After death, do we go to “heaven“? Or, was it ever promised that the “saved” will go to “heaven“? This is a very important question that many come across in search of the truth. And, how many times we heard in the pulpit, “going to heaven after death”? As we are composed of “flesh + spirit” , do both, just one of our 2 components or neither go to “heaven” at death? Others claim we “sleep” until Christ returns? Also, do “all” humans go to this particular “heaven” after death or only the “good ones“? As there are 3 heavens, what “heaven” is referred to?
To answer these questions, let us go over biblical verses that cover the issue of “whereto after death“. And, permit me to make comments. First of, Jesus said,
John 3:13 “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man.“
The preceding verse is an all encompassing broad stroke, meaning, really nobody else went to or came from the heaven(?), but “ the one who came from heaven“, the “son of man“, Jesus, as in John 5:26-27. He was there, full-bodied-Spirit-composed in heaven as YHVH ELOHIM with immortal body. No one else, aside from Jesus, who had an immortal body and was there in heaven before his incarnation; see also https://fact-s.net/2017/01/12/incarnation-questions-and-controversies/
And, this excludes all, with neither of their 2 components, from the first human outside of and in Eden and on, including Adam, Abel, Cain, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, prophets, his surrogate mother Mary, disciples, Paul, Peter and others. And, yes, this verse also excludes even their “spirit-in-man” component that separates from the body after death.
But, how can these verses align or harmonize with other verses, viz.,
2 Corinthians 5:8 “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord”.
Philippians 1:23 “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far”.
Obviously, the expectation of Paul was that after he dies, he “will be with the Lord” which is “better, by far”. But, when after death will this come to fruition, before or after the return of Christ on earth? So, did he really, and in what capacity and how, exactly ?
Consider also the following verses in the Old & New Testaments and my take in parentheses:
Psalm 89:48 “Who can live and not see death, or who can escape the power of the grave?“ ( means everyone dies and goes to the grave; our present composition is temporal and was not meant to be eternal; and we need a Savior from eternal death).
Psalm 86:13 “For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.” (Means that the mechanism of salvation from eternal death has been established based on love, although the actuality of death, and therefore, our salvation is still in the future. Or, the psalmist is referring to the “after-the-fact realization of salvation“. As a prophecy, this may also refer to Christ’s resurrection.)
Psalm 55:15 “Let death stalk my enemies; let the grave swallow them alive, for evil makes its home within them.” (the consequence of sin/evil is death; all have sinned and death “stalks” all, even those alive ; strictly speaking, we became “enemies” of God because of sin; does not mean the person is still “alive” while in the grave).
Psalm 49:14 “They are like sheep and are destined to die; death will be their shepherd (but the upright will prevail over them in the morning). Their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions.“(Because of sin, we were destined to die and “decay”, but a Savior, the “upright”, the true Shepherd will come in the future and prevail ; those who died will decay in the grave; our current bodies are far from our future immortal bodies or princely mansions).
Psalm 31:17 “Let me not be put to shame, LORD, for I have cried out to you; but let the wicked be put to shame and be silent in the realm of the dead“(Here is the hope of resurrection that spells victory and glory instead of “shame” for those who stayed away from wickedness in contrast to those who continued to be wicked are therefore in hades and “silent in the realm of the dead and could not speak).
Psalm 18:5 “The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.“(acknowledgment of our vulnerability to die)
Psalm 7:5 “then let my enemy pursue and overtake me; let him trample my life to the ground and make me sleep in the dust.“(crucifixion and death of Christ prophesied but the “sting” of death is gone because of the hope of resurrection)
Psalm 13:3 “Look on me and answer, LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,” (hope of resurrection without which we will continue to “sleep in death”).
Daniel 12:2 “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.“(1st resurrection to everlasting life and 2nd resurrection to shame and everlasting contempt for them to be converted in the process and the way towards salvation)
Matthew 19:24 “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God“(On his/her own, no human can “enter the kingdom of God“; only through a Savior Jesus can this be done. Also notice that the promise was not entering “heaven” but the “kingdom of heaven” which will be established on earth as prophesied in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream).
