A Place Called Heaven (book) . . . .{part 2}

As I mentioned in A Place Called Heaven . . . {part 1}, one doctrine or area I am still struggling with right now which is a carryover from my previous religious convictions is on the subject of heaven.

I stated that I believe there is a heaven and that Jesus is there seated at the right hand of Father. And that I believe there are host of angels that worship and serve God make heaven their headquarters, if not their home. But the question I still have is this: Is heaven the place a Christian will immediately go if he were to die today – BEFORE THE RETURN OF CHRIST?

Well, I have been reading Dr. Robert Jefress’ book you see to your right to receive his viewpoints on this topic. Chapter four, Do Christians Immediately Go To Heaven When They Die? was a critical one for me to read.

I wrote my thoughts and comments on the margins of
the book of this chapter as I read it and some of
what wrote I will now relay to you in this post.

A Nice Quote
Dr. Jeffress quoted a friend and mentor, Howard Hendricks, who told him:

We are not in the land of the living on our way to the dying. Instead, we are in the the land of the dying on our way to the land of the living.

That was a very nice and insightful saying.  But does not our
journey also include dying (being unconscious  in death) in
the grave for a short period of time compared with eternity?
Yes or no?

This quote gave me the impression that a person who
dies actually never does die but is still alive – even more so –
soon after he dies. In other words, the quote does not address
any biblical proof that the dead will immediately go to heaven.

Making  A Choice
What else did Dr. Jeffress say in this chapter?

“I believe every person born is presented with a choice at some point in his or her life: to either accept or reject God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus
Christ. It is a choice that can
only be made in this life.”

Really? That statement seems unrealistic to me. I am not doubting God’s ability to have this choice given to everyone, but I do not believe it has been happening to everyone ever born. Many children, teenagers, and adults have died without having to make this choice. For me to believe this without question is being unrealistic. This is just my opinion.

Dr. Jefress continues a little later on stating:

“Whether you will die is not up for debate. The crucial question is this: “Where are you going after you die?” That question can only be answered by another question: “Did you trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins?” Your eternal destiny rests on your answer to that question.”

Where did Dr. Jefress get that understanding? If what he said is true, then God and the Christian church has failed miserably in reaching the lost in the New Covenant era. Again, just my thoughts here.

Spirit’s Desire
He then makes this statement in the chapter:

“[T]he most complete explanation of what happens to a believer the moment he or she dies is found in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8:

Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—  for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.  (NASB)

This passage is a compelling account that Paul made stating he would rather be in heaven, without a body, in spirit form, than with a body which was then limiting him to being on earth.  But, why would Paul say that and then later tell the church that we will have new, immortal bodies at the resurrection? Wouldn’t it be just as good being only in spirit form with Christ in heaven?

Is Paul speaking hypothetically that, if he had a choice, he would rather be in heaven –  in spirit form – with Christ – right now – than waiting in the flesh for Christ’s return and be resurrected (or changed if still alive) and given a new body? What was Paul wishing here?

If I am at my job in New England wearing a sweater with my vacation to Walt Disney World scheduled next week in mind, I too would wish to be in Walt Disney World right now in swimsuit form.  But that is not the case at the moment.

Or, if I knew I will one day move to Florida after I retire, I too would rather be there absent from where I am living now and be at my new home always wearing Bermuda shorts.

Spiritually  Stuck?
The apostle Paul said this in his previous letter to the church –  1 Corinthians 15:12-19:

12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised;
14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.
15 Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised.
16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised;
17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.
18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. 

Does Paul mean here that if Christ was never resurrected from the dead, your spirit will not go to heaven after you die? If your body remains dead after dying because Christ was not raised from the dead, wouldn’t your spirit just go to heaven and be separated away from your body and be with the Lord forever?

Dunkin’ Donuts is a coffee shop chain well established in the northeast United Staes.

Parable of Dunkin’ Donuts
Let me make a parable here. A Christian died and immediately was transported to Dunkin’ Donuts and meets Jesus who says to him,”Welcome home! Would you like a cup of coffee?” Then a short while later, after the Christian enjoyed drinking a wonderful, caffeinated brew, Jesus informs him, “OK, you must now go back into your body where you died. Then I am going to earth to resurrect you as a new, immortal being.” The Christian replies, “OK, I am ready.”

All of a sudden the Christian is rising up to the clouds and meets Jesus in the air. He then follows Christ only to
find himself at Dunkin’ Donuts once again. Jesus
then says, “Welcome back home! Would you like a
coffee and a donut?” The Christian looks around
elated that he is, once again, back to inhaling
the wonderful aroma of coffee.

Is that the way it is going to be after you die? Will you go to heaven only to return to earth and then go back to the place you are already familiar – heaven? Will the resurrection cause you to once again see the warm and familiar face of Christ?

Second Homecoming?

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word, homecoming as:
1 :a return home a soldier’s homecoming
2 :the return of a group of people usually on a special occasion to a place formerly frequented or regarded as home; especially :an annual celebration for alumni at a high school, college, or university.

Question: If you die and went to heaven and go back to earth and re-enter your “resurrected” (actually  re-created) immortal body, would not rising up to meet Christ in the air and going back to heaven be a homecoming for you? In other words, are you not actually going back home? Rising to meet Christ will not be the first time you will see Him and your home in heaven afterwards, right?

You may say that is not exactly what will happen. I may be totally wrong here. I have much to understand regarding this. That is why I will dedicate next year, 2018, to studying apologetics which often defends what critics, skeptics and atheists have to say about God’s Word, the Bible – especially in regard to a place called heaven.

This entry was posted in Apologetics, Bible Study, Books, Christianity, God, Heaven, The Bible and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply