What is the book of life?

Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will enter the New Jerusalem. God’s judgment upon the unsaved will be executed based upon the contents of several books. The most important book in judgment will be the book of life. Those who are not listed in the book of life will be thrown into eternal punishment. “And whosoever was not found in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15)

What is the book of life? Does God have a physical book in which He keeps a list of all those who will be allowed to enter heaven? The idea of God’s record book is found scattered throughout the Bible. The first mention is in Exodus 32 when Moses pray for God to preserve rebellious Israel. Moses says, “Yet now, if thou wilt, forgive their sin- and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.” Other mentions of a celestial book are found in the Old Testament, but not until the New Testament is a direct reference made to the book of life. The first use of the phrase “book of life” is in Philippians 4. There the apostle Paul describes his fellow workers in the ministry as those “whose names are in the book of life.”

Two references in the New Testament seem to refer to the book of life though they do use that phrase. In Luke 10 Jesus tells the disciples “rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Hebrews 12 says those who are saved are part of the church of the firstborn, “whose names are written in heaven.”

The book of Revelation makes the most frequent mention to the book of life. During the time of the tribulation most of the world will worship the antichrist. Revelation 13 and 17 say that those who worship the antichrist are ones “whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb”. Revelation 21 describes the New Jerusalem, the great heavenly city where the saved will enjoy eternal bliss. The only ones who will enter God’s city are those who “are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

The Bible does not aim to give an explanation of the book of life. Any man’s description of the book of life is based upon deductions from the Bible’s descriptions of how the book is used. What is clear in Scripture is that the book of life is a heavenly record of those who are saved. Those whose names are written in the book of life will enter into eternal life. Those whose names are not in the book of life will not.

Little else can be said with certainty. The book of life may be a just a metaphor of God’s accuracy of in keeping track of those who are saved. This author prefers the more literal reading that the book of life is a written record of all those who genuinely have eternal life. The clear truth is most important. God knows those that are His. Those who have been saved will have eternal life. Those who have not been saved will not. God will not err in distinguishing between the saved and the lost.

How can those in heaven be joyful while the lost suffer in hell?

“In heaven we’ll all be sociopaths.” This provocative article title refers to the awareness of those in heaven of the suffering of those in hell. The Bible says that those who enter into eternal life will have eternal joy, free from all sorrow, pain and tears. The Bible also indicates that the people in heaven will be aware of the suffering of the people in hell. At the very least the people in heaven will know that billions of people are in hell. How can the people in heaven have this knowledge and still be happy?

None can deny the sufferings of hell are terrible. No one should delight in them. God does not delight in them. (Ezekiel 33:11; Lamentations 3:33; 2 Peter 3:9) No one in heaven will enjoy the pain of the wicked. The joys of heaven are not malicious or sociopathic. However, God will be praised because of His justice and holiness. Those who hated God and rejected His Son will suffer the punishment prepared for the rebellious angels who rebelled. (Matthew 25:41)

Those in heaven will not weep over the suffering in hell because in heaven we will understand all things perfectly. On earth all men view the judgment of the lost through sinful eyes. None can fully comprehend hell’s justice or God’s holiness. In heaven, the full justice and appropriateness of hell will be understood.

The assurance of the Bible is that God will wipe away all tears from the eyes of the redeeemed. (Revelation 20:3-4) God will come down to earth in all His glory. He will establish His throne in the New Jerusalem. He will be the glory of the earth. The sun will not be needed. There will be no night and no darkness because the glory of God will illuminate all things. The curse of sin will be completely removed. All in the new earth will bring their praise directly to the throne of God. The glory of God will be so great that it will forever enamor those who stand in His presence. Hell is horrible, but God’s glory is so great it will outshine the terrors of eternal suffering.

Instead of denying the goodness of God because of the bliss of heaven consider your own goodness. How grieved are you right now because of the suffering of those in hell? Do you weep because of their agony? Do you work to tell the gospel to the unsaved so they can be delivered from the punishment of their sin?

This does not mean that none should rejoice in this life. All should give thanks to God for His good gifts. You can delight in births, sunsets, snow, Spring and all the other blessings of God knowing. Though millions are suffering in hell we can, and should, rejoice now in the good gifts of God. The seriousness of hell should stir everyone to live with due regard to the eternal realities awaiting everyone.

