Did The Old Testament Saints Go Directly To Heaven?
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Did The Old Testament Saints Go Directly To Heaven?
This week on the Straight Truth Podcast, Dr. Richard Caldwell and Dr. Josh Philpot discuss what happened to the Old Testament saints when they died. Dr. Philpot says obviously something unique happens in the New Testament when Jesus is raised from the dead and ascends to the Father. Explaining that it’s in the New Testament where Jesus tells us before He dies, He goes to prepare a place for us. So from that Scripture, we understand that He is the One who provides entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven for us. The Old Testament saints hadn’t seen Jesus or been given this promise by the second person of the Trinity. Yet they died and died believing in life after their physical death. So then what happened to them when they died? Where have they gone and what kind of existence do they have?
Dr. Caldwell explains that there are different theories and understandings of this. One is that before Christ’s incarnation, life, death, and resurrection there were two compartments of the realm of the dead. He gives a brief overview of this but tells us he thinks this is a misreading of Ephesians 4. He believes that when the Old Testament saints died they went immediately into the presence of God, just as New Testament saints do. Further explaining that, of course, this was not with their resurrected bodies, as that is yet in the future.
Finding Any Biblical Evidence
He also believes that we are hard-pressed to find any biblical evidence to the contrary, giving us an example from Matthew 22:29-33. Here Jesus quotes Exodus 3:6 in His discussion with Sadducees, affirming that God is the God of the living. Showing by the very Words of God, Old Testament saints having a present relationship with God, after they have died. Dr. Caldwell gives a second example from the Mount of Transfiguration in Matthew 17. Here there is a conversation that takes place between Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Moses died and was buried and Scripture tells us plainly, “Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” So it appears that they have both gone to the same place and that Christ is known to them both.
Dr. Caldwell tells us the Scriptures present the expectation of Old Testament saints as the enjoyment of God’s presence after death. Psalm 16, and 139 are passages that speak of them looking forward to the pleasure of being in God’s presence. Moving into the New Testament we even read of Jesus saying to the thief on the cross beside Him, “today you will be with me in Paradise.” So whether we read the phrases - present with the Lord, in Paradise, or in Heaven, there’s no difference, the place is the same it is the presence of God.
There Is a Place of Temporary Torment
Dr. Philpot then asks would this be the same situation for hell? Dr. Caldwell tells us there is a place of temporary torment right now, but the final casting into hell awaits the great white throne judgment of Revelation 20. He explains that we never want to be more specific than what the Bible is. So what he can say for those who have already died not knowing Christ, they are suffering.
The scriptural example for this is Luke 16:19-31, where Jesus is speaking of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man is suffering in Hades and Lazarus is in the presence of God, in Abraham’s Bosom. Dr. Caldwell says that’s the picture we are given and beyond that what he sees is what’s given in Revelation 20. There is a resurrection and there is a final judgment, where the casting into the lake of fire will take place. The lake of fire is the place of eternal torment, the very hell that Jesus speaks much of in the Gospels. Beyond that, when the Scriptures are silent he wants to be silent, but where the Scriptures speak he wants to speak.
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The Straight Truth Podcast: Christian Opinions in an Increasingly Secular World. Join Dr. Richard Caldwell, Dr. Josh Philpot, and their guests as they discuss news events, current affairs, and cultural issues from a Biblical point of view. Find the truth at www.straighttruth.net
The Straight Truth Podcast is a weekly opinion show hosted by Dr. Richard Caldwell and Dr. Josh Philpot. Straight Truth is available as an audio podcast on iTunes or as a video podcast through YouTube or Vimeo. The duration of the podcast is approximately 10 minutes. We release new episodes every Thursday.
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