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Heaven, Hell and the Afterlife
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Joined: 26 Jan 2009
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:32 pm    Post subject: Heaven, Hell and the Afterlife  Reply with quote


In past years, we sang songs about heaven and heard sermons about heaven and hell but today very few churches focus on the afterlife except at funerals.  Someone has said: "aim at Heaven and you get earth thrown in, but aim at earth and you get nothing."  C.S. Lewis said: "If you have read history, you will find Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next world. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world, that they have become so ineffective in this world."  Jesus warned us: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matt. 6:19-31).  Each of us must ask the question: is our focus on heaven or on earth?

Our focus today is primarily on the pleasures of this world.  Few of us really take the time to wonder about where we will spend eternity.  However, there are some who are so focused on the spirit world, that they have either entered or border on entering witchcraft.  It is our purpose in this study to endeavor to understand both heaven and hell from God's point of few.  We will study what the Bible says about the afterlife and also look at some of the visions that God has given us through death-bed and other visions.

Each culture of history has reflected a burning desire for an afterlife - from the great pyramids of Egypt to the "happy hunting grounds" of the American Indian. Solomon said in Ecclesiastes "He has put eternity in their hearts" (Eccl. 3:11).  God has put into mankind a desire for some kind of an afterlife.  Mankind has been fascinated by the questions about what happens after we die.  

Ancient manuscripts such as The Egyptian Book of the Dead, The Tibetan Book of the Dead  and The Aztec Song of the Dead reveal man's fascination with the dying process and the age old question of where will we spend eternity.  These books tell of death-bed visions, out-of- the-body experiences and other visions.  In many of these experiences, the visions show a loving form of light and also in many cases there is contact with a loved one who had died.  Today, most out-of-the-body experiences have a vision of a being with a loving light.  We may ask the question, what about hell?  We need to remember in all our studies, that Satan is the father of lies and of deception.  The apostle Paul said: "for Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14b).

The Old Testament is progressive in revelation about what happens after death.  Job, in the oldest book of the Old Testament, asked the question: "If a man dies, shall he live again?  All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes" (Job 14:14). Yet he had insight into the future. " For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God" (Job. 19:25-26). First, Job knew that he needed to be redeemed from his sin.  He also realized that God would do the redeeming and that he would one day see him face to face.  Then notice that Job's focus on the afterlife was shifted to earth.  Although Job was probably not a Jew, he held the Jewish belief that the future would be earth bound.  At that point his thought was not about going to heaven.  We will comment on this concept of the afterlife later.

Second Samuel, chapter eleven, records King David's affair with Bathsheba.  Out of this relationship a son was conceived but died shortly after his birth.  Before the child died, David fasted and prayed that his life would be spared.  His words after the child died are interesting. "Then his servants said to him, 'What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food.' And he said, 'while the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’  But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me'” (2 Sam. 12:21-23). It is clear that David expected to join his son when he died, therefore, he understood that he would know and fellowship with his son in the afterlife.  Today, many ask the question, will we know and be known by our departed love ones in heaven?  David definitely believed that we would know and be known.

We get a lot of insight from the Psalms about heaven.  Most of the Psalms were written by David. "Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your name; the upright shall dwell in Your presence" (Ps. 140:13). "You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory" (Ps. 73:24). "Whom have I in heaven but You?  And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You" (Ps. 73:25). "But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave.  For He shall receive me" (Ps. 73:25a).  "For the LORD Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth" (Ps. 47:2).  "For those blessed by Him shall inherit the earth, but those cursed by Him shall be cut off" (Ps. 37:22). "If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there" (Ps. 139:8).  David makes it clear that God is sovereign over both heaven and hell.

Perhaps the verse in the Psalms that we are most familiar with is: "Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His saints" (Ps. 116:15).  This serves as  comfort to both the dying and those that are left behind.  God is gracious and can take the fear out of dying because he has a far greater place prepared for our future lives.  He will send angels and possibly family members to escort us to heaven.

Near the end of the Old Testament, the Jewish mindset is focused on soul sleep with a promise of a resurrection of the body to a Messianic Kingdom on earth.  Daniel saw a bodily resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.  "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever" (Dan.12:2-3).

It is obvious that they believed that the soul slept from death until the resurrection.  This is evident in the conversation that Jesus had with Martha after her brother's Lazarus, died.  "Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.'  Martha said to Him, 'I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.' Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this'” (John 11:23-26).

This is a great scripture verse that refutes the belief in soul sleep that exists today.  Jesus made it very clear that our soul and spirit never dies. The Apostle Paul said, "absent from the body, present with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:8).

We learn so much about heaven and hell from the teachings of Jesus.  He made it very clear that both existed.  Today, many people do not believe in a literal hell, herefore, most do not believe that they will go there.  They base their belief upon some standard of living that they have set for themselves.  "I am as good as the next person."  Their standard of living is set by the lives of those around them.  Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6b).  Jesus died for our sins.  We either accept him or we reject him, therefore, this decision will determine where we will spend eternity.


Listed below are some of the resources quoted in this study. You should be able to click on the web sites and go the source.  I don't agree with everything contained in all these books, but I have read each and have quoted or been influenced by materials from them.  Not all of the books are still in print.  I suggest that you read Don Piper's or Roberts Liardon's book as they both claim to have had visions of heaven.  The Randy Alcorn books are also very interesting and provide great insight about what life will be like on the new heaven and on the new earth.  I also recommend Trudy Harris' book on death-bed experiences.  She is a hospice nurse and has witnessed many death or near death experiences.

