Heaven Q & A

The following 2 questions will be answered with one explanation:

  1.  If our sin’s been forgiven, our name is in the Book of Life, & we’re in a joyous place, what will the judgement at the bema seat be like and why is it necessary?
  2. What does the Bible say about rewards. Is it okay that I feel just getting there is good enough. I don’t feel my actions today are based on what rewards I might

In the Greek, the same word is used for “judgment seat” in Romans 14:10 and      2 Corinthians 5:10.  The word is bema. A bema was a raised platform on which judges sat to view athletic games. Their job was to make sure contestants followed the rules and to present awards to the victors.

The judgment (bema) seat of Christ involves a time in the future when believers will give an account of themselves to Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says: “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”  This passage is addressing Christians, not unbelievers.

Unbelievers will be judged separately, at the Great White Throne judgement. . . which is the final judgement of the wicked. 

The judgment seat of Christ does not determine our salvation; that matter was settled by Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf (1 John 2:2) and our faith in Him (John 3:16). All our sins are forgiven, and there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).

So, those who have been saved are secure in Christ.  The judgment seat of Christ will be a time of examination and a time of reward. Jesus will inspect our works. What did we do with the resources God gave us? How faithful were we? Were we yielded to the Spirit, seeking to honor Christ and further His work in the world? If so, we will have reward (see Matthew 10:41–42). Did we neglect our opportunities to serve the Lord? If so, we will suffer loss of reward. Paul likens our Christian service to erecting a building:

Each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames (1 Corinthians 3:10–15).

Note, in the above passage, that our works “in Christ” are of two different types—good and bad. The “fire” of God’s examination will reveal the quality of our works.  Rewards will then be given to those whose works withstand the test. Those whose works do not survive will “suffer loss.” Their works will be burned up, but they themselves “will be saved.” Again, the judgment seat of Christ does not confer or rescind salvation.

At the very end of the Bible, Jesus said, “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done” (Revelation 22:12).  May we all be building with gold, silver and costly stones!

The following 5 questions will all be answered with one explanation:

  1.  When Lazarus died did he go to heaven? If not where did he go? Because John 3:13 says No one has ever gone into Heaven except the one who came from heaven.
  2. Can you explain Matthew 12:40. If Jesus was in heaven how was he 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth?
  3. If Jesus went to heaven immediately why did he say Mary do not hold on to me for I have not yet ascended to the father. John 20:17
  4. Do people who “didn’t know” Christ live in hell now or do they go there at the second death?
  5. On the day of Jesus’s return, a believer’s body is automatically living on the new heaven on Earth? Does a non-believer’s body automatically go to hell then?

Prior to Jesus’ atonement for all sin – through his death and resurrection, the way to the Father was closed.  Therefore, Old Testament saints could not go to Heaven at death. But God did provide a place of peace and rest until the “Door” to Heaven was opened.  It is described in Luke 16 when Jesus told of two distinctly different places where men’s souls went at death:

  1. the place of comfort called Abraham’s Bosom for those who died in faith in God

2.  the place of torment that we call Hell for those who died without faith in God.

Abraham’s Bosom was located in the depths of the earth.  Jesus referred to it as the “heart of the earth” in Matthew 12:40, and it was the abode of the righteous dead before Jesus’ resurrection and ascension.  Jesus also referred to this place as “paradise” when He promised the thief on the cross that he would be with Him that same day in paradise. (Luke 23:43)

Abraham’s Bosom was a place of peace, rest, comfort. . . . and waiting. The sins of Old Testament saints were covered by the priestly system of atonement using the blood of animals.  This practice was given to them by God in His law.  However, since this was insufficient to atone for their sins, those who died in faith went to Abraham’s Bosom and waited until their sins would be paid for completely.  They waited for the promised Seed who would crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15) .

When Jesus offered Himself in payment for the penalty of man’s sins, His shed blood made the complete and final atonement for sins.  And, when Jesus ascended into Heaven, 40 days after His resurrection from the grave, He led the Old Testament saints from Abraham’s Bosom to their new dwelling place with Him in “Heaven” (Ephesians 4:8).

Abraham’s bosom would have been where Lazarus’ soul resided for the 4 days his body was in the tomb.

It’s also where Jesus’ soul went for the 3 days his body was in the grave.  He did not go to heaven for those 3 days, which explains why he told Mary that he had not yet ascended to the Father.

