Heaven and hell: can we know who's there?

Quite often I hear people say that they are very sure a loved one is in heaven. I have heard countless people say their loved one is an angel in heaven. Even when the person has lived a questionable lifestyle or even a non-Christian lifestyle, its a major assumption that upon death, they are in heaven with God. So let me ask you what you believe or even think. Can we be specifically positive a person is in heaven (or a place of rest) after death? If so, does scripture provide an equal –and specific– knowledge that  that a person is in hell after death? And should we ever say they “went to hell” upon their deaths? Or is it just more polite and “Christian” to say someone is in heaven with God even if we know they are not?

Before you give your answer, consider what the scriptures say: (This section is subtitled “woes for the wicked”)

Woe to them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!

And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands.

Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.

Therefore hell has enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoices, shall descend into it.

And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled:

But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness. Isaiah 5:11-16 AKJV

Unless Im mistaken, there is no equivalent acknowledgement in scripture that heaven has enlarged itself.

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41 thoughts on “Heaven and hell: can we know who's there?

  1. “Can we be specifically positive a person is in heaven (or a place of rest) after death?”

    I believe ‘yes,’ if the person had trust and confidence in the eternal word of God and what he has spoken from his mouth through his holy spirit-inspired writers.

    One example in scripture (1 John 5:13) says, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may ‘know’ that ye have eternal life, and that ye may ‘believe’ on the name of the Son of God.” In the same chapter, verse 20 says, “And we ‘know’ that the Son of God is come, and hath ‘given us an understanding,’ that ‘we may know him that is true,’ and ‘we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ.’ This is the true God, and ‘eternal life.’

    “If so, does scripture provide an equal –and specific– knowledge that a person is in hell after death?”

    Yes, the scriptures do indicate this in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, found in Luke 16:19-31.

    Also, Jesus said in John 8:24, “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”

    So, if they didn’t repent and believe, according to Jesus, they died in their sins and are in torment.

    “And should we ever say they “went to hell” upon their deaths? Or is it just more polite and “Christian” to say someone is in heaven with God even if we know they are not?”

    I don’t know; I have never said that – that I can recall. It seems cold, but it may very well be the truth if they lived an ungodly life; but I do say something like, “Well, if they trusted Christ as their savior, we’ll see them again someday.”

    These are deep questions. I pray for a way to get them to see that “except they repent, they will likewise perish” (see Luke 13:1-5). I don’t want to give false hope about a departed, unsaved loved one, but I do want those who are yet alive and remain to see their own spiritual need.

    In a related thought (not sure how–smile)–while we may know one another in Heaven as was indicated on the Mount of Transfiguration (see Matthew 17:1-9), we may not remember our unsaved loved ones; we certainly won’t remember the effects of the curse of sin (see Isaiah 65:17). Those are my thoughts. Thanks, GCMW!

  2. We can assume that those who give testimony of faith in Christ are “absent from the body and present with the LORD”. We can also assume that those who have lived a life that is caharacterized by sin and rejection of Christ are in a place called hell. Where apparently they are lost and they are conscious that they are lost (Luke16). I have done many funerals in my ministry and Ihave never had to answer the question of where people are at he funerasl. I have buried more sinners than saints. The purpose of the funeral is not to evangelize the family and mourners (as I see it). I visit the family; remind them of the grace of GOD in Christ and encourage tehm to place their faith in the LORD. That’s the time for the gospel. It is the greatest opportunity to present Christ. I hear folk say “He’s in heaven and looking down on us.” My responsibility is to present the messager of hope in Christ alone. The graveside service for abeliver should not be the same for an unbeliever….I emphasize the coming judgement for those who have died. Righteous to everlasting life and the unrighteous to juddgement and eternal condemnation.
    GNP22 is right about some becoming “christian” and afraid to declare what the word of LORD says about the lost. What about preachers who begin calling the deceased brother, sister and place them in heaven to comfort the family. The last family members funseral I went to had the preacher do just that. That woman left no obvious Christian testimony; though she did have respect for the”sanctified church” It would truly be unchristian to just say at the funeral service “Your loved one is in HELL! ” Perhaps we should not be so welcoming of people who have no affiliation with a local church to have their funerals in the church with all the trimmings (so to speak). Does it give an impression that they have the comfort of the church’s support that they will see their lobved ones in heaven?

    I don’t think we will remember our unsaved loved ones. God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes, neither shall be be any sadness or pain for the former things are passed away..The words of John, the apostle, beloved have given me comforts many, many times. My deceased pastor’s wife said to me many years ago. “Everbody wants to live like the devil and then have then die like saints.” Her point was that most people don’t want Jesus until AFTER they are dead. We have a responsibility to tell people the absolute truth. As it relates to where people will spend eternity we only have limited knowledge about saints and ain’ts. We can only assume. We can have confidence in what the Bible says about where the righteous go and where the wicked go. Of that we can be certain.

  3. “By their fruit ye shall know them,” so, yes, in large measure, I think it is possible to say that a person after death is in heaven or hell. The problem comes when people’s emotions get in the way of plain Scripture, and then you get a whole lot of people “preached into Heaven” — their sins are diminished, their good deeds enlarged — although they never trusted in Christ.

    I remember there is a quote by somebody about the Thief on the Cross, to the effect of, “There is one death-bed conversion mentioned in the Bible, so that all might have hope; but only one, so that none can presume.”

