I have a few question on the topic of death. Do the dead know or ever realize they are dead? If so when is that? I mean how soon after they have passed? Do they remember any of the life they left behind? If a loved one (e.g., mother) is in heaven, and if God takes me to heaven would I see them again? Would she still be my Mom up there also? Will we both recognize each other?
I'm happy to answer your questions, as always.
1) Do the dead know or ever realize they are dead? If so when is that?
When the Sadducees tried to trick Jesus into "admitting" that there was no resurrection, He said:
"You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living."
Matthew 22:29-32 NIV
This is a very important point. The "dead" are only "dead" from our limited, earthly point of view. As far as departed believers are concerned, they are more "alive" than we are. They only appear "dead" because a) we cannot see them any longer and b) their first, physical bodies are now lifeless. But they themselves are very much "alive" in every way, and in heaven, face to face with our dear Lord Jesus. They occupy what I call "interim bodies" (cf. 2Cor.5:3 [in the Greek - most English version mistranslate the verse]; Rev.6:11; 7:9) – not the perfect, eternal resurrection bodies which we shall possess and enjoy forever, but bodies nonetheless in which they now feel no pain and know only joy. They are recognizable as "who they are", and recognize each other. Jesus' comments about Lazarus, Abraham and the rich man in Luke chapter 16 make all this very clear, and this was even before all the saved, departed believers were brought by our Lord into the third heaven following His resurrection (see also Rev.6:11; 7:9). See the link in BB 4A, "The Transfer of Believers from the Subterranean Paradise to the Third Heaven".
2) Do they remember any of the life they left behind?
Yes indeed, but without fear or pain or trouble. When it says that the old things "will not even come to mind" (Is.65:17), I believe it means that by comparison with the wonders of heaven, no one will be even that interested about what went on upon the earth in the past (except as it glorified God or effects our eternal rewards: cf. "The Judgment of the Church").
3) If a loved one (e.g., mother) is in heaven, and if God takes me to heaven would I see them again? Would she still be my Mom up there also? Will we both recognize each other?
Yes indeed! We will all be "who we are" for all eternity, only without sin and pain and tears. There will indeed be many joyous reunions when the entire Body of Christ is united, and it is certainly legitimate to look forward to that glorious time. We will, moreover, be thrilled to be with Jesus – and that will be one more thing we share in common forever.
You can find out much more about all of these issues at the following links:
Our Heavenly, Pre-Resurrection, Interim State.
The Blessed Eternal State of the Saved (in CT 6)
The Nature of Life after Death
In blissful anticipation of all those glorious things to come.
Yours in Jesus,
Someone told me that our memories disappear in heaven and we're given new ones. They used:
Revelation 7:17: For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Revelation 21:4: And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
What do you think?
Neither of these passages even suggests a loss of memory. Further, it doesn't make much sense to posit such a thing. Some believers have been in heaven an awful long time now waiting for the resurrection. If they forgot everything, how would what is happening on earth now and what happened when Jesus came and what will happen when He returns be meaningful for them? How will they and how will we understand the justness and the details of our final judgment for what we did in this life, if there is no memory of what we did in this life? And will we appreciate what Jesus has done for us for all eternity if we forget what we did that necessitated His death for us on the cross? How will the rewards we get make sense if we don't remember why we got them? How will Peter know why he was called Peter or Paul why he was called Paul – of necessity, since these things are in the Bible, such a notion would mean that there won't be a Bible in eternity! But of course, the angels knew about "the Book of Truth" before it was even written (Dan.10:20), and since Jesus is the living Word of God, the elimination of the corresponding written Word of God is inconceivable to me at least. In short, this is an odd notion without the slightest scriptural support, and flies in the face of everything we do know about eternity – not to mention our spiritual common sense.
In fact, the departed are witnessing events on earth as we speak. They are part of the "cloud of witnesses" whose interest in our spiritual progress should be an added encouragement for us to put the Lord, His Word, and our response to it in all we think and say and do first and foremost in our lives. Please see the following links for more on all this:
Are departed believers in heaven able to see earthly events?
The Blessed Eternal State of the Saved (in CT 6)
The Nature of Life after Death
What does the Bible say about Heaven and Hell?
What is "heaven" like according to Christian teachings?
Our Heavenly, Pre-Resurrection, Interim State.
Does Exodus 13:6 reflect the mark of the beast on the hand or forehead? I know how Satan likes to mimic the Lord. Also, when a person dies and goes to be with the Lord, does he remember anything of this life?
