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Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

According to the Christian Bible, when do Christians ascend into heaven?

Asked by Pied_Pfeffer (28141points) June 4th, 2018
42 responses
“Great Question” (1points)

My sister and I had a discussion about this yesterday and disagreed on the answer. What do you think?

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chyna's avatar

It is my understanding they ascend during the second coming. The souls are reunited with their heavenly bodies at that time.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@chyna That is what I thought as well. My sister said that this is wrong; it says that Christians ascend into Heaven after death.

Does someone know of any Bible verses that cover this?

Darth_Algar's avatar

Depends on what brand of Christian you ask.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Thanks @Darth_Algar. The interest is about what Bible quotes address this topic.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Yes, and each brand will find quotes from the Bible to justify their position. That’s the problem in trying to figure out what a self-contradicting collection of fables says about any given topic.

kritiper's avatar

As I recall, there is a passage in the Bible about Judgment Day, when “the sea shall give up it’s dead…” and so on So, it would seem, the dead shall rise up then and not before.

zenvelo's avatar

Here is where it gets tricky. Catholic teaching is that the Kingdom of Heaven is here and now.

Matthew 12:28
Matthew 28:18

elbanditoroso's avatar

I have always wondered about the mechanics / logistics of ascending to heaven.

Is this physical or is this figurative? If it’s physical, how does the ascension taking place? Does it defy the laws of gravity? Is everyone ascending at once? Are there queues to get into heaven?

If it’s figurative or virtual, then the body remains on earth, I suppose. So is the bible saying that the soul (only) has ascended? If that’s the case, what is the status of the body left here on earth?

I’m trying to understand just what is meant by ascending to heaven.

chyna's avatar

^The old body is left on earth because it is an earthly body that is imperfect. It has disease, handicaps etc. Your new heavenly body will be perfect without pain, disease, handicaps, etc.

KNOWITALL's avatar

First Thessalonians 4:16–17 “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

Muslims also have a Second Coming theory.

Pandora's avatar

I was always told that we ascend to heaven when we die. The ones that will ascend to heaven during the second coming will be those who are still alive, and some that are in limbo. So when they speak about raising the dead to heaven they mean those who lived a good life, like a really good person who died through suicide but they were mentally ill. They don’t quite qualify for hell or heaven (because suicide is a sin), but in the second coming they will be judged. Also for those who haven’t been baptised before they died. As for judgement, some believe that what it means is that all evil will be cast away from the world.

chyna's avatar

@Pandora. You do not have to be baptized to be saved and to go to heaven.
Our biggest proof of that would be the thief on the cross with Jesus. He professed his belief in the lord and to remember him when Jesus got to his kingdom. In Luke 23:43 Jesus says today thou shat be with me in paradise.
There was no chance, no way the thief could’ve been baptized .

flutherother's avatar

Does it make much difference? The period between dying and ascending to Heaven is not a period when you are conscious. Whether it is immediate or whether it takes a million years is immaterial if you are dead.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Once you are in heaven; you have ascended, do you do anything? Would the thief that @chyna mentioned have gone back to thievery?

I get that ascending to heaven is a reward – what does Christian theology say happens once you’re there?

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@elbanditoroso I read that their is no sex in heaven.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@elbanditoroso Or beer. Maybe wine if communion is taken in heaven.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I was taught that at death the soul immediately transited to some place for judgement, from whence it is immediately shunted to one of the 4 terminal destinations—heaven, limbo, purgatory or hell. When Jesus returns to end it all, our corporeal selves somehow reassemble to be united with those souls to enjoy the splendors or suffer the torments.

Jeruba's avatar

The “Christian” Bible—what’s that? How is it different from the Bible?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Jeruba Thank you. point taken.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Well, the Old Testament (Tanach) is seen as the Jewish Bible, because it doesn’t include the New Testament and it also doesn’t include some some of the extrabiblical books that have been connected to Christianity. So there’s a clear delineation between the Jewish Bible and the Christian Bible.