Why is the resurrection so important?

Christianity stands unique among all the religions of the world. Only Christianity claims that it’s God became human, died and then returned to life. The claim that Jesus rose from the dead is one celebrated and remembered every Sunday of the year by Christian churches all across the world. The resurrection of Jesus is the most important event in all human history. The resurrection of Jesus is the seminal moment in all Christianity. That event changed everything. The New Testament is filled with declarations that Jesus died and then rose again. The resurrection is explained in all four gospels and the book of Acts. Jesus’ resurrection is expressly taught in many of the epistles and in the book of Revelation. The resurrection of Jesus is a crucial truth on which Biblical Christianity is built. Without the resurrection there is no Biblical Christianity. Without the resurrection there is no forgiveness of sin. Without the resurrection there is no eternal life. Without the resurrection, God is a liar, Jesus is a fraud and every gospel preacher is a charlatan.

The resurrection is important because without the resurrection the gospel is a lie. “And if Christ be not dead, your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17)

The resurrection is important because without the resurrection the Christian life is pointless and worthless. “What advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.” (1 Corinthians 15:32)

The resurrection is important because without the resurrection the Christian has no hope of eternal life. “And if Christ be not raised, then they which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” (1 Corinthians 15:17-18)

The resurrection is important because it is the ultimate display of the power of God that is now at work in the believer. (“And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead.” Ephesians 1:19-20)

The resurrection is important because it is the evidence that Jesus is God the Son and Savior just as He claimed and as the Bible declares. “Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body.” (John 2:18-22)

The resurrection is important because it is the powerful declaration that Jesus is God. “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead:” (Romans 1:3-4)

The resurrection is important because if it is untrue, God’s Word is a lie. “We are false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:15)

The resurrection is the lynchpin on which all the gospel hangs, the certification that all the gospel promises are true and the certainty that God is true. Rejoice every Sunday in the remembrance of the risen Savior.

How can I know for certain I am saved?

Many Christians have times in their lives when they doubt their salvation. Doubts should not be brushed aside as if they were mere tools of Satan to discourage. Doubts may be the result of a spiritual assault but they may also warn of spiritual problems. The Bible teaches the Christian to examine the validity of his own faith. (2 Corinthians 13:5) The Christians is to make his salvation evident and certain. (2 Peter 1:10) The epistle of 1 John was written, “that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13) Evaluating the genuineness of one’s own salvation can be a beneficial exercise.

Questioning the certainty of one’s own salvation should never be the result of doubting God’s ability to save. One should not question the promise or power of God. Nor should a person wonder if the rights words were said. Salvation is not a matter of saying the right words. Salvation is a matter of genuine faith that believes God’s word.

This question can be wisely asked if the person is assessing the genuineness of his profession of faith. The wise person knows the human heart is a great liar. (Jeremiah 17:9) Only a foolish person believes the feelings and promptings of his own heart. (Proverbs 28:26) The tragic reality is many unsaved people have prayed a prayer, walked an aisle, made a commitment or had a stirring spiritual experience. Assurance of salvation does not come by remembering a feeling or an experience, but from the promises of God in His Word.

A person is saved through believing Jesus is God who became man to die in place of men, believing Jesus was restored to life three days later and believing He promises salvation to all who will trust Him. A person is saved by turning to Jesus in faith believing that God will forgive completely every sin and give eternal life. If there has not been a time in a person’s life where he has turned to Jesus and began to trust Him for all of salvation then that person is not saved. Salvation is not inherited from believing parents. Salvation is not absorbed by church attendance. Growth towards conversion may be a gradual process that takes a long time but there must be a point in time in which the person consciously turns to Jesus, confesses his faith and seeks forgiveness.

A person is saved by trusting in Jesus and only in Jesus for forgiveness. Many who think they are saved are not truly saved because they are not trusting Jesus alone. Any addition of works, personal merit or religious observance denies the salvation of Jesus. Believing that something you do has any part in your salvation denies the need of Jesus’ death. (Galatians 2:21) Salvation is only received by those who trust entirely in Jesus, and only in Jesus, for full salvation.

