Section 1 .. Choose Life That You Might Live

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Choose Life That You Might Live

Part 13: The Message of The Bible ...The Kingdom Is at Hand
All too many people think 'love' was Jesus' core message. They couldn't be more wrong. The kingdom of God, a phrase used over 50 times in the four Gospels alone, was at the heart of Jesus' ministry. In fact, He even said that the proclamation of the Kingdom was the reason He was sent to earth (Luke 4:43). But here is the interesting part - the Bible's description of this kingdom of God (also called heaven) matches, in every respect, the world most men and women would choose to live in - one of peace and safety, where there is no crime, hunger and disease, war, nor death. Unless, of course, your idea of paradise in "an ineffable transcendental state" (whatever that means).

Carol Brooks

List of Chapters
For a slightly longer description of each chapter, please go to the Main Index

Part 1: Spiritual not Religious. The question is how do you know that the spiritual path you are on will lead somewhere you want to be? What does it offer you in the long run... beyond this life?
Part 2: Religious Pluralism. It is tragically true that few of those who believe that all spiritual beliefs are valid paths to God seem to have made an in depth study of various religions to see if their claims are based on fact, or fairy dust.
Part 3: Faith and The Bible. Christianity is perhaps the only religion that does not demand 'blind faith' from its followers.
Part 4: God And His Bible. There is far more evidence in favor of the Bible being true, than there is for any of the other 'holy books which usually consist of endless streams of often mind numbing philosophy, with little or no framework or context. The evidence includes the Bible’s humanly impossible authorship, its archaeological and scientific accuracy and  fulfilled prophecy.
Part 5: Alleged Old Testament Discrepancies. The charges are usually careless, overconfident and unsubstantiated.
Part 6: Why Jesus Is Without Equal.  Many so called holy men claim to to be divine or divinely inspired - to have had mystical visions or experiences. So what?
Part 7: The Reliability of The New Testament. If we applied whatever criteria liberal scholars use to dismiss the Gospels, to the evidence for other historical people and events, we would have to dismiss as myth everything we think we think we know about the ancient past.
Part 8: New Testament Differences and Discrepancies  Most alleged 'mistakes' arise from understanding too little about the Bible.
Part 8 b: The Resurrection Accounts  The so-called contradictions are trotted out without a single reference to the possible solutions that can very plausibly and naturally explain them.
 Part 9: The Bible, Then And Now. People commonly reject the Bible because they believe the original text has been changed significantly since it was first written making it a corrupted book. But is there any truth to the charge?
Part 10: Historical Corroboration. Were any of the Gospel accounts substantiated by non-Christian sources?
Part 11: Archaeology and The Bible. Does archaeology confirm or undermine the New Testament accounts?
Part 12: Is The Evidence Insufficient or Too Obscure? A far more sensible way to look at it is... the more severe the consequences, the fewer risks we should take.
YOU ARE HERE 001orange Part 13: The Message of The Bible. The Heaven Jesus was sent to tell us about is no pie in the sky ethereal place 'somewhere out there. In fact, the Bible's description of the coming kingdom is far more practical than that of our theologians. '
Part 14: The Warning of The Bible. We are all under the death penalty. If dying once sounds terrible to you, how does doing it twice sound? -  which is exactly what the Bible says will happen if...
Part 15: Who Is and Isn't a Christian. Since the word originated with the Bible, only the Bible has the right to define what a "Christian" is.
Part 16: Myths and Misconceptions that stem from knowing too little about Biblical Christianity.


I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death .. So choose life in order that you may live (Deuteronomy 30)


Old Age and Death
While happiness and fulfillment are wonderful things to have in this life, a great part of the problem of growing old is the uncertainty of what lies beyond

What Various Religions Tell Us About The Afterlife
Perhaps our religious convictions give us some solace and hope that either death is simply part of a recurring cycle, or that an unspecified "better life" awaits us on the other side. Or perhaps not.

Eastern Religions

Middle Eastern Religions

Summary of The Choices

How People Would Describe Their "Perfect World" ... Take A Survey
I am willing to bet good money that what you will not hear is they want to attain an ineffable transcendental state. What you will hear will be more on the lines of peace and safety, an absence of crime, hunger and disease, unpolluted air and water, pesticide free food, more love among fellow men, and an honest government.

'Love" Was Not The Core of Jesus' Message
Neither the Romans nor the Jewish authorities would have been particularly bothered by a prophet who ran around telling people to love God and love people.

Mankind's Idea of Utopia is Exactly The Same as The Christian Heaven
Luckily the Bible isn't at all silent on where "heaven" is and, even more importantly, what it will be like. In fact, the Bible's description of the coming kingdom is far, far, more practical, and a lot less sanctimonious, than that of our theologians.

The Three Interconnected And Inseparable Promises To Abraham
The idea of an ethereal heaven makes absolutely no sense whatsoever in view of the fact that God's promise to give Abraham an entire country for an everlasting possession, is one of the most solemn declarations He ever made.

The Importance of the Resurrection
When it comes to the future of every believer it is impossible to overstate the importance of this momentous event simply because like the first fruit offering of the Old Testament, Christ was the first of the harvest... the first one to be resurrected from the dead.

Old Age
In an article I once read on the web site of The American Society on Aging Ronald J. Manheimer, former director of older adult education for The National Council on the Aging (NCOA) in Washington, D.C. talked about the social isolation, loneliness, economic hardships etc. that many elderly cope with. And we do attempt to fight this usually with a barrage of "programs" designed to help the elderly cope.

    The trumpets blare. In we come, the rescuers, healers offering life review, autobiography workshops, humanities discussion groups, relaxation exercises, counseling (both peer and professional), antidepressants, holistic health regimens, special diets. Legions of spiritual advisors stand ready to offer workshops about how to become an enlightened elder, how to get in touch with your deep psychic Self, how to let go of the past, the future, children, work. Then there are the aging advocates and political activists who repudiate these solutions--too individualistic. To the barricades, they shout. Organize to protect Social Security (standard and supplemental), Medicare and Medicaid, and fight ageism in the workplace or the doctor's office. Join support groups, advocacy groups, inter-generational coalitions, computer networks, mutual-aid cyber groups... [01]

And Death
Of course happiness, fulfillment and good health are wonderful things to have in this life. The problem being that 'this life' doesn't last forever. In fact, if you think about it you will be shocked at how quickly the last decade or two have flown by.

Regardless of how many face lifts you have had, how well organized your retirement plans are, how financially stable you may be, how much under control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are, how much you exercise and refrain from smoking, and how much meaningful companionship and mental stimulation you have - you are going to die. And, regardless of how enlightened or spiritually 'awakened' you might think you are, the question of what lies beyond still remains. 

In fact, a great part of the problem of growing old is the possibility that, at death, all our dreams, hopes, aspirations and all the spiritual principles we might have lived by come to an undignified end - a putrid mass of decaying flesh. As Ronald Manheimer went on to say

    Though not everyone wears the furrowed brow of the seeker, the crisis of meaning is inescapable. The little reminders of aging--grayness, baldness, a few wrinkles, hair in the ears, "age" spots, joint pain and stiffness, forgetfulness, grandchildren going off to college, a growing nostalgia for one's past--trigger those annoying questions: Is this all there is to life? What have I really accomplished? Who am I for others? Some people object, countering: "I don't worry myself about such questions. I'm a practical person, satisfied with the life that is given to me." Fending off the questions of meaning that tug at the mind and heart calls for well-honed defenses. We are all quite adept.

    … "We may take heart in the belief that our immortality is borne through our progeny or through the good deeds witnessed in those who remember us and preserve our stories... " [02]

    (In other words the best we can hope for is that our grandchildren remember our names ten years after we are gone. Even this seems unlikely in this day and age).

As Ray Stedman once wrote...

