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A Catechism on Death, Life and the Resurrection

This Catechism is available as a  pdf booklet here.

Introduction

  “Only two things are certain,” the old saying goes, “Death and taxes.” This is true, at least of death. The grave is the inescapable end of all people. “It is appointed for a man once to die,” [Hebrews 9:27]. Death, then, cannot be avoided or ignored.

  Death is often misunderstood, and the grave is clouded with many questions. This little pamphlet intends to answer many of the questions about death and the resurrection with the Scriptures. The Lord's dear Christians can joyfully think on death, for Jesus, in His death, has destroyed the power of death [Hebrews 2:19] and the grave [1 Corinthians 15:55] and opened for us the way to everlasting life.

  Let us, then, rejoice in Jesus' death which gives us comfort in our life and in our death.

INJ
Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller
Twenty-Third Sunday after the Feast of the Holy Trinity

  [Scriptures are from the English Standard Version.]



What is Death?

  Temporal death is the separation of the body and the soul.

Luke 12:20- But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'

Matthew 27:50- And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

Ecclesiastes 12:7- ...and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.



What is the cause of death?

  Sin.

Genesis 2:16,17- And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."

Genesis 3:19- By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

Romans 5:12- If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Romans 6:23- For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

James 1:15- Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.



If Christians are forgiven, why do they still die?

  Christians die because they are sinners, and we still have the temporal punishment of our sin. And yet, the Christian's death is totally different than the death of an unbeliever. For the Christian death has lost its power and its sting, it is no longer bound up with God's wrath, for this has all been suffered by Jesus on the cross.

1 Corinthians 15:55,56- "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

Jesus promises that even though Christians die, yet they will live.

John 8:51- Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."

John 11:25,26- Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

  Christians have the promise that they are free from eternal death.

John 3:16-"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 5:24- Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

1 John 3:14- We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.



What comforting names do the Scriptures give to the believer's death?

  “Being gathered to one's people”

Genesis 25:8- Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.

Genesis 25:17- (These are the years of the life of Ishmael: 137 years. He breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people.)

  “Depart and be with Christ”

Philippians 1:23- I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

  “Departure in peace”

Luke 2:29- "Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word.”

  “Taken from evil”

Isaiah 57:1- The righteous man perishes, and no one lays it to heart; devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from calamity [evil].

  “Sleep”

Matthew 9:24- [Jesus] said, "Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him.

John 11:11- After saying these things, he said to them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him."

1 Thessalonians 4:13- But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.

1 Corinthians 15:18- Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ...

  “Passing from death to life”

John 5:24- Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

2 Timothy 1:10- And which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Revelation 2:10- Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

  “Deliverance from evil”

Matthew 6:13- And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

  “Gain”

Philippians 1:21- For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.



What happens to the body after it dies?

  As we say in the funeral liturgy, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” After death the body goes back to the earth from which it was taken.

Genesis 3:19- By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

Ecclesiastes 3:20- All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.

  The church commends the body of believers to the earth “in the hope of the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.” Even after we are dead, God is not through with our bodies. On the last day the Lord Jesus will return and call our bodies out of the grave, reunite them with our souls, and give us the gift of the resurrection.

Job 19:26- And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.

John 11:24- Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day."

  (See below for more questions about the resurrection.)



What about cremation?

  There are no accounts of cremation in the Scriptures where the standard is burial. Sarah [Genesis 23:1-4], Abraham [Genesis 25:8-10], Isaac [Genesis 35:29], Jacob [Genesis 49:33-50:13], Joseph [Genesis 50:26; Joshua 24:32], Moses [Deuteronomy 34:6, buried by God!], Joshua [Joshua 24:29-30], Eleazar [Joshua 24:30], Samuel [1 Samuel 25:1], David [1 Kings 2:10], John the Baptist [Matthew 14:10-12], Lazarus [John 11:17], Ananias and Sapphira [Acts 5:5-10], Stephen [Acts 8:2], and, of course, Jesus [Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42].

  Death by fire, on the other hand, is often seen as a curse or punishment. [See Genesis 38:24; Leviticus 20:14; 21:9; Numbers 16:35; Joshua 7:15-26; Judges 15:6; Jeremiah 29:22; Amos 2:1].