1.  Heaven, Randy Alcorn, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, IL.

2.  Heaven Touchpoint, Randy Alcorn, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

3.  In Light of Eternity, Randy Alcorn, Waterbrook Press, Colorado Spring, CO.

4.  Death and the Life After, Billy Graham, Word Publishing, Dallas-London-Vancouver-Melbourne.

5.  Angels, God's Secret Agents, Billy Graham, Word Book Publishers, Inc., Waco, TX.

6.  Life in the Afterlife, Tim LaHaye, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, Wheaton, IL.

7.  One Minute After You Die, Erwin Lutzer, Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL.

8.  Beyond Death, C. J. Baker, Distributed by Choice Books, Vienna, VA.

9.  Voices from the edge of eternity, Compiled by John Myers, Distributed by Choice Books, Vienna, VA.

10.  90 Minutes in Heaven, Don Piper, Revell, Grand Rapids, MI.

11.  Beyond Death's Door, Maurice Rawlings, M.D., A Bantam Book - Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN.

12.  Closer to the Light , Melvan Morse, M.D., Ivy Books, New York, NY.

13.  Life After Life, Raymood A. Moody, Jr. M.D., Mockingbird Books, Atlanta, GA.

14.  We saw Heaven , Roberts Liardon, Destiny Image Publishers, Shippensburg, PA.

15.  Glimpses of Heaven, Trudy Harris, RN, Revell, Grand Rapids, MI.

16.  Angels on Earth, A Guidepost Publication, Nov/Dec 1996, Carmel, NY.

17.  Heaven is for Real, Todd Burpo, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN.

Web Sites

The following web sites provide additional information about various belief systems of the afterlife.  Some of the material overlap, but there is enough variation to be helpful.  Just click on the following.

Comparative Views of the Afterlife

How different religions view the Afterlife

Some Views of the Afterlife

How the major religions view the afterlife

The Jewish view of the afterlife

Last edited by wayne on Wed May 25, 2011 8:17 am; edited 7 times in total
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Body, Spirit and Soul

The Bible teaches that we are body, soul and spirit.   "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being" (Gen. 2:7).  The Lord created man out of the dust of the earth but without the spirit and soul, the body is dead.  Then God breathed breath into the soul and spirit the dead body became a living person.  When we are conceived we have a single one-cell human body.  Then God places a living soul and spirit into that body and the baby becomes a living being.  Even though we are not completely sure when this takes place, we know that it is very soon after this human cell is created.  Many believe this take place at the time of conception.

Because the spirit and soul were placed into a physical body it can also be removed.  When we die the spirit and soul simply leave the body leaving it dead.  The spirit and soul do not die - they just move from one realm to another realm.  We live in a time when we can experience the spirit and soul leaving the body and then returning.  This is what happens with some death-bed and out-of-body experiences.  When the body is completely dead (biological death), the spirit and soul do not return to it.  At that time, the soul and spirit are part of the spiritual world around them.  What happens next we only have glimpses from various experiences.  The Bible says that the righteous are escorted into heaven and thus protected from the evil spirits surrounding  them. It may well be that some of the unrighteous (not saved) who have out-of-the-body experiences are under the authority of God's visions so they can learn the truth and thus return to their bodies as believers.  However, the death process of the unrighteous is controlled by the evil spirits and their final destiny is hell.

The medical community defines death two ways.  There is clinical (reversible) death where the heart stops and biological (irreversible) death where the brain dies.  Most out-of-body experiences occur between clinical death and biological death.  This is the period of time when someone can be resuscitated.  This leads to an interesting question.  At what point does the soul and spirit leave the body when someone who is brain dead and the heart is kept beating by a machine?

Based upon the above conclusions, a person who is lying on a bed with a machine keeping the heart beating may be biologically dead and the soul and spirit may have already departed the body.  I read of a vision once that supports this view.  A young woman’s child was dying and was being kept alive by a machine.  She went outside and  as she looked up, she saw Jesus taking her child to heaven.  She went back into the room and asked the doctors to remove the machines and let her child die.

Many have asked the question, where does the spirit and soul reside in the human body?  Medical studies have tried to determine this. Dr. Melvin Morse reports, in his book "Closer to the Light" (pp 115), about the neurosurgeon, Dr. Wilder Penfield, studies of the brain.  Dr. Penfield discovered that if he touched the area of the brain known as "Sylvian Fission" with an electrical probe that the patient began to have the sensation of leaving his/her body.  This was also confirmed by a Chilean medical team approximately the same time.  The "Sylvian Fission" is located just above the right temporal lobe of the brain.  

Dr. Morse summarized the brain study with these words "I have documented that we have an area in the brain, the right temporal lobe, that some researchers describe as the seat of the soul.  It is connected to the hippocampus, which serves as the brain's master control, sorting out thousands of pieces of sensory input and deciding which of them should be acted upon.  It contains our unconscious desires and our ability to dream.  Without this area, we would be like robots, unable to initiate purposeful activity and not caring about the passage of time" (pp 198-197).

Many have speculated regarding the time when the soul and spirit are created.  Most of us assume that they are created at the time they are placed into our bodies.  However, there have been various views stating that they were created prior to this time.  Plato, Jewish rabbinical  writings, at least two of the church fathers believed  and the Mormons still believe that the soul and spirit pre-existed prior to conception. This is an area of great speculation as the Bible is somewhat silent on this subject.

However, the Bible does teach that God foreknew us.  This is what He said to the prophet Jeremiah: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations" (Jer. 1:5).  The Apostle Paul wrote these words: "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love" (Eph. 1:4).  It is interesting that some Jewish writers have written that God created all souls when He created the universe.

There is a danger of speculating too much about the idea of pre-existing souls and it has led some to believe in transmigration of the soul or re-incarnation which is absolutely in conflict with Biblical teaching.  As we are all aware, the Hindus, other Eastern religions and the New Age theology teach re-incarnation.  But the Bible states clearly in Hebrews 9:27 that it is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment.  Therefore, we die once and are not reincarnated but judged.  

