Are the deceased looking in on us?

Pastor Bob Russell’s latest blog article provides an answer to a question that has puzzled me and perhaps you too. Well, here is what he wrote in his article that appeared at: bobrussell.org as: ASK BOB: Are people in Heaven aware of what is happening on earth? RMF

ASK BOB: Are people in Heaven aware of what is happening on earth?
Bob Russell

Occasionally people ask my opinion on various personal or church issues. I recently received the following question which I have reprinted below, followed by my response.

QUESTION:

Bob,

When you have a moment, I was hoping that you could answer a question for me. I was listening to a sermon online about the “Temporary Heaven” and wanted to clarify with you what the minister said. He said that if a Christian died today, he/she would go to what is called the “Temporary Heaven” until the Lord returns. He said that according to the Bible, when we are in the Temporary Heaven, we will know what is going on in the world, like with our family, etc.

Is that true? I thought even in the Temporary Heaven we wouldn’t know of any sadness or pain that our family was experiencing. Thank you for taking the time to read this and respond to me when you get the chance!

MY ANSWER:

Pastor Bob Russell

I’ll try to answer your question according to my understanding of the Bible’s teaching on this subject. Second Corinthians 5:8 says, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” The Bible teaches when we die our spirit departs the body, and we go immediately to be with God.

Jesus told the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” But we are not given our immortal, eternal bodies at that time. The Bible says, in 1 Thessalonians 4:14, that when Jesus returns He will bring with him the spirits of Christians who have died and at that point “the dead in Christ will rise” (1 Thess. 4:16). I take that to mean that the departed saints will be given new glorified bodies when Christ returns. The second coming of Jesus will be glorious for those in heaven as well as for believers on earth.

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

First Corinthians 15:51-54 reads, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed… When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: Death has been swallowed up in victory.”  Continue reading

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Biblical Sexuality and Pastoral Compassion

When Professor Edith Humphrey writes I read.  In addition to her skill in presenting scholarly theological information in a very digestible form she is able to, along with the text, write with a heart that overflows with love and compassion.  This article which addresses a complex contemporary issue is an example of her giftedness.  It provides an understanding of real life struggles with sexuality by folks trying to come to grips with biblical principles and points to the godly path to life.  Ms. Humphrey’s article appeared at: blogs.ancientfaith.com  as:  “Medicines for the Soul:” Theology and Pastoral Compassion in Gender and Sexuality.  RMF

“Medicines for the Soul:” Theology and Pastoral Compassion in Gender and Sexuality

Edith M. Humphrey

Professor Edith M. Humphrey

Normally my blog is dedicated to giving Old Testament background that illumines the New Testament readings for Divine Liturgy. However, the present concern over sexuality in society and in the Orthodox Church has led me to think that my paper may be helpful to some: further, some respected Orthodox friends have asked me to make my ruminations public.

The matter of marriage and ordered sexual relations is found throughout Scriptures, not only in the Old Testament but also in the New. Those who are interested in more foundational papers on the issue of marriage and same-sex temptation and erotic activity may consult the shorter articles reprinted on my webpage at edithhumphrey.net, or the more lengthy article, “Same-sex Eroticism and the Church: Classical Approaches and Responses,” in The Homosexuality Debate: Faith Seeking Understanding, Ed. Catherine Sider Hamilton, Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, 2003, 37-94.  Continue reading

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Straight Scoop On Judging

Here is a neat little primer on the topic of judging.  There is a lot of  misunderstanding about judging and Shane Pruitt does a nice job in setting things straight on the issue.  Mr. Pruitt’s article appeared at: www.shanepruitt.com as:  Does the Bible Give Us Permission to Judge Others. He resides in Rockwall, TX with his wife, Kasi, and their four children.  Mr. Pruitt serves as Director of Missions for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.  He has been in ministry for over 15 years as a church planter, lead pastor, associate pastor, and student pastor. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical Studies, a Master’s Degree in History, and a PhD in Clinical Christian Counseling.  RMF

Does the Bible Give us Permission to Judge Others?

By Shane Pruitt

Shane Pruitt

We’re living in a day that values tolerance above all. In fact, tolerance has become aggressively militant in recent years. A steady progression from tolerance to acceptance to celebration to forced participation has occurred right before our eyes. People are being forced to participate in actions that go against their religious beliefs and to participate in paying taxes that ultimately fund government-supported abortion clinics. Now, Christians are not only judged by what they say and believe but also by what church they attend and its beliefs on cultural issues. Ironically, our extremely tolerant culture becomes incredibly intolerant with people who disagree with certain agendas, beliefs of celebs, alternative lifestyles, or opinions.

