Heaven is real! ...Of death and reunion
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day, their plans come to nothing.
-Psalm 146:4 NIV
t is the norm to attend a thanksgiving service and hear the preacher making references to the departed, implying that they are in heaven looking down on the activities.
Many comfort themselves with the thought that once they have made the transition from life to death, they will be 'caught up' in the presence of the Lord awaiting others to join them.
There is no doubt that within Christendom, a lot of confusion surrounds what really happens after death.
While some are content with 'letting the chips fall where they may' others want the assurance that all this 'labouring' on Earth comes with instant rewards.
Family and Religion reached out to Pastor Rodney Joseph of the Church of God of Prophecy in Bendon, St Catherine, for insight on the subject.
Joseph stressed that judgement does not take place immediately, noting that "that would be contrary to what the Bible teaches".
"This body we are in is the temporary body, which is corrupt. However, we will be clothed in a permanent body, which the Lord God will give us at the resurrection. Corinthians speaks of the new body, 'so will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable. It is raised imperishable. Jesus is the first to have it," explained Joseph.
Pointing out that the soul of man, as we know it, never dies, he said the experience is like a person who falls asleep and is oblivious to whatever is happening around him.
"Other times, we dream and it comes across as real. That, I think, will be the state of our souls when death comes our way. Also, our dreams can be good or frightening. This sometimes is influenced by the way we live. I think that a Christian, after death, will have sweet dreams while others will have frightening dreams," he said, citing the biblical parable of Lazarus and the rich man.
"My reasons to think this way is the fact that the Bible refers to death as sleep. They are used interchangeably, both naturally and spiritually. Sleep is a bridge between night and day, darkness and light. While sleeping, our minds can be active, but our bodies inactive. I believe that our transition time during death is our night before that great resurrection," said Joseph.
Expanding on the resurrection, where Christ will make His return, Joseph suggests that that's where the 'new clothes' will come in.
"The new clothes, our new body, will come about just at the time when Christ will put in His appearance. The Bible states that we shall not all sleep; we shall be changed in a twinkling of an eye. That tells me that it is instant. The fact is that no one will truly know the exact state after death, but sleep gives the closest representation of death," Joseph told Family and Religion.
Hope in Christ
Pastor Zebulah Aiken of the Miracle Tabernacle Free Town Church of God of Prophecy said the topic is the "heart and soul" of why people embrace Christ as their Lord and Saviour.
"As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15 vs 19, 'If, in this life only, we have hope in Christ, we are, of all men, most miserable'."
It is for this reason that Aiken said it is important for believers to get the semantics right on what will happen after they have, laboured on Earth.
Aiken acknowledged that many persons do not believe in the resurrection, so they do not live their lives like there is a higher power.
"The moment you slip away from Earth, you go into the presence of the Lord," she said. Aiken admits that it can be a contradictory topic, especially when you take into consideration what the Bible says about the rapture - "the dead in Christ shall rise first and those who are alive shall be caught up to meet Him".
For her, it's all about understanding the scriptures and putting them into context.
"Heaven is real and we should all live our lives to reap that reward." she concluded.