Questions on Death

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What does a person's soul look like? The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus gives me a mental picture of sorts. There is recognition of others. Is a ghost-like appearance of one's body one way to think of it?

While the body is physical and can be seen, the soul is immaterial and not visible.  When the apostle John relates that he “saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained” (Revelation 6:9), we recognize the genre of Scripture Continued.

Is there any scriptural basis against cremation?

Scripture is silent on the issue of cremation.  It is a matter of personal preference when it comes to burial or cremation.  There was a time not that long ago when some voices in the Christian church cautioned against cremation.  In a day and age when some unbelievers utilized cremation as a way to defy Continued.

If a person is on ventilators, but brain dead, is their soul still in their body?

Your question underscores the benefits and challenges, in this case, that advancements in medical technology have given us.  Allow me to pass along information that Rev. Robert Fleischmann, National Director of Christian Life Resources, shared with me on the subject: There is considerable disagreement in society about “what is death.”  A diagnosis of “brain dead” Continued.

I have always been taught through my WELS education that there are no ghosts. When we die we go to heaven or hell. No one comes back to visit the living. But I myself have experienced unexplained events in familiar surroundings that make me question whether there are ghosts or not. How do I answer those who ask me whether I believe in ghosts?

When a person dies, the body and soul are separated and there is immediate judgment by God (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Hebrews 9:27).  The lifeless body remains on the earth, while the soul is in heaven or hell (Luke 16:19-31).  That last Scripture reference informs us that souls do not leave heaven or hell.  Those who have Continued.

Are dying willingly and committing suicide the same thing?

No, they are not necessarily the same thing.  I do not know the context of your question, but I can think of situations in which people would give up their lives for others (“dying willingly”), and their deaths would not by any means be considered suicides.  I think of a soldier in combat, throwing himself Continued.

Does Scripture have any insight on "death with dignity" or "right to die" issues, such as people who are terminally ill ending their own lives?

The Bible has much to say about life and death.  Life is important because it is a time of grace; it is the only time people have to be brought to a confession of their sins and a confession of faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior (2 Corinthians 6:1-2; Hebrews 9:27). God makes it Continued.

I've been told that if you commit suicide, you can't go to heaven because it's a sign of unbelief. What does the Bible say? Are there known cases in the Bible where someone has committed suicide and has gone to heaven?

The Bible reports six cases of suicide: Abimelech (Judges 9:52-54), Saul (1 Samuel 31:4), Saul’s armor-bearer (1 Samuel 31:5), Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23), Zimri (1 Kings 16:15-20), and Judas Iscariot (Matthew 27:3-5). Some would include Samson (Judges 16:25-30) in the list, yet his death was not a selfish act of self destruction but a self-sacrificing Continued.

I have a non-WELS, Christian friend who spoke to me about Abraham's Bosom as a holding place for the dead before Jesus' resurrection. I have not heard about this in my upbringing as a WELS member, and wasn't sure how to carry on the conversation with my friend. What does the WELS believe about Abraham's bosom? Thank you.

We believe that “Abraham’s bosom” (“Abraham’s side” in many Bible translations) is synonymous with “heaven.”  The account of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) explains that the souls of two men went to two vastly different places upon their deaths:  heaven and hell. “Abraham’s bosom” is a fitting term for heaven when one considers Continued.

If an infant dies in the womb or shortly after being born and his parents are not Christians and believe in another religion such as Hindu or some other religion, does that infant go to heaven or hell ?

We know from God’s revelation in the Bible that all people are sinners and in need of forgiveness from the moment of their conception (Psalm 51:5).  We know from God’s revelation in the Bible that faith in Jesus Christ saves and unbelief condemns (Mark 16:16).  We know from God’s revelation in the Bible that God Continued.

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