This is part of an ongoing republication of Vilas Deane’s Vi the Bible Guy series from the original Southview website. Three questions and three answers will get put up each Wednesday morning, so be sure to check back!
Q25: Is it true that the time when we are born and when we die is pre-determined?
Eccl 3: 1-2 tell us: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, ….” We know that “Timing is everything!” For example, a hamburger on the grill is raw meat if cooked for too little time and a clump of charcoal if it is cooked too long. When Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and told us that there is “a time to be born and a time to die,” I believe that he was saying that God appoints both our birthday and our death day. There are no surprises with God. He is so sovereign that there is nothing and no one who can take your life before your God-ordained days are finished. He has ordained the times for the various events of life (opportunities, responsibilities, trials, etc.) Believing that God is absolutely sovereign makes us conclude that there are really no premature babies and no “accidental” deaths. I believe that God has not only planned the time of our death but also the place and circumstances of that death. Here are some verses that add insight to this matter:
Eph 1:11 – He “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will”
Psa 33:11 – “But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”
Psa 39:4-5 – “Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath.”
Psa 90:12 – “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Q26: Do our bodies go to heaven?
Paul talked about going to heaven in Phil 1:21-23 – “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far ….” But when we die, our bodies go to the grave. It is our spirit that goes to be with Christ. John wrote in Rev 6:9 – “I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.” It appears that John was shown the spirit beings of those who died as martyrs. We now live in a physical body, and to talk about the spirit raises many questions. We just do not know much about the spirit world. But the Bible does answer some of the questions.
1 Cor 15:40-44 – “There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” Paul tells us here that there is definitely a difference between our current earthly physical body and the one that we will have after we are resurrected.
1 Cor 15:20-23 – “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.” To say that Christ is the firstfruits of the resurrection tells us that our resurrection (coming after His) will give us a body like his. He is the pattern of what is to follow. In John 20:26-27 (“A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”) we see that Jesus’ resurrected body was a real body. In Luke 24 He ate with His disciples.
1 Cor 15:50-53 – “I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 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. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.” These verses emphasis the fact that we will be different when we are raised from the grave. Phil 3:20-21 – “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Our bodies will be perfect, sinless, and flawless.
Will we recognize our saved family members in heaven? I think that we will. In 1 Samuel 28:8-17, King Saul was able to recognize Samuel (brought up from the dead). In Luke 16:19-31, Lazarus and the rich man were recognized in their after-life. In Matthew 17:3-4, Moses and Elijah were recognized at the Transfiguration. And many recognized Jesus after His resurrection (1 Cor 15:4-8). However, some things will be different for the family. For example, the marriage relationship will not continue (Matthew 22:23-30).
We need to add the passage from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 – “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.” This passage connects wonderfully with the 1 Corinthians 15 passages in describing what happens at our resurrection. We see here that Jesus brings down with him our departed spirit to join with our resurrected body to let it go to heaven as a body like Jesus had after His resurrection. Why must it be that way? Answer: Because that is the way God has planned it.
Q27: What is the “sin that leads to death” in 1 John 5:16?
1 John 5:16-17 reads: “If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.” We should note that the sinning one is a brother – a saved person. So the sin that leads to death is not the ultimate rejection of Christ as Savior. That sin on the part of a person will lead to eternal spiritual death in hell, but this person has not committed that sin for he is a part of the assembly of believers – a brother. So this is a brother who has been seen sinning. This is probably not a specific sin like murder, homosexuality, stealing or lying. Rather it is for this person the final sin in the tolerance of God after which the Lord is determined to end the person’s physical life. Failure to repent and forsake sin may eventually lead to death as we see in Acts 5:1-11, 1 Corinthians 5:5; 11:30. God does not judge all sin this severely, but the sin in 1 John 5:16 may have been affecting the entire church, and God’s longsuffering was coming to an end for this person. In the Old Testament, in 2 Chronicles 36:16 we read: “But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the LORD was aroused against his people and there was no remedy.” This was the situation in Judah before God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to come as God’s judgment tool. How much better to repent and turn from the wicked way. I would remind you that the sin that leads to death is leading to the sinner’s physical death not his spiritual death. A believer has eternal spiritual life that can not be taken from him (Romans 8).