why do we have to die to go to heaven
he greatest miracle of the Incarnation is not that God visited us as Creator, he has every right to enter his creation. All through the Hebrew Bible, we find God intervening in the affairs of our planet. The greatest miracle of the Incarnation is that this Creator chose to come to us as a baby. The One who holds the universe in the palm of his hand (Isa. 40:12) reduced his omnipotence into a miniscule fetus and was born as a helpless baby. Hands that held the universe were sheltered in a mother s arms. Christmas shows us what God thinks of babies. As I write, our nation is grieving the horrific deaths of 10 children in a freak storm in Oklahoma. Seven were pulled from the wreckage of an elementary school. Watching the news coverage of the tornado, many of us are asking faith s hardest questions: Why did God allow such a tragedy? Why didn t he prevent it, or at least shelter these innocent, helpless children? What do we do now? And the question we ll address here: What happened to the children when they died?
In my 35 years of ministry, I have stood beside parents as they gave doctors permission to withdraw life support from their babies. I have stood beside tiny coffins as parents placed their children s bodies in the ground. I am the father of two grown sons; every day since they were born, I have prayed for God to keep them safe. When a child dies, part of us dies as well. And we ask: What happens to them? Assuming they were not old enough.
Answer: The short answer is NO! The Bible is clear that nobody goes to heaven when they die. P John 3:13 says, " No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. " Why don't we hear that scripture preached at funerals? We've all been taught that when we die we immediately go somewhere for some form of reward or punishment. That is NOT what the Bible says. The Bible actually describes death like sleep.
The dead are all asleep in the grave awaiting the resurrection. In Ecclesiastes 9:5 it says, "For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten. " P In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15 the apostle Paul is calling us ignorant if we don't truly understand what happens at death. He says, "But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. " As shocking as this may seem, the Bible teaches that when we die, we remain dead until the resurrection. Daniel 12:1-4 (KJV) "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. " The Bible never speaks of the dead as being alive in Heaven or Hell!
Daniel confirms that those who die sleep in the dust of the earth only to be resurrected in the future. The Apostle Paul refers to deceased Christians as those who sleep in Jesus. Sleep is used here as a metaphor for death. Think about this. If we all went to heaven when we died. Why would there be any need for a resurrection talked about so much in the Bible? Christ said in John 5:28-29, "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. " I know it's hard to digest but that is what the Bible says. Look at all of those gravestones that say RIP rest in peace. They got it right.
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