Christians Don’t Go to Heaven When They Die

christian-heaven

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Yes, that’s right. Christians don’t go to heaven when they die. Allow me to explain. If you grew up in a religious background, you’ve likely grown up believing when a person dies, they either go straight to heaven or hell. A simple idea that many of us have been taught, but likely never investigated in scripture because it seemed obvious. However, if we investigate the scripture on where people go when they die, we might be surprised to find that it’s not as obvious as we’ve always been taught. Let’s observe what the scripture states first in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-17

1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 states “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

Now notice, it said the Lord Himself will descend from heaven, and then it goes on to say the dead in Christ will rise first, and then the rest who are alive will be caught up together with the dead in the clouds to meet the Lord. So according to this verse the dead aren’t already in heaven, otherwise it wouldn’t have said Jesus had to come down from heaven to get them. So then that begs the question, where are they? Well, let’s continue to look through scripture to get as many facts as we can to make an informed conclusion. Let’s see if the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 can help us.

Luke 16:22-26

Luke 16:22-26 states “Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.”

Ok, so we see here that Lazarus died and went to Abraham’s Bosom, and the rich man went to Hades. How are these two places defined in the original Greek? Let’s review.

Greek words

Kolpos (bosom) – front of the body

Hades (hades) – the nether world, an abode for the wicked

Thoughts on these words

Now some argue that Abraham’s Bosom is possibly a metaphor for heaven, but still, the definition of bosom doesn’t say metaphor for heaven, and if it was then it would seem to be in contradiction to Jesus coming down to bring the dead with Him first in 1 Thessalonians 4:16. An interesting thing to note for that translation of hades is that it is NOT the same as the Greek word used for hell. In fact, there is a completely different word used for hell in the Greek, and that word is Geenna. The definition of that word is future punishment akin to the valley of Hinnom in South Jerusalem, where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned. You’ll also notice that you’ll find the word fire or fiery next to the word hell frequently.

Rev 20:14 gives us the perfect illustration of this difference which states, “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.” Now yes, in that parable, the rich man said he was in agony in a flame, but the distinction between that fire in Hades and the fire of Hell that people will be placed in during the final judgment, is they will be completely destroyed in the fire of hell. The rich man could still evidently talk in that Hades flame. Remember what Mat 10:28 states ““Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

What does it all mean?

So how do we tie all of this together? Before I offer a conclusion based on all of these facts, it might be helpful to offer insight on two other verses that some say suggest that Christians are in fact going straight to heaven whenever they die. Philippians 1:23 states, “But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;” (2 Cor 5:8 states, “we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” Ok, at first glance it would seem as if this is evidence we’re all going to be with Christ in heaven as soon as we die, because that’s what the Apostle Paul just said his desire is, but there are a couple of things that also have to be recognized here.

One, the Apostles said this desire of themselves. The Apostles would seem to be in a different category from us as Christians. Remember what Jesus said about the vine, the branches, and the fruits in John. Following the context that Jesus was speaking to the Apostles when making this statement, He said He was the vine, they were the branches, and that they would bear much fruit abiding in Him (John 15:5). The fruit could logically be concluded to be us, the Christians. John 15:16 states, “You (apostles) did not choose Me (Jesus) but I (Jesus) chose you (Apostles), and appointed you (Apostles) that you (Apostles) would go and bear fruit (Christians), and that your fruit (Christians) would remain, so that whatever you (Apostles) ask of the Father in My name He may give to you (Apostles).” With that to consider, we also have to remember that those two verses (Phil 1:23 and 2 Cor 5:8), as all verses do, have to correlate with every verse in Scripture. So it would again still seem contradictory, to say Christians are going to be in heaven right after they die, when it’s stated Jesus is going to come down and bring the dead first in 1 Thessalonians 4:16.

My scriptural conclusion

With all of that said there’s obviously a lot to put together here, but let’s try to see if we can. The dead according to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16 are not in heaven yet.  Now the parable of the rich man and Lazarus is a reflection of what happened when those two people died. Perhaps maybe that’s the reflection of what happens to all Christians when they die, and all the dead are in a resting place with Abraham right now. However, if the same fate of Lazarus is true of all people who lived life as Christians, wouldn’t they already be in heaven? According to Jesus, that’s where Abraham is. Mat 8:11 states “I (Jesus) say to you (the centurion was who he was speaking to) that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven;”

Is there a separate resting place with just Abraham first? Another possible idea that we also have to keep in mind is that the parable never said Lazarus was a Christian. As we know from our studies, there were no Christians until Acts 2 when the first people got saved according to the Gospel of Christ stated in Mark 16:15-16. You might stop me here and say wait, are you saying there are non-Christians in heaven? Well, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are not in the category of Christians. The command given for all people being able to come to heaven by becoming a saved Christian was given at the end of the gospels. So all those prior to the time the first people became Christians in Acts 2 that ended up in heaven were non-Christians. Now to be clear, Non-Christians can of course definitely not enter heaven now. I make the point to illustrate an alternative idea that it’s possible the parable is perhaps not necessarily a direct reflection of what happens for Christians when they die, but just a continuing illustration to the people around Jesus at that time that they needed to repent. I would say that I’m most inclined to settle my view on that conclusion. Though one other thing also for thought, if one were to believe the parable is a direct reflection of events after an individual dies, then as a result Non-Christians would be currently in Hades until Judgment day, and then they will be destroyed in Hell.

