1. Having determined from the Scriptures that man possesses a body; soul and / or spirit which continues after death, the question now before us is this: "Where do the spirits of believers go after death?"
2. In this lesson, we will be examining two different views:
One that we will call the "view #1" , which is held by many Christians
Another that we will propose as the "view #2" , which I believe is more in harmony with what is revealed in the New Testament
[Beginning, then, with...]
I. "View #1" EXPLAINED
A. STATED BRIEFLY, THIS VIEW TEACHES THE FOLLOWING...
When we die...
Our body returns to the dust
Our soul / spirits go to Hades, the realm of the "unseen"
2. This realm of departed souls/ spirits (i.e., Hades) is divided into three parts...
a. Paradise, the place of rest for the righteous
Tartarus , the place of torment for the wicked
And a Gulf, separating the two
During this interim period between death and the resurrection, the righteous...
a. Are separated from God and Christ
For God and Christ are "in heaven", and Paradise is in Hades, not heaven
4. Such is the state of the "disembodied spirits" until the Resurrection
At which time the spirits of both the wicked and the righteous will be united with their resurrected bodies
At this time will occur the Judgment, after which...
1) The righteous will spend eternity with God
2) The wicked will spend eternity in Hell (Grk., gehenna)
B. SCRIPTURAL JUSTIFICATION FOR THIS VIEW...
Is based heavily upon what we read in Lk 16:16-31
a. I.e., the story of the rich man and Lazarus
Notice especially verses Lk 16:22-26
2. Lk 23:43 is also offered as support
Where we read of the account of Jesus and the thief on the cross
Both of whom would be in Paradise that very day following their deaths
That Paradise was not in Heaven where God dwells is based on Jesus' words in Jn 20:17
a. Words spoken three days after promising the thief they would both be in Paradise
Yet Jesus had not yet ascended to the Father!
c. Suggesting, therefore, that Paradise was not Heaven (or in Heaven)!
4. As further evidence that Paradise is not in Heaven, appeal is made to Ac 2:29-35
a. Concerning Christ...
1) His soul was not to be left in Hades (the realm of the dead, which included Paradise)
2) But after His resurrection Jesus ascended to the right hand of God (i.e., Heaven)
1) Surely he went to Paradise (in Hades) when he died, as did Abraham, Lazarus, and the thief on the cross
2) But note that Peter said "David did not ascend into the heavens" (Ac 2:34)
a) Suggesting the one could die, be in Hades (Paradise), and yet not be in Heaven with the Father
b) Just as Christ implied to Mary in Jn 20:17
[Such is the "traditional" view “View #1” as I understand it.
Now let's take a closer look...]
"View #1" EXAMINED
A. THE EVIDENCE FOR THIS VIEW IS CONVINCING, TO A POINT...
This explanation for what happens after death appears consistent with the information we have prior to the ascension of Christ!
2. But in light of what is revealed in the Scriptures after Jesus' ascension into heaven...
This "traditional" view may need some revision
But only concerning "the intermediate state" of the righteous
B. REASONS TO SUGGEST ARE VISION OF THE "TRADITIONAL" VIEW...
1.After Jesus ascended to heaven...
a. Paradise (the resting place of the righteous) is now spoken of as being in heaven!
1) We saw earlier that when Jesus spoke to Mary He had not yet ascended to the Father (i.e., heaven), though He had been in "Paradise" prior to His resurrection
2) Note carefully that "Paradise" is used synonymously with the "third heaven" (i.e., God's dwelling place) by Paul in 2 Co 12:2,4
3) Whereas Paradise was once distinct from heaven, now it is not!
The expectation of the righteous is to be with Christ upon death - Philippians 1:23; 2 Co 5: 6-8; 1 Th 5:9-10
The book of Revelation speaks of the righteous dead being in heaven while much is still going on here on earth - Re 6:9-11; 7:9-17
The Scriptures speak of Jesus bringing the righteous with Him at His Final Coming - 1 Th 3:13: 4:13-14
1) I understand this to refer to the "spirits" of those who were righteous, and who are coming to be united with their resurrected bodies - cf. 1 Th 4:16
2) Of course, I suppose Jesus could "pick up" these saints in Hades on His way, but in view of other passages I believe they are already with Him
2. I have a hard time reconciling...
Such passages as these found after Christ's ascension into heaven
With those made before Christ's ascension -- Unless something has changed
[Therefore, as an alternative to the "traditional" view, I propose a more "scriptural" view...]
"View #2" EXPLAINED
A. FIRST, EVERYTHING ABOUT THE "TRADITIONAL" VIEW REMAINS THE SAME FOR THE PERIOD "PRIOR" TO JESUS' ASCENSION...
All who died went to Hades
The wicked went to torment, awaiting judgment
The righteous went to Paradise to await the Judgment
Even Jesus, with the thief on the cross, went to Paradise, which was in Hades
B. BUT NOW, AFTER JESUS' ASCENSION, THE "INTERMEDIATE STATE" OF THE RIGHTEOUS IS DIFFERENT...
1. Paradise is now in Heaven, not Hades
2. The hope of the righteous is to spend the "intermediate state" in the presence of the Lord, awaiting the resurrection and the Judgment