The person who is saved is transformed by his faith. This last point of evaluation can be confusing and lead some to think the Bible requires good works or obedience as necessary parts of being saved. The transformed life does not save but shows salvation has occurred. The absence of increased obedience is not conclusive proof that a person was never saved, but it should cause the person to seriously question the reality of his salvation. The New Testament gives several key marks of genuine conversion. If a person’s life shows the New Testament marks of genuine conversion then his life supports his profession of faith.

You can know for certain that you are saved if there has been a time in your life when you have confessed Biblical faith in Jesus and turned to Him for forgiveness, if you are trusting only in Jesus for salvation and if your life shows evidence of genuine conversion.

Will people have an opportunity to be saved after they die?

The eternal destiny of the lost is horrible to consider. An eternity of torment in the Lake of Fire forever separated from the presence of God and without hope of salvation waits for those who do not receive Jesus as Savior. But is there really no hope of heaven for those who die without knowing Jesus?

Some Christian groups believe a second chance will be offered to those who die with Jesus. The most famous version of a second chance is the Catholic doctrine of purgatory which teaches that men will have a time of suffering to purge sin before entering into heaven. Various forms of universalism, which believe that everyone will go to heaven, teach that another opportunity for repentance will be given to men after death. Mormonism teaches of a spirit prison where the dead can hear the gospel and be saved. The belief that death does not shut off the opportunity for salvation is widespread.

The Bible gives no hint that salvation is possible after death. Hebrews 3 and 4 gives very strong warning to those who heard the gospel but had not believed. The book of Hebrews calls for faith today. “He limiteth a certain day, saying in David . . . To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” (Hebrews 4:7) Everything the Bible says indicates that the decision to receive God’s salvation is made during this life. “Now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2) The Bible gives no promise of another opportunity after death. It calls people to believe and be saved today.

At death the unsaved go straight into hell where they will wait for the final judgment. Luke 16 gives a powerful glimpse into the fate of men after death. A rich man died and went directly into hell. In 2 Thessalonians 1:9 the Bible says those who enter into hell will “be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.” Total separation from God makes salvation impossible.

No man can be saved without coming to Jesus for forgiveness from sin. No one will come to Jesus for salvation unless God draws him to Jesus. (John 6:44) Salvation is impossible without the working of the Holy Spirit to convict of sin (John 16:7-11) and to make the person a new creature (John 3:5-7) There can be no salvation after death because those who die without salvation are immediately and eternally separated from God.

Sometimes people assume that once someone experiences the suffering of hell he will want to be saved. This sounds plausible but it does not match the picture revealed in the Bible. The rich man in Luke 16 was in torment in hell yet he made no plea for salvation. He gave no indication of repentance. He desired some water to relieve his suffering, but made no request for forgiveness and no confession of faith in Jesus. As a further example of this, the great tribulation will bring great suffering on humanity. Mankind will know the worldwide catastrophes are from God but will refuse to repent. Their pain will only cause them to blaspheme God more. (Revelation 16:20)

Hell is an emotionally difficult topic. We have a strong desire to lessen the discomfort we feel when considering the fate of the unsaved. Offering a chance of salvation after death moves the terror of hell a little bit farther away. Though we would like to offer the comfort of a second chance waiting for those who die without salvation, it is just not so. God calls men to repent today. Those who do not believe Jesus in this life will have no other opportunity for salvation.

What happens to a Christian who dies in sin?

A young man meets an attractive girl. He asks her out but before she will go on a date with him he must attend church with her. He agrees and the next Sunday morning is seated next to her in church. He hears the gospel, believes and is saved. He is crazy about her, but after a couple dates she spurns any further advances from him. Filled with rage and disappointment he kills her and then takes his own life. Does he go to heaven?

A young man professed salvation at church youth group. One night a couple years later he prepares to go party with his friends. On the way out the door, he tells his parents he is going to the library. On the way to the party he is hit by a drunk driver and killed. Does he go to heaven?

The drunk driver had spent most of his adult life battling alcoholism. After his fourth DUI he entered rehab, sobered up and began attending church. Several months later he walked down the aisle and asked Jesus to be His Savior. One day he learns he has cancer and is given a few months left to live. In despair he leaves the doctor’s office to go to his favorite bar. Hours later he staggers out of bar, gets in his car and on his way home careens into the oncoming lane. He kills a teenager and is killed in the crash. Does he go to heaven?