There’s a lot that can be speculated from these verses, and after I came to my own conclusions; I researched and discovered that theologians have had a number of different conclusions on this topic. One thing we do know for sure is that people who have obeyed the Gospel of Christ and remain committed to the faith will be in heaven with Jesus eventually, and I think we can all agree that’s the most important thing that matters. But have you obeyed the Gospel? Or did you just pray a prayer? I hope we’ll understand salvation according to what scripture states.

Any thoughts, questions, or comments are welcome as always. If this post really made think, I’d appreciate if you would share this across your social media by clicking one of the “SHARE THIS:” buttons below so you can enlighten others. Peace to all those who are in Christ.
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Recommendation: A really great tool for understanding verses in scripture is The New Oxford Annotated Bible. I have one of these and it provides a lot of background information on Bible verses and the Bible in general. It also does an excellent job of connecting the understanding of one verse based on what other verses in the Bible say. Full disclosure, I am in the Amazon Affiliate program, so if you purchase this product from the picture link below I do get a percentage of the sale. But I’m recommending you a great product that I use myself when I’m trying to get a deeper understanding of verses that lead to the posts that I write for you on this blog.

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188 thoughts on “Christians Don’t Go to Heaven When They Die

    • What do you do with Jesus’s statement to the thief on the cross when He says “Today, you will be with Me in paradise.” Jesus ascended into Heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. God the Father rules from Heaven. Therefore, Jesus spent no time anywhere else, and the thief on the cross didn’t either if Jesus’s word was good.

      • Hi pensiamentopeligroso. Thank you for your comment. I conclude the thief’s experience was specific to him and there’s nothing to suggest it should be generalized to the Christian’s death experience given he was not a Christian. If there were a verse that explicitly stated a Christian goes to heaven immediately after death, or a scriptural passage illustrating a Christian person that did, then I would reconsider.

        Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

      • Your question is a very good one. I will provide a clarifying comment on the subject, but, please give me a bit of time this morning. Please have a good day.

      • Please bear with me. It would have been very busy just to give a answer of a few words. But, I felt that ti was important to do more than that. You question was a very good one, and is one that most people don’t ask, for whatever reason. I should have a post of that subject completed late Tuesday afternoon. It will answer a lot of other questions; I thank you for your question. Please have a good night.

      • Hello brothers/sisters in the Lord. pensiamentopeligroso has a point. factbasedtruth, I admit, Paul was right when he said, “Behold, I bring you a mystery…” He knew it was an ongoing debate and unseen fact that we believers will be with the Lord forever. Your well thought out blog rightly brings up the “when”. In your reply to your reader, you defined there was a difference, an exception to God’s management of souls taken to Himself. However, scripture is firm throughout that there is no difference between any in Christ, or earning merit for advantage. If we say that the thief on the cross was given “special treatment”, “specific to him”, or as to go so far as to say that we, as believers, or even believers prior to the resurrection,
        are translated depending upon God’s whims, then we are in the school of thought that teaches we all arrive by various methods which is contrary to scripture and lends credence to false doctrines that arise pushing that all roads lead to the Father. (I know I am leaving the arena a bit bringing in false religions, but it does open a can of worms.) If I arrive in heaven another 100 years before you do, or in the case of the thief, 2000 years before you do, then we can say God plays favorites. There’s no longer a need to not think of one brother higher than another. Then again, “Behold, I bring you a mystery…”

      • In Matt. 12:40 the Lord Jesus told us that the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. (after which He resurrected and ascended.) And He says “Today [not ‘after three days’], you will be with Me in paradise.” Together these say that paradise is in the heart of the earth.
        Related to this, Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 12:2-4 that he was caught away twice – once to the third heavens and once to paradise. This too indicates that heaven and paradise are not the same.
        One interpretation is that the place under the earth has two sections, a pleasant section (paradise) where Abraham and all God’s people are and a section of torment where the rich man and many others are.

      • Hi Don. Thanks for your comment. Hmm, I’d heard that two compartment theory before but never heard it expounded upon like that. So you conclude that saved people who die are waiting there until they rise in the air to meet up with Jesus?

        Peace in Christ

      • “Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” John 20:17

        “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” John 3:13

        Jesus did not ascend into Heaven immediately after the crucifixion. The story of Lazarus and the Rich man is a parable, not about Hell (which would have been an unknown concept to those hearing the story) but was a social commentary on the church. That is a different discussion.

