Peter, having been called by Jesus personally to be the head Shepherd of the early Christian Church, went away from his crucifixion, denying he’d ever met that man, Jesus Christ. Hebrews says we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (speaking of the dead saints listed in that book.) Hebrews also warns us that there is only one sacrifice for sins. It’s done, and it can’t be redone.
In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Jesus says that the angels warned the rich man that there is no way for Lazarus to cross from Heaven into Hell. “The chasm is too great!” The parable of the sower talks about the plants that spring up and die. Some speak of eternal security. Some talk of universal election. Some believe that, if Jesus went to preach to the dead, he might still be ministering to convert those who are no longer in body.
Honestly, the older I get, the more I realize how much of our ability to physically think thoughts is dependent on our flesh, the more I hope so. I have no set theology of what happens between dead and heaven. I know I am saved now, I know confidently that if Jesus died and rose again (and history says he did) and told us that he’s the only way we’re saved, it still might not be dependent on our ability to say yes.
A cousin grows up homeschooled in a gentle family with a background of missions and leaves for a life without faith and with other genders, other sexual orientations. A former homeschooler blogs her complicated confidence that there is a saving God out there and her doubt that he planned the conservative culture that frightens her. An atheist comes to church every Sunday with his wife for the love of the Church but just can’t believe in a God with his science background.
A friend was pre-Christian, raised in the church, who died, saw heaven, and decided to come to faith. Shining example of Christianity, he is not. But committed and redeemed and in love with his Savior. An atheist goes brain dead and has a lovely experience with a girl who leads him through a world where colors fit the Biblical description of vivid reality beyond the dim shadow on Earth. He returns with confidence in Heaven and God, though no mention is made of his conversion or repentance.
I struggle. I can’t commune with my daughter on a level I want to. To tell her that she is loved by Jesus, then ask if she has experienced enough of Him to believe in him. He has made her and says we need his redemption without fail, no matter who we are. Despite my missions background I pray that my love may cover her sin like Jesus covers mine. It is only natural. I pray for my cousin the same way. It is only natural… the spirit of God flows through me. Sure, it’s immature and theologically unsound, but Lord, I am desperate. So save these precious ones I love. I trust you, the one who crossed heaven and earth to die and visit the dead, to save us. So, save us…we need you so completely.