    " ... through the centuries, men have tried to penetrate the veil of death, have tried to guess at what lies beyond. Not only Christian writers, but secular writers, and members of other religious faiths have tried to set forth what lies beyond death. Even the most pagan has tried to find at least some hope. For the human spirit resists the idea that all we are will be cut off and ended -- annihilated, exterminated -- at death. Somehow it does not make sense. It insults us. And so the human spirit is always ready to grasp at the slightest straw of hope that there is something beyond the grave. Perhaps it is described as a kind of nirvana, as an experience apart from the body, as some mystical, "spiritual" experience. There are many guesses at what lies beyond the grave...” [03]

The Platitudes
The fancy urns and expensive coffins only serve to soothe the feelings of those left behind. The oft repeated and meaningless platitude .... "He (or she) has gone to a better place" is nothing more than a sop to the minds and emotions of those who cannot handle seeing someone put in a box, lowered into the ground, and covered up by dirt.

However, even they will eventually move on - and you? You will be relegated to a few photographs in an album that will gradually gather more and more dust.

Yet, death is the one subject that most people have trouble discussing or even thinking about, especially since we are not in control of when, or how, our final curtain call will take place. Perhaps our religious convictions give us some solace and hope that either death is simply part of a recurring cycle, or that an unspecified "better life" awaits us on the other side.

Or perhaps not.

What Various Religions Tell Us About The Afterlife

Eastern Religions
Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism all believe in one or another version of karma, the law of cause and effect. In other words, our past lives have determined our present one, and our actions in this life will decide our future ones. Each religion also teaches people how they can be liberated from this endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, and how to be united with God... in which regard they have a great many abstract, and often highly convoluted things to say. (Considering that the evidence for reincarnation is all but non-existent, these ideas remain theoretical at best).

Also See What Were The Claims Made By The Founders Of Most Religions Based On?

Sikhism teaches that our soul is a part of God, whom it has been separated from.

The Sikh goal is to end the cycle of birth, death and rebirth, and unite the separated individual soul with the Universal Soul (God). The way to attain this goal is through applying the teachings of the Gurus to all situations, continuous meditation on the Holy Name, selfless service, control of mind and correct regulation of desires and impulses.[04]

Guru Nanak gave a vivid description of the five stages through which man must pass in order to reach the abode of eternal bliss. The first stage is Dharm Khand or "The Realm of Duty". The fifth or the final stage is Sach Khand or "The Realm of Truth", which is the final stage of spiritual ascent. At this point the aspirant has completed the arduous journey of the soul, and becomes one with God. 

    "He has transmuted himself into Divinity. He has attained the goal of his life. He has found out his permanent resting place"  [05]

The goal of Buddhism is to escape the cycle of reincarnation and enter nirvana (by following the "Noble Eight-fold Path". In the Buddhist tradition, nirvana is described as the imperturbable stillness of mind which is the result of extinguishing the fires of attachment, aversion, and ignorance that cause suffering. When the fires are extinguished, suffering comes to an end and complete peace is experienced.

However, there is, apparently, no consensus of opinion as to what this stillness of mind is.

"Buddhist philosophers have long debated about whether Nirvana is absolute cessation or an ineffable transcendental state.. One thing is certain though, it is not a heaven state and it is not the absorption of the individual soul into an Absolute, an idea that is more indicative of Hinduism" [06]

(You do know that ineffable is simply another word for 'indescribable', and transcendental can mean superior, mystical or supernatural, or even beyond common thought or experience.

Right! You knew that! Sorry, Just checking.)

So, according to Buddhism, we have either complete cessation, or some kind of mystical supernatural state that no one can describe to look forward to. Why does that not warm the cockles of my heart?

 Note that, in Buddhism, reincarnation is not always sees as the simple physical birth and rebirth of a person. In other words, a person's soul does not migrate into one physical body after another. A person's karma is described by the site buddhanet, which says karma...

    operates in the universe as the continuous chain reaction of cause and effect. It is not only confined to causation in the physical sense but also it has moral implications...By actions, thoughts, and words, man is releasing spiritual energy to the universe and he is in turn affected by influences coming in his direction. Man is therefore the sender and receiver of all these influences. The entire circumstances surrounding him is his karma.. [07]

Hinduism can get extremely confusing. As said by The Heart of Hinduism, "Hinduism is diverse; no single doctrine (or set of beliefs) can represent its numerous traditions" [08]

