In this blog I am answering a few basic questions about the Bible from a Christian perspective. The questions come from a rather kind spirited practicing Buddhist named S. Dhammika that had some familiarity with the basic tenets of the Christian faith. I do believe these are sincere questions, and can be easily found within or deduced from scripture. This is part 1 of 4.
The initial response was from a previous blog in the latter part of 2007 that explained why I wasn’t Buddhist, or perhaps I wasn’t cut out to certain practices, but not so much as to find faults within the Buddhist philosophy as I had pointed out the comparison between a few tenets and the 10 commandments. All quoted scripture is from the NET Bible translation.
The questions will be in italicized format, and an answer will be provided.
“I have never got a satisfactory answer from a Christian as to what heaven is like. Is there really bodily resurrection (the Bible seems to be in two minds about this) and if so do the beings in heaven remain for eternity the same age at which they died?”
I am not sure what you mean by satisfactory. Let’s go ahead and assume you are on a quest for knowledge about the Bible, and have questions that may not have been answered to your satisfaction or expectation from your peers or family members.
Matt 6:1 “Pure-hearted Giving ‘Be careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven’.”
I am thankful I am given a chance to answer these questions. First and foremost this will not be an exhaustive rebuttal--as a plethora of books have been written over the centuries (even the early church fathers) that have outlined what heaven is like, and will deal with what scripture states very briefly, not so much a folk based theology about Heaven and the resurrection.
From early onset the Christian belief was that there was a bodily resurrection. This is in agreement with the OT teachings found in Daniel.
The Bible makes these claims (and others not listed in this rebuttal) about the resurrected body:
“Dan 12:2 Many of those who sleep in the dusty ground will awake —some to everlasting life, and others to shame and everlasting abhorrence.”
A similar verse:
“Acts 24:15 I have a hope in God (a hope that these men themselves accept too) that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Act 23:6 Then when Paul noticed that part of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, he shouted out in the council, "Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead!"
Before going further, notice in the book of Romans (8:21) where creation is set free from the bondage of decay. In present state, it is apparent that the decay (or aging) will no longer be a factor in the afterlife. While time will continue, it will not have the same affects it has today on the non-resurrected body. I would honestly believe that children will grow into their adult bodies as this process is natural and is not said to stop in heaven, and we would continue to grow in knowledge. Let’s look at more scriptures concerning the bodily resurrection.
Rom 8:21 “that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of God's children”. Rom 8:22 “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers together until now”. Rom 8:23 “Not only this, but we ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we eagerly await our adoption, the redemption of our bodies”.
Note “redemption of our bodies” in Romans, verse 23.
So basically, since God (the Father) transcends he would not be bound by time, space, or matter as mortal beings in a prefatorily sense. Time would not stop in Heaven, however the body would continue to age but not in the sense of pertaining to entropy in the current state.
Psalms 90:4 Yes, in your eyes a thousand years are like yesterday that quickly passes, or like one of the divisions of the nighttime.
2Pe 3:8 Now, dear friends, do not let this one thing escape your notice, that a single day is like a thousand years with the Lord and a thousand years are like a single day.
Now back to the resurrected bodies…
Philippians 3:20 “But our citizenship is in heaven – and we also await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 3:21 who will transform these humble bodies of ours into the likeness of his glorious body by means of that power by which he is able to subject all things to himself”.
We also know that some tombs were open at the crucifixion, and “bodies” rose with Christ after his resurrection.
Mat 27:52 “And tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had died were raised.
Mat 27:53 (They came out of the tombs after his resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.)
This is believed to come from an earlier prophecy in Isaiah.
Isa 26:19 Your dead will come back to life; your corpses will rise up. Wake up and shout joyfully, you who live in the ground! For you will grow like plants drenched with the morning dew, and the earth will bring forth its dead spirits.
Note in Isaiah, dead and the usage of the term “corpses”.
Another fine example, in Matthew chapter 17, Moses and Elijah appears to Jesus and those with him. Deductively we can argue that if Moses and Elijah are recognizable (although maybe not exact in some measures) as they were during Jesus transfiguration that took place much later after the earthly presence of Moses and Elijah, then they did not age as in the current state of entropy that exists with us today (see below).
Matt 17:1 Six days later Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John the brother of James, and led them privately up a high mountain. 17:2 And he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 17:3 Then Moses and Elijah also appeared before them, talking with him.
Acts 1:11 and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way you saw him go into heaven."
Is there really bodily resurrection? The scriptures say yes. In question #3, one of the questionable verses about flesh and blood not entering Heaven is answered. So back to the question of aging, if this were pertaining to infants, and children, then I would say that this growth process would continue, but the aging process that occurs due to death would no longer be true. This will be expounded later in the response. I will cite a few parables about the kingdom of heaven in which a precursory view to Heaven.
Precursor: What the kingdom of heaven is like according to parables, speaking to that genre…
Mat 13:24 The Parable of the Weeds
He presented them with another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a person who sowed good seed in his field.
Mat 13:33 The Parable of the Yeast
He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of flour until all the dough had risen."
Mat 13:44 Parables on the Kingdom of Heaven
"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure, hidden in a field, that a person found and hid. Then because of joy he went and sold all that he had and bought that field.
Mat 13:45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.
Mat 13:47 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was cast into the sea that caught all kinds of fish.
Mat 18:23 The Parable of the Unforgiving Slave
"For this reason, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves”.
Mat 22:2 "The kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son”.
Read more at Rev 21
More to continue...