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Archive for December, 2015

Are We Better Off With Or Without Churches?

People often form their views of God by observing those who claim to represent God. It is assumed or understood churchgoers are God’s representatives. No one went “to church” in biblical times as “the church” (followers of Jesus) were simply to encourage one another anywhere anytime. So, is going “to church” the best way for followers to love others as radically as Jesus did which could be world- changing?

I don’t wish to be totally hypocritical. I will conclude by suggesting going to church is for some and not others. I worked for a company for twenty years and I didn’t agree with everything they taught. Sometimes I spoke up; sometimes I didn’t feel it was worth it as nothing would change. My disagreements were not moral as they aren’t with churches most of the time, but honestly I didn’t leave the company many times because of the paycheck. I am not sure churches are going away for the same reason, but personally I believe spiritual health is paramount.

The world seems better off with churches, than without churches, because a lot of morality is taught in such places. Most places of worship whether Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish teach Jesus’ main message of treating others like you want to be treated. Some people admit church has made them a more moral person which makes for a better world. Gatherings that teach the golden rule is a good thing but such structures can water down Jesus’ hope for the world.

The church can be a great place for people to organize as a group to serve others in need. Individuals might not reach out otherwise without group encouragement. Some will admit though often the church gathers only to be with one another, thus isolating themselves from others in a world in need. Layers of structure can take money away from those who need it most. Groups outside the church act similar to serve others, but they aren’t claiming to represent God and adhere to a set of beliefs other than the moral laws that must be adhered to by all.

It is assumed church teachings or creeds represent God’s beliefs. For example many churches teach husbands are to lead their wives, albeit as Jesus lead others. Many intuitively sense any emphasis on male leadership can be twisted to justify subtle or blatant mistreatment of women. Men in leadership of or authority over women can be an environment conducive for domestic abuse and the other atrocities women face at the hands of men throughout history. Organized groups by nature develop structured beliefs but biblical interpretations are fallible. Individual beliefs typically only happen when “the church” meets wherever without an official structure.

The Bible was not meant to be a book to worship, but Church creeds don’t encourage sharing and considering one another’s opinions gracefully as God helps individuals work out their own convictions with as much consistency as possible. Imagine if our discussions about God were civil and lead to agreeing to disagree. Maybe then Christianity would have more of an impact in our culture. People have enough conflict in their own relationships. Organizing as Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, etc., only muddles God’s message of peace.

Jesus was a calm person in interactions with others but the religious, who claimed to represent God, got his dander up the most. Jesus is more of a spiritual than religious person. Religions tend to emphasize rules and obedience rather than a relationship and God’s unconditional love. It is a friendship with God, without fear, that best transforms followers to being the kind of unselfish person they deep down desire to be. Obedience is not taught but caught when you get to know who God really is. God’s love and His mercy, not gloomy uncertainty of God’s favor, is our necessary nourishment for lasting changes. It is very challenging for a church with an organized structure to encourage a relationship versus adherence which is simply another form of legalism.

Each person in their relationship with their Creator decides which environments give the most encouragement. I am convinced because of the challenges involved that the world is better off without organized religion. Jesus and twelve followers changed the world for the good, but it doesn’t seem followers have come close to duplicating that despite millions of believers since then. The institution of church worked for me for years and continues to work for many, but people need to feel free than obligated to pursue God on their own terms. Obligatory relationships are seldom life transforming. Some may want to continue receiving teaching about their faith and attend traditional church for those and other reasons. No one though needs a mediator between God and them such as a pastor or priest. You may feel at some time like I do that I have graduated from “church.”

 

Questions One Might Ask About Heaven, Hell, And The Afterlife

It is presumptuous to think I know what happens after death, but certain traditional understandings of God and what I suggest may determine the depth of our relationship with God or if we even desire such a relationship. My answers are purposefully brief as I hope if interested you will search for a Post title below using the search feature on my website:

What May Happen After We Die?

Why Atheists And Unspiritual Folks May Be In Heaven?

Is There Life After Death For All?

