED ACCORDING TO WHAT THEY HAVE DONE. (JOHN 5:28-29 )

Brandi Serpa - May 16, 2013

John, thank you for your post. That is how I have understood as well. There are many different takes and I won’t condemn anyone who may feel differently than I do. So I believe the only way we will know for sure will be after our passing. 🙂

56. Henry - May 16, 2013

@ Jake, Well said.

@ John,
I think in order to draw the conclusions you have reached you have had to bend scriptures a little and to ignore some. Jesus in John 5 is speaking of the future at the end of time and He says that the time is approaching when the dead shall be resurrected – some to life and some to damnation. Now to apply your “theory” on Eph 4:7-10 reflected on John 5:28-29, if those that were in the grave that had done good were not believers, they too would have already been in heaven. Why? Because according to you prior to Jesus’ resurrection the good dead went to paradise and since the resurrection, paradise was taken into heaven.

So tell me this: Why would the “good dead” still be in the grave at Jesus’ coming? Yet Jesus has clearly stated that these good dead would be raised to life at His coming. Surely they would have gone to paradise as well if this is where all the good dead went? And they would therefore already be in heaven. Can you see that your conclusions are therefore illogical?

57. John Lategan - May 16, 2013

Hi Henry

I DID NOT SAY THAT PRIOR TO JESUS THE GOOD DEAD WENT TO PARADISE. I SAID THE RIGHTEOUS WENT TO PARADISE (THOSE WHO WERE RIGHT WITH GOD BY FAITH ) IT IS OBVIOUS THAT BECAUSE LAZARUS WENT TO PARADISE BECAUSE HE WAS RIGHT WITH GOD.
ALTHOUGH ABRAHAM LIVED LONG BEFORE JESUS,HIS FAITH IN GOD WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.

THE DEAD (ALL UNBELIEVERS) GOOD PEOPLE AND BAD PEOPLE GO TO THE GRAVE(HADES) WHEN THEY DIE. THEY WILL BE RESURRECTED AND BE JUDGED ACCORDING TO WHAT THEY HAVE DONE.
BELIEVERS DO NOT FACE JUDGEMENT BECAUSE THEY ARE SAVED ALREADY. THEY HAVE PASSED FROM DEATH TO ETERNAL LIFE BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE IN JESUS.
BUT BELIEVERS WILL BE JUDGED ACCORDING TO THEIR WORKS FOR THE RECEIVING OF REWARDS.

58. Henry - May 17, 2013

John,

Here is where your doctrine isn’t very sound. You insist on designating the “those that have done good” as unbelievers and this is not so. How can unbelievers enter into the Kingdom of God? Does Jesus not say I am the way the truth and the Life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me? So how can you suggest that the “good people” here referenced in John 5 are unbelievers but that they will be raised to eternal life.

No my friend. You have got it completely wrong. Hebrews 11:13 tells us that Abraham died along with all those others who had faith and yet had not received the promises. Verse 39 of the same passages repeats thus:

39And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

Though all the afore-mentioned people had obtained a good report they were not to be made perfect without us.

We read in 1 Thess 4 that the dead in Christ shall rise from their GRAVES to meet the Lord – It does not say anywhere here that these people were in heaven.

15We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.g 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. 17Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

We need to take the whole counsel of scripture and not attempt to build doctrine on 1 or two select verses that seemingly on the face of it supports what we want to believe. There is not one scripture which tells us that believers are in heaven or will go to heaven immediately on death to be in a conscious state – on the contratry the weight of scriptures say the oppositel

59. John Lategan - May 18, 2013

HI HENRY

BELIEVERS ARE SAVED BY FAITH IN JESUS.
BELIEVERS ARE NOT JUDGED ACCORDING TO WHAT THEY HAVE DONE TO RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE.

“I TELL YOU THE TRUTH,WHOEVER HEARS MY WORD AND BELIEVES HIM WHO SENT ME HAS ETERNAL LIFE AND WILL NOT BE CONDEMNED; HE HAS CROSSED OVER FROM DEATH TO LIFE” JOHN 5: 24

THOSE WHO ARE IN THEIR GRAVES (HADES) ARE THOSE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE IN JESUS.
THEY WILL HEAR HIS VOICE.
THEY WILL BE JUDGED AT THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGEMENT OF THE DEAD.
THE DEAD WILL BE JUDGED ACCORDING TO WHAT THEY HAD DONE AS RECORDED IN THE BOOKS.

” AND I SAW THE DEAD,GREAT AND SMALL,STANDING BEFORE THE THRONE, AND BOOKS WERE OPENED. ANOTHER BOOK WAS OPENED,WHICH IS THE BOOK OF LIFE. THE DEAD WERE JUDGED ACCORDING TO WHAT THEY HAD DONE AS RECORDED IN THE BOOKS.”
REVELATION 21: 12

MARVEL NOT AT THIS.

YOU HAVE QUOTED HEBREWS 11:40 INCORRECTLY, AS FOLLOWS:
“GOD HAVING PROVIDED SOME BETTER THING FOR US, THAT THEY( WITHOUT US )SHOULD NOT BE MADE PERFECT.”

THE VERSE SHOULD READ AS FOLLOWS:
“GOD HAD PLANNED SOMETHING BETTER FOR US SO THAT (ONLY TOGETHER WITH US ) WOULD THEY BE MADE PERFECT.”

YOU HAVE QUOTED 1 THESS 4:16 INCORRECTLY, AS FOLLOWS:

“FIRST, THE CHRISTIANS WHO HAVE DIED WILL RISE (FROM THEIR GRAVES.”)

THE CORRECT VERSE READS AS FOLLOWS:
“THE DEAD IN CHRIST WILL RISE FIRST”

THE DEAD IN CHRIST ARE CHRISTIANS WHO HAVE PHYSICALLY DIED AND ARE SPIRITUALLY ALIVE IN HEAVEN. THEY WILL COME FIRST.

60. Marjon - May 29, 2013

Surely if the rich man was talking and Lazarus was enjoying the comfort of Abraham after they each had died proves that they are not dead in the graves (their spirit that is)!
I consider the fact that we (our spirits) will go to paradise if in Christ (Those who are not in Christ to Hades as on death row) before Jesus returns, then we will be reunited into our (better) bodies on His second return, and will enter Into the fullest sense in heaven after the
Judgement, which is not a trial, but a public declaration that those in Christ are clean and those not in Christ are not fit to be in God’s Kingdom and sent to be condemned to hell.
Both will be alive in Jesus’ presence (for God is omnipresent).
Psalm 139: 8-9 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
Rev 14: 10 And they will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels AND THE LAMB!
But those in heaven will receive His light, love, forgiveness, joy, peace and bliss, while those in hell will be tormented (Fire is probably not a physical fire like a paper would burn if dropped in there) but they are tormented by the breath of God which is like a consuming fire to those who have rejected the Lamb of God!
Heb 12: 29 “for our “God is a consuming fire.”
How does this fit in with Scripture?

61. John Boyer - June 5, 2013

Hi Henry,

Thank you for your approach to this sensitive topic. (It seems it becomes sensitive, like many other topics, when it begins to challenge our own dogmatic position.) I agree that the larger issue here is the one of contradictions that our view may create. For this reason, it is important to continually be studying the scripture and seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance. As a Christian we must always be open to teaching and correction by our brothers in Christ as confirmed by scripture.

I am pleased that your starting point must be that scripture is inerrant. For then, and only then, can we begin our discernment of the Truth. If we were to accept contradictions in the Bible, our entire foundation for any position or belief becomes suspect and fallible, and entirely influenced by the beliefs of fallible man.

This discussion has helped me tremendously in resolving the various conflicting beliefs I’ve been preached and taught. I love God’s Word and I love especially discovering such wonderful pearls!

God bless you for your willingness to address this topic in the spirit of brotherly love.

62. Henry - June 7, 2013

Marjon,

Could it be that Jesus was telling a parable as opposed to a literal story? Whilst you are considering that, consider all the other dead that Jesus raised from the dead – think of the other Lazarus. Did Jesus bring them back from paradise to live again in this sinful world?

63. Henry - June 7, 2013

Hi John Boyer,

Thank you for your very thoughtful and encouraging post. I trully appreciate your comments and your understanding of precisely where I am coming from with this. It doesn’t really matter where we go when we die if our salvation is secured. But we sure do need to preserve the trustworthiness of scriptures.

God bless you too.

64. Fast Freddie - June 7, 2013

Some very enjoyable reading here….there seems to be a lot of interest on this topic lately as many here have commented. Wanted to thank all of you for sharing….keep em coming.
Thank you Henry for the emails concerning new posts….I’m really enjoying them all!

65. John Lategan - June 13, 2013

JESUS BROUGHT LAZARUS BACK FROM THE DEAD TO REVEAL HIS POWER FROM GOD SO THAT PEOPLE WOULD BELIEVE IN HIM.

