Rev. David Holwick
First Baptist Church
Ledgewood, New Jersey Bible study
August 12, 1990, evening
I. Various Interpretations:
There is no such place as heaven. It is a comforting thought,
but this life is all we have. Some would say that heaven is
what we can experience here and now. At death our bodies
B. Seventh Day Adventist.
There is a heaven but believers do not go there. Heaven is
for Christ and his angels. At death the soul sleeps until
the Resurrection of all believers, after which they come
alive and live with Christ on the new earth.
C. Jehovah's Witnesses.
There is a heaven but only a handful of believers go there
(the 144,000). The rest must wait for the Resurrection,
when they will come alive on the new earth.
D. Roman Catholic.
All believers eventually go to heaven, but after death they
must first go to an intermediate place (purgatory) to have
small (venial) sins purged from them so they will be able to
stand in God's presence. If a person dies with large (mortal)
sins, they go to Hell. Those who go to heaven are spirits
and receive supernatural bodies at the Resurrection.
E. Evangelical (most Baptists).
At death, all true believers go to heaven as spirits to live
with Jesus. At the future Resurrection their spirits receive
supernatural bodies, and they return to the new earth to rule
II. Evidence from the Bible.
A. Heaven is a real place.
1) Many verses speak of heaven as a real place beyond our current
experience. Those who believe it is only symbolism or
imagery are drastically reinterpreting the plain language
the Bible uses. John 14:2, etc.
B. People (both saints and sinners) have a real existence after death.
1) The Old Testament speaks of "Sheol", the place of the dead,
where both the righteous and sinners go.
Job 3:11-19; 14:13; Psalm 6:5; 16:10
The New Testament concept of "Hades" is similar, except that
after the resurrection of Jesus, the place in Hades where
the saints go is spoken of as being "up", not down.
Specifically, Paradise is up in heaven. 2 Cor 12:2-4
2) Both the rich man and poor Lazarus are conscious in Jesus'
parable. Luke 16:19
3) Jesus says Abraham, Isaac and Jacob still live in God's
presence. Luke 20:37-38
4) Moses and Elijah have an existence prior to the Resurrection.
(However, some may consider them a special case.) Matt 17:3
C. Arguments for "soul sleep."
1) Death is often described in the Bible as "sleep" or "rest."
1 Cor. 15:51; Ephesians 5:14; Revelation 14:13
(However, the "rest" of believers is associated with being
in heaven with Jesus. See Hebrews 4)
2) Logically, for a resurrection of bodies to take place the
people must be in the ground, not in heaven.
D. Arguments for a half-way station, or purgatory.
1) Most of the verses used by Roman Catholics are from the Old
Testament Apocrypha, which Jesus (and Baptists) did not see
2) The New Testament teaches that once we are dead, we face
judgment. There is no second chance. Hebrews 9:27
E. Arguments for immediate entry into heaven.
1) Jesus told the thief on the cross next to him that he would
be in Paradise "today." (Some want to move the comma:
Jesus tells him today, he will be in Paradise [in the
distant future]. This is probably incorrect.) Luke 23:43
2) At his resurrection, Jesus took a "firstfruits of believers
with him into heaven. Matt 27:52-53
3) Paul says our entry into heaven is immediate.
a) To be away from the body is to be with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:6-9
b) To die is to be with Christ (not in the ground). Death
is a gain. What gain is there in "soul sleep"?
4) Christian martyrs are seen in heaven under God's altar before
the Resurrection of all believers. Revelation 6:9-11
Copyright © 2021 by Rev. David Holwick
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