Christian theological views of the human after-life:
eternal life after physical death.
The ability to accept
there is life after death, relies on religious faith. Note that within this
website, the words “belief” and “faith” have different meanings. Probably, most practising Christians
have come to ‘believe’ in God’s
existence. They consider they have proven to themselves, beyond
reasonable doubt, that God does exist.
‘Belief’ is achieved by recognising
presence of God in the Church (particularly in the Born Again/ Charismatic movement) and our day to day life experiences. Evidence of God’s presence, as far as I am concerned, must be evaluated within a sound framework if it is to stand the test of time. A whole section, “Believing in God” has been
provided on this website to assist
although we may soundly believe that God exists, it is not possible to actually
prove to ourselves that there is life after death, i.e. it can
never be tested during this life. We can only accept through 'faith'
the Christian Bible’s promise of life after death is truthful. We Christians are able to accept that this is so
because we have proven to ourselves that other statements within the
e.g. God provides
unconditional loving care for us, are
HOW DO WE GAIN A PLACE IN HEAVEN?
That all aside, how do we assure ourselves as
Christians, in this life, that we will
gain a place in Heaven after death? The subject of life after
death actually provides a complex
of debate within Christian circles. The most common and
accepted outlook (throughout the wider Christian Church) is that all
who have faith in Jesus,
as their Lord and saviour,
everlasting life in Heaven after physical death. If that view is
accurate then other people lacking faith may not gain eternal life.
However, a number of Christian theologians have
trouble with equating God’s grace
and mercy [examples are
Psalms 77:10, 107:1,
136, 165:8-9, Isaiah 49:15] to the view that eternal life comes only to committed
Christians after death.
These theologians ‘hang their hats’ on verses that indicate
that all humankind
will receive eternal life after physical death [examples are Micah 7:18-20, Isaiah 45:22-23,
20:38, John 12:32, Acts 3:20-21, 1 Timothy 4:10-11, Philippians 2:9-11,
Corinthians 15:22]. This
view is termed,
Yet other Biblical verses appear to indicate
agnostics, atheists and those who belong to other religions will be
after death. Verses including the term “gnashing of teeth”
are common in the
New Testament Gospel of Matthew and they are often used by Christian
when offering damnation as the punishment for those who have not
grade’ [Matthew 8:11-12, -42, -50,
-13, 24:50-51, 25:29-50, Luke 13:28.]. Mind
can again provide counter interpretations!
Now, even if everyone does make it
to Heaven (as in the principle of universal salvation), this does not
all people will enjoy the same level of eternal life. For example, if a
does not have a relationship with God prior to death, how will that
to enjoy such a relationship afterwards? Hell is viewed by some
theologians as a
place where, after death, those people previously infatuated with the
world and its pleasures, spiritually
themselves away’ from God
and his beloved
family because, in ignorance, they know no better.
is certainly important to understand that the environment and
conditions we currently experience during our Earthly lives will probably have
little or no bearing on our existences in Heaven. Our place will be
with God. His basis is in Eternity which is outside time and space as
we know them, and it is unlikely that our current lives will just be
transferred to Heaven after physical death. We hear all sorts of
so-called idyllic suggestions, from those who have recently lost friends and loved ones, don’t we? You know, “Heaven is the
big golf club in the sky” or “We’ll have a drink with so-and-so when we meet up
again in Heaven”.
No, I really do not expect any such possibilities at all! But?
All we really know through faith is that Heaven is a wondrous place.
As to our interpretations of Biblical verses relating to
it is clearly up to us, as individuals, to accept the view that seems
the most reasonable and in keeping
with overall scripture. Of course the issue is of
little consequence to those of us Christians who already have
faith in Jesus as our Lord and saviour. However, the magnitude of God’s
love for us, and his habit of giving far more to us (through his unconditional love) than he expects in return is
made very clear in the Bible. I will say no more than that on the subject.