Parson to Person
noticed that a lot of folk want to go to heaven when they die, but
they don’t want to go to church while they live. Could it be that
they really don’t want to go to heaven, but just want to escape
What really happens to a saved, never-dying spirit
the moment death comes? The scriptures are very clear: to be absent
from the body is to be present with the Lord. How long does it take
to go to heaven? Just the twinkling of an eye. There is no process;
there is no purgatory.
But just here is where things seem to get
a little confused in the minds of a lot of nominal Christians. It is
thought that St. Peter will greet one at the golden gate; that the
departed will be in a bodily form; that all manner of activity occurs
in heaven and a tear drop will never be shed. Is this really the way
it is? Think with me!
While confessing freely that I have never
been to heaven, there are still some things that may be known,
according to Bible revelations. It must be emphasized that since
flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, (I Cor. 15:50)
only departed spirits may go to heaven upon physical death. The
breaking of the fifth seal in Revelation gives one extremely rare
insight into the state of saved departed spirits. They are seen as
being under the altar of God, not running around all over the place.
It is furthermore stated that the meaning of death is a rest from all
labor. Moreover, it is revealed that the departed spirits of
righteous persons cry for the Lord to avenge their blood on those who
dwell on the earth. This is a subliminal cry of sorts for these
departed spirits to be clothed with resurrected bodies. Oh, it is a
blessed state to be sure, but not in keeping with common visions of
that state and place.
When the Lord Jesus returns to earth, when
the resurrection and rapture has occurred, all of God’s people will
have new, incorruptible bodies. They will live again on this earth
for one thousand years with Jesus ruling from the throne of His
When the 1,000 year rule of Jesus is completed,
the kingdom will be yielded up to the Father that God may be all in
all. I Corinthians 15:28. At that time, the universe will melt with a
fervent heat and pass away with a loud noise. 2 Peter 3:10-12. Then
God will recreate new heavens and a new earth. 2 Peter 3:13. There
will be a great and unimaginably marvelous city on the new earth: New
Jerusalem. God’s saints will inhabit this new city whose street is
of gold, and whose gates are of a single pearl, and whose foundations
are precious stones. Revelation 21. How long will it last? Forever
and ever. Now this is more like the vision of heaven that most
Christians have. What a blessed eternity that will be! I would not
miss it for anything, even my life, but, sadly, there are multitudes
who will because they have rejected the Lord Jesus Christ. There are
two things All men should know 1) that all God requires of man was
fulfilled in Christ Jesus, and He may be had by faith! 2) that no man
may come to God except through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ!
was the first person to be murdered. A debate precipitated his
murder, and a proper act of worship precipitated the debate.
Important details surrounding this incident are not spelled out in so
many words, but they are present in the construction of the ancient
“In the process of time” is a phrase that may
envelope years or decades, but it probably indicates these men were
heads of households, since in early history patriarchial priesthood
was the consistent practice. Cain and Abel brought an offering unto
the Lord. Abel brought of the firstlings of the flock, but Cain
brought of the fruit of the field. God had respect unto Abel and unto
his offering, but He did not have respect unto Cain and his offering.
Cain was terribly angry, and as he and Abel walked in the field they
talked. “Talked” in the Hebrew is in the intensive stem of the
verb meaning they talked intensively and heatedly. It could be called
a debate. Of course, Cain was wrong. When one is wrong there are only
two options: repent and get right or become angry. Cain chose the
latter, and in his anger he sought to silence the voice of truth by
killing his brother.
But what did Abel do that was so right? He
was a sinner as are all men, and as his brother Cain was. However
Hebrews 11:4 tells us “By faith Abel offered a more excellent
sacrifice than Cain. . .” There is the answer. It is still the
answer that makes a difference in men today. Now faith is the belief
in a promise. This tells us that both Cain and Abel had correct
instructions about how to worship and sacrifice unto the Lord. Abel
believed and carried out those instructions. Cain did not, but chose
to substitute his own way of worship rather than follow the
instructions of God.
It must be noted that after six long
millenniums and voluminous instructions and experiences, men still
choose the way of Cain which is labeled in the Bible as “Iniquity.”
Its judgment is certain, as illustrated by Cain.
infinitely more important to follow God in all things rather than
substitute the faulty reasoning of sinful men. Abel got a quick
ticket home in the ordeal, but by it he also continues to speak to
the condemnation of iniquity in men. On the other hand, it is Cain
who really lost his life, and the things that count for all
Truly, God gives us all the opportunity to believe Him
and to follow Him. This is the thing sinful men must do if they are
ever to be right in the sight of God. Abel did, and he was so right!
few years ago, my family toured the state of California from the
Oregon border to San Diego. Of course, this included a couple of days
in San Francisco. While there, a boat tour was enjoyed in the bay and
around the federal prison on Alcatraz Island. As the tour boat
circled the island of rock, one could see why this now-closed
maximum-security federal prison was once known as “The Rock.”
was row after row of cage-like cells that housed well-known inmates
such as Al Capone and Robert Stroud, the “Birdman of Alcatraz.”
One visitor there was left with some unforgettable images.
decades, men imprisoned there as just punishment for their crimes,
longed to be free. Evidence still told the story. He saw the name
“Jesus” scrawled on a wall. In another, a Bible lay on a shelf.
Together they quietly spoke of the greatest of all freedoms, even for
a physical prisoner.
Paul knew such while imprisoned in Rome.
Regarding himself as a “prisoner of Christ,” he used his
incarceration to help other inmates discover what it means to be an
eternally forgiven, dearly loved child of God. Paul wrote to
Philemon,“ I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten
in my bonds (Philem. 1:10).
Barred windows and doors represent
one kind of confinement. Physical paralysis, inescapable poverty, and
prolonged unemployment are others. Perhaps you endure another. None
are to be desired—yet who would trade “imprisonment” with
Christ for life “on the outside” without Him? For Jesus is truth,
and the truth shall make you free, indeed.