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Heaven, Earth, and Abraham

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1.1)

Introduction

The Bible makes a distinction between heaven and earth in both Old and New Testaments. This distinction is placed not only on the present creation but the future creation as well (Isaiah 66.22; Revelation 21.1). The Scriptures, therefore, do not speak of reality as the “universe” but as “heaven (or heavens)” and “earth” (Ephesians 1.10; Colossians 1.16; Hebrews 1.10; James 5.12; 2 Peter 3.5, 7, 10, 13; Revelation 20.11, 21.1). This phraseology is not merely idiomatic language to describe different physical realities. Intrinsic in the distinction of heaven and earth as separate identities is God’s plan of redemption. We discover this first in God’s call of the man Abram.

Earthly Promises: Israel

Before Genesis 12, God dealt with the human race as a whole. Beginning in Genesis 12, we find a change. God introduced an entirely new program through which to accomplish His plan. This would involve the call of one man through whom He would create a new race of people: the Jews.

Genesis 12

1Now the LORD said to Abram,
“Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;
2And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
3And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

The text above is known as the Abrahamic Covenant. From this text we learn of God’s calling of Abram (later Abraham). He told him to leave his country and to go to one He would show him. God promised that He would do the following for Abraham:

  1. Make him a great nation
  2. Bless him
  3. Make his name great
  4. Be a blessing
  5. Bless those who blessed him
  6. Curse those who cursed him
  7. In him all the families of the earth be blessed

By these statements God declared that Abraham and his progeny were “special” (Deuteronomy 7.6-8). God sovereignly extended His blessings to Abraham and his progeny; He would bless those who blessed Abraham’s progeny and curse those who opposed them. God sovereignly declared that all the peoples of the earth would be blessed through Abraham.

Genesis 13

14The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; 15for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. 16I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. 17Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.”

After God had established his promise to Abraham, He revealed more details about the covenant. From the passage below, we learn that included in “make you a great nation” was a land deed. God told Abram that all the land that he could see and walk would be his and his descendants forever. We find also here the first mention of “earth” in God’s promise that he would make Abram’s descendants as numerous as the dust of the earth.

Genesis 15

1After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying,
“Do not fear, Abram,
I am a shield to you;
Your reward shall be very great.”
2Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.” 4Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” 5And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Paul used this text to make his great argument of justification by faith alone. God told Abram that He was Abram’s protector and reward (verse 1). In response, Abram asked God how He was going to do what He had promised to do since he remained childless (verses 2-3). God reiterated His  promise to Abram that he would have a child from his own body (verse 4). God then took Abram outside and showed him the heavens and declared that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars (verse 5). This is the first mention of a “heavenly” progeny. Abram’s response to this declaration was “he believed in the Lord.” God’s response to Abram’s faith was to reckon him righteous (verse 6). Paul had much to say about this which we will examine below.

Genesis 22

15Then the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 16and said, “By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing and have not with held your son, your only son, 17indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” 19So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham lived at Beersheba.

This last passage from Genesis is unique in that it referenced both heavenly (verse 17a) and earthly aspects of his descendants (verse 17b). This passage concludes the familiar story of Abraham’s (he now has a new name) willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac.

Heavenly and Earthly Promises

The above passages form a template for heavenly and earthly promises and blessings. The Jews had no concept of dying and going to heaven or having anything to do with heaven. Their only interaction with things heavenly was through the visions of prophets who saw the glory and holiness of God and His throne complex (cf. Isaiah 6.1-6; Ezekiel 1-3; Daniel 7.9-28, 10-12). We find no biblical record of heaven as a destiny for Israel. Rather, all of God’s promises to Israel were earthly.

God’s earthly promises to Israel included a land and a kingdom. The vehicle of these promises were God’s covenants to the nation. The promise of an earthly kingdom began with His covenant with Abraham which included a land provision. Through His covenant with David, He promised He would establish David’s line upon the throne and his kingdom forever. (2 Samuel 7.8-17). The Jews understood these promises and anticipated this kingdom (Luke 1.31-33, 46-55, 67-79) since God had described it in hundreds passages through His prophets (cf. Isaiah 2.2-4, 11.1-10; Ezekiel 37.1-28; Zechariah 14.9-21).

Romans 4

1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Romans 4.1-3).

The above verses established Paul’s argument for salvation of faith plus nothing. God declared Abraham righteous on the sole basis of his faith. Using this passage as his foundation, Paul revealed a whole new order of salvation.