        I think the key is found in understanding the Jewish belief in Sheol. Hades was a Greek word from mythology, but was used because that was the term Greek readers associated with the afterlife. In Sheol, depending on which theology you follow (Sadduccees did not believe in an afterlife at all, for example) there were divisions (Paradise being one of them) but it was a place for all dead.

      • Hi Terry. Thanks for your comment. Hmm, you make an astute observation about considering how the listeners of that story would have understood that parable, given there wasn’t necessarily an understanding of a hell after death at that time. And yes, others have mentioned the potential two compartment theory being the destination of souls after death, which I find to be a possibility. And never knew that about the Sadducees. Interesting information you’ve provided for pondering. Thanks for sharing your insight.

        Peace in Christ.

      • Well that’s an interesting question…If you study the narrative of the cross you can observe that the scriptures never record that Jesus went to heaven the night he died. In fact on the resurrection morning he didn’t allow that woman to touch him because he had not been to the father. So if Jesus said tonight you will be with me in Paradise, then Paradise has to be what was understood to be Paradise traditional by the Hebrews, which is Abraham’s Bosom. Hope this Helps

    • The chasm in Hades was dissolved after the resurrection. Now after believers exhale their last breath on earth they are in the presence of Jesus.

  1. If the thief on the cross was not a Christian, then he was not saved, because Jesus very clearly says; “Nobody comes to the Father except through Me”. Therefore, paradise implies Heaven if for no other reason than Jesus’s description of Heaven in other parts of Scripture. Where did the thief go if he didn’t go to Heaven? There are no interlopers in Heaven – only the saved souls that God chooses. Jesus told His disciples that He chose them, and that they did not choose Him. Paul reiterates that “Jacob I loved; Esau I hated.” You may conclude anything that you like, but good hermeneutics and exegesis would dictate something other than your conclusion.

    • I agree with you that the thief went to be with Christ in paradise. What I suggest is that the thief’s experience was specific to his circumstance being nailed on the cross next to Jesus. Just like most Christians agree that the Law was specific to the Israelites, and don’t generalize as something applied to Christians. I’m glad I can have a respectful disagreement with you on this.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

    • John 3:3 is what Christ said to Nicodemus, and was the same teaching as 2 Cor 5:17 and Ezekiel 36:24-29. “We must be born again.” The thief saw that by his faith in Christ that he has been born again. I encourage all to study my post. The scriptures work together to show the point of the post. Again, thanks for your question.

  2. First of all, thank you for initiating challenging and engaging Biblical commentary beyond the status quo, as it is refreshing to find.

    I agree with your assertion that we do not enter heaven individually, but as some have already mentioned, I believe it is plausible that there will be no waiting period for united entry as II Peter 3:8 indicates, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” Also indicated in Psalm 90:4 potentially by David, “For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night.” When Jesus was defending himself against the Sadducees in Mark 12:26-27, he said, “Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?’ He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” If they were alive at the time that Jesus spoke this, they are alive now (in the context of heaven) and will not be raised at a later date.

    As for the story of Saul and the medium, her conjuring would have to have addressed Samuel in a pre-heaven state as I don’t think it would be possible to remove anyone from heaven once we have all arrived. I do believe that the post-death/pre-heaven state exists (and that is the only place she would have been able to conjure Samuel from), but I do not think that we sense that state in terms of time as we know it now.

    I’ll admit that your view on baptism as a necessary function of salvation (as presented) challenged my long-standing view consistent with many of the previous comments regarding the thief on the cross. But, you say that his experience is not consistent with the typical Christian experience. How is it that you define the typical Christian experience…and at what point do you believe it reaches that definition? Is it after baptism? In your example of Paul speaking to the believers at Ephesus, Paul is referring to their acceptance of the Holy Spirit…not their acceptance of salvation. The two are not necessarily synonymous. Still, Mark 16:16 is a tricky one where Jesus says, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Notice that Jesus did not mention the lack of baptism with regard to condemnation. That is because our belief by which we are saved is IN a baptism…THE baptism. The baptism that we undergo as believers is a symbolic representation of the death and resurrection of Christ…the ONE act by which we are saved. It is His baptism (death and resurrection) that covers us all, and our symbolic reenactment of that baptism is a public acknowledgment of that understanding and nothing more. If we assign to it the power of Christ’s death and resurrection, we render His act powerless, and if His act is powerless, what is the point of the symbolic reenactment? We would then have no salvation-giving act to symbolize.

    Again, thank you for initializing this discussion.

    • Hi T.A. Fuller. Thank you for your comment.

      Yes, I agree that it’s possible given our finite view of time there might not be any waiting period at all. I suppose we won’t know until we know. To your next point, while that point may be accurate, it does not directly dispute my argument, which is that Christians do not go to heaven when they die. The people you referenced are all not Christians in the context of how people became defined as such through the parameters given that Jesus commanded to follow for salvation. I think your next point with regards to Samuel falls in line with my not Christian point I made.

