By George Storrs
Having examined the first two arguments in favor of the natural immortality of men, and shown, as I think, that they have no foundation in truth, the ground of argument is narrowed to the one point, viz:
3. Is it the will of God that wicked men, who die in their sins, shall be immortal?
In determining this question, no man will be called master or father that now lives or ever did live. It will weigh nothing in my mind, what any of the (so-called) "fathers," have said or written; but what saith the testimony of God? * "To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."
* Isaiah 8:20 KJV.
First, I call attention to what man lost by the fall. In order to understand this, let us look at man prior to the fall. He was a probationer. For what? Not for life merely, as he was in the enjoyment of that. I conclude it was for eternal life, or, life uninterrupted
by death - figured and set forth before his eyes by the "tree of life" - as death , the opposite, was set forth by the "tree of knowledge of good and evil." Each of those trees, I conclude, were signs; the one of Life, the other of Death - not of man's body merely, but of the whole man; or, in other words, "Life and Death" were "set before" him. Eternal life must depend upon the development of a moral character in harmony with his Maker. If a development is made hostile and unharmonious, he is assured he shall not live, but shall "surely die." Thus permanent disorder is guarded against in God's universe, and man had before him a standing call and warning - a call to obedience and Life; a warning against disobedience, or sin and Death. He disregarded the warning, and slighted the call - he sinned. Now, "The Lord said, lest he (man) put forth his hand, and take of the tree of life, and eat, and LIVE FOR EVER, he (God) drove out the man, and placed a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." That is as clear as language can express it, the Lord God determined, or willed, that man should not be immortal in his sin; or, in other words, by sin man failed to secure a title to immortality, and was cut off from the "tree of life;" or, the sign God had given him of eternal life, was "hid from" his "eyes."
That this loss relates to the whole man, and not to the body merely, as some suppose, I prove from the fact, that if it related to the body only, then there is not a particle of evidence in the transaction, of pronouncing sentence upon man, by his Maker, * that any penalty was threatened to the soul - supposing man to possess such an entity - or inflicted upon it. There is surely none in the context; and it appears to me, that
if the exclusion from the tree of life, lest man should eat and live for ever, does not relate to the entire man, there is no evidence there that the denunciation of God against him affected any thing but his body. - It appears it was God's will that man should not be immortal in sin and misery; and this will is expressed in the text under consideration.
* Editor’s note: This paragraph could be confusing to you. The point that George Storrs is making here is that there is no evidence that the Tree of Life was just for someone’s body; the loss relates to the whole man. If the sentence of death was to the body only, it is not a strong enough penalty, because if the man could go on living as a dead soul, they would not be fully dead. But what does the Bible say? Paul under inspiration tells us that ‘the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ Romans 6:23 KJV. There are only two options here: death or eternal life, nothing in between! Paul makes no mention here of an in between state where someone’s body is dead, but their soul is still alive. Paul states that the result of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. The death of the sinner is contrasted to the life that God gives to the believing sinner who repents. If the sinner repents and receives God’s gift, they will have eternal life, which is life in every sense of the word, not eternal life for a soul whose body has long since departed. But if the sinner fails to repent or fails to receive God’s gift that He longs to impart to man, when they die they will permanently lose their ability of gaining eternal life. We want you to get this! Because there are some religions in this world that teach that people get another chance if they totally mess up this life and die! Don’t believe it! Paul only lists two possibilities here, either death or life, he makes no mention of anything in between. We think that most people would agree on the definition of life for a human being, just look around you, look at yourself, and talk to the ones you know and love. We don’t think anyone really needs to hear some philosopher, scientist or Christian theologian explain to them what it means to be alive and living. It should be evident to all. The Bible in most cases, except for symbolic prophecy and some symbolic parables, speaks in the plain language of men, so that all may understand. You don’t need a PhD in order to understand what it says, if you can read and pray to God for His guidance, He will make it clear to you what you need to know now. Life in Heaven will be similar to life on earth here now, except there will be no sin, and peace, love and joy will be unabated throughout eternity! It most definitely will be a real, physical place, with real physical people living in it. But in the cases where the Bible uses symbolism, it can also be clearly understood if someone loves and wants to obey God, and if they will take the time to study out how the Bible defines these symbols in other parts of the Bible, instead of injecting their modern ideas and beliefs into the Bible! You must have the Holy Spirit working in your heart in order to be able to understand the Bible. If someone has departed from God, or is living in disobedience, you can be sure that they will get off track in some portion of the Bible or more if they even read it, because spiritual things are “Spiritually” discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14. The Bible is not for those who wish to have their own way, live their life the way they please, or for those who don’t want to obey God. Those who don’t want a better life, and don’t want to repent or get relief from their guilt and sins should move on, and not waste their time reading the Bible, until they finally see their need and turn to God for help. You can only gain new light from the Bible if you are living up to what God has already revealed to you!
