A Voice in the
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February 1, 2007

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Q/A Topics:
Ghosts real?

READER QUESTION:
I have a question : when people say they saw a "ghost " or a house was haunted i tend to scoff while my wife will say its "something " Can you clear up this debate ? also, i assume that peoples souls cant be trapped on earth ..is this true ?

VW ANSWER:
I suspect ghosts are real. It would be variations on the recent "23 minutes in hell" mailing. When Saul went to the medium, she had been used to communicating with the spirits (ghosts), and when (actual) Samuel shows up, it freaked her out. (1Sam28)

But people's souls being trapped on the earth (like the show "Ghost Whisperer" with Jennifer Love Hewitt) does not agree with the account -Jesus- told of the rich man and Lazarus. Lazarus was in Abraham's bosom, and the rich man was in the flame, and the situation was that the "great chasm" kept the various ones from going from one place to the other. (Lk16:26)

If Believers at death go to Abraham's bosom/Paradise/Home with the Lord, and unbelievers go to the place of the flame....and there is no traversing between places....then it seems obvious to me that what is being conjured up in all these spiritist, medium, necromance sessions is not really the souls/spirits of the dead, but somebody -pretending- to be them. And who is the great deceiver and liar? Satan and his demons.

And further... If God keeps track of us, knowing "those who are His" (2Tim2:19) and angels are "ministering spirits" sent on behalf of Believers (Heb1:14), could it not be equally assumed that satan and his demons know those who followed him....so when these mediums have their necromancy sessions and claim to be communicating with the dearly-departed, would it not be easy to understand that they would be drawing from their prior knowledge of those now-dead, and make "communications" -appropriate- to the living who are seeking after the dead?

Related: Haunted Houses?

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Where do we go after death?

READER QUESTION:
I am a believer in the Pre-Trib rapture but I have a dilemma regarding where we go after death. So far, I believe that unbelievers abide in the realm of Sheol or Hades until the "Great White Throne Judgment." But for believers, where do we go? When God's children gets raptured, they have to go through the "Judgment Seat of Christ" before entering into Heaven right? Do believers who died prior to the rapture automatically go to Heaven? What about the believers in the OT times? Is there a difference between "Paradise" and "Heaven?" I would greatly appreciate your sound Biblical advice regarding this topic, thank you.

VW ANSWER:
The questions you have asked cover many different topics, and I know that if I try to answer them for you 'fresh' with an e-mail, the e-mail will become quite long; so let me see if I can collect some URLs from the website to past studies on these topics. Hopefully you did notice the "search" page, where the 'left' box scrolls down through various key-words. In that box have you checked out: heaven, hell, rapture, pre-trib, resurrection, etc?

Here are some specific suggestions:

The most important thing to understand about the afterlife, is that we do not fully understand the afterlife before we get there. As God confronts Job, who thought he knew-it-all, and among other things had said, "..so man lies down and does not rise. Until the heavens are no more, they shall not awake nor be aroused from their sleep" (Job14:12) (some use this to promote a 'post-trib' teaching), God asks Job, "Have the gates of death been disclosed to you? Or have you seen the gates of the shadow of death?" (Job38:17)

When Paul experieced the "third heaven" and saw "Paradise", even though having experienced it, he proclaims, "whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows" (2Co12:2-4)

The Jews apparently would speak of "Abraham's bosom" (Lk16:22), but Jesus spoke to the thief about joining him "in Paradise" (Lk23:43) And yet, Paul lumps both the 3rd Heaven and Paradise together; but when Jesus had risen from the grave He says, "for I have not yet ascended to My Father" (Jn20:17) Perhaps this latter matter refers to His -resurrected- 'body'?

Paul speaks of the preference to leave this life and to go "home with the Lord" (2Co5:8)

If you read the ch4 section (08) of the Thessalonians series, you will notice how at the resurrection the Lord -brings- "those who sleep in Jesus" (vs14) If at death a Believer goes to be "home with the Lord", and He is bringing them back for the resurrection, is it not clear that the Believing dead go to God's presence... Since the bodies are decaying in the ground, that would have to be their 'spirits'. Since the "soul is in the blood" (Le17:11), and the prophecy and fulfillment about Jesus was, "for You will not leave My soul in Sheol; nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption." (Ps16:10) I would have to assume that means it is our 'spirits' who go to be with God at death, since the blood remains with the body and decays. God says to Cain, "The voice of your brother‘s blood cries out to Me from the ground." (Gen4:10) And in the vision of dry bones, God tells Ezekiel to prophesy to the "spirit...from the four winds" to enter the bodies to give them life. (Ezk37:9) When God gave life to Adam He breathed into him the "breath/spirit of life" (Gen2:7) When John sees the souls (blood) of martyrs under the altar (Rev6:9), is that because of how in the OT the blood of the sacrifice was poured out onto the ground next to the altar? (Le4:7) A picture of how the martyrs 'sacrificed' themselves for Christ? Paul exhorts the Believer to "present your bodies a living sacrifice" (Rom12:1)