For more information on the body, soul and spirit read my article "Men and Women in the image of God."

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Place of the Dead before the Resurrection

As we stated above, the Bible is progressive in its teaching about the afterlife.  We learn most of our theology regarding heaven and hell from the teaching of Jesus and from the last two chapters of Revelation.  Most of the songs that are sung at church are based upon what we read in Revelation 21 and 22.  However, when we read what the Bible says about the abode of the dead we find that there are three stages of the afterlife for the righteous and two for the unrighteous.  The first stage for the righteous is taken from Genesis through the resurrection of Jesus.  The second stage is called present or temporary heaven.

The final stage takes place on a new heaven and a new earth, "Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away" (Rev. 21:1).  Most of us do not spend very much time concentrating on the new heaven and new earth.  Note: Randy Alcorn has written extensively about life on the new heaven and new earth.

Up until the resurrection of Jesus, the souls and spirit of the dead went to a place called Sheol in the Hebrew or Hades in the Greek.  It was a two chamber area with the righteous in one compartment and the unrighteous in another which was separated by a "great gulf fixed".  We read about this place in the story about the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).  Several times in the Old Testament, the word Sheol has been incorrectly translated "grave".  Since the unrighteous (unsaved) who die today go to Hades (Sheol), we usually think of Hades as hell.

The first Old Testament reference to Sheol is found in a statement that Jacob made after he received the report about his son, Joseph.  He assumed that wild animals had destroyed the body.  This is what he said: " 'For I shall go down into the grave (Sheol) to my son in mourning.' Thus his father wept for him" (Gen. 37:35).  Jacob was going to join his son and he did not think of his son as being in a grave.  Where was he going to join him – in the abode of the souls.

We read in Numbers chapter sixteen about what happed to the rebellious Korah, Dathan, and Abiram and their families. "But if the LORD creates a new thing, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the pit (Sheol), then you will understand that these men have rejected the LORD” (Num. 16:30).  Here, we read about the unrighteous going to chamber of Sheol which is created for them and is called the pit.

One of the most interesting verses is Psalm 16:10. "For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption."  David is writing in the first person about Jesus.  Peter confirms this in the sermon at Pentecost.  “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. For David says concerning Him:..'For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption'" (Acts 2:22-25a, 27).

Did Jesus suffer in Hell during the three days that he was in the grave? The Scriptures say no but His soul was in Hades rather than hell.  He was in what the Old Testament referred to as Sheol, a place that Jesus called Abraham’s bosom.  However, Jesus, being God,  was Lord over both chambers of Hades and therefore was free to pass between the chambers.

These verses have been misinterpreted by many. One form of the Apostle's Creed states: "He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead".  Jesus did not suffer in hell during the three days, he suffered at the hands of Satan and his demons while on the cross from noon until 3:00 P.M.. After that he said "it is finished." Note: For more information on this read, my article about the crucifixion.

Jesus revealed the most information that we have about Sheol/Hades in his story about the rich man and Lazarus.  “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  'Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.  And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us’" (Luke 16:19-26).

“Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one risen from the dead’” (Luke 16:27-31).

Now let us see what we can learn from these people and we can assume the same about those who are now in heaven and hell.  (1) We see that they have some form of a body.  (2) Lazarus was carried (escorted) by angels to Paradise. (3) "Lazarus is with Abraham (and, by inference, others); the rich man is by himself (no one else is mentioned)." (4) "Both the rich man and Abraham reasoned and communicated, and they maintained their distinct identities from earth (as did Lazarus)." (5) The rich man remembers that he had brothers. "This indicates consciousness after death and clear memory of Earth and people on Earth" (6) There were flames where the rich man was. (7) The rich man could feel pain. (8) The two compartments are separated and no one except Jesus could cross between them.

The next passage that we will look at was a conversation between Jesus and the thief that took place on the cross.  The thief is pleading to Jesus, "Then he said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.'  Jesus answered him, 'I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise'” (Luke 23:42-43, NIV).  Jesus referred to the place where they were going as paradise.  From previous Scriptures we know that Jesus spend three days in Sheol/Hades.  We ,therefore, conclude that Jesus was taking the thief with Him to Abraham's Bosom.

It is now time for us to answer a very important question.  Why were the people who were in Abraham's Bosom not in heaven with the Father?  The answer lies with the concept of redemption.  They were saved on credit and had not yet received their full redemption.  They are waiting for Jesus to pay for all their sins on the cross.  It also, has to do with the complete fulfillment of the Mosaic Law.  The Mosaic Law was a shadow or picture of all the work to be completed on the cross and the Mosaic Law had to be completely fulfilled.  Jesus fulfilled every letter of it.  We see this in the construction of the wilderness tabernacle and also in the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat.

The writer of the book of Hebrews makes it very clear that the tabernacle, priesthood, and animal sacrifices were prophetic shadows or types that were later fulfilled in the life of Christ.  "Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you" (Ex. 25:9, NIV).

Notice that the wilderness tabernacle was to be patterned after another tabernacle.  In Hebrews chapters 8-10, the writer states very clearly that the wilderness tabernacle was patterned after the Lamb of God who is in heaven.  Let us not forget that Christ, the Lamb of God, was slain in the mind of God before the foundation of the world (I Peter 1:19-20).  It is fitting that the wilderness tabernacle was patterned after Christ, and that it foreshadowed Christ and the work that He was to complete on the cross. The writer of Hebrews makes this statement concerning Jesus:"Who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle.  For He said, 'See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain'" (Heb. 8:5).

"After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, 'I thirst!' Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, 'It is finished!' ? And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit." (John 19:28-30).  The redemption process was finished because Jesus had paid for our sins with His blood.