Now back to George Storrs Sermon 1...
Again - that this loss related to the whole man, I prove from the fact, that our Saviour, in his address to one of the seven churches of Asia, says, "to him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God." How clear the reference, and how obvious, that it is the whole man that is spoken of; and that none are to have access to that tree, or have immortality, but such as overcome. Will it be pretended that this relates to the body only? If so, then it proves that the body will not be immortal, unless we overcome - for the objector has admitted that the loss of the tree of life was the means of death to the body; and unless he regains access to that tree, or that which it represented, he must remain under death; and, as access to that tree is to be had only on condition of victory, the impenitent sinner will not have an immortal body, if the objector's theory is correct, whatever becomes of the fancied soul.
But I wish to call attention further to the tree of life, to show that it related to something more than the body. Revelation, 22nd chapter and 2nd verse, we read thus: - "In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life," etc.; and at the 14th verse - "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the
city." The reference here is too clear to be misunderstood; no one will pretend that this relates to the body merely. By what authority, then, do they assume it, in regard to the "tree of life" in Paradise?
* Editor’s note: Why would a dead soul need the Tree of Life? The fruits on the Tree of Life give eternal life to those who are alive if they eat from it; it keeps them from dying. See Genesis 2:9. In the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve were created alive and given access to the Tree of Life until they sinned and were banished from the Garden of Eden. There is no mention anywhere in the scriptures that the Tree of Life can bring life back to the dead, only that it can extend the life of one who is already alive, that they may live forever if they eat it. Genesis 3:22. What did Jesus say regarding Himself? “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:” John 11:25 KJV. According to the Bible, the only way that someone can be raised from the dead, is if Jesus raises them from the dead, because He is the Resurrection and the Life. Even though some individuals in the Bible like Elijah, Peter and Paul were said to have raised someone from the dead, it was only by the power of God, or by the power of Jesus that they were able to do so, because it cannot invalidate Jesus’ claim that He is the Resurrection and the Life. And God honoring their request to raise someone from the dead, whom they prayed for, rested on Jesus dying on the cross for the sins of the world, in fact it depended on it. So Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life.
Now back to George Storrs Sermon 1...
Allow me here to introduce an extract or two from Richard Watson. Few men have written better than he. His "Institutes" are well known among many in this country, as well as in Europe. In his sermon on "Paradise shut and re-opened," he has this remark –
"The tree of life was a kind of sacrament. As the promise of immortality was given to Adam, every time he ate of this tree by God's appointment, he expressed his faith in God's promise; and God, as often as he ate of it sealed the promise of immortality to man. - In this view, sin excluded man from the tree of life, as he lost his title to immortality." Again, Mr. Watson says, in his sermon on "The tree of life," - "It has been suggested that it was the natural means appointed to counteract disease by medical virtue; and thus to prevent bodily decay and death." "This" he says, "is not an improbable hypothesis; but we have no authority for it; and if we had, our inquiries would not be at an end. For this hypothesis relates only to the body; whereas we find the tree of life spoken of in connection with the life of the soul - not only with immortality on earth, but with immortality in heaven. Thus wisdom, heavenly wisdom, is called 'a tree of life, with reference to the safety of the soul; and the 'fruit of the righteous' is declared to be 'a tree of life,' with reference to its issue in another world. - Thus also in the visions described by Ezekiel, of the glories of the Church on earth, and of those of St. John relating to the Church in heaven, 'the tree of life' stands as a conspicuous object in the scenes of
grandeur and beauty which each unfold; and therefore as closely connected with ideas of spiritual life here and hereafter."
