Can I Build a Railway in Heaven?

Kunshan_South_Railway_Station_Platform_1Question:  Can I build a railway station in heaven?

Answer:  You know that heaven will come to earth in the end (Revelation 20,21).  Will there be a need for railways?  Will you be able, if so, to build one that doesn’t pollute?  Will we need a railway to our solar system or to other solar systems?  Will you cease to be creative…NO.  That is how God made us and we reflect Him in our creativity.  Will we want/need to work…YES, because God is a worker.  It’s in our nature.  Will our resurrection bodies be able to travel instantly where ever we want without use of a railway?  Perhaps.  Jesus was able to do that in his resurrection body (Luke 24).

For Further Reading:

Will There Be Winter in the Eternal Kingdom?

In Heaven Will We Recognize and Be With Those We Love?

Are My Husband and Father in Heaven Yet?

If Christians are forgiven, why are we going to be judged?

Question:  It says in the Bible that those who are in Christ are free from condemnation. If this is so, why then willLast Judgement, Triptych we face judgment? And child molesters, rapists, and murderers, are they also free from condemnation when they accept Christ and repent? What sort of judgment might they receive? We will be judged according to our deeds? What does that mean? Christians say we should be free from guilt and shame and accept the free gift of grace and salvation. Then they say we will be judged. This is confusing to me. Should I fear for my salvation or just believe all is well? And honestly, where’s the justice? For those who lived a life of abuse and neglect, hurt, and shame caused by another, God says He will make things right for us. But if the perpetrator is forgiven completely, where’s justice for the victim?

Answer:  There are several judgments mentioned in the Bible.  The final judgment is mentioned in Revelation 20:11-15 and is often referred to as The Great White Throne Judgment because if depicts Jesus sitting on a white throne as he carries out this judgment.  But only unbelievers are present at this judgment, only those whose names are not found written in the Lamb’s book of life.  They are thus judged for not having believed in Christ and they are also judged on their works.  This suggests that there are degrees of punishment in hell (see my article on this).  Dante, in his book Inferno, sought to describe what these different degrees of punishment looked like but there are no specific descriptions given in Scripture.

Believers, on the other hand, will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10):

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Though it may sound as if this determines whether we are saved or not, Paul makes it clear in all his writings, and especially in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, that this judgment is really about determining our reward in heaven.  Just as there are degrees of punishment in hell, there are degrees of reward in heaven.  There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1).  When we believe we “pass from death to life” (John 5:24).

But your question suggests that for those who have been abused the presence of their perpetrator or any perpetrator in heaven because they repented and were forgiven may compromise your sense of reward.  This assumes that the sin of the perpetrator is different in kind than your sin and less worthy of forgiveness.  And truly, the sin of the perpetrator is egregious and heinous, having devastated and tortured the life of the victim in extraordinary ways.  But we are also rebels against God’s kingdom and rule.  We too have rejected the love and grace of God until He visited us in grace and forgave us.  We are equally undeserving of heaven.

Besides, when we are fully enveloped in the love of heaven, we will be able to love the perpetrator the way God loves the perpetrator and the way He loves us.  We will be able to say as Christ did, “Father, forgive them.”  The perpetrator will be able to acknowledge how deeply and gravely he injured those he abused and seek reconciliation.  We have seen a bit of this miraculous transformation in the aftermath of the end of apartheid in South Africa and in the forgiveness offered after the slaughter of Tutsis and Hutus.

There is a need in human beings, generated by the uncompromising love and justice of God, to see justice done and to see hatred quashed.  God has figured out a way to do both.  If there is not justice for the least infraction, there is no justice.  If there is not forgiveness for the worst infraction, there is no forgiveness.

 

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In Heaven Will We Recognize and Be With Those We Love?

Question:  My big sister just passed away a month ago. I know she is with Jesus, but I wanted to know if I will see her again in heaven.  Everyone says I will , but I don’t believe.  Is there any Bible verse that I can use to support this.

