Questions About Body and Heaven 2.0
There have been lots of great questions in response to this week’s posts. Unfortunately they are scattered in between my inbox, comment links, and Facebook responses. I will try to gather them and answer them here, concisely in one post. Here are a few of the most notable ones. I will try to answer others a bit later.
- Is it O.K. for Christians to choose to be cremated? If one is cremated and ashes scattered will that person’s body be resurrected into a new spiritual body?
This question is really one of physicality. It could also be stated, “What sort of physical shape does a person have to be in, in order to be resurrected?” The short answer is whether we are ash or dust we will be resurrected. A person can become either whether it be by fire or by burial. Also we must acknowledge that people can die horrible deaths in which the body is all but lost. Some people point to 1 Corinthians 15:35-55 as a reason you should not be cremated because the body must be “planted in the ground.” I am not sure Paul’s teaching here was meant to be taken as a blueprint for burial as much as a theological truth about the resurrection in general. Remember, even though Paul is saying “planted in the ground” in the 1st century a bulk of the population was not actually “planted in the ground” but rather deposited in a tomb. After a year of decay the family would then come in and place the bones in a box, an ossuary.
- You mentioned that in my spiritual body, I will be "me", but will my loved ones know me. For example, will my grandmother know me as her grand-daughter, will I know Chris as my husband, etc? Just something I've always wondered and have never gotten an answer.
This is one of those you have to answer with a sprinkle of “my own personal opinion.” 1 Cor. 7:29-31 says that the “form” of this world is passing away. In short that means the way we do and understand things is going to change. I have a hard time believing that our relational memories will be erased to the point that we cannot recall how we related to people on earth. However, there must be something so wonderful about the way we relate fully to God and to one another that the former ways of relating will seem inferior and we will surely not want to return to them. There are some things the Bible is simply not clear on. What we do know is that the gospel, practiced in this world, should have a profound impact on our relationships. We do know that how we relate to and treat others in this world is of eternal consequence (Matthew 25:31-46).
- What Scriptural indication do we have that a baby--born or unborn, or a small child, goes to be with The LORD for eternity if it dies? If we are all descendants of Adam, then is not condemnation the "default" destiny for those who have not accepted Jesus as their Atonement? Corruption cannot enter Heaven. (By the way, great to hear from you Alden and Penny).
When dealing with eternal concepts and most certainly in dealing with our salvation we want to distinguish between wishful thinking and truth. I think there is a lot of misinformation on the planet that is not truth, but is more based on wishful thinking. No one likes the idea that good, honest, innocent people die and go to Hell, but yet the Bible teaches this is certainly the case.
However, when it comes to innocent children, I think we can safely remove it from the confines of wishful thinking and relegate what we know of their eternity to truth. With that said, we should also acknowledge there are some rough edges here as to how exactly does all of this work and what ages are included? However, we do know that God saves children who do not comprehend the gospel.
The most notable case of this is 2 Samuel 12:23. David is a godly man who did a very ungodly thing. Yet David is comforted in the child’s death. He seemed so comforted it was odd to those who surrounded him. He explained his comfort was found in the nature of the child’s afterlife. Some would argue that “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me” simply means the afterlife. However we should acknowledge it is very clear that David was a redeemed man and he, as we, know where he will spend eternity.
We should also acknowledge that there were children “saved” by God in their mother’s womb or soon after birth. The list would include John the Baptist (Luke 1:15), David (Psalm 22:10), and Jeremiah (Jer. 1:5).
I know I am beating the proverbial horse on this one, but Wayne Grudem has a great discussion of this on pages 498-500 in his Systematic Theology. I am but a waffle ball player (see my note on a previous post)!
- Judy in
asked some great questions about my last post. I want to simply copy our dialogue: Florida
From Judy - Jesus tells the Sadducees that they don't know the scriptures and the power of God in this same discussion. Are there specific Old Testament verses that Jesus is referring to about marriage and the lack thereof in heaven? Also, I was never bothered by the fact that I would not be married in heaven until my husband of 23 years just passed away. Now I find myself in your first camp, like you hope your sweet wife is in, very disappointed and saddened at this thought. I still want to be married in heaven, at least from my current, earthbound perspective. And as to the male/female issue, is it possible that the reason Jesus and Moses and Samuel are still recognized as male is that they still don't have their new resurrected body, which after we all get them are then "as the angels" neither male nor female.
My reply - I am not sure Jesus is referring as much to specific verses about post-resurrection marriage (if He is I cannot recall them) as much as he is speaking to their lack of belief in any sort of resurrection. The Sadducees were strict materialists who did not believe in resurrection. Their question was designed only to show how ridiculous the idea of resurrection was in any context. The problem is, their question backfired.
As far as not being married to your spouse in heaven it is difficult to grasp with our mind. We are only accustomed to certain definitions of things. We cannot conceive of how it may be more fulfilling to relate to our loved ones outside of the current defined relationships, but yet we know this will be true, somehow. What we must be careful of is not to grieve over the state of eternity but rather over the reality of death. Death is the enemy that severs our current relationships.
As far as the male/female issue and the resurrected bodies, your statement may hold true for the OT saints, but it could not be said of Jesus. His resurrection was the first “full” resurrection and glorification. He was in his glorified body when Mary referred to Him as “sir.” He is the firstborn among many brethren.
Judy, thanks for your input. I will certainly be praying for you. I am sorry to hear of your husband’s passing. May God be a husband and a father to you during this time.