Do Christians go to Heaven when they die?
It has been the almost universal belief of Protestants…. but there is no Scripture for it.
In the light of lessons preceding, it is for this present time worth repeating, “WHAT TAKES PLACE AT DEATH?” As it is such a vital understanding, satan has successfully obscured the Truth…. and that by essentially amplifying an old lie…. that the resurrection has already occurred….
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker:of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.” 2 Tim 2:15-18. This is what the modern day Protestant minister is guilty of, who teaches that when Christ, the First Fruits offering, Resurrected unto God also resurrected all those who were in Sheol’s Paradise “…leading captivity captive.” The Scripture nowhere declares this, but is completely against it.
Thus the deceiving lie of satan, the error of Hymenaeus and Philetus overthrows the incentivizing words for faith unto Kingdom worthiness unto today…. an error unreceived and rejected by the ancient Church until about 500 years after Christ’s Resurrection.
What is “LIFE”?
Life is not the same as living. The creation of man is described in Gen. 2:7 “And Jehovah Elohim formed man, dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
Here are three stages. 1. A material form fashioned but of material particles, dust. This is the body. 2. An inbreathing by God, named in Eccl. 12:7, “spirit.” That the “breath” of Gen. 2:7, and the “spirit” of Eccl. 12:7 are one is confirmed by the combination of the two terms in Gen. 7:22 “All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life.” 3. The result, that man became what is here called “soul,” a living soul.
1. As to the body, it is to be observed that it was not itself the man. It lay there, fashioned and prepared, but the man was not yet there. The body was an inanimate form, which preceded the existence of the man.
2. The same is true of the breath or spirit, which God inbreathed. It also was in existence prior to the man, for God breathed it into the body. It was not God; it is not divine: it is not said that God breathed of Himself, or breathed His Spirit into the body, but which God terms “spirit.”
Thus the spirit was not the man, for he only came into existence by reason of the inbreathing of the spirit into the body, which conjunction of two separate, previously existing things, resulted in the creation of a third: “man became a living soul.”
3. It remains only that the man is what he is here described to be, “a living soul.” The man is the soul, not the spirit, even as he is not the body.
This threefold composition of man is implied everywhere in the Word of God, and sometimes is distinctly stated. Thus in 1 Thess. 5:3 “And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame in the parousia of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The man has a body with which he operates upon the material world; but the body is not the man. He has a spirit with which he has dealings with the spiritual realm; but the spirit is not the man. The man himself, the conscious ego, is the soul.
NOW WHAT IS DEATH?
In some very real sense, Adam died the day he disobeyed God, according to the sentence, “in the day that thou eatest of it thou shalt certainly die” (Gen. 2:17), but he did not cease to exist that day.
Now “the body without spirit is dead” (James 2:26), and the soul, the man, cannot use or inhabit a dead body. The spirit imparts to the body vitality, animation, and makes it usable by man. Thus, so long as the two are united, man is a living soul, but when God recalls the spirit which He gave, the body ceases to have life, the soul vacates it, and thenceforth, until resurrection, the man is dead.
LIFE IS NOT SAME AS LIVING
It is always to be remembered that in Scripture the term “life” does not mean simply existence, but much more. It means a certain mode or quality of existence, and equally so, the term “death,” therefore, does not mean, non‑existence, but an opposite state or mode of existence. Things exist and will eternally exist which do not exhibit the property called “life.”
So we may understand it is said, “she that giveth herself to pleasure is dead while she liveth,” (1 Tim. 5:6). So while she is living, she, as it relates to union with Christ, is dead, she is then the dead living.
Now Christ in Luke 20 gives us the term and condition of the “living dead”, when speaking about the Resurrection, first admits that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are indeed dead, in saying, “But that the dead are raised,…” and then quickly adds that “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for all live unto Him.” So dead in one sense, they are yet living in another, showing that both terms describe only relative conditions of existence.
SO WHAT TAKES PLACE AT DEATH?
ECCL 12:7 “the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns unto God who gave it”….But what becomes of (us) the soul?
