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The Medium Place

The Good Place

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Series Info: What happens when we die? What is death like? Where do we go? For how long? Who’s going to be there? Is there a Good Place? Is there a Bad Place? These are just some of the questions that we ask about life after death, questions that people from a variety of religious backgrounds and commitments have sought to answer for thousands of years—and the questions we’re exploring in our series, The Good Place: The Director’s Cut, where we’re exploring what Scripture and the Church say about heaven, hell, and the afterlife.

What should we think about ideas like purgatory, limbo, and reincarnation?

Guardrails

  • Guardrail #1: Don’t make speculative theology the center of what you believe.
  • Guardrail #2: Don’t make problematic theology the heart of what you believe.
  • Orthodox-Heresy Spectrum: Orthodoxy – Acceptable – Neutral – Problematic – Heretical

Purgatory

  • The state in the afterlife of those who die in God’s friendship but who are still in need of purification before they enter heaven.
  • See 2 Maccabees 12.41-45
  • For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. (1 Corinthians 3.11-15

Limbo

  • An intermediate state where those who deserve neither the Good Place nor the Bad Place end up.
  • Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16.16)
  • Limbo is wrong about who God is.

Reincarnation

  • Once we die, our souls come back to this reality as another person or thing.
  • The Christian picture of the afterlife doesn’t even hint at reincarnation.
  • But a man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more. As the water of a lake dries up or a riverbed becomes parched and dry, so he lies down and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, people will not awake or be roused from their sleep. (Job 14.10-12)
  • Death is followed by resurrection, not reincarnation.
  • Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9.27-28)
  • Death is followed by return, not reincarnation.

Apply: Be wary (and generally avoid) Medium Place ideas about the afterlife. For the Christian, there’s just not a lot here—and what may be here is too speculative or thoroughly outside the bounds of Scripture and Christianity orthodoxy to be of much use to us.

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Remember: Jesus loves you right where you are, but He loves you too much to leave you there.