Dialogue with David (re: Heaven and Hell)

This dialogue began in the comments of The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven.  While it began in the context of discussing the logical structure of that book, I moved it here when David requested that we approach the discussion with a different logical structure. 

If you want to read the discussion prior to this point, here is the last comment of that discussion.  From there you can work backward to reconstruct the beginning of the conversation.

If, however, you’re a reader just joining the discussion, it’s not necessary that you work backward.  I’ll give a summary that will allow you to follow the discussion without backtracking.  That summary is this:  I believe that the Bible teaches that Everyone Is Going to Heaven (this link provides a one-page summary of my view, while  The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven provides a much longer explanation).  

David disagrees, and here, in his own words, is his view:

God will not have anything to do with sin. He hates it. He is spirit and thus is everywhere at once. Nevertheless, in a sense that I can not really articulate, He lives in heaven. It’s a spiritual realm in contrast to our material one.

God is one; and yet the Bible shows that He operates in three persons, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. I see each of them having what we would call personality. And, yet, Scripture clearly teaches that there is only one God. All three ‘persons’ of the Godhead have never not existed. 2000 years ago, the second person, the son, who was a spirit being, became a man on earth, Jesus. He was fully man and fully God. Don’t ask me to explain that….

God’s plan is to live with man for all eternity. Since man is sinful, He had a problem to solve and He did it with Jesus’ death. God has always been identifying men/women to ‘save.’ By this I mean, He declares them righteous. They are not righteous; but, he can do this since at a point in time (2000 years ago) He knew that their sin would be paid for and thus make His declaration just.

The way in which a person is declared righteous is when God decides that they have faith/trust in what He has revealed to them. Genesis 15:6 is a nice example of this happening to Abraham well before the cross. Yet, when Abraham died, he went to Sheol. He had been declared righteous; but, his sin had not yet been paid for by the cross. Today, it is the gospel of Jesus that one must trust to receive this declaration. Those who don’t trust this message remain unrighteous and can not come into the presence of God, heaven. Sorry.

Not only righteous people but also unrighteous people went to Sheol before the cross. And, from Luke 16:19ff it seems like there was a good part and a not so good part. After the cross, Jesus took the ones from the good part to be with Him. According to 2 Corinthians 5:8 (as I understand it, at least) Paul says he would rather be absent from the body (I take this to be physically dead) and to be home with the Lord (I take this to be with Jesus in heaven). So, when one who God has declared righteous (God did this for me on December 19, 1987) dies today, they are immediately transported to heaven as a spirit being. Their body is rotting in the earth and they never have anything to do with Sheol. They are not yet resurrected which for me means being given a body like the one Christ had when he appeared on earth after the cross. That resurrection will happen when Christ comes for His church someday.

So, what about the unrighteous. They are still flocking to Sheol; the bad part. And, not until the various judgments of Christ, will they be resurrected to go to a place nobody should ever have to go to. On the other hand, it is one to which we all (including me, of course) deserve to go to.

So, as you can see, you and I are miles apart in our theology. I’ll leave it up to you to decide what you think might be profitable for us to discuss. I still think the list of premises approach is the most likely one to yield any fruit.

I am happy to try to work with David’s structure (“list of premises”) and see if that leads to more common understanding. 

David, I know you previously laid out your structure but, not knowing whether you might want to adjust that in any way, didn’t want to just repeat it without giving you the opportunity to update.  Therefore, if you will begin your reply by restating your current logical construct and which part you would like me to address, then I’ll respond, and we’ll go back and forth – unfettered by the structure of my book, following your logical leanings, and hopefully having a productive dialogue.

130 Replies to “Dialogue with David (re: Heaven and Hell)”

  1. Mike,

    First, I am honored that you want to pursue this dialogue with me. Next, I want to say that I am a little uncomfortable with you thinking I did not like your approach, your structure, your book. On the contrary it is an excellent body of work. (I am not trying to butter you up here; I mean that.) What I saw was that our conversation was going to diffuse given the massive amount of information you presented in your book. So, I simply thought that if we followed a logical approach (not to suggest for a moment that your approach wasn’t logical!!!) with a list of premises (statements of truth) that logically build to a unique conclusion, then we could focus on each premise and know where we are. For, if we can not agree on each premise in series, then I am pretty sure we would never agree on the conclusion.

    That said, the list of premises that I have shared with you previously were developed by trying to identify what you were stating as truths which led you to conclude that ‘all people are going to heaven.’ So, what follows is that list which I have tried to arrange in a ‘reasonable’ order building to your conclusion.

    I guess the first question for you is do you feel comfortable as to the sufficiency of these premises to reach that conclusion? If not, please add any that you feel are required. I must say that I don’t think these 11 premises are 1) all true nor 2) all relevant to reaching that conclusion nor 3) sufficient to force that conclusion. So, we do indeed have a daunting task ahead of us.

    As an aside which is completely irrelevant and just my opinion: God desires us to keep searching His word. If He had wanted us to all just get it and agree, then we wouldn’t have this huge divergence of opinions among His children. So, disagreement on these matters does not trouble me. Furthermore, disagreement with non-believers does not interest me since they can’t possibly get it right no matter how brilliant they may be. My only role with them is to witness the truth as I believe it.

    P1 — Before the cross, everybody went to Sheol when they died
    P2 — Jesus tells us to repent
    P3 — Jesus died for the sins of the world
    P4 — Jesus was the first person to be resurrected
    P5 — Jesus went to heaven when he was resurrected
    P6 — Everybody will be resurrected
    P7 — The gospel is good news
    P8 — People going to hell is not good news
    P9 — In Christ, all will be made alive
    P10 — Sheol no longer exists
    P11 — Jesus would not put us in a place where we can not repent
    Therefore,
    All people are going to heaven.

    1. Thanks, David. This gives the conversation a good (re-)start.

      God desires us to keep searching His word.

      I agree wholeheartedly. I love searching His word every day and there is so much more that I want to understand. The reason I sound confident on my blog is that I only write on subjects I have studied greatly and about which I am confident. There are many biblical subjects about which I am not confident enough in my knowledge to write. Therefore, I keep studying. I also continue to learn things from everyone with whom I engage, including, of course, you.

      I will respond to your list tomorrow as I want to reflect first on which might be the most productive way to address, there being a couple of possible approaches in my mind right now.

  2. I must say that I don’t think these 11 premises are 1) all true nor 2) all relevant to reaching that conclusion nor 3) sufficient to force that conclusion.

    I’m going to break up my reply to your list along the lines of the three points that you raise about them. Therefore, the first point which I will address is the trueness of the statements – or at least whether, as written, they accurately reflect what I believe to be true. Therefore, here are the 11 premises you have culled from what I have written, followed by my position on them.

    P1 — Before the cross, everybody went to Sheol when they died
    P2 — Jesus tells us to repent
    P3 — Jesus died for the sins of the world
    P4 — Jesus was the first person to be resurrected
    P5 — Jesus went to heaven when he was resurrected
    P6 — Everybody will be resurrected
    P7 — The gospel is good news
    P8 — People going to hell is not good news
    P9 — In Christ, all will be made alive
    P10 – Sheol no longer exists
    P11 — Jesus would not put us in a place where we can not repent

    With a couple of exceptions (which I’ll quickly identify), I do believe all these statements to be true.

    The first exception is really just a qualification: “resurrected” or “resurrection” in these premises and in this discussion refer to a resurrection that is not subject to death. The point is to contrast this with the sort of resurrection Lazarus and others received in which they were brought back to life, but still ultimately subject to death. This distinction is probably well understood between you, me, and most readers but I just want to be sure to clarify the point – especially for those who have not read The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven where I spend time making this distinction in chapters six and seven.

    The only other qualification I’d make to your list is with regard to P1, which I would state as “Before the Second Coming of Christ (i.e. the coming of the kingdom of God, the new heavens and new earth), everybody went to Sheol when they died.” (I cover this in detail in chapter nine of The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven, and in the biblical case for the accomplished Second Coming which is titled Whatever Became of Jesus Christ?)

  3. I must say that I don’t think these 11 premises are 1) all true nor 2) all relevant to reaching that conclusion nor 3) sufficient to force that conclusion.

    Now to deal with the second of your two points. I think that there are multiple arguments to be made for everyone going to heaven, even though only one argument is necessary to reach a conclusion. Therefore, while all these premises may be relevant, they may not all relate to the same argument.

    Therefore, I will remove from the list all those premises that do not relate to the primary argument. This leaves us with

    P1 Before the Second Coming of Christ, everybody went to Sheol when they died
    P6 Everybody will be resurrected
    P12 Resurrection leads to heaven
    C Everyone is going to heaven.

    As you see, this argument requires the inclusion of a premise in my argument that you had not listed, but which was certainly present and prominent in the book. P10, by the way, is not necessary to the argument as stated. It would be necessary if the argument were “Everyone who has died has gone to heaven.”

  4. I must say that I don’t think these 11 premises are 1) all true nor 2) all relevant to reaching that conclusion nor 3) sufficient to force that conclusion.

    Now to your final point: what premises are necessary to reach the conclusion. I think you would agree that the place for us to focus first is whether or not the premises if proven would lead to the conclusion. In other words, I think you want to first make sure that the argument is constructed properly. Only if it is, is it worth spending time trying to prove the individual premises. Correct?

  5. By the way and for the record, let me speak briefly about some of the other arguments. I call the one chosen “primary” mainly because it’s the place our discussion began and because you acknowledge the Old Testament teaching about Sheol. Most people who argue for the heaven-or-hell scenario either don’t know about this OT teaching or won’t admit that they know about it (I suppose because doing so would interfere with their assertion that the heaven-or-hell scenario is biblical). It is to your credit that you acknowledge this teaching.

    Let’s call our primary argument “A” and other arguments B, C, D, etc. Therefore, using some of the “unused” premises you listed, here’s the basis for another argument:

    BP7 — The gospel is good news
    BP8 — People going to hell is not good news
    BC – Therefore, everyone is going to heaven

    And another:

    CP2 — Jesus tells us to repent
    CP11 — Jesus would not put us in a place where we can not repent
    CC – Therefore, everyone is going to heaven

    And another:

    DP3 — Jesus died for the sins of the world
    DC – Therefore, everyone is going to heaven

    And another:

    EP9 — In Christ, all will be made alive
    EC – Therefore, everyone is going to heaven

    And yet another:

    FP4 — Jesus was the first person to be resurrected
    FP5 — Jesus went to heaven when he was resurrected
    FC – Therefore, everyone is going to heaven

    I am not making the case here for any of these arguments and certainly some of them – especially the last one – are incomplete as written. What I have demonstrated is that all the premises you originally listed are relevant to the issue even though they may belong to different arguments.

    Beyond these, there are yet other arguments that could be made. For example:

    GP13 God tells us to forgive everyone who has wronged us
    GP14 God is not a hypocrite (i.e. He practices what He preaches)
    GC – Therefore, everyone is going to heaven

    And there are other arguments as well, though I’m not going to attempt to produce an exhaustive list.

    I should also mention that, from the standpoint of logically arguing, it is even easier to refute the heaven-or-hell scenario with these arguments than it is to prove that everyone is going to heaven. My point here is not to lower my burden of proof. Rather it is only to highlight the irony that most people who defend the heaven-or-hell scenario do so on the basis that it is biblical, yet it’s obvious that they have inherited this conclusion from traditional teaching – not built it from scratch by first assembling all the biblical evidence – or even all the logical evidence – and seeing where it leads.

    We can now return to the primary argument.

    1. Mike,

      I agree with your distinction re: resurrection and its meaning. I.e., Lazarus for one was not resurrected as we are using that term.

      I agree that we are here because we started somewhere and have somehow gotten here. It is therefore not necessarily the best place to re-start; but, … here we are.

      Yes, there are several ways to frame the argument. But, again we have one and there doesn’t seem to be any problem with giving it a go. So, we begin with:

      P1 Before the Second Coming of Christ, everybody went to Sheol when they died
      P2 Everybody will be resurrected
      P3 Resurrection leads to heaven
      C Everyone is going to heaven.
      note: The Second Coming of Christ is synonymous with the coming of the kingdom of God, the new heavens and new earth.

      Can I begin by making sure we are together on what the term ‘resurrection’ means: My definition (not intended to be comprehensive nor rigorous but at least reasonably definitive) of my resurrection is that when I die, my body goes into the ground (or is burned up) and my spirit goes some place else. (I believe that a saved person’s spirit and an unsaved person’s spirit go to different places today but that that is not crucial to an agreement on this term.) When I am resurrected, my spirit will be united with a spiritual body that is recognizable as ‘me.’ However, although it appears material it is spiritual and immortal and imperishable and has capabilities far beyond what I have in my current physical state.

      I don’t expect this definition to be contrary to your beliefs; but, if so, then please let me know in what way your view differs.

      As to the premises, let me just start by saying that P1 seems to introduce a problem. You believe that the Second Coming has already taken place in time. As such, we are not dealing with the people who die today, i.e., after the Second Coming has taken place. Thus the conclusion also will not include them and I am sure that was not your intent. Suggestions?

  6. David, I accept your definition of resurrection.

    As for your last paragraph, I don’t understand what the problem is. Since I believe we are post Second Coming, that means I believe that when someone dies now he is “caught up together with [all those who have died before] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” In other words, there is no longer any wait in Sheol (because there is no Sheol); a dying person is resurrected immediately to heaven.

    If you don’t believe the Second Coming has yet taken place, then you simply believe that a dying person goes to Sheol (as has been the pattern since the beginning of creation) and we are still waiting on the resurrection of the dead and the elimination of Sheol.

    Either way, I don’t see how it affects the argument of humanity’s ultimate destination. However, I may be overlooking something so please tell me what you think.

    1. Mike,

      Well, P1 is “Before the Second Coming of Christ, everybody went to Sheol when they died”

      I guess the first thing I would like to better understand is ‘the Second Coming of Christ.’ Let me call that the SCC. As I understand you, this happened some time shortly after the NT was put down on ‘paper.’ In connection with the SCC, there is an expression that keeps coming up in the NT, ‘in Christ.’ I believe you say that that refers to the time after the SCC. Thus you would say that we all are now ‘in Christ.’ And, to be consistent, I guess that nobody was ‘in Christ’ before the SCC. Have I portrayed your view accurately so far?

      Here’s my first problem. Based on the Greek, ‘in Christ’ seems to me to be talking about a location rather than a time. As an example, this phrase is used in Colossians 1:2 where Paul says he is writing this letter to “the saints and faithful brethren in Christ [who are] at Colossae”? Since Paul is still alive as he writes to the Colossians, what does he mean by referring to them as if the SCC has already come? And, as a second question about this passage, who are the saints to whom Paul is writing? In other words, what made a person a saint, in contrast to all of those who were not saints, back in the time of Paul?

      1. I guess the first thing I would like to better understand is ‘the Second Coming of Christ.’ Let me call that the SCC. As I understand you, this happened some time shortly after the NT was put down on ‘paper.’ In connection with the SCC, there is an expression that keeps coming up in the NT, ‘in Christ.’ I believe you say that that refers to the time after the SCC. Thus you would say that we all are now ‘in Christ.’ And, to be consistent, I guess that nobody was ‘in Christ’ before the SCC. Have I portrayed your view accurately so far?

        Yes to the former, but no to the latter. Before the SCC, everyone who confessed Christ as Lord was “in Christ.” That is, between Christ’s resurrection to the right hand of God and the SCC “in Christ” = “the church” = “the body of Christ” = “the saints.” Since the SCC entailed Christ being “promoted” from head of the church to head of all things, then all humanity has been “in Christ.” In other words, the church in the New Testament was tasting the powers of the age to come. They were a firstfruits of God’s great harvest. They were receiving an earnest on Christ’s inheritance that was for all humanity. What belonged to the church prior to the SCC now belongs to everyone. The kingdom of God has come with the SCC.

        1. Mike,

          Good, your view is becoming clearer to me. Let’s take three time periods: T1) before the cross, T2) between the cross and the SCC, and T3) after the SCC. And, you would say that we are now in T3.

          There are people ‘in Christ’ during T2 and T3 and not during T1. According to P1, during T1 and T2, all people went to Sheol at death. Also, we seem to be saying that there were people who were ‘in Christ’ and people who were not ‘in Christ’ during T2. During T2 Christ was at the right hand of God in heaven. According to 2 Corinthians 5:8 to be absent from the body (dead?) during T2 is to be present with the Lord. Since Christ is in heaven during T2, isn’t that also where those ‘in Christ’ went during T2?

          If my understanding is in any way clear, then doesn’t that cause a conflict with P1? Specifically, not all people went to Sheol before the SCC; some (those ‘in Christ’) went to heaven upon death.

          1. Let’s take three time periods: T1) before the cross, T2) between the cross and the SCC, and T3) after the SCC. And, you would say that we are now in T3.

            In the interest of being more precise, I would use Christ’s ascension (to God’s right hand) and the dividing line between T1 and T2. However, I don’t think this will change your question so I’ll go ahead and answer.

            Since Christ is in heaven during T2, isn’t that also where those ‘in Christ’ went during T2? If my understanding is in any way clear, then doesn’t that cause a conflict with P1? Specifically, not all people went to Sheol before the SCC; some (those ‘in Christ’) went to heaven upon death.

            No. As Paul said of himself and his contemporaries in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 “…we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall not precede those who have fallen asleep…the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them…” During T2 everyone was still falling asleep in Sheol wating on the new heavens and new earth (Acts 7:60; 1 Corinthians 15:6). God had to change the fundamental structure of the spiritual universe before anyone besides Jesus could go to heaven. Chapter 8, The Resurrection of the Rest of the Dead, explains this.

            1. Mike,

              Your view, as I understand it, is that the cross did not result in any change with regard to ‘going to Sheol.’ People who fell asleep before the cross went to Sheol and in T2 that is still what is going on.

              You quote Acts 7:60 and 1 Corinthians 15:6 in support of this view. However, neither one say anything about the destination of those who go to sleep. So, in what manner do these Scriptures support your view?

              The 1 Thessalonians 4 passage also talks about ‘sleeping’ people who had been ‘in Christ.’ Here we are told that when He comes (SCC) He will bring them with Him. Again, nothing is said about where they were before He got them to bring with Him. So, again, what was your reason for mentioning this passage here?

              On the other hand, Paul says in the passage I quoted that being physically dead is the same thing as being with the Lord. And, this is in T2 when the Lord is at the right hand of God, the Father. I really feel stupid; what am I missing here?

              1. Your view, as I understand it, is that the cross did not result in any change with regard to ‘going to Sheol.’ People who fell asleep before the cross went to Sheol and in T2 that is still what is going on.

                it’s just that I can’t find any Scriptures that say that tie the cross specifically to the emptying and discarding of Sheol. Rather the scriptures tied to this are about the coming of the Lord (i.e. coming of the kingdom, new heavens and new earth, etc.).

                It was the Bible that taught us that everyone went to Sheol at death. Therefore, it has to be the Bible that tells us when and how that changes. Until it tells us when and how it changes, we have no basis to believe it has changed.

                Since the New Testament was written before the SCC, all the change is spoken of as in the future.

                You quote Acts 7:60 and 1 Corinthians 15:6 in support of this view. However, neither one say anything about the destination of those who go to sleep. So, in what manner do these Scriptures support your view? The 1 Thessalonians 4 passage also talks about ‘sleeping’ people who had been ‘in Christ.’ Here we are told that when He comes (SCC) He will bring them with Him. Again, nothing is said about where they were before He got them to bring with Him. So, again, what was your reason for mentioning this passage here?