Since the time of Jesus’ ascension, Abraham’s Bosom remains empty.  At death, the souls of Christians now go directly to Heaven through the Door (Jesus) (John 14:6).  However, the place of torment remains open.   We call this place “hell,”

The place of torment is similar to Abraham’s Bosom in one aspect.  It is a temporary abode, just as Abraham’s Bosom was temporary. However, the final destinations differ. The righteous were received into God’s Heaven when fully redeemed.  But in the place of torment, the unrighteous await a final judgment yet to come, which is the Great White Throne Judgment described in Revelation 20:11-15

At that time, all the souls in hell will be bodily raised, judged, and sent to their eternal destination, the Lake of Fire (Revelations 20:15).  

When we are perfected and in the new heaven will we know or remember the ones that weren’t predestined or chosen? Particularly family members? 

There is nothing in scripture to indicate that we won’t remember our lives on this earth, and that would definitely include friends and loved ones who are not in heaven.  In Revelation 6:9-11, the martyrs in Heaven are asking God how long they will need to wait for God to judge those who had killed them on the earth.  They remember – even bad things that happened.

The question then becomes. . . how will I enjoy heaven knowing that some of my loved ones aren’t there?  And I believe the answer is that in heaven we will see God clearly.  And we will understand the wickedness of the human heart in ways we could not in this present life.  We’ll understand fully what 2 Peter 3:9 means when it says:  The lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

We will understand how patient God is, and we will understand that he waited patiently for those who chose to reject him. . . . knocking on the doors of their hearts.  And we will understand that in reality, no one is worthy of His salvation.  We will be thrilled to be recipients of His grace and be in complete agreement with His decisions.

Randy Alcorn, in his book heaven, says this:  “Although it will inevitably sound harsh, I offer this further thought:  in a sense, none of our loved ones will be in hell – only some whom we once loved.  Our love for our companions in Heaven will be directly linked to God, the central object of our love.  We will see him in them.  We will not love those in hell because when we see Jesus as He is, we will love only, and will only want to love – whoever and whatever pleases and glorifies and reflects Him.  What we loved in those who died without Christ was God’s beauty we once saw in them.  When God forever withdraws from them, I think they’ll no longer bear His image and no longer reflect His beauty.  Although they will be the same people, without God they’ll be stripped of all the qualities we loved.  Therefore, paradoxically, in a sense they will not be the people we loved.”

Can you explain 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17?

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep [k]in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive [l]and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a [m]shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive [n]and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

In verse 13, Paul makes clear that he is writing to the Thessalonians about believers who have fallen asleep. . . in other words. . . believers who had died.  And he makes clear that he doesn’t want the Thessalonians to grieve their fellow believers as do those who have no hope.  And the reason they don’t need to grieve as those who have no hope is found in verse 14. . . because those who have died IN Jesus are now WITH Jesus.  And this is consistent with what the rest of scripture teaches as well:              

II Corinthians 5 indicates that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  And Philippians chapter 1 says that when we leave this life, we are with Christ.  So. . . we need not grieve as those who have no hope because the authoritative word of God reveals to us that the believer who dies has a reception with Jesus in heaven.

The second important revelation from this passage is that the authoritative Word of God promises that a believer who has died will one day have a Resurrection of their body.

Do you see the promise in verses 15 & 16?  The bodies of Christians who are “sleeping” in graves will one day be resurrected.   They will rise. . . when Christ comes back. . . and the souls of believers who are now with Christ will be re-united with their resurrected bodies.  But it gets even better, because those bodies will not be like the bodies we have now.  The resurrected body will be a glorified body. . . as described in Revelation 21.  They will be bodies that are free from pain.    Free from sorrow and tears.    Free from Sin.    And Free from Death!

So, we need not grieve as those who have no hope because as Christians we are promised: 

A – a reception with Jesus in Heaven

And B – a future resurrection of our glorified bodies.

But there’s still more. . . a third important revelation in this passage!

Look at verse 17

17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Do you see it?  The Authoritative word of God promises Christians a reunion in the clouds with our Christian loved ones. . . and then. . . all of us together with Jesus.  We will be reunited with our Christian loved ones in the presence of God!  So our separation is not permanent!

And in light of all of those promises . . . it’s no surprise at all that Paul closes this passage by saying:  Therefore, comfort one another with these words.

I have lost a couple family members to suicide. If they were a believer will I see them in heaven?