    As I write this, all of my grandparents are deceased, as is my father and one of my uncles. My father and both his parents were Christians — true Christians — during their lives and at their deaths; my maternal grandparents and uncle were good and decent people, but I cannot call them Christians. I cannot say that I believe them to be in Heaven, because I believe they died without a hope in Christ. I could be wrong — I hope they didn’t go to Hell; but I do know that God is just and righteous, whatever the outcome of their lives is.

    I believe that after death we will remember our loved ones, whether saved or not — the rich man knew Lazarus, and Abraham knew the rich man (though not a contemporary of him) — but just as “there is neither marrying nor giving in marriage” in heaven, and my husband will no longer be my husband in heaven (as weird as that is to contemplate), even so we will not feel the same natural affections towards our loved ones in either heaven or hell, but our affections will be changed, as our bodies are and our souls made clean, so that we will have the view of sin that God has, which will allow us to view the sinners as God does. God is “of holier eyes than to look upon sin,” and when we have that same view in the eternal future, we will be horrified by the sins against God that we committed as well as those that others committed. God will cleanse His sheep, but the goats will depart. I think our natural affections towards our friends and relatives will change to match the way He looks at them, which will leave no room for sorrow — for there is only joy in Heaven.

  4. These are some very interesting responses so far. At at friend’s request, I remember being at the funeral of a woman who lived her adult life as a “juke joint” clubber, drinking, cussing, sexing, you name it. Her relatives were about the same. They came to the church fighting, cussing each other. It was awful.

    BUT, the preacher said she was “at peace” and “with God now” I couldnt believe he was saying that.

    Obviously from her life she did not live in for Christ. But how is lying comforting the family? Maybe we have just dug a hole and cant get out of this.

  5. I recall a homosexual couple from my area that were traveling on the interstate and were hit head on. They both died instantly. The newspaper blog was incredible, people claiming these two were in heaven. It both angered and saddened me, but this is typical thinking. Many believe we all go to heaven automatically upon death. My neighbor’s father passed away, when I took them a card, they responded, ‘he’s in heaven playing cards with mom’. This man was mean-spirited, hateful, selfish, and rude.
    Most people do not seem to even think about God until they lose a loved one, then they comfort themselves with a false sense of security. The claim that everyone is in heaven lets them continue on in comfort, even in their own sins.
    Even when I attempted to share the gospel with the neighbor some time later, they wouldn’t even let me in the door. It is proof, we all have some understanding there is a God, but none are knowledgeable on who He truly is apart from His grace.
    It is a tragedy when a pastor/preacher lies at a funeral service; if they know the deceased was a lost sinner, they should never say that lost soul is in heaven. Prayerfully, the Lord will lead them to share the gospel. May they understand the lost souls who gather to pay their respects need to hear the truth. Truth is never pleasant, but rather than stand before Almighty God and answer to Him, it would be far better to risk offending some for the very sake of their souls.

  6. I think the comments are good so far, and I agree that everybody that’s said to be in heaven is not. However, I believe that it’s a matter of a person’s heart towards God when they leave the earth that determines their final resting place.

    Yes, a person may be a mean spirited, clubbing, juke joint owning, homosexual, unbeliever all their lives. But if that person repented and gave their life to Jesus the day before they passed away, doesn’t it mean they’ll make it in to heaven? Or do they have to do a certain amount of good works for a period of time before they can get in?

    although the situation I mentioned is rhetorical, I do beleive that some folks that we’ve marked off as hellbound, may have made it in to heaven because they repented and turned to Jesus unknown to our knowledge. Afterall, we can’t know everything about everybody.

    We know by scripture that before the world ends, that the Gospel will be preached to all parts of the earth, (Matt 24:14) and obviously that hasn’t happened yet.

    So, what about the adults in third world countries that are severly depraved who have died without ever even being presented the Gospel of Christ. Do they automatically go to hell, even though they’ve not heard of Jesus?

  7. To Paul,

    Romans addresses this in that God is written on our hearts, minds and conscience.

    Romans 2:14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

    All people have the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness.

  8. Paul God is just and righteous in all his ways. If a person in a so-called third world country went to hell, trust me, they are not innocent. And God doesnt lie. We may (in our thinking) believe that the gospel was not presented to them, but no one is innocent before God. You may be putting this in a western Christian concept.

    Also the “thief of the cross” thing is an exception to the rule, not the norm. No one should live their lives thinking they will or can “get it right” right before they die. And if they did, the repentance might not be sincere, only a way to scoot in, thus it may not be a true repentance. And why gamble with eternal life like that??

    But back to the original question: is it ever wrong to say someone went to hell after they die? Is there an “appropriate” time to say it or do we not say it so that people are not offended because everyone really wants to believe their loved one is in heaven?

    Isnt that deception to a certain degree?

  9. @Christian

    So, what you’re saying is that those who have not heard the gospel will not be judged by it, but instead by their conscience and their thoughts (ie..the law unto themselves)..

    Since the law is written on the hearts of all people, even those who’ve never heard of Jesus but bear witness in their conscience can and often do attribute this witness to another god. Thus the many world religions exist (Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, etc). All because of this law written on their hearts…not knowing it’s of Jesus.