Salvation for the Jew under the Mosaic Law was based upon both faith and works, never faith alone. The Levitical sacrifices formed the vehicle of salvation.1 It was not enough for a Jew to say he believed God would cover his sin by means of animal sacrifice. He had to bring the sacrifice. Bringing the animal to the priest was a work. On the other hand, it was insufficient for a Jew to only bring an animal to the priest. The sacrifice did no good for the individual unless he coupled the sacrifice with faith. Faith has always been required but not until Paul was salvation on the basis of faith alone.

We find the same kind of thing in the gospels. Once the Messiah arrived, salvation was based on believing that He was the Messiah (Matthew 16.13-17; John 11.23-27). But in addition to believing this, water baptism was required (Matthew 3.1, 6, 11; Acts 2.38). Water baptism was a work. Jewish salvation required faith and works. The exception was Abraham. And that was why Paul used him for his example.

16For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17(as it is written, “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist (Romans 4.16-17).

In the passage above, Paul quoted God’s promise to make Abraham the father of many nations. Paul’s point was to link part of the fulfillment of this promise to us, the body of Christ. Abraham is the father of all true believers of Israel and the Church because of faith. The following passages provide additional insight as to what Paul meant.

Galatians 3

6Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. 7Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. 8The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.” 9So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.

Paul reiterated the Genesis 15 passage in which God declared Abraham righteous on the basis of faith alone. He made two main points with this passage. The first was that all who believe are “sons of Abraham” (verse 7). Paul’s second point was about God justifying Gentiles. Thus, he quoted, “all the nations (ἔθνος, Gentiles) will be blessed in you.” As the “apostle to the Gentiles,” (Romans 11.13) Paul magnified his ministry to Gentiles. Paul’s ministry was entirely different from the ministry of Jesus and the Twelve. Jesus ministered to Jews (Matthew 10.5; Romans 15.8) not Gentiles. Peter and the Eleven ministered to Jews (Matthew 10.5; Acts 2.14, 22, 29, 36, 3.12, 17; Galatians 2.7-9) not Gentiles. Paul ministered to Jews (especially noted in Acts) but later almost exclusively to Gentiles. Paul’s epistles reflect this transition and change (cf. Acts 13.45-52, 18.6-6, 28.23-31).

26For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

In Galatians 3.26-29, Paul reiterated his point of salvation by faith alone. All who believe his gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4) are sons of God. Furthermore, this faith included being baptized into Christ, i.e., identified in His death and resurrection (Romans 6). One result of this baptism is to make the believer a member of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12.13). Such membership means that distinctions of Jew and Gentile disappear. The reader should pause at this point to reflect on how different Paul’s teaching was compared to Jesus’ earthly ministry or what the Twelve taught. Jesus and the Twelve had no ministry to Gentiles. Neither did they teach about the body of Christ or our baptism with Christ in His death and resurrection. The last point Paul made was that the believer of his gospel became a descendant of Abraham.

Did Paul mean that a Gentile became a Jew when he believed the gospel? Did he mean that in functional terms Jews were not Jews, Gentiles were not Gentiles, or that the Church was not the Church (1 Corinthians 10.32)? No, Paul taught that becoming a member of the body of Christ meant that God had removed the distinctions between Jew and Gentile that had been in force for 2,000 years. This was revolutionary! Before Paul, beginning with Abraham, Jews had held a privileged position before God (Deuteronomy 7.6-8). After God revealed to Paul the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20.24) in which the one who trusted in Christ’s death and resurrection became a member of the body of Christ such distinctions no longer applied. We must also point out that this doctrine is only taught by Paul. You will not find it taught by Jesus in His earthly ministry or by Peter, or by the other eleven apostles. Paul’s point (and he repeated it over and over) was that when one believed his gospel of faith plus nothing he followed the pattern of Abraham who was saved by faith plus nothing.

Heavenly Promises: Church, the body of Christ

Ephesians 1

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

God’s promises to Israel, beginning with the Abrahamic covenant and following in His additional covenants, were all earthly. The promises decreed a people, a land, and a kingdom. God’s promises to the Church, the body of Christ, are all heavenly. The Jew under the covenants had no concept or promise of dying and going to heaven. We do. Paul revealed that God had blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. This was language that had never been used towards Israel.

Philippians 3

20For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

In addition to having heavenly-based spiritual blessings, Paul revealed that members of the body of Christ are citizens of heaven. Again, this was never said of any Jew. Jesus never that Jews had heavenly citizenship nor did Peter or the Eleven. This was a new revelation that God gave to the Apostle Paul.

Colossians 1

13For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Again, the above verse revealed new truth. God has rescued the believer of Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4) from darkness to the kingdom of His Son. This kingdom, at the present time, is located in heaven: the kingdom is wherever the King is.