In these situations, Christians are constantly reminded by those outside the faith, as well as those inside the faith, “You know what the Bible says, ‘Christians aren’t supposed to judge.’” Unfortunately, the very people that are repeatedly restrained from speaking out against the actions, beliefs, and practices that contradict their core values from Scripture; these same people are often the most judged people group on the planet. They’re constantly judged on television shows, in the movies, and on news outlets. Christians are portrayed as mean, uptight, odd, and out of touch with reality. The Christian college student who is still a virgin is portrayed as someone who is extremely weird and desperate to lose his or her purity. In the media, the conservative Christian is archaic, a bigot, and a racist. Christians with a past are not seen as forgiven but as hypocrites, constantly reminded of their shortcomings. These are all major judgments made about a people group that are constantly told they better not judge anyone themselves. Continue reading

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To Officiate — or Not

One of the two Christian ministers I admire most is Bob Russell. Pastor Russel retired as the senior pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY and presently heads Bob Russell Ministries. As you know if you follow this blog my method is to simply pass on articles that I find interesting, challenging, or informative and which articles will form a collection of various topics of interest. I don’t always agree fully with the authors whose writings I post but generally I do where they deal with matters of opinion. Such is the case with the following article by Pastor Russell. This article is especially meaningful to me because I have experienced and may again face the same type of dilemma dealt with in the article. I can tell you that it is hugely difficult to love and admire relatives and friends and to be asked by them to do something that runs contrary to my very deeply held personal convictions as a Christ follower.  What I particularly appreciate about this article is the reasonable and sensitive approach that Pastor Russell takes in dealing with the challenging situation.  And, to be clear, I would never hold in any less esteem a pastor who thoughtfully came to a different conclusion than Pastor Russell.  Certainly a strong case can be made for responding in a contrary manner.  I believe the important thing is to follow the counsel of the Holy Spirit  and Scriptural guidance as one understands it.  This article appeared first at: www.bobrussel.org. RMF

ASK BOB: Should I perform my niece’s wedding even though she and her fiancé are currently living together?
By Bob Russell

Occasionally people ask my opinion on various personal or church issues. I recently received the following question which I have reprinted below, followed by my response.

QUESTION:  Bob,

I have long maintained certain policies in my ministry regarding conducting weddings. As the culture continues to turn more and more away from Biblical morality, my policies are often considered extreme, legalistic, judgmental, and even worse by some.

For example, I choose to decline to perform weddings for couples who are living together. Of course today this has become culturally acceptable and is even practiced by many professing Christians. I explain that if the couple will repent, live in separate homes, and refrain from sexual relations until after the wedding, I will perform the ceremony, providing there are no other reasons that would prohibit me from doing so.

I find it increasingly difficult to remain true to what I consider Biblical principles. Living together is considered by many one of the natural steps toward marriage – a test to see if the relationship will lead to marriage. I realize that since many people are not concerned with the Biblical teaching, they consider my choices to be too narrow-minded.

At present, I m struggling how to lovingly inform my great-niece of my policy since she requested my services in her wedding a year from now. She is presently a single-mother (by a previous “relationship”) and has been living with her fiancé for over a year. The man also has a child from a previous marriage.   Continue reading

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To Attend – or Not

With the increasing cultural and almost universal (at least in the US) legal acceptance of homosexual “marriage,” the likelihood increases that a person will be invited to attend a gay wedding. For those serious about their Christian faith and their desire to honor God with their lives an invitation to such a wedding can pose a spiritual dilemma. It will not be a problem for Christians who have thoughtfully concluded that such marriages are acceptable to God. But, to those who believe that God’s Word teaches that homosexual activity and therefore homosexual marriages, are sinful, the decision to attend or not to attend is not so obvious. The following is a blog post by Christian author Randy Alcorn which contains an article by Pastor and blogger Kevin DeYoung. Alcorn’s lead in and then DeYoung’s article take a serious look at this later situation and approach the issue sensitively. Whether you come to the same conclusion as these two writers or not I believe that at least they help provide an understanding and rationale as to why non-attendance is their choice and may help you navigate future choices you will make. The post appeared at: www.epm.org as: Should Christians Attend Gay Weddings?  Does It Matter Whether They’re Religious or Secular?  RMF

Should Christians Attend Gay Weddings? Does It Matter Whether They’re Religious or Secular?

By Randy Alcorn

Randy Alcorn

As Kevin DeYoung, one of my favorite bloggers, attests, the question of whether a believer should attend a homosexual wedding is now frequently asked. (I’ve addressed the question previously in a video, and also shared some ideas for how someone could lovingly decline attending such a wedding.)