"Is it not, therefore, without reason," he continues, "that many eminent divines have considered this tree as a constant pledge to Adam of a higher life; and since there was a covenant of works, the tenor of which was, 'this do, and thou shalt live,' - and as we know God has ever connected signs, seals, and sacraments with his covenants - analogy may lead us to conclude that this tree was the matter of sacrament - the eating of it a religious act; and that it was called 'the tree of life,' because it was not only a means of sustaining the immortality of the body, but the pledge of spiritual life here, and of a higher and more glorious life in a future state, to which man might pass, not, indeed, by death, but by translation."
"This will explain," continues Mr. Watson, "the reason why the fruit of that tree was prohibited after man had sinned. He had broken the covenant, and had no right now to eat of the sign, the sacrament, the pledge of immortality. 'Lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life and eat and live for ever: therefore, the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden. God resumed his promises, withdrew the sign of them, and now refused any token or assurance of his favor."
Mr. Watson adds, "The Judge passes sentence, but the Judge also gives a promise; and man is bidden to hope in another object, 'the seed of the woman.' That seed was henceforth to be his tree of life."
Thus much for Mr. Watson. He did not hold the doctrine for which I contend, in regard to the final destiny of the wicked; still, there are passages in his FACTS FROM GOD'S WORD FOR CONSIDERATION.
We want to conclude this part of George Storrs’ Sermon 1 with some of our own observations:
Now get this point: Many believe that when good people die their soul goes straight to Heaven at death. So now they are faced with a conundrum: If the soul is a bodiless spirit when it goes to Heaven, how then does it get to eat from the Tree of Life? Jesus says that only those who have overcome have a right to the tree of life. This is how one gains eternal life, according to what Jesus stated here in Revelation 2:7, after they are resurrected by Jesus. John 5:25-30. So how can a soul be immortal (at birth or from eternity as some believe) if it has to gain it by becoming and overcomer as Jesus stated here? (Which is at the end of their life’s probation.) Either what Jesus has said here is true, that the soul must become an overcomer to be able to eat from the tree of life and live forever, or what is taught and believed by many, that the soul is immortal (at birth or from eternity before), but they both can’t be right. Who are you going to believe? Jesus or those who are contradicting Him? What does Paul say regarding those contradicting Jesus or God? “May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, "THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS, AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED." Romans 3:4 NASB.
The author George Storrs also indicates that unless a person who dies gains access to the tree of life again, they will remain dead. Remember Jesus promised Eternal Life to the overcomer, so in order for what Jesus promised to be true, the souls who died must be given eternal life and made alive again in every sense of the word, or they do not have Eternal Life! A dead spirit entering Heaven who has not been fully resurrected just doesn’t cut it! It doesn’t fulfill Jesus promise in any way! Some may try to say that souls get resurrected at a later date and think that this fixes the problem. But there are problems with this view too. Jesus indicated that the resurrection of the righteous, and the resurrection of judgement take place on or after His second coming. (Jesus declared that the righteous dead are raised at His Second Coming, but didn’t state in John 5:25-30 when the wicked dead would be raised – to know when this happens we must study other Bible texts, which are outside of the scope of this article.) Many sermons have been preached claiming that the soul appears before the judgement seat of God at death, to be judged and to receive either their sentence or their reward, but this is in direct contradiction to what Jesus declared! How can it be that the soul is judged at death and enters Heaven (and presumably given Eternal Life then) before the Resurrection at the Second Coming, since Jesus plainly declared that the resurrection takes place at the Second Coming, and the Second Coming hasn’t happened yet? But many preachers preach that the soul is in Heaven after their death. Surely none of those who teach that the soul is immortal are ready to suggest that Jesus’ Second Coming has taken place already, are they? Jesus’ Second Coming precedes the judgement when the wicked receive their sentence. At His second coming He raises the dead and takes His people home with Him to Heaven. Jesus declared: “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice [the Son of Man - Jesus], and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 5:25-30 NASB. This agrees perfectly of course with what Jesus said in Revelation 22:14 that George stores was quoting from above.
