from The Bible Answer Man column of the Christian Research Newsletter, Volume 3: Numbers 2, 3, 4 and 5, 1990.
The Editor of the Christian Research Newsletter is Ron Rhodes.
Volume 3, Issue 2
The Newsletter staff is pleased to introduce this new column, based on questions and answers excerpted from "The Bible Answer Man," CRI's live call-in radio broadcast.
In this issue of the Newsletter, Craig Hawkins answers questions on death and the afterlife.
What happens to Christians after they die? Do they "go to sleep" until the future resurrection?
The apostle Paul tells us that "to die is gain," and that he personally desired "to depart [die] and be with Christ, which is better by far" (Phil. 1:21-23). Moreover, in 2 Corinthians 5:8 he affirms, "We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord." Paul clearly anticipated something far more glorious and wonderful than mere "sleep" or unconsciousness. Those who die in the Lord are immediately ushered into the very presence of God!
What happens to non-Christians after they die?
Upon death, the non-Christian goes to a place of punishment while awaiting judgment by Christ. In 2 Peter 2:9, we are told that "the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment."
Revelation 20:11-15 describes this day of judgment -- the Great White Throne Judgment -- and the final condition of the unsaved. Following this judgment, the unsaved will suffer eternal separation from God. This sobering reality should motivate Christians to daily share the gospel of salvation to the lost.
How do you reconcile Luke 23:43, where Jesus said to one of the thieves on the cross "today you will be with me in paradise," with John 20:17, where we are told that on the third day after His death "I have not yet returned to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God"? In the latter passage, it seems that Christ has not yet gone to paradise.
Theologians have different views as to how this question should be answered. The following is a well-accepted explanation. In Luke 16:22-26, we see that hades (the equivalent of sheol in the Old Testament) is divided into two separate realms: "hell," where the unrighteous go after death; and "paradise" or "Abraham's Bosom," the place of rest for the righteous. The two realms together comprised hades -- though they were separated by a great chasm or gulf that could not be bridged by inhabitants of either side.
Christ descended into the "paradise" compartment of hades when He died (1 Pet. 3:18-20), and when the thief on the cross died he went there too. Thus, the thief was with Christ that day in paradise, yet Christ had not yet ascended into heaven.
When Christ did ascend into heaven (John 20:17), He took the rest of the inhabitants of paradise (i.e., all the Old Testament saints) with Him (Eph. 4:8-9) -- including the thief on the cross. So, there is no contradiction between Luke 23:43 and John 20:17.
Volume 3, Issue 3
This column is based on questions and answers excerpted from "The Bible Answer Man," CRI's live call-in radio broadcast. In this issue of the Newsletter, Craig Hawkins answers questions on how "faith teachers" view the death of Christ.
(1) Where did Jesus pay the price of atonement for our sins -- on the cross or in hades as the "faith teachers" contend?
John 19:30 tells us that it was upon the cross that Christ paid in full or finished His redeeming and atoning work for humankind. The phrase, "it is finished" (which Jesus uttered just before His death on the cross), is a translation of the Greek word tetelestai. This word was stamped on receipts in first-century Greece when an individual had paid in full the price of a given article. The word was also stamped upon any list of charges that had been brought against a convicted criminal after they had served or paid in full the debt and/or prison sentence.
In Colossians 2:13-15, Paul uses this imagery as he expounds upon the great truth of Christ's finished work upon the cross. In verse 14 he says that Christ on the cross "cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us," for He "took it away, nailing to the cross." From this passage, we see that it was upon the cross and not in hades that Christ completed His redemptive and atoning sacrifice and triumphed over the hordes of hell.
(2) What about the contention of the "faith teachers" that Christ died spiritually and took upon Himself the sinful nature of Satan and had to be born-again in hell?
First, we must stress that if Christ died spiritually He would have ceased being God. This is an impossibility, as one of God's attributes is eternality -- that is, He has always existed and will never cease to exist (Isa. 9:6; Micah 5:2; John 1:1; 8:58; Heb. 13:5).