How The Hell Do You Get In Heaven – Will We Be With All Our Loved Ones?

Hell? NO!

When Jesus was asked how one obtains eternal life, Jesus said simply to love God and love others as yourself (Lk.10:25-27). Changing directions, not perfection, was the message or heaven will be empty. Jesus didn’t talk so much about life after death; Jesus talked about how true living begins here on earth by understanding how much your Creator loves you. Such knowledge empowers one to shun evil and be the unselfish person we all desire to be deep down. 

  1. What does the Bible say about heaven? Enough biblical passages suggest all will face God one day for an accounting of their deeds – good and bad (Mt: 12:36, Rom. 14:10, 2 Cor. 5:10, Heb.9:27). We can look forward to our eventual citizenship in heaven (Philip. 3:20). The new heaven and earth spoken of in Revelation (21:1-4) is not speaking about a time in the future on earth but that the grave is no longer our destination just like Jesus.
  2. Why doesn’t the Bible say more about heaven? A solely heavenly focus can lead to passive earthly living, similar to focusing on Jesus’ coming rather than making a difference in the world we live in currently. Jesus talked about how we now can be the person we desire to be.
  3. Does anyone really go to Hell? The word Hell in the Bible is a substitution not translation for certain Hebrew and Greek words. Hell is an invention over the centuries to scare people into submission and obedience. Like God is going to sadistically torture people forever for their beliefs while here on earth a short time!
  4. Does the possibility of eternal decisions after death lead to less urgency to change on earth? We may want to tell an addict after the 10th relapse there is no hope, but this is not God’s nature. God’s continual encouragement and mercy, not fear, is our necessary nourishment for true changes of the heart. God wants peace for us to begin here on earth.
  5. Do we get into heaven based on decisions and beliefs here on earth? Is a thief going to enter Paradise but not others with lesser sins simply because they weren’t next to Jesus hanging on Cross right before their last breathe? Some opinions about God are based on false representations here on earth. Some despise their Heavenly Parent because of their earthly parents. Some can’t stomach a God who supposedly burns people forever because of unbelief. God doesn’t determine one’s future destiny on choices they didn’t have on earth.
  6. Why do beliefs on earth matter if they don’t determine our eventually destiny? Do you really think it doesn’t matter how you treat others here on earth if there isn’t a law against your actions? Jesus conveyed God’s unimaginable love to inspire us being even a better partner, parent, and friend. Some will admit faith in God turned them away from being totally evil.
  7. Aren’t atheists and unspiritual folks just rebellious? Romans 1 doesn’t suggest all who don’t believe in God are suppressing what they know to be true; instead, some ignore God to justify wicked ways. Let’s not accuse those who believe as needing a crutch and those that don’t believe of being wicked and not knowing their feelings. If it is a sin to doubt God exists, then Christians sin if they doubt God in troubled times.
  8. Can atheists or unspiritual folks here on earth go to heaven? Why wouldn’t a God who gives millions of chances here on earth give one a second change when meeting their Creator after death if justice can be defended in such a scenario? Some biblical passages can be interpreted to suggest all enter heaven one day while some passages can be interpreted to the contrary.
  9. Why do some pursue God on earth and some don’t? Do we really think we believe in God because we are more enlightened or moral? We are surely influenced by choices we have on earth. God created a free world for a reason, but all will eventually have a chance to know what God is really like to make decisions based on the truth.
  10. What about different religions? A Muslim or Christian may or may not worship the same God but strive to love others how they wish to be loved. That is what Jesus said was the main thing (Mt. 24:37-38). Jesus wanted all to listen to their heart about what is right and wrong. Some Muslims believe in the virgin birth and some Christians don’t. Some Buddhists have more the heart of Jesus than those who call themselves Christians. The Israelites got it wrong thinking they were the only nation or religion under God. All religions have some truth and contradictions must be weighed.
  11. What about those who have never heard of Jesus? Some believe Jesus came to tell you to drop to your knees and come to Jesus or you can go straight to Hell. More people than not born into the world have never heard the name of Jesus. Entrance into Heaven doesn’t depend on a decision one didn’t have an opportunity to make. Specific knowledge of Christ or saying the right words is suspect as being necessary. The same John that penned John 3:16 possibly wrote “whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (I John 4:7).
  12. How can there be justice for victims if all go to heaven? We may seek revenge or an eye or an eye, but a parent can’t return a childhood lost due to abusive behavior. God’s justice in the afterlife may have an educative component and cleansing. Confession is what leads to healing. Victims will be vindicated when the guilty face their sins. We like God may forgive our tormenters if they truly seek forgiveness and desire to make amends.
  13. Can our suffering on earth ever be justified? Evil chosen leads to so much suffering, but there may be compassionate reasons why God doesn’t interfere. Forcing my rebellious son to do right presently may lead to further rebellion or staying away forever. Patience may allow time for moral development on earth, so he may freely choose to live with me forever in heaven. Loving parents allow freedom for the possibility of authentic relationships.
  14. Will we have freedom in heaven and does it matter? God values freedom because freedom is necessary for authenticity, the highest good in relationships. Without freedom, thus the possibility of suffering, we could accuse God of not creating the “best” world. Human or spiritual parent brings children into the world hoping their children freely reciprocate their love because controlling or destroying free, moral decisions doesn’t result in true love.
  15. If there is freedom in heaven, is it plausible that there is no sin in heaven? God clearly values freedom here on earth so why wouldn’t God value freedom in the life to come. If freedom and determinism are compatible, a loving God would create a world in which all persons freely did good at all times. Our character developed here on earth limits our ability to sin here and in heaven. Eventually, you may not see any good reason for not doing good.
  16. If there is freedom in heaven, what if there is sin in heaven? One may logically entertain the possibility of sin in heaven because of the presence of freedom. God’s presence surely will have a greater impact than earthly, human authority to dissuade selfishness. Certain qualities of parental love such as integrity and understanding bring out the best in us. Heaven will not have temptations such as poverty or negative peer influences because of God’s presence.
  17. Can one choose to eventually not enter heaven since we have freedom? I am a hopeful Universalist. It seems no one in their right mind would deny living in heaven with a loving God. God will remove all components that led to irrational thinking. But, God clearly values freedom of choice. There may not be a time limit for one coming to their senses. We may be able to be happy not living with a loved one if we know that is truly what they wanted.