    But of course, if they’ve never heard of Jesus, are they condemend to hell for interpreting this witness to other gods, but even in doing this, they still follow the laws of God without ever confessing Jesus and receieving Him as Lord?

  10. GCM Watch:

    “….And if they did, the repentance might not be sincere, only a way to scoot in, thus it may not be a true repentance. ”

    Can you please explain to me what ‘true repentance’ is?

    Addressing the original disuccsion: You mentioned that not saying that someone went to hell after they die could be deception to a certain degree.

    As ministers of the gospel who may at some point have to eulogize a person that we feel didn’t make it in to heaven, our job is to comfort the family in the time of grief. I’m not saying that we need to decieve them and say that the person is going to heaven for sure, but, we also don’t have to blast them and tell them that their loved one is in hell because he/she didn’t do this or that. We should certainly use our words wisely and use that opportunity as a reminder that it is time to give our lives to Jesus, and leave their destination up to God who knows all.

    Plus, unless the minister who is performing the funeral has followed the person day by day and examined his/her life very closely according the the scriptures, then we really don’t know where they’ll end up.

    In the bible, Jesus didn’t call anyone sons of hell except for the religious leaders…so, the heathen may get in before some of the so called ‘believers’

  11. Paul~ let’s keep it scriptural. Christ told us specifically we can tell true Christians by their fruit. Those who live like hell, drink, cuss, are sexually immoral, steal, cheat, lie; are guilty of every sin imaginable obviously bear bad fruit. What does that mean? That person is a ‘bad tree’. Only good trees bear good fruit. Could there be a death bed conversion? Only God knows, however, to assume most enter heaven this way isn’t realistic. Many, like the homosexual couple I mentioned, didn’t have time to repent and receive Christ. They didn’t even see it coming, if they had, they could’ve swerved and avoided the crash. Repentance is only granted by God {2 Tim. 2:25}, it isn’t something man can merely produce on his own.

    We must tell others the whole counsel of God, the wrath and punishment that awaits all who reject Christ, and the love, mercy and grace available to all, no matter what they’ve done. Prayerfully, we all get busy doing this as the Spirit leads, not waiting til those uncomfortable times, such as a funeral service.
    If the minister is not sure how that person lived, then DO NOT say they are in heaven. When a minister tells the grieving crowd in attendance that ‘Joe Smith’ is now at peace, he’s with the Lord; and Joe Smith was the biggest party dog in town, the biggest sexually immoral man there was, then those who attend the service will think, ‘gee, if he’s in heaven, then I’m goin’ there too!’.
    Let the Spirit of God lead as you eulogize, but for your own sake, and the sakes of others who will hear, please…never tell others someone is in heaven, or hell!
    Again, if we allow God’s Spirit to always lead, this will not be a major issue.

  12. Paul the short answer is that true repentance is the opposite of false repentance. That is to say there is a repentance based on godly sorrow for one’s actions and there is one submitted because the circumstances wont allow otherwise. In others only saying sorry cause you were caught, not because you are truly sorry.

    I didnt mean for my question to be taken only in the context of a minister delivering a eulogy but even on an everyday basis. If a person wasnt a minister delivering a eulogy at a funeral is it “Christian” to tell the truth about that person based on their lifestyle and not emotional sentiments? And I was asking if that is really possible to know biblically.

    @ Lyn… thanks I agree. lets keep it scriptural. Im not sure all those “what if” questions add anything to understanding if there’s no agreement that the Bible can indeed answer the what if.

    Thanks

  13. Paul ~

    My pastor likes to say, if the people in third world countries are on your heart, do something about it, support missions, go on a missionary trip, pray for them.

    Gospel for Asia is a great group to support, they are bringing thousands to Christ in the 10/40 window.

  14. christian,

    I’m already on it…supporting missions, praying for them, etc. but thanks for the tip 😉

    Lyn, GCM Watch:

    It seems to me that you all are doing the judging whether a person is in heaven or hell, and not letting God do that. and it seems to me that heaven is something that we have to earn by performing good works. (ie…not lying, not stealing, not cheating, not cursing, not partying, etc..)

    but since we’re keeping it scriptural, it is a fact that Jesus called the religious leaders sons of hell and they were doing none of the things listed above…instead, they were filled with pride.

    You see, it’s possible to be a beleiver and not do all the things that folk would consider ‘worldly’ (drinking, smoking, etc), but be filled with so much pride, that they miss heaven.
    after all, pride is the sin God hates. (See proverbs)

    And even if we look at their lives and see what we think is ‘good fruit’, they could still miss heaven because pride isn’t something you can really see or measure. and for that matter, good fruit are found amongst unbeleivers who give to their community, live morally pure lives, don’t drink, never cuss, are sexually moral, don’t steal, don’t cheat, don’t lie; obviously, these are good fruit. But if they’ve rejected Christ, then how can we judge their lifestyle and say they’re a good tree and vice versa with folk who do all these things, but have accepted Christ. I’m just trying to get us to think about some things…

    I beleive that the bottom line is that it’s a heart thing and it’s totally up to God.

  15. Let’s talk about it: heaven or hell? (please answer scripturally)

    Situation 1: Joe has lived his life for Christ for the last 35 years. However, for the last 2 years of his life, he got a divorce, lost his mother and father and lsot his job. Consequently, he backslid into clubbing, drinking, cussing, etc. and died before he returned to living a morally pure lifestyle.