                All three of these passages speak of people dying as “falling asleep.” This a metaphor for descending to Sheol as we saw in chapter six of the book (a way that the prophets spoke of death to give it hope). This is consistent with the idea that the original creation is still in place and that the new heavens and earth have not yet come.

                In 1 Thessalonians 4 Paul makes clear that those of us who die after the coming of the Lord will not “fall asleep” but rather will be caught up to heaven instead. Again, he’s being consistent with the idea that things change for the dead when there’s a new spiritual universe to make them different.

                On the other hand, Paul says in the passage I quoted that being physically dead is the same thing as being with the Lord. And, this is in T2 when the Lord is at the right hand of God, the Father.

                I don’t know that I can explain Paul’s thought here except to say that he seems to be speaking in anticipation of all that was on the verge of happening. Remember that the New Testament writers are full of expectation that the coming of the Lord was imminent.

                1. Mike,

                  I certainly respect your view that unless you can find a specific Biblical teaching then there is no reason to accept that a change has taken place. However, there is also a place for ‘good and necessary inference.’ This is tricky, since the opinion of man is lurking right at the door. But, as we know, the Trinity is never mentioned in Scripture and has to be recognized by ‘good and necessary inference.’ Agree?

                  With regard to Sheol and sleeping. We know that man is an eternal being. Not necessarily in the material form, of course. Man, in the image of God, is therefore an eternal being. I think we are together on this? In the OT, Sheol/Hades was the spiritual place the spirits of humans went when they died physically. The term ‘sleep’ was applied to the condition of the people and not to the place of the people. One of the areas of trouble that we are experiencing here is that you seem to have tied the two together more tightly than I have. That leads to your conclusion that the cross made no difference on the where of sleeping people. Just a thought for your consideration.

                  I don’t know that I can explain Paul’s thought here except to say that he seems to be speaking in anticipation of all that was on the verge of happening.

                  Well, maybe he was anticipating but that is not what he said. The verbs in the Greek clearly show that this was his present thought. At that time he held the view that the finished act of being absent from the body at that time was better than continuing in the living state. The reason: he would then be at that time ‘with the Lord.’ This is what the Greek tenses teach.

                  On more place where he says almost the same thing is Philippians 1:21-24. Even in the English the tenses show that he is weighing two present options. And, he clearly says that to die would be better than to live. Going to Sheol is better than living for Christ??? Then he spells it out in even more detail. But, do you really see him not sure that if he died at that moment he would not be immediately with Christ in heaven???

                  One last question (for now!), what is the difference in T2 between those who are ‘in Christ’ and those who are not?

                  1. However, there is also a place for ‘good and necessary inference.’ This is tricky, since the opinion of man is lurking right at the door. But, as we know, the Trinity is never mentioned in Scripture and has to be recognized by ‘good and necessary inference.’ Agree?

                    I agree that there is a place for “good and necessary inference.” I just don’t think this is one of those places. When we have explicit teaching of the Scripture pointing one direction I don’t think it’s good or necessary to infer something in the opposite direction. The place for inferring is where we’re lacking explicit statements. Sheol (Hades) is taught as the lower compartment of creation from one end of the Bible to the other, mentioned over 70 different times explicitly by that name. If that’s going to change, we want to be looking for statements that explicitly speak to that change.

                    With regard to Sheol and sleeping. We know that man is an eternal being. Not necessarily in the material form, of course. Man, in the image of God, is therefore an eternal being. I think we are together on this?

                    Yes.

                    In the OT, Sheol/Hades was the spiritual place the spirits of humans went when they died physically. The term ‘sleep’ was applied to the condition of the people and not to the place of the people. One of the areas of trouble that we are experiencing here is that you seem to have tied the two together more tightly than I have. That leads to your conclusion that the cross made no difference on the where of sleeping people. Just a thought for your consideration.

                    I don’t think I’m tying the terms together any more tightly than the Scriptures have. After the SCC, there is no wait for resurrection and therefore no need for sleep, no need for Sheol. We go immediately to be with the Lord in heaven. The imagery of the Scriptures is so consistent and cohesive – even in this transition from old creation to new creation – that it’s wonderful to behold!

                    Well, maybe he was anticipating but that is not what he said.

                    A “good and necessary inference?”

                    But, do you really see him not sure that if he died at that moment he would not be immediately with Christ in heaven???

                    I think Paul’s primary focus in Philippians was to demonstrate that 1) death was no longer anything to fear, and 2) it is nonetheless preferable – for love’s sake – to live here as long as possible before dying. I don’t think he was trying to convey that Sheol had been prematurely eradicated. In any case, however, even if I were to concede your meaning, the best we’d have is Paul speaking contradictively given his statement in 1 Thessalonians 4 that no one on earth would precede those who had previously fallen asleep. I don’t think either one of us is going to be willing to entertain the idea that Paul contradicted himself.

                    One last question (for now!), what is the difference in T2 between those who are ‘in Christ’ and those who are not?

                    Can you be more specific? Are you talking about dead or alive? If alive, what kind of potential differences are you thinking of?

  7. Sorry to be so dense. You are exactly right that there is no problem with people after the second coming if it has already happened. So, I will now try to address the ‘truth’ of P1. I intend to go to your chapter 9 to make sure that I understand your argument for its already having happened. As I am sure you know, I thought we still had to wait for that event. I have to go wash the car; but, as soon as possible, I’ll be back to my keyboard!!

  8. Mike,

    When we have explicit teaching of the Scripture pointing one direction I don’t think it’s good or necessary to infer something in the opposite direction.

    Of course, we agree on this.

    Let me digress for a moment. Some rhetorical questions: How big a deal was Christ dying on the cross? Why was it that all people (righteous and unrighteous; I still need a response to what I wrote about Acts 24:15 for I am sure it makes the idea that Christ is the righteous one in that verse an error.) went to Sheol before this event? Why did God wait so long to ‘prepare’ a place for people in heaven? My answer: sin. Sin was in the way of humans living in heaven. When that was paid for, there was no longer a barrier; nothing standing in the way.

    In Scripture, the word ‘paradise’ only appears 3 times. In 2 Corinthians 12:4 and Revelation 2:7 it is heaven that is clearly in view. Surely, you don’t see Sheol in those verses, do you? In Luke 23:43 there is no indication of where paradise is. All we are told is that Jesus and the ‘good’ thief were going to be there that day. No duration is given so we don’t know how long they were there. Moreover, the fact that they were going to be there that day in no way interfers with their spending some time in Sheol that day also. I assume we can reasonably infer that the ‘bad’ thief was NOT going there? I assume you believe the ‘bad’ thief went to Sheol; I do too. Also, I know you think that paradise is another name for Abraham’s bossom, although nothing in Scripture even hints at this. And, in fact, Jesus, a Jew, knew that the common man on the cross near him would have no trouble understanding that Paradise meant heaven. For, that is what the Jews of that time believed.

    So what is the point of our only being told that Jesus said this to the one and not to the other if all of them were going to the same place, Sheol? Paradise is in heaven and the important point Jesus was telling the ‘good’ thief is that that is where he was going to be that day. According to you, the thief certainly expected to go to Sheol so Jesus just telling him the obvious doesn’t seem to warrant any space in Scripture.

    So you disagree with my statement: “The term ‘sleep’ was applied to the condition of the people and not to the place of the people.” If so, is there any Scriptural support for this. I know it is your view; I just don’t know what support you have for this view.

    After the SCC, there is no wait for resurrection and therefore no need for sleep, no need for Sheol.

    Yes for the righteous; but, not so for the unrighteous. But, let’s not worry about that for now. My original point had to do with T2 and your response has to do with T3. And, thus I can’t see what point you are attempting to make here.

    I am confused. I said: “Well, maybe he (Paul) was anticipating but that is not what he said.
    You responded: “A “good and necessary inference?””
    I don’t understand what you are trying to say. There is no inference required here. Paul’s words are sufficient. He is talking about the ‘now’ time for him. Not some future SCC time.

    I don’t think either one of us is going to be willing to entertain the idea that Paul contradicted himself.

    I think we need to be clear here. In Philippians Paul says that he would prefer to be with the Lord (right then and there); but, that there is also benefit for them if he stays on earth. So the conflict is between benefit for him and benefit for them. That is not talking about resurrection. The 1 thessalonians passage is talking about resurrection. If these two idea are not kept separate, confusion is likely.

    I asked what you thought might be any differences in T2 between those who are ‘in Christ’ and those who are not? You asked for more clarification. I was referring to these two groups while they remained alive. I’ll give you one that I can think of for starters. Those ‘in Christ’ have been declared righteous by God, the Father, and the others have not. Can you think of any other differences?

    1. Some rhetorical questions: How big a deal was Christ dying on the cross?

      Huge.

      Why was it that all people…went to Sheol before this event?

      Because the devil had the power of death. Death, of course, was the result of sin. Sin was the result of temptation which Satan had provided and to which Adam and Eve succumbed.

      Why did God wait so long to ‘prepare’ a place for people in heaven?

      The stage had to be set for the sacrifice. The stage included a nation so that there’d be sufficient witnesses and documentation which chronicled the sacrifice long before it took place. There also had to be a plan for how the news of the sacrifice would be carried throughout the world. Of course, 1st Century Jews had been dispersed throughout the world (which was a result of the failings of ancient Israel) but this helped dissiminate the gospel for, as we can see from the book of Acts, the apostles were able to launch their preaching from the synagogues they found in most every city they visited. It may seem like God took excessively long to do all this, but it’s hard for me to see how He could have done it any faster. Moreover, it only seems long in light of where we now stand in history. As life on earth continues, however, the portion of time used to prepare for the sacrifice will grow smaller and smaller as a percentage of the total.

      My answer: sin. Sin was in the way of humans living in heaven. When that was paid for, there was no longer a barrier; nothing standing in the way.

      From God’s standpoint, there were a few more things that needed to be done to seal the story of the sacrifice in human consciousness. Yet this would not take long, and that’s why the return of the Lord was stated to be within that generation. We needed to get the testimony of the apostles and the church on record regarding the resurrection of Christ, that is, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies about His suffering and the inauguration of His glories. All Christ’s enemies had to be put under His feet (Psalm 110) so that when He came in judgment He would not be exacting His own revenge. God does not do things on whim or on the spur of the moment. The whole sequence of events leading up to the creation of new heavens and earth had to be executed just as prophesied. While I might agree with you that it seems like God could have eradicated Sheol the moment Jesus expired on the cross, it is obvious from the Scriptures that this was not His plan. And I think He has given us reason to see why He wanted an orderly sequence of events leading up to the moment all would be changed “in the twinkling of an eye.”

      1. Mike,

        I really do appreciate your irenic approach. (Please do let me know if you ever see me slipping beneath the bar you have set.) Of course, I really should add that while I have a huge disagreement with your views, your breadth and depth of Biblical knowledge continues to humble me. Also, I teach our youth and our senior men at my church. The possibility that I may be teaching error truly is a driver for me trying to wrestle with your inputs.

        Well, I see that your idea of taking some time to answer my last comment has resulted in me having 8 of your comments in my inbox. You really are too prolific, if that is even possible!! Needless to say, I will need some time to do all of them justice. Anyway, back to the trenches….

        Because the devil had the power of death.

        I agree that there is a sense in which this is true. I know Scriptures says it is true. On the other hand, there is a sense in which it is not. We haven’t touched on sovereignty (and God knows I am not looking to put any more on our plate right now!); but, Satan only had what God granted him is my view. Does that sit well with you too?

        So, Satan having any particular power is not a reason for what God does. That is not the ’cause’ of people going to Sheol. My answer to this question was sin. Sinful creatures could not enter the presence of God and therefore had to go some place other than heaven. Surely, sin resulted in death; but, again, death is not the problem. Sin is. Pay for sin and then Satan has no more power. Satan can still tempt; but, when the child of God sins, he/she is committing a sin that has already been paid for. In that sense, Satan no longer has any power over sin for the believer who has accepted this payment for sin. Of course, that still leaves the ones who have not accepted this payment under the power of Satan and death.

        It may seem like God took excessively long to do all this, but

        Not at all. In fact I completely agree with what you said here. It didn’t take long; it was God’s perfect plan for it to play out just the way it did (not that it is all over yet by a long shot). Praise God.

        While I might agree with you that it seems like God could have eradicated Sheol the moment Jesus expired on the cross, it is obvious from the Scriptures that this was not His plan

        My view is that He took very immediate action with regard to Sheol for the righteous. There was now nothing preventing them from being in heaven and that is where Jesus took them immediately after the cross. (Note however, I do not believe any of them have been resurrected yet. That still is future today.) There was no reason to wait for the SCC; at least not according to Scripture. However, it was not God’s plan to remove Sheol yet. And, since He was not ready to ‘start over’ (There is nothing different about the earth today and the one Paul lived in.); there had to be a place for the wicked. (Which if not for His grace, I would be right now) So, Sheol is still there, IMHO. But, I am sure we will talk about that some more.

        1. I agree that there is a sense in which this is true. I know Scriptures says it is true. On the other hand, there is a sense in which it is not. We haven’t touched on sovereignty (and God knows I am not looking to put any more on our plate right now!); but, Satan only had what God granted him is my view. Does that sit well with you too?

          Yes.

          Satan can still tempt; but, when the child of God sins, he/she is committing a sin that has already been paid for. In that sense, Satan no longer has any power over sin for the believer who has accepted this payment for sin. Of course, that still leaves the ones who have not accepted this payment under the power of Satan and death.

          Jesus said, “…Everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin” (John 8:34). It sounds like you’re saying that if a person who is believer (child of God) commits sin he is not the slave of sin. Paraphrased, you’re saying “Not everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.”

          My view is that He took very immediate action with regard to Sheol for the righteous. There was now nothing preventing them from being in heaven and that is where Jesus took them immediately after the cross.

          Do you have Scripture to support your view?

          (Note however, I do not believe any of them have been resurrected yet. That still is future today.)

          If they have not been resurrected from the dead, how can they be in heaven with Jesus?

          There was no reason to wait for the SCC; at least not according to Scripture.

          What Scripture?

          However, it was not God’s plan to remove Sheol yet. And, since He was not ready to ‘start over’ (There is nothing different about the earth today and the one Paul lived in.); there had to be a place for the wicked. (Which if not for His grace, I would be right now) So, Sheol is still there, IMHO.

          So you’re saying God resurrected the righteous from Sheol (oh, but you said they weren’t resurrected, but they were taken to heaven – how does that work?), but left the wicked there. Plus, when people die now He takes the good ones to heaven and send the bad ones to Sheol? Where are the Scriptures for all this?

          1. Paraphrased, you’re saying “Not everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.”

            The quote of Jesus in John 8:34 was spoken to people who were not ‘in Christ.’ He had not yet gone to the cross. He spoke of ‘setting them free’ at a time still future (after He had paid for their sins) and if they belived in Him. I think Romans 8:2-4 does a much better job of explaining this than I could. But, once ‘in Christ’ a person is no longer a slave to sin. Conversely, the one who is not in Christ remains a slave to sin.

            Several of your questions here have to do with people in spiritual form going from Sheol to heaven without the SCC having happened. You asked for Scriptural support for this. Philippians 1:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:8 seem to do the trick for me. Paul wishes he could be ‘dead’ so that he could be with the Lord. We know where the Lord is. For Paul, there is no stop over in Sheol. WHY? There is no need for it for him and as a result there is no need of it for those who died having been declared righteous before the cross. Righteous people are not hindered in being in heaven when no longer material beings. All of this is before the SCC.

            Now resurrection is a different matter. Paul does not talk about that in regard to his immediate death. Resurrection is the hope (not as in “I wish such and such will happen;” but as in “I am absolutely confident that such and such will happen.”) which Paul mentions in Philippians 3:14.

            So you’re saying God pulled the righteous out of Sheol, but left the wicked there.

            I have been thinking about our exchange with regard to ‘paradise.’ I think the best way to say it is that this is a place where God is. It was the garden of Eden in the beginning and it is New Jerusalem in the end. Today it is heaven. So, when Jesus makes the statement to the ‘good’ thief it is clear that heaven is in view and not Sheol. We never have any indication that God is ‘in Sheol.’ Although of course, God is everywhere.

            A person who has believed God is granted eternal life with God. They initially went to Sheol since their sin had not been paid for yet. After the cross, there is no longer a reason for Sheol for them. Also, a person who has trusted Christ has no sin. So nothing keeps them away from the presence of God either. The thief had nothing keeping him out of heaven, those before the cross who were declared righteous (like Abraham) had nothing keeping them out of heaven, and a true Christian who dies today has nothing keeping him out of heaven. Again, resurrection is another matter.

            Plus, when people die now He takes the good ones to heaven and send the bad ones to Sheol? Where’s the Scripture for this?

            I have already talked about the first part here. As far as the ‘bad ones’ goes, nothing has changed. The ones who went there before the cross are now in exactly the same situation they were in before the cross. The ones who die now are exactly like those in the first group. Sheol is the only place God has provided for these people. So, that is where they go today. Isn’t this your view? The only difference in our views is that you see no distinction between ‘saved’ people and ‘unsaved’ people.

            1. The quote of Jesus in John 8:34 was spoken to people who were not ‘in Christ.’ He had not yet gone to the cross. He spoke of ‘setting them free’ at a time still future (after He had paid for their sins) and if they belived in Him. I think Romans 8:2-4 does a much better job of explaining this than I could. But, once ‘in Christ’ a person is no longer a slave to sin. Conversely, the one who is not in Christ remains a slave to sin.

              So you believe all the Old Testament saints were slaves of sin?

              Several of your questions here have to do with people in spiritual form going from Sheol to heaven without the SCC having happened. You asked for Scriptural support for this. Philippians 1:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:8 seem to do the trick for me. Paul wishes he could be ‘dead’ so that he could be with the Lord. We know where the Lord is. For Paul, there is no stop over in Sheol. WHY? There is no need for it for him and as a result there is no need of it for those who died having been declared righteous before the cross. Righteous people are not hindered in being in heaven when no longer material beings. All of this is before the SCC.

              But you have no Scriptural proof for this, no description of how God altered the path to Sheol so that it leads to heaven. You’re just inferring it. You have no scriptural explanation of when and how it took place. If God went to the trouble to paint a picture of Sheol as the lower compartment (reserved for the dead) of a three-tiered spiritual universe, you can’t just make human changes to that. You have to let Him describe if, when, and how it’s going to change. He does that in the SCC. Isn’t this what you call eisegesis?

              Now resurrection is a different matter. Paul does not talk about that in regard to his immediate death. Resurrection is the hope (not as in “I wish such and such will happen;” but as in “I am absolutely confident that such and such will happen.”) which Paul mentions in Philippians 3:14.

              Here again you’re inferring that God has decided to let spirits into heaven to postpone the resurrection of their bodies until later. It’s your eisegeis again.

              We never have any indication that God is ‘in Sheol.’

              If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
              If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. Psalm 139:8 NASB

              A person who has believed God is granted eternal life with God. They initially went to Sheol since their sin had not been paid for yet. After the cross, there is no longer a reason for Sheol for them.

              That’s your thinking; that’s not Scripture. That’s your timetable; that’s not God’s.

              As far as the ‘bad ones’ goes, nothing has changed. The ones who went there before the cross are now in exactly the same situation they were in before the cross. The ones who die now are exactly like those in the first group. Sheol is the only place God has provided for these people. So, that is where they go today. Isn’t this your view? The only difference in our views is that you see no distinction between ‘saved’ people and ‘unsaved’ people.