“THIS SICKNESS WILL NOT END IN DEATH. NO, IT IS FOR GOD’S GLORY” SO THAT GOD’S SON MAY BE GLORIFIED THROUGH IT.”
JOHN 11:4

“LAZARUS IS DEAD , AND FOR YOUR SAKE I AM GLAD I WAS NOT THERE, SO THAT YOU MAY BELIEVE. BUT LET US GO TO HIM.”
JOHN 11: 14-15

66. Henry - June 14, 2013

John Lategan,

I fail to see the point you are making and it seems to me that you are missing my point altogehter.

I did not ask why Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead as the reason is well noted already. The question is that assuming Lazarus went to paradise when he died, did Jesus bring him back from paradise to live again in this world. Obviously Lazarus lived a second time and died a second time.

Whilst you are pondering this, consider that Peter and Paul were used to raise the dead. Now at this point according to you paradise was taken to heaven when Jesus ascended. So did Peter in raising the dead Tabitha, a disciple, brought her back from heaven to live again in this sinful world(Acts 9:36-42)? I wouldn’t want to come back down for sure. Would you?

67. Princess - June 23, 2013

John, I find this very interesting because I was recently having a conversation with someone about the same thing. Don’t be discouraged in any way about your interpretation of whether or not believers go to heaven immediately after they die because there is nowhere int he Bible that says that. Seems to me that believers want to believe certain things maybe because it makes them feel safe. But the actual verses of the Bible that refer to this do not say that we go to heaven immediately after we die! it says the spirit returns to the Lord, it doesn’t say where. Furthermore, all this preaching about our loved ones looking over the balconies in heaven at what is going on down here, and God wanted another angel that is why He took someone that passed away is rubbish. We use these beliefs to comfort ourselves, but they are not scriptural.

Fast Freddie - June 24, 2013

Good point Princess…….I told a friend of mine recently this as well….where could you possibly go or be that God is not??? He is everywhere you are…..dead or alive.
Great stuff here….thank you all for your comments! 🙂

68. John Lategan - June 24, 2013

” AND THE DISCIPLES CAME, AND SAID TO HIM, WHY SPEAK YOU IN PARABLES? HE ANSWERED AND SAID TO THEM, BECAUSE IT IS GIVEN TO YOU TO KNOW THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, BUT TO THEM IT IS NOT GIVEN. FOR WHOEVER HAS, TO HIM SHALL BE GIVEN, AND HE SHALL HAVE MORE ABUNDANCE: BUT WHOEVER HAS NOT, FROM HIM SHALL BE TAKEN AWAY EVEN THAT HE HAS …”
MATHEW 13 :10 – 12

69. Lyle D - July 3, 2013

Thank you Hendry for your post, it does provoke some thoughts. For the word of Yahweh is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow (Hebrews 4:12). I think where we as believers go wrong is trying to buy salvation, to the point that we want to hear what makes us feel good and not the entire truth. (John 8:32) the truth you will know and the truth will set you free.

“The truth”

As Paul himself stated in the letter to 1Timothy4:1
“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons”

No man has entered into heaven (John 3:13)
All souls that sin will die (Ezekiel 18:4)
The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything … out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness (Mathew 13:41)

I think the sad part about it all is that we as little children relied on the only source that we had, our parents and church leaders, we forgot one thing though, we all sin even our parents as well as our leaders. I growing up for one believed in heaven and hell, but upon the revelation I received through seeking in the scriptures, found it to be false and a pagan belief, these doctrines were brought in through leaders that some themselves didn’t believe in our Redeemer “Yahsua” the messiah. I’m not saying there is no heaven, no! but that we cannot live in heaven, but only they chosen for it. As far as hell is concerned, even Satan himself will be cast into the lake of fire ” Ceasing to exsist” Revelation 20:10

One more thing, there are many translations out there, some not so accurate.

May the grace and peace of Yahweh be with you all through Yahshua Messiah until his return to judge the living and the dead.

70. reko - July 4, 2013

Hi Henry,

First, please pardon my English as I’m from non-English speaking country.

I’m not Christian, but I’m interested in reading verses in the Bible.

IMHO, Jesus believers when they die – their spirit don’t enter Heaven but Paradise and Paradise itself is Hades – the realm of the dead where the spirits are.

“Paradise” is a state of mind of the righteous soul – and “not Paradise” is a state of mind of the unrighteous soul (I’m not sure, but some said that Hades has even 4 to 7 layers state of mind of the souls – depends on how they live their life on earth).

Anyway, I think I agree on your thinking that Christian don’t enter Heaven literally but still in their state of mind in “Paradise”. If Old Testament say dead people is “asleep” then the state of mind of their souls “dreaming” of either paradise or not paradise.

At the time Jesus dead – the OT righteous was put to the “higher” layer (paradise ??) – but that still in the realm of the dead.

Then at the end times – only Jesus believer will be resurrected with glorified body – the rest are non-believers who still in Hades/Paradise (depends) – waiting for the second event of resurrection for the Great White Throne judgement.

IMHO, at GWTJ – which contains all non-believers, they will be judged by their works. If their names not found in the book of life, they go to hell.

Thank you for your great posts.

71. shanbelle1 - July 26, 2013

Hi Henry,
I found this blog when trying to find some answers myself. I was always taught since childhood that we, as believers, go straight to heaven after death. Then someone brought up the rapture, and how the dead in christ will rise. Im learning as I grow older and a little more mature in my christian life, that even though my mom is very knowledgeable about the bible, (she was a sunday school teacher for 30 some yrs) she mite not have all the answers, lol. Anyway, im learning to look things up myself instead of just blindly believing everything she says…I have no idea at this moment which theory I believe in, but I have been doing my own research and praying for discernment, and while I dont believe the bible to be contradictory at all, it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, God left certain things (not matters of salvation) a little unclear on purpose. I for one, have been reading his word concerning this specific matter, every chance I got for 3 days now! And after reading so many posts from different people out there from this site alone, I think the supposedly “contradictory” parts of the bible are doing more good than harm. Look how many people out there are digging deeper and deeper into Gods word, and praying for discernment! I think God is, as always, accomplishing exactly what he means to, but thats just one more persons opinion.

72. Keith Wright - July 27, 2013

Hi Henry
I am a newly converted soul of 3 years and one thing I have learned from this discussion is that even mature christians still can’t agree on the fine details of Gods word.
If that is so, then what chance do I have of discerning the truth for myself?
I agree with an earlier writer who said it is human nature to interpret the word to fit what they want to beleive!! Thats how they achieve comfort from the word.
What I do realise is that our human minds only have the tiniest capacity in comparison to the mind of god, and that it is folly to try to justify the full workings of the Lord to the tiny capacity and intelligence of our own carnal minds.
However, to continue to add more coals to the fire(so to speak) – no pun intended – does this passage from Revelation Ch6 V9-11 have any relevence to this debate?
” When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. ”
In the end does it really matter which of us is right? We as christians know that we are all in Gods hands and he alone knows his plans for us.
Remember Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2 v 9
” However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”-
Lets just accept that there are some things that we will never fully understand, but take strength from the fact that we will be spared the full wrath of God on the unbeleivers of this World
My Love and Gods Grace to you all
Brother Keith

73. Keith Wright - July 27, 2013

Dear Shanbelle
I tend to share your sentiments on this subject, I think it is part of human nature to try to interpret and understand everything so that we can prove these things to ourself.
As prophecy puts it, in the end times there will be an intensity in the desire and will to accumulate increased knowledge and wisdom.
Paul often described Gods new revelations as the Great mystery, after all isn’t it what faith relies on – believing in that which we can’t see or prove?
And isn’t our salvation based on our faith in Christ crucified and resurrected as our final sacrifice for our sins?
Lets just accept that there are somethings that the Holy Spirit has not intended to be made known to us mortal creatures and lets concentrate on what it has made known to us so that we can continue to share the ‘Good News’ to those who are still lost.
I mean it is often said:-
-The Devil’s in the detail!
-Don’t fret the small stuff
and one of my favourites
– It’s not the trees in the forest that slow your progress, but the undergrowth on the ground
Love and grace
Keith

Fast - July 27, 2013

Very well said! Thank You! 🙂

shanbelle1 - July 27, 2013

Very well put Keith! If I find the answers, awesome, if not, I will have gained knowledge and become that much closer to to Jesus in the process! Its a win win situation. 🙂

Henry - July 30, 2013

Reko,

According to the scriptures when a person dies their spirit goes backupto God and not down to the earth (Ecc 3:21 and 12:7). What you say therefore conflicts with scriptures. James 2:26 tells us that the body without the spirit is dead so can the spirit exist apart from the body? In Genesis 2:17 man became a living soul when God breath the breath of life or the spirit into him.