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians he disclosed to the believers there the wonderful hope that a new body awaits us in heaven. God created us with not just souls and spirits. He gave us bodies. C. S. Lewis wrote, “God likes matter. He invented it.” Our present bodies, through which we enjoy many experiences, are subject to pain and decay. But one day believers will have eternal bodies without these weaknesses. What a glorious expectation!

1For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, 3inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. 4For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. 5Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. 6Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— 7for we walk by faith, not by sight— 8we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5.1-8).

New Heavens, New Earth

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer beany death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21.1-4).

John recorded that God will create a new heaven and a new earth (cf. Isaiah 65.17; 2 Peter 3.10-12). Detailed physical characteristics of this new creation are not revealed. What is revealed, however, is that this new creation will be much different from the present one.

10And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. 12It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. 13There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. 14And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Revelation 21.10-14).

John repeated what he had recorded in verse 2 about Jerusalem coming down from heaven onto the earth. The Old Testament and Hebrews recorded that God instructed Moses to build the Tabernacle after a heavenly pattern (Exodus 25.9, 40; Numbers 8.4; Hebrews 8.5). The Tabernacle was an earthly representation of a heavenly reality: the throne complex and heavenly abode of God. This passage, however, is the first to document that a heavenly city–Jerusalem–exists in heaven.

15The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. 16The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. 17And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements18The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; 20the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. 21And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass (Revelation 21.15-21).

God will move the heavenly Jerusalem to the new earth. The city is immense: 1,500 miles high, long, and wide (cube or pyramid?). Such a city is impossible on our current earth. Will the new earth be significantly larger than our present one? Will the atmosphere be like ours? The Scriptures are silent on these matters. We can only wonder. What is clear is that the city will be glorious. The full significance of the relocation has yet to be revealed but in this new environment a closer relationship of heaven and earth exists.

Conclusion

God used “heaven and earth” to declare not only His creation of the universe but to provide a template of salvation for two distinctive entities: Israel and the Church (the body of Christ). To Israel, God made earthly promises. To the Church He made heavenly promises. Both sets of promises originate in Abraham. God promised Abraham earthly, “dust of the earth,” “sand on the seashore” (Genesis 13.16, 22.17) and heavenly, “stars of the heavens” (Genesis 15.5, 22.17) descendants. Abraham’s earthly descendants were Jews who believed in the God of the Old Testament (YHVH, יהוה‎). The heavenly descendants are both Jews and Gentiles (but primarily Gentiles) who have believed Paul’s gospel of grace (Acts 20.24; 1 Corinthians 15.1-4).

1Animal sacrifices could not pay sin’s penalty (Hebrews 9.11-14, 10.1-4). Animal sacrifices were a temporary, stopgap solution until Christ Himself paid for our sins. God used animal sacrifices as “types” to point to the future work of Christ. Nevertheless, Jews were required to offer sacrifices and believe in their efficacy, i.e., that the sacrifices covered their sin and fulfilled the demands of a holy God.

© 2011 Don Samdahl. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold.


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21 thoughts on “Heaven, Earth, and Abraham

  1. Matt

    Could you comment on Gal 4:26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all? I see this as one destiny for all believers at all times. It seems a little odd that every other believer in other dispensations will be enjoying the New Jerusalem with Jesus on the earth, and we’ll be floating 1500 miles in the new heaven just shining brightly and judging angels (I believe we will judge angels but Paul also told the Corinthians the world shall be judged by you. I assume he means the people of the future world)

    1. doctrinedoctrine Post author

      Matt,
      The Bible is sparse about information about the location or duties of the Church, the body of Christ. We know is our destiny is heaven, that we are joint-heirs with Christ, and that our future is glorious (Romans 8.17).

      1. Matt

        The context of Romans 8 is clearly the kingdom of God on the earth, because Paul says Rom 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
        Rom 8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
        Rom 8:21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
        Rom 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
        Rom 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
        Rom 8:24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
        Rom 8:25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
        The hope of believers is the resurrection of our bodies in his glorious kingdom. No where does he say here that heaven is our destiny.

        1. doctrinedoctrine Post author

          Matt,
          I don’t think a case can be made for the kingdom of God on earth from Romans 8.21-25 since the earth is never mentioned. What Paul is discussing is the whole creation–heaven and earth–which will be delivered from the bondage of corruption, i.e., entropy. The millennial kingdom will be a temporary patch–the earth will be regenerated to Edenic conditions. But the release from corruption will not occur until God creates a new heavens and a new earth (Revelation 21). I have stated many times in my articles that the kingdom of God is on earth. This is why Jesus told His disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.” What our role is during the Millennial age is unstated (see Ephesians 1.3, 2.6; 2 Timothy 4.18).

