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Abraham’s Bosom or Side

by David Johnson

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

It is good to be together again, listeners.

The title of the lesson is, “Abraham’s bosom or side.”

     Someone has written that the overall existence of believers will be 99.9 percent in heaven in the hereafter. But we now don’t usually pay much attention to it.  Why is this, especially in the 21st century?  Some of the reasons, perhaps, are: First, our affluence, especially in America and in advanced nations that has given us in this life what former generations longed for in anticipation in the next life in heaven.  And then, secondly, often biblical images of heaven have lost their appeal. The ancients were mesmerized by the walls of emeralds and sapphire and jasper and streets of gold and pearly gates. But that is often lost on most modern Christians. To the sophisticated to even take this literally or if even figuratively, this still is a real place.

     Another write wrote, quote, “Life now is like spinach versus chocolate cake hereafter in heaven.  Which is probably why the Lord didn’t reveal the wonders of heaven yet, because then it would be hard for us to eat our spinach now knowing all about that chocolate cake later. Christ is coming for us.  Cake is coming.  We just have to wait to taste the frosting, but we should be able to smell the cake baking now,” end of quote.

     Let’s consider some false ideas regarding heaven and the hereafter. For example, soul sleep, the concept, the idea that after death all of our being, our body, soul and spirit will be asleep, unconscious, comatose, inactive, no contact, just nothingness. Where did this false concept come from? Well, for example, in Acts chapter seven and verses 59 and 60 we find these words. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed. “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out. “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this he fell asleep. The body died and a sleep here is actually a figure of speech, a euphemism. A euphemism is a milder, less harsh description here of death for believers. Stephen’s body was dead.  But his spirit was not asleep. It went to be with the Lord immediately, consciously, actively. To be absent the body is to be with the Lord the Scriptures teaches.  There are two Scripture passages that illustrate this.  First, the fact that fell asleep here is just a less harsh description of death for believers is, for example, found in the gospel of John chapter 11 beginning in verse 11 through verse 14. 

     After he had said this he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. But I am going there to wake him up.” His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death.  But his disciples had thought he meant natural sleep.  So then he told them plainly. “Lazarus is dead.” 

     A second passage that illustrates this is found in the gospel of Luke chapter 16 beginning in verse 22 through 24.  The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side or bosom. 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. So he called to him, “Father Abraham, have pit on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue because I am in agony in this fire.”

     Here in this passage which refers to the beggar Lazarus this is a different Lazarus than we just read and learned about in the gospel o John chapter 11. Lazarus was a very common first century name. This Lazarus, this beggar died and the angels of God carried him to Abraham’s bosom or side.  In Jewish writings in the Talmud which refers there also to Abraham’s bosom, it was a place of paradise, the home of the righteous, a place of blessedness to which the spirits of believers go.

     Notice that in Luke chapter 16 and verse 23 the rich man which the King James Version refers to as dives which is taken from the Latin language for rich was in hell. More appropriately this should be Hades in the original Greek which Hades is a holding place for those that are, in fact, headed for hell, and that he was the rich man was in his spirit and notice he was conscious. He was not asleep. He was active. He recognized Abraham and Lazarus by his side. Also notice that there is evidence here that there will be recognition of one another in the hereafter, both in heaven and in hell. Certainly we will know the Lord.

     Someone has written that then we will really know one another for who we really are and to whom we really belong to. But aren’t these only in their spirits? And yet they have eyes. Some may think or wonder or ask. 
     Well, some believers, some even scholars today believe that we will have intermediate, temporary bodies, that is believers and even unbelievers will have intermediate temporary bodies until we receive our glorified bodies fitted for eternity. And, of course, the lost will not receive glorified bodies. They will receive bodies for eternal punishment, eternal or everlasting destruction. Or, another possibility is that in a supernatural place in the hereafter God can give our spirits consciousness plus sight if he so chooses. He is God after all.  And nothing is too difficult for God.

     There are some other false concepts. For example, the belief in reincarnation is very popular once again today.  It is the concept of there are multiple rebirths of the soul in different physical bodies.  Usually the thought is that the reincarnated one will return in a higher form of life is good or a lower form of life if bad. Scripture denies this in Hebrews chapter nine and verse 27 it tells us, in part, man is destined to die once.  And after that to face judgment.  Of course, for the believer, our judgment in the church is at the judgment seat of Christ, 2 Corinthians chapter five and verse 10.  And this judgment will only be for rewards or loss of rewards, that is, beyond salvation, those things done while in the body, whether good or bad. It is not about salvation. It is about rewards beyond salvation for the believer in the church at the judgment seat of Christ. But there will not be multiple deaths for the individual. The only ones that are revealed in the Scripture are the rare exceptions where there are miraculous raisings from the dead, for example, Lazarus the good friend of Jesus the brother of Martha and Mary who died. Jesus raised him from the dead and then he died again.

