Life, Afterlife, and Resurrection

cri-blog-hanegraaff-hank-life-afterlife-and-resurrectionWhat exactly happens after we die?

Here is what happens. I start out my book Resurrection with an anecdote, and that anecdote is personal, it is the death of my dad in 1997. What happens is the body goes to the ground, but when my dad breathed his last his soul went to be with the Lord. That’s what Paul talks about—absent from body present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8).

Now my dad is incomplete. He’s in the presence of the Lord but he is incomplete. He’s awaiting something. The Christian faith is not platonic. It is physical. So we await the physical resurrection of the dead. One day my dad’s soul will return to his body. According to 1 Corinthians 15, the body will rise immortal, imperishable, incorruptible, and that body will be changed from mortality to immortality. My dad will be clothed in a resurrected body for all eternity. He is going to be a body-soul unity for all eternity. That happens when Christ’s returns. This is, of course, exactly what Jesus said. He said, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice  and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned” (John 5:28-29, NIV).

We have a picture of the afterlife in Luke 16. Remember the Lord told the parable of the rich man and Lazarus? There is a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus lying at his gate. A time came when the rich man died and Lazarus died. Lazarus ends up in Abraham’s bosom or paradise, which is a way of talking about being in the presence of God. But the rich man dies and he ends up in torment. There is a gulf between the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man is in torment and he is awaiting the resurrection just like Lazarus is awaiting the resurrection.

What happens when Jesus comes back is that will be a separation that takes place for all eternity.

Do the saints absent in the body yet present with the Lord waiting for the resurrection experience time in the same way as those living on earth?

I can’t really tell you what the answer is to this question in that I do not know what existence will be like in the state of being non-corporeal beings. That is what happens when we die. If you die right now prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, your body goes to the grave, and the non-corporeal aspect of your humanity—the soul or the spirit—is with the Lord. The way the Bible talks about that is the sense of relationship to God rather than any locational place. It is not locational language it relational language. The reason I say this is that souls by definition are non-physical; therefore, where-ness does not apply. We know that they are in relationship to God, and they are awaiting in some sense the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ or the time that their souls will return to their bodies.

Can we anticipate seeing pets in heaven?

We do not know that petted pets will be in heaven; though there is nothing in the Bible that precludes that notion. What we do know— I think—from the consistency of Scripture is that there is warrant to believe that there will be animals in heaven. Animals are among God’s most avant-garde and creative creations. There is no reason to suppose that if there’re animals in paradise lost there would not be animals in paradise restored. We just do not know that the same set that lived on this planet will also live in the world to come. There is no biblical evidence for that, but there is certainly no biblical evidence against it either. There are even a lot of people from C.S. Lewis to Joni Eareckson Tada that think that that might very well be consistent with the nature of God.

— Hank Hanegraaff

This blog adapted from “What happens to us when we die?” and “Will we see our pets in heaven, and what is it like for those awaiting resurrection?

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