Tag Archive: death


Heaven stories | Ask Pastor Time

Some people say they have died, seen heaven or even God himself for a few seconds or minutes and come back to life after. Can we believe such statements?

As a young boy, I lost my grandfather whom I was very close to, and only until recently, never was sure that he became a Christian and whether he was in heaven or not (praise God, my aunty recently confirmed that he did accept Christ before his passing, and that at the hospital, after he passed, I (aged 4) pointed out the window and said that I saw him going up to heaven). As a young man, I was also fascinated by a Robin Williams movie, “What Dreams May Come,” which was about someone dying and going to heaven (of course, from a non-Christian and very imaginative, almost-Buddhist like concept of nirvana, enlightenment).

Recently, there was a movie based on a book “Heaven is for Real,” about a pastor’s three-year-old son who, after a near-death experience (NDE), started to share accounts of visiting heaven and meeting God. The book has crossed sales of more than a few million. However, several Christians have been critical of its contents and claims. One scholar, Hank Hanegraaff, has written an excellent piece on this. Here’s a summary.

  1. NDEs are predictably contextualized by the backgrounds and belief systems of those who experience them.
  2. The subjective recollections of NDErs are wildly divergent and mutually contradictory.
  3. There is a substantive difference between clinical death and biological death.
  4. There is a clear and present danger in turning to NDErs rather than the Bible respecting those things that allegedly will happen in the future.
  5. While Christ does not tell us the time of His second appearing, some NDErs are more than happy to!
  6. Among the biblical writers who “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1.21), not one dared say that like their Lord they could speak authoritatively about heaven from firsthand knowledge.
  7. In Acts 14, Luke chronicles the near-death experience of Paul. While it may have been useful to concoct a miraculous resurrection from the dead in the narrative, Luke does no such thing.
  8. Some NDErs are greatly biased by the subjective specter of hyperliteralism.
  9. Psychological factors, including fantasy proneness, may play a part in some NDEs.
  10. Finally, there is the very real issue of apostolic authority. In point of fact, with the death of the apostles, there can be no new revelations.

Read the full article here.

In summary, there are things that God has revealed about heaven in the Bible, and there are things not revealed. Ultimately, we have to trust and rely on God’s unchanging and unfailing word, that is sufficient for life and salvation. The other issue is about predicting or claiming to know when Christ will return again.

In Matt. 24.36-51, Jesus Himself says

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man … Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come … So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Who then is the faithful and wise servant … It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.

Jesus reminds us not to be overfixated on knowing about the afterlife, future or speculate about His 2nd coming. Rather, we are to remain watchful, ready and faithful. May God grant us the strength and wisdom to live lives worthy of Him and His gospel whilst we are here on earth. For those who have lost loved ones, may God’s grace be sufficient, and His comfort surround us, with the hope and confidence of one day being reunited with God in heaven.

#askpastortime

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Dead or alive? (Rom 6.1-8)

Just spoke at our church’s baptism service. 24 people got baptised today, 5 from the Mandarin congregation earlier during service by sprinkling, and 19 from the English congregation, including 5 youths, at the service I spoke at. Due to our church rebuilding, we had our baptism service separate from our Sunday service (which we used to incorporate into), and we also had it off-site, at our sister church, Covenant EFC (Woodlands). About 200 people turned up, including many friends and family members of candidates to witness the event. 4 of the candidates shared their testimonies, and all the candidates had their written testimonies in a booklet given to those who came too. I shared a short sermonette from Rom 6:1-8, entitled “Dead or alive?” You can read the transcript below.

Romans 6:1-8
Dead or alive?
Baptism service (16 May 2010)

Introduction
A warm welcome to friends and family of our baptism candidates. As your loved ones prepare to go through water baptism today, allow me to share some quick thoughts from God’s word to encourage them and to share briefly about what water baptism is all about.

I will be reading a Scripture passage from the book of Romans chapter 6, verses 1 to 8. You can follow along in your program sheet. I will read first in English, and then my brother will read in Mandarin.

I’ve entitled this message “Dead or alive?”. No, this is not the popular video game or the movie D.O.A., but interestingly, the Bible talks about being dead, dead to sin, or alive, alive in Christ.

  1. Dead to sin (v.1-3)

– for Christians, we believe that once we become Christians, once we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, we are firstly dead to sin. And we see this in the passage we just read, in v.2, “We died to sin.”
– The writer of Romans, Paul, was reminding the Christians, that since we died to sin, we should no longer continue sinning (v.1) nor live in it any longer (v.2).
– when Christians get baptised, we are reminding ourselves of this truth, because water baptism is a symbolic outward act of obedience to declare one’s inward confession of faith as a Christian.
– Paul describes it here in v.3-4. As a person goes down into the water, it symbolizes death and burial (dying to our old self, our sinful nature), and resurrection (we are a new creation, we may live a new life).