Does It Matter If There Is Heavenly Freedom?

Answers to hypothetical questions may lead one to take a step toward or away from God. Writing about philosophical issues can matter when there is relational relevancy. If there is no freedom in heaven, why didn’t God create heaven on earth in the first place since freedom has caused so much suffering? If there is freedom in heaven how can there be no sin? The biblical story suggests God created heaven on earth in the beginning, but we then created Hell.

The Bible doesn’t go into detail what heaven will be like. The most hopeful assumption is that there is no sin rather than sin in heaven despite the presence of freedom. But, how is it possible that there is no sin in heaven if there is freedom. The presence of freedom was a part of God’s creation from the beginning. Freedom was necessary for authentic relationships, to obtain the highest good in relationships. Without freedom God could be accuse of not creating the “best” world. We cannot prove there are no good moral reasons for allowing freedom resulting in so much evil. There may be some plausible explanations as to why there will not be sin in heaven.

Moral development and true love can only develop with choices made. Not even God can force true love. Our character developed here on earth limits our ability to sin here and in heaven. Eventually, you may not see any good reason for not doing good. Obviously, some develop morally more than others on earth. God’s justice in the afterlife may have an educative component and cleansing effect. Victims will be vindicated as the guilty will face their sins.

Some want nothing to do with a Heavenly Parent because of their earthly parents. Who God really is like will finally be obvious in Heaven. Many form opinions about God based on false interpretations. It may be too much for some to stomach a God who supposedly burns people forever if they don’t believe in God. Hell is a myth! God is not going to decide one’s future destiny because of certain choices one didn’t have while living here on earth.

