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Going Up? - Or Down?

Going Up? – Or Down?

     I’m aware that the title of this week’s article sounds a bit like what used to be asked when there were elevator attendants. I may be “dating” myself a bit but I do remember, years ago, the uniformed attendant asking us this question as we entered an elevator. But that’s not the reason for the article nor the purpose for the question here.

     Ever notice how some folks, when speaking of dear departed loved ones, will kiss their hand, or touch their heart area, and then point to the sky? Others, when receiving accolades, awards of honors, will look upward and thank the lamented deceased ones, regardless of the type of a person they were, or the type of life they lived.   Why is this?   I suspect it is because all would like to think their departed loved ones are in a place of rest, peace and comfort.   It is too bad they fail to understand that when a soul departs, they neither go to Heaven or to Hell but to a place “like unto” where they will spend eternity.  

     The fact is, all who live, will face death (or be changed), and after death is no more, judgment will occur as we are told in Hebrews 9:27. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: We are not told a great deal about the judgment, but 2Corinthians 5:10 informs us why we are to be judged. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

     Humanity has determined that Heaven is up and Hell is down, and no one in their right mind wants to, or wants their loved ones to descend into the realm of eternal Hell as Psalms 9:16-17 declares. The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. 7 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.

     Perhaps the best biblical picture of the intermediate state of man after his life on the earth is depicted in Luke chapter 16, as the Lord told of the rich man and Lazarus.   This is not a fable, or a parable, as the man had five brothers, and all in the story lived under the Law of Moses. Therefore, they were to be “judged” according to how they lived their lives under that Law. Luke 16:22:23 recounts the death of each. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: (which is Paradise) the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.   Notice that each did not go to the same place, and both of them were not in peace. Luke 16:24 -25 shows the difference in the state of each of these souls. And he (the rich man) cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he (Lazarus) is comforted, and thou (the rich man) art tormented.

     Provision was also made that one in torment could not “escape” and find rest or peace. Luke 16:26 provides this information. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. It is also obvious that none have yet gone “up there” to Heaven but Christ, as 1John 5:7 clearly shows. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

      Additionally, 1Thessalonians 4:13-17 indicates that the Lord will bring the dead in Christ with Him (from Paradise), at the end of time when He returns to gather the faithful living to go to judgment. If already in Heaven, would there be a reason for them to accompany the Lord to gather the remaining “saints”?   But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (means precede) them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  

       The final verse of this chapter, 1Thessalonians 4:18 tells the brethren to whom the Spirit had Paul write to: “ . . . comfort one another with these words.” These Words are indeed a comfort to those who have made the proper preparation, and have remained prepared for eternity. Life will have its share of “ups and downs”. In life, when we fall, we can get back up, and strive to serve God in accordance to His Will so we can spend eternity with Him. We want you to be comforted here, and after you die.   Going Up? – or Down after this life? That’s up to you.   Obey the gospel today.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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