| The pastor said...|
Thank you for reading this thread.
I am a little confused about the Bible and Judgement. Does Judgement Day happen each and every moment that someone dies? ...AND there will be the 'greater' Judgment Day when Christ returns? This would then mean that as soon as one dies that they go directly to heaven or hell...?
The reason I ask is because the pastor at the South Korean church that I attend made a statement two weeks ago that has not sat well within me.
An elder of the church died a few weeks ago and last week the pastor said that he is in heaven and we are to now enjoy a meal in his honor (we usually eat after each service, but this one was going to be 'extra special').
What I am having a problem with is not that the elder would make it to heaven or not, but whether or not a (any) pastor has that knowledge or right. Something that further bothers me is if this was someone who was not an elder, nor was saintly, but just a 'sunday Christian' whom had never received Christ and then the pastor casually said that he too 'was in heaven'.
I could go on, but I think I will only confuse myself even further. It just seems like a dangerous habit to get oneself into...proclaiming ones destination.
Am I wrong in questioning this? Am I judging?
| 2008/10/20 4:48|
| Re: The pastor said...|
It just seems like a dangerous habit to get oneself into...proclaiming ones destination.
Am I wrong in questioning this? Am I judging?
Brian, I, too, have come to this point. When someone dies, many are quickly assuming he/she made it to heaven (usually). The reality is we simply do not know. No one else knows what resided in the heart of this person which could effect his/her eternal destination. Since this is the case I am learning to not speculate; this person had all the opportunities in the world to come to the LORD and I know the Holy Spirit desires all to come to Him so now therefore I will no longer concern myself about a person whose fate is now sealed: nothing can be done to alter it, for good or bad.
Insofar as judgement is concerned, I will leave that to others...you are asking an old question, one that I have grappled with as well..
| 2008/10/20 7:37||Profile|
| Re: The pastor said...|
Scripture has much to say on this subject. Much.
But, since it can be a divisive subject, and might probably become so, I'd rather leave it at that.
| 2008/10/20 9:10||Profile|
| Re: The pastor said...|
No you are not wrong in questioning. I do myself. Not that I speak as someone that knows a lot. I don't. But in the past eight months I have had a grandmother, aunt, uncle, and cousin to die. Every preacher seems to put them all in heaven.
Two of them I know were Christians. Not just by confession, but by the way they lived. Yet they all said they were Christians.
I however, don't seem to find this question of 'are they' or 'aren't they' in the scriptures (NT).
I think it is because in the early church people were known to each other. They were known not just by their confession, but by the way they lived. They lived among each other and were known by each other. For instance:
"Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business". Acts 6:3
"And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;" 1 Thes. 5:12
Most Christians don't seem to really know...I mean really know... those that labor among them. Therefore when someone we know dies, we ask 'Where are they really?' 'In heaven?' 'How do we know?'
I do know this. Paul says,
"While we live in this earthly tent, we groan with a feeling of oppression; it is not that we want to get rid of our earthly body, but that we want to have the heavenly one put on over us, so that what is mortal will be transformed by life.
God is the one who has prepared us for this change, and he gave us his Spirit as the guarantee of all that he has in store for us.
So we are always full of courage [b]We know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord's home[/b]." 2 Cor. 5:4-6
| 2008/10/20 15:52||Profile|
I agree that it is certainly acceptable to question such things.
This has been discussed here (and elsewhere) for many, many years. In fact, I was in a congregation a few weeks ago where the pastor made the same declaration -- and added a little doctrinal points about there being more than one Day of Judgment (you know, the ol' ideas about the "Great White Throne Judgment" and "Judgment Seat of Christ"). The preacher went on to describe the idea of a paradise known as "Abraham's Bosom" as a holding cell for the "righteous" from the Old Testament who died outside of the sacrifice of Christ (which begs the question about how they could be "righteous" in the first place -- and whether dying without the sacrifice of Christ was such a terrible thing in the first place).
At best, I think that making doctrines about such a subject that is so fuzzy from the Scriptures is a little hasty. Is it "[i]making doctrines out of molehills[/i]?" Who knows? But I would caution individuals from preaching anything as a TRUTH that isn't abundantly clear from Scripture (even if it seems quite clear -- but there is still a possibility for doubt). It would be terrible to preach a false doctrine simply because we perceived it to be true.
As far as my views on the matter: I think that we often look at this issue [i]through a glass darkly[/i]. We view death as the ultimate end. But is it? After removing a grave stone, Jesus spoke with a loud voice, "[i]Lazarus, come forth!" But where was Lazarus? After his death (four days earlier), did Lazarus (brother of Mary and Martha) immediately go to Judgment and then to Heaven or a place called Abraham's Bosom? Or was he merely [i]sleeping[/i]?
We know that "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord" (II Corinthians 5:8). But are we actually absent from the body...or are we merely sleeping?
Perhaps our flaw in this mystery comes from our limited perspective regarding eternal matters. We are confined to this little thing called TIME. Our physical lives, world and universe have a beginning and an end. Our perspective is skewed by such a notion of time. Yet God is not confined by time. He is EVERLASTING. For an eternity before our physical universe began -- God existed. As the omnipotent and omniscient God, there really isn't a past, present or future for Him. He sits in Eternity -- where He can see past, present and future all at once. This is how He "knew us" before we were born (Psalm 139, Jeremiah 1, etc...). This is how He already knows who belongs to Him and who does not (perhaps an explanation of Calvinist ideas about predestination?).