    Situation 2: Susan didn’t know Christ any of her life and lived as she pleased for 45 years. However, she met someone who witnessed to her and gave her life to Christ and was living for him for 6 months, and then she passed away.

    Situation 3: Steve gave his life to Christ last year, but up until that point he was living a homosexual lifestyle. Upon giving his life the Christ, the struggle didn’t go away immediately, and he found himself falling back into the lifestyle over and over again. But he was trying to get out, and he repented everytime he did wrong. One particular day, after he had just fallen with another man, he had an accident on the way home before and died before repenting for sinning that day.

    Situation 4: Rachel has lived a life that has been morally pure. she was a virgin until marriage, has never stolen, never lied, never cussed and never stepped foot into a club, and never had a smoke or a drink. Gives lots of money to missions and to the poor. However, Rachel has never been to church and even though she’s been presented Christ, she refused to beleive because she felt like her life was fine jsut the way it was. Rachel passed away but she lived as a ‘good tree’ with good fruit.

    Situation 5: Tyler was born with a disease that crippled him from birth, therefore he’s never been able to walk or care for himself. His mental capacity was also limited, so he doesn’t undersatnd a lot of things. he’s always had a caretaker because he couldn’t do for himself. Tyler had a mother that knew Christ, but never presented it to hiim or even attempted to witness to him. After a long struggle with the disease, Tyler passed away at the age of 32 without knowing Christ.

    Sitatuion 6: Yolanda foudn out she had 5 months to live and consequently, decided to give her life to Christ before passing away in order to secure her salvation. Up to this point, she has lived an unclean lifestyle, but earnestly desires to get into heaven. So, she repents and even though she’s sick for the next 4 1/2 months, her heart is towards God. She dies at the end of 5 months. What’s her destination?

    GCMWatch: I think these scenarios would be a cool post.

  16. As far as “deathbeds confesions go” just because there is only one in the bible (are we not counting Hezekiah’s? His was a real deathbed confession) doesn’t mean that real conversion to Christ by saving faith doesn’t happen in or on the deathbed. I had a very dear friend who was a hospice nurse who’ s great joy in that work to present the gospel to the sick one and often the family present. She witnessed many beautiful and glorious accounts of people passing from this life to the presence of the LORD. Noone should presume they are going to have the opportunity for this; not all do yet there are those who will. They will and do recieve the same degree of forgiveness that we do for “being faithful” they don’t get the same reward.
    I am wondering about some of the theology of some of the posters who feel a believer will go to hell because they were prideful. There is the Judgement Seat of Christ to deal with believers who have lived lives that are beneath their responsibility as saints. If we were all to wind up in hell for how often we are prideful or arrogant or say something we shouldn’t we should all give up right now. In order to give a correct assessment of who may or may not be Here or There we need to fully understand how any of us get to either. HOw lovingly gracious is our Father that He would “accept ” us “in the Beloved”.

  17. Paul~ I never meant to mislead anyone in thinking I’d mentioned every sin there is!
    It is NOT possible to be a true, blood bought born again believer of Jesus Christ and habitually sin, to make a daily practice of sinning…that is what the doctrine of regeneration is all about…evidence of a ‘new creation’ { Therefore, if anyone [is] in Christ, [he is] a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.-2 Cor. 5:17…For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.-Gal.6:15} , a changed life. That is how you tell the bad tree from the good tree. Let’s stop with the ‘what ifs’! You accuse of judging, then you turn around and demand we judge!!
    Many of your examples are void of TRUE GENUINE REPENTANCE. ONLY GOD can grant repentance {2 Timothy 2;25}, all those He breaks over their sins will turn away from their sins…period. So most of your ‘what ifs’ are hell bound. Sit. 1. hell bound, no evidence of genuine repentance, no new creation Sit. 2. not enough info, if she based her salvation on her ‘decision’ she is more than likely hell bound Sit. 3 hellbound, again, no evidence of true repentance, just excuses to continue living in sin, God will change the heart of all He saves Sit. 4Rachel was NOT a good tree, ‘ all our righteousness is like filthy rags’ {Isaiah 64:6}. Sit. 5 He did not know Christ, so he is hell bound.
    Sit. 6 again, if she bases her salvation on her work, her decision, she is hell bound. We are all dead in sin {Eph. 2:1} A {spiritually} dead sinner cannot bring him/herself to God, it is not possible.
    Pride is something you definitely can see, all sin manifests itself in speech and actions. That’s why the bad trees are so easy to spot. Your argument of the ‘heart thing’ is invalid. A heart that belongs to Christ will be changed, this inward change WILL manifest itself outwardly. That is what ‘born again’, or ‘born from above’ means-only God can ‘re-birth’ a lost sinner.
    Again, scripture teaches on what type of fruit bad trees bear, they can only produce bad fruit. These are those professing Christians who think they are saved because they repeated a prayer, made a decision, walked an aisle, underwent a water baptism, or simply ‘chose Jesus’. This is NOT the Gospel, the whole counsel {Acts 20:27}. No one can come to Christ unless the Father draws him {John 6:44}. He does so by humbling the sinner dead in transgressions {Eph. 2:1}. The humbled sinner now realizes, by God’s grace and mercy, he/she has committed a horrendous crime, they have sinned against a Holy God. The weight of their sins should crush them, causing them to cry out as the tax collector did, “O GOD!! Have mercy on me, a sinner!’. Salvation is not based on man’s decision, but solely on the grace of God, it is His gift, He gives eternal life to all who truly repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. To believe means to trust in, to commit to, it is more than just a verbal expression. You entrust the Lord Jesus Christ with your very life.
    Salvation is not based on a flippant decision; unless God has done a work in your heart, you are still lost in your sins.