We usually overlook the events that happened next because we usually do not study it in context.  "Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many" (Matt. 27:51-53).  The veil was rent from top to bottom symbolizing that the people could now have access to God.  Before this happened, they had to approach God through a Priest.  Also, notice that some of the graves were opened.  However, the people did not come out until after Jesus was resurrected.  Jesus was the first fruit of the resurrection and these people followed with resurrected bodies.

Now let us look at some the things that Jesus did while in Sheol/Hades. Peter tells us of his visit to the hell compartment.  "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water" (1 Peter 3:18-20). Jesus had defeated Satan and his demons on the cross and now, being Devine, He crosses the "great gulf fixed" to announce this to his enemies.

Mary of Magdalene was the first to see Jesus after His resurrection.  Jesus said to her, 'Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God’” (John 20:17).  First we should see that Jesus confirmed that He had not been with the Father.  But it is obvious that He is going at that time to heaven.  Why?  He went to take his blood to the heavenly temple and to place it on the mercy seat.

We read these words in Hebrews. "Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption" (Heb. 9:12).  When did Jesus enter the Most Holy Place?  There was no way that He could have entered the Holy Place in the temple in Jerusalem.  He entered the Holy Place in the temple in heaven placing his blood on the mercy seat, thereby, completely satisfying the Mosaic Law.

A short time after Jesus met Mary Magdalene, He met the other women who had come to the tomb.  "And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, 'Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, 'Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see  Me'” (Matt. 28:8-10).

Now let's return to those who were resurrected from their tombs and who came into the streets of Jerusalem. Jesus’ resurrection was the fulfillment of the Feast of the First Fruits.  We read of this Feast in Leviticus.  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it" (Lev. 23:9-10).  The resurrected saints were offered to the Father as a sheaf offering thereby fulfilling the requirement of the Feast.  At some point in time, they became the first of the resurrected saints to enter heaven.

Sometime later, Jesus moved all those in Abraham’s bosom to heaven because all of the requirements of redemption and the completion of the Law had been fulfilled.  The unsaved were left in the flames of the other compartment of Sheol/Hades and this is why we think of Hades as Hell.  Many believe that Paul's letter to the Ephesians spoke of the move to heaven.  "For it says: When He ascended on high, He took prisoners into captivity; He gave gifts to people. But what does 'He ascended' mean except that He descended to the lower parts of the earth?  The One who descended is the same as the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things" (Eph. 4:8-10, HCSB).

Now we move to the second abode of the righteous which is called the intermediate heaven.  This is where the saved go today when they die.  Sometime in the future, there will be a New Heaven and a New Earth.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jesus' Teaching on Heaven and Hell

Jesus had more to say about Heaven and Hell than anyone else in the Bible.  Not only do we have the accounts in the Gospels of Jesus' teachings but He also revealed The Revelation to the Apostle John.  We must keep in mind that Jesus was teaching to a group with a Messianic mindset - a kingdom on earth ruled by the promised Messiah, the son of David.  Now, let us look at Jesus’ revelation of what the afterlife is like as He tells us about living in heaven.

"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matt 7:13-14).  Today, most people, if they believe in an afterlife, believe that they will go to heaven because they have lived a good life.  However, Jesus said just the opposite.

The Pharisees lived a good life and kept every letter of the Law.  Jesus said: "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:20).  Jesus told the Pharisee, Nicodemus, that he must be born again.  “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3b).  Our sins and self righteousness must be washed away by the blood of Jesus before we can enter heaven.  "All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags" (Isa. 64:6b).

"Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God" (Matt. 5:8).  The pure in heart are new creatures as Paul called them – old things are passed away and all things become new (2 Cor. 5:17).  They have been washed in the blood of Jesus and their righteousness in the sight of God is the imputed righteousness of Christ.  They, and only them, will see God in heaven.

"If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire" Matt. 18:8-9).  Jesus is saying that it is our sins that will send us to hell.  They must be forgiven by God through the blood of Jesus.  We should also note that Jesus is confirming that there is a literal hell.

"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matt. 10:28).  "His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:12).  The day will come when God will separate the righteous from the unrighteous.  One group will go to heaven and the other group to hell. “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven"  (Matt. 10:32-33).

"But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal" (Matt. 6:20).  How do we lay up treasures in heaven?  By letting Jesus be Lord and Master of our lives.  This includes our money, time, abilities and heart.  Our lives should be focused on Him and heaven.  The Apostle Paul said that our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20).  Jesus said, "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven" (Matt. 5:12).  Also, treasures probably refer to our various jobs in heaven.  We will all, most assuredly, have jobs in heaven.  How would you like to have the job of welcoming newcomers and showing them around heaven and even perhaps later the new heavens (Isa. 65:17)?

"In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:2-3).  This is a passage of great hope which is read at many funerals.  We have all speculated about the houses in heaven.  Later in this article, I will share some of the visions of these mansions that some people claim to have had.  Also, have you ever thought about the landscaping?.  I think when we first view heaven that there will be a great big “wow”.

"Then some of the Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, saying: 'Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife, and he dies without children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. And the first took a wife, and died without children. And the second took her as wife, and he died childless. Then the third took her, and in like manner the seven also; and they left no children, and died. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife does she become? For all seven had her as wife” (Luke 20:27-33).

"Jesus answered and said to them, 'The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage.  But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage" (Luke 20:34-35).  These verses have disturbed many people.  Does it mean that spouses on earth have no relationship in heaven?  We need to look at this in the context in which it is given - the brothers were marrying in order to produce an heir.  Jesus is saying that, in heaven, there is no marital relationship between husband and wife as we know it today.  He is not saying that there will be no relationship in heaven.  However, it will be a different kind of relationship.  Spouses may even share the same mansion in heaven.  Whatever the relationships, they will be happy and fulfilling .  We should also keep in mind that in heaven the church is the bride of Christ.

"Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:10).  Notice the word presence.  Who would be in the presence of angels in heaven?  This would include the saints who have already gone to heaven plus this verse also implies that we will have at least some knowledge of what is happening on earth.

“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 18:10).  This verse implies that little children have guardian angels.  It may very well be that all believers have guardian angels.  We are confident that we are being ministered to by angels periodically. The writer of Hebrews had this to say: "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation" (Heb. 1:14).  These may be the same angels who escort us to heaven.  We will go into detail more about angels later in this study.

Jesus also speaks about the bodily resurrection which is to come sometime in the future.  "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation" (John 5:28-29).  At the rapture of the Church (the bride of Christ), the saved will receive resurrected bodies which will be like Jesus’ resurrected body.  We will need resurrected bodies in the Messianic Kingdom which will come to this earth.  These bodies can be seen by both spiritual and human bodies because we will jointly reign with him (2 Tim 2:12, Rev. 5:10).

Jesus speaks of the Messianic Kingdom which is to come. "I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 8:11, NIV).  It will be exciting to meet and fellowship with people from past generations including our ancestors.  There will be a great family reunion.!  Also, notice that we will eat and drink.

Jesus also said these words to the disciples. "And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Luke 22:29-30). Who is the twelfth disciple considering Judas betrayed him?  Could it be the Apostle Paul?  Again, Jesus says that we will eat and drink.

Lastly, let us look at the words of Jesus in the book of Revelation. "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Rev. 21:8).  Sadly, those who reject Jesus will be eternally separated from Him and put in an eternal lake of fire.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Other Supporting Scripture

Jesus took three of his disciples upon a mountain and was transfigured. "As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem" (Luke 9:28-31).  From the above description it appears that Moses and Elijah were also clothed in a white glistening robe.  They were also knowledgeable about what was about to take place on earth.  

The Apostle Paul quotes an Old Testament verse regarding what God has prepared for us. "But as it is written: 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor. 2:9). Heaven is going to be a far greater place than we ever imagined.

Paul reports on an out-of-body experience which most scholars believe that the person involved was Paul himself. "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter" (2 Cor. 12:2-4).  This probably explains why Paul had such a yearning for heaven.  It also explains why, at times, God allows some people to have a vision of heaven.  We must also remember that the Apostle John had a vision of future events that will take place in heaven.

Paul believed with all his heart and conveyed to the Corinthians that when the soul separates from the body it goes to be with God. "So we are always confident, 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 confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord" (2 Cor. 6-8).  Paul reiterates in this passage the fact that the soul does not die or sleep.

In Revelation chapter six, where the period of the great tribulation is explained, we are told about recent martyrs in heaven.  "When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, 'How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?'  Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed" (Rev. 6:9-11).

These martyrs as yet do not have resurrected bodies. This is during the great tribulation and they had missed the rapture.  We notice that they had some kind of spiritual body and that they put on white robes.  They also knew what was happening on earth, therefore, they prayed to God for these events.  Perhaps our love ones in heaven are praying for us as we are on earth today.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Intermediate Heaven

Before we proceed further with our study, I want to paint for you my vision of the present or intermediate heaven.  This view comes from many years of study of the Bible and other books written about visions of heaven.  I don't believe that my vision contradicts the Bible in any way.  We have to ask the question how much of the description of the New Jerusalem, as recorded in Revelation, is present in the world today. C. S. Lewis referred to the earth as a shadowland of what heaven is like.  That means that even the most beautiful scenes on earth pale in comparison to heaven.

Revelation twenty-one records that the New Jerusalem is the same size in width, depth and height -1500 miles in all three directions.  As many Biblical scholars have speculated, I believe that the shape of the city of heaven is in the shape of a pyramid or more like a huge mountain.  There is a huge wall around the city with gates of pearls and streets made of pure gold.  There is also a lot of vegetation. Perhaps more like a huge park with cities and villages scattered about.  At the top of the mountain is the throne of God.  Out from the throne flows the tree lined river of life. As it flows in many directions, it branches into many tributaries.
There are also hills, valleys, meadows and forests.  There are many beautiful walking trails which are great for slow, relaxing strolls, but  there can also be quick travel, probably initiated by thought, in moving from one location to another.  There are fountains, waterfalls, and lakes all around.  Everywhere you go in heaven there is pure fresh water that is as clear as crystal, smooth as silk and glistens.

Since some have had visions when standing outside the walls, there may also be an area outside the walls.  If so, we do not know how large this area is.

Our senses will be heightened to levels that we never dreamed  The air will smell fresh and clean rather than having an unpleasant odor.  The light that surrounds you is a loving light that gives you a feeling of love, joy and peace like you have never experience on earth.  The light is brilliantly intense and engulfs you.  Although many of the colors are the same as we see on earth, others are not.  There will be soft hues and tones and others will be vivid dazzling colors - all surpassing anything that we have on earth.  The grass and vegetation will always be faultlessly manicured - no need to mow the grass. There will be many beautiful flowers of many stunning colors.  One report states that the stigma of some flowers was pure gold.

The angels and saints will join together to form a heavenly choir producing reverential, glorious praises to God.   Many of the songs will be those that we have sung while on earth but there will also be new ones.  We will also discover, much to our surprise, that we will be able to play musical instruments - golden harps, trumpets and others.

Throughout heaven there are people of all ages yet they are all young looking, beautiful and vivacious in their dazzling white garments and perhaps golden sashes.  They have jobs that Jesus has assigned to them – not stressful jobs but ones that allow them to use their gifts.  While strolling around you will see happy children playing.  There are various kinds of gentle animals and birds, those that we have on earth and others.