              My view is that everyone who died before the SCC went to one place: Sheol. And everyone who has died since the SCC has gone to one place: heaven. I have given you the Scriptural case for this. You are with me when insofar as you believe everyone went to Sheol before the cross. At that point you believe that the process has continued for wicked people but for righteous people, their spirits began going to heaven with the resurrection of all bodies postponed until later. Yet you don’t have a scriptural case for believing this. Isn’t it obvious to you that you believe this because someone taught it to you – not because you learned it from the Scriptures?

              1. So you believe all the Old Testament saints were slaves of sin?

                Just look at David (the king; certainly not me). The Christian today has a choice because the Holy Spirit indwells and empowers him/her to choose to not sin. That is the meaning of not being a slave to sin. The unbeliever is not indwelt and has no choice but to sin. The Holy Spirit did not indwell believers until Pentecost.

                You’re just inferring it.

                You are referring to my view on righteous people and Sheol today. And, you are right. The question is whether it is taught by ‘good and necessary inference’ or it is just a figment of my imagination. (Don’t answer that, I already know your answer 🙂 )

                If God went to the trouble to paint a picture of Sheol as the lower compartment (reserved for the dead) of a three-tiered spiritual universe, you can’t just make human changes to that.

                This seems like a non-sequitur here. Sheol was required before the cross. But, the situation before the cross (which you yourself say was huge; but, have never really mentioned here what was so huge about it???) was radically changed by it. Paul clearly says that death for him (before the SCC) means immediate presence with the Lord. Maybe he didn’t get the true story when he went to heaven and got revelations?

                Here again you’re inferring that God has decided to let spirits into heaven to postpone the resurrection of their bodies until later. It’s your eisegeis again.

                I am absolutely convinced that neither one of us intentionally engages in eisegesis. That of course does not prevent either of us from doing it unintentionally.

                Paul states his ‘goal’ as resurrection in Philippians 3:14. Here he is only talking about being with the Lord. By the way, the idea you state in your comment that spirits are let into heaven to postphone their resurrection is not one that I entertain. There is no causal effect between the two.

                I said:

                We never have any indication that God is ‘in Sheol.’

                To which you responded with Psalm 139:8. The Psalms are, well…., poetry. Figurative language, if you will. God is spirit and is everywhere all at once. Both of us share this understanding. But, Scripture never tells us in declarative ways that God is in Sheol.

                That’s your thinking; that’s not Scripture. That’s your timetable; that’s not God’s.

                OK, then tell me what is the reason for righteous people to go to Sheol today. I know God had the habit, if you will, of doing that before the cross and He hasn’t explicitly put a change notice into a verse for us. Nevertheless, what is the reason for the righteous to go to Sheol today (or if it would be less offensive to deal with, change today to T2 – before the SCC).

                Yet you don’t have a scriptural case for believing this. Isn’t it obvious to you that you believe this because someone taught it to you – not because you learned it from the Scriptures?

                Whether somebody taught it to me or I learned it all by myself seems rather unimportant. I have given my reasons. You don’t accept them. You have given me your reasons…

    2. I still need a response to what I wrote about Acts 24:15 for I am sure it makes the idea that Christ is the righteous one in that verse an error.

      I don’t know Greek nor do I know all the textual variants that might exist for that verse, but I’ll take your word that both righteous and unrighteous in that verse are plural. If that’s the case, it only means that Paul was making clear to his listeners that resurrection was something that was happening to everyone – not a select few. It would not refute the point that Paul made crystal clear in Romans 3 that there are none righteousness before God (“not even one”) – Jesus of Nazareth being the notable exception. That is why I orginally said to you that when I hear Paul say “there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked” I think of Jesus and the rest of us. I was not claiming that this was Paul’s meaning in that specific verse. I do claim that this is Paul’s general understanding of the subject of who is righteous before God, for he is the one I got it from.

      Jesus is even called “the Righteous One” in Acts 7:52 and 22:14, not to mention the Old Testament prophecies of Him by that name. “There is none like Him.”

      1. Mike,

        I only know enough Greek to be a little obnoxious. Seriously, I checked my references on Acts 24:15 and found only one variant. The NIV, Westcott Hort, and Tregelles all have the same Greek here. The Robertson Pierpoint have added the phrase ‘of the dead’ in the plural after the word resurrection. So, it would translate: … certainly be a resurrection of the dead, both of the righteous and of the wicked.

        It would not refute the point that Paul made crystal clear in Romans 3 that there are none righteousness before God (“not even one”) – Jesus of Nazareth being the notable exception.

        There is a difference here. Jesus is the only one who is intrinsically righteous. It is His very nature. So, He was the only ‘man’ who ever could or did fulfill all of the requirements of God’s law. When a person is given the gift of salvation through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) then they are forensically righteous having been declared such by God. They are placed ‘in Christ’ and as such God sees them as if through the veil of Christ. Their righteousness is not their own; it is Christ’s righteousness.

        Are we together on this? It seems to me to be a really important concept.

        1. I checked my references on Acts 24:15 and found only one variant. The NIV, Westcott Hort, and Tregelles all have the same Greek here. The Robertson Pierpoint have added the phrase ‘of the dead’ in the plural after the word resurrection. So, it would translate: … certainly be a resurrection of the dead, both of the righteous and of the wicked.

          As I said, David, I don’t have an issue with you on this.

          Jesus is the only one who is intrinsically righteous. It is His very nature. So, He was the only ‘man’ who ever could or did fulfill all of the requirements of God’s law. When a person is given the gift of salvation through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) then they are forensically righteous having been declared such by God. They are placed ‘in Christ’ and as such God sees them as if through the veil of Christ. Their righteousness is not their own; it is Christ’s righteousness.

          Aren’t we wandering pretty far astray here from what happens when you die?

          1. Aren’t we wandering pretty far astray here from what happens when you die?

            Well, I hope not. Our difference is ‘distinction between righteous and unrighteous.’ For your point of view there might be some difference in degree of punishment in heaven but that’s all. Basically, God treats all the dead ‘alike.’ Well, that is a major difference from what I see in Scripture.

            1. I think there’s a difference in degree of punishment on earth as well as in heaven, and it’s for all people – though each person is judged according to the light he has (for example, a 30 year old man gets judged more strictly than an 14 year old boy, and a person who knows the Scriptures get judged more strictly than a person who has never heard of Jesus Christ).

              When I say “gone astray,” I’m referring to the fact that you’re talking about intrinsic versus forensic righteousness and being in Christ without relating it to Sheol, heaven, resurrection – the terms God has used with respect to our afterlife.

              1. I think there’s a difference in degree of punishment on earth as well as in heaven, and it’s for all people

                Well then you disagree with God (Romans 8:1). Saved people are not judged; their works are and then they get more or less reward. Really big difference for the others.

                When I say “gone astray,” …I’m referring to … being in Christ without relating it to Sheol, heaven, resurrection.

                Didn’t mean to do this. We keep getting hung up on Sheol and heaven. Forget them for a minute. The one in Christ is resurrected to life with God; the one not in Christ is resurrected to eternal separation from God (and yes, we agree God is everywhere!) Both kinds of people, have eternal existence and awareness etc.

    3. In Scripture, the word ‘paradise’ only appears 3 times.

      Actually, it only appears 3 times in the New Testament. It occurs another 28 times in the Septuagint. In the LXX, it is usually translated as “garden,” and only occasionally as “park,” “orchard,” “forest,” “house,” or “Eden.” When you look at all the usage across both testaments, it seems to speak more to a state of being (even if by metaphor) than to a place of location. Moreover, the capitalization of it in the New Testament seems arbitrary given that it’s seldom capitalized in the Old Testament but rather portrayed as a tranquil and idyllic place of being. Therefore, if you’re wanting to say that Paradise always means heaven you’re going way beyond the Scriptural evidence we have.

      In 2 Corinthians 12:4 and Revelation 2:7 it is heaven that is clearly in view.

      I think your case is stronger for 2 Corinthians than it is for Revelation (where no reference to heaven is made in the context). Even for the 2 Corinthians passage, it’s not necessary to conclude that “Paradise” refers to heaven. Rather, it seems to refer to the presence of the Lord – and moves as the Lord moves. In any case, this is only one out of 31 occurrences of the word in the Greek Bible.

      In Luke 23:43 there is no indication of where paradise is. All we are told is that Jesus and the ‘good’ thief were going to be there that day. No duration is given so we don’t know how long they were there.

      For this reason, the meaning of “state” works better than “location.” (If location is insisted upon, consider it the bosom of Abraham in Sheol [sources: see the Jewish Encylopedia and Wikipedia].)

      No duration is given so we don’t know how long they were there.

      We know how long Jesus was in Sheol because the Scriptures make clear that He was not raised until the third day.

      And, in fact, Jesus, a Jew, knew that the common man on the cross near him would have no trouble understanding that Paradise meant heaven. For, that is what the Jews of that time believed.

      Can you give me a source on that?

      1. Mike,

        It occurs another 28 times in the Septuagint.

        I hope I can keep this short. First, the Septuagint is not Scripture. It is a Greek translation of the original Hebrew Scriptures. As such, it is not an inerrant presentation of the Word of God. It is very helpful for study; but, it has to be handled very carefully.

        I did a simply search in the Septuagint for the nominative singular of the Greek word for paradise. I got 4 verses, Genesis 13:10, Song of Solomon 4:13, Isaiah 1:30 and Joel 2:3. And, sure enough the word ‘paradise’ appears in these verses in the Greek. However, if you go to the Hebrew for these verses you find the Hebrew word (gan) which means garden in 3 of the verses and the hebrew word pardes which means park in one verse, the one in Song of Solomon. God did not intend for the Scriptures to have the word paradise in these 4 verses. It was man who put in the word paradise and has added confusion. In the NT, there is no doubt as to the meaning that God intended. Paradise equals heaven, the place where God dwells.

        I most certainly agree that the capitalization of Paradise in the NT is foolishness. That is the work of the translators. Koine Greek does not capitalize the first letter of any words.

        Regarding Revelation 2:7 you make this comment:

        where no reference to heaven is made in the context

        Technically you are correct. The tree of life in the Paradise of God is referring to New Jerusalem in the context. That is the place where God will dwell with man for eternity. If that isn’t heaven then I don’t know what it is.

        Regarding paradise I made the comment that that was what the Jews believed at that time. One reference is Lightfoot, J. (2010). A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, Matthew-1 Corinthians: Volume 3, Luke-John (212). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc. I’ve included the section on Luke 23:43 which has the reference to paradise and the thief below. As you will quickly see, there is a technical problem. The font in the reference is not unicode and so the Hebrew and Greek only copy a ‘?’ in place of any Hebrew or Greek letter. If you would like me to provide the Hebrew or Greek for any of what follows, just ask and your wish shall be my command.

        Ver. 43: ??????? ???? ???? ??? ?? ?? ?????????· To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.]
        I. Let us here first consider the phrase ?? ?? ?????????, in paradise: in common Jewish speech, ??? ??? in the garden of Eden. In what sense we may collect from these following passages: ?? ????? ????? ???? “The Rabbins have a tradition. There are four that went into paradise: namely, Ben Azzai, Ben Zumah, Acher, and R. Akibah. R. Akibah saith unto them, “When you come to the stones of pure marble, do not ye say ??? ??? Waters, waters [i. e. Alas! these waters will hinder us from going forward]; for it is written, He that telleth lies shall not dwell in my presence [now, it would be a lie to call white marble water]. “Ben Azzai ???? looked with some curiosity about him, and died: of him the Scripture speaks, “Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Ben Zumah ???? ????? looked with some curiosity about him, and he was disturbed in his intellectuals: of him the Scripture speaketh, “Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.”

        Aruch, reciting these words, saith, ?????? ???? ?????? ?? ??? It is called paradise, under the signification of the garden of Eden, which is reserved for the just. This place is ?????? in the heavens, where the souls of the just are gathered together.” And the Talmudical Gloss hath it much to the same sense: “These four, by God’s procurement, ??? ????? went up into the firmament.”
        While we are reading these passages, that story may easily occur to mind of St. Paul’s being ‘caught up into paradise,’ 2 Cor. 12; and perhaps the legend before us is but the ape of that story. In the story it is observable, that paradise and the ‘third heaven’ are one and the same thing: in the legend paradise and ????? the highest heavens. For so the doctors comment upon the word in Psalm 68:5: “There are seven classes or degrees of just persons, who see the face of God, sit in the house of God, ascend up unto the hill of God, etc. And to every class or degree there is allotted their proper dwelling place ??? ??? in paradise. There are also seven abiding places in hell. Those that dwell in paradise, ?????? ????? ????? they shine like the shining of the firmament, like the sun, like the moon, like the firmament, like the stars, like lightning, like the lilies, like burning lamps.”

        II. Our Saviour, therefore, telling the penitent thief, This day shalt thou be with me in paradise, he speaks in the common dialect, and to the capacity of the thief; viz., that he should be in heaven with Christ, and with all just persons that had left this world. Nor, indeed, would I fetch the explication of that article of our creed, ???????? ??? ????, He descended into hell, from any passage in the Scripture sooner than this here: adding this, that we must of necessity have recourse to the Greek tongue for the signification of the word ????, which they generally use to denote the state of the dead, as well the blessed as the miserable. Those who expound that passage in 1 Pet. 3:19, of his going down from the cross into hell to preach to the spirits in prison there, do very little regard the scope of the apostle, and are absolute strangers to his meaning in it. For,
        1. In that he shuts up the generation before the flood in an infernal prison, he falls in with the received opinion of that nation, which was, that that generation had no part in the world to come; and that they were condemned to boiling waters in hell.

        2. He compares the present generation of the Jews with that generation before the flood; that Christ did of old preach even to that generation, and so he hath done to this; that that generation perished through its disobedience, and so will this. He runs much upon the same parallel in his second Epistle, chap. 3:6, etc. We must observe, that the apostle makes his transition from the crucifixion and resurrection of our Saviour directly to the generation before the flood, passing over all those generations that came between, on purpose that he might make the comparison betwixt that and the age he lived in.

        1. I hope I can keep this short. First, the Septuagint is not Scripture. It is a Greek translation of the original Hebrew Scriptures. As such, it is not an inerrant presentation of the Word of God. It is very helpful for study; but, it has to be handled very carefully.

          How is that different from dealing with an English translation?

          In the NT, there is no doubt as to the meaning that God intended. Paradise equals heaven, the place where God dwells.

          I don’t see how you can make that claim. Even Luke 23:43 won’t support this claim because we know that Jesus died shortly after this and wasn’t raised until the third day. And even then He confirmed to Mary Magdalene, “I have not ascended to the Father” (John 20:17).

          Regarding paradise I made the comment that that was what the Jews believed at that time. One reference is Lightfoot, J. (2010). A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, Matthew-1 Corinthians: Volume 3, Luke-John (212). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

          Lightfoot is selective in his Talmudic references as you will see when you review the Jewish Encylcopedia article on Paradise where it says, “The popular conception of paradise is expressed by the term “Gan ‘Eden,” in contradistinction to “Gehinnom” = “hell.” Jewish authorities are almost unanimous in maintaining that there is a terrestrial as well as a celestial Gan ‘Eden.”

          This fits with my comment to you that – unlike Sheol or heaven – Paradise speaks more to a state than to a location. Nevertheless, using extrabiblical understanding of the times in which the Scriptures are written is helpful, but it is not as definitive as the word of God itself – a point you have rightly made yourself.

          1. Mike,
            You asked how what I said about the Septuagint differs from our English translations. My answer is that it doesn’t. Only the Scriptures in the original languages are Scriptures. Now, for all practical purposes, a good translation in English is just fine for what the average person is interested in. But, in English, for example, you can’t tell the difference between you (singular) and you plural. In the Greek, it is obvious. In certain verses that can be critical to know.

            Even Luke 23:43 won’t support this claim because we know that Jesus died shortly after this and wasn’t raised until the third day. And even then He confirmed to Mary Magdalene, “I have not ascended to the Father” (John 20:17).

            Let’s see if we can agree on a time line (in days):
            1 => cross
            1-3 => Jesus physically dead; alive spiritually
            3 => Jesus obtains a resurrection body
            3-40 => Jesus seen by various people on earth
            40 => Jesus assends to the right hand of the Father
            50 => Holy Spirit comes to earth to indwell believers

            The assumption you are making (wrongly in my opinion, of course) is that while Jesus was physically dead He could not do anything. He is both God and man. Tell me again what prevented Him from bringing the righteous captives in Sheol into His presence and bringing them to another place? And, while you don’t see it, the NT teaching on what paradise means is not disputable. There is one tree of life and it is said to be both in paradise and in heaven. That all by itself should clinch the meaning. However, we also have that Paul was caught up to the third heaven, which is heaven, and this place was also called paradise.

            So, when Jesus says to Mary Magdelene that He has not yet ascended to the Father He is of course speaking the truth. That does not mean that He could not have brought the thief, and all those like the thief with regard to righteousness, with Him to heaven that first day.

            1. But, in English, for example, you can’t tell the difference between you (singular) and you plural. In the Greek, it is obvious. In certain verses that can be critical to know.

              By the way, David, what is the source you used to determine singular/plural in Acts 24:15 and is it online? If so, what’s the link?

              Let’s see if we can agree on a time line (in days):
              1 => cross
              1-3 => Jesus physically dead; alive spiritually
              3 => Jesus obtains a resurrection body
              3-40 => Jesus seen by various people on earth
              40 => Jesus assends to the right hand of the Father
              50 => Holy Spirit comes to earth to indwell believers

              It all seems scriptural to me except for the second part of 2. What do you mean Jesus was “alive spiritually” and what’s the scripture for that?

              Tell me again what prevented Him from bringing the righteous captives in Sheol into His presence and bringing them to another place?

              He would have to be raised from the dead to take them anyplace above Sheol.

              And, while you don’t see it, the NT teaching on what paradise means is not disputable. There is one tree of life and it is said to be both in paradise and in heaven.

              How can you say this when the NT references to the tree of life, when they do speak of location, say it is in the New Jerusalem on earth which is the tabernacle of God among men? In fact, the tree of life is not mentioned in Revelation 21-22 until the New Jerusalem comes down – except for the earlier reference in Revelation 2:7 which says nothing about location. I know of no scriptural reference to the tree of life being in heaven. (Need I add that earth is the appropriate abode for trees just as heaven is the appropriate abode for angels?) As I said earlier, this tabernacle of God is among us now – invisible but available to those who will believe and wash their robes that they may enter.

              So, when Jesus says to Mary Magdelene that He has not yet ascended to the Father He is of course speaking the truth. That does not mean that He could not have brought the thief, and all those like the thief with regard to righteousness, with Him to heaven that first day.

              I can’t believe my eyes. Your sentences here are saying that Jesus ascended to heaven the first day to take the thief and others to heaven but was telling Mary the truth two days later when He said He hadn’t ascended to heaven.

              1. By the way, David, what is the source you used to determine singular/plural in Acts 24:15 and is it online? If so, what’s the link?

                I have a few Greek NT’s on my PC. I just looked at the Text. But, I know there are all sorts of Greek NT’s on line that have information on each of the words you click on. Let me know if you can’t find one and I’ll look for one.

                What do you mean Jesus was “alive spiritually” and what’s the scripture for that?

                Clearly He was physically dead. Humans never die spiritually. Their soul never extinguishes since they have the image of God, for one. God, of course, never dies. Jesus was both God and man and so there is no other possible conclusion but that He remained alive; but just not physically.

                He would have to be raised from the dead to take them anyplace above Sheol.

                Jesus is a God/man. I certainly know of no Scripture that tells me the God essence of Jesus was prevented from ever doing anything.

                As I said earlier, this tabernacle of God is among us now – invisible but available to those who will believe and wash their robes.