One could suggest there cannot be complete joy in heaven if just one love one doesn’t end up in heaven. A cleansing process may take longer for some to have its full impact. Time may allow those who died prematurely here on earth to grow. One may remain in a state of separation from God in heaven until they are freely able to make moral choices for their good. Learning to not make bad choices is a process as I grow, in my successes and failures, which I would not have otherwise without the freedom to make unselfish choices. One may not continue to make irrational choices to remain separate from a loving God once false impressions are removed?

I am a hopeful Universalist and that eventually there will be reconciliation. No suffering here on earth is in vain. But, God wants us to know that Heaven can start now despite the world we live in. A relationship with God can be our necessary nourishment in our battle against self-centeredness and the challenges of a not so friendly world. Our Creator wants our meeting to be the least painful and regretful possible. This worldly journey can perfect our freedom to not choose evil in heaven.

P.S. Honestly, it is hard for me to imagine there isn’t the possibility of sin in heaven because of my understanding and value I place on freedom. God’s presence surely will have a greater impact than earthly, human authority to dissuade selfishness. We thrive more under parental love and leadership that is full of integrity and understanding. In Heaven God can nip in the bud certain temptations such as poverty or negative peer influences. If we believe it is more logical to think of sin being possible in heaven, the challenges are: heaven does not seem to be a place of ultimate happiness; if people are evicted from heaven for a time there appears to be a higher redemption obtained than initially when entering heaven after death on earth.

Are There Consequences If We Don’t Speculate About Heaven?

It is presumptuous to think I know what happens after death, but speculations matter. Many get their perspective about God by hearing or wondering what their Creator does with their children after life here on earth. Similarly, many form opinions about God by asking why a loving God allows so much suffering here on earth. Why doesn’t a loving Creator as least interfere more during horrific evils? Wrong impressions can lead to wrong assumptions about God. We can speculate because the Bible doesn’t say a great deal about heaven.

The Bible suggests all face God one day for an accounting of their deeds – good and bad (Mt: 12:36, Rom. 14:10, 2 Cor. 5:10, Heb.9:27). We don’t know what will take place during meeting with our Creator. We do know no one will be banished to a place of eternal torturing as Hell is a myth and simply doesn’t exist in the Bible. Most humans much less a loving God wouldn’t think that up. Paul does give hope to those on earth who many need it in times of persecution that heaven awaits (Philip. 3:20). The Bible may not discuss a great deal about the afterlife as such a focus can lead to more of a passive than active approach while living on earth. Some things left up to our imaginations may be more satisfying.

What one believes about life after death can influence their relationship with God while on earth. One traditional Christian understanding is that Jesus came to earth for the purpose of saving us from Hell. But, Hell is a not a translation for certain Hebrew and Greek words but a made up word and thus its meaning. It is taught Jesus came to die on a Cross to appease God’s sense of justice rather than to convey God’s desire to influence us for our own good. A legal versus a relationship understanding of the Cross are very different and give different impressions about God’s purposes and wishes.

I have suggested other possible views of God and Jesus’ purposes in coming to earth. The Bible gives us no reason to think God will not show mercy and give all a second chance when meeting their Creator. We will witness who God really is and false human interpretations will be revealed. The Bible gives us reason to think that the Cross was less about God’s concern with guilt and restoring honor and more about desiring a personal relationship. Jesus longed for us to avoid paths of destructions that lead to regrets. Jesus walked in our shoes so we could know He understands what we are facing in a free world. That is crazy love!

God has always respected freedom of beliefs here on earth and the life to come, unlike religious extremists. God has always known controlling or destroying free, moral decisions cannot result in true love. True love can never be forced. Jesus didn’t come to overpower others though He could have. Fear-based theology is a misguided attempt to control our behaviors to produce unselfishness. God know wants every parent desires and that is for their children to freely reciprocate their love as opposed to being forced.