There are books everywhere as God has probably recorded all of history in heaven.  We will be able to continue to study and learn.  Time may no longer be a factor and we can relive parts of history.  We may find that time in heaven is more like a stop watch which moves from scene to scene rather than continuous as time is on earth.  We may not be as concerned about what time it is or what day it is.  Also time could seem to move much faster in heaven.

There will be uniquely designed houses in heaven that will best fit our personality and taste.  They will be of varying colors, made of the most precious materials and also having huge verandas for relaxing in the outdoors.  They will serve as gathering places for fellowship with family and friends.  How about having lunch with our great great grandparents or great great grandchildren?

Perhaps our relationship with Jesus with be both formal and casual.  We will be aware that He is God and will praise and worship Him and the Father.  However, Jesus also had a casual relationship with his disciples while He was on earth.  Perhaps from time to time we will walk, talk and fellowship with him on a casual basis. Yes, there will be food in heaven.  At least some of the trees will bear fruit.  Revelation speaks of the trees bearing fruit and the leaves use for healing.  Perhaps there will be other foods there.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Angels and Demons

Most of us are not aware that there is spiritual activity all around us.  It seems that there is a thin veil that separates our physical realm and the spiritual realm.  When we have visions or out-of-body experiences that veil is temporarily removed and we are allowed to observe the spiritual realm on a very limited  basis.  What we are going to discuss may infringe upon our comfort level.  However, it appears to be real and the Bible speaks of it.  This will lead us into a deeper study of death-bed visions, out-of-body experiences, etc.  Many of us have trouble believing that demons and angels actually influence and even, perhaps, at times, invade our lives.

The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the Church at Ephesus. "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand"   (Eph. 6:10-13).

James says: "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).  The Apostle John writes: "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).

If we remain committed to the Lord, we should not fear the devil and his demons because we have both the Holy Spirit within and the angels of God without who are protecting us.  There is spiritual warfare going on all around us but we do not see it. "For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways" (Ps. 91:11).  "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation" (Heb. 1:14). "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels." (Heb. 13:2).  Jesus said: "Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 18:10).

The above scripture supports the belief that angels are very active.  It seems that children have guardian angels and perhaps they stay with us throughout our lives and someday will take us to heaven.  Angels do not have physical bodies but they can take on physical bodies as they minister to us.  How many angels have we met in our life and never knew it?  From various visions, they appear to be approximately six feet to eight feet tall, both male and female in appearance and are usually dressed in white.  However, sometimes they appear as humans and in some cases as animals. Some have wings but not all.  They are created beings that have a unique role in God's creation.  Humans never become angels as some people seem to believe.  We will live together in eternity performing the jobs assigned to us.  

Perhaps one of the best references to the spirit world that exist around us is given in Second Kings.  "Therefore he [the king of Syria] sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city. And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him [Elisha], 'Alas, my master! What shall we do?' So he answered, 'Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' And Elisha prayed, and said, 'LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.' Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha" (2 kings 6:14-17).

Billy Graham wrote these words in his book, Angels, God's Secret Agents.  "The great majority of Christians can recall some incident in which their lives, in times of critical danger, have been miraculously preserved -- and almost plane crash, a near car wreck, a fierce temptation.  Thought they may have seen no angels, their presence could explain why tragedy was averted.  We should always be grateful for the goodness of God, who uses these wonderful friends called angels to protect us.  Evidence from Scripture as well as personal experience confirms to us that individual guardian, guiding angels attend to at least some of our ways and hover protectively over our lives" (pp 77).

Billy Graham tells this story in his book. "The Reverend John G. Paton, pioneer missionary in the New Hebrides Islands, told a thrilling story involving the protective care of angels.  Hostile natives surrounded his mission's headquarters one night, intent on burning the Patons out and killing them.  John Paton and his wife prayed all during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them.  When daylight came they were amazed to see that unaccountably, the attackers had left. They thanked God for delivering them."

"A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Jesus Christ, and Mr. Paton remembering what had happened, asked the chief what had kept him and his men from burning down the house and killing them.  The chief replied in surprise. 'Who were all those men you had with you there?'  The missionary answered, 'There were no men there; just my wife and I.' The chief argued that they had seen many men standing guard -- hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords in their hands" (pp16-17).

Here is another story from Billy Graham's book.  "A celebrated Philadelphia neurologist had gone to bed after an exceptionally tiring day.  Suddenly he was awakened by someone knocking on his door.  Opening it he found a little girl, poorly dressed and deeply upset.  She told him her mother was very sick and asked him if he would please come with her.  It was a bitterly cold, snowy night, but though he was bone tired, the doctor dressed and followed the girl."

As the Reader's Digest reports the story, he found the mother desperately ill with pneumonia.  After arranging for medical care, he complimented the sick woman on the intelligence and persistence of her little daughter.  The woman looked at him strangely and then said, 'My daughter died a month ago.'  She added, 'Her shoes and coat are in the clothes closet there.'  Amazed and perplexed, the doctor went to the closet and opened the door. There hung the very coat worn by the little girl who had brought him to tend to her mother.  It was warm and dry and could not possibly have been out in the wintry night.  Could the doctor have been called in the hour of desperate need by an angel who appeared as this woman's young daughter?" (pp 16).

A Guidepost publication on Angels in Nov/Dec 1996 had a number of stories about being angels involved in human activities.  In one story, a family house was on fire and the parents were trying to get their children out.  Two of the children became trapped in the upper bedrooms.  Let’s begin the story as reported.  "Then, in that thick haze, two figures appeared on the stairs. They seemed unaffected in any way by the raging blaze.  Such calmness glowed about them that I stopped crying -- 'Thank you, Lord', I prayed, standing up.  'Thank you.'  A complete serenity overtook me.  Time slowed, stilled".