    I recommend this short video, it is a blessing…http://iamhis-lyn.blogspot.com/2009/02/blog-post.html

  18. If this sin of pride is ongoing, then the professing believer is in a danger zone.
    Are we sinless? NO! But, we who are born from above do not, I repeat, do not continue on in habitual sin. It is not something we make a habit of doing.

    Yes, God is RICH in mercy, and we all need our ‘feet washed’ daily. Yes, we are forgiven of all sins, made right in His eyes through the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. Does that give us a license to sin? NO!!!! Do we sin? YES!!!

    Those whose daily routine consists of knowingly sinning, and feel all they have to do is confess, if they even do that, prove God has NOT done a work in their heart. The doctrine of regeneration is NOT preached as it should be, so people believe they are saved, even though their lives are still riddled with sin.
    Those who truly are born from above will have their sin whittled out, little by little, as we read God’s word, as His Spirit reveals sin in our lives. As God brings our sins to light, we acknowledge them and repent, asking for mercy and forgiveness. BUT, we do not continually repeat the offense over and over. If a believer truly belongs to Christ, his/her pride will be manifest to them, God will break them over their sin, producing Godly sorrow, which leads to repentance {2 Cor. 7:9,10}.

    Prayerfully, clarity has been brought to this comment, ‘I am wondering about some of the theology of some of the posters who feel a believer will go to hell because they were prideful. There is the Judgement Seat of Christ to deal with believers who have lived lives that are beneath their responsibility as saints. If we were all to wind up in hell for how often we are prideful or arrogant or say something we shouldn’t we should all give up right now.’

    Prayerfully, may none of us take sin with a grain of salt. May we mortify the sin in our lives, on a daily basis.
    There is an article written by a dear brother in Christ, Mike Ratliff, concerning this very issue, it can be read at http://mikeratliff.wordpress.com/2009/02/10/sin-not-mortified-leads-to-a-darkened-soul/

  19. I didn’t ask anyone to judge, I requested that we talk about it because these are situations that can & do come up in people’s lives…and it all of the situations are hellbound..then my God!! who can be saved??

    it is a fact that over a span of one’s lifetime whether one has accepted Christ or not..there will be imperfections & what you’re saying is that if one exhibits those imperfections in the form of sin…then they’re not saved. That is the same bold faced lie of satan & the lie that the pharisees pushed that has kept so many people out of the kingdom of God because they’re expected to be flawlwess after they come to Christ. And even when/if they come to know Jesus & one day over an entire lifetime make a stupid sinful decision, they hang their heads on the railroad tracks because people like you are declaring them hellbound..and it is a lie.

    If we are expected to keep it all together all the time, then what is the need for the cross of Jesus??

    please check your theology..

  20. Paul, dont be silly. Im asking questions. Re read the post to refresh your memory.

    Secondly, is God different from his word? When we speak/affirm what God’s word says, you mean to tell me thats not actually God?

  21. Paul~ Do you understand the doctrine of regeneration? Do you know what this means, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2nd Corinthians 5:17
    No one is saying we are perfect, w/o sin.
    Most of your ‘situations’ reflect that of a false convert, why? Because they still cleave to sin. The Bible very clearly teaches, ‘And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.’ Phil. 1:6 The power of God keeps a born again believer, he/she perseveres under His might.
    You seem to want to ‘excuse’ habitual sin, yet the bible states ‘Whoever abides in Him does not sin’-1 John 3:6
    This is a reference to a life that is not characterized by habitual sin.
    ‘Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed {which Beckrl points out in her post} remains in him; he cannot sin, because he has been born of God’. 1 John 3:9
    Dr. John MacArthur says it best concerning this passage, ‘The reason why Christians cannot practice sin is because it is incompatible with the ministry of the Holy Spirit, who has imparted a new nature to the believer. When people become Christians, God makes them new creatures with new natures.’ – J. MacArthur
    Now let me make it as clear as I can, I am not saying born from above believers never sin. I am saying they do not live a life characterized by sin.
    Even when the storms of life come, these storms aren’t an excuse to sin, they are sent to draw us to the Lord Jesus Christ. If the storms drive you farther from Him, something is not quite right.
    When we understand the holiness of God, the hatred He has for sin, then we will mortify the sin in our lives, on a daily basis. The fear and reverence of the Lord will cause us to do so.

  22. Well, once again GCMW, if you haven’t gotten all the answers you seek, you certainly got everybody talking! 🙂 Blessings on you today. GNP22

  23. No. 4 of Paul’s “situations” is impossible. Rachel lived a “morally pure life”? By whose standards? There are none righteous before God. Not possible.

    The other situations are speculative and open to interpretation as all such “dialectic” exercises are meant to do. What’s important to remember is that God is Holy and Just. Fear the Lord, and that will be the beginning of wisdom. (Prov. 1:7, 9:10, 111:10)

  24. Thanks JW…speculation will get you no where other than begat more speculation.

    Beckrl, I agree that we have a seal and that the Lord “knows those who are his”. Can you explain how I can see that seal? Or maybe its not meant for us to know.