Thank you in advance for your answers.
P.S. You are always in my prayers.
I not only believe that in heaven we will remember everything much better than is the case now, but I also believe that our departed fellow believers are "watching the show" in the presence of the Lord (please see the link: "Departed Believers"). Even though they can see us "messing up" (as from time to time we all inevitably do), my conjecture is that it will not pain them in the least (since it will be impossible for them to experience any pain or regret or anxiety, etc.); nor will their memories of what transpired in their own lives be painful; just accurate (something that is not necessarily true for us at present):
(1) Since then we too [like the believers of chapter 11] have such a large audience of witnesses surrounding us [both men and angels], let us put off every hindrance – especially whatever sins habitually affect us – and run with endurance the race set before us, (2) turning our gaze unto Jesus, the originator and completer of our faith.
The point about Exodus 13:6 is a good one. However, I would put it this way: the devil certainly knows about this language in the Law just as he knows about the eternal divine "marks" all believers will have on the resurrection body (Is.44:5; Rev.3:12; cf. Ex.13:9-16; Is.62:2; 65:15; Rev.2:17). Thus it is Satan who is counterfeiting God's Word and God's plan for believers with his use of the mark (very understandable when we consider that he is a false Messiah, the anti-Christ). For more on this, please see the links:
The False Piety of the Beast's Anti-Christian Religion
Numbers, Letters, and the Mark of the Beast
Ezekiel 9:4 and the Mark of the Beast
In anticipation of that grand and glorious day when we are reunited with all those who have gone before in the presence of our dear Lord Jesus whom we love so much.
And thanks so much for your prayers!
Hi Dr. Luginbill!
The Bible states that God will create new heavens and a new earth. I wondered what would be the purpose of a new heaven and the space that is left over on the planet earth where there was once sea? Revelation 3:12 states that the believer will never leave the holy city and God's glory in all of it's fullness and presence will dwell there. This makes me wonder what the purpose of the new heavens would be for if every awesome sight and God's glory dwells in the holy city? Is it possible that the new heavens are there for some purpose unknown to us that is not written in the bible that awaits us in the eternal state?
Good to hear from you. I translate the first half of Revelation 3:12 as follows: "The one who wins the victory I will make a pillar in the temple of My God and he shall never go out again". I think that it is pretty clear that this statement of our Lord is meant to assure us of our eternal place as part of His Church, and that this is what is meant by the "temple" – that is, our permanent membership in Christ's Body – rather than a real place to which we are restricted. After all, we know very well from elsewhere in scripture that we are not going to be turned into literal stone pillars (as this verse would also suggest if we miss the metaphor). More than that, we also know from the description of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21-22 that there will in fact be no temple there: "I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple" (Rev.21:22, NIV). Jesus is our temple, and we will never go out of Him; that is to say, we will never not be a part of His Body, His Bride, from that time on and forevermore. Peter also uses this analogy of the members of Christ being a part of a building ("living stones" being built into a "spiritual house": 1Pet.2:5), and so does Paul ("you yourselves together are the temple of God": 1Cor.3:16-17; cf. "temple of the Holy Spirit": 1Cor.6:19). In all three instances penned under the inspiration of the Spirit by the three greatest apostles, the building is a metaphor, and our part in it is meant to convey that as believers we are an integral part of Jesus' Christ forever – not to suggest any future limitation on our part about where we will and will not be able to go.
The New Heavens and New Earth are most definitely necessary, because Satan's rebellion permanently marred the present cosmos. That is why is it "destined for burning" (2Pet.3:7), but the new order of things will be a place where only "righteousness dwells" (2Pet.3:13). The sea has always been, from a biblical point of view, a necessary evil rather than something poetic and wonderful. It is the "lid" on the underworld of Hades and Tartarus, and was the instrument for the divine judgment against the pre-human earth (as well as against the earth of Noah's day). Since it contains evil and is used to judge evil, it is often used in the Bible as a metaphor for evil (see the link in SR2, "The Sea"). For these reasons it is certainly understandable (and blessed) that it will no longer be present in the Eternal State.
