Death is a real part of life. The Bible assures us in Hebrews 9:27 that it is appointed unto man once to die. The truth is even though we all know death is coming few of us are prepared for the death of a loved one. It hurts to think about someone we love no longer being physically part of our lives. Most of us have experienced the difficulty in trying to counsel someone who is heartbroken over the death of a loved one. Often times under the pressure of feeling the need to say something comforting to a person who is falling apart in front of us we use clichés about heaven and death. Unfortunately these clichés are often not founded on the Holy Bible. In this blog, I will share some thoughts on these myths and what the Bible actually says about these matters.
Let me be crystal clear, I am not condemning anyone who uses a cliché to encourage and help an individual who is having a difficult time. I find nothing sinister if a person uses some of these thoughts about a deceased loved one to help them cope with the pain they are experiencing. However, as a Christian we should desire to see things the way God says they really are. We should want the promises we stand on to be based on the Word of God rather than the thoughts of man. Let me share with you some untruths that I believe have crept into the theology of some.
1. Your loved one got their wings. We have all heard people say, “Grandma got her wings last night as she passed into eternity” or “heaven gained another angel last night.” The Bible teaches there is a clear distinction between angels and humans. For example Genesis 1:16 says humans were created in the image of God. Nowhere in Scripture am I aware of where it is said of angels they are created in the image of God. For the moment, they physically can go into the presence of God and serve Him. That gives them somewhat of an advantage over humans, however, that advantage is only temporary. Consider that according to I Peter 1:12 angels desire to look into the matters of redemption. Angels do not know what it means to have Jesus give His life to redeem them. Angels are not adopted as the children of God. I Corinthians 6:3 teaches believers will even judge the angels.
Angels and humans are both created beings. However, Genesis 2:7 says humans are “living souls” or “living beings.” We are not merely a body; humans are a body and a soul. Angels on the other hand are completely spiritual beings that sometimes may take on the form of a man to minister God’s will and do His work. Angels were created as spirit beings and humans are created as physical beings with a soul. Humans do not become angels and angels were never at one time human.
2. Your loved one is guiding you daily. We have all heard that a loved one is watching over us or guiding us in our daily lives. II Cor.5:8 teaches to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Our loved ones are with the Lord. We have someone far better to guide us daily, the Holy Spirit. Listen to Jesus’ teachings in John 14:16 “And I will pray the Father and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever.” In verse 18 Jesus says I will not leave you comfortless. The very presence of the Living God is with us directing our lives. Nothing is better than this.
3. God needed your loved one in heaven. I have heard this phrase often. Some seem to believe that God has something going on in heaven He can’t handle and takes the life of a human to complete that task. First of all, Jesus told us to pray in Matthew 5:10 “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Jesus teaches that God’s will is done in heaven. There is nothing happening there beyond His control. Secondly, humans do not die in order to do good in heaven, humans die because evil was done on the earth. In Genesis 3 Adam and Eve broke the commands of God and God said in verse 3 the consequence of eating this fruit was death. All humans are fallen beings and for this reason we are going to die. Only two men have been born that have not died, Enoch and Elijah. The rest of humanity has died because of this curse. Finally, God is sovereign and is not dependent on or in need of humans. If our theology ever has God dependent on us it is flawed. He chooses to work through humans but He is not dependent on us.
4. The healing you prayed for took place in heaven. This is one that I have heard as a pastor many times. We pray for days, weeks, months for a person’s body to be healed. If that loved one passes some say God answered that prayer for they are healed in heaven. Let’s dissect that thought for a moment. The soul is with the Lord at a person’s death. According to I Thessalonians 4:16 the dead in Christ shall rise. When these dead in Christ rise they will at that time receive their glorified bodies. The soul of a deceased Christian is with the Lord until the end times when those souls will be united with glorified bodies. Therefore at a believer’s death the soul goes to heaven. We were not praying for the soul to be healed for the soul of a believer is well because of the work of Christ. Our bodies die, are placed in a grave and deteriorate. God did not heal that body but praise God one day we will have a new body that does not grow old or suffer from cancer or any disease.
5. Husbands and Wives are reunited as spouses in heaven. Some have said, “Mom and Dad are walking hand in hand in heaven now.” Jesus was asked about marriages in heaven by the Sadducees. Jesus replied in Matthew 22:30, “In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven” It is not necessary to interpret this verse to mean all earthly relationships will cease to exist in heaven. This verse simply means there will be no marriages in heaven and Christians in heaven will not be sexual beings just as angels are not. Think of heaven for a moment. Everything about heaven is superior to life here on the earth. Whatever our relationships to each other, in heaven it will be far superior to any relationship we have in this life.
6. He is playing golf on that beautiful course in the sky. It could be fishing, riding 4 wheelers, hunting or even playing pool but we all have heard our loved ones are enjoying their favorite habits from earth in heaven. I see no evidence of such in the Bible. The Bible teaches the redeemed will do several things in heaven. We will worship in heaven. I believe our primary function in heaven will be worship, see Revelation 5:13. We will eat in heaven. Several passages teach of feasts in heaven. Revelation 19:6 and following teach of the marriage supper of the Lamb. We will work and serve the Lord in heaven . At His temptation in Matthew 4:10 Jesus said, “We are to worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve.” Service to God has always been part of the life of the redeemed. Adam worked the ground in the garden before his fall. We will serve in heaven. These are a few things we will do in heaven but I find no evidence we will take our hobbies and habits from earth to heaven. Remember the curse on mankind will have been lifted and all we do in heaven will be joyous and worshipful and not laborious.
I hope I have not offended any with my thoughts today. I have no one in particular as I write these thoughts. I have been pondering this subject for some time now. I know many people I love and care for are hurting right now because they miss a loved one. I simply believe the truth of God’s Word is more comforting than man-made thoughts. The sweetest thought anyone can have at the death of a believer is they are with Jesus. That should be comforting enough. As you read this blog will you pause to pray for someone you know is hurting because they feel the sting of missing someone they love.