    Within a broad spectrum of religious practices, Hinduism accommodates both material and spiritual needs. However, as material benefits are temporary, most traditions consider eternal moksha the ultimate goal. Hindu texts detail four sequential aims – dharma, artha, kama, and moksha. Dharma recommends righteous and regulated living, so that one is able one to acquire wealth, artha. With prosperity one can then enjoy kama, sensual pleasure. When one realises the futility of temporary gratification, one eventually seeks moksha (liberation). [09]

The Hindu concept of moksha, which is a Sanskrit term used to describe the attaining of eternal bliss or "highest happiness" by the soul is achieved through union with God (yoga), and release from samsara, defined as the repetitive cycle of birth, death, and rebirth (Please note that the different streams of yoga are all intended to bring about this union with the divine).

Just as with nirvana, there is considerable differences of opinion regarding the precise nature of moksha. Some believe it is the annihilation of the soul's individuality, others believe the soul and God are eternally distinct.

Perhaps some of the appeal of Eastern religions is that they are "high on individual liberty and low on individual responsibility" [10], and certainly not a tenth as inconvenient and bothersome as Christianity. An impersonal god that doesn't make demands of us is vastly appealing. We can have our dose of "spirituality" from three to five in the afternoon and the rest of the time is ours. Our impersonal 'god' would not dream of cramping our style on a Saturday night.

Besides which, the final goal of these three religions is not something I, or anyone else, can envision or describe in any practical terms whatsoever. The words are all very well, but who can actually tell me what it is like to become one with God. Will I be able to think, feel etc. or do I simply cease to exist? The latter not being very appealing since I am a living breathing human being, who eats and sleeps, laughs and cries. Additionally, since there are a great many things I thoroughly enjoy...  good food, summer rain, long walks etc. why in the world would a cessation of all desire be in the slightest bit appealing?

And who is this god that I am supposed to be united with? Can any one tell me a little about him, assuming it is a 'him'? That is, of course, if any one actually knows.

And since, as discussed in previous chapters, none of the founders of any of these religions provided any evidence whatsoever that they knew what they were talking about, why should I believe that any of this is going to happen?

Also See What Were The Claims Made By The Founders Of Most Religions Based On? 
in Chapter 6 Why Jesus is Without Equal

"Faith" you say?

Unfortunately if you think about it... faith is only as good as the object one has faith in. The strongest most unshakable faith in something that isn't true, is not going to magically convert it into reality.

Middle Eastern Religions

The Baha'i Faith regards the conventional description of heaven (and hell) not as specific places, but as symbolic.

    The Bahá'í writings describe heaven as a "spiritual condition" where closeness to God is defined as heaven; conversely hell is seen as a state of remoteness from God. Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, has stated that the nature of the life of the soul in the afterlife is beyond comprehension in the physical plane, but has stated that the soul will retain its consciousness and individuality and remember its physical life; the soul will be able to recognize other souls and communicate with them. [11]

Someone telling me that "the nature of the life of the soul in the afterlife is beyond comprehension in the physical plane" does not give me a very warm feeling. Even supposing I take Bahá'u'lláh's word for it that my soul will retain its consciousness and individuality, where will I live and what will I do?

Mundane questions maybe, but extremely relevant.

And, on a more alarming note, Bahá'í...

    "teaches that there is one God, that all humanity is one family and that there is a fundamental unity underlying religion. Baha'u'llah affirms that this is the age in which world peace will be established. As anticipated in the sacred scriptures of the past, humanity will achieve its spiritual and social maturity and live as one family in a just, global society". [12].

See The Baha'i Influence at the United Nations

The Qur'an contains many references to an afterlife in Eden for those who do good deeds. In Islam, if one's good deeds outweigh out one's sins, then one may gain entrance to heaven, which is the Arabic word, jannah, or "garden". Conversely, if a person's sins outweigh their good deeds, they will be sent to hell. The more good deeds one has performed, the higher the level of heaven one is sent to. And what will we do there? Surah Al Kahf, verse 31 says

    "For them will be Gardens of eternity; beneath them rivers will flow; they will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold, and they will wear green garments of fine silk and heavy brocade. They will recline therein on raised thrones. How good [is] the recompense! How beautiful a couch [is there] to recline on!” [13]

While Islam comes closest to anything resembling practicality, it also puts forward some very weird, even bizarre, ideas. Somebody supposedly once asked Muhammad how the people of Paradise will relieve themselves (I have to wonder what in the world made him think of asking that particular question). Muhammad's reply?..

