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Pets in Heaven

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ASK THE PASTOR WITH DAN KIEHL,
Senior Pastor Oakwood Presbyterian Church

QUESTION: “What happens to animals when they die?  Is there any chance of seeing beloved pets again after they pass away?”

ANSWER:  I love all kinds of animals and have always been very attached to my pets. I've often asked the same question, especially when I've lost pets in the past.  Unfortunately, the Bible is totally silent on the subject, so I can't give any absolute answer.  However, based upon what the Bible does teach I myself have some hope of seeing beloved pets again in the new heavens and the new earth that Christ will establish when He returns.

             There is no indication in Scripture that animals have souls, certainly not in the same sense in which human beings have souls. Genesis 1 & 2 stress that man was made unique from the rest of the creatures God made.  God breathed into man a spiritual nature which was made in the image of God. Rationality, morality, wisdom, etc. are characteristics that we share in common with God and which enable us to have a personal relationship with Him. Because of that image of God in us, we are morally accountable to God.

             Animals do not have that same accountability, so sin is not an issue with them. Any evil that we see in the animal kingdom (e.g., brutality) is a result of the sins of man, the effects of the Fall on creation. So there is no reason why God could not "resurrect" animals who die in this life, remove the effects of the Fall, and give them eternal physical life in the new heavens and the new earth as a part of the renewal of all things after Christ returns.  

             Some of the prophetic passages in Scripture that speak of that renewal in the future speak of the presence of animals. This makes sense, because we don't expect the new heavens and new earth to be totally different from the creation we now know – it will just be perfect and greater in glory. I believe (not based on any particular Scripture passage but based upon my understanding of the character of God and my experience) that God gives us domesticated animals like dogs and cats as a gift of His grace to give us companionship and comfort in a cold, hard world, and to give us a foretaste of the world to come. In light of that, I have no difficulty believing that He may resurrect our most loved pets in that new world, just to give us that joy and pleasure as His dearly loved children. No guarantee, but this would seem very consistent with the nature of the God that I love and worship.

Posted by Rev. Dan Kiehl with
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Church & Family Responsibilities

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ASK THE PASTOR WITH DAN KIEHL,
Senior Pastor Oakwood Presbyterian Church

QUESTION: “Which of the following is most biblically correct in regard to our priorities in life:  God-Family-Church or God-Church-Family?”

ANSWER:  At the risk of answering a different question than the one you are asking, I’d like to phrase my answer in terms of “responsibility” instead of “priority”.  Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…”  The covenant family, a household under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, is the basic building block in the Christ’s kingdom.  Our first responsibility is to serve and nurture those within our own household.  The church is the next level in the building of Christ’s kingdom – various households come together and make a covenant to serve and nurture one another and to show God’s glory. 

             You can see the issue of primary versus secondary responsibility reflected in Paul’s instruction to Timothy about the care of widows in the church:  “But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God…If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (I Timothy 5:4-8).  The physical family has primary responsibility to care for the needs of its members, while the church has the secondary responsibility.  The same is true in regard to teaching and disciple-making – Scripture gives the primary responsibility to the parents, as it is stated in Deuteronomy 6:  “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  The church builds upon and expands the Kingdom work that is done in the home.

             It probably isn’t appropriate to “rank” the family and the church in regard to priorities.  It helps me to think of the family and the church in comparison to the local church and the presbytery (a group of churches in a given area).  The presbytery isn’t more important than the local church; instead it builds upon the work that is done in the local churches in order to extend the reach of Christ’s kingdom throughout the region.  Likewise, the church isn’t more important than the covenant family; instead it has secondary and broader responsibilities in the overall work of God’s people.

             One interesting Scripture to add into this mix is where Jesus is told that his mother and brothers were outside the house asking for him.  His response was, “‘Who is My mother, and who are My brothers?’  And stretching out His hand toward his disciples, He said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!  For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.’” (Matthew 12:48-50).  He also said, “ Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matthew 10:37).  In spite of our primary responsibility to those in our physical family, our bond to our spiritual family, the church, through the blood of Christ is far greater than our bond to our physical family through genetics and shared experience.  And we must not ever allow our relationship with our physical family to interfere with our relationship to Christ and His Church.

Posted by Rev. Dan Kiehl with

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