The Afterlife

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Paidion
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The Afterlife

Post by Paidion » Sat Jul 07, 2018 2:07 pm

My mother and my sister taught me that people go directly to heaven or to hell immediately after they die. They also taught me that there would some day be a resurrection of our bodies. As a young boy, I accepted this and held to it throughout my teen years and into my early twenties, though I often wondered what the purpose was of having our bodies resurrected. Wouldn't we be perfectly happy in heaven, if our "souls," which I understood as being our true selves, spent eternity with God and with other people who had been saved from hell? Why have a material body in which to live?

Later on, as I probed deeper into Bible study, I came across this shocking sentence written by the apostle Paul:

What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we
die." (I Corinthians 15:32 ESV)


Paul seems to imply that unless the dead are raised, we may as well eat, drink, and be merry. We might as well as enjoy ourselves as much as possible during this brief life, for after we die, there is nothing more for us.

However, many people believe that when we go to heaven after death, THAT IS the resurrection about which Paul was writing, and so that concept does not conflict at all with 1 Corinthians 15:32.

But Jesus was the FIRST to experience a personal resurrection. He was "the firstborn from the dead" (Colossians 1:18). However, HE did not go to heaven immediately after He died. Even after God had raised Him from the dead, He said to Mary:

"Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’" (John 20:17)

Also, His body was missing from the tomb, and so He must have experienced a BODILY resurrection. Furthermore it was the SAME body. He showed Thomas the wounds He had received during His crucifixion.

So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe." Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." (John 20:25-27)

Yet, although it was the same body, it was a changed body. For He was then able to enter a room whose doors were closed and locked.

So, as I understand it, we will not go to heaven after we die until we are raised to life in the resurrection. I would be pleased to read any thoughts you may have about these matters.

I know one cannot establish truth by subjective experience, but I would like to share one of mine anyway from a few years back.
In the morning I attended the funeral of the father of a close friend. The speaker at that funeral said, "Mr. H. will live again!" As he said this, a thrill went through my entire being. I went to another funeral in the afternoon. The speaker at that funeral said, "Mrs. K. didn't die; she just walked through a door." To me, that statement did not express any reality.
Paidion

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

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Homer
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Re: The Afterlife

Post by Homer » Sat Jul 07, 2018 5:10 pm

Very good post Paidion. You raise good points; I too believe Paul was saying if there is no resurrection we might as well live it up. This is why I believe the atheist doesn't usually live rationally. I knew one who did; he lived a totally selfish life.

I understand Paul's "if there be no resurrection" to mean if there is no afterlife. How it all works out I'm not sure. That is, "soul sleep " vs. existence as a bodiless spirit prior to resurrection.

MMathis
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Re: The Afterlife

Post by MMathis » Sat Jul 07, 2018 7:16 pm

If Jesus was the firstborn from the dead, what was Lazarus? Was he not resurrected? I 'm sure I've heard an explanation but I don't recall.
MMathis
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Seeker
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Re: The Afterlife

Post by Seeker » Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:09 pm

MMathis wrote:If Jesus was the firstborn from the dead, what was Lazarus? Was he not resurrected? I 'm sure I've heard an explanation but I don't recall.

I’ve heard that called resuscitation, though I would think it would have to be more than that. Surely the bodies coming out of the graves in Matthew 27 were fully dead and rotting or dust by the time they rose. It’s interesting that Matthew does not refer to that event as a resurrection, though concurrently he did refer to Jesus’ rising as a resurrection. I think the major difference is Jesus was raised to never die again, whereas the others died physically a second time.

For any who believe in soul sleep I’d be interested to know how Paul’s phrase “absent from the body is to be present with God” is to be understood.

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Paidion
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Re: The Afterlife

Post by Paidion » Sat Jul 07, 2018 10:53 pm

Seeker wrote:For any who believe in soul sleep I’d be interested to know how Paul’s phrase “absent from the body is to be present with God” is to be understood.
I don't believe in "soul sleep." I don't even believe in souls in the Greek philosophical sense, as the immaterial "you" that inhabits a physical body. I believe in man as a single entity of which "soul" and "body" are two aspects.