                Do you still rely on the sun or moon for light? I do. But, if New Jerusalem were here it seems as if we wouldn’t have to any longer. At least according to Rev 21:23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. Nothing in Scripture gives any indication that New Jerusalem is invisible; but available now. Sorry.

                I can’t believe my eyes. …Jesus ascended to heaven the first day …but was telling Mary the truth ,,, He said He hadn’t ascended to heaven.

                Activity for Jesus and Resurrection are not the same thing. Of course He didn’t lie.

    4. So what is the point of our only being told that Jesus said this to the one and not to the other if all of them were going to the same place, Sheol? Paradise is in heaven and the important point Jesus was telling the ‘good’ thief is that that is where he was going to be that day. According to you, the thief certainly expected to go to Sheol so Jesus just telling him the obvious doesn’t seem to warrant any space in Scripture.

      To continue with what I’ve been saying, Jesus seems to be speaking to state more than location. Even while Jesus was enduring unmitigated rejection from humanity, He knew He was obeying His Father and thus kept His eyes fixed on blessings of that fellowship. The penitent thief – as we know from experience – would also receive the blessings of the presence of God on his soul even though he had sinned in life. God forgives us and grants us the paradise of His fellowship in the hope and promise that we will live for Him. Thus people do not have to wait years and years to experience God’s approval. He is quick to give it when we repent. The unrepentant thief had no such bliss to look forward to. As I’ve been saying, you don’t have a Scriptural foundation for insisting that Paradise is a synonym for heaven. In fact, the very first usage of the word was for the garden of Eden which most certainly was on earth. Thus, paradise speaks of intimate fellowship between God and man.

      1. Mike,

        In fact, the very first usage of the word was for the garden of Eden which most certainly was on earth. Thus, paradise speaks of intimate fellowship between God and man.

        Yes, the garden of Eden was a paradise. Man in fellowship with God and no sin. That is what heaven is. But, Eden is no more on earth. Eventually New Jerusalem will be on earth and once more we can talk of paradise on earth. In the mean time, heaven or paradise is not on earth.

        I wonder if we have the same view of what ‘He gives when we repent?’ For, I agree there is no waiting for fellowship; it is immediately given. I say (from Scripture) that the person who has saving faith is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and thus has the power needed to live a life under the control of God rather than himself. That doesn’t mean that all saved people live any differently from unsaved people. It is just that they have been removed from slavery to sin and have a choice. Sadly, most still choose sin. BUT, if they were saved, then they are going to be in paradise one day. The unsaved will not for they have not ever accepted the payment that Jesus made for their sins. So, God leaves them to themselves and what they desire, i.e., nothing to do with God.

        Is your view of salvation, on earth, right now, for the person of Ephesians 2:8-9, anything like what I have just written here?

        1. Yes, the garden of Eden was a paradise. Man in fellowship with God and no sin. That is what heaven is. But, Eden is no more on earth. Eventually New Jerusalem will be on earth and once more we can talk of paradise on earth. In the mean time, heaven or paradise is not on earth.

          When the SCC occurred, the New Jerusalem came down and has been dwelling in the midst of the earth ever since. It is available to all who seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. To all of us He invites, “Come, all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” That rest is a paradise.

          Is your view of salvation, on earth, right now, for the person of Ephesians 2:8-9, anything like what I have just written here?

          David, I firmly believe Ephesians 2:8-9 but I do not share the interpretation of it you have described which is the traditional evangelical Christian interpretation – a view I used to hold and preach. I no longer hold it because I have come to see that it’s unworthy of God and unscriptural because it’s based on the assumption that the Lord has not been faithful regarding His promise of an imminent SCC in the 1st Century. As to the latter, that is to the SCC, I have laid out my case in Whatever Became of Jesus Christ? As to the evangelical Christian interpretation being unworthy of God, consider that God is glorified when a sinner turns from the error of his ways and lives for God. Yet this interpretation says that God will ignore the sins of certain people but will torture forever certain other people for the very same sins. God is far more just than this.

          The Lord intends us for obedience…not sanctified disobedience (as if there were such a thing).

          1. Mike:

            To all of us He invites, “Come, all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

            When a Scripture is taken out of context, it can be used to mean almost anything. You use the word ‘us’ in your comment. I assume that includes you and me. Well, this is not what He promises ‘us.’ He promises us eternal life if we believe. Among other things that we are to believe is that He paid the price of our sin by His death. The passage you reference here is where He is speaking to the Jews, to whom He came as their Messiah and king. These are two completely different promises and since the first clearly depends on His death and He is obviously alive when He promises what you reference here, there is a problem in what I have quoted you as saying above.

            traditional evangelical Christian view … unscriptural because it’s based on the assumption that the Lord has not been faithful regarding His promise of an imminent SCC in the 1st Century.

            Can you point me to a Scripture where the Lord promises an imminent SCC?

            Yet this teaching says that God will ignore the sins of certain people but will torture forever certain other people for the very same sins. God is far more just than this.

            I know we both agree that God sets the rules. God said, believe what I have said about Jesus and I will give you a gift. We don’t have to work for gifts. We don’t have to do anything to earn gifts. God is not ignoring anything. He has said that He will not hold the sins to our account. They are paid for as are the sins of all people. It is just that God said that that is not enough. Each person must trust that they are paid for or it is as if they have not been paid for. You may see this is not the way to do things; but, Paul says in Romans 3:26 that it is just for Him to justify the one who has this faith.

            The Lord intends us for obedience

            This is putting the cart before the horse. First, He intends for us to have faith. After He gives us eternal life through that faith, then He ‘works’ with us to be obedient. The unsaved person doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of being obedient.

            1. When a Scripture is taken out of context, it can be used to mean almost anything. You use the word ‘us’ in your comment. I assume that includes you and me. Well, this is not what He promises ‘us.’ He promises us eternal life if we believe. Among other things that we are to believe is that He paid the price of our sin by His death. The passage you reference here is where He is speaking to the Jews, to whom He came as their Messiah and king. These are two completely different promises and since the first clearly depends on His death and He is obviously alive when He promises what you reference here, there is a problem in what I have quoted you as saying above.

              You are saying that because I am a Gentile and I live in the 21st century the promise of Matthew 11:28-30 does not apply to me and that I and others in my category are wrong to trust it?

              Can you point me to a Scripture where the Lord promises an imminent SCC?

              How about three? Matthew 10:23; Matthew 24:34; Revelation 22:12

              I know we both agree that God sets the rules. God said, believe what I have said about Jesus and I will give you a gift. We don’t have to work for gifts. We don’t have to do anything to earn gifts. God is not ignoring anything. He has said that He will not hold the sins to our account. They are paid for as are the sins of all people. It is just that God said that that is not enough. Each person must trust that they are paid for or it is as if they have not been paid for. You may see this is not the way to do things; but, Paul says in Romans 3:26 that it is just for Him to justify the one who has this faith.

              There are indeed rewards for those who believe now. In fact, the reward of the Lord is overflowing and blessed are all those who do not put Him off. But that’s different from saying that He would be so vindictive as to put people in unmitigated torture and be deaf to their cries for relief and willingness to repent for all eternity.

              This is putting the cart before the horse. First, He intends for us to have faith. After He gives us eternal life through that faith, then He ‘works’ with us to be obedient. The unsaved person doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of being obedient.

              Then how is it we can find some atheists or other non-Christians who exhibit more morality than some born-again Christians?

              1. You are saying that because I am a Gentile and I live in the 21st century the promise of Matthew 11:28-30 does not apply to me and that I and others in my category are wrong to trust it?

                No, that is not what I am saying. I am saying that in this particular statement, Jesus is not speaking to you or to me (a Jew in the 21st century). BUT, in John 3:14-18 the same message is given to all mankind. There are lots of places in the NT where we are promised all sort of amazing things. There are also some places where we are just overhearing Jesus talking to His nation, His people. At this point in Matthew they have not yet rejected Him. So, the offer still stands if they accept Him as their king.

                When I asked for ‘a Scripture where the Lord promises an imminent SCC’ you gave me three. I’d like to deal with Matthew 24:34 since it is one that is so very often misunderstood (IMHO, of course). Matthew 24:34 “I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” Well, if you take this verse out of context, then obviously it is talking about those then alive and voila, you think 70AD is what is being discussed. BUT, if you look at verses 32 and 33, He sets the context.

                First, there is the parable that means when you know what to look for, you know what time it is. He has just given a long list of things to look for before He comes. So, the ‘you’ in verse 33 is referring to those Jews who are alive at that time. And, they are the ‘generation’ that He is referring to.

                But that’s different from saying that He would be so vindictive as to put people in unmitigated torture and be deaf to their cries for relief and willingness to repent.

                God is not vindictive. That is something that we have no trouble being. But, not God; He is just; He is love. Note, it is not as if He has not always given man enough sight to believe Him. It is man who chooses to NOT trust Him. God has set the consequences and it is up to man to choose. God does not choose to send anybody to ‘hell.’ What He does is choose people to give the gift of eternal life to. Since they (which includes me) deserve ‘hell’ is He being fair to give them eternal life???

                Then how is it we can find some atheists or other non-Christians who exhibit more morality than some born-again Christians?

                If you look at things through man’s eyes then it looks like some non-believers are just wonderful human beings. However, God says that the best any of us can do is no better than filthy rags. So, we are left with trusting our sight or trusting God, who sees the heart of this atheist we are admiring. Christians still have a choice. And as you point out, many of them choose very poorly. But, God has said that at their resurrection they will be as white as the newly fallen snow. See, He is sovereign and as Romans 9 says, He picks the clay that is to be honorable and the clay that is to be crushed. The clay really doesn’t have anything to say in the matter.

    5. So you disagree with my statement: “The term ‘sleep’ was applied to the condition of the people and not to the place of the people.” If so, is there any Scriptural support for this. I know it is your view; I just don’t know what support you have for this view.

      The Scriptural support is that this metaphor was always used of people going to Sheol. After the SCC, people were caught up. There was no period of sleep, no waiting to arise. David lived before the SCC and therefore fell asleep with his fathers (Acts 13:36). He went to heaven in the resurrection of the dead. Since you are going after, you will be instantly translated to heaven. There will be no lull of sleep. Sheol implied sleep; the new heavens and the new earth (without a Sheol) imply no need for sleep.

      1. Mike,

        The Scriptural support is that this metaphor was always used of people going to Sheol

        Well, I am afraid that doesn’t do it. That was the only place before the cross for dead people to go. So, clearly place and state were synonymous. But, it is the people who ‘slept.’ Where they went has nothing to do with the fact that they were still asleep. If they went to XYZ would they not still be sleeping? Could we not say that dead people were sleeping if they went to XYZ instead of Sheol.

        1. “Falling asleep” fits with descending to Sheol if your intent is to create hope for a resurrection. Who, however, would use a metaphor of “falling asleep” for going to heaven? Don’t you expect to be wide awake when that happens?

          1. Who, however, would use a metaphor of “falling asleep” for going to heaven?

            I have no idea; but, I know that I certainly would never do that.

            You and I are alive. I guess we could say we are ‘awake.’ I don’t do this very often; but, it isn’t unthinkable. The point is that man is an eternal being. So, he never ‘dies’ in the sense of ceasing to exist. BUT, he does die physically. It is just that his soul never dies. So, what you or I might decide to call that spiritual state is really not the point. God decided to call it sleep. That is the state of physically dead, un-resurrected people. It is a descriptor of people. Not of places. People can ‘sleep’ in Sheol or in heaven. What is so distasteful about that teaching of Scripture?

            1. I don’t find that teaching of Scripture distasteful at all. I’m just saying that when hear someone’s death described as “falling asleep” in the Scripture, I take it to be referring to someone dying before the SCC (when the resurrection took place). In 1 Thessalonians 4 where Paul talks about the dead being raised at the SCC, he speaks of those who are alive and remain being “caught up” – not falling asleep (since there’s no more Sheol, there’s no need for “sleep” before the resurrection).

      2. The Second Coming of Jesus Christ was a spiritual event.

        OK, I’ll deal with what seems to be your major thesis. The SCC has already happened and it was a spiritual (invisible?) event. From what I can tell, your only Scriptural support for this are the various statements of it’s happening soon. Needless to say, I guess, I say the SCC has not happened yet.

        Probably the simplest way to get at this problem is to ask what your take on Acts 1:10-11 is:
        Acts 1:10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; 11 and they also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

        My take is that He had already been resurrected and seen in that form by 500 or so people. So, this ‘taking up’ is not speaking about resurrection. He is leaving, going away. They could see it happen. Now, the two angels say that He is coming back ‘in just the same way.’ What could that mean other than as a resurrected visible man who could be touched and could eat fish, for example. We both know that has not happened yet. So, how do you prove the SCC has happened other than referring to the word ‘soon?’

        1. OK, I’ll deal with what seems to be your major thesis. The SCC has already happened and it was a spiritual (invisible?) event. From what I can tell, your only Scriptural support for this are the various statements of it’s happening soon.

          The book Whatever Became of Jesus Christ? is organized into two parts: 1) having to do with the timing of the SCC (the NT speaks of it as imminent), and 2) the nature of the SCC (the NT speaks of it as spiritual.

          My take is that He had already been resurrected and seen in that form by 500 or so people. So, this ‘taking up’ is not speaking about resurrection. He is leaving, going away. They could see it happen. Now, the two angels say that He is coming back ‘in just the same way.’ What could that mean other than as a resurrected visible man who could be touched and could eat fish, for example. We both know that has not happened yet. So, how do you prove the SCC has happened other than referring to the word ‘soon?’

          In Luke 17 when Jesus said the coming of the kingdom of God would not be with signs to be observed. In Matthew 24 He said His coming would be like a thief in the night, which Paul confirmed in 1 Thessalonians 5. In this passage from Acts note that the angels chastise the disciples for staring into heaven – an odd thing to chastise them for if His return is to be visible from heaven. They had only seen Jesus disappear from His sight. They did not see Him enter heaven and sit down at the right hand of God. Thus, the angels were saying He was coming in the same way He had gone: invisibly.

          1. In this passage from Acts note that the angels chastise the disciples for staring into heaven – an odd thing to chastise them for if His return is to be visible from heaven. They had only seen Jesus disappear from His sight. They did not see Him enter heaven and sit down at the right hand of God. Thus, the angels were saying He was coming in the same way He had gone: invisibly.

            Acts 1:9 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

            Jesus is standing there talking to them and then He rises in full sight of the people. Nothing invisible is going on. The he goes into a cloud on the way and is no longer visible.

            10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them.

            While they were gazing into the sky as Jesus was visibly rising into the cloud, two men (angels) just showed up. They did see this happen because they were looking at Jesus going away. Not really very surprising so far?

            11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.?

            So now the two angels speak. They don’t ‘chastise’ the men looking up. All, they say is that in the same visible way that you saw Jesus go away His return will be just as visible. No need to stare into the sky now that He is out of your sight, He is not coming back right now. His return will easily be seen just like His departure. Or to put it more simply, ‘Go about your business, the show is over for now.’ nothing that is actually in the text even hints as an invisible return when He now has a resurrection body that they had clearly been able to see just a few moments before.

            1. Jesus is standing there talking to them and then He rises in full sight of the people. Nothing invisible is going on. The he goes into a cloud on the way and is no longer visible.

              What’s invisible is what Psalm 110 prophesied: that He sat down at the right hand of God. None of the disciples saw that because it happened in a dimension they could not see: the world of the spirit.

              So now the two angels speak. They don’t ‘chastise’ the men looking up.

              “Why do you stand looking into the sky?” = chastisement, albeit probably mild.

              No need to stare into the sky now that He is out of your sight, He is not coming back right now.

              That’s your take. My take is: No need to stare into the sky now that He is out of your sight, you’re not going to see Him sit at the right hand of the Father. To go even farther, they are telling the disciples that their days of seeing Jesus fulfill scriptures physically are over because the days of His flesh are over. The days of His spirit have begun (2 Corinthians 5:16).

              His return will easily be seen just like His departure.

              They couldn’t possibly have been meaning that because it would directly contradict Luke 17:20-21 when Jesus was asked about that very subject (not to mention the “thief in the night” references and others).

              nothing that is actually in the text even hints as an invisible return

              Actually, I’ve been trying to show you that the text does hint at it, though other Scriptures are much more explicit and direct about that point (especially Luke 17:20-21).

              1. My take is: No need to stare into the sky now that He is out of your sight, you’re not going to see Him sit at the right hand of the Father.

                I really doubt that anybody in that crowd was trying to see Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father. Is that what you really think? Anyway, if it were me standing there and I had just seen this amazing thing, I would keep looking for I would not have any idea what was going to happen next. And, I wouldn’t want to miss it, whatever it might be. Remember, they didn’t have the NT to debate like you and I. 😉

                because the days of His flesh are over. The days of His spirit have begun (2 Corinthians 5:16).

                Jesus was resurrected and seen by lots of people. Nowhere in Scripture does God tell us that He is going to transform Jesus into any other form than the one that these people saw.

                Here’s another place where I can be obnoxious about Greek. But, I think it is very important to actually understanding this verse. The verb, we know, is in the Greek present tense. That tense has the meaning of continual activity in the present or to say it another way it indicates process. So, Paul is saying that right now we (and he is really talking about only the ones who had actually seen him this way. Paul was not one of those.) are not in the process of seeing Him in the flesh. Jesus is not here now to be seen. For Paul, while he was alive (now), he would only see Jesus by faith. But, that says nothing about Jesus’ actual form at that time or any time in the future.

                They couldn’t possibly have been meaning that because it would directly contradict Luke 17:20-21

                If that is true, then doesn’t that say that the SCC had already happened because you equate the two as far as I remember???

                No, the best way to understand what He is saying here is to remember what both John the Baptist (Matthew 3:2) and Jesus (Matthew 4:17) said. Jesus is the king and He is there. Note, neither John or Jesus ever explained what this meant. They didn’t have to. The Jews knew what was being said. They just didn’t want to repent. The Jews didn’t accept Him as such; but, they eventually will in God’s time.

    6. I think we need to be clear here. In Philippians Paul says that he would prefer to be with the Lord (right then and there); but, that there is also benefit for them if he stays on earth. So the conflict is between benefit for him and benefit for them. That is not talking about resurrection. The 1 thessalonians passage is talking about resurrection. If these two idea are not kept separate, confusion is likely.

      David, I can’t tell what two ideas you’re trying to keep separate. My point is that you’re saying that 2 Corinthians 5 and Philippians 1 imply that Paul was saying he would instantly go to heaven when he died. I’m saying we have to weigh this inference against his explicit statement in 1 Thessalonians 4 that no one (aside from Jesus, of course) would go to heaven before the rest of the dead (i.e. deceased humanity minus Jesus) were raised. Thus he couldn’t have meant he would get to heaven before the dead who were still below in Sheol. Moreover, Paul in 2 Timothy 2:18 makes clear that the resurrection had not yet take place and that letter is usually dated later than either 2 Corinthians or Philippians. On top of that, none of the New Testament documents present the SCC as having occurred, though they frequently speak of it as imminent. Thus Paul could not be inferring that he would precede those who had fallen asleep.

      1. Mike,

        I can’t tell what two ideas you’re trying to keep separate.

        This was in response to my saying:

        That (Philippians 1) is not talking about resurrection. The 1 thessalonians passage is talking about resurrection. If these two idea are not kept separate, confusion is likely.

        I think the problem is that you do not see anybody going to heaven unless and until they have been resurrected. Paul is talking about going there in the spirit while he waits for the SCC. What form do you think people took when they were in Sheol? That is the form Paul was comparing with being alive but instead of looking forward to being in the spirit in Sheol, he was looking forward to immediately being with Christ in heaven. Resurrection still had to wait for the SCC.

