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What we know about heaven and hell

Heaven/Hell going at death is logically imcompatible

Postby Jostled » Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:31 pm

Heaven/Hell-going at death is logically incompatible with the Biblically revealed Divine scheme.

The typical Christian view, if I am not mistaken, is that one has an immortal soul which does not cease to exist at the end of one's life, but rather goes to either heaven or hell, depending on the faith of the individual.

I believe this idea is logically incompatible with the Bible's clearly illustrated promise of bodily resurrection.

The scheme is, briefly, as follows: one lives one's life and dies, returning to the "dust of the earth" (cp. Gen.3:19); at the appointed time, Jesus Christ will return to the earth; the first thing he will do, is raise "many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth" (Dan.12:2); following this resurrection, there will be a judgement seat, in which "they that have done good" will be given "everlasting life", and "they that have done evil" will be 'condemned' (see Jn.5:29).

Commonly, Christianity slots "going to heaven/hell" in between dying and being resurrected (correct me if I am wrong). They say the following: one lives one's life and dies, and one's body returns to the "dust of the earth", whilst one's immortal soul goes to heaven or hell, depending on the individual's faith; Christ returns at the appointed time and raises the dead, an operation in which the 'souls' take on their bodies again (ie. the bodies are resurrected). I am somewhat unclear as to what they believe happens after this.

But what is the point in resurrection if one already has one's reward in heaven or hell? Paul clearly states in 1Cor.15:13-14, that our faith is worthless, indeed, we would have no hope at all if there was no resurrection. If, then, our hope is to go to heaven, why a resurrection?

Some more points for discussion, namely, the faithful men and women in the Bible relied solely on the resurrection for life after death; for a hope of salvation:

Abraham was promised the land of Canaan. "For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever." - Gen.13:15

Yet, Abraham has not yet received this promise, proving that he must be resurrected from the dead (see Heb.11:13,39-40).

Job believed that "the grave" was a place of non-existence, yet he believed in a resurrection (read Job.14:1-14 and compare Job.19:26).

David believed that "death" was a state in which there was "no remembrance of God" (Psa.6:5), yet he was promised that he would see one of his descendants (Jesus - Lk.1:32) physically reign on his throne "for ever" (2Sam.7:12-16). He is told that this kingdom would be established after he "slept with his fathers" in the grave (v12), but that it would also be established "before him" (v16). This clearly implies a resurrection. I know this promise initially applies to Solomon, but it also applies to Christ.

Jesus Christ himself believed that a resurrection was the only hope he had when he died (Psa.16:10; Acts 2:27). Side issue: what happened to Jesus' soul whilst he was dead for three days?

The apostle Paul clearly believed that the resurrection was the only "hope" of salvation from death (Acts.23:6; 1Cor.15; Phillipians.3:11)
Peter's hope was also in the resurrection (Acts.4:2; 1Pet.1:3; 3:21)

Just one more quote to spark some discussion, which I believe strengthens my point:

" And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." - Jn.3:13

And there's heaps more, but I think I've made my point. The Bible teaches that the resurrection is the only hope of life after death, therefore the doctrine that one's soul goes to heaven after death is incorrect.
Jostled
 

Re: Heaven/Hell going at death is logically imcompatible

Postby jimwalton » Sun Feb 03, 2019 12:49 pm

> The typical Christian view, if I am not mistaken, is that one has an immortal soul which does not cease to exist at the end of one's life, but rather goes to either heaven or hell, depending on the faith of the individual.

You are correct about this premise, but there is nothing logically incompatible about it. Some of your diagnoses and explications are flawed.

> one lives one's life and dies, returning to the "dust of the earth" (cp. Gen.3:19), etc.

Correct. Our bodies decay. And you're right: at the first resurrection, Jesus will raise their bodies to life, and everyone will be judged for the decisions they made and what they did during life.

> Commonly, Christianity slots "going to heaven/hell" in between dying and being resurrected (correct me if I am wrong).

Correct, but not totally. It doesn't go far enough. Heaven and hell are also after the 1st resurrection. Death and hell will be thrown into the lake of fire, which is the 2nd death (Rev. 20.13-15). Those who died in Christ are ushered into the new heaven (Rev. 21). So heaven and hell are not slots, but happen in stages, so there is no logical incompatibility.

> But what is the point in resurrection if one already has one's reward in heaven or hell?

It all takes place in stages and various levels of fulfillment. At first we are more like disembodied souls (some think). Others think that there is a compression of time so that we all arrive simultaneously. The world in which Christianity arose affirmed the immortality of the soul (Plato). But biblical faith has always insisted on something very different. God’s ultimate purpose for all humanity, lost and redeemed (Jn. 5.29; Acts 24.15), is not an eternal, incorporeal existence, but rather the resurrection of the body. The point of the resurrection is re-embodiment: a return to bodily life, though a very different sort of body.

> Genesis 13.15 and Abraham

Canaan and the Promised Land is a physical outworking of a spiritual truth. By giving Abraham and his descendants the land, God would use them to reveal Himself to the world. It's true that Abraham must have an afterlife to see the fulfillment of these promises. His re-embodiment don't particularly pertain to them, however.

> Job

It is debated whether Job teaches resurrection. It is generally thought that he is not, because there is not enough evidence to justify a biblical belief in individual resurrection and immortality for the just until we get to the New Testament. Job's point is more that life is bleak, and life after death in Sheol is just drudgery, a common belief of the ancient Near East.

> David

David believed in Sheol (Ps. 6.5), as did all in his time. But he also believed in the prophecies about the Davidic covenant being a permanent covenant resulting in the messiah coming to the world. in 2 Sam. 7.16, the word "before" doesn't mean preceding in time, but rather "in front of." God will bring the eternal throne of the Messiah to pass. This verse doesn't speak of resurrection.

> Jesus: what happened to Jesus' soul whilst he was dead for three days?

No one really knows. There are theories. But we know his body didn't experience decay (Acts 2.27, 31). The 3-day frame and non-decaying relate to evidence that he was sinless. It's not really known what happened to Jesus's soul while he was dead, but the best theories pertain to moving the souls of his followers to a different state.

> The apostle Paul clearly believed that the resurrection was the only "hope" of salvation from death

Correct.

> And Peter.

Also correct, but we still have no logical incompatibility.

> John 3.13

Jesus is not saying there is no resurrection. He is instead saying that no one has gained heaven and penetrated divine mysteries by themselves. Remember he was talking to a Jewish leaders, and the Jews taught that great saints could attain heaven by their own efforts. Jesus's point in the whole text is that ascent to heaven is possible, but only by the Spirit by new birth. It is not humanly possible. He is also claiming that He knows God and these divine truths because He Himself experienced timeless existence with God before his incarnation. This verse is not saying anything about resurrection, so it doesn't strengthen your case.

> The Bible teaches that the resurrection is the only hope of life after death, therefore the doctrine that one's soul goes to heaven after death is incorrect.

Therefore your conclusion is incorrect. The Bible does NOT teach this. Salvation in Jesus is our only hope, and that salvation includes resurrection to life or to judgment following death. There is no logical incompatibility with the doctrine of resurrection as long as we understand it properly by interpreting the verses correctly.


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