People’s opinions about the afterlife

In the past week, since my father passed away, obviously I have talked to many people who knew him. Everyone seems to have their own opinions about the afterlife. Of course, all of them believe that he is in heaven. As I said in a prior post, I also believe that it is likely that he’s in heaven. And I do praise God for his grace.

However, I would like to address the topic of people’s opinions about the afterlife. Outside of my close circle of friends, my Bible study group and whatever people from my local church I’ve interacted with, everyone else seems to have opinions about the afterlife that are not formed based on the Bible. For example, yesterday, one of the neighbors of my dad, who is a Roman Catholic, said that priest told her that when people die, their souls don’t leave immediately but stay around. She also believes that she can talk to her deceased husband in heaven and that he will hear her, and that he is watching over her. Regarding the souls not departed immediately, the one thing I told her is that the Bible says that when a believer is absent from the body, they are present with the Lord. So, according to the Bible, which we share in common, it is not true that departed souls hang around on earth after the body dies. I didn’t talk to her about the issue of talking to people in heaven. However I don’t believe that people in heaven can hear us. The only passage that I’m aware of that would indicate anything similar to this, is Hebrews 12:1 which talks about the great cloud of witnesses. I recently heard a sermon that talked about scholars who do believe that that may be a reference to saints that are now in heaven, and that they may be able to observe some of the events on earth, and even cheer us on. That’s a controversial view. It may possibly be true, but these saints are not omniscient and certainly are not able to hear everybody at once if they were able to hear anything at all going on on earth.

So, I think in the future, with those I know more closely when they bring up all of these topics about heaven, the afterlife, hell, etc, I will probably inform them that the Christianity that I believe and practice is based 100% on the Bible. Any views on the afterlife, spiritual matters, salvation, and other such spiritual topics, I will take with a grain of salt and less the person espousing those views can point me to book, chapter, verse in the Bible to support their views. I don’t want to be rude to those bringing up this information, but I would like to find a nice way to let them know where I stand. The Bible is the only source that can speak authoritatively, as the word of God, on these matters. Everything else is human opinion, and I see no reason to believe that over what is revealed in the word of God.

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