LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Body and Soul

At a Tuesday night Bible study, the pastor of our church was discussing the recent passing of Jerry Falwell, who was president of the university our pastor attended for two years. Although our pastor disagreed with Falwell on many points, he graciously commended Falwell for his life’s work.
I had noted earlier that day on Mohler’s blog (http://www.albertmohler.com/blog.php) that I thought Mohler’s citation of Falwell’s life was graciously presented, considering that Falwell was a controversial public figure.
During Bible study time, which is interspersed with singing and prayer, our pastor noted that he liked Thomas Ascol’s blog (http://www.founders.org/blog/), wherein Ascol wrote: “I received a phone call 30 minutes ago that Jerry Falwell has died. Don't you believe it! He is more alive right now than he has ever been. He left "the land of the dying" and entered the "land of the living." That is the way that he would see it, and all of us who love the Lord Jesus should agree. For the Christian, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
This got me to thinking. I’m always wary of folks making statements about where someone is after death – particularly pastors or teachers speaking as those in positions of authority – but it’s only because I want to be sure that they’re speaking Truth, and I’m uncertain myself what Scripture says about the state of the soul immediately upon death.
So I questioned our pastor during a break about it, having looked up 2 Cor. 5:8 immediately beforehand, since I presumed he’d cite that well-known verse, which I frequently hear stated as “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord,” as did Ascol.
But I see it in its context somewhat differently. Verses 6-9 read: “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, 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.”
I see that more as encouragement to look heavenward and desire to be with the Lord here moreso than in our earthly tents (bodies), as Paul refers to our bodies at the beginning of that chapter.
Our pastor also referred me to 1 Thess. 4:14, wherein it states “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”
In my Reformation Study Bible (ESV) with Sproul footnotes, Sproul cites Luke 16:19-31 as support of the concept that there is immediate connection for the soul to be spirited away to its appropriate place. This is the story of the rich man and Lazarus as told by Jesus (to the Pharisees I think) with the rich man in Hades who lifts up his eyes and see Abraham and Lazarus together after death.
Soooooo… I wonder, does this really support souls immediately in their respective places, or was it a type of parable (or insert correct literary term here) told by Jesus to prove a point? The rich man lifted up his eyes to see Lazarus with Abraham. Do souls have eyes?
I know that the thief on the cross was told by Christ that “today you shall be with me in Paradise,” but “today” could mean things other than a 24-hour period.
I know that Sproul does not agree with the concept of “soul sleep,” so perhaps the term “sleep” is simply and only a metaphor for the word “death” in Scripture, but I wonder then, if we immediately go in spirit only to be with Christ, although He in glorified body, until His return for the harvest of souls, whereupon we receive our glorified bodies?
What thinkest thou?

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Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

and what about the request for Abraham to dip his "finger" in "water" to place on the rich man's "tongue"? I recently asked this question to a prof and he responded that we shouldn't push the parable too far (go figure). So if we are disembodied prior to the resurrection, are we spherical or what? How will we recognize one another, etc.?

May 16, 2007 8:55 PM

Blogger jazzycat said...

I do not believe there is much support for soul sleep in Scriptures. I believe there will be a spiritual intermediate state just as your pastor described.

May 17, 2007 8:06 AM

Blogger Susan said...

That's interesting that you thought the same thing recently, Jonathan.
I ponder these things and I guess I don't expect to "know" the "correct" answer as far as what happens immediately upon death to both souls (the saved and the unsaved) because greater minds than mine have considered all of these things.
I used to believe in soul sleep, since that was the metaphor Paul used to represent death (albeit not "soul" sleep, just sleep), but I have since heard a number of pastors speak on this - at funerals and like this recent passing of Falwell - and now I'm digging into Scripture more to try to figure it out. Something rubs against the grain in me whenever I hear such confidence in what's going on with so-and-so after they pass - even sometimes expressed as what Jesus is saying or said to so-and-so upon arrival in heaven. It always makes me uncomfortable.
Although I'm no longer sure about soul sleep, neither am I convinced that we are dismbodied spirits right next to Christ's glorified body in heaven until our physical bodies are resurrected as well. Why would we be disembodied spirits hanging out with a physical (albeit glorified) body of Christ until we are resurrected? It's hard for me to picture in my mind.
The references to which I've been pointed (Lazarus and the rich man, the "today" reference on the cross, etc) don't satisfy me with answers yet either.
Wayne, do you have other Scriptures you can add to the mix that supports why you agree with the spiritual intermediate state until we receive glorified bodies?

May 17, 2007 8:44 AM

Blogger Even So... said...


May 17, 2007 10:10 AM

Blogger Bluecollar said...

All I can do is sit back and watch this discussion. Sorry, I have nothing to add, so I'll just watch.

Great post, Susan! You know how to draw out people's responses. I can learn from you here.

May 17, 2007 10:23 AM

Blogger jazzycat said...

I don't know exactly what it means, but 2 Cor. 12:1-7 is quite interesting.

May 17, 2007 10:33 AM

Blogger jazzycat said...