The same question could be posed in many different ways and with many different scenarios. The real question revolves around passages like Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

What happens when a person who professes Christ dies in sin? Whether it be murder, drunkenness, adultery, lying or theft the Bible says that none who do those things can enter heaven. If a professing believer commits one of those sins and dies before confessing his sin, is he forgiven? Does he go to heaven?

The genuineness of someone’s salvation cannot be determined with absolute certainty by others. God knows those who are His. Those who are His are to depart from sin, but no one, Christian or otherwise, is without sin. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) The authenticity of someone’s salvation is not measured by a complete absence of sin. Neither is salvation dependent on the person’s ability to not sin.

Those who have been saved are transferred out of the bondage of sin and are now the children of God. The Bible describes two categories of people. Those who are dead in sin and those who are alive in Christ. (Ephesians 2) At salvation the one who was dead in sin is made alive with Christ by the active working of God’s grace. Life in Christ is always and only by the grace of God received through faith.

No part of salvation is dependent on the deeds of men. Salvation is entirely the grace of God. If it can be won or lost based upon something a person does, it is of works. “If it be of works, then it is no more grace.” (Romans 11:6) God’s grace saves and saves completely. “He is able to save them to the uttermost that cometh unto God by Him.” This is one of the most crucial doctrines of the Bible.

If salvation is achieved by any thing the person does, then Jesus died needlessly. (Galatians 2:21) If you can do something, anything, to be saved, then you do not need a Savior.

If a person is truly saved, then he cannot die in sin. He may commit murder, but he is not counted by God as a murderer. He may lie, but he is not counted by God as a liar. When a person is saved he is declared righteous by God. The righteousness of the Christian is the righteousness of Jesus transfered onto the believer. No sin can ever mar or remove the righteousness of Christ.

“All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” and all those who believe have been made righteous by the free grace of God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:22-24) Nothing the Christian does or fails to do will ever remove the grace of God and the righteousness of Jesus. If the murderer, liar or drunkard is truly saved then yes, he is in heaven.

What does “the just shall live by faith” mean?

Four times the Bible uses the phrase, “the just shall live by faith.” The Bible uses that exact phrase four times. It is found first in the Old Testament book of Habakkuk. The New Testament quotes Habakkuk 2:4 three times. The apostle Paul says it twice, once in the books of Romans (1:17) and once in Galatians (3:11) The author of Hebrews also uses the phrase in Hebrews 10:37.

To answer the question faith must be properly defined. Most people today think of faith as the personal acceptance of the truth of something or as an opinion held by the individual. An example of this kind of faith would be the statement, “I believe global warming is real.” Or, “I believe the Broncos are going to win the Super Bowl.” This understanding of faith falls very short of what the Bible describes as faith. The Bible describes faith as the conviction of the truth of God’s Word that leads the person to obedience. One of the classic chapters on faith is Hebrews 11 which begins just a few verses after the statement, “the just shall live by faith.”

How do the just live by faith? They believe and obey God’s Word. Abel believed God’s commands about sacrifices and obeyed His instructions on how to properly sacrifice. Noah believed God’s warning about a coming flood that would destroy the world and he obeyed His instructions to build an ark. Abraham believed God’s promises to richly bless him and to make his family great. Abraham obeyed God’s command to leave his family behind and went on a journey to a destination he had not yet been told. Moses believed God would deliver the Israelites and he obeyed God’s instructions to lead the Israelites out of the land of Egypt.

Obedience alone is not faith. Faith must never never be confused with obedience. Obeying God’s instructions to love one another, to study the Bible and go to church is not the same as faith. Real faith will always produce genuine obedience, but obedience cannot always be traced back to saving faith. Many people go to church every Sunday, but not because they are Christian’s. Many people are kind to others, but not because they are saved or even believe in God.

Some people obey God thinking their obedience will be enough to outweigh their sin and get them into heaven. This is the exact opposite of faith. Obedience with the goal of achieving salvation is disobedience because it rejects God’s Word, refuses God’s grace and denies the need of Jesus’ death on the cross. Faith accepts God’s Word and follows its instructions. One is never made righteous by obedience, but those who have truly been made right with God will live in obedience. The just will live by faith.

