Hi everyone. I’m chatting with a guy who says that the saints are not alive in Heaven. What can I say (preferably from scripture) to show that they are?
This is how the dialog is going between him and I:
James Lee: Matthew 9:18-19, 23-26
James Lee: Mark 5:22-24,35-43
Holly: Oh I get it.
Holly: So you say that because it says she sleepeth that it means she was not alive in Christ?
James Lee: no
Holly: Then explain it to me
James Lee: death is sleep
James Lee: the second death is the one that matters
Your friend confuses the particular judgment (which each individual faces at the moment of death) with the general judgment (the end of time when our bodies are resurrected). Often people who confuse these two judgments make remarks like, “Mary can’t hear you, she’s dead and in her grave awaiting the resurrection.”
The Bible tells us those in heaven are alive.
“And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living,” Matt 22:32.
At the Transfiguration, the souls of long-dead Moses and Elijah appeared alongside Jesus. “And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.” Matt 17:3. How could Moses and Elijah “talk” with Jesus if they were “asleep”? Their souls were alive and awake. The fact that the Bible shows Moses and Elijah “talking” with Jesus conclusively disproves your friend’s idea that souls are “dead” or “asleep” until the general judgment.
Scripture shows that heaven’s inhabitants hear us, which they couldn’t do if they were “dead.” “Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do His word, hearkening to the voice of His word! Bless the Lord, all His hosts, His ministers that do His will!” Psalm 103:20-21. “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise Him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his host!” Psalm 148:1-2. These verses would make no sense if those in heaven could not hear us.
Those in heaven not only pray with us, they pray for us and can present our requests to God. “When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints,” Rev. 5:8. “Another angel with a golden censer came and stood at the altar; he was given a great quantity of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar that is before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel,” Rev. 8:3-4. These verses show (1) those in heaven have access to our prayers, and (2) those in heaven can offer our prayers to God. None of this would make any sense whatsoever if those in heaven were “dead” or “asleep.”
Part of our spiritual inheritance under the New Covenant is access to the souls of the justified. “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, AND TO THE SPIRITS OF THE RIGHTEOUS MADE PERFECT, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” Heb. 12:22-24.
Okay, I ended up telling him that when Jesus died on the cross, he went down into Hell or Paradise or whatever it is that is mentioned in John 23:43 to preach the Gospel to the Old Testament saints and sinners. He wants me to back this up with the Bible. What do I do?
"Then he [the second criminal] said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43)
For someone so adamant about having Biblical proof for beliefs, he doesn’t seem to have much knowledge of the Bible to back up his own. It’s pretty clear here that Jesus promises the criminal that he will be in heaven that very day–not the end of time.
As for what you’ve said…there is no John 23.
Peace be with you.
1 Peter 3:18-19 - 18For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison,
Oh oops. I mistyped it! Thank you!
Jesus didn’t return to heaven until the Ascension. That’s why He told the good thief he’d be with Him today in “paradise,” not “heaven.” 1Pet 3:19 shows that Jesus spent the three days where the souls of the justified were awaiting heaven (sometimes called Abraham’s Bosom).
Ok so I answered his questions with the Bible verses you guys gave me but he’s no longer responding to me for some strange reason. I think I adequately answered his question though. I planted the seeds. Now its up to God to grow them.