Certain traditional understandings of God and what I am suggesting are obviously different and may determine the depth of our relationship with God or if we even desire such a relationship. God pursued a friendship rather than demanding obedience, as closer relationships are what inspire and empower us to be the kind of persons we deep down truly want to be. God’s encouragement and mercy is our necessary nourishment which can lead to life transformations and help facing the challenges of a unfriendly world. It matters if God is portrayed as seeking a friendship or only reverence and worship. Many earthly parents don’t demand respect, though deserved, because they understand what is most loving.

 

Why Atheists And Unspiritual Folks May Be In Heaven?

One can understand people getting the wrong impression about their Creator if God punishes people forever for sin committed over a few short years here on earth. Do you really think Jesus is going to invite a thief who apparently warranted death on a cross to enter Paradise but not others with lesser sins simply because they weren’t next to Jesus right before their last breathe? Is one really out of luck if not hanging on a cross some two thousand years ago?

The first chapter of Romans is used to suggest that all people that don’t believe in God are simply suppressing what God has clearly revealed to them. This passage is referring to those who ignore God so they could continue in their wicked ways. Many who aren’t spiritual minded live a life closer to Jesus’ teaching than I could ever hope to. Many people for their own rational reasons cannot believe in an invisible God. Let’s not accuse those who believe as needing a crutch and those that don’t believe of being wicked and not knowing their feelings. If it is a sin to doubt God exists, then Christians sin if they doubt God in troubled times.

A better explanation as to what many believe is not because they are more moral or wiser but because of circumstances in their life. Many believe because of what their parents taught them. Children aren’t bound to hell because of what their parents failed to teach. A traumatic experience such as being raped by one’s father can keep one from wanting to have anything to do with God their Father. It may be too much for some to stomach a God who supposedly burns people forever if they don’t believe in God. Who doesn’t know unending suffering is pointless as it doesn’t produce any good. God is not going to decide one future destiny because of certain choices one did or didn’t have while living here on earth.

Why wouldn’t one want to believe God is a Universalist where all are allowed to have eternal life if freedom and justice can be defended in such a scenario? Several biblical passages can be plausibly interpreted to suggest all enter heaven one day: “For as in Adam all died, so in Christ all will be made alive” (I Cor. 15:22, i.e. Rom. 5:18-19, Philip: 2:10-11).  God is obviously full of second changes. Heaven may be more populated than many people imagined. I doubt any reading this or their loved ones would deny such an invitation by God.

The possibility of eternal decisions after death doesn’t create less urgency to change for one’s best interest here on earth. We may want to tell an addict after the 100th relapse there is no hope, but this is not God’s nature. God has always emphasized a relationship over scaring people in obedience. Closer relationships, either personal or spiritual, are what inspire us to be the kind of persons we deep down truly want to be. Parents know a positive relationship is the most genuine way to suggest what may be in a child’s best interest should they every wish for counsel.

Jesus didn’t come to give people a free pass out of Hell. If so, why didn’t Jesus close the deal with the woman at the well caught in adultery (Jn. 7:53-8:11)? Jesus only encouraged the woman to go and sin no more though He might never see her again! There are countless interactions where Jesus’ mission was simply to encourage others to treat others like you want to be treated. When Jesus was asked directly how one obtains eternal life, Jesus only said to love God and love others as yourself (Lk.10:25-27). Jesus knew loving God empowers one to love others to the fullest.

Do we really think God is going to base one’s destiny on saying the sinner’s prayer or even what they believe when situations vary? Friendships and love don’t have a hidden agenda. I love talking to others about my relationship with God as must as I do a good book, but only if natural and mutually desired. It is like asking me to play tennis. Anytime, anywhere! I am convinced knowing God can be life transforming and help to face challenges in a not so friendly world.

What Might A Christian Extremist Believe?

Freedom of beliefs is essential for people and countries to live in peace with one another. Christians and Islamists must consider one another’s opinion gracefully, as long as they don’t violate the freedom of others, so all can work out their own convictions. Different interpretations about God can be easily handled when people don’t violate God’s gift of freedom. We must consider if a teaching seems plausible based on what a loving God would be like. Human reasoning is not the enemy. Biblical interpretations are fallible so our opinions aren’t “the” truth. In any discussion you could be right, I may be right, or we may both be wrong.