"They relieve themselves by perspiring through their skins, and its fragrance will be that of musk, and all stomachs will have become lean.” (ibn Hibbaan) [14]

According to Bukhari

Allah's Apostle said, "The first group of people who will enter Paradise, will be glittering like the full moon and those who will follow them, will glitter like the most brilliant star in the sky. They will not urinate, relieve nature, spit, or have any nasal secretions. Their combs will be of gold, and their sweat will smell like musk. The aloes-wood will be used in their centers. Their wives will be houris. All of them will look alike and will resemble their father Adam (in statute), sixty cubits tall." [1]

The site The Religion of Islam adds.."The women of Paradise are pure and free from menstruation, postnatal bleeding and all the other impurities suffered by women in this world, and all are free from stool and feces. God says: “...and they shall have therein purified mates..." (Quran 2:25) [16]

Additionally, the site answering Christianity says, winners of Paradise will enjoy the service of young Servants and virgin Houris. [17] A houri is 'a voluptuously beautiful young woman' or one of the beautiful maidens that in Muslim belief live with the blessed in paradise.

Apparently most 'normal' women will be in hell. The Prophet said,

    "I looked at Paradise and found poor people forming the majority of its inhabitants; and I looked at Hell and saw that the majority of its inhabitants were women." [18]

The concept of resurrection did not originate with nor is it exclusive to Christianity. It found its roots in Judaism. However, the book Resurrection: The Power of God for Christians and Jews by  Kevin J. Madigan and Jon Douglas Levenson, seems to suggest that there was, at least initially, no concept of a personal resurrection.

Every person's life was inextricably tied in with the community, the emphasis placed on the family name, the tribe or 'house' and the nation of Israel as a whole. The overwhelming belief was that God would eventually 'make things right' for a faithful nation. In a review of the book, Dolores L Christie, executive director of the Catholic Theological Society of America (John Carroll University, University Heights, Ohio) says

    First, life and death are framed in terms of the community rather than of the individual: Joseph dies, but in his offspring Joseph's seed lives on. When Rachel weeps for her children, she weeps not for her actual children but for all of Israel. Personal identity survives beyond death only in the continuance of the people. In this context of the corporate family, there is no felt need for individual bodily resurrection, because birth reverses death. This is the reason that, for a Jewish person, children and family hold so much importance. For the Jew facing death without a life fulfilled in progeny, the end of life may be devastating... Later Jewish biblical literature, notably the book of Daniel, expresses belief in a general eschatological resurrection of the dead. [19]

However, Daniel 12:13 which records God telling the prophet that he would enter into rest and rise again for his allotted portion at the end of the age, is very clearly about a personal resurrection. Also be noted is that the book of Acts definitively states that the Sadducees did not believe in a bodily resurrection, nor in angels or any other kind of spirits, "but the Pharisees acknowledged them all". (Acts 23:8).

However, the question is what comes after this resurrection?

    Judaism is famously ambiguous about this matter. The immortality of the soul, the World to Come, and the resurrection of the dead all feature prominently in Jewish tradition, but exactly what these things are and how they relate to each other has always been vague. [Is There a Jewish Afterlife? https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/life-after-death/]

A discussion about Olam ha­Ba (afterlife) in the Bible, Second Temple Literature, The  Talmud and Midrash, Medieval Jewish Philosophy, Kabbalistic Literature, and Modern Jewish Thought is available on https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/afterlife. Copy and Paste Link Into Your Browser.

And that is as close at it gets in Judaism... However as Dave Hunt once said

    "To arrive at death's door without certainty of where it leads is the height of folly". [20].