74. Henry - July 30, 2013

@Shanbelle1 and Keith Wright,

If you noted the tone of the article and my subsequent responses you will note that I am not trying to present a definitive view on this issue. However, I have been challenged on more than one occassion to blindly accept one view when clearly we could also argue the opposite. As a result we are left in a situation where we need ask if the scriptures contradict. Of course they do not, so for those who want to argue for one viewpoint I ask them to kindly reconcile the offending scriptures which appear to contradict otherwise don’t present the view as the only truth. This is my position. So I am not here asking anyone to choose which argument they support.

75. Lisa - August 10, 2013

Hi Henry—I see I am entering this conversation late and maybe nobody is reading it any more. But I was just reading 1 Thessalonians 4 today and thought to myself (as I had in the past) that this verse seems to suggest that those who die in Christ will remain in the grave until Christ’s return, though there are other verses which have led me to believe that our souls will be with the Lord when we die. So I did a Google search on the topic and decided to read your blog, since it would present an opposite view to what I’ve always felt in my spirit was true. I’d rather be challenged than just look for someone’s opinion to align with my own. I have to tell you that I am glad I stumbled upon your blog because now I am convinced more than before that believers’ souls do go to be with the Lord upon the body’s death. I appreciate that your main issue is whether or not the scriptures are contradictory and that you say that one should not interpret scripture in light of their own beliefs or presuppositions. But as I read through this entire thread, it does seem that you are accepting and rejecting certain scriptures as literal or not literal, based on your presupposition that we “sleep” in the grave until Christ’s return. You mention Matt 17:3 (the transfiguration) and say that it shouldn’t be taken literally because Jesus told the men not to share this “vision” until after he was raised from the dead. First of all, the word used for vision there could also mean “what you’ve seen” but even if it was just a vision and Moses and Elijah weren’t actually there in body, why would Jesus be showing a vision of two living souls if they were asleep? Perhaps the disciples had to see the men in a vision because they were spirit beings and did not have physical bodies as of yet. You also mention that we shouldn’t take the story of Lazarus and Abraham literally in Luke 16 and that it was only a “parable.” But still, Jesus did not tell parables from make believe circumstances. The parables he told were based on realistic happenings in life. You also talk about some of the resurrections of dead people, saying, “I wouldn’t want to come back to this earth after being in Heaven (or Paradise), would you?” As if, because you can’t imagine coming back to the earth after being in heaven, that gives more weight to the fact that the people aren’t in Heaven or Paradise prior to being raised from the dead. That’s pretty much what you tell other people not to do when interpreting the scriptures.

Here’s a scripture I think you are misinterpreting…..Hebrews 11. When it says that all those godly men had not received the promises….it seems that Paul is saying that at the time of their DEATH they had not received the promises…..but once Jesus died and rose from the dead, they did. “39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” I know grammar can be tricky with translating, but if Paul had meant to say that they were still asleep in the grave, it should be translated “none of them received what HAS been promised” not what HAD been promised. And then, because you seem to misinterpret Hebrews 11, you also have to push that belief into Hebrews 12 and tell us that we don’t REALLY have a “cloud of witnesses”…..another verse you do not take literally (because you strongly believe the dead in Christ are still asleep….so how could they witness anything?) You also reference John 5 a lot in this thread, but I do not believe, reading verses 28 and 29 in context, that they are referring to the second coming of Christ. Could be referring to when he was about to go down and preach to the dead? Or something else we aren’t addressing in this thread? But my “Aha” moment came when you referenced 1 Thessalonians 4, the exact scripture that got me searching in the first place, and you kept saying that the dead in Christ shall rise from their GRAVES. I couldn’t quite hear the scriptures putting it that way, so I looked it up in several different translations, and never once do I find it translated that way—it only says “shall rise.” I don’t know why verse 14 hadn’t stood out to me before: “13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” What does Paul mean by saying that God will bring them with him? It seems to me they have to be with him (if only the spirit man) to be brought with him…..and then have the imperishable body given to them that is spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15.

I want to address the issue you bring up about the scriptures being infallible. We know that “All Scripture is inspired by God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” I think it is accepted that the revelation given to man by God is indeed infallible. But that doesn’t mean that everything written by man in the Bible (particularly the Old Testament) is true. For instance, you use Job’s writings to support your conclusion that we stay asleep when we die. “so he lies down and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, people will not awake or be roused from their sleep.” But later, in chapter 38, God speaks to Job saying, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” And then God goes on to correct Job (not saying that Job sinned, but that he spoke ignorantly.) And then you use some of Solomon’s teachings in Ecclesiastes: “the dead know nothing, they have no further reward, etc.” but if you read the entire book of Ecclesiastes, you’d have to admit that much of what he writes is from a pessimistic state and he is not speaking the counsel of God or Jesus. Consider what he writes in chapter 3: “18 I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath[c]; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?” 22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?” In verse 21 he clearly says that he doesn’t know what happens to the spirit of man after death. We cannot think that just because the bible is the inspired Word of God, and that God gives us his infallible revelation, that every single thing any writer said (I’m talking OT here) is true. The people in the Old Testament had much less revelation than those who lived during and after Christ. So, to quote poetry from Job, or Solomon, or David and make a doctrine around it, is, I think, very shaky ground to stand on. These were good men who followed after God (Solomon didn’t at the end of his life) but they did not have the full revelation of Christ.

When I read something that appears to be a contradiction to another part of scripture, I try to study it out (as we are all doing here) and seek the revelation of Jesus to gain a deeper understanding….but there ARE still hidden things and mysteries that I don’t think we will fully understand….and we shouldn’t allow it to discourage us nor say, “Well if there is a contradiction in Scripture then we can’t rely on the bible to be true.” (Because it’s not REALLY a contradiction, but in fact, us not having full understanding of the scriptures) And I think it’s dangerous to say, “Well, that verse can’t be taken literally, and that verse doesn’t mean what it says,” just so that we can make ourselves feel better believing now that “there aren’t any contradictions”……… because when you do that, then instead of having contradictions, you have a bunch of scripture that you just can’t take seriously…..so again, it would lead one to question the validity of the Bible. Blessings to you and the rest of the people who’ve added to this thread!

Fast Freddie - August 10, 2013

Very well written….enjoyed your view of this, and no you’re not late to enter this discussion. I do have a question……if you believe we’re already in Heaven before the last day, what do you feel we will be doing there? What would be our purpose to be there before all things have been completed before the judgement and the new Jerusalem is presented…..” I John saw the holy city new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven……..” Rev 21: 2 Just curious….but I really enjoyed your article……you obviously are a great student of the bible!

Lisa - August 10, 2013

Hi Freddie—I don’t know exactly what the saints in Heaven are doing there now….same as I don’t really know all that we will be doing in the New Jerusalem when Christ’s kingdom comes down to earth. But I’m glad you brought this up because it was something I forgot to mention in my last comment. Henry (or someone) had written that we shouldn’t rely on all the testimonies of people who say that they died and went to Heaven and came back to earth (even people who were medically pronounced dead and then came back alive). I agree that we couldn’t form doctrine around it, but there are many people who have very detailed experiences, and/or visions of life in Heaven right now. I’ve heard people’s stories about reconciliations made between people who had had conflicts on earth; about detailed conversations with Jesus; about there being many children there; about the uttermost beauty all around them; about breathing underwater while swimming, and so on and so forth. I don’t think we can discount these testimonies—or at least not all of them—especially because there ARE enough scriptures which would support being with the Lord right at death. Paul saying, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” is pretty straightforward….even though Henry (or someone) suggested above that possibly the “Greek way of thinking” had creeped into Paul’s beliefs, causing him to have an inaccurate view of life after death (which would, of course, then make us question the inerrancy of Paul’s epistles). Having no scriptural basis, I can image living in peace, awaiting the Kingdom of Christ to return to earth; working toward my dream of learning to play the piano like one of the “greats;” I can imagine caring for and helping to raise the children who are there; I can imagine praying for those who remain on the earth; I imagine worshipping the Lord in spirit and in truth. All of this, would seem, using spiritual common sense (not just earthly common sense) to be much more in line with God’s desire for his children than to have them waiting for hundreds or thousands of years in an unconscious state in the grave, and God remaining in Heaven alone with Jesus and the angels until the 2nd Coming. Oh, and concerning the comment made above that Jesus said he was going to prepare a place for us, and “why would he bring us into a construction zone?,” that is just plain silly (and maybe it was said as a joke). It only took God six days to create the heavens and the earth….it’s not like Jesus needs to function as a human carpenter in Heaven, hand-building everything. Has it really taken him over 2,000 years to create something fit for the dead in Christ to dwell in? I imagine that he meant he was going to Heaven to prepare a place for them for when they die. And I would guess that he knows when each of his brethren is about to pass from this earthly life and that he prepares a place for each of them, in anticipation of receiving them unto himself. Here is an excellent short article on the subject of God revealing his mysteries to his saints, and I believe it could be applied well to this entire post. The writer puts it so well, that I won’t try to paraphrase—it’s kind of what I’d like to say, but cannot put into my own words. Blessings! http://www.dabhand.org/Essays/BI611_revealing_god.htm

Fast Freddie - August 10, 2013

Thank you. I will check this out. I, like Henry, am leaning more towards the idea that we sleep until the resurrection, but I have to admit….just not sure. I do not believe in a pre trib rapture as I believe Christ returns at the last day ( Mat 24…Mark 13 )……
My gut tells me there would be no reason for a resurrection of the dead in Christ at that day if they/we are already in Heaven…..but one thing I have figured out for sure….I am not in any way qualified to question the justice or will of God concerning His elect…..if we sleep….fine…..if we shout all over heaven as many well meaning funeral preachers say…wonderful. You’re right about Paul’s absent from the body verse….very comforting….but in truth…..where could we be that God is not….He’s everywhere we are …..even if it were in the grave. I surely hope to read more of your posts…..you are very gifted with sharing the scripture and I’m sure you have shared the gospel with many. Keep up the good work Lisa!

