We have a different type of Sunday today. We are doing a question and answer Sunday. So, I have had several questions come in and I will answer them with a few songs in between. I am trying to keep the answers brief so contact me with any follow-up questions.
Q and A Sunday:
- Why isn’t there more of a movement by Christian organizations like the Colson Center, etc to spearhead protests for what is right?
- I believe there is more going on than we realize. There have been multiple prolife marches.
- Last year Focus on the Family did a prolife event at Time Square.
- I will try to communicate these better in the future.
- Please follow up with me if I did not answer this sufficiently.
- Will we recognize our family and friends in heaven (Debbie Patsko)?
- This question has two parts: 1) memory 2) how would we recognize loved ones? Will heaven be physical? Will we have bodies?
- YES, I believe we will recognize our family and friends in Heaven. The parable of the Rich man and Lazarus, which you can read later on in Luke 16:19-31, shows people recognizing each other. That is a parable which means it may or may not be a true story. A parable is a story that comes alongside to teach, but still I don’t think Jesus would lead us astray with a parable. Plus, it is the only parable with people with real names.
- This gets into a broader topic but when we talk about heaven there is the present heaven and then the future new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21-22). Sometimes the present heaven is called the “intermediate heaven.” I believe we will recognize family and friends in both. To be sure, the new heaven and new earth will be a physical real place. We will have resurrected bodies. In 1 Cor. 15 Jesus is called the “first fruits” of the resurrection. For some more Scripture passages:
- Rev 6:9-11 describes people with physical bodies talking to God, and that will likely be during the tribulation period, which would be the intermediate heaven.
- In Rev 7:9-11 we have a great multitude of people worshipping God in Heaven. This means they have bodies and voices. That is still the intermediate Heaven. So, I believe the intermediate heaven and the future new heaven and new earth are physical places and we will have bodies. The other part of this question concerns memory.
- Remember that memory makes us who we are and so all, or some of our memory, must carry on into Heaven.
- We can talk more about this, but here is a short answer:
- Randy Alcorn writes: Scripture nowhere suggests a “memory wipe” causing us not to recognize family and friends. In fact, if we wouldn’t know our loved ones, the “comfort” of an afterlife reunion, spoken of in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18, would be no comfort at all. Theologian J. C. Ryle said of this passage, “There would be no point in these words of consolation if they did not imply the mutual recognition of saints. The hope with which he cheers wearied Christians is the hope of meeting their beloved friends again. . . . In the moment that we who are saved shall meet our several friends in heaven, we shall at once know them, and they will at once know us.”
- Further: At the Transfiguration, the three disciples recognized Moses and Elijah, even though they weren’t told who the two men were, and they couldn’t have previously known what they looked like (Matthew 17:1-4). This may suggest that we will instantly recognize people we know of but have not previously met, perhaps as a result of distinguishing characteristics emanating through their physical appearance. If we will recognize people we haven’t known on Earth, surely we will recognize people we have known!
- Will our pets be there (Debbie Patsko)?
- I remember a Twilight Zone episode about a man and his dog.
- Hyder Simpson is an elderly mountain manwho lives with his wife Rachel and his hound dog Rip in the backwoods. Rachel does not like having the dog indoors, but Rip saved Hyder’s life once and Hyder refuses to part with him. Rachel has seen some bad omens recently and warns Hyder not to go raccoon hunting that night. When Rip dives into a pond after a raccoon, Hyder jumps in after him, but only the raccoon comes up out of the water. The next morning, Hyder and Rip wake up next to the pond. When they return home, Hyder finds that neither Rachel, the preacher, nor the neighbors can hear him or see him; they are under the impression that he has died.
- Walking along the road, Hyder and Rip encounter an unfamiliar fence and begin to follow it. They come to a gate tended by a man, who Hyder initially believes to be Saint Peter. Explaining that he is only a gatekeeper, the man explains that Hyder can enter the Elysian Fieldsof the afterlife. Simpson is appreciative, but disheartened to hear that neither raccoon hunting nor any of his other usual pleasures can be found inside. Told that Rip cannot enter and will be taken elsewhere, Hyder angrily declines the offer of entry and decides to keep walking along the “Eternity Road,” saying, “Any place that’s too high-falutin’ for Rip is too fancy for me.”
- Later, Hyder and Rip stop to rest and are met by a young man, who introduces himself as an angel dispatched to find them and bring them to Heaven. When Hyder explains his previous encounter, the angel tells him that the gate was actually the entrance to Hell. The gatekeeper had stopped Rip from entering because Rip would have smelled the brimstone inside and warned Hyder that something was wrong. The angel says, “You see, Mr. Simpson, a man, well, he’ll walk right into Hell with both eyes open. But even the Devilcan’t fool a dog!”
- As the angel leads Hyder along the Eternity Road toward Heaven, the angel tells Hyder that a square dance and raccoon hunt are scheduled for that night. He also assures Hyder that Rachel, who will soon be coming along the road, will not be misled into entering Hell. The closing narration is:
- “Travelers to unknown regions would be well advised to take along the family dog. He could just save you from entering the wrong gate. At least, it happened that way once—in a mountainous area of the Twilight Zone.”