Second, when Paul said that God made Christ "who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf" (2 Cor. 5:21), he clearly did not mean literal sin, but rather that Christ became identified with our sins in order to pay the penalty for them (cf. Rom. 8:3; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15). To illustrate this, suppose that you were arrested and convicted for speeding on the freeway. If your father agreed to pay the penalty (the price of your speeding ticket), this would not mean that He was actually guilty of speeding as you were. It simply means that He paid the penalty for your transgression. This is analogous to what Christ did for us on the cross.
Third, it is utter blasphemy to say that Christ took upon himself the nature of Satan and had to be born again in hell. Christ's nature -- His eternal nature -- is deity (Col. 2:9; Phil. 2:6-8; Heb. 1:3). The only thing born in hell was this pernicious doctrine of the "faith teachers" -- for Christ never died spiritually, never took upon Himself Satan's nature (or a sin nature), and never had to be born again since he never sinned.
Volume 3, Issue 4
This column is based on questions and answers excerpted from "The Bible Answer Man," CRI's live call-in radio broadcast. In this issue of the Newsletter, Ron Rhodes answers questions on how New Agers view sin and the Savior.
(1) Many New Agers say Jesus taught that man's basic problem is not sin but ignorance of his divinity. How can we respond to this assertion biblically?
The biblical Jesus taught that human beings have a grave sin problem that is altogether beyond their means to solve. He taught that human beings are by nature evil (Matt. 12:34; Luke 11:13) and that people are capable of great wickedness (Mark 7:20-23; Luke 11:42-52). Moreover, Jesus said that man is utterly lost (Luke 19:10), that he is a sinner (Luke 15:10), and that he is in need of repentance before a holy God (Mark 1:15; Luke 15:10).
Jesus often spoke of sin in metaphors that illustrate the havoc sin can wreak in one's life. He described human sin as a blindness (Matt. 15:14; 23:16-26), a sickness (Matt. 9:12), being enslaved in bondage (John 8:34), and living in darkness (John 3:19-21; 8:12; 12:35-46). He also taught that this is a universal condition and that all people are guilty before God (Luke 7:37-48).
Jesus also taught that it is not only external acts that render a person guilty of sin, but inner thoughts as well (Matt. 5:28). He taught that from within the human heart comes evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly (Mark 7:21-23). Moreover, Jesus affirmed that God is fully aware of every person's sins, both external acts and inner thoughts; nothing escapes His notice (Matt. 10:26; 22:18; Luke 6:8; John 4:17-19).
(2) What about the New Age claim that Jesus perceived His mission to be that of a "way-shower" for humanity in the attainment of Christhood?
Contrary to the New Age rendition, the Jesus of the Gospels taught that His mission was to provide a substitutionary atonement for the sins of humanity by His sacrificial death on the cross. By so doing, He provided a salvation for human beings which they had virtually no hope of procuring for themselves.
Jesus affirmed that it was for the very purpose of dying that He came into the world (John 12:27). Moreover, He perceived His death as being a sacrificial offering for the sins of humanity (He said that His blood "is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins," Matt. 26:26-28). Jesus took His sacrificial mission with utmost seriousness, for He knew that without Him, humanity would certainly perish (Matt. 16:25; John 3:16) and spend eternity apart from God in a place of great suffering (Matt. 10:28; 11:23; 23:33; 25:41; Luke 16:22-28).
Jesus therefore described His mission this way: "the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28); "the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost" (Luke 19:10); for "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him" (John 3:17).
Volume 3, Issue 5
This column is based on questions and answers excerpted from "The Bible Answer Man," CRI's live call-in radio broadcast. In this issue of the Newsletter, Rob Bowman answers questions on the Gospel of Matthew.
(1) In Matthew 16:28 Jesus told His disciples that some of them would not die before they saw "the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." Since Jesus did not return in the disciples' lifetime, doesn't this mean Jesus was mistaken?