Also the transfiguration in Matthew 17 would kind of rule out soul sleep.
Mt. 17:3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.

I guess one could argue this being an exception, but the principle is thoroughly established with these verses.

May 17, 2007 12:16 PM

Blogger Craver Vii said...

“Why would we be disembodied spirits hanging out with a physical (albeit glorified) body of Christ until we are resurrected? It's hard for me to picture in my mind.”

I guess I never thought about it that way. Some of us are just tickled pink about being free from the aches and limitations of our physical bodies. My small group is doing a video study on systematic theology with RC Sproul and this intermediate state was part of Monday night’s discussion. Immediately upon death, we (believers) will consciously be with Christ, which is far better, and we will have a glorified body in the future, which will be better still.

“…My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” Phil. 1:23

May 17, 2007 12:34 PM

Blogger Susan said...

I don't fully understand 2 Cor 12:1-7 either (I'm not sure anyone does), but Sproul's footnotes on the verses refer to what he calls a "common enumeration": the first heaven being "the atmosphere of birds and clouds," the second being "the sky in which we see the stars," and the third being "heaven, the dwelling place of God."
Sproul also notes that the paradise of v. 3 is "the third heaven" of v. 2.
The transfiguration when Moses and Elijah spoke with the glorified Christ is indeed something to ponder in light of this conversation. I'm going to think more about that. Moses and Elijah were obviously identifiable in whatever state they were in.
Another part of Scripture that comes to mind is the answer Jesus gave to His questioners regarding which husband a particular woman who was divorced would have, and Jesus said it is not like that in heaven. I'm not retelling it well, but trust you know to what I'm referring. (I'm typing this quickly on my way out the door.)
Also, I remember a conversation with a different pastor after a funeral where I heard someone else from the pulpit say what "Christ said to the dearly departed" when she arrived in heaven, and I questioned him on that. I did like his response at that time, which had something to do with how we on earth view time differently than God does, and that we can't possibly understand eternity as He does.
The pastor may have added that it's entirely possible in the spiritual realm that God or Christ did say something to Miss Charlotte after she died and arrived in heaven, but I still don't agree with speculating on such things that we just don't know.
Thanks for the additional verses, Jazzy. They're helpful.
I'm typing on the run here. I'm late to a homeschooling group, had visitors this morning, and the visitors may be back this evening, so I'll be checking back as time permits.

May 17, 2007 2:07 PM

Blogger Susan said...

craver vii:
The more I dwell in Colossians, the more I am focussing on my true life being with Christ "up there," and not focussing (or trying not to) on chasing the wind down here.
The substance is Christ - up yonder - and this life is but a shadow.
I'm looking forward as well to whatever state it will be in the interim - as long as Christ is there.

May 17, 2007 2:26 PM

Blogger Shiloh Guy said...

Hi guys! Back from two days in Chicagoland for meetings. Missed you!

We are spiritual beings as well as physical beings. The physical part of us dies. The spiritual part of us doesn't die when the physical part dies. There is no evidence in scripture that I know of which would support the suspension of spiritual consciousness as in soul sleep or soul coma. There are the references you all have stated that indicate spiritually conscious presence with Christ for believers. As to how we will recognize each other, I suspect we put too much emphasis on physical recognition. My guess is that there will be heightened spiritual perceptions in paradise and we will have no trouble knowing others because their spirits are actually more "them" than their bodies!

What do you think?


May 17, 2007 10:20 PM

Blogger Susan said...

All good thoughts you expressed.
As far as no Scriptural reference for "soul sleep," I think this concept has to be drawn from Paul's use of the word "sleep" for death. Since Scripture does employ the words "death" and "die" in other places, I can see where folks could easily presume that Paul's use of the word "sleep" would refer to "soul sleep" since Paul specifically wrote "sleep" in place of "death."
In pondering some of these things yesterday, my mind turned to the Scripture where it says that the "dead in Christ will rise first," which could lead one to think that they are not already risen even in a spiritual state.
I really don't know, but these are some added thoughts to the mix.
I wouldn't say, however, that there is no Scriptural support for soul sleep (just based on Paul's use of the word "sleep" for "death"), because one could equally say that there is no Scriptural reference for disembodied spirits residing with Christ first and then later being connected with their bodies. At least not any references that leap to mind.
The references we've discussed here seem to suggest some recognition even with features (such as the rich man and Lazarus example), but I'm not convinced of anything as of yet.
I guess the only thing I'm convinced of is that I'm very uncomfortable with pastors and others speaking from the pulpit about exactly what happens to the deceased upon death, as Ascol did in the reference in the post. He may be right, but he may not be also.

May 18, 2007 8:02 AM

Blogger Baptist Girl said...

Here is some passages that show that some were conscious after their death that might help
Matthew 17
1After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
4Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah."5While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" 6when the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7But Jesus came and touched them. "Get up," he said. "Don't be afraid." 8When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

Luke 9:28And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.29And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering 30And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias:31Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.32But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.33And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.
34While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.35And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
36And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.


May 18, 2007 8:04 AM


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