Lisa - August 11, 2013

Thanks Freddie—I also do not believe in a pre-tribulation rapture and don’t see any evidence in the Bible supporting that idea….seems like someone just made it up to make themselves feel better about avoiding the tribulation…..and had to stretch several scriptures in the process. The reason for the resurrection of the dead could very well be for all the saints who have died to be reunited with a glorified body—(meaning they went from being physical beings on earth, to spiritual beings with the Lord in Heaven, and then back to physical beings for Christ’s Kingdom on earth—something I imagine is very desirous for a person living as a spiritual being)—while the ones who are still alive will have their bodies “changed” in the twinkling of an eye. 2 Corinthians 5 has some interesting things to say on the topic:
“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. c6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” This is a deep passage to me and something worth meditating on, to ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom….but at first appearance it seems to express the idea of being with the Lord when absent from the body, though in an unclothed state physically….hence it will be an awesome moment when we are once again given a physical, this time glorified, body. But I won’t suppose to know exactly what Paul is speaking of here.
As far as being dead and in an unconscious state, but still being in the “presence of the Lord” I don’t see logically how that could have attracted Paul. He said he “desired to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far,” but that he knew it was more necessary for him to remain in his body to help disciple Christ’s church. If he had meant that he wanted to be “with Christ” merely in an unconscious state (for “God is everywhere”), then surely he would have reasoned that God was also, at the time of him being alive, present with him on earth as well—so dying and being “with Christ” while completely unconscious would seem much inferior to being present with Him while being alive and conscious. Do you see what I’m getting at? But, like you, I’m not trying to convince anyone that I am right….and I am open to the fact that I could be missing or misinterpreting something….and if so, then, like you said, it doesn’t really matter….God knows what is best and we will live with him for all eternity one way or the other. Peace and blessings 

76. Henry - August 19, 2013

Lisa,

It has taken me some time to read and digest your lengthy post and I started responding line by line then realise that this will not be profitable. However I will address a few points where we differ. I can see how you would want to dismiss the Old Testament particularly where it disagrees with your view on the subject at hand. This would be a convenient position since there are scriptures which stands in direct opposition to the view that one goes immediately to heaven on death. You dismiss parts of the OT claiming that we cannot build doctrine on poetry – the fact that you call it “poetry” is a supposition on your part.

Paul writing to Timothy says clearly:

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Tim 3)

Was Paul therefore lying when he said this? In any event who gave Solomon wisdom – was it not God? So how can you dismiss Solomon’s writings as simply poetry? Take the following verses from Eccles 12
13Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
Solomon afore new that judgement is coming in the same way Paul spoke of it in 2 Cor 5:10:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Cor 5:10)

Solomon also new of the son of God, Jesus, when writing in the Proverbs:
4Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell? (Prov 30)
Did John not say similar in John 3:13?
It is not the first time however that I have seen individuals dismiss the OT when trying to justify their believe that one goes to heaven immediately on death.
How about Isaiah though? Did he speak presumptuously when he said the following or is he not the Prophet of God?
18For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.19The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth. (Isa 38).
Was Daniel not also a prophet of God when he declared:
2And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Who told Daniel there was going to be everlasting life after death or are you telling me that the prophets of the Most High God are untrustworthy?
In any event I think 1 Thess 4 is very clear despite the fact that you appear to be reading it selectively. You focus on verse 13 to establish a point of contention yet ignore the ensuing verses. Lets look at them:
15We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.g 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have diedh will rise from their graves. (1 Thess 4)
Note in verse 16 using the NLT version that the scripture did not say that only the body will rise but indeed the personage of the dead individual. This is no different from Daniel said as quoted earlier. If Paul is therefore contradicting himself by what he said here against 2 Cor 5:10-15 then we need to seek a clearer understanding of what is meant so that the scriptures remain in harmony

77. Henry - August 19, 2013

It is amazing how many people quote Paul in 2 Cor 5 to argue that Paul claimed “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” Yet if this is what Paul meant in that passage he is clearly contradicting himself in 1 Thess 4:

15We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. (1 Thess 4)

Notice what Paul says in verse 15. He says that we who are living when the Lord returns will NOT meet him ahead of those who died. Why? Because the dead in Christ shall rise first to meet him in the air then those who are alive will be caught up to meet him as well. He didn’t say that the reason we will not precede them is because they were already in heaven. No. So if God was “bringing them from heaven with Jesus as some claim that verse 14 is saying, why are they rising to “meet him”?

Lisa - August 20, 2013

Hi Henry—In response to your first reply—I in no way dismiss Old Testament Scripture and I don’t know how you came to that conclusion. In fact, I USE the Old Testament scriptures to explain why your scriptures from Job and Ecclesiastes do not prove your point. As I stated in my previous comment, God told Job that he spoke words without knowledge and that he “darkened his counsel.” And if you really want to use Solomon, then you must also use the verse where he wrote “Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?” (ch. 3) He clearly says that he doesn’t know. And then in the next chapter he actually says, “And I declared that the dead, who had already died, are happier than the living, who are still alive. But better than both is the one who has never been born.” I guess, if we are to use Solomon’s writings in Ecclesiastes for Christian doctrine, then we should be teaching that it would have been better for all of us to have never been born. And why does he say that those who have died are happier than the living? How can you be happy in an unconscious state?

In calling writings from Job and Solomon “poetry” I meant no disrespect—and I regret if it came across as such. I just believe God’s purpose for including them in the Scriptures is different than for which you are using them—picking one or two verses out and building doctrine around them without reading the rest of the book.
If Old Testament scriptures are what you are looking for, 1 Samuel 28 talks about Samuel’s spirit coming up to earth to speak to Saul. The witch tells Saul that she sees a ghostly figure coming up out of the earth. Then Samuel asks why Saul disturbed him. How can he be disturbed from a state of unconsciousness? He says that the next day Saul and his sons will be with him—also leading one to believe it was a conscious state he was speaking of. In fact, this goes well with Jesus’ story of Abraham and the rich man in Hades (Luke 16)—both godly and ungodly were in the same place—but with a great divide between them.

You use 2 Corinthians 5:10, which, if you read from verse 1, the obvious conclusion is that when you (your spirit man) is at home in the body, it is away from the Lord, and vice versa. I don’t know how many other ways you can read into this. And you use John 3:13 where Jesus says “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man.” But he said that before his death….so that doesn’t contradict any scriptures I’ve referenced.

You also reference Isaiah 38, and tell us that Isaiah said, “For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness.” But if you read above, at verse 9, it clearly tells you that what you are about to read in verse 18 is a “writing of Hezekiah king of Judah after his illness and recovery.” So, in fact, King Hezekiah wrote, “For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness.” Isaiah relays quotes of a few different people in his writings….both good men and wicked.

Concerning Daniel 12, I have a question—why does it say “MANY who sleep in the dust shall rise….some to life…and some to contempt…”? Why only many and not all? Are we 100% sure what this resurrection refers to? I haven’t studied this book enough to comment, but if indeed, the spirit man is in Heaven when the body dies, and he becomes a physical man once more at the resurrection, as many believe 1 Thessalonians is speaking of, then this scripture would fit in the same way.

