Ask a Pastor Ep. 38 - Heaven, Second Chance Salvation, OT Salvation
Welcome to Ask a Pastor, a podcast from Orchard Hill Church! Have you ever had a question about the Bible, Faith, or Christianity as a whole? Submit your question and one of our pastors will answer on the program. New episodes every Wednesday.
This episode our Senior Pastor, Dr. Kurt Bjorklund, talks with Director of Student Ministries, Russ Brasher.
Question #1 - "What will Heaven be like?"
Question #2 - "Will people have a "last chance" to accept Jesus after death?"
Question #3 - "What happened to people who died believing God in OT if salvation is only found in Jesus?"
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This is an auto-generated transcript. Please excuse any errors.
Kurt Bjorklund: Hi. Welcome to Ask a Pastor. This is some content that we put together from Orchard Hill that we put out, usually on Fridays on the radio, different social media experiences and places, podcast app. So, if you have questions, and you'd like to have them address on a future episode of Ask a Pastor, you can send it to email@example.com. We'd be thrilled to address your question in a coming episode.
Kurt Bjorklund: Today, I'm joined by Russ Brasher. Russ is our leader of student ministries here on our Wexford Campus. Has done just a great job helping us engage students throughout the region. And today, we are going to talk about some questions that some students have given us. So, Russ should be the perfect person to address these questions.
Kurt Bjorklund: So Russ, the first question is what will heaven be like?
Russ Brasher: Yeah, it's a great question, and one of the reasons that this kind of came about was a poll that showed that 95% of Americans believe there's heaven, but in the same pole, 95% of them gave false information about what it's like. And so, there's this huge belief in it, but no one knows what it's going to be like. And so ... But that's not true from a biblical standpoint. Like we actually have a lot of evidence of what heaven will be like. And I even remember growing up as a student, what I knew about heaven was it was better than hell. It was where Jesus lived. And it was where we got to spend the rest of our lives. And so, for me, that was enough. But as I've dealt with more and more students over the years, that isn't even enough anymore, and they want to know more of what is this place gonna be like?
Russ Brasher: And so, as I have spent time in it, and again, it's not a subject where I put a lot of attention and time into because I was convinced and had enough with those three growing up. But one of the things that I've come across through reading scripture and talking to people that has really helped answer this question with students is this understanding that heaven really is a place where there is going to be no more sin, no more brokenness, no more sorrow, no more pain, no more tears, and all of the stuff that, in this world, we experience that we look at, and it causes pain and sorrow will be no more. And that is something that brings life and joy to a place where some might look at and say, "Well, what's the good about it besides it's what we're supposed to do?" And trying to help students understand that has just been so fun because their eyes open up to this reality that these things won't exist in heaven. Like there's not even going to be night or darkness. There's only light in heaven. And just how exciting that is to watch them kind of put that together.
Russ Brasher: Another one of the things is obviously it is where Jesus dwells. It's where God is. And it's this understanding that we get to not only with God but with the angels and with the original saints and with all believers. And just to be in that community and to be able to spend eternity with these people and to be able to live in that forever is something that has been really fun to kind of discover for myself and kind of even try to understand what that's gonna look like and how cool that's going to be and how that's gonna play out.
Russ Brasher: And the other thing that even just recently I've grown in my study, and my research of it is that we will actually have jobs and maybe not necessarily jobs like we know them to be jobs here, but this idea of we are going to have an opportunity to serve God for the rest of our lives in heaven, and what we do and how we serve him is going to bring glory to him. It's going to be pure joy to us, and it's going to be something that all the gifts and the abilities that God has given us are going to come anew and just be brought into more. I don't know what the word I'm looking for is, but just this reality that when we become made anew, like we get to serve God, and it's not just this Kumbaya moments all day long for the rest of our lives. We actually get to work and be a part of what God originally created in Genesis.
Russ Brasher: And so that's fun stuff that I'm even learning as I continue to pursue something that I didn't have a whole lot of understanding growing up. So, it's been fun to do it.