Following Christ in Scripture we find:
1. His dead body was laid in the tomb.
2. Having power, given unto Him by the Father, to lay down His own Life, John 10:17,18 His last words on the cross were, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Lk. 23:46). The human spirit (albeit in Christ that spirit given to all mankind was in Him distinct, being holy, being formed in Him by the agency of the Holy Spirit within the womb of Mary the Virgin. That this spirit was not the Holy Spirit is understood from Scripture bearing witness to two things…1) that Christ being fashioned as the Son of Man was made in his triad or triune form, spirit soul and body.…2) some nearly 30 years later, He was anointed with power by the Spirit of God coming upon this already Holy Vessel, The Son of God. It was His spirit He surrendered, His human spirit to the Father: forever maintaining the inseparable unity of being The Son of God. It was the human spirit which vitalized His body that Jesus gave up in order that He might die.
The words of the Psalmist “Thou wilt not leave my soul to Sheol,” which words were on the day of Pentecost, applied by Peter to Christ. “Thou wilt not leave my soul unto Hades” (Acts 2: 27).
Sheol and Hades are equivalent words in Hebrew and Greek. Of this region there is abundant information in Scripture… Sheol and Hades are rendered “grave,” “pit,” and “hell.” The last in its older English meaning was not inaccurate, but it has come now to mean only the final place of the lost, the lake of fire, which never was the sense of Sheol or Hades.
WHERE IS HADES?
Where Hades is situated Scripture says, “Having ascended up on high he has led captivity captive, and has given gifts unto men. Now this, having ascended, what is it but that He also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same who has also ascended far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.”
Scripture always locates Hades in the lower parts of the earth…..nowhere else. Gen 37:35, Matt 11:23, Rev 9:11-21, etc.
What does Hades look like or consist of?
The 4 different compartments and descriptions in Hades are revealed to us from Scripture…1) Abraham’s Bosom, also known as Paradise, 2) a place where torment is being afflicted upon those held there, 3) the Great Abyss or Pit known also as Tartarus the place of Outer Darkness 4) Lake of Fire or Hell
AFTER DEATH, WHERE DO WE EXIST?
Presently…. some Angels that abused His favour are confined in that one place of darkness, Tartarus, and have been for already thousands of years (2 Pet. 2:4).
Lk. 16 describes the two compartments on either side of this Great Abyss.… Paradise where those who are there are comforted… and that other place where some are in torment.
Further away, we have the Lake of Fire/Hell where no-one presently is…but where the Beast and the false prophet, who blasphemed His holy name, shall be thrown. (Rev 19:20) And 1000 yrs later satan, death and all other compartments of Hades and Whosoever was not found written in the book of LIFE…. shall all also then be cast.
These are the places that Scripture defines as “the intermediate place of the dead”, that place where all dead have gone since death entered in….and that until the time of the catching away of the worthy living, and the Resurrection of the dead, further defined as two events… The First Resurrection out from among the dead and the Resurrection of the remaining dead 1000 years later Rev 20 4-7 with 20:12-15.
BUT DON’T CHRISTIANS GO TO HEAVEN WHEN THEY DIE?
The answer to this lies wholly on whether the Resurrection has occurred or not??
It is known definitely that one of the most renowned of Old Testament men of God did not ascend to heaven with the Lord, for at Pentecost, which was after the ascension 10 days, Peter distinctly stated that “David has not ascended into the heavens” Acts 2: 34. Why was David left behind? Because the time of the First Resurrection reserved for Christ’s Return from Heaven has not yet come…all men that had died or will die before He Returns remain in the prepared place of the dead, Hades.
It has been asked, but what of those who came forth from their graves after Christ who had risen and who appeared unto many? (Matt. 27: 52, 53). Did they not “go to heaven” with the Lord? Say what you will but it cannot be learned from Scripture that they went to heaven…. And it has also been asked what became of Lazarus and the other persons who were resuscitated or brought back to the place of the living, as mentioned in Scripture?
Did they go to heaven without dying again or, did they not in due time go back to the place of the dead…after having served the purpose of exhibiting both the power and the witness of God?