        There is no conflict with what is in 1 Thessalonians when death after the SCC is kept separate from death before the SCC.

        1. Yes, David, the problem here is that you see dead people being able to go to heaven without being resurrected to heaven. I do not see a Scriptural foundation for that idea. Rather, Scripture presents the idea of the dead descending to Sheol, and when they are raised, they are raised to heaven. Once they are raised in the SCC, the future dead go to heaven instantly without having to descend to Sheol first (since there is no longer any Sheol after the SCC).

          1. Yes, David, the problem here is that you see dead people being able to go to heaven without being resurrected to heaven.

            We agree that dead people went to Sheol before the cross. You didn’t deal with my question; but, I assume you believe they went there as spirits? Well, what is it that prevents them from going to heaven in that form?

            1. Two reasons:

              1. There is no scriptural instruction that God has instituted two resurrections for every person, one in spirit only followed later by a bodily resurrection. The Bible speaks of the “resurrection” of the dead, not the “resurrections” of the dead. Could God have ordered things in the way you’ve described? Perhaps, but since He nowhere describes this and, on the contrary, describes going to heaven as resurrection to heaven then I can only consider this notion to be what you call eisegesis. (By the way, I don’t think you are adding your reasoning to God’s word; I think someone taught it to you.)

              2. Having a body is part of being human. This was one of the downsides of Sheol: no body. (By the way, I didn’t answer your question about spirits only going to Sheol because I had dealt with that thoroughly in the opening chapters of The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven that I thought you were being rhetorical.) This is a sentiment you see Paul expressing in 2 Corinthians 5: as humans, we don’t want to be unclothed. This was part of what made Jesus’ resurrection so glorious to His disciples. That is, it made clear that resurrection included a bodily experience. If we were to go to heaven without the kind of new body Jesus had it would leave us incomplete: we’d be half-resurrected.

              1. First, I apologize that you sensed that I was criticizing you for not having responded to me on this question.

                There is no scriptural instruction that God has instituted two resurrections for every person,…

                We have a definition problem. My view is that resurrection means being given a spiritual body like Jesus had when He appeared on earth after the cross. Where the person goes with his/her new body is a separate matter. For example, when the church is taken out of here, the next stop is heaven. But, in the case of the tribulation saints, their destination with their resurrection bodies is right here on earth in Jesus’ kingdom.

                So, when I keep irritating you (unintentionally, by the way) by talking about spirits going to heaven, I don’t consider that as having anything to do with resurrection.

                (By the way, I don’t think you are adding your reasoning to God’s word; I think someone taught it to you.)

                Thank God, I was an atheist for 43 years before He saved me. And, let me add that I had absolutely no interest in Him at all before He did that miracle. Also, I had never seen a Bible at that point. So I missed out on all of the silly brainwashing that goes on in churches. Seriously, I don’t know where I got any of the idea’s I have. Although I am sure that I am not smart enough to have made all of this up. I just keep immersing myself in His Word.

                we’d be half-resurrected.

                I agree with you that having a body like Jesus displayed after His resurrection seems much better to me than being a spirit being. On the other hand, apparently God, the Father, and God, the Holy Spirit, haven’t raised any complaints, at least that I am aware of, for ‘just’ being spirits!

                On the other hand, neither of these two reasons are anything that prevents anybody from going to heaven in spirit form and without having been resurrected YET.

    7. I asked what you thought might be any differences in T2 between those who are ‘in Christ’ and those who are not? You asked for more clarification. I was referring to these two groups while they remained alive. I’ll give you one that I can think of for starters. Those ‘in Christ’ have been declared righteous by God, the Father, and the others have not. Can you think of any other differences?

      The main difference that comes to mind is that those in Christ were judged according to a stricter standard. More of God’s nature had been revealed to them and therefore more moral behavior was expected of them. The more they learned about Christ, the better behavior that was expected. The same applies today: the more we know of Christ the more we are expected to live like Him.

      1. those in Christ (during T2) were judged according to a stricter standard.

        According to Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

        I don’t know what you mean by ‘judged to a stricter standard’ (God only has one standard as far as I know) but I do know there was no condemnation for them and of course there WAS condemnation for those NOT in Christ. What exactly did this ‘judgment’ you refer to here look like for each of these two groups?

        1. I don’t know what you mean by ‘judged to a stricter standard’

          “And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” Luke 12:47-48

          What exactly did this ‘judgment’ you refer to here look like for each of these two groups?

          As I’ve said before, judgment occurs both on earth in this life and after this life in heaven. We are judged according to how we have lived (2 Corinthians 5:10). Judgment is stricter for those who know more of God’s will.

          1. The Luke passage is clearly a parable and thus has to be handled very carefully to find the truth that Jesus is conveying. In any case, it has been taken out of context in this comment. It is not talking about those ‘in Christ.’ For, them there could never be ‘many lashes.’

            The 2 Corinthians passage talks about ‘recompense’ not ‘judgement. There is now no condemnation for those in Christ. This must be kept in the fore or all sorts of errors result.

            1. The Luke passage is clearly a parable and thus has to be handled very carefully to find the truth that Jesus is conveying. In any case, it has been taken out of context in this comment. It is not talking about those ‘in Christ.’ For, them there could never be ‘many lashes.’

              So it sounds like you think there will be degrees of punishment for those who go to hell but no degrees of blessing for those who go to heaven?

              The 2 Corinthians passage talks about ‘recompense’ not ‘judgement. There is now no condemnation for those in Christ. This must be kept in the fore or all sorts of errors result.

              Then why does Paul mention bad as well as good deeds in that verse?

              1. So it sounds like you think there will be degrees of punishment for those who go to hell but no degrees of blessing for those who go to heaven?

                I really don’t have an opinion on punishment in hell. The passages that are usually used to support this seem too vague to me to draw a conclusion. The ones in heaven do indeed have degrees of blessing. Rewards are given (which are then thrown back at Jesus’ feet!!) based on works.

                Then why does Paul mention bad as well as good deeds in that verse?

                The ‘average’ Christian standing at the judgment seat of Christ will have deeds that were done under the control of the Holy Spirit and deeds which he/she chose to do on their own. These are two catagories of deeds, good and bad. The bad ones are burned up (metaphorically speaking) and have no impact on the reward. SO, if one has no ‘good’ deeds left, they get no reward. That is why Paul mentions both kinds. Both kinds are in view at the judgment. BUT, no lashes nor punishment. The passages that talk to this sort of thing are dealing with Israel and not the church.

            2. David, since you apparently do not believe that Christians are going to be judged negatively for anything when they go to heaven how do you deal with passages like 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; Matthew 19:27-30; Luke 14:7-11; Matthew 25:14ff; and others, all of which have to do with God making distinctions according to individual behavior among those whom He is receiving?

              1. Sorry to have given this faulty appearance. At the SCC, the righteous, those in the body of Christ, are resurrected. They then go before the Judgment Seat of Christ. BUT, it is all about rewards for what they have done in the flesh. According to 1 Corinthians 3:14, that which abides the fire of judgment will constitute a basis for reward. Those, however, who do not have ground for rewards shall nevertheless be saved, as stated in 1 Corinthians 3:15. The sad thing is if a child of God does not have works that merit reward. But, that has nothing to do with eternal life with Jesus, God, in heaven.

                I would be happy to try to deal with the other passages you mention; but, I can just see you rolling your eyes in disbelief at what I have already said. So, I’ll wait to see if you want more of the same on the other passages you mention here.

                1. Actually, I’m glad to see that you at least acknowledge that there is some difference in the experience among those who arrive in heaven.

                  At the SCC, the righteous, those in the body of Christ, are resurrected.

                  What do you think happens to those not in the body of Christ?

                  1. OOOPs, probably time to reset the margins on this thread. I’ll be brief. Differences in heaven yes, punishment there, no.

                    There are 5 different judgments at the SCC (or there abouts). Each for a different class of people and each with different outcomes for the people there.

  9. (This reply is a continuation from this string above.)

    Just look at David (the king; certainly not me). The Christian today has a choice because the Holy Spirit indwells and empowers him/her to choose to not sin. That is the meaning of not being a slave to sin. The unbeliever is not indwelt and has no choice but to sin. The Holy Spirit did not indwell believers until Pentecost.

    So then, according to your theory all believers should live a more moral life than David and the rest of the Old Testament saints? Why then is it that that is not the case?

    Paul clearly says that death for him (before the SCC) means immediate presence with the Lord.

    I think you’ve shown me a verse or two where you inferred this. I don’t think you’ve shown me a verse where Paul “clearly says” this.

    This seems like a non-sequitur here. Sheol was required before the cross. But, the situation before the cross (which you yourself say was huge; but, have never really mentioned here what was so huge about it???) was radically changed by it.

    It’s not a non-sequitur to point out that Sheol was part of the very fabric of the universe. God said He would change the universe and the way things worked at death with a new heavens and new earth at the SCC. You are saying that He went ahead and changed things at the cross. For me to believe you, I’d have to disbelieve Scripture.

    By the way, the idea you state in your comment that spirits are let into heaven to postphone their resurrection is not one that I entertain. There is no causal effect between the two.

    Then I don’t know what your view is. I thought sure you were saying that you believed after the cross the spirits of the saved started going to heaven instead of Sheol and that the resurrection of their bodies wouldn’t occur until the SCC which you deem to be still in the future.

    To which you responded with Psalm 139:8. The Psalms are, well…., poetry. Figurative language, if you will. God is spirit and is everywhere all at once. Both of us share this understanding. But, Scripture never tells us in declarative ways that God is in Sheol.

    Over 20 times in the NT it is declared that Jesus’ destination at His ascension into heaven was at the right hand of God. This is all based on Psalm 110 for there is no other place in the OT which makes this known. Do you fault the apostles for taking something out of “poetry” in a declarative sense?

    OK, then tell me what is the reason for righteous people to go to Sheol today. I know God had the habit, if you will, of doing that before the cross and He hasn’t explicitly put a change notice into a verse for us. Nevertheless, what is the reason for the righteous to go to Sheol today (or if it would be less offensive to deal with, change today to T2 – before the SCC).

    Because that’s the way life and the universe worked. And it would keep working that way until God changed it at the SCC.

    Whether somebody taught it to me or I learned it all by myself seems rather unimportant.

    The only importance it has is to emphasize that the source of your viewpoint is not the Bible. At the very least, that ought to make you cling to it a little less tightly – especially in the light of biblical teaching that is contrary to it.

    1. So then, according to your theory all believers should live a more moral life than David and the rest of the Old Testament saints? Why then is it that that is not the case?

      Have you ever raped a woman or killed somebody else’s husband? Have you completely screwed up your family? I surely guess you will answer no to all of these questions. So, I don’t think we need to hold David up too high. God used him to teach us much and for that we should be thankful. From time to time the Holy Spirit came upon people in the OT and they were empowered in a special way to carry out God’s will. But, as a general rule, they did not have the indwelling Spirit.

      Well they should; but, God never forces us to do anything. Love does not coerce; He gives us guidance; He gives us the Holy Spirit. So, that Christians SHOULD; but, most DON’T is not really surprising. We (in Christ) are still sinners. Saved sinners; but, sinners nonetheless. That is why we have 1 John 1:9. We need continual cleaning up after we have been saved. Think about the bronze laver in the Tabernacle; it was the most used piece of furniture in the entire Tabernacle. Guess why?

      For me to believe you, I’d have to disbelieve Scripture.

      Big changes at the SCC, absolutely. How does that mitigate against any changes at the cross?

      Then I don’t know what your view is.

      Yet you go on here to state it very well, however. All I said that you didn’t mention here is that there was not a ‘new postphoning’ of the resurrection they were to get as God’s plan played out. The cross didn’t change God’s plan. It was His plan from all eternity past.

      Do you fault the apostles for taking something out of “poetry” in a declarative sense?

      Absolutely NOT. The Psalms are poetry; that doesn’t mean that God could not convey truth to us through them. We just need to use discernment. God inspired the apostles to tell us truth. If He had also put that truth in Psalms 110 what is the problem? After all, He wrote all of Scripture (through inspiration and not dictation).

      Because that’s the way life and the universe worked.

      BUT, remember that ‘huge’ thing, the cross? Yes, that is the way it was and for good reason. But, now something ‘huge’ had happened and change was certainly possible. But, just because we have always done it that way is no answer to the question of why one is continuing to do something the same way as before a ‘huge’ event.

      My guess is that neither of us is so prideful that he wants to be found ‘right’ even if he realizes that he has been ‘wrong.’ As far as I am concerned I am spending this time with you because I want to make sure that what I believe is the truth. If not, I want to change my beliefs. I am trusting God, who I sincerely pray to for wisdom in these matters, that He will not guide me into error. But, He is the one who decides such things.

      1. Have you ever raped a woman or killed somebody else’s husband? Have you completely screwed up your family? I surely guess you will answer no to all of these questions. So, I don’t think we need to hold David up too high. God used him to teach us much and for that we should be thankful. From time to time the Holy Spirit came upon people in the OT and they were empowered in a special way to carry out God’s will. But, as a general rule, they did not have the indwelling Spirit.

        Surely David is not the most guiltless person you can recall living before the cross. What of Ruth, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, and many others? What of John the Baptist? Are you really comfortable saying that Christians today live more moral lives than those folks did – that those old covenant folks were slaves to sin while Christians today are freed from sin and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit? If so, it’s not a very good advertisement for being freed from sin and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

        Well they should; but, God never forces us to do anything. Love does not coerce; He gives us guidance; He gives us the Holy Spirit. So, that Christians SHOULD; but, most DON’T is not really surprising. We (in Christ) are still sinners. Saved sinners; but, sinners nonetheless. That is why we have 1 John 1:9. We need continual cleaning up after we have been saved. Think about the bronze laver in the Tabernacle; it was the most used piece of furniture in the entire Tabernacle. Guess why?

        Your view seems to be the the difference today between Christians and their contemporaries is not that Christians sin less but that they are forgiven of their sins while everyone else is not. Are you comfortable with this view?

        Big changes at the SCC, absolutely. How does that mitigate against any changes at the cross?

        The Bible describes the big changes as occurring at the SCC; it does not describe them as occurring at the cross.

        Yet you go on here to state it very well, however. All I said that you didn’t mention here is that there was not a ‘new postponing’ of the resurrection they were to get as God’s plan played out. The cross didn’t change God’s plan. It was His plan from all eternity past.

        Okay, I’m glad I understood it. However, your saying that what you’re proposing was part of God’s plan from the beginning rather than a spur-of-the-moment postponement doesn’t solve the problem that what you’re describing conflicts with God’s plan as He’s written it in the Bible. Therein He says the resurrection of the dead will occur at the coming of the Lord. Your theory therefore contradicts the Scriptures at two points: 1) you say resurrection will be split into two separate events (spirits rise to heaven at death and bodily resurrection will occur much later), and 2) the cross rather than the SCC determines the pivotal point of these changes.

        Absolutely NOT. The Psalms are poetry; that doesn’t mean that God could not convey truth to us through them. We just need to use discernment. God inspired the apostles to tell us truth. If He had also put that truth in Psalms 110 what is the problem? After all, He wrote all of Scripture (through inspiration and not dictation).

        The only problem was that you disallowed the Psalm 139 reference to God being in Sheol on the basis that the Psalms were poetry, but you do not similarly disqualify Psalm 110 on that basis. I’m wondering what standard or rule you use to make such a distinction since you don’t state one.

        BUT, remember that ‘huge’ thing, the cross? Yes, that is the way it was and for good reason. But, now something ‘huge’ had happened and change was certainly possible. But, just because we have always done it that way is no answer to the question of why one is continuing to do something the same way as before a ‘huge’ event.

        My answer wasn’t “because we have always done it that way,” but rather because God has always done it that way until He said He would grant a new heavens and earth at the SCC. I’m sure He appreciates that you value the work of the cross, but that’s no reason to ignore His written plan and write a new one.

        My guess is that neither of us is so prideful that he wants to be found ‘right’ even if he realizes that he has been ‘wrong.’ As far as I am concerned I am spending this time with you because I want to make sure that what I believe is the truth. If not, I want to change my beliefs. I am trusting God, who I sincerely pray to for wisdom in these matters, that He will not guide me into error. But, He is the one who decides such things.

        I commend you for your attitude. You are willing to expose your views and allow them to be challenged; many Christians lack such courage.

        Here is the way I would state my attitude (and I do not consider it materially different from yours): I want the truth more than anything. I have never cared about religion, but I have always cared intensely about truth. My purpose with my blogs is to bear witness to Jesus Christ and give an account for the hope that is within me. My purpose in answering challenges and questions is to defend the truth and to sharpen my perspective of it. If I am wrong, I hope more than anyone to be proven wrong. If I am wrong, nothing would please me more than to be humiliated by others so that no one would have been misled by anything I’ve said. If, however, what I am saying about the Lord and His goodness is true, then I want it to be known to every person in the world. If I am not the means by which that is to be accomplished, that is fine by me. That is, if these truths that I proclaim are proclaimed better, louder, and more effectively by others, such that my role in their distribution is minimal, I am fine with that. What matters to me is that every person get to know the joy of the truth that has been made known to me.

        1. Are you really comfortable saying that Christians today live more moral lives than those folks did? that those old covenant folks were slaves to sin while Christians today are freed from sin and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit?

          Once more I have to apologize for being so unclear in my presentation. This is NOT what I meant to convey.

          Christians today: First problem: How do we define Christian? My definition is very simple and impossible for one to verify for any individual other than themself. Any person to whom God grants the gift of saving faith is a Christian (Ephesians 2:8-9). It has nothing to do with what you or I think about that person or what that person says about themselves. It also has nothing to do with how they live their lives.

          Freed from sin: NO. Christians (the real ones) are not freed from sin. They still have a sin nature just like all other humans. In addition, they have the Holy Spirit to give them guidance. Guidance is not determinative; the person still has control over his/her choices. It takes a conscious, willful act of submission on the part of the Christian to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Sadly, most that I think are Christians don’t do a very good job of this or possibly, they aren’t Christians. God knows; I can only surmise.

          Like I said, for the first 43 years of my life I lived as a lost person. I did exactly what I wanted to do and never felt the slightest guilt for doing wrong. After I was saved, all of a sudden I became aware of a struggle going on in my mind when I wanted to do something and I knew it was not what God was telling me to do (no, I didn’t hear little voices in my head!). That battle has gotten somewhat easier to win over time; but, it is still raging. Completely different from before.

          Your view seems to be that the difference today between Christians and their contemporaries is not that Christians sin less but that they are forgiven of their sins while everyone else is not. Are you comfortable with this view?

          My comfort has no bearing on the matter. It is either true or it is false. But, I would not say it as you have said it here.

          Take an individual who is a Christian and one who isn’t. The Christian is experiencing an internal battle; the one who is not saved is not experiencing this battle. They may be ‘trying’ to be a ‘good’ person; but, that is completely different from walking in the Spirit. Each Christian will be victorious to some degree in his battles. So, there is a wide spectrum of results. It is not right to just lump Christians as if they were some homogeneous group. But, they do share one thing in common: God has forgiven them and they all will spend eternity with Him. The others won’t.

          The Bible describes the big changes as occurring at the SCC; it does not describe them as occurring at the cross.

          At the cross, plus or minus a few days, God created a whole new order of people! Listen to Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. I obviously can’t begin to describe to you what a big deal that was and still is.