  2. Dennis

    Thank you for the excellent article! I was wondering if you could explain, though, how to reconcile the future distinction between heaven and earth with Paul’s revelation that all things will be gathered together? (Ephesians 1:10)

    1. doctrinedoctrine Post author

      Dennis,
      Thank you. While God has kept heaven and earth as distinct entities–and these distinctions will continue throughout eternity, all believers will be united or summed up under the headship of Christ. Technically, the word ἀνακεφαλαιόω means “regather.” The verb κεφαλιόω means to gather under a head and ἀνά means “up” or “again.”

  3. Joe

    I’ve always understood that the term ‘Jew’ came from the word Judah. Judah was a son of Jacob. Jacob was Abraham’s grandson. If Jacob and his sons came after Abraham why is Abraham considered a Jew? thank you.

    1. doctrinedoctrine Post author

      Joe,
      Abraham was not a Jew. He was a Syrian. God established the Abrahamic covenant with him and the covenanted line through which Gentiles could be blessed by God came through Isaac, the Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes.

  4. Joe

    Am I incorrect in thinking that many believe people we become spiritual Israel when we are saved? And this is due to vs.s like the following:

    29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

    Who exactly is the ‘Israel of God?’ I believe the Israel of God are saved Jews but many argue it’s all Christianity. Why would Paul use this phrase? (Gal. 6)

    But then it gets more complicated. Hagar also produced a linage of Abraham’s descendants…..and What about Abraham’s next wife and all those descendants?….Weren’t there promises to Ishmael?

    I wish it was easier to understand.

    1. doctrinedoctrine Post author

      Joe,
      The subject is complicated because of inept theologians. Poor exegetical work has resulted in confused theology. Conflation of Israel and the Church and failure to understand Paul as the apostle of the Gentiles has resulted in confusion. Please see my article, “Israel” as a Technical Term.

  5. Joe

    a short paragraph above says, “Again, the above verse revealed new truth. God has rescued the believer of Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4) from darkness to the kingdom of His Son. This kingdom, at the present time, is located in heaven: the kingdom is wherever the King is.”

    Is Jesus Christ a King to the Church or Israel? I thought the Kingdom was for Israel after Christ’s return and that we (Church/Body of Christ) would rule WITH Christ.

    Thank you for your time and efforts.

    1. doctrinedoctrine Post author

      Joe,
      Jesus is not the King of the Church. He is its Head and Lord. But He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. The Kingdom of God in Pauline language includes Israel and the Church. In that sense, He is King.

  6. Chris Hargrove

    Hello,

    I have read lots on your site and find it very interesting. Thank you for taking the time over the years to make it worth reading and a bit of a lightning rod. :)

    So…as much as it pains me to have to begin believing this way, and it does, I am a couple of explanations away from giving myself over 100% to the so called ‘soul sleep’ idea. For one thing, the number of Biblical passages supporting this far outweigh any other supposed doctrinal viewpoint. Especially Old Testament…and sorry the progressive revelation excuse does not fit this idea at all so we cannot say we simply learned “more about death and heaven” in the New Testament that would make this clear teaching go away. The main oppositions come from: (a) the “Lazarus and the Rich Man” dialog between Christ and the Pharisees and Scribes, in which Christ tells a very odd story about the beggar Lazarus who died and went to heaven simply because he was a poor beggar and the rich man went to Gehenna/Hell because he was rich and thus matches ZERO doctrine of salvation texts in Scripture about faith, repentance and the need for a savior and is actually directed towards the idiocy and superstitions of the Jewish so-called leaders and presented in an effective and powerful “mock-Rabbinical” method that is not a tour guide to the afterworld but a firm lesson from the Master Rabbi Himself; (2) the Pauline “absent from the body/present with the Lord” in which Paul is assumed to mean upon death the soul finds itself immediately in either heaven or hell, which is not what Paul is saying if you simply read a literal translation in context (too long to explain here can send private email); and (3) the multiple mistranslations of “Sheol” as “hell” in many English versions and the entire concept of death, itself, as a horrible and frightening enemy that seems to be prevalent throughout all of Scripture and not a triumphant victory march into heaven for believers…who at some point are made to leave heaven (?), resurrect in their dead bodies into the new creations and live forever in our glorified bodies except these are not the same type of being they were when they were in heaven prior to being resurrected…huh? Where does this come from? Does this teaching seem odd? Why is the resurrection the great victory if prior to that the saints were living in heaven in completely different transitional types of heavenly bodies? I don’t really understand what it all means and I’m not saying we should but…I am missing that second part being in Scripture. Please walk me through this. Thanks.