Christians must recognize God has been a respecter of freedom of beliefs from the beginning. Otherwise, why would a God who is powerful enough to create not annihilate immediately those who choose evil and oppose God? God never thought fear led to life-changing transformations. Human or spiritual parent brings children into the world hoping their children freely reciprocate their love as opposed to being forced. The God of the Bible surely is not like the supposed God of terrorists who thinks that controlling or destroying free, moral decisions results in true love.

It is suggested God is more of a God of wrath than love in the Bible. God’s tough love was only to deter people from self-destruction. God’s judgments and declarations of war against other nations in the Old Testament were not because of a refusal to worship God, but because people were involved in despicable immoral acts such as child sacrifice. War may be the most humane action with nations today if child sacrifice is a ritual. Jesus got His dander up the most with the religious elite, the Pharisees, because they portrayed God as demanding obedience rather than desiring a relationship which led to religion being self-serving rather than self-sacrificing.

I am not suggesting Christians who preach “believe or go to hell” are the same as religious extremists who behead infidels. But, it is important to understand the traditional meaning and understanding of Hell, where you will burn forever after death for not believing in God while on earth, doesn’t exist in the Bible. Hell, not a translation but a substitution for certain Hebrew and Greek words, is an invention over the centuries to scare people into submission and obedience. As it turns out God is a respecter of freedom in this life and life after death.

I am not suggesting some Christians are saying Paradise is a lustful adventure for men at the expense of women, but it is important to not be dogmatic that the Bible teaches women are under the authority of men in the God of the Bible eyes. This can encourage dominance on the man’s part and dependence on the woman’s part. God did not create a male-controlled relationship between Adam and Eve in the beginning. Nations thereafter chose to be patriarchal, but God does not simply annihilate people who oppose God’s will. Jesus encouraged equality and mutual respect between the sexes against culture norms. Some religious extremists would rather be dead than advocate for that.

I am not suggesting Christians who believe in a legal understanding of the Cross are child-sacrificers, but it is important to not be dogmatic. The gods of the Old Testament would sometimes demand the sacrifice of children to be appeased. Jesus did not die to appease God’s anger and honor so God could love us. God is more offended by what sin does to us than God. The Cross was not meant to change God’s attitude but our attitude toward God. Jesus walked in our shoes, even facing undeserved suffering, to gain credibility and influence. God is not a blood-thirsty Creator. God went to great means to convince us of their unimaginable love and that their ways were truly in our best interests if we only listened to our hearts. One hint terrorists are misguided is they don’t just blow themselves up to spread their gospel. Jesus didn’t come to conquer the evil Roman Empire; Jesus sacrificed His own life to influence others.

God has been a respecter of freedom of beliefs from the beginning. God knows freedom is necessary for authentic relationships. God only encourages people to listen to their heart. Fear-based theology is a misguided attempt to control our behaviors. God for sure never advocates the torture or beheading of infidels. God never demands that blasphemers be put to death. The traditional understanding of Hell is nowhere to be found in the Bible. Who doesn’t know unending suffering is pointless as it doesn’t produce any good. You can choose to not believe in God but who doesn’t know how you treat others has consequences. God does not have anything in common with any religious extremists concerning freedom of beliefs, women’s rights, or the killing of women and children.

 

What May Happen After We Die?

The Bible may not be as clear as some think about heaven and what happens after we die. The word “heaven” appears the most in the gospel of Matthew. Jesus says the Kingdom of God/Heaven is coming in His audience’s lifetime (Mt. 16: 28). Thus, we today are living in the kingdom of heaven. The book of Revelation speaks of events in the writer’s lifetime (Rev 1:1; 22:6). The new heaven and earth spoken of in Revelation (21:1-2) is not speaking about a time in the future when God will destroy the earth and come down to reign. Revelation 21:4 that speaks of no more tears, death, crying, or pain is suggesting that the grave will no longer be our destination but instead we enter God’s presence immediately after death just like Jesus.