Kurt Bjorklund: So, what excites you the most? I mean you kind of went through several things there. When you personally think about it, what helps you to say, "That would really be cool?" Because I think there's a tendency sometimes, when we think about it to say, "Oh that's good, but I don't want to get there too soon because I've got a lot of good things I want to have happen here yet. And so I'm sure it'll be fine. I'm sure it'll be all right, but way, way down the future because I still have a lot I want to do." What makes you actually say personally, "This would be really awesome."
Russ Brasher: Yeah, I mean it sort of goes back to a little bit of that campfire moment with Jesus where we will be in the presence of Jesus. We will be face to face. We will have direct relationship with him. And I think the thing that excites me most about heaven is, and to sort of answer that second question there was even the best and most desired pleasures and joys of this world won't even compare to what heaven is actually going to be like. And so, when you change that mindset to a heavenly mindset, instead of a worldly mindset, you begin to understand maybe even better what heaven will be like, and the attention comes off of the world, and let's focus on today and just doing me, and then I'll worry about having later. And when heaven is on our ... When we do desire to be home, and that's where our home is, I don't know, I guess for me, that's what excites me even more is that it doesn't matter what I experience here. It's not going to be worth it. It's not going to have any value compared to what heaven's gonna be like. So, I guess that .. If that answers your question, that's kind of my thoughts.
Kurt Bjorklund: Okay, that's good.
Kurt Bjorklund: So, one of the questions the students asked is will people have a second or a last chance to trust Jesus after they die?
Russ Brasher: Yeah. When this ... So on this question got posed, my first thought was, "Why are you asking that?" You know, 'cause what are you wanting to do? Or what are you doing that you're like, "I don't want to give up because I need more chances." But the simple, but real answer is no, there isn't a second chance. And there's no biblical evidence or scripture that says that there will be to my knowledge.
Kurt Bjorklund: Is there evidence that says that when we die you have judgment?
Russ Brasher: I think so.
Kurt Bjorklund: Where is that, that we could point to.
Russ Brasher: I think it's only Hebrews 9 that says ... I don't want to butcher it, but paraphrasing, "We are all destined to die once and then face judgment." I believe.
Kurt Bjorklund: So, you would take that to be teaching the idea that as soon as you die you will give an account, face judgment, and there isn't something, because it says it that clearly there, there is no indication that there's another opportunity.
Russ Brasher: I would think so.
Kurt Bjorklund: Is that what you're [crosstalk 00:07:08]
Russ Brasher: That's how understand it. I know there's arguments with some of the stuff that says in Revelations of when Jesus comes, will there be this time where people can turn and give their life to Jesus in this period. But I know that's debatable and lots of argument there, and I haven't spent a whole lot of time, to be honest, in that, but I look at it is there ... Because of the cross and because of Jesus, we have unlimited chances this side of heaven to finally say yes to Jesus, to put our faith in him. But once death comes, that's it, and we face the judgment of in this life, did we say yes and put our faith in Jesus or didn't we is kind of how I've always looked at that.
Kurt Bjorklund: So, you said what's behind this like is there a student who's saying or a person who would say, "Well, I don't want to give something up. So, I'm hoping that I get a chance down the road." Speak to that. Why would somebody delay if Jesus pays for our sin, promises heaven, trust in Jesus, you get eternity. Why would somebody say, "Well I want to postpone that." What's going on there?
Russ Brasher: I think ... Like why is this question so enticing to people? Like why is there a hope for a second chance? And I think part of it just comes from people haven't taken the time to investigate for themselves faith and Christianity and scripture. And so, I think there's this, we'll keep putting that off because we're pursuing and kind of what we just talked about in the last question, pursuing this worldly lifestyle, this worldly pursuit, this selfish personal hopes, and we are saying right now we are looking at this world for our life and for our identity and our purpose. And, you know, maybe once I've done all this and experience this and I realized maybe it is empty, then I'll have this second chance or this moment where, "Oh, God's right in front of me. He is real. Okay. I believe now." I think that's the hope there. But I think for a lot it's ... They just haven't investigated for themselves.