No, it doesn't mean that. As is commonly recognized, Jesus was a Jew speaking to Jews, and Matthew wrote primarily for Jews and others well-acquainted with the Old Testament. Thus, both for Jesus and His original hearers, and for Matthew and his original readers, the Old Testament background of Jesus' sayings would be all-important. And in that context the words about the Son of Man coming in His kingdom could only be understood, in my view, as a reference to the Son of Man in Daniel appearing before the Ancient of Days. Daniel 7:14 says that the Son of Man "was given authority, glory, and dominion, that all peoples, nations, and tongues should worship Him." Now, in the Gospel of Matthew, these words are seen as fulfilled in the climax of the Gospel when Jesus is "worshipped" by His disciples (Matt. 28:17) and Jesus announces that all "authority" has been "given" to Him, so that "all the nations" should be brought under His authority by being made disciples (Matt. 28:18).
Thus, at least in this sense, Matthew himself (as well as Jesus, of course) understood Jesus' words in Matthew 16:28 to refer to Christ's exaltation at His resurrection. This agrees with the teaching of the rest of the New Testament as well (e.g., Acts 2:36; Phil. 2:9-11; Eph. 1:18-21; Col. 1:13-14).
(2) In Matthew 24:36 (also Mark 13:32), Jesus says no one knows the day and hour, not even the angels in heaven, not even the Son, but only the Father. Doesn't this mean Jesus was ignorant of the time of His return, and if so, how could He be God?
In a sense, Jesus was ignorant of the time of His return. While living on earth as a real, mortal human being, Jesus experienced various limitations associated with being a man. Luke 2:52 says that Jesus as a man "grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."
Notice, however, that Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32 also place Jesus, as the Son, in a category above both men and angels. No one knows -- not human beings (implied), not even angels, and not even the Son. Thus, the Son is classed along with the Father as above both men and angels (see also Matt. 21:37), at the same time as expressing Jesus' lack of knowledge of this matter as something surprising and paradoxical.
The same author, Matthew, also reports that Jesus claimed that the Son is the only one who knows the Father (Matt. 11:27). Here the Son has knowledge that is unavailable to any creature.
The Christian church, believing all that the Bible says about the Son Jesus Christ, relates this paradox of Jesus possessing divine knowledge and yet not knowing the time of His return to His being both God (Matt. 1:23) and man (Matt. 4:4).
An excellent book on the deity of Christ you might want to read is Jesus, Divine Messiah, by Robert L. Reymond (Presbyterian & Reformed, 1990).
End of document, CRN0032A.TXT (original CRI file name), "Questions and Answers on the Bible, the Cults, the Occult, and Aberrant Christian Teachings" release A, June 30, 1994 R. Poll, CRI
A special note of thanks to Bob and Pat Hunter for their help in the preparation of this ASCII file for BBS circulation.
Copyright 1994 by the Christian Research Institute.
If you desire to reproduce less than 500 words of this data file
for resale or the enhancement of any other product for resale,
please give the following source credit: Copyright 1994 by the
Christian Research Institute, P.O. Box 7000, Rancho Santa
Margarita, CA 92688-7000.
This data file is the sole property of the Christian Research Institute. It may not be altered or edited in any way. It may be reproduced only in its entirety for circulation as "freeware," without charge. All reproductions of this data file must contain the copyright notice (i.e., "Copyright 1994 by the Christian Research Institute"). This data file may not be used without the permission of the Christian Research Institute for resale or the enhancement of any other product sold. This includes all of its content with the exception of a few brief quotations not to exceed more than 500 words.
If you desire to reproduce less than 500 words of this data file for resale or the enhancement of any other product for resale, please give the following source credit: Copyright 1994 by the Christian Research Institute, P.O. Box 7000, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688-7000.
P.O. Box 7000
Rancho Santa Margarita
Visit CRI International Official Web Site: