Summary: what happens to the soul between death and Judgment Day
Sermon Series on End Times - Between Now and Forever
Dear Friends in Christ,
Not too long ago Steve Wariner came out with the song called “Holes in the Floor of Heaven.” It goes -
One day, shy of 8 years old Cause there are holes in the floor of Heaven
When grandma passed away And her tears are pouring down
I was a broken hearted little boy That’s how you know she’s watching
Blowing out that birthday cake Wishing she could be here now
How I cried when the sky let go Sometimes if you’re lonely
With a cold lonesome rain Just remember she can see
My mom smiled, said "Don’t be sad child. There are holes in the floor of Heaven
Grandma’s watching you today." And she’s watching over you and me
This is a popular sentiment - I would even dare to say a cliche - that departed ones are looking over us and after us through the holes of heaven. Crossing Over with John Edward and psychic networks claim to be able to talk with the dead. There’s another new one starting next week - which means people are listening! And I would venture to bet that many believe the spirits of the departed have not in fact departed - as the Sixth Sense and many movies depict.
What do you believe? Do you think there are living souls of departed ones out there talking to us? Do you think they are waiting for a proper burial before they can leave this earth? Maybe you’ve actually seen pictures of ghosts or had a personal experience with something that scared the pants off of you. Personally, I have not. And I am not here today to debate with you whether you saw or felt a “presence” at some time in your life. The purpose of a church service is not to debate about what we think or what we feel, but to listen to what God has to say. For the proper faith only comes through hearing the message. Although God doesn’t have a LOT to say about what happens to the soul after death - we do have some to go on. So let’s open our hearts and minds this morning to consider how God answers the question -
Where Are You Going Between Now and Forever?
I. What does God’s Word say?
The truth of the matter is that the Bible never suggests or supports the idea that spirits of dead people are walking around and talking to us. In the story of Lazarus and the Rich man - what does it say? “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. There is no mention of Lazarus waiting around on earth for a while, nor the rich man. They were immediately escorted to their eternal destinies. There was no in between.
And when the rich man wanted Lazarus to go back and warn his brothers, what did Abraham say? ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” What does this imply? First of all - that the rich man was NOT ABLE to communicate with his brothers from hell. And it seems that the only way Lazarus could have communicated with his brothers was to rise from the dead, but even then it wouldn’t have done any good. Therefore, if coming to earth does no good for those in heaven, and if those in hell cannot get out, then it would lead us to conclude that the dead DO NOT communicate with us or walk among us. The ONLY POSSIBLE exception would be when Samuel was called back from the dead by the witch of Endor to talk to Saul. Even when this was done, Samuel wasn’t happy about it, and he didn’t have anything good to say to Saul - only judgment.
This is the Scriptural answer we have. Yet there are many religious bodies who want to insist that there is an in-between place - maybe not here - but somewhere. The Catholic Catechism states - 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. They call this state of in between heaven and earth to be purgatory. They base it on quotes of church fathers and an apocryphal book not found in the Bible. In a funeral sermon, Joseph Smith also said that the spirits of Mormons who have died "are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and are often pained therewith" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 326). I’m sure there are other church bodies and individuals who believe similar things.