Does anybody really believe that this statement by Jesus here in John 5 is not referring to His Second Coming? Paul declares: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. [This is an indication that souls only go to Heaven after Jesus’ 2nd coming.] For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 KJV. It is clear here that Paul is talking about the same thing that Jesus was talking about, the Resurrection. And after the Resurrection of the good or the just, Jesus takes them with Him and so they shall ever be with the Lord! Therefore comfort one another with these words.
We think that this is unmistakably clear, that no one goes to Heaven before the Resurrection or before Jesus’ Second Coming. (With the exception of a very few people that the Bible said already went to Heaven: Enoch, Elijah, Moses and possibly the 24 Elders in Heaven. Genesis 5:22; Hebrews 11:5; 2 Kings 2:9-12; Matthew 17:1-4; Jude 1:9; Matthew 27:53; Revelation 4:4,10; 5:8; 7:13; 11:16; 14:3; 19:4.) And that the wicked do not receive their punishment at death, but at some point after Jesus’ Second Coming, at the Resurrection of Judgement. And that the Judgement of the wicked (where they receive their sentence for their crimes against God and humanity) does not happen at their death, contrary to popular belief. And we think that it is crystal clear to all or most people, that the Second Coming of Christ hasn’t taken place yet. Don’t believe it? Have you ever heard of massive resurrections all across this world and massive numbers of people being raised from the dead and ascending to Heaven? No? John 5:25-30. Have you seen the heavens (the sky) roll up as a scroll? Have you seen the wicked praying for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them to cover them from the face of the Lamb of God? “The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’” Revelation 6:14-17 NASB.
Have you seen Jesus the Son of Man coming in the bright clouds with great glory, sitting at the right hand of God’s power with the angels? Matthew 24:30; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27. No. Then there are no souls of the dead in Heaven yet, and there are no souls of the dead burning in hell yet, it’s that simple! Clearly none of these end of the world events we cited above have happened yet, so there are no souls of the dead in Heaven now awaiting their resurrection.
Why is all of this so important? Listen now to Jesus’ answer regarding this when He was asked by His disciples to know what the signs were for the end of the world: “And Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Take heed that no man deceive you.’” Matthew 24:4 KJV. “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” Matthew 24:11-13 NASB. We don’t want you to be deceived, dear reader! We want you to endure to the end and be saved.
Revelation 22:1-5 describes Heaven: John was shown the river of life clear as crystal proceeding from the throne of God. This passage says that the tree of life yields 12 different kinds of fruit, yielding fruit every month. This implies there is a different kind of fruit for every month of the year, and it says that the leaves of it are for the healing of the nations. And it says that there will be no night there, and that the saints will reign there for ever and ever. But this passage is continuing from Revelation 21, where it was describing the New Jerusalem coming down from Heaven, which is prepared for those who are saved; which are those whom Jesus is coming back for at His Second Coming. At His Second Coming they go back with Him to Heaven, to the mansions and the endless delight that He has prepared for all who love Him! John 14:1-3. There is nowhere in this account in Revelation 22 where it describes souls or disembodied Spirits wandering around having a grand joyous time, they are not even mentioned! It says that they (which are the eternally saved) will reign there forever and ever – this seems to indicate that there is no end to their stay there. It doesn’t mention that they, at a later date, leave Heaven so that they can get resurrected at the Second Coming and then come back to Heaven. But what does it say? It says that they rein there for ever and ever, with no end; apparently with no interruption.