    1. doctrinedoctrine Post author

      Chris,
      The soul does not sleep. I do not know how this idea originated; the Scriptures do not teach it. Resurrection bodies are different from whatever kind of spirit bodies exist before this. We’re just not given enough information about this subject to draw sound conclusions. What we do have is information that souls are aware in death and that the final phase of salvation is resurrection.

  7. Chris Hargrove

    1 Corinthians 15:42, 51 and 52
    (42) So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
    (51) …We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
    (52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

    We become “incorruptible” only when we are raised from the dead.

    1 Thessalonians 4:13-17
    (13) But I would not have you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
    (14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
    (15) For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
    (16) For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
    (17) Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

    Paul tells us that all the dead in Christ will rise at the Rapture when the Lord comes, and comforts us by letting us know that even when a person dies, he will rise again.

    Titus 2:13
    Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ;

    Our hope is the coming of the Lord, because that is when the dead are raised and can be with Jesus.

    Revelation 20:4 and 5
    (4) And I saw…the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
    (5) But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

    These verses separate the people who come to life in the first resurrection from those who do not. The souls of the righteous, meaning righteous people, come to life after the Battle of Armageddon (Rev. 19:11-21) and reign with Christ.

    Revelation 20:11-13
    (11) And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
    (12) And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
    (13) And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell (note: lit. “hades” or the grave) delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

    These verses depict the Resurrection of the Unjust (Acts 24:15), also called the Resurrection of Judgment (John 5:29), and the Judgment that follows immediately afterward. At this future time, all the unjust people will get up and be judged. The souls of the wicked are not judged and thrown into Gehenna when the person dies.

    Acts 17:31
    Because he has appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained; whereof he has given assurance to all men, in that he has raised him from the dead.
    1 Thessalonians 2:19
    For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?
    2 Timothy 4:1
    I charge you therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

    The Greek text of this verse is very clear that the Judgment is coming in the future. This verse shows that people who have died have not been judged yet, so it goes without saying that they cannot be in heaven or condemned to Gehenna yet.

  8. Kaitmo

    Dear Brother Don, really appreciate your articles and clear Scriptual responses and in context. Thank you.

    These are 2 statements that you made to another question, I forget where, but started me thinking.

    1. To believe “in God” signifies Mental Assent.

    By this I presume it means that God exists? (Heb 11:6)

    2. To say “I believe God” signifies personal trust.

    I presume that means faith, in what He declares in His Word? (Rom 10:17) (Act 15:8, Eph 11:13 referring to the Gospel Message)

    Now with regard to Abram, would I be right in saying, he believed “in God,” gave mental assent to His existence on leaving Ur of Mesopotamia?

    However in Gen 15:6 there seems to be a change in Abram’s belief. He is now believing for certain that God would give him an heir (although by all accounts Sarai was not yet in the picture), one through whom all His previous promises (Gen 1:12-3, 13:15-16) and now also the promise that God was now declaring to him (Gen 15:6 regarding his spiritual seed) would be fulfilled.

    God then acknowledged Abram’s faith in His Word by declaring him Holy before Him.

    Appreciate your reply, thanks.

    1. doctrinedoctrine Post author

      Kaitmo,
      What I wrote was an attempt to reveal the different between true faith and mental assent. The Scriptures state Abraham “believed in the LORD” in Genesis 15.6 but in both Genesis 12 and 15, it is clear Abraham believed what God told him. Belief and obedience are essentially the same. Abraham left Ur because he believed God would bring him to a new land and give him children. Abraham trusted God in this.

  9. Kaitmo

    Joh 8:56  Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

    Dear Don, have another question regarding Abram. From this statement above from the Lord Jesus about Abram, are we able to conclude:
    1. The extent of what he knew?
    2. The time in his life when this knowledge turned to rejoicing etc?
    Thank you for your consideration.

  10. Brandon

    Hi Don,

    Really appreciate your effort to share knowledge of the word of God with others.

    I find it very straight to the point, clear and simple. It really is a huge blessing.

    I was wondering if you could do an article on where a believer in Christ (grace period) would go to after dying.

    Im not sure if its abrahams bosom, or heaven, or what. You know what i mean, man?

    Thanks mister!

    Greetings from Aruba,

    Brandon.

    1. doctrinedoctrine Post author

      Brandon,
      Thank you. As to the other, I don’t think it warrants an article. For us, to die is to go to heaven. Paul wrote to be absent the body was to be at home with the Lord (ἐνδημῆσαι πρὸς τὸν κύριον) 2 Corinthians 5.8.

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