I was sure that someone would come up with the most misquoted verse in the Bible: "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." You don't find those words anywhere in the Bible, but they have been "quoted" so often, that the average Christian seems to believe that this is what Paul wrote, the same Paul who wrote that if there is no resurrection we may as well eat and drink—with the implication that this life is all there is. Now let's look at the whole passage in context and see what Paul actually wrote, along with my exposition.
1 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Paul thinks of the human body as a house in which we dwell. If this house is destroyed, if we die, when the resurrection occurs, we will have a "building" from God, the resurrected, immortal body in which to dwell.
2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven,
We groan while in this mortal body, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our immortal body with which we shall be raised.
3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked.
Being clothed with the resurrection body, we shall not be found "naked," that is, we shall not be found as bodiless souls or spirits.
4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.
In this mortal body we groan, not because we want to be unclothed—mere souls or spirits, but that our present mortality may be swallowed up by immortality.
5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.
As long as we dwell in these mortal bodies we are absent from the Lord.
7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.
8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
We would rather be absent from this mortal body and to be present with the Lord in the resurrected immortal body.
Paidion

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

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willowtree
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Re: The Afterlife

Post by willowtree » Sun Jul 08, 2018 12:29 am

Paidion wrote:So, as I understand it, we will not go to heaven after we die until we are raised to life in the resurrection. I would be pleased to read any thoughts you may have about these matters.
I believe some go to heaven upon death and others don't. Here is the way I see it.

Those who are martyred and those who come out of great tribulation have the unique characteristic that their lives were forcibly taken from them. They did not die natural deaths. There is a sense that these believers are 'first fruits' as they are shown to be fruit of quality for sacrifice and picked early as a first fruit sacrifice. They will not live to maturity in their lives. Rev 20 picks this group out as being separate from all other believers - who form part of the 'rest of the dead' a couple of verses later in the same chapter.

Additionally, these martyrs are not subject to any power from the second death - in my thinking because Satan has already judged them, but was unable to secure a conviction. He has no further claim on their lives.

So we have two different tracks on which people follow after death.

Upon death the martyred ones come to life (Rev 20 - the usual word for resurrection is not used because they are not resurrected at this point). and theyl ive and reign with Christ (who is in heaven - Ps 110) for a thousand years (from the first martyr to the end of the age).

The book of Revelation mentions numerous times this group in heaven who are clothed in white robes and called souls, often recalling that they have come through great tribulation. (A persons soul, in my understanding, is akin to the black box in an airplane - it survives the crash and is able to recall all the events of life that preceded the crash).

The 144,000 are the marytrs of the Old Testament, who could not precede Christ in resurrection, but upon Christs resurrection came back to life (as in Matthew) and followed Christ to heaven.

On Christ's return to earth at the second coming, he is accompanied by a host of heaven wearing white robes which we are told are the righteous acts of the saints. No natives of heaven would wear this kind of clothing, as it would be logically superfluous to draw any comment about them. It is a good description of the millennial crowd.

On the return of Christ to earth, then, three groups, or four, of people meet on earth on that great and glorious day. 1) The millennial reigners - martyrs, 2) the dead in Christ who arise to meet the Lord in the air (part of the 'rest of the dead'), 3) those who are alive and remain at the coming of the Lord, and, fourthly, the unbelievers - the dead, small and great, who will stand before God in judgment.

This is the event where the millennial reigners will be resurrected in the same sense that all believers will be resurrected. Up until this time they have been in heaven but as souls wrapped in robes, and without resurrection bodies.

This understanding provides some plausiblity to some scriputre references, leading me to think that this was well understood in NT times.
The writer of Hebrews in ch11 states that the heroes of the faith became partakers of a 'better' resurrection.
Paul himself, in Phil 3, wants to attain to the resurrection of the dead. But he well knew that everyone was going to be resurrected anyway, so the mere attainment of it was a given. He was looking for something better. And then he seeks to be absent from the body and present with the Lord, as misquoted frequently. But the deal is this, his intensity of living for Christ will likely end in his martyrdom, and in that event he would be immediately in the presence of the Lord. To die a natural death would be a different story.
Peter's comment about 1000 years being a day provides an answer to any number of questions in the context of two different tracks to heaven.

In the beatitudes there are two regarding persecution - blessed are they... for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, but Blessed are you - for great is your reward in heaven. Was this prophetic of the death the disciples would face?

Some thoughts for discussion
Graeme
If you find yourself between a rock and a hard place, always head for the rock. Ps 62..

