The After-death Experience
January 10, 2014
To Norman, regarding your comment to Laura at my comment page yesterday:
I agree that what Laura believes is far from the Truth. People up in Heaven are not omniscient. There is nothing in God’s Word that says that humans who have died are watching humans alive on earth, nor that they are even being informed about anyone’s daily life. Do Laura and other Catholics believe that their loved ones are watching them, watching even the most private of their earthly activities? What a bizarre belief, a belief having no Biblical basis. If Catholics are basing this belief of theirs on Heb. 12:1 which reminds us that because we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses we should throw off sin and encumbrances, then they are reading into this verse something that is not there. Is it because of the word “cloud” that they believe the witnesses to be in Heaven? Heb. 12:1 is not stating such a thing, but is instead teaching us that because we have many people on earth, as well as angels and demons, watching our lives, we are to live wisely and prudently, in holy discipline and faithfulness to Christ.
Norman, you say, “To Laura. I am sorry to inform you, but heaven is not inhabited by millions of people who have died in the past. Their destination will only be decided at the judgement of the great white throne. Those whose names are not written in the book of life will be thrown into hell, which will also be empty until this judgement.”
However, your belief is not what the Word of God teaches either. In Scripture Heaven and Paradise are used interchangeably, and Jesus, while dying on the cross alongside the repentant thief, told that thief, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) In other words, “Today you will be with Me in Heaven.” Heb. 4:7-11 shows us that God’s meaning of “Today” means “The Eternal Now” / “The Eternal Present”. This is also why Paul was torn between wanting to remain in the body, so as to continuing helping others, and wanting to depart and be with Christ. (Phil. 1:22,23)
There are people in Heaven right now. As Jesus taught, “But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob?’ He is not the God of dead men, but of the living.” (Mt. 22:31,32) There are also people in Hell right now. “For just as God did not spare the fallen angels when they sinned, but consigned them to Hell’s gloomy pits until the judgement” (see 2 Peter 2:4), “so will the Lord keep unrighteous humans in punishment until the day of judgement.” (See v. 9)
Norman, if you believe a person’s destination is decided upon only at the Final Judgement, then it appears you believe all the deceased are, for a time, non-existent. But an immortal soul (spirit), which humans have, always exists. Moreover, by reading Luke 16:19-31, we can easily see that, after their deaths, Abraham and Lazarus were in comfort, that the rich man was in the fires of Hell, and that the rich man desired that his brothers who were still alive back on earth would be warned about that place of torment to which he found himself banished. Anyone who believes that Jesus was telling a parable here and not an actual event, should think about why Jesus would choose to mislead people about the afterlife. The fact is, He wouldn’t. Jesus is giving His listeners a real-life example of what is going to take place after death for each individual, their destinations being dependent upon how they treated Him and His Message, and how they treated their fellowman.
Yes, we must all stand before the Final Judgement. (Mt. 25:31-46 // 2 Cor. 5:10 // Rev. 20:11-15) But we are told that at that Judgement, “death and Hades (Hell) give up the dead that are in them” (see Rev. 20:13) so that each person can be judged (same verse) –either for eternal life or for eternal punishment. (Mt. 25:46) “Then death and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire which is the second death.” (See Rev. 20:14) Verse 15 states it a different way: “If anyone’s name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” All who are wicked, deceitful, and impure will be thrown there (21:8,27), as well as all who were inconsiderate of others (Mt. 25:41-46), because everyone will be “paid / judged according to what he has done.” (See Rom. 2:6 and Rev. 20:13) –That is, according to what his words, deeds, and motives, deserve. (Mt. 12:36,37 // John 5:29 // Rom. 2:5-16)
Heb. 9:27 tells us that we are all destined to die once, and then after that to face judgement. By interpreting Scripture with Scripture, and though we are not told all the specifics, we can understand that once we pass, through physical death, from this earth, we step into a dimension of eternity that consists of a real place, a place that is either with Christ or without Him. With Him is to be in Heaven and without Him is to be in Hell.