God’s word teaches that, from the moment we truly believe in Christ, we are guaranteed eternal life (John 3:16). According to the Bible, Christians can know beyond any doubt that they possess eternal life (1 John 5:13). Nothing can separate a Christian from God’s love (Romans 8:38–39). No “created thing” can separate a Christian from God’s love, and even a Christian who commits suicide is a “created thing”; therefore, not even suicide can separate a Christian from God’s love. Jesus died for all of our sins, and if a true Christian, in a time of spiritual attack and weakness, commits suicide, his sin is still covered by the blood of Christ.

According to the Bible, suicide is not what determines whether a person gains entrance into heaven. If an unsaved person commits suicide, he has done nothing but “expedite” his journey to hell. However, that person who committed suicide will ultimately be in hell for rejecting salvation through Christ, not because he committed suicide (John 3:18).   It should be noted, however, that no one truly knows what was happening in a person’s heart the moment he or she died. Some people have “deathbed conversions” and accept Christ in the moments before death. It is possible that a person who commits suicide could have a last-second change of heart and cry out for God’s mercy. We must leave such judgments to God, and believe that His judgement will always be good and just and perfect.

Rev 21:15-17 describes Jerusalem coming down out of heaven. Why would a wall and gates be necessary in Heaven?

The last three verses of chapter 21 gives us the answer:

 “On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:25-27).

The fact that the walls and gates exist is highly symbolic and meant to draw a contrast with the way things were on the previous earth.  The city’s gates in the wall will never be shut.  Ancient cities shut their gates, at night, for security purposes. However, since there will be no night in heaven, and since all evil will have been eradicated, these gates will stay open constantly.

Revelation seems to picture a great amount of activity coming and going from the city, but all who go in and out are those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. The unredeemed are a long way outside the city’s walls—in the “outer darkness” of hell (Matthew 8:12), consigned to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14-15)—and can never come near the Holy City.

How old do you think we will be in heaven – young and healthy? Do you think we will all be the age Jesus was when he was crucified?

This is a much-debated topic!  Some scholars believe we will appear about 30 years old – because in an ideal world, this is when humans hit their physical peak.

Some think we will all be the age of Jesus at his resurrection.

C.S. Lewis believed we would appear “ageless”.

Unfortunately, the Bible does not answer this question for us, so we are left to speculate.  Heaven will be full of surprises, and this will be one of them!

If a child dies at 15 and is not a believer or baptized, will God condemn a child who has made bad choices and knows right from wrong?

God’s word teaches that, from the moment we truly believe in Christ, we are guaranteed eternal life (John 3:16). According to the Bible, Christians can know beyond any doubt that they possess eternal life (1 John 5:13). Nothing can separate a Christian from God’s love (Romans 8:38–39). No “created thing” can separate a Christian from God’s love, and since “bad choices” are made by created things (people), bad choices cannot separate a Christian from God’s love. Jesus died for all of our sins, and if a true Christian makes bad choices, his sin is still covered by the blood of Christ.

Baptism also does not confer salvation. . . otherwise, the thief on the cross next to Jesus could not have gone to Paradise as Jesus said he would (Luke 23:43).  Baptism is an act of obedience that publicly declares our identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  There will be many people in heaven who were never baptized.

The eternal destiny of a young person who knows right from wrong is determined by one thing only:  Did they know Jesus as their savior?

It should also be noted that no one truly knows what was happening in a person’s heart the moment he or she died. Some people have “deathbed conversions” and accept Christ in the moments before death.  We must leave such judgments to God and believe that His judgement will always be good and just and perfect.

Where is God preparing a place for us if the now earth is the final Heaven?

Acts chapter 1, verses 6-11 describe the Ascension of Jesus into heaven.   The passage says that a cloud lifted him UP into the sky.  Then two angels appear and tell the disciples Jesus will return to the earth in the same way he went into heaven (by coming DOWN, out of the sky)

In 2 Corinthians, chapter 12, the Apostle Paul speaks of a man who was caught up into the 3rd heaven.  In Biblical times, people described the “heavens” as having 3 levels.  The sky – where birds fly and clouds float.  Space – which contains the planets and the stars.  And then a spiritual realm that is beyond the physical universe. . . which is where God currently resides.

In Revelation chapter 21, verse 10, John describes having a vision of being carried away by an angel to a great, high mountain – where he watched as the holy city – new Jerusalem – descended out of heaven from God to the new earth.  The chapter goes on to describe the Holy City in glorious detail, and chapter 22 says that the throne of God and the Lamb (Jesus) shall be in the city, and there His bond-servants will serve him.