Paul does give hope to those who choose faith in God on earth as they are promised they will enter heaven after death (Philip. 3:20). For those who don’t choose faith in God for whatever reason while on earth, certain passages taken at face value suggest possibly all will enter Heaven with God after a judgment/purification time. We know hell as a place of eternal, sadistic torture does not exist in the Bible. No human much less a loving God would think this up. Hell, an invention over the centuries to scare people into submission and obedience, is not a translation but a substitution for certain Hebrew and Greek words. See here.

The Bible may not focus a great deal on the afterlife as such a focus may make us of little earthly good. Besides, how could God possible explain it until there? The Bible does seem to suggest all will face God one day for an accounting of their deeds – good and bad (Mt: 12:36, Rom. 14:10, 2 Cor. 5:10, Heb.9:27). When Jesus was asked about eternal life, Jesus encouraged beginning to live presently by loving God and loving others as yourself (Lk.10:25-27). Jesus did not focus on Heaven, being perfect, or the destiny of those who reject the pursuit of an unselfish life. Jesus came to convey knowing who God really is empowers one to shun evil and do good NOW!

What is the harm of hoping than despairing over life after death? We have lost nothing in this life by following the golden rule and living less self-centered lives. We are free to imagine a story: 

Moral development and true love only develop with choices made. Not even God can create authentic love. Human parent who brings children into the world desire their children freely reciprocate their love as opposed to being forced. Our character developed on earth limits our ability to sin on earth and in heaven. Eventually, you won’t see any good reason for not doing good. Some may not choose a relationship with their Creator on earth for whatever reason – rebellion, poor role models, or their confused understanding of God.  Some want nothing to do with a Heavenly Parent because of their earthly parents. After death God will continue to extend love and their desire to spend eternity with their children. Convincing may take longer for some than others to freely choose to enter heaven with God. God will be as patient as necessary. Can one really rationally reject God once all barriers are removed?  God’s justice in the afterlife may have an educative component and cleansing effect. Victims will be vindicated as the guilty will face their sins. We like God may forgive our tormenters if they truly sought forgiveness and desired to make amends. Believers and unbelievers here on earth may go through the same process of justice, some having more regrets than others. Do you really think Jesus is going to invite a thief who warranted death on a cross to enter Paradise but not others with lesser sins simply because they weren’t next to Jesus right before their last breathe? I doubt any reading this or their loved ones would deny such an invitation by God. Is it possible this cleansing process will take longer for so to have its full impact, because one could suggest there can be no joy in heaven if just one person perishes. Such time may allow those who died prematurely here on earth to grow. One may remain in a state of separation from God until they are freely able to make moral choices for their good. But, a relationship with God here on earth can be our necessary nourishment in our battle against self-centeredness. Our Creator wants our meeting to not be full of regrets and as joyful as possible. Our suffering will not be in vain as this worldly journey can perfect our freedom to not choose evil in heaven. 

Questions:

  1. Can you fake God out and not truly be sorry? God is capable of seeing one’s thoughts. God can read what is truly on one’s heart. God surely will know when one is truly regretful and ready to live in Heaven where there will be no sin.
  2. Is there less urgency to change here on earth if there are second chances after death? We may want to tell an addict after the 100th relapse there is no hope, but this is not God’s nature. God desires a relationship here on earth so we can be the kind of person deep down we want to be while on earth. God desires the cleansing process after death be as less painful as possible.
  3. Will there be freedom and sin in heaven? I suggest we are free to be optimistic about there not being sin in heaven despite having freedom. One would assume freedom will be present in heaven because of the value God placed on freedom here on earth. If there is no freedom in heaven, why didn’t God create heaven on earth to avoid all the suffering we went through to supposedly perfect our freedom of choices. If one wishes to entertain the possibility of sin in heaven because of the presence of freedom, we can at least hope God’s presence will have a greater impact than earthly, human authority to dissuade selfishness. We thrive more under certain types of parental love and leadership because of their qualities such as integrity and understanding. Heaven will not have certain temptations such as poverty or negative peer influences as God can nip in the bud.

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