So how is it that souls or ‘spirits of the dead’ manage to get into Heaven, and have no use of eating from the tree of life or drinking from the river of life? If the saints go there at their death before their resurrection, this is the way it would be - they would be spirits of the dead. It is assumed that the river of life and the tree of life are for living beings! Why else would it describe fruits on this wonderful tree that is apparently big enough to feed the nations of the saved – enough for everyone who makes it there, with its healing properties to it, if there were only souls or disembodied spirits of the saints occupying this wonderful place? Why would a disembodied spirit even care about these fruits? Why would disembodied spirits need to have the leaves of this tree which are for the healing of the nations? They are dead and beyond the need of such remedies. From the descriptions of Heaven throughout Revelation, particularly in chapters 21 to 22, it is obvious it is describing a physical place, which is the reward for physical beings who are alive, not dead. That is why Paul tries so hard to encourage all believers with the hope that those who died will live again, and that there is hope that we can see our loved ones again in Heaven! We are looking forward to that day, aren’t you too? Furthermore, the Bible states that life will be given back to the righteous dead at the Resurrection, which takes place at the Second Coming of Christ, which hasn’t happened yet. Heaven supplies everything that a real and an alive person would need to make them happy and sustain them with peace, love and wonderful joy and happiness throughout eternity, not for the spirits or the souls of the dead! This is because it is a physical place, meeting physical needs and supplying joy and happiness – supplying eternal life!
If you say that this passage in Revelation 22 is describing ‘spiritual fruits’ and ‘spiritual leaves’, what does that mean? A dead soul is beyond the need of anything whatsoever, much less ‘spiritual fruit’ or ‘spiritual leaves’ or ‘spiritual water’ from the River of Life. If these are ‘spiritual fruits’, and the River of Life is ‘spiritual’ and Heaven is ‘spiritual’ or metaphysical or ethereal, then where does the Resurrection fit into all of this? We think if someone takes the view that the fruit from the Tree of Life, as described here in Revelation 22, is only ‘spiritual’ or ‘ethereal’, then this does away with the need of the resurrection. This idea contradicts Jesus’ promise of the Resurrection found in the New Testament, for it makes it completely unnecessary, and causes great confusion in the scriptural interpretations in many places of the Bible. This causes people to doubt what Jesus said, which is the point of this error! But we want you to know dear reader, that Jesus and His Father can be trusted, and that everything that they said in the Bible is true! You can stake your life on it! Your eternal life!
Those who still doubt the premise of this blog article, show proof from the Bible for the idea that the souls of the saints go straight to Heaven at their death, and at the Second Coming they get resurrected. Many will try to say that such and such a text shows that the soul goes to Heaven at death (this article has debunked this idea), but we have yet to see any proof texts from the Bible regarding souls coming back to earth so that they can get resurrected. There is nowhere in the Bible where it states this. We don’t know how many people believe this, but most people probably haven’t thought about it too much, and just accept what they have been taught regarding this, without questioning whether it makes sense or not. But this is what someone is left with who believes that souls go to Heaven at their death, if they try to fit it together with Jesus’ promise of the Second Coming and the Resurrection. Why would a soul who is in Heaven need to leave Heaven to receive their reward, if they were already in Heaven and thus had it? Duh! Heaven is the reward! Once someone makes it to Heaven, they have their reward! Jesus declared, ‘My reward is with me to give to every man according as his works shall be.’ Revelation 21:12 KJV. Jesus’ reward, the promise of eternal life in Heaven through all eternity, is held out to the believer as something to be sought after, not something they already have! It is given by Jesus after the Second Coming, not at their death. In many texts in the Bible the reward to be sought after is eternal life in Heaven, which Jesus promised to those who overcome. But if the soul goes to Heaven immediately at their death, they would have already received their reward! Resurrection restores life to the dead. Eating from the Tree of Life gives eternal life to the one who eats it. If souls went to Heaven before their resurrection and were able to eat from the Tree of Life, this would give them eternal life if it were possible, and would bypass the need for the Resurrection promised by Jesus at the Second Coming. But spirits of the Dead are unable to eat physical food of any kind, because they are spirits, not physical, if they can exist at all (we think that they can’t). But we have already shown in our earlier editor’s notes in this article that the Tree of Life does not raise someone from the dead, this is something only Jesus can do, it causes the alive person who eats its fruit and eats its leaves to have eternal life! Death is the opposite of life, life is the opposite of death. There is no partial resurrection, the resurrection is for the dead only. Dead souls are not fully dead if they can exist after their body dies, because it is said that they still have their thoughts, and if they were in Heaven wouldn’t they want to praise God for their deliverance? But the Bible tells us that at death the thoughts perish and it says that the dead cannot praise God, so this notion of dead souls going to Heaven contradicts the Bible. See Ecclesiastes 9:5; Psalms 88:10; 115:17. It would be ridiculous for them to have to come back to Earth again, just so that they can get ‘resurrected’, so that they can finally receive their reward that they already had! The foolishness of this line of thinking is beyond belief. So it comes down to who people will believe: Jesus or tradition.