      I’m glad I could give your view a challenge. Good way to get to the best possible conclusion. When I state the phrase “typical Christian experience”, I refer to the parameters that Jesus, Apostle Peter, and Apostle Paul all re-iterate as the means in which one becomes saved. Believe, repentance, confession, baptism. All mentioned at one point another in scripture as a part of one’s receiving salvation. I could see how you could make the conclusion Paul is referring to the Ephesians receiving of the Holy Spirit, but it was not the baptism that caused them to receive it, it was his laying his hands on them. So I would still contend that the baptism in the name of Jesus (same exact phrasing we find in Acts 2:38 talking about salvation) was for the purpose of their salvation.

      With the regards of the lack of mentioning baptism in the latter part of Mark 16:16, here’s a quote from one of my other posts in response to that you’re welcome to read sometime (https://factbasedtruth.com/2017/05/09/a-reflection-on-baptism-and-salvation/).

      “Mark 16:15-16 states “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” A common difference expressed discrediting baptism’s necessary role in our salvation is some will say it only states disbelief shall condemn, so therefore baptism is not necessary. It seems like a logical point at first glance, but it’s only logical if one inserts their own understanding of disbelieved merely meaning one who does not believe Jesus rose from the dead and confess Him as Lord shall be condemned. But that’s not what’s in this text, and it’s important to base our understanding on what’s in the text.

      In doing so, the disbelief would more closely seem to be disbelief of the gospel to be preached, belief and baptism in order to be saved. Let’s recall what 2 Thessalonians 1:8 states, “8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” So the gospel of Lord Jesus must be obeyed to avoid retribution. Mark 16:15-16, Jesus states preach the gospel then immediately states commands to be obeyed (belief, baptism), which that appears to be the gospel to be obeyed. One other alternative thought on theses verses different from my conclusion, there are well respected commentaries that state there would be no point in reiterating not be baptized as part of what condemns, because a person who doesn’t believe is not going to be one who gets baptized. But beyond this alternative thought, we can agree that one can’t use the latter part of a verse to disregard the first part of the verse which ties the words “baptized” and “saved” together. Perhaps a really great question to ask would be why include the word “baptized” in this verse and other verses at all relating to salvation if only belief/confession were necessary? All interesting to ponder.”

      I can cite you many verses that explicitly state baptism and saved in the same sentence. So I respectfully disagree on baptism being merely a symbol. Thank you for your thoughtfully engaging response. And I’m happy to continue this discussion if you have more thoughts.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

      • BTW…thank you for visiting my blog and liking my post, “The Air We Breath”. I appreciate the support.

        I read your post on baptism, and I appreciate your approach. However, I continue to differ in opinion. I’m sure we could cite the same verses on baptism and being saved, but I haven’t yet seen a challenge to my interpretation of its inclusion in those verses.

        Peace and love to you.

      • Thank you for your engaging conversation, and I pray whatever truth God specifically wants us to believe, we all come to the point of believing it.

        Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

    • Hi The Voice. Thank you for your comment. I define Christian according to how scripture seems to define it, which is one having obeyed the parameters for receiving salvation in Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38. I conclude based on what I’ve read that all people under those parameters are not currently in heaven. Feel free to ask any further questions you may have.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

    • No one was ever said to be a Christian., which is a word that is found only three times in the Bible. It was first a term of derision, and came in the year A.D. 42. Acts 11:26, then in Acts 26:28, and finally in 1 Peter 4:16. The name has stayed with believers in Christ. John 3:3 is the point of entry into eternal life, “the new birth.” Old testament saints, such as you mention were also born again, and will be found in the Kingdom of God, and are presently in the Presence of God.

    • I’m not sure if I made another reply to you, or if it went elsewhere. I invite you to follow my blog. I am write a series of posts on the end times, using Revelation and Ezekiel. Many blessings to you.

  3. Good post and I want to re-read again. I also want to look up a few things to respond with, for some more thought on this, if you do not mind. Enjoyed the thoughts which entered into my mind on this. God Bless, SR

  4. we need to define our terms. What is heaven and where is it? Is heaven the place where the Divine lives? When Jesus ascended into heaven at Bethany, was Jesus the Woman united with Jesus the Father and Jesus the Son and his Gracious wife? Is heaven that place where divine eternal bodies live in love with each other? Or is heaven some place in the sky where only ghosts, spirits without a body, live?