The Bible makes clear that faith is more than acceptance of a fact. Biblical faith if far more than a personal opinion about something. Faith is more than personally accepting something as true for yourself. Faith is believing the truth of God’s Word so fully that you completely obey God’s Word. Biblical faith always produces obedience. Thus, those who are saved by faith (the just) are also those who will live in obedience to God’s commands (live by faith). Faith is not about stepping out to do something difficult. Faith is not imagining there is a presence with you when you are scared and alone. Faith is obedience to the Bible. The Christian lives by faith after salvation by being obedient to God’s commands.

The Bible means two things when it says, “the just shall live by faith”. First, those who are just were made just and given eternal life by faith. Salvation- eternal life- is only received by faith. Second, once a person becomes just the just person will live in obedience to the Bible. This obedience is not to try to get or keep righteousness, but is the natural result of true faith. The just will live by his faith. Through faith he will receive life life and faith will direct his life.

Why do Christians think a prayer is all it takes to get to heaven?

Some have complained that Christianity promises that just by saying a prayer anyone gets a free trip to heaven. A mass murderer can do horrible things all his life and go to heaven when dies because he said the correct words right before being strapped into the electric chair. A loving mother who worked hard all her life to raise good kids will go to hell if she doesn’t ask Jesus for forgiveness. This seems unfair, unjust and just plain wrong. Why do Christian’s teach that all it takes for even the worst person to go to heaven is saying the right words any time before dying?

This objection fails to understand two vital truths about the Bible’s teaching about salvation. Salvation is not received by saying the right words. The prayer of salvation is not a magic incantation which opens heaven’s door at the persons whim. The prayer of salvation is the outward response of saving faith. Praying the right words without saving faith will not bring salvation. The words alone have no power to give a person entrance to heaven. What brings salvation is Biblical faith.

Biblical faith is a personal conviction of the truth of God’s Word particularly the truths about sin, man’s inability to do anything to save himself, the deity of Jesus, the death of Jesus for sin and the resurrection of Jesus. Biblical faith is the conviction that these truths are true about yourself. This goes beyond a general acceptance of a broad truth. This is the personal acceptance as fact your own guilt before God, your inability to remove your guilt and bring salvation, that Jesus died to pay the punishment of your sin, Jesus is alive forever and Jesus offers you salvation. Biblical faith obeys the commands of the gospel. Saving faith turns to Jesus trusting Him, and Him alone, for salvation. A prayer for salvation is the visible expression of that last element of saving faith. Asking for salvation is only the tip of the iceberg. Underneath is the massive internal conviction of that brings salvation to those who believe.

Salvation has nothing to do with anything the person does. The murderer is not going to hell for his murder. The loving mother is not going to heaven for her selflessness. Salvation is never determine by measuring a persons good against his bad. Salvation cannot be achieved by any actions of men because the standard for entrance into heaven is absolute perfection. To enter heaven one must be completely righteous without the least taint of sin. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) God’s standard of perfection is impossible for any person to achieve. Eternal life is given to those who realize their failure to measure up to God’s standard. Those who trust Jesus are promised heaven because Jesus’ perfect righteousness is transferred to the sinner. This is exactly why salvation is so difficult for many to understand. The work has been done. The one who is saved must do nothing. Salvation has been earned, in its entirety, by Jesus. Anyone who relies on Jesus to save them will be saved and have eternal life. Anyone who relies on his own goodness will not be saved.

God’s salvation has nothing to do with how much a person deserves to be saved. God justly saves the worst of men at the very last moment because He applies the infinite righteousness of Jesus to their great guilt. God justly saves the best of men any time they turn to Him for salvation because He applies the righteousness of Jesus to their great guilt. God saves all who will rely only on Jesus for forgiveness and eternal life.

Will we still have birth defects in heaven?

Right now all the world suffers and groans under the curse of sin. Everyone bears in their body the effects of sin. Some show the effects more plainly. Cancers, diseases, scars, mental disorders, emotional turmoil and a host of other effects of living in this sinful world afflict mankind. Romans 8:22 says, “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” All creation groans in pain and longs for the day of redemption when the miseries of sin are put aside forever. What will the body of the beleiver be like after death? As said in an earlier article, immediately after death the spirit of the redeemed enters into heaven. The physical body remains on earth to decompose and be destroyed. At the day of resurrection, the bodies of all believers will be taken up into heaven. At the resurrection all believers will be given glorified bodies.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that the glorified body will be like and yet unlike the earthly body. This glorified body will be physical, but it will be free from all the effects and curse of sin. “It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 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.” The resurrected body will be free from all the corruption and defects of the earthly body. Revelation 21:4 says, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

The curse of sin has wide reaching physical effects. Because of sin, there is sorrow in marriage, sorrow in childbirth, sorrow in work and sorrow throughout the entire universe. (Genesis 3) The redemption of Jesus does more than pardon of the men from their guilt. The redemption of Jesus accomplishes the full removal of all the effects of sin. Because of Jesus’ death on the cross there is coming a time when the curse of sin on this world will be removed. When that happens, there will not be any more sorrow, pain nor tears. All the miseries of this lifewill be removed.