Summary of The Choices
In summary, the various religions teach widely widely divergent paths that do not even lead to the same destination.

When all is said and done, we can choose to follow Buddhism and attain Nirvana, when the fires of attachment, aversion, and ignorance are extinguished, suffering comes to an end and complete peace is experienced. This in spite of the fact that no one is certain whether Nirvana is absolute cessation, or an ineffable transcendental state (some kind of mystical supernatural state, which no one can describe). I don't know about you, but neither choice has me clicking my heels and jumping for joy.

We could, on the other hand, attempt to attain the Hindu concept of Moksha... eternal bliss or "highest happiness" achieved through union with God (whatever that means) and be released from samsara, defined as the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. (Assuming, of course, that the theory of reincarnation is true, in spite of there not being one shred of evidence in its favor)

We could also go with the Sikh idea of entering into the abode of eternal bliss, whatever that means.

Otherwise we could align ourself with Judaism, which has no official conception of the afterlife.

And, of course, we could always opt to recline forever on raised thrones, wearing gold bracelets and fine silk, free of the basest human functions... relieving ourselves by perspiring through our skins. (I am afraid I am not sure exactly how long I could spend on a couch, heavenly or otherwise, but I am pretty sure it would not be more than two hours at the most. Wait a minute - I am sorry but completely forgot that being a woman I will probably never get to see a throne or fine silk.

But here is something I find truly perplexing.

Although it seems that incomprehensible and pompous jargon (spiritual gobbledygook), that tells us absolutely nothing seems to make people feel very spiritual, it doesn't square with what they would choose for themselves

Perhaps you should try a little experiment.

Take A Survey... Ask People To Describe Their "Perfect World"
Ask as many people as you know what changes they would make to this world in order to make it as perfect as possible... somewhere it would be an absolute pleasure to live.

I am willing to bet good money that what you will not hear is they want to attain an ineffable transcendental state. And, unless you are talking to an ascetic, I doubt you will hear anyone say that they wish no attachment to this world and any of its pleasures. Nor do I imagine you will hear many people saying they literally want to spend the rest of their lives on a couch in a garden... gold bracelets notwithstanding. Well! I take that back... You might run across one or two.

What you will hear will be more on the lines of peace and safety, an absence of crime, hunger and disease, unpolluted air and water, pesticide free food, more love among fellow men, and an honest government. In fact, there will be a number of subjects common to most people's answers, and an astonishing similarity in the details. In other words, what they will describe is their idea of Utopia which is what I imagine Jon Lennon was visualizing in his very popular song "Imagine". What he wouldn't have imagined is someone shooting him.

But here is what not many people seem to be aware of ... the Bible, which appears to millions to be outdated, out of touch, and largely irrelevant to modern society, promises exactly the utopian world that mankind dreams of calling it heaven, the kingdom of Heaven, or the kingdom of God. That it was within grasp is exactly what Jesus came to earth to proclaim.

'Love" Was Not The Core of Jesus' Message
Sadly, the average person thinks Jesus' main message was about love. While it is true that love figured prominently in His message, it was not the core of his proclamation and certainly wasn't what got Him crucified. Neither the Romans nor the Jewish authorities would have been particularly bothered by a Jewish prophet who ran around telling people to love God and love people.

In a nutshell, Jesus' message is summarized in Mark's description of His ministry. (Emphasis Added)

    Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:14-15 NASB)

Jesus never stopped talking about the "kingdom of God" a phrase used over 50 times in the four Gospels alone (Matthew, apparently preferred the synonymous "kingdom of heaven" that occurs 32 times in his book). This coming kingdom was not only at the heart of many of Jesus' parables (likened to a mustard seed, a pearl of great price, a banquet given by a king, etc), but He even said that the proclamation of the Kingdom was the reason He was sent to earth.

    But He said to them, "I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose." (Luke 4:43 NASB)

The article What Was the Core of Jesus' Message?
has much more detail including what the Old Testament prophets had to say

Unfortunately, most people, including most Christians, are absolutely in the dark about what the Scriptures mean by the phrase kingdom of God/Heaven.