          Your theory contradicts the Scriptures at two points: 1) you say resurrection will be split into two separate events (spirits rise to heaven at death and bodily resurrection will occur much later), and 2) the cross rather than the SCC determines the pivotal point of these changes.

          My theory (I guess in contrast to your theory?) does NOT contradict Scripture. It contradicts your interpretation of Scripture.
          1) spliting of resurrection: NO. I do not split resurrection because I know what the Greek word translated, resurrection, actually means. Going to heaven is not part of the meaning of that word. Do you have any reputable scholar who supports your view? I would be very interested in seeing what he has to say. At this point, it is just you making an assertion based on your interpretation. But, yes, righteous, resurrected people spend a lot of time in heaven.
          2) the cross vs. the SCC: Without the cross there would not be an SCC. Nobody goes to heaven without being righteous. Without the cross, no forgiveness; no righteousness. The SCC is the time that Jesus comes again, as a visible resurrected God-man to carry out more of God’s plan. It is most certainly not the time the God the Father comes as a spirit to set up His kingdom. Remember, God is always everywhere so it makes no sense to say He comes at the SCC.

          you disallowed the Psalm 139 reference to God being in Sheol

          NO. I don’t disallow God being anywhere. I have already said God is everywhere and all at once. Of course, that includes Sheol. My discernment in contrast to yours hears the Psalmist using figurative language to tell us that none of us can hide from Him regardless of where we may run to escape Him. If you don’t see that; well, what can I say? Poetry is hard.

          As I would expect from you, your closing remarks on your ‘attitude’ were extremely eloquent. I completely share them. And, yet your only explanation for why we are disagreeing so is that I am the one creating a new written plan that differs from God’s written plan. You have to know that there is at least one other explanation??? But, for some reason you have taken that option off the table and think that that is a valid approach???

          1. Christians today: First problem: How do we define Christian? My definition is very simple and impossible for one to verify for any individual other than themself. Any person to whom God grants the gift of saving faith is a Christian (Ephesians 2:8-9). It has nothing to do with what you or I think about that person or what that person says about themselves. It also has nothing to do with how they live their lives.

            Freed from sin: NO. Christians (the real ones) are not freed from sin. They still have a sin nature just like all other humans. In addition, they have the Holy Spirit to give them guidance. Guidance is not determinative; the person still has control over his/her choices. It takes a conscious, willful act of submission on the part of the Christian to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Sadly, most that I think are Christians don’t do a very good job of this or possibly, they aren’t Christians. God knows; I can only surmise.

            Like I said, for the first 43 years of my life I lived as a lost person. I did exactly what I wanted to do and never felt the slightest guilt for doing wrong. After I was saved, all of a sudden I became aware of a struggle going on in my mind when I wanted to do something and I knew it was not what God was telling me to do (no, I didn’t hear little voices in my head!). That battle has gotten somewhat easier to win over time; but, it is still raging. Completely different from before.

            My comfort has no bearing on the matter. It is either true or it is false. But, I would not say it as you have said it here.

            Take an individual who is a Christian and one who isn’t. The Christian is experiencing an internal battle; the one who is not saved is not experiencing this battle. They may be ‘trying’ to be a ‘good’ person; but, that is completely different from walking in the Spirit. Each Christian will be victorious to some degree in his battles. So, there is a wide spectrum of results. It is not right to just lump Christians as if they were some homogeneous group. But, they do share one thing in common: God has forgiven them and they all will spend eternity with Him. The others won’t.

            I think I now fully understand your view on Christians. I don’t think there’s any more I can say about it.

            At the cross, plus or minus a few days, God created a whole new order of people! Listen to Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. I obviously can’t begin to describe to you what a big deal that was and still is.

            Scriptures such as Hebrews 5:11 – 6:9 and 1 Corinthians 15:20-24 reveal 2 Corinthians 5:17 to be speaking of a down payment of reality on the full reality that would come at the SCC. Sure, the cross of Christ was important – but so was His birth, His scourging, and His resurrection…and all were essential parts of the seed that fully blossomed in the SCC. At least that’s the way I see the Bible explaining it and your view seems a departure. You’ve registered your objection to that so I think we just have to agree to disagree on that point.

            As for our differences on the cross/SCC and resurrection, you see our views as two different interpretations of the Bible while I see myself simply reading from the Bible while you are superimposing a viewpoint on those words. Again, I take note of your objection to my seeing it this way and I think we just have to agree to disagree on this point.

            As for our respective views on the Psalms I think we’re talking past each other, that our fundamental views on interpreting psalms probably aren’t that different, and we’d both agree that God is omnipresent. So, I don’t think there’s a need to continue discussing this point.

  10. (This reply is a continuation of this string above.)

    Saved people are not judged

    Why then does Paul tells believers in Corinth that those among them who ate and drank the Lord’s supper unworthily at and drank judgment to themselves (1 Corinthians 11:27-30), and that as a result some of them were weak, sick, and “asleep.”

    Well then you disagree with God (Romans 8:1).

    You need to continue reading the rest of Romans 8 which makes clear that the blessing of no condemnation in the reward of those who walk in the spirit and not the flesh. Unfortunately, not all the saved walk in the spirit even though they may have one time prayed the sinner’s prayer in the spirit.

    Didn’t mean to do this. We keep getting hung up on Sheol and heaven. Forget them for a minute. The one in Christ is resurrected to life with God; the one not in Christ is resurrected to eternal separation from God (and yes, we agree God is everywhere!) Both kinds of people, have eternal existence and awareness etc.

    That’s just it – you can’t forget Sheol and heaven because it’s what the Lord taught. You are embracing an unbiblical explanation for death and resurrection.

    1. Saved people are not judged

      Here we go again with context. My statement had to do with the judgment seat of Christ. In heaven. The word in Romans 8:1 is condemnation; I should have used that word and not judgement. The point is saved people go to heaven and unsaved do not. Judgment in the sense of punishment is not for the believer.

      The 1 Corinthians passage you mention (11:27-30) is an example of temporal dealings with believers who have chosen to quench the Holy Spirit. God, at His determination, had apparently stepped in to deal with them in the here and now. That in no way contradicts what Romans 8:1 has.

      You need to continue reading the rest of Romans 8

      Good advice for anybody, including me. Paul, bless his heart, is not the easiest writer in the world to follow. He never says things just once and one way. Also, his use of prepositions is crucial. Here it is the use of ‘according to’ and ‘in’ that make all the difference in the world.

      I would be happy to delve deeply into Romans 8 with you; but, this would get too long. Let me just refer briefly to verse 9: “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” In this context one who walks according to the spirit is a believer who is in the Spirit. He may be doing ‘the according to’ part very badly; but, he is a believer. Look, you are either in or you are out; obviously we don’t agree on that. But, that is really the bottom line when we are dealing with heaven or hell. How one lives His life (according to the spirit) is different from whether one is saved (in the spirit) or not. Both are extremely important; but, nevertheless different.

      1. The 1 Corinthians passage you mention (11:27-30) is an example of temporal dealings with believers who have chosen to quench the Holy Spirit. God, at His determination, had apparently stepped in to deal with them in the here and now. That in no way contradicts what Romans 8:1 has.

        Would you then be comfortable saying something like “while there is, generally speaking, no condemnation for those who are in Christ, believers in the New Testament did experience temporal judgment from God and condemnation from an apostle when they behaved in an unworthy manner even though it did not in any way jeopardize their ultimate destination of heaven”?

        Look, you are either in or you are out

        I have asked you elsewhere about this and with it some related questions. You just haven’t gotten to it yet. When you do, I will respond then.

        1. Would you then be comfortable saying something like “while there is, generally speaking, no condemnation…

          I would leave out the words, generally speaking. Condemnation means ‘judged as definitely guilty and thus subject to punishment.’ Romans 5:16 further defines the lack of condemnation of Romans 8:1 as justification. The Christian no longer has to suffer the consequences of sin in the eternal sense. Sin does indeed have consequences in the present.

          1. So, just to verify then, you’d be comfortable saying “While there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, believers in the New Testament did experience temporal judgment from God and condemnation from an apostle when they behaved in an unworthy manner even though it did not in any way jeopardize their ultimate destination of heaven”?

  11. (This reply is a continuation from this string above.)

    Clearly He was physically dead. Humans never die spiritually. Their soul never extinguishes since they have the image of God, for one. God, of course, never dies. Jesus was both God and man and so there is no other possible conclusion but that He remained alive; but just not physically.

    As long as your “1-3 => Jesus physically dead; alive spiritually” is the same for all other human beings, then I’m fine. The problem comes in if you say, as I think you do, that Jesus’ being alive spiritually meant He did things like go to heaven during that time period.

    Jesus is a God/man. I certainly know of no Scripture that tells me the God essence of Jesus was prevented from ever doing anything.

    The whole point of the incarnation was that He become limited as we are. He had to eat, drink, and rest. Thus when He experienced what all humans of that time experienced. Only when He was resurrected did His human experience break new ground.

    Do you still rely on the sun or moon for light? I do. But, if New Jerusalem were here it seems as if we wouldn’t have to any longer. At least according to Rev 21:23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. Nothing in Scripture gives any indication that New Jerusalem is invisible; but available now.

    Is it not obvious to you that the book of Revelation is speaking spiritually and that John here is speaking of spiritual thing versus fleshly things similar to the way Paul did in Romans 8.

    Activity for Jesus and Resurrection are not the same thing. Of course He didn’t lie.

    Then how could He have ascended to heaven before the third day?

    1. Only when He was resurrected did His human experience break new ground.

      So, when He performed miracles, or when He told the woman at the well that she had been married 5 times, etc, etc. etc. He was just like all other men? Please, you know better. He is not just like every other man who has ever died and gone to Sheol. For you to put him into that kind of a box just seems very wrong to me. Whether He did exactly what I say or not is another story. But, to say He could not do ‘this’ or ‘that’ because all other men had done it ‘this’ way is a mistake. He is God.

      Is it not obvious to you that the book of Revelation is speaking spiritually

      The entire Bible is spiritual. Nicodemus was a brilliant leader of the Jews and yet he didn’t have a clue because he was thinking materially and not spiritually. Nobody who does not have the spirit of God dwelling in them can understand the Bible except as Nicodemus understood Jesus. So, you are free to understand Revelation any way you wish. When John said that God’s glory provided light in New Jerusalem I understand that as ‘figurative’ speech which is quite different from ‘spiritual’ speech. My point was that there is nothing even closely resembling that situation here on earth right now and that the SCC has simply not happened yet. The idea that God’s kingdom as in ‘repent for the kingdom of God is at hand’ has happened ‘spiritually’ is pure fiction.

      1. So, when He performed miracles, or when He told the woman at the well that she had been married 5 times, etc, etc. etc. He was just like all other men? Please, you know better. He is not just like every other man who has ever died and gone to Sheol. For you to put him into that kind of a box just seems very wrong to me. Whether He did exactly what I say or not is another story. But, to say He could not do ‘this’ or ‘that’ because all other men had done it ‘this’ way is a mistake. He is God.

        Yes, He is God. I’d be the last person to deny that. However, He conducted His earthly life with all the limitations of a human being. The miracles you mentioned came through the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He never “pulled rank” as God while He was here. That’s what Philippians 2:5-11 was all about. In fact, He didn’t even want it publicized that He was the Messiah while conducting His earthly ministry. That fact was to be proclaimed only once He had ascended to the right hand of God. He lived within the limitations of a human being so as to be the perfect sacrifice and so as to give us an example to follow.

        The idea that God’s kingdom as in ‘repent for the kingdom of God is at hand’ has happened ‘spiritually’ is pure fiction.

        What then do you say to the person who says, “I can’t believe Jesus because Moses said a prophet was false if he prophesied something that didn’t happen, and Jesus said the kingdom was at hand in the 1st century A.D. and it’s still not here.”

        1. In fact, He didn’t even want it publicized that He was the Messiah while conducting His earthly ministry. That fact was to be proclaimed only once He had ascended to the right hand of God.

          This isn’t a big point in our discussion; but, He clearly told the woman at the well in John 4 that He was the Messiah. What He didn’t want was to publicize it to the nation of Israel while His offer stood.

          He lived within the limitations of a human being so as to be the perfect sacrifice and so as to give us an example to follow.

          Yes and no. He apparently got hungry and tired and cried etc. So, yes in many respects he was a man. At the same time, even though He had taken on the form of man and set aside the form of God, He never put aside His essence as God. He did not come here to give us an example to follow. This to me is a sad view of Him. He came here to reveal God to us and to pay for sin. Nobody can copy His model; we are sinners and can not live a sinless life. He did. We can’t follow that. We can try; but, that is not the same thing.

          …the kingdom was at hand in the 1st century A.D. and it’s still not here.

          I don’t know of any place where Jesus promised anybody a kingdom. What He said was that it was ‘at hand.’ To me, that means ‘it’s right here within your grasp. Repent and it is yours. Don’t repent and it is not yours.’

          But, He never explained to those Jews (remember He only said this to the Jews. He never said this to any gentile.) what kingdom He was talking about. He didn’t have to; they were intimately familiar with what kingdom the OT talked about. Why does Matthew start off proving that He was in the line of David? He was qualified to rule as the king of the nation of Israel, if they only would repent and accept Him as their king. No spiritual kingdom in view here. It was a flesh and blood earthly kingdom that He was offering. They refused. At the SCC, He will do what He promised in Jeremiah 31:31 and then they will accept Him and He will set up an earthly kingdom. So, yes, He is a true prophet even considering what Moses said. Now, there are well meaning people who see a problem here and redefine the earthly kingdom He talked about into a spiritual kingdom to keep Him from looking like a false prophet because of the obvious trouble that would cause. But, it is completely unnecessary and wrong to do that.

          1. David, your comment here reveals a number a places (some of them new) where you and I disagree. However, rather than reacting to them as you read them, please wait until you see my concluding remark in this comment. Thanks.

            This isn’t a big point in our discussion; but, He clearly told the woman at the well in John 4 that He was the Messiah. What He didn’t want was to publicize it to the nation of Israel while His offer stood.

            I think here you are alluding to your belief that Jesus was offering Himself to be the earthly King of Israel to His countryman, an offer which they rejected in His time but still might accept (or will accept) sometime in the future. Though Jesus was certainly qualified by virtue of His lineage and worthiness to become Israel’s earthly king, I do not believe that He offered Himself to take that role. On the contrary, He discouraged the idea (John 6:15).

            He did not come here to give us an example to follow.

            I am surprised that you say this given the NT passages which encourage us to imitate Him, including Peter’s “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21).

            I don’t know of any place where Jesus promised anybody a kingdom. What He said was that it was ‘at hand.’ To me, that means ‘it’s right here within your grasp. Repent and it is yours. Don’t repent and it is not yours.’

            Here again, you and I disagree in a fundamental way. I believe John the Baptist and Jesus were announcing the coming of the kingdom of God for which the Jews had long waited. The entire NT from Acts to Revelation describes the work to prepare the world for the end of Israel and the establishment of that kingdom. As Jerusalem replaced Shiloh, so the heavenly Jerusalem would replace the earthly Jerusalem. During Gospel days it was present in Jesus but was not available for anyone else to enter at that time. It would take first the resurrection of Jesus to heaven, and secondly the SCC for that kingdom to become accessible to humanity. For this reason Peter and Paul and the other apostles looked forward to the coming of that kingdom, and taught the churches to prepare for it (e.g. 2 Peter 1:10-11).

            (remember He only said this to the Jews. He never said this to any gentile.)

            I believe that everything Jesus spoke, He spoke to Jews because that was His country and He never traveled outside it. I also believe, however, that everything He promised the Jews became available to the Gentiles as well through His resurrection. This transition from a covenant with Israel to a covenant with all humanity (i.e. Jews and Gentiles) is what we see playing out in the book of Acts and especially through the ministry of Paul.

            Why does Matthew start off proving that He was in the line of David? He was qualified to rule as the king of the nation of Israel, if they only would repent and accept Him as their king. No spiritual kingdom in view here. It was a flesh and blood earthly kingdom that He was offering.

            As I said above, I don’t think He was offering to rule an earthly kingdom. On the contrary, He came to announce a greater kingdom than that (“My kingdom is not of this world” John 18:36).

            At the SCC, He will do what He promised in Jeremiah 31:31 and then they will accept Him and He will set up an earthly kingdom.

            As I think you know, I believe that He fulfilled Jeremiah 31:31 in the SCC, and that it is through a spiritual, not an earthly, kingdom that this new covenant exists.

            So, yes, He is a true prophet even considering what Moses said. Now, there are well meaning people who see a problem here and redefine the earthly kingdom He talked about into a spiritual kingdom to keep Him from looking like a false prophet because of the obvious trouble that would cause. But, it is completely unnecessary and wrong to do that.

            You and I agree that He is a true prophet. However, your means of doing so – by suggesting that “at hand” has no reference to timing and ignoring other NT references to the imminent SCC – seems to me contrary to the plain sense of the Scriptures.

            Summing up all these differences I’d suggest we each be content with having expressed ourselves on each of these points and having thereby educated each other regarding our respective views. Beyond this, however, I don’t see it as productive for us to interact any more on any of these points because 1) our positions are different on an increasing number of points, and 2) our exchange of views has reached a point where we’ve learned enough of each other’s position to know whether we want to know more or not. I perceive that each of us has learned all we want to know about the other’s position and there is no movement in either direction. Therefore, aside from tidying up any unanswered questions, I think our work in this dialogue is substantially completed. Nevertheless, I invite you to correct me if you think I’ve summarized unfairly, inappropriately, or prematurely.

  12. (This reply is a continuation from this string above.)

    I really doubt that anybody in that crowd was trying to see Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father. Is that what you really think? Anyway, if it were me standing there and I had just seen this amazing thing, I would keep looking for I would not have any idea what was going to happen next. And, I wouldn’t want to miss it, whatever it might be. Remember, they didn’t have the NT to debate like you and I.

    My point is that Jesus had told the apostles that His kingdom would come without visible signs in Luke 17:20-21. Whatever they thought the angels meant, they didn’t think the angels were contradicting Jesus.

    If that is true, then doesn’t that say that the SCC had already happened because you equate the two as far as I remember???

    I equate the SCC with the coming of the kingdom of God, the day of Christ, the day of the Lord, and the day of judgment. But, as I’ve said, that event (or events) was imminent but had not yet occurred when the New Testament documents were written. It certainly hadn’t occurred before Acts 2.

    1. My point is that in Luke 17 Jesus says the kingdom is THERE! Right then, at that time. that is the reason he tells them not to look for any signs. this does not mean that it is ‘invisible.’ And, that message of his is before Acts 2, as you say. And, it certainly had not happened at Acts 2. The kingdom of God coming is not at the SCC as far as Jesus is concerned in Luke 17 and yet you equate the kingdom of God and the SCC you talk about as having already happened in our day.

      1. That the kingdom of God is invisible was precisely the point Jesus was making to the Pharisees in that passage. He, and John the Baptist before Him, had been preaching that the long-awaited time for the kingdom of God was approaching. This was the great event for which Jesus’ life, crucifixion, death, and resurrection were paving the way – and it would come before the generation of His contemporaries completely passed away (Matthew 24:34). The kingdom of God is the rule of God in a human being’s life. This rule is realized through personal submission to God. Jesus was pointing out the Pharisees that the kingdom of God was present in Him and they could not see it. The coming of the kingdom of God would bring this rule to the lives of all who would receive it but it required Jesus to be King of the kingdom for it to be practically attainable for us. Thus, Jesus’ point to them was, “If you can’t see it in Me now, you won’t see it when it comes in other people later.” It was for the purpose of preparing for this coming kingdom that Paul and all the other apostles instructed believers. That kingdom came just as the Lord said it would, and those who were prepared entered while the rest never saw it. And so it is to this day.