So, Believing spirits go to be with the Lord, to wait their return to join up with their resurrected "incorruptible" bodies. (1Co15:51-54) Unbelievers go to someplace of torment with a "flame" (Lk16:23-24)


Now... while there are many unanswered questions, it seems clear that there are three phases to the "first resurrection" (Rev20:5-6) The first happened when Jesus rose. (Mt24:52-53) The second is for the "dead in Christ" (1Th4:16) And if you read this link I think it is clear that the third phase happens at the end of the 70th week, when the two witnesses are raised...along with those who were martyred during that time. (Rev20:4)

As for the "judgment seat of Christ" (Rom14:10, 2Co5:10) I don't know if Scripture specifies 'when' it takes place. Some teachers assume it is Revelation ch4, and thus that it is just after the rapture, and during the 70th week. But what of those who go through death? Paul says that "the Day" will declare the Christian's works (1Co3:13) Such a comment makes it sound like an event like the Great White Throne; and yet that event seems to be for those who names were not found in the Book of Life. (Rev20:15) and by then the righteous would already have reigned with Christ a thousand years. In the OT they already had a pretty strict set of laws with earthly punishments. And those who are martyred during the 70th week are praised. Those who are "faithful unto death" receive the "crown of life" (Rev2:10) So, is the "judgment seat of Christ" for the -Church- age Believers? Just like the next phase of the resurrection is for the "dead in Christ". The Church, specifically, has the label CHRIST-ian. (Ac11:26) Thus, the "judgment seat of Christ" is for the Church? But 'when'? Individually, as each person arrives? Or all collectively? Is it some specific calandar date, or the "day of one's death"? Since "it is appointed for men to die once, and after this the judgment," (Heb9:27) except for Believers who do not die? (1Co15:51) And if at the rapture the person receives the incorrupible body, what further need is there for judgment? if at that point we "shall be like Him" (1Jn3:2)

Some things we do not know, fully, until we get there. "For now we see through a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall fully know just as I also am fully known" (1Co13:12)

Some answers, and some more questions? We are not meant to know 'everything' before the time....

    "Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will be from God." (1Co4:5)

    "So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. FOR WE WALK BY FAITH, NOT BY SIGHT. We are confident, yes, preferring rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we strive, whether at home or away, to be well pleasing to Him." (2Co5:6-9)

    "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the testing of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found unto praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though NOW YOU DO NOT SEE HIM YET, BELIEVING, YOU REJOICE WITH JOY INEXPRESSIBLE AND FULL OF GLORY, receiving the outcome of your faith; the salvation of your souls." (1Pet1:6-9)

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Life Spans?

READER QUESTION:
Thank you for doing a great job with the timeline. I'm absolutely not trying to be picky only trying to understand. I have (2) questions:

(1) I noticed an extra 100 years added to the time between Adam was created and the Flood. Why? Did not time begin when God divided the light from the darkeness, thus the first day? If Adam was created five days later, I'm confused where the extra 100 years comes from scripture.

VW ANSWER:
I'm not sure I understand your question, as it relates to the 'flood'? Yes, it goes almost to 4100 BC, when most timelines assume Genesis 1:1 to be 4000 BC. Did you read the accompanying explanatory notes? The calculations were made based on Scriptural numbers as people would be born and died.

But as explained at the bottom, perhaps there is a difference between how we in the "west" calculate births, and how the "east" does so? e.g. I grew up in Japan, and as I got older, back in the States, and would hear my dad talking with others (Americans), he would tell about seeing some Japanese new-born, and asking the parents "how old" the baby was, expecting answers on the order of "so-many DAYS" or "so-many WEEKS"; and being amazed when the parents would say, "ONE YEAR". In other words, a freshly new-born baby was considered to be "one-year old" Whereas we from the "west" count the day of birth as "0", and a year from that time a person becomes "one year" old. And furthermore, many eastern cultures count their birthdays based on the New Year...so a baby could be born in (say) November and be considered "one year" old, and then January comes along and the baby is now -another- 'year' old. What we as westerners would call a baby of 2-months, is suddenly considered as a "two-year" old.

So, if those Scriptural OT birth/death figures are based on such "eastern" traditions, that could easily make up that 100-year difference in a big hurry.

READER QUESTION:
(2) It appears that Patriarchs in the timeline indicate life beyond 120 years which was the limitation placed God in Genesis 6:2. Does this make sense?

VW ANSWER:
If you notice lives after the flood, Noah lived another 350 years. But as the genealogies continue, the life-spans continue getting shorter, until we find how Moses died at 120. (De34:7)

Just because God placed a certain generic age-span, doesn't mean that a person cannot live longer, according to God's blessings. Apparently Moses (who lived to 120) was given to understand that the life-span had now become 70, and he says,

"The days of our years are seventy years; and if by reason of vigor they are eighty years, yet their boast is toil and wickedness; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away." (Ps90:10 "prayer of Moses")

David lived 70 years. (2Sa5:4) And on average, isn't that more-or-less what it is today?

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