Ask Your Preacher
HEAVEN & HELL
I was told that there are two salvations: one in heaven and one on earth. Some chosen christians will go to heaven, and the others will stay on a paradise Earth after the millennium and when all evil has ended. Is this true?
Dear Making Reservations,
No, that isn’t true. What you are talking about is a popular teaching of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but it isn’t a biblical teaching. There was an earthly paradise; it was called the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:8). Mankind was cast out of that paradise because of sin (Gen 3:22-24). We are told that the next paradise faithful people see will be a heavenly paradise. Jesus referred to Paradise as a place that God’s people will see once they die (Lk 23:43). Paul refers to Paradise as existing in heaven, not on Earth (2 Cor 12:2-4). Eventually, this world will be totally destroyed by intense heat (2 Pet 3:10-13), and this earthly age will pass away and be replaced by a spiritual one for all eternity (1 Cor 15:49-54). Jhn 14:2-4 says that we will dwell where God dwells (heaven) and that even now, Jesus is preparing a place for us. Matt 24:35 says that heaven and earth will pass away – unlike God’s Word. When the Judgment Day comes, the faithful will go to heaven. There will be no earthly paradise.
If I am a homosexual, why should I believe in God (I am going to hell anyway)?
Whether we believe in God or not, God still exists. Ignoring the fact doesn’t change that reality. Read “Is God Real?” for some of the evidence that God is. Whether someone chooses to follow or believe in God is irrelevant; we will all see Him at the Judgment Day (Heb 9:27)
Homosexuality is such a controversial issue because modern society teaches that people are born homosexual, but this simply isn’t true. You are not forced to have a sinful homosexual relationship. The argument of the homosexual community is that they are born desiring people of the same sex and that they have no choice. That simply cannot be true. God makes it clear that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able (1 Cor 10:13). Even if you are born with a predisposition toward homosexuality – you aren’t forced to act upon it. We always have a choice. There is always a way of escape from sin. We often use 1 Cor 10:13 as a proof text that no one is born “gay”. Homosexuality is like all other sins; we sin when we act upon the lust. God does not tempt us to sin (Jas 1:13). It is our own lusts that entice us to do the wrong thing (Jas 1:14-16). One person has a tendency toward anger, another has a tendency toward alcoholism, and some may, in fact, have a tendency toward homosexuality – but that tendency does not force them to sin. We need to put away all filthiness of the flesh and be doers of God’s Word (Jas 1:21-22).
I thought that when you die in the flesh, you enter into rest. So how is it that people are visited by spirits or deceased family members? If the dead are all raised together, and no one sees the Father until Christ’s return, how are these things possible?
The idea of ghosts cannot be found in the Bible, and they aren’t real, no matter how many stories people come up with, thinking they have been visited by dead ancestors. Ghosts are supposedly the souls or spirits of those who have died. These dead souls are presumed to be wandering the Earth, interacting with the living from time to time. The Bible tells us what happens when we die, and there is no Halloween-ish spiriting involved. Jesus told the story of a wicked, rich man and a faithful, poor man named Lazarus in Lk 16:19-31. When these two men died, the rich man immediately woke up in torment, and Lazarus was escorted to Paradise (Lk 16:22-23). This is what happens when the righteous and the wicked die. There is no wandering or ghostly haunting. In fact, the rich man was specifically told that the dead aren’t sent back to the earth to preach or affect the course of events here (Lk 16:27-31). We die, and then we wait to face the judgment (Heb 9:27).
I recently started reading the Bible, and I’ve always believed that when you die, you either go to heaven or to hell. Well, as I was reading, I came across some words that kind of confused me. It mentioned that when the rapture happens, those who have already died will be called up to heaven first. So my question is: what happens to the christians that die before the rapture? I know it says they are at peace; I’m just looking for other ways to receive this message.
What Happens Next?
Dear What Happens Next,
There is no such thing as a “rapture” event, and all the faithful that die wait for the Judgment Day in a place called ‘Paradise’. The Rapture is a supposed event that will precede a great tribulation on this planet right before the millennial reign of Christ. This teaching has become quite popular in some religious circles, but it has nothing to do with the Bible’s teachings on the end times – read our post “In The Air” for an in-depth look at why there is no Rapture.
Having said that, God did tell us that when Jesus returns, we will all be caught up together into heaven – the dead and the living together (1 Thess 4:15-17). But until that Day… what happens to people when they die?
When a christian dies, they go immediately to Paradise and await the day of Judgment, the day when our eternal heaven is created. Jesus said that angels immediately carry faithful souls off to Paradise (Lk 16:22, Lk 23:43), and the wicked are immediately sent to torments (Lk 16:23). Both Paradise and torments are part of Hades (‘Hades’ means ‘the unseen place’). When you die, your spirit is separated from your body and goes to Hades (Jas 2:26). On the Day of Judgment, all the souls will be emptied out of Hades (1 Thess 4:14), and all the bodies will be removed from the graves (1 Thess 4:16). On that great Day of Judgment, every soul shall be judged (Heb 9:27). After that judgment happens, this earth will be destroyed, and a new, heavenly, spiritual world will be created for the saints to live in eternally (2 Pet 3:12-13).
Is it wrong to pray for someone who is dead? I was told the Bible says it is wrong, and I don't remember reading that. Thank you.
Dear Morbid Curiosity,
1 Jn 5:16 is probably the verse you are thinking of, but that doesn’t really deal with dead people; it pertains to people who are purposefully turning their backs on the Lord. We are told not to request that God forgive people who aren’t seeking to live faithfully.
Having said that, your question deals with people that are already dead, and that is an entirely different issue. Heb 9:27 says that people die and then face the judgment. There is no room for someone’s fate to be changed once they die. If your goal through prayer is to make it so someone who already died can go to heaven instead of hell, that won’t work.