That said, there’s no canonical Christian Bible. King James version is the one most readily accepted, but that’s a translation just like all the rest. And there are a zillion translations and interpretations and recasts.

janbb's avatar

I agree – there is a difference between the OldTestament and the New, i.e., Christian Bible.

kritiper's avatar

In my Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, it shows the many “Books of the Bible”:
The Hebrew Bible
Christian Canon – Old Testament which lists the Roman Catholic Bible and Protestant Bible
Protestant Apocrypha
Christian Canon – New Testament

Catholics don’t recognize any Bible except the “Vulgate Bible – (1728) A Latin version of the Bible authorized and used by the Roman Catholic Church.”

One can find all of the books listed in Merriam-Webster’s 11th ed.

kritiper's avatar

No matter what Bible one is looking at, if it covers the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, it is a Christian Bible.

Yellowdog's avatar

First off, let me preface by saying this question is specifically about the Christian view based on the Christian New Testament. There is still a lot of room for interpretation, but it narrows down to this:

The “dead in Christ” (οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν Χριστ ) refers to “those who are asleep” (τοὺς κοιμηθέντας; cp. 1 Thes. 4:14). The Greek phrase ἐν Χριστ means one who is incorporated into the body of Christ, i.e. a Christian.

Thus, οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν Χριστ means “Christians who have died.” Specifically, it is referring to the bodies of Christians lying in the grave, for the soul does not die upon death.

Rather, the souls/spirits of the dead Christian believers go go to heaven (or “Paradise”) upon death (cp. 2 Cor. 5:8; Luke 23:43; Phil. 1:23). This is NOT a bodily resurrection, however.

When our Lord Jesus Christ returns, the souls/spirits of dead believers will be reunited with their RESURRECTED bodies. A more perfect, immortal, imperishable and incorruptible version of the body or tabernacle you have now.

There IS a spiritual presence in Christ after death, and Paul was evidently conscious of it and said it fit him like a glove, and was too wonderful to describe. But there will come a time in the eschatological future when Christ will come again and the bodies of believers will be resurrected, and the bodies of living believers ‘translated’ into these resurrected bodies,

kritiper's avatar

I think it a bit odd to speak about the “Christian New Testament” when the Old Testament says nothing about Christ so is therefore not “Christian.” The New Testament begins with the birth of Christ so the New Testament is all about Christianity. To say “Christian New Testament” is redundant.
(NOTE: The word “Christian” means, specifically, a person who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ.)

cookieman's avatar

Christ also didn’t consider himself a Christian as the religion didn’t exist yet (obviously). He didn’t set out to create a new religion. That was his followers and a Roman emperor or two long after he died.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@kritiper wrote “The word “Christian” means, specifically, a person who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ.”

I would suggest that there are plenty of people who call themselves ‘Christian’ who live lives far from the teachings of Jesus.

Pandora's avatar

@chyna, Yes but the thief already accepted Christ as the son of God. John 3:16 English Standard Version (ESV)
For God So Loved the World
16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. I’m talking about people who die without accepting Christ as Savior. Maybe because they were never raised in any faith.

LostInParadise's avatar

This is a bit off topic, but something that I find confusing is to say that God gave his only son, and also saying that Jesus was resurrected and is part of the Trinity.

Yellowdog's avatar

Kritiper: I know you only meant it as a slam, but I generally refer to the Christian New Testament and the Hebrew Bible, by those names.

The New Testament is the covenant of Christ, as distinguished from the Old Testament. So it is not redundant to call the New Testament Christian. I don’t say ‘Old Testament’ because it is the Hebrew Bible and the designation is not ‘old’ to the Jews. To some, to merely call the Christian Testament the “New” Testament sounds a little like it has supplanted the Old.

Elbanditioroso: The Greek word ἐν Χριστ (translated ‘Christian’) means one who is incorporated into the body of Christ.