        1. A very lucid explanation of how you view this matter. What is amazing to me is that when I listen to you explain your understanding or when you listen to me explain my understanding, we each shake our heads in utter disbelief. Both of us have done our best to get it right and obviously at least one of us has gotten it completely wrong. Could that one be you?

          Well, you again bring up Matthew 24:34 so let me ask this. When did what is discussed in 24:30 take place? When did the sign of Jesus appear in the sky and what was it? When did all the tribes of the earth mourn? When did they see Jesus come with great power and glory if it was just a ‘spiritual’ coming? For, the generation that saw all this was surely not the one that was alive when Jesus spoke these words. At least, you have no written record that you can refer to of this happening. So, what do you do, you say it is spiritual. Where does the Bible say His coming at the SCC is invisible to the human eye?

          1. A very lucid explanation of how you view this matter. What is amazing to me is that when I listen to you explain your understanding or when you listen to me explain my understanding, we each shake our heads in utter disbelief. Both of us have done our best to get it right and obviously at least one of us has gotten it completely wrong. Could that one be you?

            Yes. And for this reason I always listen carefully whenever anyone challenges me.

            However, for me to accept a different view it has to be more biblical and more consistent with the nature of Jesus Christ than the view I’m holding. While I’m still trying to learn the finer points of your view (which is why I’ve asked the four questions elsewhere), I have come to see that in its broad strokes it is the traditional evangelical Christian view which I used to hold. I let go of it because it was less biblical and less consistent with the nature of Jesus Christ than the one I hold now.

            Well, you again bring up Matthew 24:34 so let me ask this. When did what is discussed in 24:30 take place? When did the sign of Jesus appear in the sky and what was it? When did all the tribes of the earth mourn? When did they see Jesus come with great power and glory if it was just a ‘spiritual’ coming?

            It happened as Paul described it would in 2 Thesslonians 1:6-10. It was like a thief in the night to the unbelieving (Matthew 24:43; 1 Thessalonians 5:2) but like a blaze of glory to the believing (1 Thessalonians 5:1-10; Daniel 7:13-14). The unbelieving saw Him but did not recognize Him. That’s because they were looking with physical eyes and not the eyes of faith.

            …just a ‘spiritual’ coming?

            I hope you’re not doing what others do – belittle a spiritual SCC as if that would not be as great as a physical coming. Spiritual things are greater than physical things, for spiritual things are eternal while physical things are temporal.

            For, the generation that saw all this was surely not the one that was alive when Jesus spoke these words.

            On that basis, Jesus would be a false prophet because He looked those people in the eye and said, “when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door” (Matthew 24:32-34, emphasis mine). But He, of course, was not falsely prophesying, and James later confirmed that the fig tree had indeed blossomed when he wrote that the Lord was indeed right at the door (James 5:8-9).

            At least, you have no written record that you can refer to of this happening.

            Yes, you are right about that.

            So, what do you do, you say it is spiritual. Where does the Bible say His coming at the SCC is invisible to the human eye?

            Among other places, Luke 17:20-21. Thus it wasn’t my idea to make it spiritual – it was His.

            1. It happened as Paul described it would in 2 Thesslonians 1:6-10.

              Of course Paul’s description is accurate! But, my question is WHEN did it happen; not what it will look like. Yes, a thief in the night; yes a blaze of glory. Again, these are descriptors. WHEN did it happen?

              Nothing in the 1 Thessalonians passage you reference says anything about believing and unbelieving people seeing different things. It says they will experience different things; not see different things.

              By the way, did you read verse 9. How can you possibly read that and still see the unrighteous with God in heaven???? How long do you think ‘eternal destruction’ lasts away from the presence of God?????

              I hope you’re not doing what others do – belittle a spiritual SCC as if that would not be as great as a physical coming.

              You are right; I should not have said that. Please forgive me. Yes, spiritual things are greater than physical; no argument there. But, that was not the point of the comment. Scripture says they see it; if it is spiritual how can they ‘see’ it as it is described? Scripture does not say they will see it with non-physical, spiritual eyes.

              James says nothing about the fig tree in 5:8. He says the SCC is near, no question about that. Others say the same thing. So, he is not alone in this. I know exactly what you or I would have meant had we said that. On the other hand, none of the NT writers had a clue as to when it was going to happen. Scripture nowhere defines ‘near’ for us as God meant it. And, is there a limit as to how long Jesus could figuratively stand at the door? Surely, you see that ‘at the door’ is a figure of speech? So, for you to say ‘it happened in the 1st century’ is without support in Scripture.

              You say that Luke 17:20-21 teaches that the SCC will be an invisible coming. Well, I don’t want to repeat myself. So, let me just say this. Jesus is the king, the rightful king, the son of David, the nation’s Messiah. Here He is using a figure of speach and equating the kingdom which He was then offering to them (the nation of Israel and not to Gentiles) to Himself, the king. He is standing right there in their midst. You certainly can’t disagree with where He was positionally at the moment He says this, can you? So, what could be wrong in saying that they ask for when IT (the kingdom) is going to come and He says ‘Don’t look for it; I’m standing right here.’

              1. Of course Paul’s description is accurate! But, my question is WHEN did it happen; not what it will look like. Yes, a thief in the night; yes a blaze of glory. Again, these are descriptors. WHEN did it happen?

                It happened sometime not too long after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and probably sometime not too long after the last New Testament document was written because I don’t see any of them proclaiming that the kingdom had arrived. Therefore, I think it could have been no later than the end of the 1st Century A.D.

                Nothing in the 1 Thessalonians passage you reference says anything about believing and unbelieving people seeing different things. It says they will experience different things; not see different things.

                Believers see things that unbelievers don’t see (2 Corinthians 5:7; Ephesians 1:18; Hebrews 11:1, 27); therefore, they experience things unbelievers don’t experience (Jeremiah 17:5-8).

                By the way, did you read verse 9. How can you possibly read that and still see the unrighteous with God in heaven???? How long do you think ‘eternal destruction’ lasts away from the presence of God?????

                Eternal (or constant, ongoing, neverending) destruction lasts until a person is destroyed (i.e. dies). Once that happens, the person goes to heaven for final judgment and placement in heaven (Hebrews 9:27).

                Scripture says they see it; if it is spiritual how can they ‘see’ it as it is described? Scripture does not say they will see it with non-physical, spiritual eyes.

                Context often tells us. Certainly when Jesus spoke of eyes that didn’t see and ears that didn’t hear (Mark 8:18) we knew how to distinguish the physical and the spiritual sights to which He was alluding in that statement. When John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:29.36) he was speaking about eyes in both a physical and spiritual sense. You and I can repeat his words even today to an unbelieving human as we cast our physical eyes heavenward and yet mean them in a spiritual sense. Do you see what I mean? 😉

                James says nothing about the fig tree in 5:8. He says the SCC is near, no question about that.

                I didn’t mean James literally invoked the fig tree. Rather, as you say in your second sentence here, the time of the SCC was near and that was the time which Jesus had specifically said would come.

                On the other hand, none of the NT writers had a clue as to when it was going to happen. Scripture nowhere defines ‘near’ for us as God meant it. And, is there a limit as to how long Jesus could figuratively stand at the door? Surely, you see that ‘at the door’ is a figure of speech?

                Here’s what I believe: if the NT writers didn’t have a clue as to when it was going to happen, they would not have told us that they did. Since they did tell us that they did, I believe them.

                The whole purpose of God speaking to us is for Him to communicate His thoughts. If He didn’t want us to know when the SCC was going to occur, He didn’t have to tell us. And He certainly wouldn’t have told us it was “soon” if He didn’t want us to think it was soon. I’m sure God’s sense of time is very different from ours. Therefore, when He speaks to us about the timing of something, it’s in a sense we can understand. That’s why He said in OT times that it would not be near (2 Samuel 7:19).

                Sure, “standing at the door” is a figure of speech. And it’s the figure of speech the Lord used to indicate when His coming would be closest. Therefore, yes, there is a limit as to how long He could be standing at the door before the SCC. Now, no man was to know the day or hour, but they certainly knew the season – because Jesus had told them. I’m sure some felt it took too long and for this reason Peter chided them in 2 Peter 3 not to count time against the Lord because anything that looks like delay in fulfilling a promise is really just His mercy in looking for more repentance. Even the apostles who heard Jesus cry for deliverance from death in the Garden of Gethsemane could have thought that the prayer went unanswered as they saw Jesus die on the cross. But three days later they saw that God had not been late in answering at all. Note however that it was three days and not thousands of years.

                In any case, the Lord gave instructions about when people should expect the SCC and for us to ignore them is to ignore God’s word.

                So, for you to say ‘it happened in the 1st century’ is without support in Scripture.

                Yes, I’ve acknowledged that. The NT says the SCC was imminent in their time but it does not report its accomplishment. It’s up to us to believe or not believe that it happened as they said it would.

                You say that Luke 17:20-21 teaches that the SCC will be an invisible coming. Well, I don’t want to repeat myself. So, let me just say this. Jesus is the king, the rightful king, the son of David, the nation’s Messiah. Here He is using a figure of speach and equating the kingdom which He was then offering to them (the nation of Israel and not to Gentiles) to Himself, the king. He is standing right there in their midst. You certainly can’t disagree with where He was positionally at the moment He says this, can you? So, what could be wrong in saying that they ask for when IT (the kingdom) is going to come and He says ‘Don’t look for it; I’m standing right here.’

                At the time of Luke 17:20-21 Jesus was yoked to the kingdom of God. It was unavailable for entry to any of His hearers, however, because He was sinless and they were not. After the cross and His resurrection and the SCC, however, it would be available for entry to all those who’d been washed in His blood and who conformed their life to His. This is why Peter laid the stress He did on faith and moral excellence that he did in 2 Peter 1. It’s why Paul said sinners could not enter the kingdom of heaven in 1 Corinthians 6. It’s why Revelation speaks of those who wash their robes that they might have the right to enter.

                As Jesus served His Father, so we serve Jesus. Jesus could serve His Father because Jesus was without sin. We could not serve Jesus’ Father because we had sin. We need Jesus. He is the Lamb of God who takes away our sins. The kingdom of God in Jesus that He referenced in Luke 17:20-21 might as well have been a million miles away. That’s why everything was building to the SCC because only then, with Christ reigning on the throne of the universe, could we enter the kingdom that He Himself had first walked in not more than a generation before.

  13. David, let me pause in our exchanges to ask you to consider giving much more attention to the spirit versus the flesh, the spiritual versus the physical, the invisible versus the visible, the heavenly versus the earthly.

    You’ll recall that Paul bemoaned the fleshly thinking of some of his churches – notably Corinth. Fleshly thinking is rampant in churches today. It is the prevailing view. As a result, Christians by and large are not even seeking the kingdom that Jesus said was so dear.

    The whole idea of waiting on a time when Jesus will return to the earth in physical form to rule a physical kingdom is antithetical to all that He taught us. He worked so hard to make clear to us that it wasn’t about having a beautiful temple in Jerusalem with a glorious king. If that’s what He was after, He had all the ingredients in 30 A.D.

    I cannot stress the importance of this point I am making enough. Flesh and blood do not inherit the kingdom of God. These are matters of the heart. Go back to the Sermon on the Mount – read what Jesus was looking for from us.

    You don’t have to reply to this. I just wanted to make this appeal.

    1. Here is some reading material that will help in this regard:

      Practicing the Presence of God

      Spiritual Christianity Versus Social Christianity

      1 Corinthians 1-3

      James 3:13-18

      Colossians 2:6-7

      Galatians 5

      And, of course, Romans 8.

      Especially note that “walking the spirit” is walking in the light of the world we cannot see. This is of the utmost importance in pleasing God. There is no substitute for it.

      If, on the other hand, you think it out of place for me to have written this interlude in the midst of our exchanges, please forgive me and overlook it.

      1. Especially note that “walking the spirit” is walking in the light of the world we cannot see.

        Just a side note. I have recently finished The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. I found myself in complete agreement with every point he made. As for the rest of the list, the problem is not that neither of us have read these Scriptures. It is that because of our presuppositions, we interpret them differently. Which still leaves the question “how do I know I am the one who got it right?”

        Let me ask you this. Does God give the gift of salvation to some and not to others? And one more, per Romans 8:9, are you, Mike, in the spirit? NOT, are you living a good life. That is not the question.

        1. Just a side note. I have recently finished The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. I found myself in complete agreement with every point he made.

          Wonderful! I consider it the closest expression to New Testament faith that I have ever read. In fact, of all the books I have read besides the Bible (and there have been many), I would place it as #1. However, I do have two concerns about it: 1) Brother Lawrence did not show much interest in spreading the word and it seems to me that we must bear witness to Jesus as He bore witness to His Father, and 2) Brother Lawrence never seemed to experience much persecution and Paul had said, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus shall be persecuted.” Of course, 2) is probably related to 1).

          As for the rest of the list, the problem is not that neither of us have read these Scriptures. It is that because of our presuppositions, we interpret them differently. Which still leaves the question “how do I know I am the one who got it right?”

          We don’t. We each have to live according to our conscience and the witness of the Holy Spirit. As it says in Ecclesiastes (11:9 and 12:13-14) we have to do our best in God’s sight knowing He will sort it out in due time.

          Let me ask you this. Does God give the gift of salvation to some and not to others?

          No. He gives to all.

          And one more, per Romans 8:9, are you, Mike, in the spirit?

          I do my best to always walk in the spirit; that is, to always be conscious of the loving presence of God. (This I equate to being spiritual, so you can relate my prior comments to these.) Yet, I am not always successful. I have not yet achieved what Brother Lawrence described as his constant blissful consciousness. I shall not stop seeking this, however, because the more I have sought it the less sin I have committed. To be aware of Jesus is the key to godliness (Matthew 1:21; John 1:29; Acts 3:26; Isaiah 45:22).

          NOT, are you living a good life. That is not the question.

          It may not be the question, David, but it is a fact that the more I have walked in the spirit the more moral my life has become (2 Peter 1:5-7).

          1. You say God gives salvation to all. I guess we may have different views of salvation. Since many have written books defining this let me just say that the essence in this context is the declaration of righteousness. Do you believe that God declares all humans righteous? If so, then when and why does He do this?

            I get it that you are always trying to ‘walk in the Spririt.’ Let me ask this then, can one actually walk in the Spirit (submit to His guidance) if they have not been given the Holy Spirit by God the Father?

            1. You say God gives salvation to all. I guess we may have different views of salvation. Since many have written books defining this let me just say that the essence in this context is the declaration of righteousness. Do you believe that God declares all humans righteous? If so, then when and why does He do this?

              I believe the Lord declares us righteous when we act righteously, and He declares us unrighteous when we act unrighteously (Ezekiel 18). I also believe His standards are high because He says that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the evangelical Christians of His day (i.e. the scribes and Pharisees) we would not be able to enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 5:17-20).

              I get it that you are always trying to ‘walk in the Spririt.’ Let me ask this then, can one actually walk in the Spirit (submit to His guidance) if they have not been given the Holy Spirit by God the Father?

              God has given His Spirit to all flesh; this is the new covenant (Hebrews 8:8-12; Jeremiah 31:31-34) that came at the SCC. Ever since then, Christ has been over all, through all, and in all. Blessed be His glorious name!

    2. You don’t have to reply to this. I just wanted to make this appeal.

      This is important; I do want to respond. I sense your frustration with me. In all honesty, I have the same feelings when I read what you say. The problem is context. The problem is not that either of us does not understand the differences between spirit and flesh, or spiritual versus physical, or invisible versus visible, or heavenly versus earthly.

      Let me ask you this, who are the ‘you’ in Jeremiah 29:11? In particular, is God speaking to you, Mike Gantt, in that verse?

      1. This is important; I do want to respond. I sense your frustration with me. In all honesty, I have the same feelings when I read what you say.

        If I’ve displayed frustration, I apologize. It is my honor and joy to answer your questions and address your challenges.

        When I began this dialogue with you I assumed that you were open to the possibility that my teaching was right and you just needed more explanation of it… or else that you weren’t open and were just wanting to see if you could prove me wrong. I couldn’t lose either way. If you were open, I’d get the chance to pass on to you what is so precious to me. If you weren’t open, I’d still have the chance to learn from you where I might be wrong because the last thing in the world I want is to be proclaiming truth that is not true.

        In the absence of either of us moving toward the view of the other, however, we will still eventually reach a point (and perhaps it is approaching) when we will have learned everything relevant and material about the other’s point of view. When that happens, it’ll be time to end the conversation and move our separate directions – for the learning will have stopped, and disagreement would be the only thing left.

        The problem is context. The problem is not that either of us does not understand the differences between spirit and flesh, or spiritual versus physical, or invisible versus visible, or heavenly versus earthly.

        I’m not sure it’s as simple as all that. It’s one thing to be able to define spiritual versus fleshly, it’s quite another to be spiritual instead of fleshly. Even so, we can’t settle such an issue by discussing it. It’s something we have to live, and growth is involved. By growth, I mean that I’m more spiritual and less fleshly than I used to be but I’m not as spiritual as I want or ought to be. It’s a continuum, though it would be a useless exercise to try to plot our respective points on the continuum and compare them.

        I do think the less spiritual we are, the less we understand Scripture and the more spiritual we are, the more we understand Scripture. But again, I don’t think there’s anything useful in trying to “measure ourselves by ourselves.”

        Let me ask you this, who are the ‘you’ in Jeremiah 29:11? In particular, is God speaking to you, Mike Gantt, in that verse?

        In its original context, of course, it was a promise to the Jews of the Babylonian Captivity. In Christ, however, I believe it is a promise to every human being – me included.

        1. In its original context, of course, it was a promise to the Jews of the Babylonian Captivity. In Christ, however, I believe it is a promise to every human being.

          The promise is for God to return to them (Israelites in exile) in 70 years to fulfill His promise to them (not us), to bring them back to the land of Israel. How in the world can you so take the promise out of its clear context and say it applies to ‘every human being.’ What is there about this text that allows one to change the stated referent, Israel, to everybody? What is that if not rewriting Scripture?

          1. The promise is for God to return to them (Israelites in exile) in 70 years to fulfill His promise to them (not us), to bring them back to the land of Israel. How in the world can you so take the promise out of its clear context and say it applies to ‘every human being.’ What is there about this text that allows one to change the stated referent, Israel, to everybody?

            See 2 Corinthians 1:20. In Christ, all the promises of God are yes and amen!

            What is that if not rewriting Scripture?

            That’s not rewriting Scripture. That’s allowing Jesus to interpret it for us. That’s why Moses said in Deuteronomy 18 that God would raise up a prophet like him. Only in Jesus’ case, the “raise up” was to the right hand of God where He took the covenant and promises to Abraham and made them available to all (Galatians 3:29). And, don’t forget, I’m a Gentile. If it weren’t for Christ, I would have an inheritance in any of the promises – including this one.

  14. (This reply is a continuation from this string above.)

    No, that is not what I am saying. I am saying that in this particular statement, Jesus is not speaking to you or to me (a Jew in the 21st century). BUT, in John 3:14-18 the same message is given to all mankind. There are lots of places in the NT where we are promised all sort of amazing things. There are also some places where we are just overhearing Jesus talking to His nation, His people. At this point in Matthew they have not yet rejected Him. So, the offer still stands if they accept Him as their king.

