Monday, June 21, 2010

Do Christians go to Heaven at the Moment of Death?


Q: Do Christians go to Heaven at the moment of death?

A:

1. What does it mean to be dead?
Dead= your soma is in a casket, river, urn, whatever. Your pneuma/psyche (spirit, soul, consciousness) is somewhere else. The destination of where else you are we will get into in a little bit.

2. The Bible says that those in Christ "fall asleep". What does this mean? Dead.
To fall asleep, is a metaphor for being dead. In the Hebrew Bible and the world of the Hebrews, the phrase "to sleep" for someone who is no longer living, means to die.

Example- John 11:11-14, Jesus said that Lazarus had fallen asleep. The disciples were confused as to why Jesus needed to help a guy taking a nap, so Jesus speaks in a literal way by telling them that Lazarus is dead.

Example 2- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16, Paul talks about those who have fallen asleep in Christ. Later he refers to those same people who are dead & how they, at Christ's coming, will rise first. They are asleep in Christ/dead.

Example 3- 1 Kings 2:10, David slept with his fathers and was buried.

See also Lazarus and the rich dude. See Luke 16:19-31.

There is no soul sleep. Some suggest this, but it is not found in the Bible. At best, it is a misinterpretation of the first three examples I just gave.

3. So what happens at the moment of death for Christians?
At the moment of death 2 things happen.
Your body (soma) stops working.
Your spirit, soul, consciousness (pneuma, psyche) go to one of two places.

Place 1- Hades>Lake of Fire
If you are not in Christ, it goes to Hades (see Luke 16:19-31 for a description of what this place is like) until the Great White Throne Judgment, where Christ will then cast a person into the Lake of Fire which was prepared for Satan & his angels. This is the second death, a place of conscious bitterness & torment.
*Possibly, this is a place where God gives the sinner exactly what they want. An eternity of separation from God. Freedom to be on their own. But the question then is, "why are they so unhappy?".
*Is this place fair? Is God just? YES. People know their is such a place, but don't really worry about it, often until it is too late.
*God also made known the remedy for sin. That is through submitting to the savior, receiving His gift of salvation and turning from our sin (self-directed living).
God leaves us the choice. To say, "God, I don't want you. I am fine thanks.". Or to say, "God I have sinned, Jesus I need your help, the salvation you offer, and I want you to be my Lord.".

Place 2- Heaven, Eden, with God, Paradise
Those that are "in Christ", at the moment of death go to be with Christ.
In fact, quite possibly, death is the point in which Jesus comes and removes us from our bodies. I have heard stories from people I know who, at the moment of their death, have raised up their hands to Jesus, smiled, and said, "Jesus" and then died.

Example 1- Stephen's death, Acts 7:52-60.

Biblical support
Luke 23:43- Jesus tells the criminal hanging next to him that he would be with him, TODAY in paradise.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8- Paul would rather be absent from the body & at home with the Lord. Not that this rules out an intermediate place, but Paul makes no mention of some other option.
Philippians 1:23- Paul would like to depart & be with Christ. To depart is to be with Christ.
Hebrews 12:23- the spirits of the righteous who are made perfect, there are some who are enrolled (in the census) of Heaven from the church. See some examples in Revelation 6:9-11; 7:9-10; 6:10

Further Questions-
1. What about Purgatory?
Purgatory is not taught in the Bible, it is a Catholic tradition. There is reference to "praying for the dead" in one of the Apocryphal books, but these are not on par with Scripture.
Purgatory is an insult to the sufficiency of the blood of Jesus Christ.
Purgatory is against the gospel. It teaches that somehow we need to work or wait off, to merit, at least in part, our salvation. Scripture clearly teaches that we cannot earn our salvation, it is a free gift. God designed it this way so that only He can receive the glory, not human pride. God will not allow humans to receive any self-made glory. And this is why the message of the Cross is so difficult. People want, in their pride, to be self-made. They don't want to submit to a handout. The Cross was a handout.

2. Aren't those who have died outside of Christ, at some point, annihilated? No. The Bible clearly teaches eternal, consciousness. We are eternal beings. Our flesh is created, material, takes up mass. Our inner person is immaterial & therefore cannot be destroyed. There is eternal death but not the word eternal. There is no ending point. It is the eternity of separation from the blessings of God, exactly what the person wanted in life, but in death will soon learn to regret. It is an eternity of regret and suffering.

3. Say I die in some freak accident before I make a choice....do I get a choice after death? No. It is appointed for a person to die once, and after that to face judgment. We will eventually realize that Christ is the Lord, but we only have this life to make our choice, according to Jesus. And we already know this to be true, so after death we will be without excuse.

4. What about babies or the mentally unable who die? What about murdered/aborted babies? Bible is not clear, but I would appeal to God's mercy on this one. If they are unable to make a choice because of mental inability, then I believe God is merciful.

5. What about those who have never heard? I posted on this already. Let me know if you want more info. on this on, as this is not the scope of this discussion.

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