Those who have suffered lifelong diseases, mental retardation, massive deformities, genetic defects, will in heaven be free of those things. Some wonder how the person can remain if the entire being is so radically changed. The analogy of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 is helpful. A corn kernel bears little resemblance to the stalk which grows out of it, yet the stalk is unmistakably corn. An acorn and an oak are far different in appearance, but there is no question they are the same. This earthly body is but the seed which will be put into the ground. That which will spring from it will be greater, free from all flaw and without all the innumerable consequences of sin.

What will we be like in heaven?

Death is the terrible reality of life. People cope with the death of a loved one and the reality of their own impending death in many different ways. The Christian perspective of death gives abundant Biblical comfort to those who are saved. True Biblical comfort does not seek to minimize the pain of death, nor does it attempt to ignore the reality of death’s sorrows. True Biblical comfort places death in its proper perspective. Death is a defeated enemy. For the child of God, death is the end of this life and the beginning of life eternal. At death the saved enter directly into heaven. This is a great, and Biblical, source of comfort. The words of the Apostle Paul reflect the believers conviction, “We are willing to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” Since the deceased believer goes directly into heaven, what will he be like? What form will the believer have in heaven?

When a person dies his spirit is separated from his body. The spirit is the indefinable, non-material part of the man. Though there is a theological distinction between the spirit and the soul, this article will use the terms interchangeably. The spirit is not currently apparent to human senses but it is nonetheless a very real component of the human make-up.

The death of the body does not eliminate the conscious existence of the person. The death of the body does not end the distinct identity of the person. Human identity is not wrapped up in the physical form, nor is it contained in the material brain. The identity of a person is connected with the spirit. At death the spirit of the believer consciously enters into heaven. Luke 16 gives the clearest description of what happens after death. Lazarus, the child of God, entered directly into heaven and received conscious comfort. Lazarus’ identity remained distinct from the others in heaven and remained aware of what was happening to him.

At death the Christian’s spirit leaves the body behind to enter the joys of heaven. This separation from the body is not a loss for the person. Though the spirit is immaterial, it is not inferior to the physical. The believer is not somehow less in heaven than on earth because he is without a physical body. The spiritual body will be far greater than this earthly body could ever be. Consider angels as an example. Angels are spiritual beings. (Hebrews 1:14) They are given the ability to manifest themselves in human form, but they are not physical creatures. The lack of a physical body does not make them less than human. In fact, the Bible says that humans are a little lower than angels. (Psalm 8:5) Angels are powerful creatures and the absence of a physical body is no defect or hindrance to them. Likewise, the believers spiritual body will not be inferior in any way to the earthly body. The Christian will be more real and alive than ever before. At death all that is left behind is the sin broken body and the corruptions of the cursed flesh.

Though the Bible does not speak directly to identity, it seems the spiritual form will retain recognizable characteristics of the individual’s identity. I doubt the spiritual body will have the same features as the earthly body, but it seems that believers in heaven will be distinguishable as the individuals they were on earth. In Luke 16 Abraham is recognizable to the rich man. When the three disciples saw Moses and Elijah at Jesus transfiguration (Matthew 17), they recognized them for who they were.

We are not given much information about the activities of the souls of the just in heaven. In Revelation 4 and 5 the Bible describes a group of 24 elders. Who they are is unknown, but it is evident they are deceased believers given a special place in heaven. They surround the throne of God singing His praises. Revelation 5 tells of a huge host of saints who sing praise to God. Whatever else the souls of the deceased will do in heaven the Bible makes clear they will be praising God and rejoicing in His glorious presence. Believers look forward to the rapture when the spiritual body will be reunited with the physical body. Believers will then live forever with body and soul joined together in a glorified physical body.