Where is the proof texts in the Bible where Jesus or Paul or anyone else said that souls are brought back to the earth, so that they can get resurrected after they have been in Heaven awhile? They don’t exist! This is an assumption based on the fallacy that the righteous dead go to Heaven at death, and is an attempt to harmonize this view with Jesus’ promise of the Resurrection at His Second Coming. No, the promise of eternal life and the trip to Heaven are made as a reward for the righteous who are alive when Jesus comes back, and for the righteous dead who are raised; they go to Heaven together at the same time (although the dead in Christ rise first). All go to Heaven with Jesus together, when He takes them back Home to the mansions He has prepared for those who love Him. Also note that Jesus Himself declared in John 14:1-4 that He was preparing a place for His people, and would come again to receive them that where He is, there they would be also. Read it carefully! Nowhere does it say that Jesus would receive them twice into their mansions in Heaven that He has prepared for them, once when they die and go as souls of the dead to Heaven, and once at the Second Coming at the Resurrection He promised. It only happens once according to the Scriptures! Paul’s testimony here agrees perfectly with Jesus’ testimony. Therefore the belief that righteous souls go to Heaven at their death contradicts Jesus’ promise of the Resurrection at the Second Coming. And it also contradicts the need for the Second Coming and makes it unnecessary, since all someone would have to do is to ‘die’ and they would make their way into Heaven, if they were an overcomer. And if it were true, Paul wasted his time telling believers not to sorrow as those who have no hope, because the souls would go to Heaven at their death, without the need for the Resurrection! If it were true, there would have been no need to tell them the hope of the Resurrection, but this is not true. Why is it that people cannot see these inconsistencies and fallacies? This belief contradicts Jesus, Paul and the other writers in the Bible.
Paul clearly stated about the Second Coming and the Resurrection: that after this ‘thus we shall always be with the Lord, therefore comfort one another with these words.’ Paul also stated at the beginning of that same passage in 1 Thessalonians 4: “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.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13 NASB. Paul tells us that Jesus will come back, raise the dead, who rise first in the air, and then those who are alive and remain will be caught up together with Him, and thus ‘we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.’ We think that many people who believe that the dead go to Heaven at death do not understand or catch the importance of what Paul was teaching here in 1 Thessalonians 4:13. Did you catch that? It is crucial that you understand it dear reader, so that you will have your hope built on the solid rock and not on shifting sand. Paul was trying to console his readers that when the believer dies this was not the end of their hope! Many of the ones he was writing to believed that when someone died that was it, they were forever in the grave. But Paul tells the Thessalonian church to hope for the Resurrection, which implies that nothing happens to the ones who died until Jesus comes back, at the Second Coming. The believer was to hope for the Resurrection. Paul was telling them that there was hope in the Second Coming of Christ and the Resurrection, but he made no mention of any soul’s trip to Heaven immediately at their death, to be resurrected later at the Second Coming. If this were the case, Christians would have the reward of their hope before Jesus comes back at the Second Coming and the Resurrection, and would not need to hope after this, for they would have already received the promised reward. But Paul is clear here that the hope of the Christian is centered on the Second Coming of Christ and the Resurrection, not death, even though many teach that the hope for Christians is centered on their death. Paul lays it out, and it has nothing to do with the way many are teaching it. We wish people would read the Bible carefully, thinking about what it is saying, using their reasoning ability to understand what it means, and reason from cause to effect. Jesus and Paul clearly taught what is important for Christians to understand: that the Resurrection to eternal life is the reward for the righteous, to be given at Jesus’ Second Coming, not their death. The way many believe, the rewards are handed out at death, not after the Resurrection, which is contrary to what Jesus, Paul and others in the Bible taught. And at funerals or memorials, many times it is said that the person who died ‘has gone on to their reward’, in direct contradiction of Jesus!
