The belief and teaching that all humans have natural immortality via an immortal soul can be traced back thousands of years. We can see from history that nations like Egypt and Babylon taught their people about an immortal soul in every human, that continued to live, to think and to experience life, after the body had died. Depending on the nation and on their spiritual theology they had, would come various teachings about where and under what conditions this immortal soul would experience after the death of the physical body. Some nations would bury the dead body in graves with all kinds of things for the departed to take with them and to use to enjoy in the afterlife.
Different nations may have had different places where the departed soul would live when it left the dead body, but to put it in simple language, the immortal soul was in a “heaven” of some sort. They even had gloomy underworlds for those not thought to have done enough good in their physical lives to warrant the prize of “heaven.”
All this should start to sound somewhat familiar with certain teaching and beliefs of many Christian churches and organizations. Many have heard the “hell-fire and brimstone” sermons preached loud and vigorously by a Christian minister or Camp-meeting tent revivalist. Such preaching of course includes telling you that if you “give your heart to the Lord” and turn from sin, you can “go to heaven” and live in bliss, doing…well they are not sure, maybe singing and strumming on a harp?
Just about all Christians today believe they shall “get to heaven” one day. They firmly believe that going to heaven is one of the basic rewards of being Christian. To think, and to teach
otherwise, to them, is pretty close to being a nutty and strange heretic. They are convinced the Bible shows and tells us that going to heaven is the automatic reward of the children of God. And most believe that going to heaven takes place when the physical body stops breathing and dies. Yet this common and prevailing theological view was not the common view or teaching of the early New Testament Church of God.
The early NT church did not teach or believe in going to heaven at death, for those faithful Christians. Church history shows that it was only through the teachings of people like Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and others that most professing Christians gradually came to adopt the belief of the immortal soul, and going immediately “somewhere” after the death of the body. Many were coming into the popular church of the Roman Empire, founded in Rome, who already held to Hellenistic philosophy, Egyptian mythology, and Babylonian Mystery religions, with an after death life of some sort as the foundation of it all. They did not want to give up this teaching and belief, just as they did not want to abandon many other false teachings and practices. So, to accommodate them the large popular church took many of these old pagan beliefs and re-clothed them with Christian garments. Hence, as the millenniums came and went today’s doctrines of the immortal soul as taught together with an ever burning hell fire for the wicked, a purgatory for those who may not have sinned unto eternal torment, and can possibly yet be granted heaven and a heaven where God is, for the righteous. All this came to be church doctrines.
Most Christians believe they will at some point “get to heaven” where God is dwelling. Some do not believe you go to heaven at death, but that death is a sleep until the resurrection, then when Jesus returns to raise the righteous dead, all go back with Him to heaven for a thousand years, until the new earth comes into being. Others believe that Christ returns to “rapture” His Church away from the terrible tribulation then taking place on the earth, and that they spent either 7 years or 3 1/2 years in heaven, before returning again with Christ to set up the Kingdom of God on earth for a thousand years.
Whatever the various beliefs of certain religious sects and denominations is on this matter, just about all of them teach and believe that the good Christian will someday, for some period of time “go to heaven” where the Father lives and dwells in the heavenly Jerusalem.
IF WE SHALL GO TO HEAVEN ONE DAY….
And if this is a fundamental plain teaching of the Bible, then surely we should be able to find many verses all over the Bible saying things such as: “When we get to heaven,” “When we see each other in heaven,” “They are up there in heaven with God,” “We shall go to heaven at Christ’s return,” “We shall be in heaven where God is one day.” BUT VERSES LIKE THIS CANNOT BE FOUND IN THE BIBLE!
BUT, what we do read in the Bible is the Words of Jesus: No man goes to heaven, except the One who came from there. John 3:13 Where I go, you cannot come. John 7:34 Your home is in this world, Mine is not. John 8:23 I do not pray, Father, that You take them out of this world…. John 17:15
So the truth is, the idea of a ‘rapture to heaven’, is a straight out Satanic lie; one of his most successful ones, that will cause many unprepared Christians to fall on the Day of trial. 1 Peter 4:12, 1 Corinthians 3:13-15
Most Christians think that heaven is our destination and preachers tout it from the pulpit. Why then didn’t the people of the Bible use such language? Could it be that they knew that going off to heaven where God the Father now dwells was NEVER promised to any earthy mortal person?
The word “heaven” is used 570 times in the Bible. “Heavenly” appears 23 times and “heavens” is used 121 times. Surely, somewhere, in all those uses we can find a statement: “When we are in heaven” or “We are going to go to heaven” or maybe “He has gone to God in heaven.” If you take a Bible concordance you can find all the verses where “heaven,” “heavenly,” and heavens” are used throughout the Bible. Look them up! See if you can find a verse that says, “We shall go to heaven,” “Heaven is our eternal abode,” “They are up in heaven” or any plain statement about Christians or children of God going to be with God in heaven for ANY length of time. You have over 500 places where “heaven” is used. Try to find any verse that tells us clearly we shall someday, sometime, go to live where God the Father dwells.
