Vol. 5, No. 1
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A sincere Bible student would like a discussion in regard to "the Hadean realm":
1. "My understanding [he says] from the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 is that there is a place for departed souls which consists of a place of comfort for the righteous (Abraham's bosom) and a place of torment for the wicked." I believe that your understanding is accurate.
2. Another sincere brother takes Paul's statement in Philippians 1:23, "having a desire to depart and be with Christ," as teaching that when one dies he or she goes to be with Christ in heaven.
On the contrary, a person's being "with Christ in heaven" has to wait until after a stay in "Abraham's bosom" (Luke 16:22), which is another name for Paradise (Luke 23:43) and "the third heaven" (2 Corinthians 12:2). And heaven must wait until "the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he render to every man according to his deeds (Matthew 16:27). Jesus "is ordained by God to be the Judge of the living and the dead" (Acts 10:42; 17:31; John 5:22). We all will be "made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ" that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what we have done, "whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10). After "the day of judgment" (Matthew 10:15; 11:22, 24; 12:36), the righteous will "be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
3. Another sincere brother says "that the bodies of the saints that arose when Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected went to heaven and at that time the righteous no longer go to hades but go to be with Christ," and the passages cited are 2 Corinthians 5:8 and Philippians 1:23.
I do not doubt the sincerity of the brother who says, "that the bodies of the saints that arose when Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected went to heaven," but the brother is not an inspired prophet raised up to contradict Bible teaching. Matthew (27:52-53) does not say that "the bodies of the saints," nor even "the souls of the saints went to heaven."
Solomon denied that any human being in his day had "ascended up into heaven" (Proverbs 30:4), and Jesus said that "no one has ascended into heaven" (John 3:13).
The sincere brother also affirms, when "the bodies of the saints that arose when Jesus died," that at "that time" the "righteous no longer go to hades." The Hades that Jesus mentioned was a place of "torments" and of a "flame" (Luke 16:23-24), and righteous people have never gone to such a place. If the brother has in mind hades as a grave (as is most often found in the 61 occurrences of the Greek word hades in the Old Testament), then righteous people have not quit going to hades, for "it is appointed to men [righteous and unrighteous] once to die" (Hebrews 9:27).
Our sincere brother says that when "the bodies of the saints that arose when Jesus died," then "at that time the righteous no longer go to hades." What is the "hades" into which the righteous went before the saints arose, and are able now to avoid? He did not say.
However, he did say that the righteous now "go to be with Christ" and the passages cited are 2 Corinthians 5:8 and Philippians 1:23. But righteous people are not "at home with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8) in heaven until they first have appeared "before the judgment-seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Furthermore, the beautiful thought in Philippians 1:23, "having the desire to depart and be with Christ" in heaven, omits what happens to the soul of a Christian or Lazarus, after he departs this life, who is "carried away by the angels into Abraham's bosom" (Luke 16:22), which is also called Paradise (Luke 23:43) and "the third heaven" (2 Corinthians 12:2), and there "is comforted" (Luke 16:25), now for 2000 years for Paul, until the second coming of Jesus "with his angels" to sit on his "judgment seat" (Matthew 16:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Then, after the day of judgment (Acts 17:31) all the righteous will be with Christ forever in heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:17; John 14:2-3; 1 Peter 1:5; 2 Timothy 4:8).
On the other hand, God, whose "understanding is infinite" (Psalm 147:5), whose "judgments" are "unsearchable" and "his ways past tracing out" (Romans 11:33), who knows "the end from the beginning" (Isaiah 46:10), keeps the unrighteous in a flaming Hades (Luke 16:23-24), and finally casts Hades "into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:14), which is the "hell of fire" (Matthew 5:22). God, who is "love" (1 John 4:8, 16), who gave part of him to die for me (John 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:10; Galatians 2:20), knows what is best for everybody! If I object, I must answer the question, "O man, who are you to reply against God?" (Romans 9:20).