Also it has been stated that Christ “led captivity captive” as a means of supporting the whole false reasoning…this Scripture has no reference at all to saints…”It is taken from the ancient practice that a victorious commander dragged many, and the most noble, of his captives to his capital city and exhibited them for his glory at his triumphal entry.”
The sense may be seen plainly in Judges 5:12, As the conqueror Barak returns from the victory over Sisera, Deborah cries: “Arise, Barak, and lead away thy captives.”
It is the Lord’s procession in conquest of the hosts of satan that is celebrated in rejoicing…. Eph. 4:8; Col. 2:1; Ps. 68:18.
Even more compelling in seeing the Truth that all who die go to Hades is Paul who decades later records that great prayer of his hope above all things, that he “…may win Christ…. That I might know him, and the power of his resurrection,…. If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection (out-resurrection) from the dead.” (out from among the dead).
Paul echoing the words of Christ in Luke 20:35…. “But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection (out-resurrection) from (among) the dead.” (also, “…the rising again that is out of the dead”).
PARADISE IN HADES
Abraham went to THIS Paradise when he died, as did Lazarus, as did JESUS, as did the thief crucified beside Him and as did Paul also experience in the far greater presence of Christ. “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; …”
Scripture declares Paul as having finally won the Crown 2 Tim 4… and although he was found worthy, he had not received the Crown, for Scripture says it is laid up in store for him, and will be presented to him at that DAY… at His appearing. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:20, 21). Doubtless this is true of each who lives to magnify Christ; but it is not said of believers who live according to the dictates of the flesh, of these we have many examples…those who Paul said would most definitely not inherit the Kingdom of Christ… In addition, we have for example, those who are cut off prematurely in their sins, as were Ananias and Sapphira and those who refused to judge themselves, Christians in the Corinthian church (Acts 5:1; Cor. 11:30).
Of those in Paradise, we have further words from Scripture declaring the righteous have not yet been resurrected from among the dead…. as those who ARE BELOW THE ALTAR, a reference in type to the Altar of the Tabernacle of Moses, those who know they have the reward and crown of overcomers as Martyrs of Christ like unto Paul who then upon the opening of the 5th seal cry out impatiently for their inheritance, but that time in which they and their fellows who will come out of the Great Tribulation and join them has not yet come…. that is to say the Age of Mercy and Grace is quickly passing and that Age of restitution and Justice is dawning.
He that hath ears to hear let him hear this, and lay to heart that not death, but Resurrection or Rapture fits one for glory to rule and reign as His Bride.
THE JUDGMENTS OF GOD AND THE SON
“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.”
That Son might be esteemed equal unto the Father.
But there is this Father’s judgment ever in process.
God chastens His sons that they may become partakers of His holiness (Heb. 12:10,11).
Behold this Mystery…. that Christ may at this time having been given the authority of Judge, He suspends His authority as He Advocates for the Believer….
Sinning Christians are disciplined even unto premature death, and it is explained that this is in order to save them from condemnation at the time when God will deal with the World (1 Cor. 11:32).
As it relates to fallen man living on the earth, Christ’s restitution or Judgment of all things is suspended as His care and concern primarily is intercessory as it relates to the purifying and purging of his Church. Scripturally, Christ in parable is seen as that nobleman who has went away leaving his servants in charge of His estate. And upon His return they would be judged for their faithfulness and fruitfulness.
There is no need to discuss that Scripture declares awarding in some type of finality of good or bad sown while His were alive in service upon the earth at the Return of Christ, for that is quite evident in that example of Paul who although has been found faithful to reign with Christ in Righteousness, he yet awaits that great reward…. and that he has been JUDGED at the JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST has already been declared by Scripture. THUS WE MUST SEE THAT CHRIST’S JUDGEMENTS START WITH HIS HOUSEHOLD BEFORE THE WORLD.
THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST
It is thought by most of modern day Christendom that all the dead Christians go to heaven in a glorified state…. and that when Christ returns He will resurrect their “glorified” bodies to which they will be re-united and, regardless of moral condition that they died in, will in one fashion or another rule and reign with Christ forever more.
