Why don't Christians ascend bodily into heaven like Jesus, instead of dying?

If Jesus has broken open the gates of death, and those who accept him will be with him in paradise (like the thief on the cross), then why do Christians still die like everyone else instead of ascending bodily to paradise directly? It seems like there should be no bodies of any Christians left to bury, just like the tomb of Jesus was empty.

Which verse do you have in mind for this idea?

and those who accept him will be with him in paradise (like the thief on the cross), then why do Christians still die like everyone else instead of ascending bodily to paradise directly?

The Good Thief died, and we, too, will eventually be with Jesus in heaven, but do you have in mind a verse in mind which suggests from the image of the Good Thief which suggests that we do not die?

It seems like there should be no bodies of any Christians left to bury, just like the tomb of Jesus was empty.

That WILL be be case after Jesus’ second coming, but not before then.

When Adam & Eve sinned, they, & all their descendants were subject to death!

After dying Christians still have to be judged & be at the Last Judgement.

How I wish we could…

But we have not yet received our Spiritual Bodies (pneumatikon soma).

Our dear old human bodies are not suitable for life everlasting.

“Flesh and blood can have no part in the Kingdom of God.” (1Co 15)

ICXC NIKA.

This section of the Catholic catechism describes the Harrowing of Hell very well: vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P1R.HTM

The issue is this:

(1) the just are no longer required to stay in Hades (Jesus let them out according to the doctrine of the Harrowing of Hell).

(2) Confessing faith in Jesus entitled the Good Thief to access to paradise immediately.

(3) When Jesus went to paradise, he took his body with him and the tomb was empty.

Give these three things, why does death still happen? Why does the body still die instead of just being changed in a flash (like Paul talks of in 1 Cor. 15:51), and ascending directly to heaven like Jesus? Why any need to go to Hades, if the gates of Hades will not prevail against the church (Matthew 16:18)?

  1. Jesus didn’t just ascend because it’s glorious and stuff. He ascended in His glorified Body just like the High Priest ascended the steps to the Holy of Holies. He went to present His sacrifice to the Father, for our sake. He is kinda busy.

  2. Mary did something much like this, but we don’t say that she ascended. We say that she was assumed. Why? Because ascension is something you do under your own power.

  3. Similarly, Elijah, Enoch, Moses, Jeremiah, etc. apparently were taken up to Heaven at their deaths (or before, in Elijah’s case). Presumably all of those taken up have stuff to do up there.

  4. At the Second Coming, those who are faithful and still alive will be “taken up” to meet Jesus and the Angels and Saints while He is on His way. But apparently the dead will be kinda busy resurrecting. Either way, everybody gets to attend the Last Judgment, whether you’re faithful or not or want to go or not, so it’s not like anybody is missing out on the real main event.

  5. So the answer is, because Jesus hasn’t called us yet. Some people get a special preview; the rest of us don’t; but none of us have a right to complain about God doing what He does at the time He wants to do it.

  6. My guess is that God doesn’t want to pretend like everything is already hunky-dory when most of us still aren’t particularly interested in being saved. It could also be to preserve the role of faith, doubt, and free will, so that we can learn to love God for His own sake, instead of just obeying Him out of fear of Hell and death. But that’s just a guess.

It’s an interesting question.

It’s not a matter of complaining, it’s a matter of understanding. It’s not that I’m not willing to accept “it’s a mystery” for some questions. It’s just that I accept it when there is a good reason why it should be a mystery. For example, I can accept that “what is the nature of God’s existence” is inherently mysterious because we have no experience of an existence that is unbound by time or space.

But sometimes people appeal to mystery to defend weak ideas or reasoning that they don’t understand but just don’t want to give up for whatever purpose. I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing, I’m just explaining why mystery isn’t automatically acceptable in any context.

Is paradise the same as heaven? I’ve often wondered why Jesus didn’t just say heaven instead of paradise, unless paradise is the same as heaven, then I won’t wonder anymore.

There are several heavens, at least three cf. Saint Paul, apparently with Paradise at the top.

2 Co:12.

ICXC NIKA

Ok, thanks.

Jesus himself died before He was resurrected, so why shouldn’t Christians? Seems kind of strange to think we can share in the fruits of His glory without also sharing in His suffering. In fact, the New Testament over and over makes clear that this isn’t an option for Christians:

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Mt 16:24)

Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. (Jn 15:20)

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:15-17)

So obviously being Christian isn’t a get out of death and suffering free card. We can’t share in the resurrection of Christ without sharing in the cross.

Now, I suppose God could resurrect every Christian AFTER they die at least. So why doesn’t He? I can think of a few reasons why. First, there’s the matter of faith. It wouldn’t involve faith for us to believe in Christ if every Christian was resurrected immediately after dying. God wants us to come to Him freely out of love, not as a way of avoiding death. And the thing about love is that it doesn’t force or overwhelm. It lets us say no. You really can’t say ‘‘no’’ if people everywhere are being resurrected. It makes the ‘‘yes’’ you give meaningless.

Also, even though it’s true that Christ destroyed death by his own death and resurrection, that doesn’t mean there can’t still be death and suffering in this world. Why? Because that would limit Christ’s sacrifice to the laws of our time. If death was ended in this world, and every Christian on earth was taken up to heaven before they died, that would mean only those born after Christ’s saving work experience the fruit of his redemption. But His action on the cross was INFINITE. Not limited by time or space. It affects all people in all places. This means that the place where we finally experience the end of suffering and death must be outside of time as we know it, and that’s what the Last Judgment is. The end of time when death will be no more and all persons who ever existed will experience the victory of Christ.

If my death would last no longer than our LORD’s, and be no more damaging to my body, then I for one could accept it peacefully.

