First off, I know this is an ultra sensitive time to write about this topic given the recent horrendous tragedy in Virginia Tech, so let me preface this by saying I’m not in any way setting out to dishonour those deaths or upset grieving family/friends etc. But this is something I’ve heard said so much recently I felt I just had to make note of it and put it up for others to comment on.
Why do people in addressing such a tragedy always state that they are praying for the victims as well as the families etc. Is it just something that’s said without thinking, and/or meant in some other way entirely, or do they sincerely mean they are praying for the dead?? I believe Catholics consider this an acceptable practice, but I’d like to know why? Where in scripture does it ever mention that we should undertake this action? And to what end? What I have understood about death is that it is the final closure on your life – your choices must be made before that curtain falls, as they absolutely categorically cannot be made afterwards, and I don’t care what any religion says to the contrary. It stands to reason that if we could all make a different choice after death once we know things from a fully spiritual perspective, and see God for Who He truly is, that anyone who’d not made a choice for Him in fullness through Jesus Christ in their lifetime, would absolutely change their mind and choose Him then. Would be sheer and utter madness not to when you could see the reality of Hell staring you in the face with nowhere to hide! BUT if that was the case, then why would God ever send His only begotten Son to die for mankind in such a grisly way – what was it going to achieve that couldn’t be achieved by death essentially? Hell wouldn’t be required if everyone who died could then determine to do what they should have done while alive without the need for a Redeemer. So praying for them by that stage is futile and pointless. They’ve already determined their own fate before death, and all the prayers in the world can’t change the outcome of that decision. So if you’re praying for the dead and it’s not for them to be saved from hell, then what else would you pray for? Peace – sorry, but I suspect that might be thin on the ground if they’re not ‘born again’ (by God’s Spirit) believers and already in heaven anyway. Joy – hardly – can’t imagine they’re going to gain much joy from the new predicament they now find themselves in. Mercy – ahh, now that’s one we would absolutely expect God to provide for them isn’t it? But there again lies a problem. God’s mercy has already been poured out on the world by sending Jesus to die for everyone who accepted His gift of salvation, in order to provide them immediate access to eternal life on death, so why should we then expect him to be doubly merciful to us after death too? If that was the case, then again there’d be no purpose or reason for hell to exist at all – ultimately God would just let everyone into heaven regardless(after they told him they were sorry for not believing what He’s said in His Word, and ignoring Him all their lives, and preferring their will over His etc), and that would be that. But then where would there be any sense of justice – the worst murderers could and would absolutely desire heaven once they realise the enormity of the crimes they’ve committed against God let alone His creation, and do anything to escape His judgement. If ALL of that was possible then it would mean that there would be little point in anyone here bothering to become a Christian in the first place – you may as well just be a humanist and live for today doing all and everything you fancy without concern for others in the slightest. And that my friends would ultimately mean a total breakdown in life as we know it on this planet. But I digress somewhat. I’m just trying to point out some of the dangers in having this viewpoint and its spiritual impact.
At the end of the day if you have a problem with all of this – don’t take it out on me. I’m just sharing God’s view as provided by His own Word/s. Here’s some just in case you don’t believe me:
Jer 22:10 Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him: but weep sore for him that goeth away: for he shall return no more, nor see his native country.
Ecc 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten
Pro 9:18 But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell
Psa 115:17 The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence.
While the second verse implies the dead know absolutely nothing, we know that’s not the case in the literal sense, as Jesus stated in his parable about heaven. The rich man was not only aware, but acutely so, on the nature of his new abode and the predicament he now found himself in.
Luk 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
Luk 16:20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
Luk 16:21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
Luk 16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
Luk 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Luk 16:24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
Luk 16:25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
Luk 16:26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
Luk 16:27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:
Luk 16:28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
Luk 16:29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
Luk 16:30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
Luk 16:31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
I find it interesting too that no mention is made of him being anything other than rich, which I doubt was anything worse then than now, indicative of an opulent lifestyle with perhaps little thought for the needs of others, but hardly on a par with the sins of some others, yet he ended up in hell!! And Jesus certainly never made mention of the fact that anyone on earth or otherwise could pray him out of it! So the much more important issue is to examine your life while you still have it, and ensure you absolutely categorically do not end up sitting alongside that rich man – Jesus died to give life and life in abundance both here and in heaven – all He asks is for you to repent, and accept Him as Saviour and Lord of it now. So, as Timbob is equally pointing out, with time rapidly running out faster than ever, make TODAY the day you make this vital decision, and allow Jesus to change your life forever.
Perhaps some of you disagree with my take on this, but if you do please provide me with scriptural evidence for it, not tradition, or something you’ve read elsewhere. 🙂