  1. Alive in Christ (v.4-8)

– How is this all possible? This is because of what Jesus Christ has done for us by dying on the cross for our sins. About 2000 years ago, we believe Jesus, who was God, came down to earth as a man. He died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay the penalty for our sins and purchase a place in heaven for us.
– Hence, we as Christians can walk in newness of life (v.4b)
– We are no longer slaves to sin but have been freed from sin (v.6, 7)
– We also believe that we will live with Him (v.8), both now in present life and in future, beyond physical death, when we die and go to heaven, or when Jesus returns again.

Response
– In closing, how can we respond to God today?
– For those getting baptised, it’s to remember what Christ has done for you, and what He continues to do in and through your life as you take this step of obedience today. It’s also a good reminder to be a good witness for Christ, as some will be doing shortly, sharing your testimony and the gospel message to all that God places in your life and path.
– For friends and families, especially those who have yet to accept Christ into their lives, we read in v.23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
– Eternal life is a free gift, it is not earned or deserved, and because all of us are sinners, we cannot save ourselves. The only way we can receive this free gift is through saving faith, which means trusting in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life.
– My prayer is that you would consider what has been shared today, as you witness your friend or relative getting baptised, perhaps your son or daughter, if this makes sense to you, and you want to know more about how to become a Christian or you just have questions about Christianity, do approach your friend or relative and I’m sure they would be most happy to share with you.
– Let us pray.

Dear Lord, we give You thanks for the 19 people who are getting baptised today. We give You praise for each of their lives, and how You have led them to this point to be obedient to Your command to be baptised. I pray that You will continue to bless and empower them with Your grace, that they may truly lead holy and pleasing lives toward You, and that You will use each of them mightily for Your kingdom and glory. Lord, we also pray for those who are present with us today. Thank You that they can be here together with us to witness their friends and relatives getting baptised. I pray that You’ll speak to them through Your word and through the examples and testimonies shared today, and that by Your grace, one day they truly discover this gift of eternal life in You and come to know You as their Lord and Savior. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.

Seeking Death in a bottle

Straits Times published a Saturday special on euthanasia (ST, 13 Dec 2008).

Here are some of the articles. More discussion soon.
Right to die, or right to kill?
All I want is a pain-free, peaceful death
The great euthanasia debate

http://christianpost.com/article/20080726/faith-outshines-music-as-steven-curtis-chapman-returns-to-the-stage.htm
by Josh Kimball, Christian Post
26 Jul 2008

Over the course of two weeks, award winning Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman has hit six different cities throughout the United States, touching the lives of his fans with his family’s story of faith and perseverance. The July 17 concert in Clarkston, Mich., Chapman’s fourth since the tragic death of his daughter in May, had the crowd of about 2,500 “laughing and crying and praying and rocking, often at the same time,” committee member Phil C. Giesken told The Saginaw News.

“It’s beyond expectations,” Lori Chatten from Carol Stream, Ill., said of the most recent Chapman concert, held just this past Thursday in Wheaton, Ill.

She told the local Daily Herald that she was surprised at how openly Chapman discussed his family’s struggles and pain over the last few months.

“It’s a blessing that he shared that with us,” she said.

Earlier this year, in May, Maria Sue Chapman, the Grammy-winning music star’s 5-year-old daughter, was accidentally struck and killed by a sport utility vehicle driven by one of her brothers as he was pulling out of the driveway of the family’s home.

(read more)

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/malaysia.court.halts.islamic.burial.in.religious.row/16001.htm
5 Jan 2008

A Malaysian court gave an ethnic Chinese man a temporary order to prevent an Islamic affairs council from taking his wife’s body for burial, in a dispute over whether she converted to Islam, a newspaper reported on Saturday.

The row over the body of 53-year old Mong Sau Lan is the latest in a series of racial and religious incidents that could hurt support for the government ahead of expected snap elections in the coming months.

In the burial matter, snooker centre manager Ngiam Tee Kong was informed by a hospital which had his wife’s remains that he could claim the body to perform Christian rituals but must hand it over to the Islamic council for a Muslim burial.

The 52-year old Ngiam said he had received a letter informing him that his wife had converted to Islam and this had been authorised by a religious affairs official, according to the report published in the Star newspaper.

But Ngiam said his wife was a Christian before her death on Dec. 30, and asked that her body be handed to him as the legal husband.

The court has set Jan. 18 to hear the application.

Disputes over religious conversions and complaints about the authorities’ demolition of churches and Hindu temples have fuelled worries about a rise in hardline Islam in mostly Muslim Malaysia.

Politically dominant ethnic Malay Muslims form about 60 percent of the population of roughly 26 million, while the ethnic Indian and Chinese minorities include Hindus, Buddhists and Christians.

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