So. . . taking all of this into consideration – God is preparing the New Jerusalem for us in the 3rd heaven – and it will come to earth at the time God has appointed. 

Do you think the new earth will be similar to earth now in that there will be mountains, forests, lakes, etc.? Do you think it will be one perfect temperature?

In just the last 2 chapters of revelation, which are a vision of the new earth – the Apostle John describes an angel taking him to a great, high mountain.  He also speaks of seeing a river of the water of life, clear as crystal.  And then he describes the tree of life on either side of the river – bearing 12 kinds of fruit.

I think it is likely that if there is one high mountain on the new earth – there may be many.  If there is one river, that river is likely to split off into other rivers and streams that flow into lakes.  If there is one kind of tree, there are likely to be many other kinds as well.

I think it is likely that the beauty we see in nature on the current earth will only be even more beautiful on the New Earth. . . beautiful beyond our comprehension!

What about the weather?  For me. . . it would be ideal if the sun were to shine every day and the temp would be in the mid to high 80’s.  I greatly dislike the cold and snow.  However, I have friends who despise the hot summers and adore cold and snow.  Some of them even ski in the snow. . . which seems incomprehensibly miserable to me.  My wife loves autumn – with moderate temps and beautiful colors. . . . but I just see death and the approaching winter.

The point is – one perfect temperature would be impossible to define, because we all have such different preferences.  God created us all differently, with different likes and dislikes.  I do believe there will be climate on the new earth – likely with different seasons.  Instead of changing the climate, I believe we will be changed.  Being in the presence of God will make us enjoy everything He has designed!

Does it matter whether you are cremated or buried?

There is a long Christian tradition throughout the centuries of being buried after death with a ceremony (funeral) that proclaims the message of resurrection.   That ceremony, which may include talking about the faith of the deceased, reading scripture and/or proclaiming the gospel, has come to be known as “Christian burial.”

Christian burial is not a term that is found in the Bible.  The Bible gives no explicit instructions on how the body of a deceased person should be handled.  However, in the cultures of Bible times, burial in a tomb, cave, or in the ground was the common way to dispose of a human body (Genesis 23:19; 35:8, 19; 2 Chronicles 16:14; Matthew 27:60–66).  For those who could afford it, the most common mode of burial in the Bible was to place the dead in above-ground tombs.  For those who could not afford it, bodies were buried in the ground.  This is why Jesus, who had no earthly wealth at all, was buried in a borrowed tomb (Matthew 27:57–60).

In our modern world, most people still choose to be buried in the ground, however, cremation is quickly growing in popularity.  This leaves many Christians grappling with the question of Christian burial or cremation. Is one “right” and the other “wrong”?  Or, is cremation a sin?

Neither is commanded in the Bible, but neither is prohibited.  For some, the fact that Jews and early Christians exclusively practiced burial is enough to persuade them to choose burial today.  In addition, others reject cremation because the only times the Bible mentions the dead being burned are in the context of the wicked being punished for their offenses (Leviticus 20:14; Joshua 7:25).

Some believers object to the practice of cremation on the basis it does not recognize that one day God will resurrect our bodies and re-unite them with our soul/spirit (1 Corinthians 15:35-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). However, the fact that a body has been cremated does not make it any more difficult for God to resurrect that body. The bodies of Christians who died a thousand years ago have, by now, completely turned into dust. This will in no way prevent God from being able to resurrect their bodies. He created them in the first place; therefore, He will have no difficulty re-creating them. Cremation simply speeds up the process of turning a body into dust. God is equally able to raise a person’s remains that have been cremated as He is the remains of a person who was not cremated.

Based on that logic, the question of burial or cremation seems to fall within the realm of Christian freedom. A person or a family considering this issue should pray for wisdom (James 1:5) and follow the conviction that results.

In closing, the method used to dispose of a body is not nearly as important as the truth behind the concept of Christian burial: that the body is no longer housing the person who has died. Paul describes our bodies as “tents,” that is, temporary abodes. “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1). When Jesus returns, Christians will be raised to life, and our bodies will be transformed to glorified, eternal bodies. “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power” (1 Corinthians 15:42–43).

Will you love me for eternity?

I don’t know who submitted this question, or who it was addressed to.  However, I can say that if you’re a believer and we are together for eternity in heaven. . . Yes.  I will love you for eternity.  😊