  25. This indeed is an excellent discussion . Reading through the responses on here, with “real-life” scenarios presented helps bring perspective on this most important issue in a Christian person’s life.

    I am not well-studied enough in this area to contribute meaningfully to this conversation, but wanted to let you know my opnion on the matter. 🙂

  26. Just to reply to your questions:

    Can you explain how I can see that seal?
    I’m not sure we can see the seal, for the seal is within us. But as I believe Kathy said, By our fruits. Scripture also say that what is in a man’s heart will come forth out of his mouth.
    How will they know that we are his? Because we keep is commandments. One being ” love thy neighbor as thy self”

    The hard think is that one my live a live of a sinner until the very last day and accept Christ as their savior.
    Like the thief on the cross Jesus said to him “This day you will be in paradise with me”

  27. Im not so sure we should take one instance (the thief on the cross) and make it an acceptable message to people. I mean really, should we preach that its okay to live your life anyway you want and then right before you die, repent and you will get into heaven??

    Is that a possiblity? Remotely, yes, it is.
    Is it a promise? No, its not.

    Its importantly to note that Jesus did not make so-called death bed salvation a universal promise, but he made it to ONE MAN. “This day shall you be with me in paradise”.

    No one knows when death will come or how it will come. For many it comes swiftly and there is no thought in the mind about “repentance”. The scripture says

    We then, [as] workers together [with him], beseech [you] also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
    1 Cor 6:2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now [is] the accepted time; behold, now [is] the day of salvation.)
    6:3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:

    That may be the answer to the first part of my question about saying that a person has went to hell.

    There’s something wrong with advancing “deathbed salavation” as a desired way of getting into heaven. What if youre waiting to get it right at that moment of death and the Lord returns before. As the parable said: Thy fool, this night shall your soul be required of thee”.

  28. @lyn,

    Let me first say that I am sincerely enjoying this dialogue with you as well as others. I think as believers, we need to
    be able to have these conversations, because the world is asking and we need to have an answer or at least some type of understanding.

    To clarify for you. I do have an understanding of regeneration and being made a new creature in Christ. I have been blessed to have been a recipient of it and my life has not been the same since.

    With that said, I also understand that both of these precepts require a process and often take time, and for some of us…an entire lifetime!! If it didn’t take time for us to be regenerated and become new, then why would Paul admonish is to renew our minds in (romans 12:1) If we were instantly made new creatures and instantly regenerated, then why would we have to renew anything? The assumption would be: “renew my mind for what? I’m already a new creature in Christ. I don’t need anything renewed.” But we all know that it’s not the truth.

    The truth is that everybody…EVERYBODY struggles with something. and your struggle may not be illicit sex, but maybe it’s a bad attitude and another may have a struggle with depression that causes them to do crazy things, but it’s a struggle nonetheless. (and if you say you have no sin, then you are a liar and the truth is not in you (I John)) So, during the process of becoming new, one often finds themselves living in contradiction…Paul spoke about these contradictions in Romans 7:14-24 (The things that I ought do, I do not, the things that I should hate, that very thing I do). Paul was addressing the regenerated man when he described this process..not the person who didn’t know Christ. And it’s not an excuse to sin or live a life characterized by sin..it is simply a reality that we are ALL in the process of becoming.

    Now, during that process, there will be mistakes, failures and ups and downs. And when we fall, we repent and try again…and again. and with some struggles, we keep on trying…I’ve experienced them…you’ve experienced them…we all have. Does that mean that we’re not regenerated? NO. Does it mean that we’re not saved?
    NO. Does it mean that we’re hellbound? NO. It means that God is completing that work in us…In the situations I listed
    above, you declared them all hellbound…I was quite bothered by situation number 2 because even the woman who lived in sin for 45 years and then repented, turned to
    Christ and lived for him. And you said that when she died, she still went to hell. It paints a hopeless picture for the
    world when we say that even if you repent…and turn to Christ and live for Him..you can still go to hell. What is that
    about? and furthermore..what’s the point??

    It is a basic tenet of Christianity to understand that salvation is not based on what a person does or doesn’t do.
    (Ephesians 2:8-9)For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:Not of works,
    lest any man should boast.

    One may not be the best Christian ever or the most devout, but salvation isn’t based on being a good, devout Christian,
    because if it was, then we should just live under the law that rewards you according to your works. In every other
    religion other Christianity, you get what you deserve. But we know that we don’t get what we deserve because we are all still here by the grace of God.

    We all deserve hell. We’ve all sinned and fallen short time and time and time again…but the cross is still available, it
    still has all it’s power and we still have access to it on a daily basis. You may not need it daily..but some of us do.

    We’ve not arrived…we’re still becoming…

    ..thoughts?

  29. Paul~ you say, “You may not need it daily..but some of us do’ This comment was not necessary!
    If you would have read my Feb. 20th 1:43 a.m. post, you would have seen this, ‘Yes, God is RICH in mercy, and we all need our ‘feet washed’ daily.’ {i.e., cleansed from our sins}

    All your ‘situations’ are silly, If you want to know what happens in each, open your bible. Time spent debating ‘what ifs’ is time wasted.
    We are to weigh our words carefully, as well as being careful in our speech. What is the point of playing make believe?
    People are dying and going to hell, because the true Gospel is not being preached. There isn’t time to play silly games.
    With that said, I will say good bye to you, May the Lord guide us all to engage in our time wisely.

