By Rev. Dr. Curian Kaniyamparambil
This is a subject which by itself needs a careful study. Due to space constraints let me make it short. Those who are interested in further readings, please read my book Syrian Orthodox Church in India and its Apostolic Faith.
The soul is separated from the body with death. Where are those people who died in Jesus Christ?
The thief; he is with Christ in Paradise.
St. Paul says that he likes death more than life in the flesh, because of Having a desire to depart and to be with Christ. So after death he will be with Christ. (Phili. 1:23)
Blessed are the dead, who die in the Lord from now on (Rev 14:12-13)
One can die in Christ, if one lives in Him.
Are the dead able to hear Christ's voice? Yes, the dead can hear Him.
There are some who were dead, yet heard His voice. They are the widow's son (Luke 7:14-15), Jairus's daughter (Mark 6:41), and Lazarus.
He went and preached to the souls imprisoned in Sheol (1 Pet 3:19). The gospel was preached also to those who are dead (1 Pet. 4:6). So it is obvious that they (the dead) can hear Christ. If they could not hear Him, why should Jesus preach to them?
Refer to Mat 17:1-8: And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, 'conversing' with him." (Mat 17:3) What did they talk? They talked about His great suffering and crucifixion and that it would happen soon. It is believed that Moses died approximately in BC 1451 and Elijah was taken up in BC 896. We cannot deny the fact that Moses who died approximately 1400 years before Jesus Christ, and Elijah who was taken some 890 years before Jesus Christ, were talking to Jesus Christ. If the dead cannot talk, how did this happen?
Again if anyone still disbelieves, let me quote from Oswald Smith who established a modern church called the Peoples church based in Canada. In his book The battle for truth in page 14 to 27 he discusses what the dead does, how much they know about us, and whether they know us at all? Here is the summary of his discussion:
Is the dead conscious or sleeping?
Verse (Heb 12:1) says "seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witness, let us run with patience the race set before us." So these witness, Abraham, Samuel, Mosses, those martyrs referred to in revelation, all after death are active and not sleeping.
"I am God of Abraham, I am God of the living." (Matt 22:32) So Abraham is alive.
"The dead are blessed." (Rev 14: 13). What blessedness if not conscious?
In Rev 6:9-10 it says "The dead cried with a loud voice So surely the dead are not in slumber."
"I may be with Christ, which is far better" (Phili 1:23)
We know that our Lord is mediating for us before God. He promised the apostles that they would follow Him and be where He is. Therefore the apostles are, with Him now. The thief who believed while on the cross is also with Him. Are all these people slumbering? Definitely not. 2 Cori 5:8 says, "Departing the body, I desire more to live with Christ The dead are with the savior whom they loved, strong and happy, and in an enlightened life.
Joseph did not forget his father in the palace of Pharaoh! Moses did not forget the Israelites while in Pharos palace. The girl while in the palace of Naaiman, did not forget Elisha. (Likewise the witnesses mentioned in Heb 12:1). The just will not forget their loved ones if they move to another country or another continent. Likewise, our dead will not forget their loved ones if they move to another world. So our prophets and saints will never forget us, but always will be watching and praying for us.
The apostles recognized Moses and Elija at Mount Tabore. Saul the King recognized Samuel who was dead. Mary and the apostles recognized Christ after his resurrection. Stephen saw Christ in his glory. So the answer is yes, we can recognize the dead.
"The throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him, seeing his face and reigning forever and ever" (Rev 22:3-5). Daniel in the den of lions, Anania in the big fire, Peter on the cross, all glorified God because of their hope in the life after death. It is Jesus Christ who removed the curtain and showed the world what is beyond the grave.
The promises of our Lord:
There are many abodes in the house of my Father
"I go to prepare place for you
I will come again
Where I am, there you will be
Who believes in me will live even after death
You will be with me in Paradise today.
TOC Section 1 (Q 1-26) | Section 2 (Q 27-56) | Section 3 (Q 57-81) | Section 4 (Q 82-115) | Previous Chapter | Next Chapter
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