You think I read 1 Thessalonians 4 selectively…..I rather think that you do. And I try to read it within the context of the whole Bible. I am not really trying to PROVE that the spirit man goes to be with the Lord at death…it can’t be PROVEN or it wouldn’t be a point of discussion. I am only pointing out that many of the verses you use to put forth the position that man is in an unconscious state at the time of death, are a stretch, and that you end up having to discount verse after verse after verse. If it’s true what you say in your opening statement—that your main interest is seeing that the Scriptures do not contradict themselves, and not necessarily in “proving” your case—then it would seem you should take the other side of the argument instead. For with one belief—that the spirit man separates from the “soulish/physical” man at the time of death—all of the scriptures we’ve been discussing make perfect sense and none contradict. But to hold the position that we remain in a completely unconscious state at death, you are forced to disregard scripture after scripture. You end up saying “the story of the rich man and Lazarus was no more than a parable”—no people really talking to each other, no real place. You end up saying that Paul’s desire to depart and be with Christ, which is “better by far”, simply means that “God is everywhere,” even in the grave with our “unconscious selves”. You end up saying that there is no literal “cloud of witnesses” and that the translators of the divinely inspired Word of God all got it wrong with Jesus on the cross—he wasn’t saying to the thief that he’d be with him in Paradise that very day….rather, there is a comma that all the scholars put in the wrong place. You end up saying that the transfiguration was really just a vision….the two men the disciples saw were in reality in an unconscious state. You end up saying that when Paul said he preferred to be away from the body and at home with the Lord, he didn’t really mean what it sounds like he meant.

I hadn’t planned on sharing what I’m about to write, because it’s nothing to form doctrine over and it was a personal experience through which I felt God was speaking to me—not something I should use to try to convince others of my persuasion on the topic. But as I was researching the scriptures on this topic and asking the Holy Spirit to help me understand his Word, an interesting event took place. The day after my last comment to Freddie—when I talked about the spirit man separating from the body, and how much rather people would probably want to be “clothed” etc.—my daughter came over for a visit. I hadn’t seen her in over a month as we had a hard time coordinating our schedules. So she arrives, and we go sit outside, and the very first thing she tells me, clear out of the blue is, “I’ve been reading this really interesting book. It’s about a guy who died and went to heaven.” So I said, “Oh really, how interesting—I’ve been studying that topic like crazy for the last three days….so what does he say?” Then she went on to tell me that there are many people there but that they have no real form—they don’t look like themselves, but that you could just “tell” who they were. That the writer saw one of his relatives and conversed with her….That there are many, many children there….That the joy everyone felt was immeasurable…..That the beauty and the “way things are” are just too difficult to put into earthly terms. She wasn’t finished with the book so that’s all she could tell me. You can call it a crazy coincidence, but for me, I felt that God was speaking to me through her visit. I am not at all trying to prove anything or convince anyone by telling this story—only to say that God still speaks to us and reveals things to us as we seek his wisdom. I am still open to the possibility that I could be wrong in my understanding of what happens to us when we die…..but I’m not going to venture into the land of, “that scripture doesn’t really mean what it says,” and “that scripture can’t be taken literally,” when formulating my beliefs on what the Bible is teaching us…..Old and New Testaments included.

Henry - August 22, 2013

Hi Lisa,

Lets put all the other disputings aside for now and lets take a proper objective look at 1 Thess 4:13 -17 to understand what Paul said here then we can compare with what he said in other scriptures such as 2 Cor 5.

13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,d that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words. (ESV)

Firstly, the main thrust of what Paul is attempting to do here is to comfort the Thessalonian believers concerning those that had died. The two key terms to understanding this portion of scripture are the words “bring” and “precede”. I have seen many people twist the meaning and context of the word “bring” here but lets take a closer and objective look. Clearly Paul is referring to those that were dead when he said God would “bring” them. The question here is bring them from where to where? Does it actually imply bringing the dead down from heaven? Whilst thinking about that also consider the term “precede”. Where would the living precede the dead to, if this was a possibility? What is the destination being implied here by the terms “bring” and “precede”.
Allow me to paraphrase what Paul is saying here. Paul is saying that the living will not precede (or go before) the dead (to a destination to be confirmed) because God will “bring” them with Him as well to that destination. How will God bring them? In the same way God raised Jesus from the dead, in the same way he will raise the Christians who are in their graves and bring them with him to that destination. When and how will this happen? The Lord Himself will descend with a shout and those that are dead in Christ will be raised and caught up to me Him and those that are alive will be caught up afterwards so that together God will bring both groups to that destination – in this way the living will not go before those who had fallen asleep. So where is the destination – to be with the Lord wherever He is (see verse 17). By interpretation we understand this to be in the New Jerusalem.
The context of the word bring in verse 13-14 should therefore be very clear. Paul is saying to the church, “don’t grieve like people without hope because in the same way that God raise Jesus from the dead, in this same way He will bring those that are dead with Him (to that destination). If the dead were in heaven already Paul’s teaching here would be very confusing at the very least because he would have to be saying that “in the same way God raised Jesus from the dead, in the same way he will bring those that are asleep from heaven”. The emphasis here is that the dead are in their graves as per verse 16.

The question now is, do you agree that what I have put forward here is what Paul meant, putting aside everything else and your view that we do go to heaven to be with the Lord at death?

78. Lisa - August 26, 2013

Hi Henry–Sorry, I just now saw that you had responded to my last post. Certainly, 1 Thessalonians 4 is a key scripture teaching that believers who have died stay in their graves and don’t get raised until the second coming of Christ. This scripture is what got me started on studying the subject—not that I had never noticed I Thessalonians 4 before, but this time I just wanted to really search it out so as not to be confused on the subject. I think it’s quite likely that when Paul says that “God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep”, he means God will bring them (the spirits of those who have died physically) with Jesus from heaven towards the destination of the New Jerusalem, and that when they are raised it could well mean that their physical/soulish selves are raised, hence making them complete again. To me, this ties in well with 2 Corinthians 5 as well. If there wasn’t so much scriptural and experiential evidence relating to the spirit man being with the Lord at the time of death, then perhaps it would not have stood out to me and I would have overlooked the part where Paul says “God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” But like you state, the scriptures can’t be so blatantly contradictory, and when they appear to be, I don’t think the way to get around it is just by saying that all of those other scriptures are not to be taken literally, etc. We have to see how they all compliment and explain each other, as they are all part of God’s truth. If in fact, our spirit man goes on to be in the presence of Jesus while our physical/soulish man “sleeps” in the grave, then it would make perfect sense that the resurrection of the corruptible body to an incorruptible, new, perfect body would be an extraordinary event, even if our spirit man had already been with Jesus until that time. And this understanding of 1 Thessalonians 4 makes perfect sense if you accept that the other scriptures mentioned in previous posts are valid and not just “not to be taken literally” etc. Let me just add that, while I do disagree with the way you interpret some of the scriptures we’ve used in this thread, I’ve read some of your other blog posts and feel you are right on in so many issues–I particularly liked the “pure religion” post and how strong you are about living the true Christian life as opposed to this wishy washy “Christianity” so prevalent in America . My husband and I have an adoption blog if you’re interested in checking it out sometime…. http://www.familygarcia.net/adoptionblog You and I definitely agree on WAY more than we disagree on. Blessings, Lisa

79. Henry - September 3, 2013

Hi Lisa,

I cannot understand why would anyone draw a conclusion that Paul meant that God would bring the dead in Christ with Jesus back from heaven. That assertion does not fit the context of the scripture. Paul is saying to the Thessalonians not to sorrow for those that were asleep because God would bring them back to life in the same way He raised Jesus from the dead. It would make no sense to say that Paul is comforting the brethren not to sorrow for those that are asleep because God would bring them back from Heaven. Why would they sorrow for the dead if those dead ones were in heaven? Lets look at the verse again:

13Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. I Thess 4 (NIV)

13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. I Thess 4 (ESV)

The context of what Paul is saying here is very clear – that in the same way we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring those who have fallen asleep with him by raising them from the dead also. A comparison is being drawn here with Jesus who died and rose and the dead that are asleep in Christ. By changing the definition of the words “God will bring with him” we are twisting the verse out of joint thus getting rid of the comparison being drawn. In any event in verse 16 Paul makes it clear that the Christians who died would rise from their graves. They cannot be in two place at once. It is either they are in heaven are they are in their graves.

This brings to question your idea of the “soulish man” and the “spirit man” – can you support these ideas with scriptures please? Because it is clear to see that in order to make your assertion fit the scriptures you have to create two persons out of one to say one is in heaven and one is in the grave simultaneously. So please provide me with scripture on this “soulish man” and this “spirit man” you speak of.

By the way I did pop over to your blog and it is quite interesting.

