Questions Listed Under Heaven

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  • What do our pastors say about this movie? I feel that it contradicts the Bible. I am a DMLC graduate.

    There are no official reviews of books or movies on this website.  In the past I responded to questions about the Son of God movie only because I saw the movie.  I have no plans of seeing the movie Heaven is for Real.  Perhaps your pastor has seen the movie and can pass along a reaction of it to you.  Or you might try searching online for one of our pastors who has perhaps provided a review in a personal blog or congregational newsletter.

    Answered by James Pope, professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn. Pope is a contributing editor to Forward in Christ magazine. He writes the monthly “Light for our path” question and answer column.

      

  • If someone we love does not make it to heaven and we do, will we know that in heaven? If so, how will we feel?

    Addressing your question can require some speculation.  A starting point though is that “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4) for Christians in heaven.  Christians will be filled with joy and eternal pleasures in God’s sight (Psalm 16:11). We know that there will be absolutely no sorrow in heaven.  That means that if there is an awareness of someone’s absence from heaven, that fact will not interfere with our joy. 

    How could that possibly be?  Right now, with your question, we are trying to imagine an existence in heaven that is beyond our understanding.  Right now we struggle comprehending, and in some cases accepting, God’s ways: why does he do things on earth this way, or why doesn’t he do that?  In heaven our wills will be entirely in line with God’s will (as was the case with Adam and Eve at the beginning of time).  In heaven, the words we pray now—“Your will be done”—will be a way of life for us.

    Your question underscores how important it is that we share with our friends and family the good news of Jesus Christ, that through Spirit-worked faith they can be with us in the perfect joys and glories of God’s presence in heaven.

    Answered by James Pope, professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn. Pope is a contributing editor to Forward in Christ magazine. He writes the monthly “Light for our path” question and answer column.

     

     



     

  • When we die and go to heaven will we remember anything from on Earth? like memories? and people?

    Scripture says relatively little about what things will be like for us between the time of our death and the day of the Resurrection. That means we should be careful not to say too much. We will still be ourselves (minus sin) with all that that entails. That would suggest we will have certain kinds of consciousness and memories, though none of these will cause us any pain.

    We will be with Christ (Philippians 1:23), and we will certainly recognize him. There are passages that seem to show that the souls of those in both heaven and hell have other kinds of awareness, including recognition of other people. See Revelation 6:9-10 and Luke 16:19-31.

  • When we die, are we immediately judged, or do we wait till THE Judgment day to go to heaven? What does the Bible say about this?

    The Bible speaks clearly to indicate that we are granted access to glory at the time of our death. Consider what Jesus said to the repentant, believing criminal who was crucified alongside him: "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43) This is also the way the Apostle Paul spoke, for example, in Philippians 1:21-23 -- "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. . . . I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far."

    The Bible also speaks clearly that we will stand before Christ to be judged on the Last Day. Consider the detailed description of that event in Matthew 25:31-46 or these words from 2 Corinthians 5:10 -- "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ."

    So our answer to your question is not an either-or answer but a both-and answer. We are apparently judged privately or individually at the time of our death as our souls are received into glory to be with our Savior. And we will be judged publicly on Judgment Day with all mankind, as our resurrected bodies with the soul are received into glory as well.

    And the best news, of course, is that we already know the verdict as we rely on Jesus Christ and rejoice in the salvation he earned for us. We are forgiven! Our sins are not counted against us since they were counted against Jesus and fully dealt with, that is, paid for in full.

  • Will believers know one another by name in heaven?

    While we admit that there is limited Bible information on this, there seems to be ample evidence for us to hold this belief.

    In our Savior's account of the rich man and poor Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31, we note that the rich man, in hell, looked up and saw Lazarus with Abraham. There was recognition, even beyond the citizens of heaven. The account of our Lord's transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13) has Peter, James, and John seeing and somehow recognizing Moses and Elijah, although we are not informed how they were enabled to do so.

    Other Bible sections may be cited. Among them is Matthew 8:11. "I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven." The language of our Lord seems to indicate that we will know and recognize the patriarchs by name. 1 Thessalonians 4:17, giving information pertaining to Christ's second coming, says, "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." The comforting assurance established by the context of the passage is that we need not worry about fellow believers who die before (or after) we do. Reunion will happen—and the ability to recognize each other seems to fit well with the point being made.

    Finally, there are several Bible references to the "book of life" and our names being recorded there by our gracious Lord God. In Revelation 3:5, for example, we are told, "He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels." While our bodies will be glorified, and we will in some way be changed, our names appear to be unchanged and used for identification. And with regard to our transformed or glorified bodies, they will be patterned after the glorified body of our Lord Jesus following his resurrection (see Philippians 3:21).

  • When is a Christian soul accepted into heaven? Immediately after death or on judgment day? Are there two different times?

    The Bible is clear in saying that the soul of a believer enjoys heaven immediately upon physical death. For example, Jesus assured the repentant criminal who hung on one of the crosses next to him, "...today you will be with me in paradise." We know that he was referring to the man's soul and that his soul would be in heaven that very day. A few hours later, as Jesus gave his holy life to pay for the sin of the world, he cried out, "Father into your hands I commit my spirit." Immediately, his own soul entered heaven (Luke 23:42-46). Similarly, when the Apostle Paul was imprisoned for his faith in Christ and he thought about death, he expressed faith that as soon as his life would end, he, that is, his soul, would "be with Christ," and this would be "better by far" (Philippians 1:21-24).

    The Bible also teaches that on the Last Day or judgment day, when Jesus returns and raises the believer's body from the dead, and both body and soul together will begin to enjoy heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

    Saying what you have said about the soul is just fine: it may be said to enter the joyful presence of the Lord two times, once without the body (after death) and once with the body (on judgment day).