As to the precise construction of the New Earth and New Heavens and our activities therein, scripture gives us only a little information. That is decidedly a good thing because as I often say at these times if we knew in great detail how wonderful eternity is going to be we might think of nothing else and get distracted in our day-dreaming about it. This also might remove some of the challenge to our spiritual growth; as it is, we have to exert a certain amount of sanctified will-power to "think about the things above" (as we are commanded to do). We know rather a lot about the resurrection body. We know that it will be like Jesus' resurrection body. And since He was capable of walking through closed doors, moving immediately from one far distant place to another, and ascending through the universe to the third heaven, well, it would seem to be rather incongruous to give us bodies capable of such swift, amazing travel, then restrict us to one particular place. The point in Revelation 21-22 is that we will have direct access to the Son and the Father for all time – and that is by far the "best of the best" of anything anyone could ever possibly have or experience. We only understand that now in principle, but on that glorious day of days we will "know even as we are known". I do not take these chapters to mean, therefore, that we will not be allowed to depart the New Jerusalem. Indeed, in the New Heavens and New Earth of the Father's eternal kingdom there will be only the Trinity, the elect angels, and saved, resurrected humanity. So when we find at Revelation 21:24 "The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it" (NIV), this must mean that there will be those believers who not only access the area outside of New Jerusalem, but who actually have their main abode there. There is constant access for them into and egress out of the city, for "On no day will its gates ever be shut" (Rev.21:25; NIV). I take these people to be the resurrected millennial believers (i.e., "the friends of the Bride"), whereas we, the Church, all who are "Christ's at His coming" and resurrected at His second advent return, will have an actual "dwelling place" (Jn.14:2; KJV "mansion") within the walls of New Jerusalem proper (that is why the New Jerusalem is also called "the Bride": Rev.21:9; cf. Rev.21:2).
As to the geography, I do think that the area previously covered by sea will now be dry land used for cultivation and enjoyment. New Jerusalem itself will be so massive that some alteration of the present layout of things will be necessary. Revelation 21:16 tells us that the city will be a cube measuring 12,000 stadia on each side (i.e., a square of 1430 miles on each side, and just as tall!). I think it more than likely that the New Earth and the New Universe will be proportionately increased in size as well. So I rather suspect that not only will the New Jerusalem and the New Earth be available for our eternal exploration and enjoyment, but also the New Heavens in their entirety as well. But the greatest source of joy and surprise, engagement and wonder will always be the Person of God Himself in the face our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
For more on this please see the links in CT 6:
The Judgment and Reward of the Church
The New Heavens and the New Earth
In Him who is our life eternal.
Hi Dr. Luginbill!
Thank you for your prayers! I feel like I have more assurance and trust in the Lord now, and that He will see me through my hardships. My last questions has brought me to ponder on John 12:25.
"He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal."
I don't really love my life in the sense that I don't have a nice sporty car, a nice huge house, high paying job where I can squander my money on material possessions, or anything that will satisfy any carnal desires. I prayed long ago that God will make me miserable so I would want to go home and be with God, and this was when things were going "good" and my eyes were on earthly things instead of God. Now my prayer seems to be coming to pass. My only wish is that I want to do more for the Lord before I go home to be with the Lord because I feel that I haven't done enough. I feel that hating one's life means not liking things that are worldly and wanting to be with God more than trying to labor for earthly things and be happy of it, but I'm not sure. What exactly did Jesus mean when He said that we are to hate our life? Thanks!
You are most welcome. On the question of your prayer – I know I wouldn't be that brave! As you know, I am no believer in the so-called "prosperity gospel" (see the link), but it is also fair to say that our biblically commanded hatred of the world does not mean that we have to be as miserable as Job all our lives (even Job couldn't take it eventually). As in all things, there is a scriptural middle ground:
"Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God."
Proverbs 30:7-9 NIV
The one bit of "fine tuning" I might offer on this segues nicely I think into your overall application and motivation. Yes indeed we should all want to "do more" before we appear before the Lord . . . because our eternal rewards are based upon our production for Jesus Christ and His Church.
For whoever wishes to draw nearer to God must believe that He exists, and that He will reward those who earnestly seek Him.
As this and many other scriptures teach us, reward motivation is a critical part of the Christian life (please see this link where our judgment and reward is detailed: "The Judgment and Reward of the Church"). But we are looking forward to eternal rather than temporal reward. We are to "store up our treasures" in heaven, and not upon the earth. So the fact that we "hate this world", as you so rightly conclude, does not mean that we are not to be happy and well-motivated – indeed we are! It is just that our motivation is all about getting a good report and good reward before the judgment seat of Christ when we appear before Him on that great day of days (rather getting over-focused on the temporary things of this life which are just so much dust in the long run). Such a result not only will mean unimaginable eternal blessing for us, an "eternal weight of glory" (2Cor.4:17) which is "not worthy to be compared" (Rom.8:18) to the transient and temporary world we now see, but also and importantly will bring great glory to the Master who bought us (e.g., Matt.25:21-23; Eph.1:12).
Many Christians are operating under the mistaken notion that pleasing Jesus is all about avoiding sin. Now while it is certainly true that sanctification is a very important part of the Christian walk, it is our Christian defense, not our offense, and we "win" for Jesus by "scoring points", not by avoiding the negatives. It is true that these two are intimately inter-related as well, because if we are having trouble with our defense, constantly falling into sin and counterproductive behaviors, this will slow down our spiritual growth, hamstring the application of our faith in testing, and compromise our Christian service. So we do need a good defense. However, over-focus on sanctification alone not only produces a sterile life wherein there is no production, but it also invites a legalistic mind-set, and legalism is far different than true sanctification (this was the characteristic problem during the Church era of Pergamum; see the link). So I applaud your desire to "do more" before the Lord calls you home. That is precisely the attitude Jesus wants us to have. "Doing more" in a truly biblical sense involves first and foremost personal spiritual growth (for which the crown of righteousness is given); secondly, the strengthening of faith thereby and the passing of tests therewith (for which the crown of life is given); thirdly, the life of production wherein the individual Christian contributes to the spiritual growth of fellow Christians through the effective employment of his/her spiritual gifts (for which the crown of glory is given).
The least of the rewards that the lowest ranking Christian in eternity will receive will be far and away better than if he or she had gained the entire world here in time, and will last for all eternity in the bargain. Viewed from this proper biblical perspective, time becomes our most valuable resource, because every moment of every day now becomes an opportunity to move forward spiritually and help others do likewise. When we come to understand that learning the truth at every opportunity and committing it to our hearts by believing it, applying the truth in all the circumstances of life, and ministering the truth in the ways and through the ministries and in accordance with the spiritual gifts God gives us are really what life is all about, fabulous opportunities to earn eternal blessings beyond our present imagination, then every day, every hour, every minute becomes precious. So that while we hate the world and our life in the world, by that we mean that we value what is to come, not what is here and now, and that we wouldn't trade the smallest eternal blessing for all the riches or power or fame or fortune or what have you in this temporary and ephemeral world. For what we see is passing away, but the reward we earn through our spiritual growth, progression and production for Jesus Christ will last forever. That is the stuff to get you out of bed in the morning!
(16) For this reason we do not lose heart, but even if our outer person is deteriorating, nevertheless our inner person is being renewed day by day. (17) For this present light affliction of ours is working out for us an eternal weight of glory beyond any possible estimation. (18) [Let us] not [then be] having [any] regard for what can be seen, but [instead] for what cannot be seen. For the things which can be seen are ephemeral. But the things which cannot be seen are eternal.
2nd Corinthians 4:16-18
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, before whom every knee shall bow.
Hi Dr. Luginbill!
Everything is going great, thank you for your concern. God has been gracious to me!
I have a question on the lake of fire. I always wondered where the lake of fire will be located. If God will make all things new (new heavens, new earth) then where would this place of eternal punishment be? I've heard bible teachers say that God will cleanse the universe of sin and evil when He makes all things new. I have even heard one person say that even the lake of fire will be cleansed and healed one day. Does the bible specify where this place of eternal punishment will be located in the new heavens and the new earth? Many thanks!
I'm very glad to hear that you are doing well, and I pray your spiritual life is prospering as well (3Jn.1:2). Part 6 of Coming Tribulation has an extensive section on the Lake of Fire which I hope will answer all of your questions in detail (see the links: "The Lake of Fire"; "The Final Disposition of Satan and his Angels"; and "The Last Judgment"). Since the Lake of Fire already exists (Matt.25:41; cf. Dan.7:9-11), it is most likely that its present and future place will be below the earth (see the first link above). Theologically speaking, Hades or the netherworld is not of this present world or cosmos anymore than the third heaven is. The present heavens (1st = sky; 2nd = universe beyond the atmosphere of earth; this does not include the 3rd = realm of God outside the universe) and earth are the physical universe, and they will destroyed at the conclusion of human history and replaced by the New Earth (not including Hades or the Lake of fire) and New Heavens (1st and 2nd only). Just as heaven exists outside of this world and is undetectable by science, so the netherworld exists outside of this world and is likewise undetectable by science. The notion that unbelievers and fall angels will ever be freed of the eternal condemnation which they have chosen and have in fact preferred to submission to God, is not biblical and is in fact heretical (that may not be the precise point the source you quote was making, but it is a necessary effect). On that, please see the links:
Against Universalism II: Only Believers are Saved.