     But those are rare occasions, miraculous occasions. There are other ideas and opinions of men that are not in Scripture regarding the hereafter, being purgatory, limbo, oblivion, annihilation into nothingness. All of these are false and foreign to Scripture.

Certainly we cannot pray ourselves or others into heaven while we are alive, much less after death.

     There are only two separate groups in the hereafter according to Scripture which is nicely summarized in the book of Daniel chapter 12 and verse two.  It reads like this. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.  All will eventually be raised from the dead. The first resurrection is for the saved to everlasting life in heaven.  The second resurrection is strictly for the lost, the unsaved, to shame and contempt, ultimately in the lake of fire in hell. And Scripture cannot be broken.  It is written and God does not and cannot lie or deceive us in any way. After death our eternal destiny and destination is sealed, secured forever. We choose heaven or hell, the Savior or Satan.  As it were, if we reject the Savior we are a son or daughter of the evil one. Heaven or hell. There is no second chance or any other chances after our death. We choose and God enforces our choice with our without God forever.  Dwelling with God, God dwelling with us in eternity or forever separated from God.

     Often the question comes regarding what will we do in heaven. Even in the new Jerusalem and the new earth, that is beyond our reigning with Christ during the messianic millennial kingdom phase. We have actually very little information and yet it tells us in Revelation chapter 22 and verse three regarding the eternal state beyond the messianic age, the millennial kingdom, it tells us here in part his servants, God’s servants, that is including us, will serve him, God. We will serve him. But we do that now. So what is so great about that?  Yes, we do serve now and we should serve now even as servant leaders. But then when we serve God then it will be by sight, not just from afar by faith. And then when we serve we will always see tangible results, accomplishments of our service which is not always the case now and usually is not.

     In Revelation chapter 22 and verse five it interestingly enough ends with: They will reign or rule forever and ever. That is, the saints of God, the believers will reign or rule forever and ever.  And so, therefore, according to Scripture, even in the eternal state evidently there will also be a reigning which involves believers even into eternity beyond servant hood. As saints we will reign with God according to the rewards given beyond salvation into eternity, even beyond the messianic, millennial age throughout the new heavens and the new earth, reign over who?  There is a hint in Revelation chapter 21 and verse 24.  The nations will walk by its light and the kings of the earth, that is the new earth, will bring their splendor into it, that is, into the new Jerusalem.

     Some believers will be kings. We are all equally saved, but our rewards beyond salvation in eternity are not {?} but based on what we did while in the body in this life as God’s people, plus according to 1 Corinthians chapter 13 and verse 10, but when perfection comes the imperfect disappears.  And the last part of 1 Corinthians chapter 13 and verse 12 tells us and reveals to us: Now I know as the apostle Paul was inspired to write this. Now I know in part. Then I shall know fully even as I am fully known, that is fully known by God.  And therefore not only will we reign over the nations and some of us be kings and have other kinds of rewards according to the talents that we exercised in this life and the spiritual gifts that we exercise in this life before the hereafter and also, of course, with a godly attitude, but we will also have perfected bodies. I mean, perfect bodies. Perfect, body, soul and spirit in a perfect paradise. So let’s use our God given imaginations concerning this and make application.

     In eternity, therefore, there will be no limitations regarding time and space. And with God all things are possible. And therefore, perhaps, God will replay the creation of the cosmos, even the new heavens and the new earth and we will be able to witness, see by sight, that as a replay or reenact the parting of the Red Sea or revisit the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the ascension of Jesus Christ.  And we will not be tied to these terrestrial bodies and, therefore, we will be able to tour other galaxies, to visit the entire cosmos. And since we have put on perfection, perhaps will be able to paint like Picasso, speak Swedish, sing as a soprano or a bass, all part of a real dream team.

     According to polls, 76 percent of Americans believe in heaven and yet 75 percent of Americans also believe that they are good enough to go to heaven. That is simply not true.  No human being who has ever lived, of course, except Jesus Christ, has ever been good enough to go to heaven. None.  Enoch was caught up to heaven. Elijah was caught up to heaven only by the grace of God, not because of their goodness.  We are never good enough to go to heaven. If so, if we were good enough, why did Jesus Christ have to die on the cross? It is not our goodness. It is not our decency. It is not our deeds. It is not our attendance of church services. It is not about communion or baptism or self at all.  Except by the grace of God through faith in the Savior. That is whom saves us for heaven.

     Acts chapter four and verse 12. Salvation is found in no one else. For there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. That is, only Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

     Have you personally received him? Do you need to recommit to him? You need Jesus. You need the person to go to the place. Jesus is the person that can lead us to eternity with God in heaven.


                David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.

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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10