Boxing Into Paradise

boxing matchThere are times when I cannot blame any of you atheists or agnostics out there for not believing in God and Christianity. Really! There are times when I have to shake my head and wonder why I have not become an atheist a long time ago. Why do I say this? Well, there are doctrines believed by many Christians that I have struggled with – and still do today – and have questions about.

Here is one of these questions for this post: When a Christian dies,  when will he arrive in heaven? Will he go up to heaven immediately upon death or will he remain without consciousness until his resurrection from the grave when Jesus Christ returns to this earth?

This question has turned my thinking process into a boxing match:

Round One                                     
Ding!Bell

When a believer dies, he will go right to heaven. Parable: Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:19-31).

BellDing! End of Round One.
Winner of round one goes to those who believe in an immediate life after death in heaven .

 

Round Two
Ding!Bell

When Christ returns, the dead in Christ will rise from their graves first – not the supposedly those already alive who had died earlier and are with Christ in heaven. There will be a resurrection of the dead  (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

If there is an immediate going to heaven, why is a resurrection needed? After Christ died, why did He not  just go to heaven rather than be in the tomb for a three day period?

BellDing! End of Round Two.

Winner of round two goes to those who believe in a future resurrection when those who have been asleep (dead) in Christ will awaken to meet Jesus Christ as He returns.

 

Round Three
Ding!Bell

Christ told one of the thieves on a cross next to Him that he will  be in paradise that very same day (Luke 23:32-43)!

BellDing! End of Round Three.

Winner of round three goes to those who believe in an immediate life after death in heaven.

 

Round Four
Ding!Bell

The comma in Luke 23:43, in the Greek language, could be placed after the word, today, not before it:

I tell you this today, you will be with me in paradise.

Another way to translate this is: “I am going to tell you right now, you will [in the future] be with me in paradise.

BellDing! End of Round Four.

Winner of round four goes to those who believe in a future resurrection when those who have been asleep (dead) in Christ will awaken to meet Jesus Christ as He returns.

 

Round Five
Ding!Bell

The saints, Peter, Paul and Mary (hey, that sounds like a musical group!) are all praying for us now in heaven. Other saints include, St. Jude, St. Jerome, and St. Louis, MO (whoever that is).

And of course, Roman Catholics pray to Mary, the mother of Jesus, asking her to pray for them now and at the hour of their death, Amen.

BellDing! End of Round Five.

Winner of round five goes to those who believe in an immediate life after death in heaven.

 

Round Six
Ding!Bell

When the Christian church was born on the Day of Pentecost, (Acts 2), persecution immediately began against the new believers. Saul (who later became the apostle Paul) witnessed many martyrdoms of Christians. One of them was Stephen.

After he was stoned and died, did the early Christians ever pray to Steven to help them as many were soon also being persecuted? No indication of sainthood up in heaven here.

BellDing! End of Round Six.

Winner of round six goes to those who believe in a future resurrection when those who have been asleep (dead) in Christ will awaken to meet Jesus Christ as He returns and then go to heaven.

 

Round Seven
Ding!Bell

After His crucifixion and death on the cross, Jesus was in the grave for three days. If He was in heaven, then Christ did not really die after all.

The earth getting dark, the veil ripping from top to bottom in the temple, and the dead rising out of their graves were just amazing wonders indicating Christ’s sacrifice leading to immortality for Him and for all who believe in Him from then on.

BellDing! End of Round Seven.

Winner of round seven goes to those who believe in a future resurrection when those who have been asleep (dead) in Christ will awaken to meet Jesus Christ as He returns and then go to heaven.

 

Round Eight
Ding!Bell

The apostle Paul seems to indicate that he wanted to die soon so that he could be with Jesus Christ right away in heaven ( 2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23).

BellDing! End of Round Eight.

Winner of round eight goes to those who believe in an immediate life after death in heaven.

 

Round Nine
Ding!Bell

There will be a future Day of Judgement ( Matthew 12:36-37;  John 5:28-29 ; Matthew 25:31-33 ).

BellDing! End of Round Nine.

Winner of round nine goes to those who believe in a future resurrection when those who have been asleep (dead) in Christ will awaken to meet Jesus Christ as He returns and will be judged according to how they used the Holy Spirit given to them.

 

Round Ten
Ding!Bell

The Pharisees and the some Sadducees argued about there being a future resurrection. Jesus said, “God is the God of the living, not the dead.” If this is true, then Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are  alive now in heaven.

BellDing! End of Round Ten.

Winner of round ten goes to those who believe in an immediate life after death in heaven.

 

BellDing! Ding!  Ding!  Ding!  Ding!

Ladies and gentlemen!

Ding! Ding!  Ding!  Ding!  Ding!

Ladies and gentlemen!

The count for this heavyweight bout goes as follows:

5 rounds won for a future resurrection and not an immediate going to heaven after death.

5 rounds won for an immediate going to heaven when a believer dies.

It is a tie! There is no winner at this time!

There may be a rematch!

Decision: All believers will be in the Kingdom of God and in heaven. As to when that will be is not yet fully clear and NOT important to know for salvation!

For now, have faith in God and in Jesus Christ and get there!

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