  The Scriptures do not demand that Christians be buried. Nor do they forbid cremation. How the body is treated after death is a matter of Christians freedom. Unless a person is, by cremation, denying the resurrection of the flesh, there is no sin in cremation. On the other hand, there is in the Scriptures and the history of the church a strong bias toward Christian burial.



What happens to the soul after it dies?

  The soul of the unbeliever goes to torment. The soul of the believer goes to eternal bliss.

Luke 23:43- And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

2 Corinthians 5:8- Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Philippians 1:23- I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

Luke 16:19-31- "There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.' But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.' And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house-- for I have five brothers--so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.' And he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'"



Do angels carry our souls to heaven?

  When Jesus tells us about the deaths of Lazarus and the rich man, He says, “The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side.” [Luke 16:22] This indicates that the angels do carry us to the Lord's rest after our death.

  Thus the church sings, “Lord, let at last Thine angels come, To Abram's bosom bear me home, That I may die unfearing.” [Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart, TLH 429.3]



Do we have our personality in heaven? Will we recognize our friends and relatives?

  Yes. Consider Lazarus and the rich man [Luke 16:19-31]. Both of these men kept their personality and identity after their death.



What is teaching of purgatory and is it in the Bible?

  Purgatory is not taught in the Scriptures. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that most believers need purification before they are fit to enter heaven.

  All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect. [Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1030,1031]

  Jesus has suffered all the punishment for our sin, making purgatory unnecessary and an offense to the cross.

John 5:24- Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

John 3:36- Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.



Is it acceptable for a Christian to mourn?

  Yes. Death is sad, and the sad result of sin. The Lord Himself does not simply accept death, but fights against it. Jesus Himself mourned at the death of Lazarus.

John 11:35,36- Jesus wept. So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"

  Christians mourn in a different fashion than unbelievers; our sorrow is mixed with hope, our sadness is mixed faith.

1 Thessalonians 4:13- But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.



When is the Judgment, when we die or on the Last Day?

  The eternal destiny of a person is determined at the moment of death.

Mark 16:16- Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Proverbs 11:7- When the wicked dies, his hope will perish, and the expectation of wealth perishes too.

2 Corinthians 6:2- For he says, "In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

John 3:36- Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

Revelation 2:10- Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Revelation 14:13- And I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Blessed indeed," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!"

  The Scriptures speak of the day of Judgment concurrent with Jesus' return to the earth. Then He will judge the quick and the dead.



What will happen to those who are still alive when Jesus returns?

  When He returns Jesus will mysteriously change our mortal and sinful bodies, and give us the resurrected body, fit for His eternal kingdom.

1 Corinthians 15:50-54- I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18- But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.



What is the resurrection?

  We say in the creed, “I believe in... the resurrection of the body.” What does this mean? On the last day Jesus will return to the earth (The Second Coming, The Parousia) in glory to judge the quick (living) and the dead. At that time He will call forth all the dead. The souls of all people (believer and unbeliever alike) will be reunited with their reconstituted bodies. This is the resurrection. “On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ.” [The Small Catechism]

Job 19:25,26- For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!

1 Corinthians 15:20-22- But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

1 Corinthians 15:42-49- So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

1 Thessalonian 4:14-17- For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

John 5:21-29- For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son. that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Acts 24:15- ...having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.

Matthew 25:31,32- "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

  The Resurrection is taught in the Old Testament.

Job 19:25,26- See above.

Isaiah 26:19- Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.

Daniel 12:2- And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

  The Resurrection is an act of God's almighty power.

Matthew 22:29-32- But Jesus answered them, "You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 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 God of the dead, but of the living."

John 6:39,40- And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."

Romans 8:11- If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

2 Corinthians 5:4- For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened--not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

  Jesus teaches about the resurrection to the Saducees who denied it.

Matthew 22:28-33- The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, "Teacher, Moses said, 'If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up children for his brother.' Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother. So too the second and third, down to the seventh. After them all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her." But Jesus answered them, "You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 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 God of the dead, but of the living." And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.

