Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Email Q & A

Occasionally I get an email asking a tricky theological question. Because I was a ministry leader, there comes with it an assumption on the part of others that I must know my Bible better than they do. (And I guess if they are not reading the Word regularly that may be true.) More often than not, though, when faced with a tough question I have no idea what the answer is, and I work hard to find it! I would encourage you to do the same - if someone asks you one of those difficult questions that seem impossible to answer (such as, "Why do bad things happen to good people?"), pull out your Bible with a concordance, find Bible commentaries that have been put out by reputable publishers (Zondervan, for one), and try to find an answer!

Now, before I go any further, please be aware of the following caveat: I am not a theologian and have not been trained in theology, Biblical studies, seminary, or any such thing. Any thoughts, ideas, opinions that I share on this blog may possibly be theologically incorrect (and I do welcome correction from those who know more than me - lovingly, of course). But I do give you my assurance that, when faced with a theological question, a great deal of prayer and Biblical research goes into any answer I offer.

This week's Q & A:

So I am dealing with a lot of questions I have about death right now and the more I search through the bible the more confused I become - I'm hoping you have a minute and can share your thoughts on this with me. Please? Do you believe we die and go to heaven or do we just die and that's it, we're dead, until Christ returns and THEN we're resurrected and go to heaven? Everywhere I search I can find scripture supporting that when Jesus returns living Christians will be transformed and the dead will be resurrected - but does that mean that when we die we are just dead until Jesus returns? I don't know why that makes me so sad! I guess it's because I really truly would like to believe that my loved ones who are gone really are 'in a better place', not just dead.

My Answer:
I believe that we die and immediately go to Heaven (Matthew 7:21 talks about entering the Kingdom of Heaven, which says to me that we can and will go there). (Also, when on the cross and the thief hanging next to Jesus asks to be saved, Jesus says, "TODAY you will be with me in paradise. Luke 23:42-43) A few others I found to support my belief are: Philippians 1:23, 2 Corinthians 5:6-8, Hebrews 12:23.

And my understanding is that the dead who are resurrected when Jesus returns are all those who were believers but died before Christ's death and resurrection. Now, I'm not sure about this, but I THINK that for Jesus's 1000 year reign on earth, those of us in Heaven also return to earth to reign with Him.

So here's my best explanation of why I believe this way... Prior to Jesus coming, there was really only one way for people to ensure their salvation - they had to live virtually perfect, sin-free, Godly lives. The only one I remember reading about was Elijah (2 Kings 2:11), who was so godly that God just took Him up to Heaven one day - he didn't even die! [I have since remembered that Enoch was also simply "taken to Heaven" - Genesis 5:24.] The others, who loved God but were also sinners, like David, Abraham, Noah, etc. - they are the ones who (I think) simply died and are waiting for Christ's return. (Just thinking out loud here - I guess there is always the possibility that they were taken up to Heaven after the resurrection as well. Not 100% sure.)

But when Christ came, His blood gave us a New Covenant. The old law (that's the Torah, or the first 5 books of the Old Testament) was gone (Romans 7:6, Luke 22:20, Hebrews 8:13 and 9:15), and the only law that remained was, "The only way to the Father is through the Son." (John 14:6) So I believe that if we go through the Son (accepting His gift of sacrifice for our salvation) we will go directly to the Father when we die.

I hope this helps, but I would definitely encourage you to do more digging on your own. I find Bible gateway a helpful tool for searching certain topics in the Bible, and I'm sure there are some books on the matter by respected theologians at your local Christian bookstore.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! You did such a great job of explaining this.

    For what it's worth, I agree;)


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