Lisa - September 3, 2013

I think that just as the “trinity” is not mentioned in scripture but we understand it from context, we can understand from context that while the physical body dies, the spirit of the man continues to live.
-Samuel’s spirit spoke to Saul even though his body was dead
-Jesus talked about Abraham and Lazarus in Hades even though their bodies were dead
-Paul said that he preferred to leave his body and be with Christ which was far better
-Paul said that we have a cloud of witnesses…right after he spoke of many of the great men from the Old Testament
-Jesus told the thief that he would be with him in Paradise that day, though we know the thief’s body would be dead
-The transfiguration when Moses and Elijah came and appeared before the disciples is also an example.
-Peter talks of Jesus preaching to the spirits in prison. “through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built…” (1 Pet 3: 18- 22)

These scriptures indicate a distinction between the body and the spirit. I use the term “soulish man” only because I don’t know how much our emotions and personality are tied in with either our physical man or our spirit. When I sense my own spirit, it is the part deep within me that longs for fellowship with God, longs to pray, etc. My “personality” or emotional part, or will, or whatever you want to call it, ie. “soulish man” doesn’t necessarily always yearn for God like that inner part of me does. So, don’t get hung up on the fact that I say “soulish man.” I’m not trying to form a doctrine around that word. Only saying that it could be that while our spirit goes to be in the presence of the Lord, as Paul indicated, it probably isn’t our full personality that we’re used to here on earth.

As far as Paul comforting the Thessalonians, I don’t know exactly what the Thessalonians believed about life after death when Paul wrote his letter to them. Were they thinking that Christ would return while they were still alive and so they were worried that the believers who had already died would miss out on his reign here on earth? I don’t think they could have been worried that the believers who had already died were going to be in a state of nothingness forever. I think Christians already knew that believers were going to be with Jesus for eternity….that was the purpose of him dying for our sins, right? So we could be reconciled with God? Jesus taught that his followers would be with him in heaven, so surely the Thessalonians already had this hope. Without knowing what the Thessalonians were thinking, it’s hard to know exactly in what way Paul was wanting to comfort them. But my guess is that he was letting them know that they would also get glorified, immortal bodies, and reign with Christ, and not to worry about the fact that their bodies were already decayed in the ground.

In John 13:36 Jesus says, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Jesus was going to heaven and told Peter that he would follow him later. But at the second coming Jesus is coming back to earth (I know there are various interpretations of the book of Revelation and the series of events, etc. so this could be debated as well). Then in John 14:1-4 Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” I don’t think the context here is his 2nd coming, because at the second coming, he is coming to war and rule the earth from Jerusalem (again, there are several interpretations of the events to take place in Revelation). So, this verse could well mean that he comes for us when we die….not the physical body, yet, of course….but the inner man….for us to dwell with him in heaven until he brings us with him for his second coming.

Fast Freddie - September 4, 2013

Hi Lisa…..you have made many good points here…..I do have 2 questions for you…and this is not a set up….hahaha….they’re real questions I have concerning your opinions; Why do you think scripture says the word “sleep” so many times in reference to death. and if we are in Heaven and are aware…. what do think we will be doing?

80. Fast Freddie - September 4, 2013

To reply to myself…..I guess I kinda asked you that before….but if you would respond to the sleep issue…..sorry…. sometimes I’m a little forgetful. lol

81. Lisa - September 4, 2013

I believe that when the word “sleep” is used in this context, it is used to mean “dead.” Consider John 11:11-15 Jesus said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead….”

The Greek root word used in 1 Thess. 4 and other such verses is koimao, which can refer to physical sleep but is also used to refer to physical death.

Here are a few other verses to consider which hadn’t been mentioned

Revelation 20:13 states, “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” Carefully notice that the Bible differentiates between “death” and “hell” here. If soul sleep were true, then there would be no dead coming from hell, only from death. The fact that God differentiates between the sea, death and hell, I think is further solid evidence that soul sleep is not a Biblical teaching. We read clearly that some of the dead came from hell. (Taken from: http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Doctrines/soul_sleep.htm)

Ephesians 3:14 and 15 states, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family IN HEAVEN and earth is named.”

Acts 7:54-59 in the story of Stephen being stoned to death….after he says that he sees the Son of man at the right hand of God, he calls out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Matthew 22:32 states, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

Fast Freddie - September 4, 2013

Hmmmm…. interesting point from Rev. 20:13…. because this certainly refers to the 2cd resurrection … which are those who died without knowing Christ…. very good point here homegirl. 🙂 I have to consult my local greek guru….I may have to also see what Henry comes up with on this but again….very good point! I have to say it truly is a pleasure to have these kinds of conversations with folks who love the Lord and know His Word. God Bless

82. Pete - September 6, 2013

Hi Henry,
I find this subject on “after death” vary interesting and people who delve into doctrine that is hard to understand are seekers of truth which is also what God desires us to do.
(2Ti_2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.)

First off I believe the KJB bible is very trustworthy, and basically God’s scripture is always correct but our understanding is sometimes blurry. No translation from an original language can in every case convey the exact meaning without tools like Strongs concordance to give better understanding of the Hebrew & Greek.

Henry I have a website that shows my view on death with a diagram to help explain what I believe is what happens after death to the Jews who died(slept with their fathers) and how Christians who recieved the Pauline Gospel are treated differently. This idea seems to fit with scripture and shed more light, however, I am still uncertain of what happens to Christians souls when they die. My diagram shows them going to Heaven, but not sure of this, however, scripture indicates when you die your soul goes to be with the Lord.

Check out my website Henry, it may give you more understanding. God Bless you…….Pete

My article is called ‘Two Paradises(What happens at Death?)’ at Free Christian Tracts.info

http://www.freechristiantracts.info/

keith - September 6, 2013

Thank you so much Pete, I have just looked at your website as suggested and found it very helpful.
I can’t think of anything in the scriptures that contradict your accounts and find your explanation wholly plausible and safe.
Can I add my support to suggest anyone who is still confused and concerned on this matter to click on the link in petes comments and scroll down to the section on what happens after death.
Thanks again Pete …really enjoyed reading your views
God Bless You

83. Henry - September 10, 2013

Hi Lisa and others,

I started writing a word for word response which was getting rather lengthy but I have decided to hold off posting this and take a different approach. In my view we can suppose things and draw conclusions from a lot of the scriptures you present that the scriptures are not actually saying. For example you suppose that it was Samuel’s spirit that came up out of the ground but it was not. Saul consulted a witch who had a FAMILIAR SPIRIT – a demon – who impersonated Samuel. Saul himself did not see the person but asked the witch what she saw. Go back and read the account in 1 Samuel 28. God did not speak to Saul through Samuel’s spirit and this is confirmed in 1 Chron 10:13 which showed that Saul consulted a medium to inquire of the familiar spirit she had instead of God and this is why he died. The fact that Samuel name was projected as the one speaking was because Saul thought or wanted to believe the image of the old man coming up was indeed Samuel though he could not see.

You see the approach we take to interpreting scriptures is very important as we can easily draw the wrong conclusions.

Let me set you a challenge though. What do you think the following scripture means:

“Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Matt 16:28, Luk 9:27

Lisa - September 10, 2013

Henry, the one who seems to be supposing and drawing conclusions of the scriptures is you. The account in 1 Samuel 28 says nothing about this being a familiar spirit. It clearly says, “Samuel said to Saul….” It doesn’t say, “The familiar spirit disguised as Samuel said to Saul….” And the medium herself was quite scared at Samuel’s appearance. If she had just been summoning familiar spirits, I doubt it would have put her in such a panic. 1 Chronicles 10:13 &14 doesn’t say that God did not speak to Saul—it says that Saul did not inquire of the Lord. 1 Samuel 28 does say that Saul inquired of the Lord but God did not speak to him. That’s when he went to the medium to talk to Samuel instead. You suppose that the reason the scriptures say that Samuel was the one speaking is that Saul wanted to believe it was Samuel—that makes no sense. But even if we were to assume that it was only a familiar spirit and not Samuel’s spirit as the scripture says, there are many other scriptures I have highlighted along with this one. Surely they cannot ALL be saying something different than what is clearly written. If that is the case, then Bible readers need a very special “gift” to be able to interpret the scriptures, making the Bible a very out of reach book for the masses, and only a book for a select few who have this “gift” of properly interpreting scriptures that appear to be very straightforward. We cannot present scripture after scripture in this manner.

As far as Matt 16:28 and Luke 9 are concerned, it would seem that the verses directly following would provide the explanation. Peter, John, and James got to see Jesus in his glory; as well as Moses and Elijah in glory (talked about as men, not mere visions); and got to hear the voice of God.
Blessings 🙂

84. Henry - September 10, 2013

Lisa, you accuse me of supposition when you buttress your points by saying “I believe” or “I think”. You have an amazing knack of changing the meaning of words and text to fit your belief or preconceived notions rather than let the scriptures speak and this is why you are unable to see any other view than the conclusions you have reached and I say this with all due respect.

Going back to the 1 Samuel 28 account the verse says that Saul “perceived” that it was Samuel – he did not see the person. But here is one glaringly obvious point, was “Samuel” descending from heaven or did he come up out of the earth? I know you will tell me here that paradise must have been underneath the earth. But even so here is a conundrum – we know from verse 16 that the Lord had departed from Saul and because of this Saul and his sons were to die as part of the punishment for his disobedience – so in verse 19 “Samuel” said that to morrow Saul and his sons were to be with him [in death]. So did Saul now the enemy of God and punished for his sin going to be with Samuel in heaven or paradise that very next day?

