Friday, August 13, 2010

Second Chance?

Some believe, as the Jehovah's Witnesses do, that many will get a second chance after death. The Bible never mentions people having a second chance at life. The Scriptures clearly tells us that "it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment." (Hebrews 9:27 ESV) Jesus told the criminal on the cross, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."(Luke 23:43 ESV), not "You will have another chance to live a life on this earth." In Matthew 25:46 we are told that some "will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Matthew 25:46 ESV) This tells us that believers get eternal life while unbelievers get eternal punishment.

The Bible also makes it clear that the resurrection of believers and unbelievers has not yet occurred, meaning that the bodies of the deceased are still in the grave.

"I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.'" (1 Corinthians 15:50-54 ESV)

"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 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 4:13-17 ESV).

At death, the Bible says that deceased believers are with the Lord. "So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:6-8 ESV)"I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better." (Philippians 1:23 ESV) This is further confirmed by John. "When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne." (Revelation 6:9 ESV)

So, believers in heaven exist in non-bodily form, (i.e. spiritually/non-corporeally) waiting the resurrection. When an unbeliever dies, he also exists in a non-bodily/spiritual/non-corporeal form, but he is not in Heaven, but Sheol/Hades, the realm of the dead. Believers are resurrected at the Second Coming, and unbelievers are raised at the final judgment after the Millennium. Hades will be emptied before the Great White Throne, where its occupants will be judged.

Thus no one has a second chance at death. All wait, either waiting with the Lord or in Hades, until the Last Day when they are resurrected to face their Maker. Hopefully we are ready for this day by being found in Christ!!

2 comments:

steve said...

Not sure where you are going with this. JWs have never stated that people get a second chance nor does the bible say this.

But it should not be hard to understand why people think they are getting a second chance. Since the wages of sin is death, the debt is paid at death. Thier heart condition will determine whether they are resurrected.

Matthew said...

Well, the way the WT interprets the phrase "resurrection of the unrighteous", is not in the traditional way. Most commentators would say that the "resurrection of the unrighteous" is a resurrection of the unsaved to stand before God as judge before receiving their final punishment. The WT disagrees and says that these are people who get a second chance to submit to Jehovah's sovereignty in the Millennial kingdom.

Also, you are correct, the wages sin pays is death. However, this goes far beyond just physical death. Physical death is one consequence, but spiritual death is the more pressing matter. The consequence for eating the fruit from the tree was, "in the day you eat from it you will die". They did indeed die that day, spiritually. Jesus also used phrases like, "let the dead bury their own dead". But the most compelling is Paul in Ephesians 2:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:1-5 ESV)

Also, you are absolutely correct, God does judge the heart condition. But if you are not in Christ, you do not want God to judge your heart condition, "for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth."(Genesis 8:21 ESV)
Indeed, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV)

"As it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
(Romans 3:10-18 ESV)

Jesus is clear, everyone is resurrected. Some to life, other to punishment. Revelation also says that punishment is eternal.

Thanks for your input,

Matt