Kurt Bjorklund: I would also guess that sometimes it isn't personal in that sense, but it's, "I don't want the implications of this idea that people are either believers are nonbelievers and that after this there's judgment, meaning God calls to account and there's heaven or hell."
Russ Brasher: Yeah, I agree.
Kurt Bjorklund: That seems uncouth to us in our modern day and age. We taught on this back in April or end of March, I think it was, where we dealt with and we were teaching through the gospel of John, and we dealt with kind of how the concepts of sin, the wrath of God and how seem to people in our modern age to be, "I don't want to deal with that." And so sometimes by saying, "Well, people get another chance." It's a way to say, "Well, it's not as severe as it seems." It takes the cultural pressure of saying something that's unpopular off of us. It takes the onus of doing evangelism and saying, "I'm going to call people to trust in Jesus because it's the only way that they have eternal life off of us." And so it's just a more pleasant kind of view. But one of the things I said in that weekend when we talked about for the whole church, was, I said that this isn't in the fine print in the New Testament.
Kurt Bjorklund: And a lot of times we like to think it's like scrolling down some long except thing, and it's down at the very bottom that nobody reads. This is not. This is in the bold stuff right up top where it's like there is something here that really deals with our eternal destinies. And if we don't believe that, then it takes responsibility and ownership, and again, mission all away from us at least to a certain extent.
Russ Brasher: Yeah. I couldn't agree more.
Kurt Bjorklund: So, what happens to people who died believing in God in the Old Testament and now they would say, "Well, but the Bible teaches ... New Testament teaches that salvation is only found in Jesus Christ." How does that work?
Russ Brasher: Again, this is one where students ... When this posed it was ... They're pretty comfortable in their New Testament, but they struggle with old. And so this kind of came out of that desire to know more, and all scripture points either towards Jesus or back to Jesus. And it wasn't that the faith and the belief of those that were Old Testament characters missed out on salvation because Jesus came along after them that all of scripture points to Jesus. All of the Old Testament talks of a coming savior and has that Gospel theme of Jesus is going to come, he's going to pay the price. He's gonna ... Death, resurrection and God's glory.
Russ Brasher: And so when people, like Abraham and a lot of them, when they're putting their faith in God, when they're deemed righteous by God, it is still by faith that Old Testament people have salvation, and it's by faith in God and his promises and understanding scripture that there is going to be a Savior. And they leaned on that they hoped for that. And, when you look at New Testament, how many times does Jesus, does Paul, does Peter refer back to old Testament writings that solidify and acknowledge and fulfill Jesus and salvation? And, it is by faith alone. It's not by Old Testament law. It's not by Old Testament tradition. It's not by works. It's by faith and faith alone in Jesus, the Savior that is to come and the Savior that that has come.
Russ Brasher: And I think a lot of people just assume that it was Old Testament works and traditions and rituals, and now that Jesus is here, we have Jesus. But really they were in the same faith boat we are. It's in Jesus. And it's by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ that we have salvation. And it's the same message from Genesis to Revelation in my opinion.
Kurt Bjorklund: So, if somebody hears that, and they say, "Well, but didn't God choose animal sacrifice as a way to appease sin? So how is that the same as Jesus?" Explain that conundrum for somebody because I think that's at the same core here is people believed, appears anyway as you read your Old Testament, that the reason I'm right with God is because I sacrificed this animal, and they had to do it repeatedly. So, how does that play into what is believed today? Why don't people sacrifice animals today? What's the difference?
Russ Brasher: Yeah. 'Cause I mean, you know, Jesus ultimately becomes the ultimate Lamb of God, the ultimate sacrificial lamb. And if you look back at Old Testament, that was ... Again, when you understand that their faith wasn't in the actual, we have to do this to have salvation, but it was the understanding that it was going to be by the Lamb of God, by the bloodshed that they have salvation and that they are no longer under the weight of their own sin and will face that penalty. I think if I had to explain it to someone who didn't have a whole lot of biblical understanding, it was this was them sort of publicly declaring and personally declaring that we believe in God. We believe in the Savior. We believe that you are the way to free us from the weight and penalty of sin, to give us eternal life. And that is through faith, and then, was there probably people that just went through those motions and rituals? Yes. But eventually, Jesus becomes the ultimate Lamb of God so that we no longer have to sacrifice animals in that nature because Jesus came and did it ultimately for us.