  30. Lyn.

    I’m sorry that you see it that way…the situations were not mean to be silly or to play make believe at all. Jesus used parables during His entire ministry on earth and no one referred to that as make believe or being silly. They were illustrations to answer questions and/or learn new concepts. As a matter of fact, when He got ready to share something with his followers, he often used stories, scenarios and/or illustrations. Even the parable that he told his disciples about the 2 men going to the temple to pray and one was bragging about his self – righteousness and the other just begged for mercy..Jesus asked the question..which of these men are justified. That wasn’t a real sitaution, just a story that Jesus was using to teach with. I think I’m following the right example with the scenarios.

    Opening my bible and reading it is always a good admonishment and I will do just that. but understand that the point is not to debate what ifs..rather the point is to get the people of God to think. God gave us a mind to use for a reason. Sure, anyone who can read on a 1st grade level can read the bible and throw it around and tell anybody what it says, but everyone doesn’t know how to think, and hopefully, this got someone to thinking…because even though you think these situations are make believe, I guarantee you if you talk to enough people, you will run across someone in that situation…

    Nevertheless, pray for me that my words will be used to edify and uplift.

    Thanks for the convo and God bless you.

    @GCMWatch..thanks for allowing me to post….

  31. This statement, ‘Sure, anyone who can read on a 1st grade level can read the bible and throw it around and tell anybody what it says’ This is heresy!
    Only God can open the understanding of a person to receive His truth, the Holy Spirit is the teacher who illuminates truth.
    Luke 24:45, ‘And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.’
    ‘These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. ‘ 1 Cor. 2:13
    Truth cannot be grasped apart from God granting it.
    That’s what I would give to anybody in any of the situations you presented. We should reason, from scripture, when engaging the lost. Anything outside that is pointless, and powerless.

    Now, let’s get back to the original post.

  32. Paul~ I wanted to tell you this, I am a sinner saved by His grace. As I read 1 Cor. 13, I realize my harsh attitude with you is sinful. I have sinned against my God by not being kind and gentle, I ask for your forgiveness, as well as my Fathers. I truly am sorry I have been short and rude to you.

  33. @GCMWatch

    What I mean is that it happen, Not to say that people such live thier life any old way and think that one would be saved at the end. I don’t want people to think that way.

    “”and make it an acceptable message to people. I mean really, should we preach that its okay to live your life anyway you want and then right before you die, repent and you will get into heaven??””

    Sorry if that is what you think i was saying. It is not.
    Only that it is hard to look at one’s life and say for sure that they have entered Heaven or Hell.
    God bless.

  34. Lyn,

    No offense taken. Things can get a bit intense in these types of discussions, especially when we talk about the God that we love and serve. But like the scripture says..Iron sharpens iron..so I consider it sharpening our swords to fight the good fight of Faith!

    Be blessed…

  35. Only that it is hard to look at one’s life and say for sure that they have entered Heaven or Hell.

    Beckrl, I would say that is my big picture point. Are we so sure all these people we claim are getting into heaven are? I do think that each person should KNOW that they are saved without any doubts.

  36. “Unless Im mistaken, there is no equivalent acknowledgement in scripture that heaven has enlarged itself.”

    I don’t know if this has already been stated, since I didn’t really have the time to read through all these comments, but I don’t think that mankind cannot put a boundary on the capacity of heaven. That’s like putting a limit on God and what He can do.

    And there is a passage that supports heaven is enlarging itself. In John 14:2, Jesus says, “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.”
    This implies that heaven is expanding as there are more believers.

    Sorry if this has already been said and covered or whatnot, but heaven is not limited by man’s infinite knowledge.

    But it is a good point, to bring up the question of whether people are really Christian. There is a passage somewhere that goes along the lines of “Only God knows the heart of man.” I think it’s in the Psalms, but I couldn’t remember where it was. It’s really not for mankind to say whether one was or was not saved from hell, only God knows. But I believe it is what might be considered the tactful thing to do, to assume optimistically that the person went to heaven, especially if that person claimed to be saved, since we cannot in our finite knowledge know for sure. The Although, the Bible does speak of how a Christian is known by his works (not that the works are what saves him, but that others can tell he is one by what he does or does not do), but the New Testament also refers to carnal Christians, those who continue as if they never were saved, yet they are. So, bottom line, only God and the redeemed person know for sure if he was really repentant and is now in heaven. It’s not for finite mankind to say.

  37. Whoops, I made a mistake in the fourth paragraph, calling man’s knowledge “infinite.” I meant to say “finite,” sorry about that.

  38. I’m remembering my son, who died almost six years ago at the age of twenty two.

    When he was 12, he nagged me for three Sundays in a row, to let him come forward and accept the altar call to “confess Christ”. I was a new Christian then, and wanted him to WAIT until his grandmom was in church so she could witness it. (Goofy, but true.) There were no other children in church for him to copy or follow in his decision. In fact, this church was a dying one. People were leaving in droves (whole ‘nother story) But my son did come to his decision on his own.