Hope this helps – please feel free to write back about any of this.
In Jesus our dear Lord,
Could you tell me if there will be levels of punishment for those who are condemned to eternal damnation? I love your site, it is overwhelming at times and I have to absorb a little at a time. I have forwarded to friends as I am amazed at the info available. I read and get overwhelmed. Can you tell me or guide me to an answer? A friend made the comment that her Pastor talked about the different levels of punishment for those who will go to hell. I do not recall having heard this and I am not sure where to start looking on your site. I would appreciate your help.
Good to hear from you. Dante's Inferno is all about this subject (this may be the source of the speculation you report), but Dante is not the Bible. Most popular culture fails even to understand the difference between Torments (where the unsaved dead presently reside) and the Lake of Fire (their ultimate residence).
To answer your question, I find nothing in scripture to indicate that there is any difference in conditions for those who are shut out of eternal life. The horrible description of the Lake of Fire – and the fact of being deprived of the Father and the Son for all eternity – are the common inheritance of all who refuse to accept Jesus' sacrifice. I suppose there could be differences, but the horrid situation the Bible does describe seems to me like it couldn't get any worse. One of the problems with imagining "worse punishments" is that by definition some would "have it easier", and there is absolutely nothing in scripture to suggest that it "won't be so bad" for those who "were not as bad". After all, people don't go to hell for their bad deeds; they go to hell for rejecting God. We are all sinners, and we would all end up in the lake of fire, even the "least bad" of all human beings who ever lived, if it weren't for Christ's dying for our sins. Those in the lake refused to seek and accept eternal life; that is why they are there – because they wanted to be, or at least preferred it to bowing their will to God's Will.
Here is what I say on these matters in CT 6 (see the links):
The Lake of Fire
The Last Judgment
Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,
Greeting, Dr. Luginbill!
It was great hearing from you once again. I've begun reading Part 6 of The Coming Tribulation series, and am up to pg. 40. Your examination and description of the believer's future judgement at the Bema seat has been particularly sobering reading for me. Thanks so much for all the work you've done at Ichthys. It has been a very rewarding reading and learning experience for me. Speaking of "future," I want to confess to you that it was "yours truly" who recommended to Mike "Doctor Future" Bennet of the Future Quake radio show to contact you for a radio interview. So far, Mike and co-host Tom "I'm not sure about this Luginbill guy but it sure is interesting" "Bionic" have discussed your Satanic Rebellion Series in two radio shows now. I think it's gone quite well, and "Doc Future" indicated before the second broadcast discussing your work that the audience response to the first show had been enthusiastic and thought-provoking to many in the Future Quake audience. I was so pleased to hear that! Mike strikes me as a very capable, well-rounded, and mature Christian. I have noted with a good deal of personal admiration many instances of his humility, wisdom, professional ability and good humor over the months I've been downloading the Future Quake Shows from the Internet. I find these qualities so rarely combined and in such a pleasing manner in one person that I thought to write and tell him how much I enjoyed the Ichthys website, particularly the Satanic Rebellion series. Although I was a bit disappointed that you weren't going to be there personally to discuss your work, it was obvious that Mike thought quite highly enough of it to bring the Satanic Rebellion series to the Future Quake audience (with your blessing). Although I still hope to hear you actually "on" the Future Quake show sometime, it has been a real pleasure for me to have participated in some small way to hear your work being discussed and shared with many others. May our God bless you richly in Christ Jesus.
Good to hear from you! I did speak with Mike on the phone a couple of months back. For a number of reasons, I was reluctant to go on the show (but I did give him permission to read whatever he wanted from the Ichthys materials on his program). I listened to some of the online version of the first broadcast. I didn't realize there had been a second one (guess that explains the recent blip up in traffic on the site). My impression (from rather less exposure to the program than in your case) is much the same as yours. Mike strikes me as a very reasonable and genuine Christian, and I was happy to have him make use of these materials.
Thanks much for your enthusiasm and encouragement, and also for your "evangelism" of Ichthys!
In our dear Lord Jesus Christ to whom all glory belongs,