Mankind's Idea of Utopia is Exactly The Same as The Christian Heaven

Even Christians who believe they will spend an eternity in "heaven", seem to have little or no idea where this heaven is, what it will look like, or what they will do there. Either they have fleeting, half formed ideas about some ethereal place 'out there', or resort to pious phrases that amount to little more than spiritual gobbledy gook. If this is the best we can do, then it is hardly cause for surprise that atheists and non Christians are not in the slightest bit interested in our "heaven", and Christians themselves so rarely seem to look forward to the coming of the day of the Lord.

Is it any wonder then that most people do not see Christianity as having many (or even any)  of the answers they are looking for.

Luckily the Bible isn't at all silent on where "heaven" is and, even more importantly, what it will be like. In fact, the Bible's description of the coming kingdom is far, far, more practical and a lot less sanctimonious than that of our theologians. Were Christians willing to do a penny's worth of investigation they would find that the Bible says absolutely nothing about some ethereal realm somewhere 'out there' but, much to the contrary, speaks of heaven as being right here on earth.

While this is way too detailed a subject to go into, it is important to read the entire article to see exactly what and where 'heaven' is... according to the Bible. (See What And Where Is Heaven?)

The Three Interconnected And Inseparable Promises To Abraham
The Promises: The idea of an ethereal heaven makes absolutely no sense whatsoever in view of the fact that God's promise to give Abraham an entire country for an everlasting possession, is one of the most solemn declarations He ever made. In fact it is one of three interconnected and inseparable promises, only two of which have already been fulfilled. The church ignores, overlooks, or spiritualizes the third one. As said by Anthony Buzzard....

    The message of Jesus' famous beatitude, "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the land" (Matthew 5:5) can no longer be heard above the din of endless funeral sermons announcing that the dead have gone to heaven! [22]

The Prophecies: A plain reading of the words of many of the Old Testament Prophets makes it impossible to deny that they looked ahead to an undetermined time in the future when God would return to establish a literal, earthly kingdom. Although they might not have completely understood everything they themselves said, there is little question that they prophesied of a time when the Lord's anointed and a descendant of David would rule as king from Jerusalem. In fact, the idea of a restored and peaceful land inherited by the righteous was a recurring theme in Isaiah's prophecies. So how in the world did the promise of earthly land become a promise of an unearthly heaven?

I don't know about you, but it certainly sounds like a marvelous place to me... far, far, superior to anything taught by other religions, and certainly not the  pie-in-the-sky nonsense preached by most churches.

See Heaven Part II... The Location of Heaven - The Promises and The Prophecies

 And what about us and our bodies which, although fearfully and wonderfully made', tend to give out rather quickly?

The Importance of the Resurrection
When it comes to the future of every believer it is impossible to overstate the importance of this momentous event simply because the Bible does not teach that only the spirits of those that accept Gcd's offer of forgiveness of sin and eternal life will live on forever in some ethereal world. In other words, death will not be the termination of our physical existence  - we too will be physically raised just as the Christ was. His resurrection was the just first of many, many more.

(See   Salvation   and   What and Where is Heaven?),

How do we know this?

One reason is of the Seven Feasts that God introduced in the Old Testament which the nation was required to keep every year. These feasts not only celebrated a historical event in Israel's past but were also a 'type' or 'prefigurative symbol' of events yet in the future (See Typology).

The first four feasts have already been fulfilled -the first two by Jesus Christ on the actual feast days according to the Hebrew calendar. He was sacrificed on Passover and resurrected on the Feast of First Fruits when a sheaf of grain from the very first of the harvest was waved before the Lord. This was not only a symbolic gesture that dedicated the coming harvest to God (Leviticus 23:9-11) but pointed to Jesus' resurrection - the first-fruits of the harvest to come at the end of the age.

See The Seven Feasts of Israel and

The Sounding Of The Seventh Trumpet /The Third Woe.

As Paul said...