A different word, the Greek word μαθητής, οῦ, ὁ (translaed as Disciple) means a follower of Christ, or a student or pupil of the teachings of Christ.

And, what is it to you to judge who is or isn’t a Christian?

Yellowdog's avatar

LostInParadise: When it says that God gave His only Son it means Jesus, or Yeshua, was Given by God the Father as the ultimate atonement for sin—the ultimate ‘Passover Lamb’.

Christ became or was born Human flesh and lived a perfectly sinless life to offer himself the atonement for sin, to die in our place. Of course Christ was resurrected, but Christ died as a sacrificial atonement

kritiper's avatar

@Yellowdog You bias my post by referring to it as a “slam” when I did not mean it as such.

LostInParadise's avatar

@Yellowdog , If someone dies and then is resurrected, is the person still dead? If not then the short period of death is not of much consequence.

Yellowdog's avatar

The crucifixion looked pretty gruesome to me. I don’t think many would go through with it. But having the propituation of the sin of the entire world laid on you is far worse. It IS of great consequence, to you and me especially, if one considers the alternative.

janbb's avatar

@Yellowdog But you do realize it’s not the entire world, don’t you? Jesus didn’t die for my sins, for example. Only for those who believe in him as the Messiah.

Yellowdog's avatar

Well, if you want to get Theological about it—

“Calvinists” and Reformed and Lutherans believe that Christ only died for the ‘elect’—meaning those that WOULD receive Christ, as God foreknows who will and who will not.

Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Arminians, including Methodists, and all Evangelicals, believe that the blood was shed for everyone, whether or not they choose to receive Christ. But they still have to receive Christ.

Universalists believe that the blood covers EVERYONE regardless as to whether or not they are even believers.

I trust only that God is fair and just—and whatever is willed, what is willed must be, I don;t get a vote in this.

Yellowdog's avatar

I might be wrong about what Lutherans believe about the atonement. True, they are of the REFORMED tradition, but I have never heard a Lutheran refer to the atonement.

zenvelo's avatar

Many of us do not believe that Christ died to atone for sins.

God, who loves unconditionally, does not need hostages or sacrifices to grant the forgiveness which His love already expresses.

Yellowdog's avatar

The book of Romans says it was to ‘exact justice’—sin had to be atoned for. It is just as loving to be willing to pay the price for it, Because it is in scripture is the only reason I believe in the atonement.

There are those who believe that His atonement covers everyone. If the Bible explains the atonement, that’s what I go with, as an evangelical Christian. It is not a denial of God’s unconditional love.

zenvelo's avatar

Franciscan philosopher and theologian John Duns Scotus (1266–1308) was not guided by the Temple language of debt, atonement, or blood sacrifice (understandably used in the New Testament written by observant Jews). He was instead inspired by the cosmic hymns in the first chapters of Colossians and Ephesians and the first chapter of John’s Gospel. For Duns Scotus, the incarnation of God and the redemption of the world could never be a mere mop-up exercise in response to human sinfulness, but the proactive work of God from the very beginning. We were “chosen in Christ before the world was made” (Ephesians 1:4). Our sin could not possibly be the motive for the divine incarnation; rather, God’s motivation was infinite divine love and full self-revelation! For Duns Scotus, God never merely reacts, but always freely acts out of free and unmerited love.

Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity (it did not need changing)! Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God. God’s abundance and compassion make any scarcity economy of merit or atonement unhelpful and unnecessary. Jesus undid “once and for all” (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12; 10:10) all notions of human and animal sacrifice and replaced them with his new infinite economy of grace. Jesus was meant to be a game changer for religion and the human psyche.

Yellowdog's avatar

That is beautifully written and a beautiful treatise for the love of God.

But I am surprised that you are using passages about sacrifice and atonement to say that Christ did away with them. Those passages actually state that ‘Christ who was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.’ You seem to think they say the opposite.

NomoreY_A's avatar

At the moment of death, during the Rapture, at The Second Coming, pick one.

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