WHEN ARE CHRISTIANS JUDGED?
2 Cor. 5:10 “We make it our aim, whether at home or absent, to be well‑pleasing unto Him. For we must all be made manifest before the judgment‑seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done through the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Heb. 9:27. “It is laid up for men once to die and after this judgment”.
These two chief statements leave unmentioned the time and place of the judgment.
What we see from Scripture about Judgment is in several examples 1) A Christian before he passes from this earth…such as Paul who was told near his death that he would receive the Crown on that Day….that Day meaning the Day Christ rewards His faithful and fruitful…
2) At Death…as we see in the rich man of Luke 16 wherein he was judged not worthy of Paradise and therefore was sentenced to that place where torment is administered.
3) Sometime after death, as is exampled in the martyrs under the Altar who are told they are worthy of the First Resurrection but must wait until those who would join them as the Tribulation martyrs.
None of these related passages suggests the Judgment Seat was in the air at Christ’s Return as the time or place.
Luke 16:19‑31. Dives (that certain rich man) and Lazarus are seen directly after death… there must have been a judging of their cases and a judicial decision as to what should be their lot in the intermediate state.
The figure, taken with the case of Paul, and in the light of Dives and Lazarus, suggests a decision of the Lord as to each believer before or at the time of his death. That decision issues in determining the place and experience of the man in the intermediate state, and may extend to assurance that he has won the crown, the prize of the high calling.
This judgment therefore may take place at or immediately after death, as Heb. 9:27 above. And in the time of Christ thus almost all men believed. See, for example as to the Pharisees, to whom particularly Christ spoke of Dives and Lazarus, see Josephus, Antiquities, 18:3.
If this is so, then it will follow that the decision of the Lord as to whether a believer is worthy of the first resurrection and reigning in the kingdom is reached prior to resurrection. Believers judged not worthy of the first resurrection will not rise, but will remain in Hades until the second resurrection.
It is the two Resurrections that the cases are fully disposed…and the cases are closed…. although justice was served through the process.
The judgment seat of Christ will issue in chastisement for unworthy living by Christians, but this will not be inflicted after resurrection but in Hades before their resurrection.
And it is at the further Judgment Seat of the Great White Throne that the further judgment, that of GREAT LOSS will be realized after having past through the retribution fire of Hades as it relates to unfaithful service ….
That being the full realization of being a subject of His Kingdom, residing without the walls and residence of New Jerusalem the habitat of the exclusive faithful and fruitful Bride…. Revelation 1,2,3,…..20, 21,22.
WHAT WAS INTENDED AT THE ON-SET OF THIS LESSON WAS….
Exhortation to judging oneself and pursuing vigorously holiness…. by revealing in the realities of Hades, the goodness and the severity of God.
In the light of the THINGS HERE considered, this will mean that one not ruled by the same spirit which animated Christ is not of that company which He owns as His circle, His household. “He is not His (belongs not to Him, in the higher and blessed sense of being united to Him as a member of Him)” Alford.
What here was to be explored is what is being said by Scripture. If one is not following the Spirit/spirit in his life… that Christ would know who is intimate with Him at that time of his judgment is unquestioned.
Then who is not considered to be a member within the inner circle of Christ at their judgment time would then be excluded from His chosen Bride and would be judged as one walking in the flesh and has therefore disqualified himself from the honor of the First Resurrection. (Having eternal life but not eternal glory).
When a man examines himself and follows the leading of the Holy Spirit, he is considered free from the judgments of God and is therefore IN CHRIST… as it relates to worthiness or righteousness that qualifies one for First Resurrection. This is not a righteousness as it relates to Christ’s Righteousness, as that is the Gift of God and eternal life will yet be granted unto this one at Judgment, but yet he will be excluded from the ruling and reigning with Christ…. and will be judged according to his fleshly walk.
Can those who are ruled by the flesh at death expect to rule with those who walked after the Spirit in harmony with the Lord during their lives?
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