    But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:20 NASB)

    For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:22-23 NASB)

In other words, the Christian's ultimate hope stands or falls on the astounding claim that Christ was raised from the dead and that we too will attain eternal life. If Christ didn't rise from the grave, our faith is in vain and every believer from centuries past have permanently "perished".

    and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover, we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:14-20 NASB)

Also See Chapter 8 b: Alleged Discrepancies in The Resurrection Accounts

Although the Bible does not go into all that much detail about the new body it is impossible to describe it with absolute certainty. However, the Scriptures do tell us that our bodies will be imperishable, glorious and powerful. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). Considering that some of the diseases that befall mankind can be downright scary to say nothing of extremely painful, surely the promise of a new and glorious body that will last forever is something to turn cartwheels about

 How could it possibly get any better?

Unless, of course, you prefer the complete ambiguity of "the abode of eternal bliss".  I certainly hope not


Continue To Part 14: The Warning of The Bible
There is no question that the message of the Bible is an incredibly one. We can all live in a perfect world here on earth, in bodies that will neither age nor deteriorate. In fact, the heart of Jesus' preaching was the good news that the kingdom of God was on its way and that we could be part of it.

But there is one problem.

God is not just going to allow you to waltz into this perfect world He has planned. In fact, the Bible very emphatically says there is a death penalty for all who sin, which means they will never see His kingdom.

The problem is we are all sinners. What makes it worse is that no matter how 'good' we are, we cannot live up to God's standard of holiness which means no sin period. This would be a hopeless situation with all of us would be staring down into a six feet deep hole if God's mercy and love didn't offer us a way out.  HERE

End Notes (Chapter 13)
[01] Although the original article is no longer available, it is currently (August 2013) available on Ronald J. Manheimer's blog. Is It Practical to Search for Meaning? https://independent.academia.edu/RonaldManheimer

[02] ibid.

[03] Ray C. Stedman. Answer to Death. http://www.raystedman.org/thematic-studies/christmas-and-easter/the-answer-to-death

[04] http://sayangmelaka.blogspot.com/2011/04/people-sikh-community.html   OR Sikhism Traditions/Beliefs

[05] Teachings of Guru Nanak. http://www.theholidayspot.com/guru_nanak_jayanti/teachings.htm

[06] Dharma Data: Nirvana. Buddhist Studies . http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/dharmadata/fdd43.htm

[07] Takashi Tsuji. On Reincarnation. BuddhaNet Basic Buddhism Guide.

[08] The Heart of Hinduism. An Introduction to Key Concepts. http://hinduism.iskcon.org/concepts/100.htm

[09] The Heart of Hinduism. One Goal, Different Paths. http://hinduism.iskcon.org/concepts/109.htm

[10] Greg Koukl. Faith and Facts. Stand to Reason Ministries. http://www.str.org/articles/faith-and-facts#.U6w5tdLn9cY

[11] Masumian, Farnaz (1995). Life After Death: A study of the afterlife in world religions. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. As quoted in Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven#Islam

[12] Northern Virginia Bahá'í Center About Us The Bahá’ís. http://novabahaicenter.org/thecenter/the-bahais/

[13] Belief of "Heaven" / Jannah / Paradise in Islam. http://www.hilalplaza.com/islam/Heaven.html

[14] The Pleasures of Paradise (part 2 of 2) The religion of Islam. http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/10/

[15] Hadith 4:544. Narrated Abu Huraira. http://www.sacred-texts.com/isl/bukhari/bh4/bh4_547.htm

[16] The Pleasures of Paradise (part 2 of 2) http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/11/viewall/

[17] http://www.answering-christianity.com/heaven_hell.htm?search=Site&text_field=women+in+Paradise

[18] Bukhari 4:464. Narrated 'Imran bin Husain http://www.sacred-texts.com/isl/bukhari/bh4/bh4_468.htm

[19] http://www.chausa.org/docs/default-source/health-progress/book-reviews---resurrection---

[20] Is There a Jewish Afterlife? https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/life-after-death/

[21] Dave Hunt. An Appeal To Reason. http://www.thebereancall.org/content/appeal-reason

[22] Anthony Buzzard. The Christian Hope: Life in the Land of the Promise Made to Abraham.
 OR https://focusonthekingdom.org/The%20Christian%20Hope.pdf


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