But people have slept longer than He was dead, so it really is not at all the same.

Not to mention the hideous things that death does to the human body but He was spared.

To me, at least, saying “why shouldn’t we die as He died” is answered “because we really don’t .”

ICXC NIKA.

I think you misunderstood me. I didn’t say our death is exactly the same as His. I said we shouldn’t expect to avoid death when even Christ himself had to go through it. We can be dead longer than Him, but my point is we can’t demand or expect to be dead less. Again, “no servant is greater than his master.”

Well, even then, the teaching is that those living at the very end will escape being dead at all (plus Enoch and Elijah, plus by most accounts also the BVM).

Death isn’t just the not breathing and the cold skin; it is the hideous centuries of lifelessness and the equally hideous decay of the body, neither of which are paralleled in His life.

It’s not that it’s not exactly the same; it’s that it is not at all the same.

ICXC NIKA

One ascends on one’s own power - Jesus ascended into Heaven - He is God

We cannot ascend into Heaven - we can only enter Heaven by the grace of God - thus - we are like the Blessed Mother and all the Saints before is - assumed into Heaven by our Lord and Savior - Jesus …

Jesus ascends by His own power …

We [if we are so privileged] are assumed by the power of Jesus …

Ultimately - we owe our presence in Heaven to Jesus

A mystery, in theological terms, is not an excuse to not reason. In the Christian view, God reveals His purpose over time.

Mystery, is accepting what God has revealed, even while acknowledging that God is God. A measure of trust is involved.

God has revealed our Salvation. God has not yet revealed to us, entirely, Heaven. Though we know a few things about Heaven, only because God has revealed it.

The Kingdom of Heaven is something that we understand as already here but not yet here. An analogy is an expectant mother, whose child is already here in the world, but not yet here until it is born.

This is where we are, now. Watching for the return of Jesus, when the Kingdon of Heaven will be fulfilled in its entirety.

Thus, we also understand, the Kingdom of Heaven is now, for this earth and this time, and it is not required that we must die to live, but live now, in the Kingdom of Heaven. We are called to live a holy life, which purpose is to bring about the Kingdom, in cooperation with Our Lord, Jesus Christ. For Catholics and Orthodox, the Eucharist is central to our understanding of Heaven and the Kingdom of God.

But we are not resurrected until after we die. We follow Jesus, who died, and then was resurrected.

See Hebrews chapter 9.

Heaven is here, but not yet here. All of creation strains toward the return of Jesus, in anticipation, when the Kingdom of God will be fully revealed and the revelation of the life to come will be fulfilled. Your question participates, in a way, in that anticipation. :slight_smile:

Yes of course, there are exceptions, and God can do whatever He wants. I’m not sure how that contradicts what I said though. I never said people CAN’T be assumed straight into heaven without dying. I just said we shouldn’t expect that being Christian gets us out of death if even Jesus died before ascending.

Death isn’t just the not breathing and the cold skin; it is the hideous centuries of lifelessness and the equally hideous decay of the body, neither of which are paralleled in His life.

It’s not that it’s not exactly the same; it’s that it is not at all the same.

ICXC NIKA

Actually death is just the separation of the soul from the body. But again, I think you are misunderstanding me. I never said our experience of death is the same or even similar to Christ’s. If someone at a factory asks, “Why don’t all the employees retire right now since the boss gave them a good plan?” and one worker points out, “Well, even the boss had to work himself before retiring so how can we expect to get out of work?” all he is saying is that the employees shouldn’t expect to retire without working. Not that their work is similar to the boss’. The fact that their work is sixteen hours a day in a sweaty factory and the boss’ work is making phone calls and supervising is besides the point.

The OP asked why Christians don’t all skip dying and go straight to heaven like Jesus did. All I said is that expecting to not suffer death when even God himself did is odd. (Not that it’s impossible, but it’s presumptuous to demand otherwise.) Do you see the difference between that and saying our experiences of death are the same?

Jesus didn’t skip dying… :shrug:

Yup. Exactly my point. :thumbsup:

Ah. I now understand where you are coming from.

Yes, after His death, Jesus descended to the “Limbo of the Fathers” - the place where righteous men who died before Jesus’ crucifixion waited for their redemption. It is thought that this was not a place of torment (hell as we think of it), but a pleasant place with water and trees, etc. They longed for the beatific vision, but they did not suffer fire of punishment. Presumably, this place or state is no longer occupied because everyone who has died since that time has been judged by Christ and goes to heaven, hell or Purgatory immediately without waiting.

The issue is this:

(1) the just are no longer required to stay in Hades (Jesus let them out according to the doctrine of the Harrowing of Hell).

The righteous who had died before Christ, yes.

(2) Confessing faith in Jesus entitled the Good Thief to access to paradise immediately.

Which is not necessarily heaven.

(3) When Jesus went to paradise, he took his body with him and the tomb was empty.

Jesus ascended into heaven forty days after His resurrection, and, of course, the tomb was empty, yes.

Give these three things, why does death still happen? Why does the body still die instead of just being changed in a flash (like Paul talks of in 1 Cor. 15:51), and ascending directly to heaven like Jesus?

Death is a consequence of the fall of man - the sin of Adam. Through Jesus, we are forgiven the eternal effects of sin (damnation), but the temporal effects of sin (death, judgment and purification) remain and must be dealt with.

First, some holy people do go straight to heaven upon their deaths.

Second, Jesus was sinless and did not have to die as a result of the consequence of Adam’s sin. Additionally, He had no need of purification in the way that those who go to purgatory would.

Why any need to go to Hades, if the gates of Hades will not prevail against the church (Matthew 16:18)?

There is no need for this. Those who will not ultimately go to heaven go to hell (Gehenna) immediately and forever.

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