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This complexity to which I referred at the end of Part 1 is magnified by some of the assumptions that we embrace; assumptions that are exposed by the questions we ask and the statements we make…..and, incidentally, many of the songs we sing.

 More than one person has said to me that I can look forward to being re-united with Bev in heaven. In fact, if you listen to Christians talk about death and dying, this is the general expectation – i.e. that we will one day be re-united with our loved ones in the same kind of relationships that we have had with them here.

Will we?

 Is this expectation supported and taught in the Scriptures or is it believed because that is the way we want it to be because we just can’t imagine life – even life in heaven – without that person or persons who were so precious to us here.

Now, I know I am not making any new friends by writing this way and even some old friends may begin to question my orthodoxy!  But these questions are very high profile for me at this time. In the months before she died, I said to Bev many times, “I can’t begin to imagine living without you in my life”. (Perhaps I still can’t and that is why I am wrestling with these questions)??

Whatever, there are a few things that seem to be clear

1.       We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

2.      According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.

3.       For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

4.      After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

5.       And so we will be with the Lord forever.

6.      Therefore encourage one another with these words.               (1 Thess  4/13-18

In other words, there will be a great and glorious reunion when those who have “fallen asleep” (i.e. “the dead in Christ”) will be united with the Christians who are still living on planet earth.

  So, while these verses are unambiguous in their teaching about this all-embracing reunion, they give us no basis for believing that the relationships we enjoyed on earth – including the marriage relationship – will be recognised or enjoyed in heaven. But then it’s fair enough to say that while this passage doesn’t teach the long-held hope/belief of being reunited with those we have known and loved on earth, it doesn’t exclude it either.

Our respect for the inspiration and authority of Scripture means we should make sure (as much as is possible) that we are not nurturing a concept about heaven that satisfies our hopes (fears?) and longings but is not birthed in Scripture.

I don’t know about you but I need another “time out” I hope I’ll see you at Barneys for Part 3


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