Conclusion of the Editor’s Comments:
Why are we running these articles about the afterlife, and spending so much effort to disprove the common beliefs about how one gets to Heaven? Because there is a certain wonder, beauty, peace and joy that many people are missing out on. And because it provides an opportunity for people to become deceived, if they accept these falsehoods regarding Heaven and Hell. It causes people to doubt what Jesus and other writers in the Bible taught, whether they realize it or not. And it causes them to not understand or believe some of the plainest teachings in the Bible, but to instead look for some other mysterious meaning rather than the obvious one. The acceptance of any fallacy makes it easier to accept other fallacies. But it brings us much comfort to understand the truth in its beauty, and understand God’s great love for humanity in the wonderful salvation He is providing! God is not offering some ‘cheap’ parody of life in Heaven, but the real thing. It is life eternal, eternal life! It is life in every sense of the word, but it is eternal life, not a short life of a few mortal years like we have here! It is not some abstract concept that only theologians, philosophers, or ‘gurus’ or just a few of the ‘enlightened ones’ can understand. It is the same thing as what you already have now, except there will be no more sin, suffering, pain or death, and there will only be wonderful peace, love, joy, and happiness throughout eternity!
Dear reader, Heaven is a real place, and real people with flesh and blood will dwell there throughout the countless ages of eternity! Jesus has gone to prepare a place for you there. John 14:1-3. Won’t you come and go with me to that bright and fair land? We hope and pray that you will. Will you accept the invitation? Don’t let anyone confuse you, and “don’t you let nobody turn you ‘round” as the song says. Jesus and His Father have provided for all of your needs now and forever. Yes, you can make it there if you will give your heart completely to God, and trust in His mighty power to save you! If you are not there yet, just allow His loving kindness to lead you there and shelter you in His love, then you will have all the faith you need to be saved.
Heaven is not a place inhabited by “spiritual only beings”, known by some as souls (of the dead), but Heaven is a real place inhabited by real beings who are ‘spiritual’ and fully alive, who are filled with the Holy Spirit. They have a real life in Heaven, they really eat the fruits from the Tree of Life, and they really drink from the River of Life, clear as crystal, which is flowing endlessly from the throne of God! And they have real peace, real love, and real joy forever and ever!
Heaven is not the realm of dead souls, ghosts or the like, but it is the realm where real people with new life from God live, filled with His Spirit who will be living there through endless ages. “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17 KJV. Amen.
Yes, Heaven is real! Heaven is a real place, and you can really live there forever! You have been invited! Won’t you go there?
-- From the Editor. May the Grace of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you!
Inspirational Songs for this Message Today:
What Will it be to See Jesus: By Fred P Morris, pub 1909
What will it be to see Jesus?
There are glories untold
In that city of gold,
On the brink of that beautiful river,
Its wonderful light,
Will burst on my site,
But what will it be to see Jesus?
What will it be to see Jesus?
What will it be to see Him?
There are glories untold
In that city of gold,
But what will it be to see Jesus?
When in wonder I stand
With my hand in His hand
In that home of the ransomed forever,
The sorrow all passed
Triumphant at last!
Oh what will it be to see Jesus?
What will it be to see Jesus?
What will it be to see Him?
There are glories untold
In that city of gold,
But what will it be to see Jesus?
How Bright the Shore:
How bright the shore
Where waits my Jesus,
The streets of gold
Outshine the sun!
How bright the shore,
Like glistening diamonds,
A palace there for everyone!
I’m going there, yes going there,
In matchless splendor I’ll abide!
I’m going there,
Yes going there,
To spend my days at Jesus’ side!
Don’t Let Nobody Turn You Round!
Now back to George Storrs’ sermon for its conclusion…
To Be Continued…
This Sermon 1 Taken From:
“Six Sermons on the Inquiry Is There Immortality in Sin and Suffering?”
“ALSO, A SERMON ON CHRIST THE LIFE-GIVER: OR, THE FAITH OF THE GOSPEL.”
BY GEORGE STORRS, OFFICE OF THE BIBLE EXAMINER, 1855
Blog Edited by John Foll.
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