    • Hi Linda. Thanks for your comment. All excellent questions. And what did you mean by “Jesus the Woman”? I’d say for the purposes of what I’ve laid out in this post, the first thing I’m referring to is the point at which Christians rise into the air meeting Jesus. It seems as if that no Christians have gotten to that point yet, all the bunch of people in these comments have mentioned possible discrepancies of the passage of time, which may be true, but that’s all speculation. I conclude based on the passage stating Jesus descended from heaven before the meeting in the air event is stated will happen, after we meet Jesus, the destination which we will go next is heaven. I would presume. Though interestingly looking back at this passage, there’s nothing here that states that’s the next place we will go. It only states we will always be with the Lord after that.

      Peace in Christ.

      • When I said Jesus the Woman, I was talking about Jesus the Woman Jesus the Rabboni calls Mary. When he and she return to Bethany (Luke 24: 50-51) and they Jesus the Woman and Jesus the Rabboni are reconciled with Simon the Pharisee, the Father of the Law and Oral Tradition who said. If this man were really a prophet he would know what a sinner this woman is (Luke 7:39). Bethany is where Jesus ascends…and is taken into heaven. Many Christians cannot or are unable to see Jesus the Woman because Patriarchal language, grammar and edits hide her in the pronoun HE. You can find her in John 20 if you read the Greek. There the text reads he says…Jesus Woman why are you weeping? People do speculate and have speculated as to what and where heaven is. Many assume Jesus dies again after the resurrection and ascends to join the Father in Heaven. In John 20:17 -18 “Jesus says do not cling to me…I have not yet ascended to the Father. But you go instead to the brothers of me and tell them: I ascend to the Father of you and me.” According to the Thessalonians 4… When Jesus returns, Jesus will descend from heaven…and people will meet Jesus in the air. So one might think heaven is a place in the air…or at least a high place. The name Bethany means house of Grace…so I think Heaven is a house of Grace…a state of Grace. So …Jesus will fall from Grace once again…and be once again forgiven and Jesus followers will see this happen again…and write letters and posts witnessing to Jesus’ return.

  5. After thinking and praying about this for years, this is what I believe.
    You know how you can go to work in the city, and when you’re at rest relax in a garden? Everyone can relax in a garden. But not everyone can go to the City to work. You have to have a job, a role to fulfill.
    Christians get Paradise and the City confused. Everyone has access to Paradise, even the creatures. It’s God’s rest. All we have to do to enter that rest is to believe and in faith receive the good news of the salvation provided by Jesus Christ. Hebrews 4:1-11.
    “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest.” Hebrews 4:9
    We can see that that’s where the thief went after Jesus promised, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43.
    But did the thief have any inheritance in the City?
    If our entrance to Paradise is based on faith in Jesus Christ, why will our works be evaluated? Is it possible to gain Paradise – but lose an inheritance by building on the wrong foundation? The Bible says the quality of each person’s work will be tested; “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 3:10-15.
    Paradise is a reward for faith and it is a reward for all.
    Although the City incorporates Paradise, it’s bigger.
    We can see the City in Hebrews 12:22. It’s described as “Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, with thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, and the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.”
    The firstborn is about inheritance and special privilege.
    Christians imagine a bland socialism in Heaven where we are all the same. Not so. They get the Book of Life (Revelation 20:15) confused with the Book of Remembrance (Malachi 3:16).
    The Book of Life admits the saved to Paradise. The Book of Remembrance records people’s works.
    “Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.” Malachi 3:16.
    So our deeds follow us.
    Finally, I want to deal with those who’ve never been given the Gospel or the Law of Moses.
    If they’ve obeyed the law through their conscience, they will be admitted to Paradise. The Bible defines them as “those who do not have the law, but by nature do things required by the law.”
    Obeying the law of their conscience will make them righteous.
    “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.”
    “They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them. This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ.” Romans 2:12-16.
    I hope I’ve made all of this clear and you find it useful.

    • Hi Jo-Blogs. Thanks for your comment. You wrote a lot here that was really interesting. Some stuff I’ll have to dig deeper into. So are you concluding that Christians will immediately be in heaven at death?

      Peace in Christ.

      • Thanks for your question. There are different parts of Heaven – there’s Paradise, the City, and “the Father’s house” which could be part of the City. The rooms or mansions in the Father’s house are based on rewards and are still being prepared.
        The dead in Christ immediately go to Paradise. “This day,” Jesus said to the thief who believed in Him.
        They’re just as alive as Jesus is and they’re present with Him.
        To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord; “So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:6-8
        In what form I don’t know. Our resurrected body will look human, as Jesus’s body did.
        The butterfly comes to mind. First you have the caterpillar, then the chrysalis, and then you have the beautiful butterfly.
        God likens our bodies to a tent.
        “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” 2 Corinthians 5:1
        The building from God – the Father’s house, has “many rooms.” Jesus said He’s gone to prepare a place for us.
        “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
        Our works do play a part in the kind of “house” we are awarded with at the resurrection.
        The early Church taught on this. Why did martyrs die not accepting deliverance from torture? Why were they prepared to face the lions? They wanted a better resurrection. Hebrews 11:35.
        Their reward hasn’t been given as yet, as the race is not yet finished.
        This is a huge subject just on it’s own.
        Why is it called the race of faith? It’s like a relay. After you’ve finished your leg of the race, you go on the stands. Hopefully the baton has been passed on to children or family members.
        “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” Hebrews 11:39-40.
        The race of faith isn’t finished yet, and you can see from Hebrews 11:40 that we have our part to play. If we have come to faith because of the actions or words of someone who has gone before, it adds to their inheritance. While we’re running the race with a baton they’ve helped hand on, do those ‘in the stands’ know? Who are the witnesses?
        “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