Parable of the Rich man and Lazarus Luke 16:19-31 ( timing of this narrative refers to the time in the future resurrection when those who refused to change will be thrown in “Gehenna fire” for eternal death; see also this story referred to.)
1 Corinthians 15:51 “But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed!“(NLT)(At Jesus’ 2nd coming, there will be people who “are alive and who persevered” that will be transformed in a “blink of an eye” into immortal spirit–composed bodies.)
Revelations 6:10 “They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” ( these dead people, in their spirit-of-man component, will still “rest” until others who persevered were martyred)
Revelations 20:11-15 (this refers to people who where resurrected to mortal life and given the gift of Holy Spirit’s in-dwelling in them but rejected the guidance; the final judgment:the Gehenna lake of fire).
Revelations 21:1 “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.“
(All those who were saved from eternal death will live on the “new earth“. Even the Father will come down from heaven to dwell with immortal beings on earth.)
Are we going to heaven?
John 3:13 has established that no one, in whatever form, (neither of 2 composites of man) had gone to this “third heaven“ where God is, except the “son of man“(Jesus). So, it has to be that, after death, we go to another “heaven”(2nd or 1st?), (although they are asleep ) for those who died, consistent with the fact (although not the same as) of a different realm or place where “evil angels” are, i.e., in hell/tartaros. Additionally, as to whether we are going to that particular heaven(1st or 2nd) it depends on what is referred to us “we“. So, the better and precise question should be, “Which in us goes to heaven”? Let us then examine the following verse about what happens to our 2 components at death:
and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit (of man)returns to God who gave it.(NIV)
Our physical body component comes from dust of the ground and goes back where it came from, in the grave to become “dust” after sometime. Whereas, the “spirit-of-man”, which comes directly from God, “returns” back to him. Clearly, it is the spirit-component of man that returns to God but body goes to hades(hell/grave) to rot. The spirit-in-man is the “real you” that came directly (and therefore heavenly) from the breath of Spirit-composed God Creator. Whereas, the body/flesh component came from the ground and is “earthly“. Whether good or bad the person is, this is what happens when the person dies.
First resurrection vs 2nd.
All “spirits-of-man“, at death, will return to the Creator in “heaven” (1st or 2nd?)but not the “third heaven”, which is God’s abode. But those who “overcame” will have immortal bodies being prepared that will manifest at the 1st resurrection to meet Jesus in the air at that time and descend on earth in Jerusalem to establish the “kingdom of God”. Whereas, those who did not overcome will have their first chance of the “in-dwelling power of the Holy Spirit“, in them, at the 2nd resurrection with “flesh-composed bodies” for sanctification and eventual “change to immortal bodies” for those who eventually overcame, having been empowered.
It is becoming clear with this research, that at death:
1. The 2 components of humans will separate; the flesh-composed part will go down to hades/grave on earth and rot while the “spirit-of-man” will return to God, but not assumedly in the 3rd heaven. The place maybe the 1st or 2nd heaven or a place similar(but not the same as) to “tartaros“. See also https://fact-s.net/2019/06/03/why-was-man-created-flesh-composed-and-weak/
2. Whether good or evil, we are “all” going to “return to God who gave it”,.
3. The “we” refers to the “spirit-in-man“(breath-of-life), the “real you”.
4. The exact state is called “sleep“, in the Creator God.
5. Those who “overcame” in this life because of the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, will participate in the 1st resurrection when they will manifest on earth with spirit-composed immortal bodies, (in a “twinkling of an eye” for those who were alive and those who “slept“), at Christ’s return, aka second coming. Others will have this opportunity to receive the Holy Spirit at the 2nd resurrection after they resurrect with flesh-composed bodies on earth, as in Ezekiel 37:12-14.
6. What was promised for those who are “saved” was the “kingdom of God”(not heaven) that will be established by Christ at his second coming as prophesied in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream to expand through the whole earth.
Your critique is welcome.
God bless 😊🙏😇
Original post: October 14, 2019 Hyperlink version.