Answer: Consider Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 where he is comparing spiritual gifts and love as to their completeness and lasting nature.  He says that when the perfect (or mature) comes then the partial will be done away with.  Then, he says, we will know fully even as we are fully known.  This marks a change in our level of knowledge that is so incomplete at present, and others’ knowledge of us is incomplete as well.  But then it will be complete.  We will not lose our individuality and identity, but will be even more completely identifiable.

We see this when, for example, Saul consults a medium to talk to Samuel (1 Samuel 28) and the medium recognizes him.  When Moses and Elijah appear to Jesus and his three disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17) they are recognized.  When John has a vision of heaven (Revelation 4,5) he recognizes identifiable groups of people, the “elders,” for example.  We will never lose our identity and so we will be recognized and known in heaven.  Heaven is to be that place where all the perfection we have longed for will come true.  Our relationships will be at the level we always dreamed relationships could be.  Our selfishness will be eradicated.  We will love unconditionally.  Your relationship with your sister will be even more wonderful than it was in this life.

For further reading:

Is Failure to Love the Greatest Heresy?

Question:  I read a blog by Greg Boyd recently that took to task guys like John Piper who tweeted, when Rob Bell’s book on hell came out, “Farewell, Rob Bell.”  He said that the greatest heresy in Christianity was failing to love as Christ loved, even and especially more so than having wrong doctrine.

Answer:  I would agree that Boyd makes a good point but would suggest that his point is not explicit enough.  What does he do with Jesus’ denunciation of the Pharisees (Matthew 23) or Paul’s wish that those who taught that circumcision as necessary for salvation would emasculate themselves (Galatians 5:12) and that if they preach a gospel other than what Paul preached they are eternally condemned (Galatians 1:9)?  Sometimes love means loving those who would be endangered by a false gospel enough to warn them of the voracious and hateful attacks of the enemy.   This means exposing the false teachers’ falsity and making clear what is at stake if you embrace their false gospel.

However, Boyd is right that we are too quick to use the term “heretic” when it applies to someone who really doesn’t compromise the gospel.  We ought to engage those who teach things like Bell has on hell to make sure they are not compromising the gospel.  He claims that he still believes that he must preach Jesus as the only way.  He is, in my opinion, dangerously near the edge, but not over it yet.  Here is where Boyd is right on about how we fail to engage one another lovingly and as brothers and sisters before we shoot off about how heretical they are.  To be fair, Rob Bell has been on the doctrinal edge for many years now in the opinion of many.  Great caution is warranted when embracing his views.  But until he repudiates the core of the gospel, he is our brother and needs our love.

Randall Johnson

Are My Husband and Father in Heaven Yet?

Question: I have been challenged on my saying that my husband and my father are in heaven.  I am being told that they will not go to heaven until Jesus comes back to earth.  But in reading some of the posts I see that it is mentioned that the spirits are in heaven and will be rejoined with the body when Jesus comes back.   Is there a biblical basis for my belief.  I know part of my belief comes from my desire and from songs and from things heard at church in my youth.

Answer:  1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 is one of the key passages in this matter.  Here Paul tells us that,

We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

If God is going to bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep (that is, those who have died), where is He bringing them from and what is He bringing?  Jesus is coming back to us from heaven.  Our bodies are not in heaven.  Our bodies are in the grave.  Jesus will therefore come back from heaven with that part of us that is in heaven, our spirits, and resurrect our bodies to be rejoined to our spirits.

Further evidence of this is found in 2 Corinthians 5:6,7, where Paul writes,

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

And again in Philippians 1:21-24,

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

For Paul, death meant the departure of his spirit from his body and the entering of his spirit into the presence of Christ in heaven.  This is in agreement with the teaching of Jesus in Luke 16.  In verse 22 Jesus depicts the death of the beggar Lazarus and describes the angels taking him to Abraham’s side.  Did they take his body or his spirit?  His body was in the grave.  So it had to be his spirit that they took.  When we did our spirits are escorted to heaven if we are followers of Jesus.  One day, our resurrected bodies will be rejoined to our perfected spirits and we will forever be the spirit/body persons we were meant to be.