"All at once the figures were gone.  One small hand pushed through the smoke, Dale!  His daddy grabbed him, sweeping him into his arms.  Where is Wendi? Then her hand emerged.  I pulled her out and we fell back to the lawn, crying."

Later Wendi told what happen. "'Mom someone pulled me out.' we assumed she meant Dale. 'No, Mom', he said, 'I didn't even know she was there.'  We're convinced Wendi felt the hand of an angel" (pp 5-6).

Many years ago we had an experience similar to the above story. Our Children were home from Birmingham when they got a call that their neighbor's house had burned.  Later, they learned that a teenage boy awoke the family in the early hours of a very, very cold Christmas morning and assisted the family in getting out of the house.  They later tried to find the boy to thank him.  They did not know him nor were they ever able to find anyone who knew anyone with that description.  The question must be asked, who was this stranger who was in their subdivision, in zero freezing weather, at that hour of the night on Christmas morning?  They wondered if he was an angel who was sent to help them escape.  They, with his help, were barely able to escape but were unable to save their animals.

Here is another story from the Guidepost booklet.  A family living in California in a house trailer had a narrow escape from a rattlesnake.  A little six-year old boy encountered the snake while watering the garden.  He sprayed water on the snake to make it go away.  The snake coiled and struck at him.  However, it appeared to have missed.  Later while giving him a bath, the little boy asked his mother, "'Why don't angels wear shoes' he asked.  'What a question,' I said, passing the washcloth between his stubby toes. 'I've, always imagined angels with sandals on, but I suppose some are barefoot.' 'Well, my angel has bare foots.'  I almost dropped the soap, 'What angel?'  'When I squirted the snake to make him leave, he got mad and curled up.  Then he jumped at me, but you know why that mean old snake didn't get me?  My angel's bare foot was in the way!  I saw it'" (pp 25).

I read of another story very similar years ago about a small boy being bitten by a large timber rattlesnake in Florida.  Being a good distance away for the boy’s house, an angel picked him up and carried him to the front porch of his house and then rang the doorbell.  The family was then able to rush the boy to medical care.

One more story. Pat Robertson recently aired a story about a man who was crushed under a heavy truck which severed five arteries.  He left his body and floated above it.  He saw two angels dress in white ministering to him.  Then he returned to his body and was taken to the hospital.  Doctors said there should not have been any way for him to survive due to the blood lost.

There are hundreds of these stories.  What they tell us is that there are ministering spirits around us waiting to protect us.  Many people began to see them as they approach death.  A friend of mine was with his dying wife in a hospice center.  He asked the nurses why his wife kept lifting her arms up.  They told him that she was reaching for the angels.  There are many people who are dying who reach up toward heaven.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanatology, Visions and Witchcraft

Thanatology is defined by Merriam-Webster's as "the description or study of the phenomena of death and of psychological mechanisms for coping with them".  It is an area that we need to be very careful with as it can lead to sorcery and witchcraft.  The Bible teaches that we should never initiate any activity that tries to communicate with the dead.  We should also test any activity that includes communications from Satan or his demons.  The Bible says that "Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14).  One sure test is that Satan will never glorify Jesus.  Also, these activities must not contradict the Bible.

Today, we are seeing an increase in extra-sensory activities.  They take the form of outright witchcraft to border areas that are less defined such as telepathy, premonition, apparitions, out-of-body experiences, and visions.  A study of these phenomenas without a good Bible based knowledge has led many into cults and new age studies. However, we experience telepathy (mind to mind communication) every day between very close friends and spouses.  It is not unusual for someone to have a premonition which later comes true.  

Today we are hearing more stories about apparitions (appearing to someone in a vision).  Many claim to have seen the Virgin Mary.  Dr. Maurice Rawlings, M.D. reports in his book Beyond Death's Door that one in five patients who have been resuscitated have had an out-of-body experience.  Dr. Melvin Morse reports in his book Closer to the Light (pp 115) about the neurosurgeon, Dr. Wilder Penfield, studies of the brain.  Dr. Penfield discovered that if he touched the area of the brain known as "Sylvian Fission" that the patient began to have the sensation of leaving his/her body.  Reports of out-of-body experiences  go back thousands of years and they are not all connected to the Christian view of the afterlife.  The Egyptian Book of the Dead, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, The Aztec Song of the Dead and others all report out-of-body experiences (Morse, pp 90). We will look at reports of out-of- body experiences in more detail.  However, I believe we can learn more about heaven from death bed visions and they all seem to agree with Scripture.

Visions from God are rather common in the Old Testament.  We read that Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and others all had dreams from God. We read in Joel these word about the future:  “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions" (Joel 2:28).  Peter in the sermon at Pentecost speaking about the future quoted Joel. "But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, 'Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘and it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy" (Acts 2:14-18).

We will recall that God gave Peter a vision regarding clean and unclean animals.  "Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, 'Rise, Peter; kill and eat.'” (Acts. 10:10-13).  This vision was in the form of a trance.  Other visions take other forms such as dreams, etc.  

Over the years, a number of people have claimed that either, in a trance or dream, they have had visions of parts of heaven.  In the reports that I have read, Jesus is the center of attention with various details of heaven being revealed.  They usually take a different form of presentation than the typical out-of-body experience.  Then we have the death bed visions that have been reported for many years.  For many, there is a period of time when a person seems to be between two worlds, visions of heaven, and a return to this world.  We need to keep in mind that these people do die whereas out-of-body experiences do not.  There have been good and bad experiences portrayed in death bed visions.