        The parable that Jesus taught (Luke 16) about the dead being in Abraham’s bosom no longer applies, as the righteous dead are no longer locked up in Hades. The Gates of Hell could not prevail against Jesus or the Church He is head of.
        In the three days that we was ‘dead,’ He went down to Hades, preached to the imprisoned souls from the flood of Noah, and came out with the keys of death and Hades.
        “He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.” 1 Peter 3:19-20
        See what Jesus has got in His hands?
        In Revelation 1:18 Christ says “I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”
        So I hope this helps and I’ve written it all clearly.
        God bless, Jo

  6. I love all the comments on this subject that I have read so far but one scripture always scratches that itch for me whenever there is a difficult biblical question. It is found in 1Cor13:9. The great Paul admitted against the back drop of all he had written that he and his colleagues only had part knowledge. Building a house with part materials is never like building it with complete materials. Building a house with part plan falls shy of a whole plan.
    So when it comes to the subject of where we go when we die, I let myself dream and yes using the scenario of the thief on the cross, I dream of paradise. A place where God is. A place where I don’t have to wait for nobody to start enjoying its bliss.
    A place of total understanding and answers to all the questions that plagued us here on earth.

    And to be honest, I don’t really care much for the doubts of others cause I know tue end of my life will be perfect because God is not just a good God, He is the best and only God there is.

    • Hi khobdy. Thanks for your comment. It’s definitely important to consider who’s being spoken to or spoken of in the passages we read. I think to generalize every verse with a group pronoun as directed to Christians as some do misses the meaning of what was written.

      Peace in Christ.

  7. Dear Factbasedtruth, I am replying to your September 8 comment since we exhausted the reply levels above. Yes, that is what I believe, but I won’t push it on anyone. That’s why I said, “one [not “the”] interpretation is.”
    Peace in Christ to you!

  8. Very interesting topic and I loved reading the comments. Sharing my two cents here. I believe that waiting period between death and arrival to heaven is what us Catholics call Purgatory. Regarding the thief on the cross, I don’t think Jesus played favorites by allowing him to enter heaven that very night. Jesus had the ability to read what was in his heart and saw this man’s belief and acceptance of who He was (and is). God’s love is bigger than religion. In the end the Father knows what motivates us to follow the commandments. Is it fear of being stuck in hell or is it wanting to make our life worth living regardless of what follows?

    • Hi Klara. Thanks for your comment. Indeed, I don’t think He played favorites either. For myself I conclude it was just the circumstance of the moment. The circumstance of our moment is what I’ve suggested in the post and the comments seems different. But all in all, regardless of whatever the process, we should be desiring to follow God’s commands and exhibit our faith in the way He wants for greater glory to God.

      Peace in Christ.

  9. I agree that it’s a bit more complicated than our typical understanding has allowed for. We might also consider the perspective, are we looking at it from those who have died, from our point of view, or from Gods? Then there also is this verse from Revelation: ‘When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.’ Clearly some form of existence, but not perhaps the final form.

    I think often where we go wrong is to look at ‘Heaven’ as some kind of end point, without ever asking what that means. Bodily resurrection is actually the NT promise.

    NT Wright has written on this – you might find this interesting: http://ntwrightpage.com/2016/07/12/rethinking-the-tradition/

    Blessings,

    Peter

    • Hi Peter. Thanks for your comment. The perspective I’ve tried to lay out in this post is one that’s as best trying to look at it from God’s perspective in accordance to His Word. With regards to the slain souls verse, I’ll quote to you a response I left to another comment that brought up that verse.

      “But one thing to consider here, is it states specifically within verse 9, “the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained;” Now this could go back to my debate in my mind currently of whether this is talking about future or past events because some people have the thought that Revelation has more to do with the destruction of the temple in 70ad than some future event yet to happen, which could potentially explain why it is specifically the slain souls that are under that alter in that verse. I don’t say that as a definitive conclusion that I hold, but more so just a thought. But let’s say one were to concede and conclude that thought is not accurate at all, I think one would still perhaps have to concede, the slain souls that maintained their testimony is again seeming to refer to a specific circumstance of a specific people much like the “non-Christian category” I highlight in my post, in which case, perhaps can not be generalized to the Christian death experience as a whole, given there’s no explicit statement concluding that to be the case.”