There are THREE heavens mentioned in the Bible. 1) The heaven [atmosphere] where the birds fly. 2) the heaven [space] where the planets and stars are. 3) The heaven [spiritual] where God’s throne is, where God is now.
I knew a man in Christ…. caught up to the THIRD heaven….He was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words….2 Cor. 12:2-4 The third heaven is where God dwells!
KINGDOM OF HEAVEN ?
Some will say, “Well Christ talked about our being in the Kingdom of heaven. Surely that proves we shall ‘go to heaven’. If it does, then some shall be in heaven while others are not. Matthew 5:3-5. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven….blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. The Kingdom OF heaven is the Kingdom that BELONGS to heaven. It is owned and operated by heaven. the Kingdom that BELONGS to God, not the Kingdom inside God. The Gospels according to Mark and Luke use “Kingdom OF God“
OUR REWARD IS IN HEAVEN
Is not our reward to go to heaven? Are there not some verses that say something to that effect? Here they are: Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven…. Matthew 5:12 Do not display your religion before others, if you do you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. Matthew 6:1 But lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven…..Luke 6:23 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled…reserved in heaven for you. 1 Peter 1:4
Now, let’s be honest. Do the above verses say: “Our reward is to get to heaven” or “When we get to heaven we shall be given our reward.” Do these verses say: “Our reserved inheritance is to get to heaven to be with God” ? No, they do not! Truly, Christians will receive rewards and we are to inherit eternal life, but when? Eternal life comes at the resurrection. Read 1 Cor.15; Rev.2:10; 2 Tim.4:8 Our rewards are to be given to us by Christ at His return. And, behold, I come quickly, and MY REWARD IS WITH ME, to give every man according as his work shall be.
Rev. 22:12 Our rewards and inheritance are reserved in heaven. They come down out of heaven with Christ at his return.
NAMED TO GO TO HEAVEN?
Are not Christians named and written down in a book to go to heaven? ….but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven Luke 10:20 To the general assembly and church of
the firstborn, which are written in heaven….Heb. 12:23
Do these verses say, “Because you will go to heaven” or “The church of the firstborn will one day get to heaven” ? No! Our names (God knows who are His) are written down in the book of
life, the book of life being in heaven. But we receive life eternal after the Great White Throne Judgement, when the Book of Life is opened. Revelation 20:11-15
OUR HOPE….TO GO TO HEAVEN?
For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel. Col.1:5 What is the hope for Christians? Paul answers in
another letter he wrote: But if there be NO RESURRECTION of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain…..then they which are also fallen asleep in Christ are PERISHED….For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man on his own order: Christ the firstfruits: AFTERWARDS they that are Christ’s AT HIS COMING. 1 Cor. 15: 13-23
Our HOPE is Christ, who has been raised from the dead and is now in heaven, waiting to be sent back to this earth when He shall RESURRECT the DEAD. 1 Thes.4: 16
Colossians 1:5 does NOT say, “Our hope is to get to heaven.” Or “The church’s hope is to be with Christ in heaven.” It says: our HOPE is kept in heaven. That hope is Christ and His Return. Philippians 3:20 Christian believers are citizens of heaven and from heaven we can expect our Deliverer to come: The Lord Jesus Christ.
Notice! This Kingdom is in heaven that we are citizens of. If we be Christ’s, we belong to His family. We are brothers of His, we are part of God’s family, His children, and so of His government, kingdom, which is at present in heaven. Not that we are in heaven, for the reality is: we live on earth, but the Kingdom, where our citizenship is; that we now belong to, is in heaven.
NO MAN HAS EVER GONE TO HEAVEN
Here is a plain and easy to understand verse: And NO MAN has ASCENDED up to heaven, except for He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. John 3:13 BELIEVE what Christ said, He should know. He was in heaven with the Father from the beginning, and He did not see any human ever come from earth up to heaven. It’s indisputable, Enoch could not have gone to the third heaven, neither did Moses, nor did Elijah. All humans who have ever lived, or will live, up to the Return of Jesus and are not still alive when Jesus comes, will sleep in death. They will be in the grave, and the martyrs, those killed for their faith, Revelation 20:4, wait to hear the voice of the Son of man, to rise from the dead in a resurrection. Then, for a thousand years they shall reign with Christ on His throne over this earth, as they establish the Kingdom of God on earth.
At the end of the thousand years comes the new heavens and the new earth. Then the heavenly Jerusalem together with God the Father will come from heaven to this new earth, which will then become the dwelling place of the throne of the universe for all Eternity.
What we can say is that we, the children of God, will one day be in heaven…..yes…..when heaven comes to earth. Revelation 21:1-4But what we cannot say is that any human will be taken up to heaven to avoid the wrath to come. The Lord promises protection to all these who place their trust in Him and this may be a profound spiritual experience. Nahum 1:1-8, Isaiah 43:2, +
Ref: Keith Hunt