- Look at Genesis 1:30: And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
- That passage references animals in the Garden of Eden and also references the “breath of life in them.” Animals were in paradise when God first created it prior to the fall of man. In the eternal Heaven, in Revelation 22 it seems that that Heaven is a reflection of the first Garden of Eden. We will see a Tree of Life again in verse 2 as there was a tree of life in the first Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9). We see a river in the eternal Heaven in Revelation 22:1. We see two rivers in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2:10 and 13. It does seem that the eternal New Jerusalem Heaven is going to be like the Garden of Eden was meant to be, only much better. It would seem that since animals were in the first garden, they will be with us in eternity. Let’s talk about this for a moment.
- Psalm 104 is all about animals and then we get to verse 30 and it references renewing them. This seems to mean that they are resurrected in Heaven.
- Heaven will be awesome with or without your pet.
- Heaven will be with God in paradise.
- DON’T discourage people from grieving the loss of an animal. That is appropriate. God created animals for us, and we are sad when they leave us.
- I believe the Bible teaches us not to abuse animals. We are to take care of them.
- Romans 8 teaches us that all creation is waiting redemption, and this includes animals.
- If a person was raised in a Christian home and you know deep down they believe, but for whatever the reasons, don’t practice any religion, are they saved (Debbie Patsko)?
- Only God knows if they are truly saved. On one hand I believe that God’s grace is more than we can even begin to understand. On the other hand if one truly knows Jesus one would expect they would live life with Jesus.
- Think of John 15, Jesus says that He is the Vine, we are the branches. We are called to live life with We live life with Jesus by spiritual disciplines which includes church, small groups, Sunday School, daily time with the Lord. The Christian life is not simply about fire insurance but living life with Jesus now.
- I would never condemn someone to hell, but Jesus does say that we are known by our fruits (Matt 7:16).
- Lisa Lotze: When can Christians defend themselves? If a madman asks you to deny the faith, but it does no good should we deny the faith. What about mob violence trying to take your cross or Bibles or pictures of Jesus? How is it helpful to go underground as a church when going underground means that you cannot share the Gospel, but if you are not underground and just deny Jesus you are alive to share the Gospel?
- This is a tough one which may need a further conversation.
- There is a difference between state sanctioned persecution versus individual persecution.
- In actual persecution Christians are never called to defend themselves. Instead we are called to trust in Christ. We are called to understand that they are really persecuting Jesus, not us. Jesus can handle it. In Matt 10:19 Jesus says: But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say.
- The underground church is sharing the Gospel by marketplace evangelism. The church is underground meeting for worship, but they still have jobs, occupations, etc.
- The underground church is growing rapidly too.
- Sometimes God does do more through our death than our life…
- Now, back to defending ourselves. I think that Christians can defend ourselves. However, we should not jump to that. Augustine wrote up the just war theory. To an extent we can apply the principles. 1) A war needed to be waged by legitimate authority. This means that first we should try to contact the police. 2) The War needed to be a just cause. 3) The war needed to have the right intentions. I believe we need to exhaust as many peaceful things before we get to violence. Remember Jesus taught to turn the other cheek (Matt 5:38-40). Romans 12:14-20 says: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
- Remember that people have a different worldview than we do as Christians and we should try to show love.
- This question was asked in conversation about riots and mob protests. Every situation is different. We CANNOT REASON with a mob. In that case, we probably cannot reason and we should try contacting the police first and getting to a safe place. We do need to be careful. Too often United State Christians are quickly talking about using guns to shoot people that we are called to share the Gospel with. Remember, if you shoot them, even in self-defense, they die and they may go to hell. However, they kill you and you go to heaven with Jesus. I am not saying don’t defend ourselves, but why do we brain storm situations that no one ever wants to be in. Try to seek peace.
- Suppose, your business is being attacked by an angry mob, can you as a Christian defend your business with a gun? I believe Christians are divided on this and I am too. Firstly, leave it to the police. Biblically, it is easy to substantiate the military using force and the police using force, it is difficult to substantiate an individuate using force.
- However, I do think we can use reason to show that it is okay and appropriate to defend ourselves and our family. This means when the police have not arrived, or cannot help, we are forced to do what we can to protect ourselves and our property. But, if it is a mob we may not get far and it would probably be wiser to use our weapons to get out of the situation.
- The question was posed about groups that wanted pictures of a white Jesus taken down. Again, you cannot reason with a mob. However, civil dialogue is a great thing.
- I think if an organized group had a good dialogue about Jesus pictures, etc I would talk with them.
- It is true that Jesus was not white.
- These topics take discernment and this means that we must be living in a relationship with Jesus seeking His wisdom.
 Alcorn, Randy. Heaven: Biblical Answers to Common Questions . Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.
 Alcorn, Randy. Heaven: Biblical Answers to Common Questions . Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.