Philippians 3:20-21- But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.



Who is resurrected?

  All people are resurrected; the believers are resurrected unto life, the unbelievers are resurrected unto death.

John 5:28,29- Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Acts 24:15- ...having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.

Matthew 13:43- Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Revelation 20:12- And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.



What is the Judgment?

  Upon His return Jesus will judge the quick and the dead.

Matthew 25:31-46- "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.... "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.... And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

  For the believers the day of Judgment will be a day of great rejoicing, the ultimate giving of all the gifts that Jesus has won for us on the cross. Believers, even the souls in heaven, patiently wait and hope for the Day of Judgment.

1 Corinthians 1:7- ...so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ...

Colossians 3:4- When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

2 Timothy 4:7-8- I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Titus 2:13- ...waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Revelation 6:9-11- When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

  On the other hand, unbelievers are warned of the finality of the Judgment and the torment to follow.

2 Thessalonians 1:9-10- They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

Hebrews 10:26-27- For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

2 Peter 2:3-6- And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly.

  This, then, is a summary: at death the soul of the believer goes to the bliss of heaven to await the joyous judgment. Unbelievers have the certainty of a horrible judgment.

Hebrews 9:27-28- And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.



Will unbelievers suffer for eternity?

  Yes, this is the terrible and terrifying teaching of the Scriptures. This is called by different names in the Scriptures, “hell,” “eternal punishment,” “eternal destruction,” and the like. It is

Matthew 25:46- And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

2 Thessalonians 1:5-10- This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering-- since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

Matthew 18:8- And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.

Isaiah 66:24- And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.

Revelation 14:11- And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.

Revelation 20:10- And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Romans 2:9- There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek.

  This eternal punishment is described as darkness, flames, worms and weeping accompanied with torment incomprehensible.

Mark 9:48- Where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.'

Luke 16:23-24- And in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.'

Matthew 5:22- But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire.

Matthew 8:12- ...while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Matthew 13:50- ...and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

  While every sin is damnable, it is finally the sin of unbelief that results in condemnation.

John 3:16-18- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

John 3:36- Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.



Are there degrees of punishment in hell and degrees of glory in heaven?

  Concerning degrees of punishment in hell, Jesus indicates that there will be more severe punishments from those who knowingly disobeyed God's Word. While the suffering of hell is absolute, there are degrees within that absoluteness. The worst sin is rejecting and despising the gift of God in Christ, and this, it seems, will be punished with more severity.

Luke 12:47-48- That servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few.

Matthew 11:21-22- Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.

  Concerning degrees of reward in heaven, the old theologians distinguish between degrees of bliss and degrees of glory. “While there are no degrees of bliss, since all the saints of Christ shall see God and so will be completely blessed, Scripture teaches that there are degrees of glory, commensurate with the faithfulness and sufferings of Christian believers in this life.” [Theodore Mueller, Christian Dogmatics, 642]

2 Corinthians 9:6- The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

1 Corinthians 15:41-42- There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.

Daniel 12:3- And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.



How do the Scriptures describe the new heaven and the new earth and the blessedness of the saints?

  The blessedness of Jesus' cross is ours now by faith. These same blessings will be ours in reality in the new heaven and the new earth. This earth will pass away, and a new heaven and earth will come.

Revelation 21:1- Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

Matthew 24:35- Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

1 Corinthians 7:31- For the present form of this world is passing away.

1 John 2:17- And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

2 Peter 3:13- But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

  The wonderful ways the Scriptures put eternal life before us ought to fill our hearts with joyous longing and hope.

Matthew 25:10- And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut.

Revelation 19:9- And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God."

Luke 22:29-30- ...and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

John 14:1-4- "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going."

Revelation 21:1-7- Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

Revelation 21:10-27- And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed-- on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. The city lies foursquare; its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel's measurement. The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass. And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day--and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Revelation 7:14-17- I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. "Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

1 John 3:2-3- Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

John 16:22- So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Psalms 16:11- You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.



  Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller, Pastor
1345 Macon St.
Aurora, CO 80010
  Phone: (303) 364-7416
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