      By stating bodily resurrection is the promise, are you concluding that going to a place called heaven will not be something that happens once Jesus descends from heaven for us to meet him in air?

      Thanks again for your comment and also sharing your blog post.

      Peace in Christ.

  10. To Paul, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” – 2 Corinthians 5:8
    The “angel” that brought the “Revelation of Jesus Christ” to John told him not to worship him because:
    “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” –Revelation 19:10

    In the first Resurrection, the one you referred to, is when we “re-incorporate” to our new glorified bodies. Before that I don’t know but there is plenty of instances of saints who have died in the flesh but continued acting on earth.

    Samuel spoke true prophecy to Saul, using the Witch of Endor: God can use the devil however he wants. The witch recognized him. Some say it wasn’t Samuel but the only evidence is witches bad, Samuel good.

    There are the many “prophets of old” who rose from the dead and “were seen of many” on the day Jesus rose (it does not specify the day but makes sense in context).

      • Not me, but those verses indicate that it DID happen several times in the Bible, Old Testament and New. I do not see emphatic evidence that it is true for all, in the sense of deductive logic. However, Paul’s writing about it seems to indicate that it would happen for more than himself. That is, he does not add any such qualifier. All that is from Bible text and standard English rules of logic. (I forgot to include Enoch, Elijah, and Moses to the list.)

        So that is as much as I am willing to “conclude” on the subject.

        God bless you for parsing the word, though, and seeking truth. This is not an issue that affects salvation, anyway.

      • Thanks for clarifying so that I could understand your conclusion, which I don’t say in any form of disrespect of what you strongly believe is a factual belief. For myself, I see it as difficult to conclude that Paul was speaking for more than Himself when he only said “I” in the verse. With regards to Revelation 19:10, while I can see through the term brethren one could think that was a Christian, this being still exercised powers that were supernatural with the voice of many waters and like the sound of thunder. Anything Old Testament, it doesn’t apply to the parameters which I’m speaking of in this post of saved Christians.

        But yes, it’s fine for us to agree to disagree on this issue. 🙂

        Peace to you in Christ.

  11. Two verses off the top of my head are when Jesus told the thief on the cross, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). and in Revelation the martyrs are crying out, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been” (Revelation 6:9-11). Seems present tense to me. I think as with the Calvinists versus the Armenians, there are verses that prove the point on both sides. It may be that we’ll find out who was right when we get there (:

    • Hi chandagriese. Thank you for your comment. If you don’t mind, I’m going to copy and paste my response to two other commenters that brought up those specific verses. And it’s okay if you didn’t see comments, there’s been a lot of them over this year and I can barely sort through them all myself.

      “I conclude the thief’s experience was specific to him and there’s nothing to suggest it should be generalized to the Christian’s death experience given he was not a Christian. If there were a verse that explicitly stated a Christian goes to heaven immediately after death, or a scriptural passage illustrating a Christian person that did, then I would reconsider.”

      “I do see your point within those verses though about the altars being before God, an angel throwing stuff from the fire of the altar down to earth in one verse, which if it’s going down, the angel has to be above it somewhere, and thus the altar as well. The verse in Revelation 6 says the souls are under the altar, so I can see where one would think in their mind, “therefore, the dead souls in Christ are resting in heaven”. But one thing to consider here, is it states specifically within verse 9, “the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained;” Now this could go back to my debate in my mind currently of whether this is talking about future or past events because some people have the thought that Revelation has more to do with the destruction of the temple in 70ad than some future event yet to happen, which could potentially explain why it is specifically the slain souls that are under that alter in that verse. I don’t say that as a definitive conclusion that I hold, but more so just a thought. But let’s say one were to concede and conclude that thought is not accurate at all, I think one would still perhaps have to concede, the slain souls that maintained their testimony is again seeming to refer to a specific circumstance of a specific people much like the “non-Christian category” I highlight in my post, in which case, perhaps can not be generalized to the Christian death experience as a whole, given there’s no explicit statement concluding that to be the case.”

      As you express, we may not find out the full answer until the end of our time comes, but an interesting topic of discussion this has definitely been.

      Peace in Christ 🙂

  12. This took me back to a bible study I had in church a couple of months back and most of the points you touched on (and those in the comments) were brought up. This was brilliantly written! God bless

  13. Time is short factbasedtruth, we need to know God’s Truth before we share it and there is only one way we can, we ask God for His Wisdom and Empowering which none of us were Born with and than Jesus our only Spiritual Teacher will lead us into all Understanding.

    Sorry but a few of your Messages that I have read recently, by the Confirmation of Scripture parts of them are in error, it seems you have partial Truth but not all Understanding, you don’t seem to know the Scripture in Revelation because it confirms you are in error too.

    We see that Christians are in Heaven in the Scriptures below and we too will be when Jesus returns at the Rapture or the First Sickle as it is called in Revelation, at that time we will be go to Heaven if we haven’t been Martyred or died before The Rapture and gone there already.