First, we will examine what the Bible says about sorcery and then we will look at some premonitions, death bed visions, near death experiences, and some of the other reported visions of heaven.  By looking at Scripture and these visions, we may be able to understand more of what heaven and hell are really like.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorcery and Divination

The Bible condemns the practice of sorcery and the occult.  Sorcery is defined by Merriam-Webster as the use of power gained from the assistance or control of evil spirits especially for divining. Divination is defined as the practice of foretelling events by means of signs or omens.  Superstitious people have believed in divination from the earliest times. It is anything that humans initiate, on their own, to communicate with the spirit world.  It is satanic, never glorifies Christ and the Bible strictly forbidden it.  When we are living outside of the will of God, we easily open ourselves up for satanic activity.

We read in Leviticus these words:  "You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor shall you practice divination or soothsaying"...." Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God" (Lev. 26, 31). Paul also includes these vices in his warning to the Galatians: "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery,  fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal. 18-21).

Sorcery is or can be manifested in some the following activities. Many are eastern culture and new age practices.

1.  Psychic - Lying outside the sphere of physical science or knowledge  : immaterial, moral, or spiritual in origin or force.

2.  ESP (extrasensory perception) - (as in telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition).

3.  Clairvoyance - Ability to perceive matters beyond the range of ordinary perception.

4.  Precognition - Clairvoyance relating to an event or state not yet experienced.

5.  Astrology - The divination of the supposed influences of the stars and planets on human affairs.

6.  Horoscope - Use by astrologers in inferring individual character and personality traits and in foretelling events of a person's life.

7.  Divination - The art or practice that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge usually by the interpretation of omens or by the aid of supernatural powers.

8.  Ouija Boards – Used to seek spiritualistic or telepathic messages.

9.  Astro Travel – Projecting the mind outside of the body (now used in pain management).

10.  Psychokinetic - movement of physical objects by the mind without use of physical means.

11.  Spiritual mediums - Used to seek spiritualistic or telepathic messages.

12.  Channeling – The process of conveying  thoughts or energy from a source believed to be outside the person's body or conscious mind.

13.  Psychics - A person apparently sensitive to nonphysical forces.

14.  Crystal Work - The art or practice of concentrating on a glass or crystal globe with the aim of inducing a psychic state in which divination can be performed.

15.  Tarot cards - pictorial cards used for fortune-telling.

16.  VooDoo - A person who deals in spells and necromancy – sorcerer spell.

The following in some cases may also exhibit satanic activity.  However, in some cases they may be of God, therefore, they should be tested.  Out-of-bodies experiences are natural, however, demon activity can influence the vision during the out-of-body experience.  Maurice Rawlings, M.D. says in his book Beyond Death's Door that one in five of the people interviewed after resuscitation report an out-of-body experience.

1.  UFO’s - The origin is unexplained.

2.  Yoga - Can be tied to Eastern religions or New Age teaching.

3.  Out of body experiences.

4.  Telepathy - Communication from one mind to another by extrasensory means.

5.  Premonition - Anticipation of an event without conscious reason.

6.  Apparitions - Visions of various kinds.

Last edited by wayne on Wed Mar 09, 2011 12:27 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Premonitions and Apparitions

The following are some examples of premonitions and apparitions.  They appear to be from God.

The following report on Abraham Lincoln has appeared in many sources.

"In this account, Lincoln began by commenting on the abundance of dreams in the Bible and asserting, 'If we believe the Bible, we must accept the fact that in the old days God and His angels came to men in their sleep and made themselves known in dreams.' In answer to a question put to him by his wife, Lincoln admitted that he did not believe in dreams, but he went on nevertheless to allude to a recent dream that "has haunted me ever since."

"Prodded by Mrs. Lincoln to continue, the president related that 'about ten days ago' he had gone to bed late after he had stayed up 'waiting for important dispatches from the front.'  As he began to dream, he experienced  'a death-like stillness about me.' 'Hearing the sounds of subdued sobs,' Lincoln walked downstairs in search of the 'mournful sounds of distress,' but encountered no living person until he entered the East Room, where he found 'a sickening surprise': a covered corpse resting on a catafalque, surrounded by soldiers, with mourners gazing at the body and weeping. 'Who is dead in the White House?' I demanded of one of the soldiers, 'Lincoln related in [Ward Hill] Lamon's account, continuing, 'The President,' was his answer; 'he was killed by an assassin!' Lincoln then stated that he awoke soon after in response to a 'loud burst of grief from the crowd,' and did not sleep again that night due to the dream, and 'have been strangely annoyed by it since.'"

Did President Lincoln have a Deathbed Vision about his own assassination? Was this a warning or just a fluke?

Source: Teaching

Dr. Melvin Morse reports in his book "Closer to the Light", pp 82-83, a vision he had when his father passed away.

"Months before by father died, he sat down in my living room and told me that the he was going to die soon."

"The night he died, 'I was exhausted from work and had turned off my telephone.  As I dozed off, I saw my father, 'Melvin, call your answering service,' he said. 'I have something to tell you.'  I called and was told to contact my mother immediately.  She told me that he had died."

A personal experience.  My own mother had a vision or dream of my father appearing to her soon after his death. He wanted to know if she was ok and said that he was in orientation.  "Orientation" would not be a word that my father would normally use.

I had a friend who was shot with an automatic weapon in Vietnam.  Thankfully,  the ammunition was wet and he was not harmed.  About the same time he was shot, his mother was awaken with a deep impression that her son was in danger and that she should pray for him.  
There have been a number of reports of a vision of the Virgin Mary.  There are also several reports of Jesus appearing to Muslins.  After the experience, most Muslins convert to Christianity.

However, Satan can also duplicate these visions.[

Last edited by wayne on Fri Mar 11, 2011 9:06 am; edited 2 times in total
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