Kurt Bjorklund: So as I listen to this, if I were listening to us talk about this, I would probably be like, "This is weird. This doesn't make much sense to me." So, help me or anybody go from there's a lot of weird stuff to what do I need to believe? Who is ... Help somebody move from, there's a lot of weird stuff in the Old Testament, animal sacrifice and stuff to really grasping faith.
Russ Brasher: Yes. We will acknowledge there is a lot of weird stuff in the Old Testament. I don't think anyone would deny that, but I guess the biggest way that I would sum it up for someone is, again, it all points to Jesus and Jesus is the fulfillment of all that you read in the Old Testament. And so, when you have doubts or questions or concerns about something Old Testament, if you can't look back to Jesus and see how he becomes and fulfills and delivers on all the promises of the Old Testament, even if we do not necessarily understand it more can make the connection right away, Scripture says that he is, and so, I would say start with Jesus and then look at him and who he is, and he's the representation of God, and then maybe work backwards into the Old Testament because I know it probably would be hard to go Old to New and try to figure out how they're connected.
Kurt Bjorklund: Well, there's really something probably more fundamental that's important to the whole discussion. And this is where I think it ties to our modern world because where our modern world detaches from the story is the idea that there's a law. And what I mean is people who accept the Old Testament go, "Well, there's a law. There's a holy God. We violate the law. Something has to be done about it if God is just and holy." Therefore animal sacrifice, Jesus is the Lamb of God, moves everything forward. But if you don't believe that there's a law, or you believe that you contain all the law you need within yourself, and you keep the law, then animal sacrifice, Jesus sacrifice, becomes nonsensical.
Kurt Bjorklund: And so I believe that what needs to happen in our modern world a lot of times to even make any sense of the Old Testament or Jesus sacrifice is to say, "There is a God. God has a right as creator to give a standard. And I don't always meet the standard." And, that's where I think, again, our modern world comes off a lot of times. They'll either say, "There is no God. I'm the standard or I keep the standard that is there. I've come up with my own standard. I've devised it from thinking, reflecting, watching, observing the world. And I basically keep the standard. I'm one of the good people, but there's bad people out there. But I'm one of the good people."
Kurt Bjorklund: And the message of the Bible from the beginning to the end, and this is the continuity that you're talking about, is that God has a standard. And sometimes in the Old Testament it came through in inane laws, which I believe was his way, inane to us was his way of saying I care about details, and it's not just be a good person and all is good because that's kind of our modern notion. If I'm a good person, I'll take my chances, I'm good. But seeing that God cares extensively about all kinds of things and where we land on them. And so once I can say, "I'm a law breaker. I violate this." Now all of a sudden I say, "Okay, if God has a law and I don't keep it, then I need something to help me in this." And now the Old Testament, now Jesus start to make sense, and I start to get it.
Kurt Bjorklund: But if we don't go to God as creator, we don't go to law and sin, then what happens is all this talk about Jesus being a sacrifice just, I think, goes over our heads saying, "Well, okay, he's the sacrifice for what? I don't need a sacrifice. I'm good." And what it comes down to is there really are two ways that people look at themselves, God, religion, whether they participate in religion or not, and that is, "I'm good, and I do good things, therefore I'm okay." Or, "I'm not good, and Jesus has done for me what I can't do." And that has live the perfect life, be The sacrifice. Therefore, because of my belief in him, I'm okay.
Kurt Bjorklund: And if we don't help ourselves get there, again, we'll ask that question, and it'll be a circle. But I think that that really moves us into saying, "Okay, here's where this now makes sense as I move forward."
Kurt Bjorklund: Russ, thank you for coming in and being part of the conversation today. Again, if you have questions for us at Ask a Pastor, you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll be happy to address them in coming weeks.