For scriptures to fit together we have to interpret them carefully so this is why it is important to introduce 1 Chron 10 to ascertain that it was not Samuel who spoke though the verses referred to him.

13So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it; 14And inquired not of the LORD:

The “it” at the end of verse 13 refers to the familiar spirit that Saul inquired of. Note that God was not talking to Saul so therefore God did not send Samuel in spirit to speak/prophesy to Saul. As we see in Acts 16:16, it is the medium who prophesies through the familiar spirit.

Anyway, lets turn our attention to Matt 16:28 and Luk 9. It is interesting here how you transpose the word “coming” here and use the words “it would seem” to give weight to your explanation and then accuse me of “supposition”. In a similar way you transpose the term “bring” in 1 Thess 4:14. But going back to Matt 16:28 there are many people who believe that this has already occurred based on their literal approach to interpreting. These who are referred to as “preterists” believe that Jesus returned in the life time of the disciples based on this verse as well as verse 27 which you appear to be omitting from your interpretation.

27For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

28Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

You see verse 28 naturally follows from verse 27 which is why the preterists believe that Jesus must have returned in the life time of the disciples. But verse 27 makes it clear that verse 28 was most certainly not referring to what happened on the mount of transfiguration. So what does this curious scripture mean? Note verse 27 is clearly referring to Jesus’ second coming so it is either Jesus was saying that some of the people present would be living till He returns or he meant something different from what we think “shall not taste of death” means.

The trick is to allow scripture to interpret itself so I claim no special gift over and above anyone – just a willingness to search the scriptures more to find the keys rather than rush into what I think it should mean. So could Jesus be referring to the second death? Why, this would fit perfectly in the context of verse 27 but lets look at John 8 to see if this interpretation is possible:

51Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. 52Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.

Here Jesus says in verse 51 that if a man keep His sayings he shall never “see death” and this rendering is the same as “taste of death” as per verse 52. Note that Jesus always speak in terms that the Jews could not understand as per their arguments. So then did Jesus really mean that if we keep his saying we would not die? Of course not because Paul says in 1 Cor 15:22 that in Adam all die and this would be contradictory. So without doubt Jesus meant the second death here and now we can apply this interpretation to Matt 16:27-28 and it fits perfectly with the context of verse 27. Reading verse 28 in isolation will lead down the wrong path and confound the meaning of the text, thus we build false doctrine by faulty interpretation.

I thought I would use this example of Matt 16:28 to illustrate how and why we differ in our interpretation and to be truthful I did not have the answer to this challenge when I posed it to you but believed God would show me the answer if I studied more.

By the way I did take a look at your site and think it is great. Very interesting.

Lisa - September 11, 2013

Hi again! Ok, when I say things like, “I believe” or “it would appear” I am just trying to say that I don’t know the answer 100% but that my best understanding is such and such. Of course everyone who reads the Bible makes suppositions because there are things that God “seems to” have purposefully left for those who diligently seek his truth. I should not have used the terms “supposing” and “drawing conclusions” against you in my last comment because there is nothing wrong with doing those. What I should have said more clearly is that you explain away every scripture that is in support of the spirit of man going to be in the presence of the Lord at the time of death….because you want the scriptures to support your belief. You do not hear me saying things like, “That is not to be taken literally” or “That doesn’t mean what it looks like it means” or “That is just a parable that has no basis of truth in the real world”…..stuff like that…..that is what you do. I agree that Samuel coming back to speak to Saul seems very far fetched, but if I read the context of 1 Samuel 28 I am not so bold as to say that it is not the spirit of Samuel because….well….it says it was. But even so, in my previous comment I GAVE you the possibility that it wasn’t Samuel’s spirit and asked you to move on to the numerous other scriptures which give strong indication for the spirit of man continuing to live on after physical death. In one of my earlier comments I already addressed Samuel and Saul being together….that it would be similar to the rich man and Lazarus that Jesus spoke of. (One of the scriptures you explain away by saying it was only a parable, even though Jesus always used parables of things that related to real life and never fantasy). And for 1 Chronicles 10, most of the translations say that Saul consulted a medium, seeking guidance or counsel (NRS, NAS, ES, NIV) The King James version does say he consulted one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it, but that still is no proof that it was not the spirit of Samuel who came up….and you are right….I would say that at that time, Jesus had not come, and so the godly and ungodly were both in the earth, as Jesus’ parable indicated. (By the way, I do not disagree that this was a parable…..it is likely that Lazarus never had such a conversation with a rich man and that Jesus uses it for illustration purposes….but for him to have made up the whole Hades scenario “seems” unrealistic when looking at his other parables.)

John 8 could indeed be speaking of the second death….but that would not offer any type of evidence that the spirit of man does not go to the presence of Jesus at the time of the first death. Same with Luke 9 and Matthew 16….if my interpretation is incorrect and yours is correct—that Jesus is talking about the second death, this still would not offer evidence of the spirit of man not going to be with the Lord at the time of the first death.

So leaving out the example of Samuel, I still previously offered other scriptures—not, as you accuse me of, to try to prove my personal belief that the spirit of man continues after physical death….but because I am not in the habit of making up special meanings for verses that seem pretty straightforward. Some examples:
-Jesus talked about Abraham and Lazarus in Hades even though their bodies were dead (I know you think this is a parable using a fantasy event)
-Paul said that he preferred to leave his body and be with Christ which was far better
-Jesus told the thief that he would be with him in Paradise that day
-The transfiguration when Moses and Elijah came and appeared before the disciples
-Peter talks of Jesus preaching to the spirits in prison. “through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built…” (1 Pet 3: 18- 22)
-Ephesians 3:14 and 15 states, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family IN HEAVEN and earth is named.”
-Acts 7:54-59 in the story of Stephen being stoned to death….after he says that he sees the Son of man at the right hand of God, he calls out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
– Matthew 22:32 states, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”
-Paul said that we have a cloud of witnesses…right after he spoke of many of the great men from the Old Testament (I think you said this was not a literal cloud of witnesses

We may not get anywhere with this discussion but I think it should be fair to say that we both love God’s Word and are seeking to understand it and that we are both unwavering in our faith and desire to walk after Jesus and please the Lord with every part of our being. I will say again, reading some of your other posts, that we definitely agree on WAY more than we disagree on. If you have another post that has caused as much controversy as this one, though, I’d love to get the link. lol

Fast Freddie - September 11, 2013

I gotta say the two of you certainly have my respect with the posts you have been writing on this subject. You both have made way more sense than anyone I have talked to personally about it, and many of my close friends are true students of the Word of God…we love it.
Lisa , I also have been taught ( right or wrong ) the spirit conjured up by the witch was a demonic or familiar spirit… I tend to believe that and I think you may be saying the same thing here….not sure…. but I’ll never forget how in the early 90s our country seemed to go off the deep end with these TV psychic readings….do you remember the nutty 30 min long comercials they were doing all the time trying to get people to call in and PAY to get good news from a psychic… It was garbage! Now…. many of these false teachers on “Christian” TV are basically doing the same thing…. telling desparate people if you ” SOWE” your money into this ministry God will give you a seven fold return or some other nonsense that scripture never says anywhere.
I believe we have come so far away from the Truth of the Message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ today, that we the church often forget who we are. We are The Elect of God and we are charged to share His Gospel. I think one of the great problems is that we (the church) have lost the understanding of the importance of knowing the scripture and having a solid foundation to stand upon to make sharing with others possible. Instead of rambling further…. let me say how thankful I am to you and Henry for all you have shared on this discussion. You both are wonderful bible students….I am very impressed with your knowledge and that you have a desire to teach the truth. Keep em comin! 🙂

Lisa - September 11, 2013

Freddie–I couldn’t agree with you more about this “prosperity gospel” being preached all over America. Preachers preaching this “feel good” “be happy all the time” “be prosperous” message instead of what Jesus said–to take up your cross and follow him; to live humbly, to lose your life so you can find it; to not love the world, and to preach the gospel, etc. I have very high respect for Henry and you and others who have contributed here, and I do kind of feel that we should maybe move onto a different topic and not be contentious with one another. If I ever came across that way, I do apologize. I have really enjoyed this discussion and exploring scriptures I hadn’t noticed before 🙂

Fast Freddie - September 11, 2013

I don’t feel anyone was contentious at all and I hope we can keep learning about this topic as different ones of us find something new from the scripture….not new…. but new to us.lol In fact…. I didn’t actually mean to change the subject, but I guess I kinda did….just popped into my head for a moment as we were talking about the spirit conjured up to Saul. But I am a cornfield preacher…we tend to ramble! hahaha But please….let’s keep talking about these and other topics. I’m really enjoying everyone’s opinions! And thank you Henry….for making all this possible! God Bless All!