Consider this: What if we actually do sleep (spiritually) when we die? Perhaps time is no longer a focus for us -- and we sleep? Perhaps our passing from physical life to physical death (a vapor) and then into eternity would (from our perspective) seem just a moment -- even though our spirits sleep for the duration of human history and until the trumpet sounds? Perhaps we all sleep until that trumpet -- and then we all appear in the timeless place known as Eternity? We would all arrive at the same time -- small and great, rich and poor, free and slave. For each of us, it seemed like a twinkling of the eye. At that point, everyone from history would suddenly "awake" at the same place -- where they stand before God in Judgment?
In the Old Testament, there are many instances where it says that a king died and "rested" or with his fathers. Yet Jesus told the repentant thief on the cross that "today you will be with me in paradise." Did Jesus go to paradise? Did He go anywhere other than the grave?
Regardless of our attempt to create a timeline, it is skewed by the ultimate lack of final clarity in the Scriptures. We are left with facts regarding the end. Are we supposed to attempt a way to "figure out" such timelines about the end? If we thought that we did have it figured out, are we supposed to preach it as a truth? Or are we merely meant to understand the facts as presented in the Word of God (the end result of those who die in sin, etc...)?
To this, I would recommend to preachers to avoid making doctrines out of things that aren't entirely clear. How many cults and denominations are formed out of a particular interpretation over a single passage of Scripture? Yet the Bible talks about the importance of "two or more witnesses." If the Mormons had figured that out, perhaps they would never have turned to doctrines that preach everything from "other sheep" (they take to mean American Indians) and their doctrine regarding "baptism for the dead" (which they take from I Corinthians 15:29). Many charismatic churches preach about Jesus dying and then descending into Hell in order to take the keys from Satan (as if they keys were some sort of pseudo-physical object -- and there was a battle needed in addition to the cross). There is a danger in creating doctrines or mandates over something that isn't entirely clear -- or that isn't necessary in the scope of eternity.
The bottom line is that we should live for the purpose in which mankind was created -- to know and fellowship with the Living God who created all there is. Do we go straight to Judgment upon death? Do we sleep until a trumpet sound? Do we [u]ALL[/u] stand in the same Judgment (as Revelation chapter 20 seems to indicate) -- or is there more than one Judgment? Or should we not worry about the exact nature of the future -- since such things are really too wonderful for us to understand completely?
Forgive me for mumbling. I guess that one thing is abundantly clear: Those who die without Christ are doomed. For those who die in Christ, it is "gain" (Philippians 1:21).
| 2008/10/20 16:52||Profile|
Thank you all for your...answers! ;-) I guess I'll file the question in the 'unanswerable' and move on to another.
| 2008/10/22 8:01|
I think perhaps we forgot this scripture.
1 Peter 3v15,'But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.'
Why is it that there is no answers to these questions? None?
Well, we all know there is, but it seems people are afraid to reach conclusions.
| 2008/10/22 9:05||Profile|
but it seems people are afraid to reach conclusions.
Conclusions offend people.
Being hesitant, uncertain, and moderate about everything makes a person seem more thoughtful, humble, and sensitive. It's the ethos of our post-modern culture. Having certainty implies you know right and wrong, good and bad, and other standards.
I'm not implying anything regarding the topic of this thread. I'm just answering your question.
| 2008/10/22 9:13||Profile|
That's just it Compton, conclusions offend people, so we don't reach any conclusions. And then we have the gall to go out and tell people Jesus is the answer, and all the time we aren't even sure ourselves.
There seems to be a sort of 'universalist' attitude that prevails when people die, or an 'all roads lead to God' attitude if you like.
Like, if there is a hell, no one goes there, if there is a heaven, everyone goes there.
Why would there be two opposing places if everyone goes to the same place?
2 Cor 5v10, 'For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ ...
Now, I don't know what the word 'all' means to you, but for me, all means all.
Anyway, enough said.
| 2008/10/22 9:21||Profile|
Remember the Wheat and the Weeds that Jesus spoke about? There are going to be some in the congregation that look, act and sound like the Children of God who are going to be eternally separated from His Glory. There are also going to be some 'Sunday Christians,' or outright 'Sinners' who will probably be there against our better judgement -that is why Jesus says not to worry about pulling out the weeds, lest we uproot some of the wheat as well. There are going to be people who look like weeds that are actually wheat, and people who look like wheat that are actually weeds -it is going to be the task of the angels to divide them in the end.
Jesus said to the criminal on the cross, 'today you'll be with me in paradise.' But then again, to God a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day... so theologically speaking, there's really nothing in the bible that answers the question whether we are judged immediately upon dying or at some great endtime judgement... maybe we just have to wait in line for a long time, then again that sounds like Catholic purgatory... so maybe not.
I also attend a Korean church, and over the years my pastor has made such declarations that worried me. He once confessed that he had a hard time comforting the parents of a young man who had committed suicide -they wanted to be assured that he was in heaven, and he couldn't bring himself to share with them what the bible has to say about suicide, he copped out. I think that most people, even good Christians would rather not have to deal with hell... then again, we can also be insensitive and unloving if we automatically condemn everyone to hell, even if they are truly saved. It is a difficult issue.
| 2008/10/22 9:31||Profile|