Heaven and Hell

Part 11 - Last Things
Chapter 50 - Heaven and Hell

This chapter will be on each individual's end, and next chapter will look at Christ's return.
After death "we go on living!"

The Intermediate State
In the intermediate state, from our death until Christ's return, believers go immediately to be with Christ (Phil. 1:23; 2 Cor. 5:8; Luke 23:43).  He has gone up to heaven.  We read of believers taken up to heaven (Enoch and Elijah) and Moses and Elijah appear with Him at the transfiguration.

Roman teaching of purgatory is that we need to be purged of our sins before we are fit for heaven.  This contradicts the Biblical fact taht Jesus paid completely for our sins.

Soul sleep is also misguided.  While the Bible uses sleep as a metaphor for death, it also distinguishes them clearly (John 11:11-14).  Some Psalms seem to say we are unconscious at death (Ps 115:17; 6:5; 88:10-12), but these refer to the body more than the soul.  And God hadn't revealed truth fully to the Psalmist on this point.

In the intermediate state we are with the Lord, but also waiting His consummation.  Rev.6:10-11 shows the saints "not perfectly happy and satisfied" (1077).  Scripture doesn't rule out us having some kind of embodied existence while we await our resurrection, but we don't know.  The disembodied life is incomplete for us.  The wicked are in torment, awaiting judgment.  There is no second chance after we die to change our eternal destination.

The Eternal State
When Christ returns, the saints already dead will come with Him, their bodies rising to meet them, and saints living will rise to meet Him in the air (1 Thess. 4:16-17).  All will be judged.  Creation will be remade.  Our resurrection bodies will have enhanced ability or powers.  There will be no sexual activity, but greater intimacy with God and others.  We will worship Him and explore the new creation.  We will remain in time, as creatures of space and time (Rev. 10:6 speaks of no delay, not no more time).  We will be with God in a fullness now unknown.

Sin will be utterly absent from us.  We will receive our inheritance, to reign and have dominion (1 Cor 6:3; Matt 19:28).  There appear to be degrees of reward (Luke 19:11-27) but this won't bother anyone since sin is totally absent.

The Bible clearly teaches eternal punishment for the wicked (Rev 14:11; 19:3; 20:10; Mark 9:43, 48; Luke 16:22-24, 28).  Annihilationism asserts that the soul will be destroyed and cease to exist after a time, but scripture implies the conscious torment continues forever.  There will also be degrees of punishment, based on degrees of knowledge (Matt 11:22; Luke 12:47-48).  Scripture sometimes refers to hell in an evangelistic way (Luke 13:3-5), while we are averse to doing this today (scare them away from hell).  Eternal punishment doesn't seem fair to our sensibilities, but we should remember the magnitude of our sin against the greatness of God, and that He is fair and just in all His ways.

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