Matt Reagan said that a couple times last night as a part of his response to the questions at Theology Time.
Every Sunday night, a couple people on staff answer any questions students may have about God, Christianity, and anything else. Last week, Matt Reagan and Jon Saunders and about 20 students huddled under the tent during a massive thunderstorm to have this discussion.
Three nights ago, Paul Poteat and Matt Reagan answered a variety of questions, from heaven and hell to angels and demons to sin and salvation. The format of the discussion is question-and-answer. Students ask questions, and Paul and Matt point to places all over the Bible for answers.
So, here are three of the questions asked and the responses given, as well as a complete list of all the questions asked.*
What does the Bible say about levels of heaven? – Josh Drost, Michigan State University
They are not the layers found in Dante’s Inferno, but the idea of levels in heaven is Biblical. 1 Cor. 3: 9-17 talks about this.
Matt said that Not extra possessions in heaven.
In 1 Thes. 2, the apostle Paul talks about how the people he is writing to are his “glory and joy” at the coming of Jesus. Matt stressed that this language of boasting and reward ultimately gives Jesus all the glory.
There will be rewards in heaven. Matt said, “You ought not worry too much about your heavenly rewards.” He stressed that there will be no envy. The way we will think about our own rewards and other rewards will be in a completely sinless way.
Paul added that rewards don’t come when we think intentionally about the rewards. It’s the gospel that produces good fruit. “Focus on who Jesus is for you and not who you are for Jesus,” Matt said.
They also pointed out that Luke 12:47-48 talks about levels of Hell.
If someone were to ask, “Why can we not atone for our own sin,” where do I point them? – Ben Degroote, Michigan State University
Matt and Paul brought up Hebrews 7-9, suggesting that Ben look there to understand how the sacrificial system is insufficient.
Then, a woman who had stopped to listen shouted from the back, “Romans 6:23.” She said she was there with a small group, and she said, “that’s the perfect verse!” For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Matt just said, “Amen.”
At the end of the discussion, Paul added a reference to Rom. 8:5-7, explaining how the flesh is hostile to God.
What exactly are angels? How do they interact with humans? – Ammie Lace, University of Minnesota
Paul said that one of his past professors told him that of all the ethical things we deal with, God is number one and angels are number two. Paul also brought up 2 Kings 6:16, where Elisha had faith in angels during battle. He added that people in America are deluded that supernatural forces are not actually real.
Matt said that there is a whole other realm of cosmic powers that we just don’t see – that angels and demons are at war. He mentioned Daniel 10 as an example of this.
Paul brought up how in 1 Cor. 11:10, the language shows how the people of that time knew about angels – more than we do now.
All the questions:
• What does it mean when we say that Jesus was begotton?
• What does the Bible say about levels of heaven?
• Is Hell God turning away from you in rejection or to you in anger?
• Is it possible for people to fall from Heaven (like Satan)?
• In Colossians 1, what is the kingdom of his Beloved Son?
• Would it have been just for God not to save anyone?
• If someone were to ask, “Why can we not atone for our own sin,” where do I point them?
• What do Jews believe about when the Messiah comes?
• How did Adam and Eve populate the world?
• What exactly are angels? How do they interact with humans?
• How do demons fit into us being accountable for our sins?
• Where is the name Lucifer in the Bible?
• What’s the difference between a new earth and heaven?
• My roommate thinks she can become God by being in nature more. What can I say to her?
*Including the responses to each one of these questions would make this post longer than a daily blog post should be. This might also be a good time to ask for forgiveness for any poor note taking on my part. If I include exact words from anyone, I will put them in quotations. Otherwise, assume that I am paraphrasing.