TruthInLove
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Re: The Afterlife

Post by TruthInLove » Sun Jul 08, 2018 4:46 am

MMathis wrote:If Jesus was the firstborn from the dead, what was Lazarus? Was he not resurrected? I 'm sure I've heard an explanation but I don't recall.
Seeker wrote:I’ve heard that called resuscitatihion, though I would think it would have to be more than that. Surely the bodies coming out of the graves in Matthew 27 were fully dead and rotting or dust by the time they rose.
There are significant problems surrounding this event regardless of whether it’s viewed as a resurrection or resuscitation. For a thorough examination of these problems and a resolution I personally find reasonable, please see the JBL article “Matthew 27:52-53 as Apocalyptic Apostrophe: Temporal-Spatial Collapse in the Gospel of Matthew” by Kenneth L. Waters, Sr.

Waters has also written a companion paper entitled “Matthew 28:1-6 as Temporally Conflated Text: Temporal-Spatial Collapse in the Gospel of Matthew”. A free copy of both papers can be obtained for new registrants at this link.

In short, here's the case that Waters makes:

First, as Seeker pointed out, if Christ was truly (i.e. chronologically) the first-born of the dead as Scripture teaches in various places, seeing the risen saints as a resurrection in the same sense as the raising of Chist becomes problematic for this teaching.

Second, despite the many events that accompanied the passing of Jesus on the cross, the centurion’s response here seems most logical if he were reacting to the earthquake, the opening of the tombs and the saints coming to life. Those are the only events mentioned that he could have possibly witnessed personally and would have prompted the sort of response he demonstrated. However, the risen saints are said to have come out of the tombs and entered the “holy city” only after Jesus had Himself risen from the dead days later. This situation is very awkward to envision playing out over a period of several days.

Third, the reference to the “holy city” seems in almost all other cases in the New Testament to be most logically interpreted as a reference to a visionary or metaphysical location (i.e. the Jerusalem from above). To see it as the historical, earthly city in Matthew 27 runs counter to this trend.

In the end, Waters concludes that Matthew 27:52-53 is actually an apocalyptic flash-forward to the final resurrection which is woven into the account of the death of Christ.

The bulk of the paper expounds on the above main points and demonstrates that collapsing of time and space in narratives is not at all uncommon in the Bible or other ancient Jewish literature.

- Carmine

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Paidion
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Re: The Afterlife

Post by Paidion » Sun Jul 08, 2018 2:34 pm

Thank you for your input. Yes, truly, some were raised from death shortly after the resurrection of Christ. Paul refers to Christ's resurrection as "Christ the firstfruits of the dead. Perhaps those who were raised shortly after could also be called "The firstfruits of the resurrection.

20 ¶ But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.
25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

I've heard it said that there are three stages of the harvest, the firstfruits, the main harvest, and the gleanings.
The main harvest is the resurrection proper, and perhaps the gleanings are those that will have died and are raised after the second coming.
Paidion

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

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Homer
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Re: The Afterlife

Post by Homer » Sun Jul 08, 2018 5:43 pm

Hi Paidion,

Reading your exposition of the passage in 2 Corinthians 5 I was struck by how the passage seems to argue against your position rather than for it. I am not the house I live in. If the analogy holds, neither are we the "house" or "tent" presently nor will we in the future be the "building" or the "house not made with hands". Rather we now occupy and will in the future occupy those things.

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Paidion
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Re: The Afterlife

Post by Paidion » Sun Jul 08, 2018 9:10 pm

Yes, Homer. I agree that that is the way Paul saw it—as now occupying this temporary body, and after being raised from the dead, occupying the resurrection body. What I was trying to explain was that the "house not made with hands eternal in the heavens" is the resurrection body, whereas many explain it was being the "spiritual body" that we will supposedly have immediately after death.

Would you please explain your understanding that this contradicts my position? After you state that the passage seems to contradict my position, you point out that a person is not the present "house" or body we occupy, nor is it the future resurrection body or building that we will occupy. I have never claimed that we ARE our physical body or that we WILL BE our resurrection body. However, you may be referring to my statement that I believe that each of us is a single entity of which "soul" and "body" are two aspects. Is this the belief that you say seems to be contradicted by the passage in 2 Cor 5? And yes, Paul does not express it the way that I did. Paul thought of it as each person OCCUPYING their present body and that they will occupy the future, eternal, resurrected body. So if that' s the "contradiction that you mean, I would say you right. Paul seems to have seen it as in Greek philosophical thought that each person is a metaphysical spirit or soul that occupies his body.
Paidion

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

Avatar shows me at 75 years old. I am now 81.

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