    Wow. Jesus speaks in John 3 at night to a Jewish rabbi with no big crowd around that you’re confident His words apply to the whole world yet He speaks in Matthew 11 to whole cities and that message doesn’t apply to any one but Jews. Where can I get the de-coder ring that allows one to make these determinations – especially since Jesus lived His entire life in Israel and conducted His entire ministry to Jews with the briefest of interactions with non-Jews?

    When I asked for ‘a Scripture where the Lord promises an imminent SCC’ you gave me three. I’d like to deal with Matthew 24:34 since it is one that is so very often misunderstood (IMHO, of course). Matthew 24:34 “I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” Well, if you take this verse out of context, then obviously it is talking about those then alive and voila, you think 70AD is what is being discussed. BUT, if you look at verses 32 and 33, He sets the context. First, there is the parable that means when you know what to look for, you know what time it is. He has just given a long list of things to look for before He comes. So, the ‘you’ in verse 33 is referring to those Jews who are alive at that time. And, they are the ‘generation’ that He is referring to.

    I’m missing your point. You start off as if you’re challenging me but your conclusion sounds no different that mine – that generation. What am I missing?

    Also, what about the other two Scriptures I gave?

    God is not vindictive.

    How is it not vindicative to listen forever to cries of pain and never to have compassion on the ones experiencing that pain?

    [I]t is not as if He has not always given man enough sight to believe Him. It is man who chooses to NOT trust Him. God has set the consequences and it is up to man to choose. God does not choose to send anybody to ‘hell.’

    I thought you said in another comment that you were 43 before someone gave you a Bible. Does this mean you were consciously rejecting God at 42, 32, and 22?

    And as you point out, many of them choose very poorly. But, God has said that at their resurrection they will be as white as the newly fallen snow.

    And why is God willing to forgive the Christian and He’s not willing to forgive anyone else?

    1. Wow. Jesus speaks in John 3 at night to …

      All I am doing is looking at the words. In John 3, Jesus says in verse 15: “so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” WHOEVER certainly includes all people across the ages. In Matthew 24:34 Jesus is speaking to ‘you.’ So, I have to use my brain to figure out who you is. You don’t need a decoder ring. Just a brain to put the clues together.

      I’m missing your point. You start off as if you’re challenging me but your conclusion sounds no different that mine – that generation. What am I missing?

      I am not trying to challenge you. Really. But, sorry, I see where what I wrote was misleading. Let me just add some annotation to the last few sentences to clear it up.

      He (Jesus) has just given a long list of things to look for (that will be visible) before He comes. So, the ‘you’ in verse 33 is referring to those Jews who are alive at that time (just after that long list of things has actually come to pass). And, they (the ones who saw all these things) are the ‘generation’ that He is referring to. I hope that is clearer.

      How is it not vindicative to listen forever to cries of pain and never to have compassion on the ones experiencing that pain?

      You are making an assumption that compassion trumps justice.

      I thought you said in another comment that you were 43 before someone gave you a Bible. Does this mean you were consciously rejecting God at 42, 32, and 22?

      My point was that I had not owned nor read a Bible before age 43. And yes, of course, I was rejecting Him for all that time prior to His saving me. But, if you had asked me, I would have said I was not rejecting Him. For I was convinced He did not exist and was just a figment of people’s imagination.

      And why is God willing to forgive the Christian and He’s not willing to forgive anyone else?

      I have no answer to WHY God has decided that things are to be this way. I know what He has said His ultimate purpose is, to be seen by His creation as He really is and all that creation can do then is to bow down in worship.

      God is not willing to forgive Christians, as you put it. Christ has already paid the price of all sin of all people of all time. That is what happened at the cross. What God has said is that He puts that payment to the accounts of those who believe. Those who don’t have to pay themselves. It is really quite simple. See, it really does’t depend on ME. It’s all about Him. Remember, He is sovereign.

      1. All I am doing is looking at the words. In John 3, Jesus says in verse 15: “so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” WHOEVER certainly includes all people across the ages.

        I happen to agree with your assessment that Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus has universal application.

        In Matthew 24:34 Jesus is speaking to ‘you.’ So, I have to use my brain to figure out who you is.

        Again, I agree – only my brain tells me that the “you” Matthew 24 are the people He was saying “you” to.

        It has meaning for us who look back on it the same way that Isaiah’s and Jeremiah’s prophecies of the earlier destruction of Jerusalem have meaning to us.

        You don’t need a decoder ring. Just a brain to put the clues together.

        Kidding about magic de-coder rings aside, and for the record, I believe Jesus’ admonishments and comforts in Matthew 11 have universal application just as John 3 does.

        He (Jesus) has just given a long list of things to look for (that will be visible) before He comes. So, the ‘you’ in verse 33 is referring to those Jews who are alive at that time (just after that long list of things has actually come to pass). And, they (the ones who saw all these things) are the ‘generation’ that He is referring to. I hope that is clearer.

        It is clearer; thanks. However, Matthew 24-25 is one continuous private discourse to His disciples. To take a part of it and say it doesn’t apply to them but rather to some distant generation seems a very illogical and unnatural interpretation – though I acknowledge that the church has been doing this for years and so it is quite traditional and people are well-accustomed to it. Nevertheless, this doesn’t make it right anymore than the Pharisees traditional intrerpretations made them right.

        You are making an assumption that compassion trumps justice.

        It’s not an assumption; it’s Scripture (James 2:13).

        My point was that I had not owned nor read a Bible before age 43. And yes, of course, I was rejecting Him for all that time prior to His saving me. But, if you had asked me, I would have said I was not rejecting Him. For I was convinced He did not exist and was just a figment of people’s imagination.

        So, given that you changed at age 43 when you began reading the Bible, does this mean you wouldn’t have changed at age 42, or 32, or 22 if you had begun reading the Bible then?

        I have no answer to WHY God has decided that things are to be this way. I know what He has said His ultimate purpose is, to be seen by His creation as He really is and all that creation can do then is to bow down in worship. God is not willing to forgive Christians, as you put it. Christ has already paid the price of all sin of all people of all time. That is what happened at the cross. What God has said is that He puts that payment to the accounts of those who believe. Those who don’t have to pay themselves. It is really quite simple. See, it really does’t depend on ME. It’s all about Him. Remember, He is sovereign.

        Your argument here does indeed present a God who is sovereign. And, as a result, it presents a God to whom we must bow down and worship. It does not, however, present a God who is either just or compassionate by any standards that human beings understand. For if He will have brought people into existence with the potential for rendering themselves eternally tortured with a barely conscious decision (as you said of yourself, you were not even conscious that you were rejecting Him prior to age 43).

  15. (This reply is a continuation from this string above.)

    My view is that resurrection means being given a spiritual body like Jesus had when He appeared on earth after the cross. Where the person goes with his/her new body is a separate matter.

    Yes, our views are different. You have dissected the word resurrection and made it mean two different things. I see no scriptural warrant or logical warrant for doing this.

    So I missed out on all of the silly brainwashing that goes on in churches. Seriously, I don’t know where I got any of the idea’s I have.

    Your ideas, at least the ones I’ve heard, are standard fare in evangelical churches.

    On the other hand, neither of these two reasons are anything that prevents anybody from going to heaven in spirit form and without having been resurrected YET.

    Except that you can’t identify for me a place in scripture that this idea is taught. You have (or someone else who has taught you has) taken a simple concept from God and defined it in two entirely different ways. You profess allegiance to the Scripture but seem quite willing to depart from it.

    1. I want to comment on this in more detail; but, for now, I just want to provide some data. We seem to disagree on the meaning of ‘resurrection.’ Most of the time I use a lexicon whose title is: Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains by Louw & Nida. I believe it to be quite reputable; but, please feel free to look them up if you have any doubts. The word that is translated as resurrection in the NT is αναστασισ, (this can be transliterated as anastasis). It has three meanings, resurrection, rising up (status), and rising up (change). The comments given for each of these meanings in my lexicon are as follows (again we are going to have the font problem with the Greek letters each showing up as ‘?’ and again if you would like the Greek I can send it to you):

      resurrection to come back to life after having once died–to come back to life, to live again, to be resurrected, resurrection.
      ??????? ???????? ??? ?????? “Christ died and rose to life again” Ro 14.9.
      ??????a: ??????? ??? ???????? ??? ?????? ??? ???????? ?Christ also died, rose, and lives again? Ro 14.9. In Lk 15.24, ??? ????? ? ???? ??? ?????? ?? ??? ???????? “because this son of mine was dead and he has come back to life,” the figurative hyperbole may reflect the practice of referring to a person as dead and then coming back to life if he has been completely separated for a time from all family relations, but then has later been discovered alive and well. It is possible, of course, that in Lk 15.24 the expression is an idiom, but it is more likely to be simply a figurative usage.
      ?????????d: ???????? ??? ??? ??????? ?????? “one of the prophets of long ago came back to life” Lk 9.8.
      ???????????, ???????? ?? ????? ????????? “the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection” Mt 22.23. One may also translate “there is no resurrection” as “people will not live again.”
      ?? ??? ????????? ??? ??? ??????????? ??? ?? ?????? “if in some way I might attain to the resurrection from among the dead” Php 3.11. The phrase “?the resurrection from among the dead” may be rendered as “to live again” or “to live again after having died.”
      ???? ??? ??????? ????? “after his resurrection” or “after he rose from death” Mt 27.53.
      In a number of languages there is a difficulty involved in formulating some expression for ‘resurrection’ or ‘living again,’ since such a phrase may refer to what is technically known as metempsychosis, that is to say, the rebirth of the soul in another existence, a belief which is widely held in a number of areas of south Asia. This problem may be avoided in some languages by speaking of ‘his body will live again or ‘his body will come back to life’ or ‘he will be the same person when he lives again.’

      rising up (status) a process of change from a lower to a higher status (note the contrast with ?????? “a falling,” 87.75) “to rise, to rise up, rising up.” ?????? ??? ?????? ??? ????????? ?????? ?? ?? ?????? “(this child) is set (by God) for the falling and rising up of many in Israel” Lk 2.34. ????????? in Lk 2.34 may also be interpreted merely as a change for the better (see 13.60).
      Reversals of rank and status are a frequent theme in the declaration of the prophets, and this becomes particularly significant in the Magnificat (see Lk 1.46-55).

      rising up (change) a change for the better–rising up. ? ????? ?????? ??? ?????? ??? ????????? ?????? ?? ?? ?????? “this one is set for the fall and rise of many in Israel” Lk 2.34. For another interpretation of ????????? in Lk 2.34, see 87.39. note: 87:39 refers to what is above for ‘rising up (status)’

      The idea that resurrection involves heaven is not in the Greek language. It is determined by an exegete who is trying to determine the meaning of the text. You and I are such ‘exegetes’ and have just dealt with the data in different manners. But, as we proceed, we can use this data to determine when and how we are adding to what the words actually convey because of our presuppositions.

        1. The point of this information is to show that resurrection has nothing to do with destination. Nowhere in any of this does it mention heaven. Your position seems to hinge on its having that meaning, does it not? Resurrection means going to heaven???

          This information is data, fact, objective; it is not the opinion of either of us. It says resurrection is coming back to life without any regard to the motion or lack of motion of the person as in going from Sheol to heaven as a result of resurrection.

          1. All the meanings shown here are consistent with the way I understand the term.

            I have never said that the word “resurrection” itself meant going to heaven; it does not. Rather, I have said that Jesus taught that God’s resurrection leads to heaven. The Jews had long hoped for a resurrection from the dead, for their prophets planted and nourished this hope. Jesus, by His teaching and example, made this hope specific. Moreover, that resurrection leads to heaven is mentioned elsewhere in Scripture, and there is never mention of resurrection leading to any other destination. Therefore, wherever we find resurrection mentioned in the Scripture whether heaven is mentioned explicitly with it or not, we know that heaven is the location to which resurrection leads.

            That is the good news that is exceeding abundantly beyond all we would ask or think and makes us as human beings not lambs to the slaughter but rather more than conquerors through Him who loved us and released us from our sins (i.e. the sins of the whole world) by His blood. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

    2. Your ideas, at least the ones I’ve heard, are standard fare in evangelical churches.

      But, does that have anything to do with whether or not they are true? You and I are no different; we read, we study, we listen to others, we consider and then we are in possession of opinions. Whether my opinion or yours matches those of some other individual or group seems rather besides the point, don’t you think? OOOOPS, I just read ahead to your next point and there is that ‘you were taught’ line. Why do keep going there when it is irrelevant?
      You profess allegiance to the Scripture but seem quite willing to depart from it.

      My allegiance is to Jesus. I am trusting Him and not my interpretation of Scripture. Honestly, I mean no disrespect; but, what are you trusting? I am beginning to think that it is yourself, your intellect, your judgment.

      OK, let’s play a game, which Scripture am I departing from? Be specific. Or, is it that I am departing from your interpretation of Scripture. You must know that there is a difference between those two?

      I’ll go back to the Trinity. It isn’t in a verse or two. But, it is there for the one who has eyes to see. Hell is right there center stage and is required because of who God is and not who men want Him to be.

      1. But, does that have anything to do with whether or not they are true?

        I had made my statement about your ideas being “standard fare in evangelical churches” in response to your saying because you had not read the Bible until you were 43 that you “missed out on all of the silly brainwashing that goes on in churches.” In other words, you seemed to be distancing yourself from church teaching but that doesn’t seem to be the case on the subject we are discussing.

        As for “having anything do with whether or not they are true,” it isn’t absolutely determinative but Paul did teach Timothy to “continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them” (2 Timothy 3:14).

        Moreover, I’ve been stressing the point because you seemed to make it clear in the beginning that your loyalty was to Scripture and the way you said this conveyed to me that you were very much in agreement with the spirit of the Reformation which said that where the Scripture and the church disagree, Scripture should prevail. Therefore, I thought by showing you where Scripture and traditional evangelical teaching were at odds, you’d prefer Scripture.

        In the end, truth is the truth even if a donkey is the only one speaking it. I am actually glad to hear you imply that the number of people who believe a teaching is not an indicator of its degree of truthfulness. On that we are in complete agreement. So there’s really nothing here material to our discussion for us to disagree about.

        My allegiance is to Jesus.

        I don’t think we’re any different in that regard.

        Honestly, I mean no disrespect; but, what are you trusting? I am beginning to think that it is yourself, your intellect, your judgment.

        God forbid.

        OK, let’s play a game, which Scripture am I departing from? Be specific.

        I have been specific, but I will gladly repeat myself:
        1) you make the cross the occasion when God would make massive changes in the way things work while the Bible says that will be the SCC.
        2) you take the Bible’s declarations about resurrection and divide them into two separate events: spiritual resurrection and bodily resurrection.

        Given that I have pointed this out to you, I now realize that you don’t consider these two points as departures. But please accept that, to me, these represent major re-writes of what the Scripture says on these two issues.

        I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree that these are (or are not) departures from Scripture.

    1. This is really easy and I am happy to reveal my code to you. If somebody is talking to Jews and they use the word ‘you’ and it is singular, then they are probably just talking to that Jew. This would also apply to a Gentile. If ‘you’ is plural, then it is about some set of Jews or Gentiles, depending on who is being addressed. At 30 AD or so, there were only two kinds of people, Jews and Gentiles, at least as far as the Jews were concerned. The Romans, of course, had a different break down of humanity in mind. When somebody wanted to talk about both groups at the same time they might use a word like ‘everyone.’

      1. What you have written here is similar to the way I read these things. What I was looking for was what makes you relegate certain verses (e.g. Matthew 11:28-30) to Jews only and therefore not available to Gentiles. In that case, I think you said it was because He spoke it to Jews but they later rejected Him so it no longer applies to them until one day they accept Him, in which case it will apply to them again. In no case, however, did it ever, or does it ever, apply to Gentiles. Of course, this leaves me uncertain about how the words might apply to individual Jews who accept Jesus between the time 1st Century Jews rejected Him and the future time when Jews as people accept Him. All of this is what I understood you to believe and what I was searching for was the code or standard or rule that enabled you to come up with all these distinctions?

      2. David, based on other things I’ve read from you I now conclude that it’s Dispensationalism, or some form thereof, which guides your ability to make the kinds of distinctions in view here. Therefore, you don’t need to respond anymore on this unless I’m under a false impression that needs to be corrected.

    1. The first of these is the judgment of the church, the body of Christ, at the judgment seat of Christ. This takes place in heaven immediately after the rapture and prior to the return of Christ to the earth (the SCC).

      At the SCC, after the tribulation (of Israel), the judgment of the Gentiles takes place. At this event, the righteous are separated from the wicked living on the earth at that time.

      A third judgment has to do with regathering Israel and takes place early in the millennial reign of Christ on earth.

      Two final judgments mark the close of the millennium: the judgment of the angels and the judgment of the wicked dead at the great white throne judgment.

      My guess is that this sounds silly to you. If you seriously want to consider them then you can pick one and we can go through the Scriptural support for it. Just for kicks, there are several verses that point to the Judgment of the church. 2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” If one understands that Paul is only talking to saved people here, then it couldn’t be clearer what the first judgment I mentioned above is.

      1. I don’t know that I’d use the word “silly” but it does sound unbiblical. More specifically, it sounds like a version of dispensationalism which I view to be a man-made lens through which Scripture is read – much like Calvinism and Arminianism but with, of course, different interpretive results and focused on different issues.

        I have found much more success in understanding the Scriptures by allowing them as much as possible to speak for themselves. That is, much misunderstanding of the Bible stems from reading it with preconceived notions learned from other sources. “Isms” are some of the more common cracked lens through which people read the Scriptures.

        My experience with dispensationalism is that it divides Scripture into various categories applying some words to this group and age and other words to that group and age. To me, this violates the sanctity of the writings and leads to many unwarranted conclusions. Therefore, no, I don’t think it would be worth our time to take these categories one by one and work through them.

  16. David, in responding to your questions about my view I think I’ve come to understand your view. However, I want to make sure I understand it accurately, so please let me ask you a few questions:

    1. Do I have it right that you consider the following terms synonymous: “in Christ” = “believer” = “saved” = “Christian” = “the righteous”? And, if so, are there other terms that are also synonymous that I have left off?

    2. And do I have it right that you think the state that these terms describe only became possible after the cross?

    3. Assuming I’m at least roughly on track with 1. and 2., how do you think a person enters this state? That is, what makes the difference between a person who is in this state and one who isn’t?

    4. Do you think a person who is in this state ever fall out of it, or do you think it’s “once in, always in”?

    1. 1. As regards today, yes. Today means the time between Pentecost and the time when Christ resurrects His body, Christians.

      2. Not exactly. For example, God declared Abraham righteous well before the cross. He was a saved person. He believed what God had told him. He was not ‘in Christ’ and was not a Christian. It was not until the cross that his sins were paid for. As an aside, God could declare him righteous (even though his sins had not yet been paid for) since He knew that his sins were absolutely sure of being paid for later at the cross.

      3. God puts them there. (please understand that no sarcasm is intended in my answer.) I hope I don’t bore you with the following; but, it is something I know personally. NOT that that makes it the truth; I may have just been delusional. I sat down on my couch to finish a book on December 19, 1987. God did not exist for me at that moment. This nonsense about Jesus and sin was a joke. I was 43 years old and absolutely sure of this. My life was perfect. I didn’t have any use for God. I had as yet not even seen a Bible. About an hour later, I finished the book and looked up and knew that God had just saved me. NO thunder, no lightning, no voices, absolutely nothing out of the ordinary except I knew something that had been a myth for me was now true.

      4. When God declares a person righteous He is making good on His promise (John 3:16 for one) and puts His seal on the person in the form of the indwelling Holy Spirit. God would be a liar if He took His seal away. So, no, it can not change back. Being ‘in Christ’ does not depend on the person; only on God (Romans 9).

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