  • My mother passed away and I'm wondering when I die, will I see her and recognize her in heaven?

    Please accept our sincere sympathy on the loss of your mother. With you, we are confident that the surpassing joy of knowing that she is now with her Savior in glory will allow you to focus on what she and you have, not on what you have temporarily lost. On the matter of believers recognizing each other in heaven, we admit that there is limited Bible information on this. But there is also ample evidence for us to hold this belief.

    In our Savior's account of the rich man and poor Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) we note that the rich man, in hell, looked up and saw Lazarus with Abraham. There was recognition, even beyond the citizens of heaven. The account of our Lord's transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13) has Peter, James, and John seeing and somehow recognizing Moses and Elijah, although we are not informed how they were enabled to do so. But personal recognition remains real.

    Other Bible sections may be cited. Among them is Matthew 8:11, "I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven." The language of our Lord seems to indicate that we will know and recognize the patriarchs by name. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 gives pointed comfort pertaining to Christ's second coming and the reunion of believers who had been separated by physical death. "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." The comforting assurance established by the context of the passage is that we need not worry about fellow believers who die before (or after) we do. Reunion will happen—and the ability to recognize each other seems to fit well with the point being made.

    Finally, there are several Bible references to the "book of life" and our names being recorded there by our gracious Lord God. In Revelation 3:5, for example, we are told, "He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels." While our bodies will be glorified, and we will in some way be changed, our names appear to be unchanged and used for identification. And with regard to our transformed or glorified bodies, they will be patterned after the glorified body of our Lord Jesus following his resurrection (see Philippians 3:21).

  • How does the Bible describe what heaven looks like?

    There really is no systematic attempt in the Bible to describe our eternal home for us.  Most of what we know comes from offhand references as a speaker or author talks about some other topic (Examples: Daniel 12:2-3, Luke 16:22-26, John 14:2, Hebrews 11:16, etc.).

    The book of Revelation has some descriptive passages (See especially Revelation 21:9-27).  But these are generally meant to teach spiritual truths, not to tell us what we can literally expect to see with our eyes.   This is clear from the fact that the imagery is often fluid.  For instance, what exactly does a "city" look like when it's dressed like a "bride"? (Revelation 21:2)?

    When it talks about our eternal home, the Bible emphasizes above all that God will be present with us, and evil in every form will be completely absent.  That means no sin and no effects of sin (corruption, illness, death, etc.).  It means an eternity spent joyfully worshiping and serving our Savior God. 

    A place like this is so utterly foreign to our experience that even if the Bible did try to tell us what it will look like, we probably wouldn't be able to understand it.

  • What does the Bible mean when it speaks of the new heaven and the new earth? What will the new heaven and the new earth be like?

    On the Last Day, Judgment Day, the present heavens and earth (a term that denotes the universe as we now know it) will be discarded and replaced. Psalm 102:25-27 and Hebrews 1:10-12, and 2 Peter 3:10-13 are references to this truth, as is Romans 8:20-22. Some ask whether the prophecy refers to a material annihilation of the present universe and the creation of a new one, or whether there will be more of a radical renovation using existing material. The latter concept seems to us more likely and compatible with the vocabulary used in various passages on the subject.

    You ask what the new heavens and earth will be like. I am not sure how to answer aside from emphasizing that it will be the eternal home of believers and thus a parallel term with "heaven," where God and his people will enjoy eternity together. To try to speak in great detail is inevitably going to be somewhat speculative and unnecessary. As Martin Luther once said, for us to engage each other with detailed descriptions of our eternal home would be like twin fetuses telling each other about how it will be in the world after their birth. They haven't experienced it yet and are wise to limit their speculations.

    The late Professor Siegbert Becker wrote these fitting words: "The most detailed description of this new heaven and new earth we find in the last two chapters of the Bible, where we have also a detailed description of the place where God's people will live through all eternity. John first tells us that he had a vision of a new heaven and a new earth. . . . What more can we say to add anything to that picture of endless bliss and glory? We can only join in the prayer of St. Bernard, 'Jesus, in mercy bring us to that dear land of rest.' "

  • I was in a bad motorcycle accident years ago and had to have a leg amputated as a result. On the last day, when we are resurrected, will my new body have both legs again? I sure hope so! I am wondering because Jesus still had the marks of his wounds when he rose.

    That's an excellent question! When Scripture describes our resurrection bodies, it says that they will be "imperishable," "glorious," and "powerful" (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). It says they will be like Christ's body (Philippians 3:21)—without sin, or any of such effects of sin as liability to decay.

    Jesus' resurrection body did still bear the nail and spear marks from his crucifixion (John 20:27), but his body certainly was not the battered and gory mess that it had been on the cross. The marks served mainly to help the disciples recognize him, something that they appeared to find difficult. Descriptions of Jesus in glory as still looking as if he had been slain (Zechariah 12:10, Revelation 5:6) are making a theological point, rather than a literal statement that Jesus will look like a slaughtered sheep or a wounded man (that's probably also the best way to understand verse 2 of the hymn, "Crown Him With Many Crowns," Christian Worship 341). If Jesus' wounds are visible now, they serve the purpose of reassuring and comforting believers. It doesn't seem to follow that, if Jesus' wounds are visible, ours must be, too.

    In view of the glorious terms in which Scripture describes our resurrection bodies, I think it's safe to conclude that your legs will be restored. And the way Scripture emphasizes the indescribable joy that awaits us in heaven makes it clear that these questions—although they're very natural—shouldn't trouble us at all.

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