85. Henry - September 11, 2013

Lisa,
I think you have missed the point of my last comment. I deliberately did not address all that you previously said which you have repeated in your last post because I wanted to focus your attention on our approach to interpreting the scriptures. I was therefore NOT using the two examples in my last post to support a view that the spirit does not live on in communion with Christ after death – far from it. I was simply illustrating how we can draw incorrect meaning if we do not let scripture interpret scripture. In the example of Samuel, I used 1 Chron 10 which when aligned with 1 Samuel 28 creates harmony – otherwise 1 Chron 10 is contradicting 1 Samuel 28. It is not the only example in scripture where someone is personified as having done something when they weren’t the one who did it.

Lets look at another example. In Acts 1:18 it says that Judas bought a field with the money he received from betraying Jesus. But did he buy it in person? Not according to Matt 27:6-7 where it says that Judas threw the money into the temple and the priests took it and bought the field because it was not lawful for them to accept blood money into the temple. So is Acts 1:18 contradicting Matt 27? Or can it be because the priests could not accept the money because of the Law that the purchase of the land was attributed to Judas as it was his blood money? If we don’t apply these tests then the Bible is simply a book of contradictions (as many believe based on this Judas account and others) that is not worth believing in.

Going back to Matt 16:28, I do not have to guess at what the verse means when I conflate it with other scriptures. But if you are saying that you still doubt my interpretation then this would explain why we cannot agree on anything. Lets explore it a little more though. Jesus said in John 11:

25Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.

Is Jesus contradicting what He said in verse 25 in saying “though he were dead” by saying “shall never die” in verse 26?

Isn’t this the same as what Jesus said in John 6:47 that the one who believes have eternal life? Jesus also said in verse 40:
40And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
So when Jesus is saying that those who believe in him will never die, He is talking about eternal life because you should understand that the Jews in the main did not believe in the resurrection – they couldn’t get it. We know from reading Matt 15 leading into chapter 16 and John 6 that Jesus was speaking to His disciples not long after He had fed the multitude when he spoke the words in Matt 16:27-28 (see John 6:26 against Matt 15:33-38). Note then that after Jesus spoke to his disciples many of them turned away and stopped following him (John 6:66). So then in Matt 16:28 Jesus is talking about these same unbelieving Jews and those disciples who deserted him that they would not taste death (the final death) till they saw Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven. This is in the context of them not believing that there would be a resurrection but also from the standpoint that they didn’t believe who Jesus said he was. Hence scripture affirms in John 19:37 and Rev 1:7 that even those who pierced him shall see him [coming in glory].

Taking the whole counsel of scripture then we can be clear on what Matt 16:27-28 means – unless you still think there is room for doubt?

In my approach to responding to you I am saying, lets slow down and deal with the different disputes one by one rather than to try to answer in one great mass. This is why I have not addressed everything word for word as sometimes we lose the meaning and intent in the verbatim.

I will touch on one more issue here though. If the story of the rich man and Lazarus is not a parable then we are saying when people die they go to hell straightway where they are tormented with fire. But 2 Peter 2:9 says God “reserves” the wicked till the day of judgment to be punished. That would contradict the account of Luk 16 that the rich man was already in hell suffering punishment. Consider also Ps 146:4 and Gen 3:19.

Understand here that I do not use these illustrations to prove a point that we don’t go to heaven but I am showing you my approach to how I interpret the scriptures I highlighted by showing how they harmonize. Otherwise we would have to say that Luk 16 for example is contradicting Gen 3:19. Now some people are prepared to accept Luk 16 on the face of it whilst at the same time ignoring Gen 3:19 but that is not my way. With this in mind I think I will leave everyone to make up their own minds concerning this topic. But hopefully I have demonstrated that one should not simple believe a doctrine on someone else’s say so but to study the scriptures to see if they agree.

Lisa - September 12, 2013

Henry, I absolutely agree that we should use Scriptures to explain one another. But I don’t necessarily see all of the same “contradictions” that you see. With the example of Judas and the field, yes….that is pretty clear…one verse says he threw the money at the priests and that they bought a field with it, and then one verse says that “Judas bought a field.” It could either be saying that the field was bought in Judas’ name, or metaphorically…like “he got a field in exchange for Jesus’ life.” To me, things like this aren’t a big deal and not a reason for a person to reject the scriptures as “contradictory.” If they do, then that is because their hearts are hard, and it’s not our job to have to explain every tiny little perceived discrepancy just so people will accept that the Bible is God’s word. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. And it could be dangerous trying to do that because you kind of get hung up on “fixing all the verses” and then you end up taking verses that are pretty straightforward and saying that they mean something else…..and this would likely turn people even farther from accepting God’s Word anyway.

In the example of 1 Chronicles 10 and 1 Samuel 28, there is a very slight perceived discrepancy in that 1 Chronicles 10 says that Saul did not inquire of the LORD. And 1 Samuel 28 says: “When Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets.” So one author (unknown) says he didn’t inquire and the other (unknown) says he did. I just see it as the author in Chronicles meant that Samuel didn’t seek the Lord AGAIN, but instead sought counsel from a medium. Or maybe he meant that IN GENERAL Saul was not one to inquire of the Lord. My point is, it could get one onto shaky ground trying to iron out all of these little differences with dogmatic beliefs. Even if we use the KJV, which seems to be the version you prefer, I don’t see 1 Chronicles 10 and 1 Samuel 28 contradicting one another (except for what I mentioned above). 1 Chronicles says that Saul asked counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it. 1 Samuel 28 presents it as though Samuel’s own spirit came up. I absolutely believe in familiar sprits and that they impersonate real people and I am open to the possibility that this could have been the case, but 1 Samuel 28 just doesn’t present it this way, and what is stated in 1 Chronicles 10 doesn’t contradict because whether or not Saul was looking for a familiar spirit or Saul himself, it still could have been Saul’s own spirit….regardless of what he went looking for. And I think he really was trying to reach Saul himself, and even the medium herself freaked out when she saw Samuel. It was kind of like she was saying, “Yeah, sure….I’ll call up Samuel for you. Here we go.” (thinking she was calling a familiar spirit) And then when she saw who it was coming up she was like, “Oh my gosh…this is the real thing! What are you doing to me???” And just because God had ignored Saul earlier doesn’t mean that at this later point he didn’t get totally fed up with Saul and just let Samuel come up there and tell him his fate.

In John 11, I don’t see Jesus contradicting himself. It sounds like Jesus is saying that though the person dies physically, his spirit lives on. “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”

To be honest, I have a hard time seeing Matthew 16 the way you see it….but that doesn’t mean that we can’t agree on anything. It’s not like you are the only one who uses scriptures to explain each other and that I don’t……just because we come to different conclusions doesn’t mean we aren’t utilizing the same type of strategy.

As I said in my last comment, I do know that the story of Lazarus and the rich man is a parable. I’m only saying that all of Jesus’ parables relate to realistic happenings….buying a field, sowing seeds, finding a treasure, etc. It seems odd for Jesus to make up a fake Hades with a divide between them where the spirits of men dwelled after death. That doesn’t mean that all the details in the story were true in real life—clearly the message of the parable was about not loving riches and ignoring the needy. But this has been a great conversation and has gotten me to really delve deeper into the scriptures, so thank you.

Fast Freddie - September 12, 2013

Hey Lisa….wanted to hit on one thing in your first paragraph….in reguards to who will believe or accept God’s Word. After listening to a Christian Talk Radio Program Host (who actually is the reason I wound up on Henry’s site looking for answers) I had to agree with him on the subject of who will believe, not only in Jesus, but also in God’s Word period….. I believe only the Elect of God will hear and believe the scriptures although I am not a Calvinist… I’m Pentecostal…if you can believe it…lol… But what I’m saying is I believe The Holy Spirit will reveal to a person that the scriptures are real and true before they will ever start to believe them……however, that certainly does not mean we should not study to show ourselves approved as we share the Gospel and or all scripture with others. What do you and Henry think of this? Would love to hear yall’s opinion!

Lisa - September 13, 2013

Freddie–I find this topic very interesting as well. I attended a Christian High School in which they taught predestination/election, but I went to an Assembly of God church and they did not believe this doctrine. I felt it would be unfair of God to “pick and choose” who was to be saved, etc. And so I staunchly debated with my Bible teacher and some of the other students. But I’d have to say that as an adult, as I’ve studied the scriptures, trying not to allow any opinions or preconceived notions to influence me, I find the evidence strongly in favor of what you are saying here. I haven’t studied it out extensively so I’m still open, but I’ve definitely found several scriptures, and also have a sense inside of my spirit that this is the truth. Would also be interested in Henry’s belief on what the scriptures say about this.

86. Henry - September 13, 2013

I think the time has passed for me to close the comments on this particular topic. Thank you all for your contributions. God bless

Fast Freddie and Lisa, I have decided to open up a new topic where we can discuss the issues you have raised since it is a different topic to itself all together.


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