    Those that will rise from their graves physically are those who died before Jesus’ Death and Resurrection, The Holy Spirit did not come until Pentecost, they had the promise, we have the reality of being fully Resurrected in Christ Jesus when we die.

    Yes we do have the confirmation of Scripture below that we do go to be with Jesus fully resurrected when we die. Jesus told the man on the Cross that He would be in Paradise (which is not Hell as some wrongly claim) with Him that very day, this was in reference to His Spirit because when Jesus appeared to Mary in the Spirit on Sunday Morning, she could not touch Him because He was not fully Resurrected meaning His body but when He appeared to the Disciples He was and so are we. But those who died before Jesus was Resurrected , their bodies sleep even though their spirits are with God, we know this because of Moses and Elias and it also being confirmed in other Scriptures (see below) if we are Martyred during the first part of the great Tribulation we will go to Heaven fully resurrected.

    Matthew 17:2-3 And was Transfigured before them and His face did Shine as the Sun and His raiment was white as the Light. And behold there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with Him.

    Revelation 7:9 After this I beheld and lo a great Multitude which no Man could number of all Nations and Kindreds and People and Tongues stood before the Throne and before The Lamb clothed with white robes and palms in their hands and cried with a loud voice saying; Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the Throne and unto The Lamb.

    Revelation 7:14 And I said unto Him; Sir thou knowest. And He said to me; These are they which came out of great TRIBULATION and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

    John 14:1-3 Let not your heart be troubled ye believe in God believe also in me. In my Father’s House are many Mansions if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I Am there ye may be also.

    Revelation 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience I also will keep thee from the hour of TEMPTATION, which shall come upon all the World to try them that dwell upon the earth.

    Luke 21:35-36 For as a SNARE shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore and Pray always that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man.

    In reference to the Devil and the Beast……

    Revelation 20:10 And the Devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the Beast and the false prophet are and shall be Tormented day and night for ever and ever.

    Christian Love and Blessings – Anne (Granny Annie)

    • Hi Anne. Thanks for your comment. Specifically what I’m looking for in scripture is a statement in some form of “Christians go to heaven when they die” or some story of a person who became saved by the gospel which Jesus commanded his Apostles to preach (Mark 16:15-16/Acts 2:38) going to heaven after they died. To my knowledge I know of no verse that explicitly states or expresses these things. You cited the thief on the cross, but the thief does not seem to fall in the Christian category. You cited Matthew 17:2-3, Moses and Elijah do not seem to fall in the Christian category I’ve referenced as what I’m seeking an answer for. You make the presumption that the people in Revelation 7 are Christians, but no statement of such is made. You say tribulation relates to Christians who have died or were martyred, but I don’t know of any verse that explicitly states that idea. And all the verses you cite after that also don’t explicitly state Christians go to heaven they die. I think it’s really important if we have a belief, that belief is based on specific words stated in the text. I appreciate your challenging comment and I look forward to any response you have.

      Peace in Christ. 🙂

      • God makes it very clear Fact Based Truth as confirmed in the Scriptures below that only Christians will be in Heaven not those who continue to Sin without Heart Repentance. Jesus also tells us that some of us will be Martyred during these end times and to date many have been since His death and Resurrection. (Revelation7:9) and when the Beast who is not the Devil comes, (Revelation20:10) many more Christians will be Martyred before the Rapture or first Sickle as it is called in Revelation.

        Psalm 1:5 Therefore the Ungodly shall not stand in the Judgment nor Sinners in the Congregation of the Righteous.(KJV)

        Psalm 101:7 He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my House, he that telleth lies shall not tarry in My Sight.(KJV)

        Psalm 5:4-7 For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing The LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful Man. But as for me, I will come into thy House in the multitude of thy Mercy and in thy fear will I Worship toward Thy Holy Temple (KJV)

        Luke 21:16-18 And ye shall be betrayed both by Parents and Brethren and Kinsfolks and friends and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all Men for my Name’s sake.

        Blessings – Anne ( Grannie Annie )

      • Hi Anne. Thanks for your response. Respectfully, you didn’t respond to the points I made in response to you. You cited the same verse in Revelation 7 again to re-assert your original point in your first comment. But the question you didn’t answer is what makes you conclude that passage is referring to Christians when that is not explicitly stated in the text? That is the reason I’ve given you why I don’t conclude your scripture reference is a credible source of proof of Christians being in heaven when they die. I hope that you may address that point for me. I’m eager to understand if I’m misinformed as much as you’re eager to show me I’m misinformed. One other point with Luke 21, I think we have to ponder that Jesus was speaking to the Apostles in the passage you reference. And there are specific things stated related to that specific time period that brings into question whether it’s referring to a future time period beyond our present time period, or a future time period that would just be beyond their present time period.

        Peace in Christ.

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