I’m well aware that my response to this issue will not only offend unbelievers, but also many believers. I’ve received pushback before and will again. But for what it’s worth, I have honestly tried to find a biblical way to conclude that love and grace, which I feel in my heart toward the people seeking to be married, means it is good to demonstrate friendship by joining in the celebration. But partly because love needs some reference point in truth to be true love, I’ve simply been unable to come to this conclusion.

I have talked with a number of people, including some pastors from good churches, who advocate saying yes to attending homosexual weddings. Their argument centers on the fact that Jesus was and is a friend of sinners and is full of grace. So true. But I have never seen a single wedding invitation to a wedding that doesn’t request people’s presence to join them in celebrating the couple’s union.  Continue reading

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A Look at Matter

Sight

If you’re not a scientist or engineer and you read the Wikipedia article on Matter (Click HERE) you’ll probably end up with a headache.  The nature of physical matter and its constituent parts is truly complex and I will admit far beyond my ability to fully comprehend. I could make it down to protons, electrons, and neutrons but when you dig deeper than that I pretty much start getting dizzy.  There are quarks, leptons, bosons,  Bose-Einstein and Fermonic condensates, gluon plasma and then the whole thing with ups and downs and spin orientation … and pretty soon you’re into some pretty deep 

Hearing

Kimchi.   And anti-matter, well, I just can’t go there.

Fortunately we can navigate life very well without understanding all the intricacies of chemistry,  physics, quantum mechanics, the space-time continuum, etc.

The Lord has, with our marvelously complex nervous system, given us a specific sensory capability dedicated to each sense.   We humans have a multitude of senses with sight (ophthalmoception),  Continue reading

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Am I Ready For Persecution? Are You?

Tuesday night our Life Group met for our continuing study of The Story – The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People.  The night’s session was devoted to a study and discussion of Paul’s missionary journeys and some of the letters written to the early church during his travels.  It was a fascinating study and was really good at helping us grasp the scope of Paul’s ministry and what all he encountered and accomplished as he was guided by the Holy Spirit.  With the one exception of Jesus Christ there is no one I admire more in all the pages of Scripture than Paul. He was an outstanding evangelist, a brilliant theologian, a faithful friend and mentor, and had a pastor’s heart.   Chuck Swindall described him has a man of grit and grace – and so he was.
The aspect of Paul’s life and ministry that stands out most to me is the role of persecution – initially the persecution he inflicted on the earliest Believers of the Way – then later the way Paul and other Christians became the objects of persecution for their newfound Christian faith.  Paul’s courage – courage in the face of personal danger and the terrible persecution he endured was remarkable.  Paul’s life forces me to consider my own level of commitment to Jesus and the Gospel message.  It mades me question how I would respond to the type of physical persecution and abuse that Paul endured during years of perilous ministry.
Well, as I was studying Paul in preparation for the lesson on his life I received the following blog post from Pastor Bob Russell.  It seemed to me like more than a coincidence. (Incidentally, my friend Gordon Dalbey tells me that there is no such word as “coincidence” in either Greek or Hebrew.)  The post appeared first at:  www.bobrussell.org as:  Is Your Faith Strong Enough to Survive Persecution?  I hope you will give Pastor Russell’s article your careful consideration.  RMF

 

Is Your Faith Strong Enough to Survive Persecution?
by Bob Russell

Pastor Bob Russell

Two weeks ago 29 Egyptian Christians courageously chose martyrdom for their faith in Christ. According to the Christian Post, Islamic terrorists massacred a busload of Coptic Christians who were taking a pilgrimage to a monastery to pray.

Egypt’s Copts, the Middle East’s largest Christian community, repeatedly have pleaded with their government for protection from discrimination, as well as outright attacks, at the hands of the country’s majority Muslim population. Coptic Christians account for about 10 percent of Egypt’s 93 million people.

“According to a chaplain, Friday’s massacre in Egypt occurred after Islamic radicals marched them off the bus one by one and asked them to deny their faith in Jesus Christ. A priest identified as Father Rashed, a chaplain for one of the groups comforting the survivors of the attack…said that ten masked Islamic State militants did not simply open fire on the bus.

Instead, the IS radicals apparently stopped the bus, made the victims walk out, and asked each of them, including the children, whether they were Christians. Rashed explained that the victims ‘were asked to renounce their Christian faith and profess belief in Islam, but all of them — even the children — refused. Each was killed in cold blood with a gunshot to the head or the throat.’
Friday’s attack, at the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, was another devastating blow to Egypt’s minority Copts, who in the past year have suffered many massacres at the hands of radicals, including Palm Sunday church bombings that killed 46 believers.”  Continue reading

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