Questions Listed Under Heaven

Click on a title or click open the "+" icon to reveal answers to each question.

  • Hello! Are the Prophets now Saints? In advance, thank you!

    Yes – and the prophets, like all followers of the promised Savior Jesus Christ, were saints while they lived on earth. 

    People who are joined together in faith with the Savior enjoy forgiveness for all their sins and are holy in the sight of God (1 Corinthians 6:11; 1 Peter 2:9).  In the beginning of his inspired letters the apostle Paul regularly reminded his readers that they were saints because of God’s working in their hearts (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2). 

    Speaking the Apostles’ Creed is a regular reminder that we Christians are saints (“the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints”). 

    Saints Triumphant Sunday on the church calendar provides a special opportunity to thank God for fulfilling all his promises of eternal life to his children who died in the faith.  We Christians who live on earth have the assurance that we are saints in God’s eyes, and we confidently await the time when we too will be in his presence to praise him forevermore (Revelation 7).

    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.
     

  • I have read "End Times" by Thomas Nass twice. I am still puzzled about family in heaven. Matt 22:30 states that there is no marriage in heaven. There are many statements by members about seeing their loved ones when they die. The Mormons stress family in heaven. I can find no place in Scripture where this is clarified and our pastors don't comment on this. Is there any clarification in the Bible? I know our greatest hope is finally seeing Jesus, our Savior.

    End Times does address the subject of marriage and heaven on pages 183-184.  That section of the book explains, on the basis of Matthew 22:30, that marriage and family life are God’s blessings for this life and not the next. 

    I’m wondering from your question if you are thinking along these lines:  “Will I recognize that fellow Christians in heaven had been family members on earth?”  The Bible does not specifically address a question like that. 

    Some people note that Peter knew who Moses and Elijah were at Jesus’ transfiguration, even though he had never met them before in person (Matthew 17:4; Mark 9:5; Luke 9:33).  They take that to mean that we too will know who other Christians in heaven are and how we might have interacted with them during our earthly lives.  That is a possibility.  Others point to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 where Paul comforted the Christians in Thessalonica with the assurance that they would see Christians who had died in the past and be with them together forever. 

    While we look forward to that sight, we look forward above all to the sight you mentioned:  “I know our greatest hope is finally seeing Jesus, our Savior. “  We can count on that because of what the Bible says in places like Job 19:26-27; Psalm 17:15; Matthew 5:8; Hebrews 12:14; 1 John 3:2; and, Revelation 22:3-4.

    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.

     

     
     

  • Just read your article "Light for our path." Nov 2014 FIC. Your article left me with the impression that there will be heaven on a "new" earth, after judgement day. Is that to say that it will be the same orb that we now live in? I've never envisioned that, and would like to make sure that my thinking is on track. I've always believed that heaven (pre- and post-judgement) will be in a new heavenly realm. I know that when I die, my soul will go immediately to heaven with Jesus, and my soul will be reunited with my body (in heaven) after judgement day. I appreciate your time, and thanks for the article.

    The Bible states that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief.  The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare…That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.  But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:10, 12-13).  It is clear from this passage and others (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22;  Revelation 21:1) that on the last day this present world will pass away (Luke 21:33) and God will prepare “a new heaven and a new earth” for his people.

    The question that remains for us is whether God will 1) annihilate this present world and create another one, or 2) destroy this world without annihilating it and transform our present world into another one.  Total annihilation or transformation/renovation:  those are the legitimate options for understanding what the Bible says will take place on the last day.  Lutheran theologians and commentators have put forth support for both positions.  Because Scripture uses language and imagery of “renewal” (Matthew 19:28) and “rebirth” (Romans 8:21-22) in regard to this subject, there are probably more theologians who side with the transformation/renovation view.  Martin Luther was on that side.

    In the end—literally—it will not matter what specific course of action God takes on the last day.  The result will be a new, perfect world in which we will live with our glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:35-57). 

    How wonderful it is for us to know that whenever our lives on this earth do come to an end, we will be with the Lord forever.  You and I have that confidence because salvation—from beginning to end—is God’s doing.  It is his gift received through Spirit-worked faith.  I hope this answers your question.

    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.

     





  • Many of the people I know believe that they have been visited by deceased loved ones in the form of birds or other "signs." This seems to bring them comfort. I have told them I believe that while birds or other things can be beautiful reminders of our loved ones, they don't come back for a visit. They tell me they "felt" it and it was real. How can I lovingly let them know this is not true without making them feel their grief for the person all over again. I know we are to "speak the truth in love." I am such a "to the point" person and have trouble being tactful. I don't want to drive them from Jesus by making them angry at me so they won't hear me.

    You are doing well in carefully listening to your friends, tactfully asking them questions and responding in love with Scripture.  You do not specify whether or not your friends claim to embrace Christianity.  If that is the case, it would be fair to ask them where the Bible speaks of reincarnation.  (It does not, of course.)  The Bible does state that “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).  The Bible does describe people who have been judged as being in heaven or hell, with no possibility of leaving either place (Luke 16:19-31).   The comfort we have about loved ones who have died in the Christian faith is that they are in the presence of the Lord (Revelation 14:13), not that they have returned to us in some other form.  Statements from God in the Bible override any of our feelings to the contrary.

    If the friends you reference are not Christians, then their ideas of death are likely associated with many other wrong ideas.  That requires patient listening and witnessing on your part.  Point them to Jesus who alone gives eternal life (John 3:16; 11:25-26). 

    In either case, you partially answered your own question in that you want to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) to these friends and all whom you meet in life.

    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.

     



     

  • Please help me understand. When Jesus died for our sins and rose on Easter morning, all our debts were cancelled and paid in full. Correct? So, through Christ's death/resurrection, belief in Christ, and being baptized, we can be assured we will be in heaven. Correct? A fellow Catholic friend of mine suggests, no, we cannot be assured - how do we know we have paid for the damage of our sins? We need final purification before entrance into heaven and that the Bible states that few get gateway into heaven. Please help me to understand.

    You are correct in understanding the significance of Good Friday and Easter.  On the cross Jesus proclaimed, “It is finished” (John 19:30).  He announced that he paid in full the debt of our sins.  His rising to life on Easter Sunday was proof positive of the Father’s acceptance of his redeeming work (Romans 4:25). 

    You are also correct in understanding that Spirit-worked faith in Jesus brings into a person’s life the blessings of forgiveness, peace and eternal life.  As followers of Christ we can be confident that we will be with God forever in heaven because we have God’s own assurance and promise of that (Mark 16:16; John 3:15-16; 10:28; 14:2; Romans 6:23).

    When the debt of sin has been paid in full, there is no more debt to be paid.  When the perfect sacrifice for sin has been paid—and forgiveness of sins has been received in faith—there is no more sacrifice that can be made or needs to be made.  Hebrews 10 makes that very clear. 

    Finally, 1 John 1:7 tells us that “the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”  Not some sins or most sins, but all sin.

    Because salvation is God’s doing from beginning to end, you and I can be absolutely certain of our status right now as members of God’s family, and we can confidently claim heaven as our eternal home.

    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.

  • 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).

Search the Archive

Begin by entering a topic. Then press "GO".

Search the Q&A archive to find answers from WELS seminary professors. Can't find your question in the archive? Submit your own.