    I remember the day of his baptism. Afterwards we were walking to my car and he looked up at me and said Mommy, I feel brand new!.

    In his early teens, I also remembered him cringing at a song on the radio that was playing in my car and he politely asked me to turn it off. He was offended by the lyrics. (Out the mouth of babes.)

    My son often witnessed to other people about Christ, defended his faith, even to muslims, at our community center and in school. The kids in our community knew him as a believer in Christ.

    As a teen, both he and my daughter complained about the Teen Bible Study at our new church. They both opted out of the “activites ” with their peers and came to sit in on the adult bible study with me and their dad instead. They said they “got more out of it”. And this was when he was 14-16 years old.

    At the age of 17, there suddenly appeared a girl.

    This girl I knew, was trouble, but she said she wanted “go to church” with us. So how could I say “no”? Who was I to hold anyone back who said they wanted to come with us to church? It was a way in for the enemy, I believed, and all I could do was pray.

    By the time he graduated high school, women were a constant problem. My husband and I posted proverbs, 5, 7, 9 on his bedroom door, talked to him about this sin and we constantly warned him about these lustful women. He was a nice looking kid and well, we all know how so many young women behave these days.

    My son eventually left home for a short time, and even then, he would get up and try to visit a church wherever he was. He was not living holy or healthy and it broke my heart to see him living contrary to the way he had been raised. Still, he kept his bible and I never heard him say he stopped believing. I was extremely distaught over the way he was living and I was always on my knees, praying for him to live right. God himself was able to comfort me about it when He said to me.. “You’ve done all you can do, you’ve given Him to me. so trust me.” So I did.

    Eventually, my son began to clean up his act and he finally came home. He looked better, was living cleaner (still women though) but he seemed to be putting his life in order again in many other areas.

    The last time I saw him was on Friday evening when he, my husband and I joined hands in our bedroom and we prayed together as a family. My daughter was in college by this time.

    My son told us that morning that he would be hanging out at his brother’s house in Philly for the weekend and Sunday morning he died in a car accident. Some woman nobody knew was in the car. She survived after being in a coma for weeks and says she has no recollection of what happened.

    Later, I found a poem my son had written days before, but ironically, it was dated the date of his passing, April 27th, when he had left the house for his weekend out on April 25th.

    In the poem, he was speaking to Jesus and he was saying how much of a dissappointment he must have been to Him and to God the Father. He asked God the Father to please forgive him in this poem.

    I must say I’m tormented continually concerning the way my son died. It wasn’t good. I guess there’s no way that losing a child could be. Still, there were so many things along his life that beared fruit. I’ve even had teachers we didn’t know tell us how much my son was an encouragment to them, non christians, and that he made teaching worth coming to school for. But then there’s the lifestyle of women all over the place that he never seemed to get under control. I go back and forth wondering if he made it.

    Like I said, I look over his life and I see struggles and I also see fruit…. What are your thoughts, anyone?

  39. Pam, this was a story for the heart. Tears welled up in my eyes. Im a parent too. (two teen boys and a preteen girl) I cant tell you how my heart aches sometimes as they grow and I know that I cannot live holy for them. I can pray, train, talk, discipline, love, model and pray some more. And I wonder God do you have them? I dont want them to be lost but the bottom line is I have to trust God that he will care for them when they are no longer under my care. Remembering my own life is a testament to that, but certainly not a guaratee.

    I guess the question is: Is it how you start out or end up that matters most with God.

    I had a friend who committed suicide my senior year in high school (he was 20). Cant tell you the pain in my heart over that. I wanted to believe so very much that he is in heaven. I dont know what pain he was going through to take his life, but my emotions seem to want to believe he is “at rest”. But I cannot say 100%.

    Someone said that we will not even recognize each other in heaven (the former things are passed away?) so it might not matter in that context about our loved ones.

    I hope that God will comfort your heart. He is our hope.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Maybe others can help shed some light on this.

  40. Remember David’s grievous sin with Bathsheba, which cost him dearly in this life. The child this sin produced died. Not to mention the fact he had Bathsheba’s husband killed.
    We also remember that David was a man after the Lords’ own heart { ‘And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the [son] of Jesse, a man after My [own] heart, who will do all My will.’ Acts 13:22}

    In the end, let us keep in mind, our God is righteous, all His judgments are righteous. Just as Eli said, ” It is the Lord, let Him do what seems good to Him” 1st Samuel 3:18

    The loss of my niece at 17, and my nephew at 25 is very tough. I desperately try not to dwell on their destiny; instead I pray God will use this for His glory; that others may see the brevity of life, how sudden it can end. There is an urgency to share the Gospel, may God be gracious to us and turn all things into a means of glory for Himself.

    I do believe if a follower of Christ continues on in sin, it can and does cost them, even to the point of physical death {1st John 5:16-17} Here is John MacArthur’s commentary on these verses, ” The Apostle John illustrates praying according to God’s will with the specific example of the ‘sin leading to death’. Such a sin could be any pre-meditated and unconfessed sin that causes the Lord to determine to end a believer’s life. It is not one particular sin, but whatever sin is the final one in the tolerance of God. Failure to repent and forsake sin may eventually lead to physical death as a judgment by God”. J. MacArthur
    May the Lord richly bless you Pam, may He help us all to carry on, moving forward in His strength. May the passing of loved ones prompt us to reach out to those around us with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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